Hey! We're champs of something! How about that?
I had two whole pages filled with notes from these games (that I watched back-to-back-to-back after Thanksgiving and Apple Cup), but spilled coffee on them, so I'll try to remember as much as I can.
While I'm still not convinced we'll finish in the top half of the Pac-10 this season, I think the championship game vs. San Diego sent a message to the rest of the league, particularly Oregon St and Arizona St, to NOT run a 2-3 zone on Klay Thompson. He will shoot over you. And you will cry. I think coaches who see this film will likely try to run a box zone with a rover on Klay and see if Reggie and D are up to the task.
A bad habit I noticed towards the end of the Eastern Washington game that showed up again in the first two games of the tournament was Casto flashing out in the halfcourt defense to attempt a trap past the 3-point line. Eastern was able to rotate the ball around this pretty easily and get a simple layup over an out of position Klay Thompson. This half-assed rotation nearly cost us that game, as well as the one vs. Nicholls St. At first, I thought this was just DeAngelo trying to do too much, but during the Nicholls St game, Charlie tried it too. In the first 8 or so times I saw us try this, we got one steal, allowed six (!!!) baskets and got back into our set the final time. Since both DeAngelo and Charlie tried it, I thought it might be a bad scheme, but Klay is so woefully out of position when they get the ball under the basket, that couldn't possibly be planned. I don't think San Diego was able to burn us on this in a similar fashion solely from their lack of size.
The other thing I'd do if I were Ken Bone is pull DeAngelo aside and show him some gametapes of him running our offense last season. Last year, if D set a pick on you, you were hitting the floor and our wing would get free. During the tournament, I watched him just move from block to block, going through the motions similar to Baynes last season, and their wings were able to get through the picks pretty successfully. This is a minor change that I think could pay some serious dividends for us come conference play.
Nik should be starting over Lodwick right now. I can't think of a reason why he shouldn't be. He's the 2nd best passer on the team behind Reggie, plays better defense than Abe and has really shown a knack in this offense. During the Nicholls St game, I couldn't help but notice the repoire he and Casto have. Nik getting the ball on the baseline, taking two steps toward the hoop, drawing D's defender and dumping it off to him for the easy layup was our bread and butter when we started pulling away. Between Nik and Reggie both willing to make the extra pass in our offense, it flows much better, and we're a better team for it.
Going forward, I just can't see us staying within single digits against the Zags on Wednesday. While I think Reggie is a better ballhandler and passer than Taylor, we haven't seen pressure like that this year, and I'm not sure we're ready for it. I think a lot of it is going to depend on whether Reggie, Zero and Nik are able to get past the full court press and allow Klay and Casto to set up the early offense. I think it's probably Gonzaga by 15, but having Klay always gives us a shot….
Plus/Minus for the Tournament:
at Nic St