Sunday, March 25

Finally the Four

Florida, UCLA, Georgetown, Ohio State.

None of these teams are a surprise, exactly. I had Florida, Kansas, Texas, Ohio State. Rock-chalk looked the best of any team I've seen this season when they were on and Durant was the best player in college hoops over the season.

The reason neither Kansas or Texas are not making the trip is the same for each school: The coaching was atrocious. Special mention should go out to Rick Barnes of Texas for utterly failing to do one of two things:

1. Tell his team to get Durant the ball.
2. Convince his me-first guards to get Durant the ball.

Both are failures, but they are very different failures. The first is simply not understanding how to win a game. If this is the case, he's not only a horrible coach, but has the basketball IQ of a rock lobster. If you have the best offensive player by far in a given game, that player needs to touch the ball for you to succeed. Post him up. Re-Post. Run him off some screens and let him face up. Let him bring the ball up and initiate the offense. It doesn't matter-- he can do each of those things better than anyone else on the floor. If Barnes couldn't see this, he should not be coaching at any level.

The second is not understanding how to coach and cajole players into the appropriate roles for team success. These guys kept coming down the floor and jacking up threes under duress without letting Durant sniff the ball. That may be their personality, but the coach is there to teach them how to be successful individual players in the context of the team's goals and gameplans. That is the glory in team sports. Individual excellence forged together into group excellence. That is what the coach is there to facilitate.

If Barnes failed at the second, it means he's not ready or able to handle the egos on a team of this caliber. Perhaps he should be coaching one step down from Texas.

I am excited to see Oden v Hibbert. In my mind, Oden has to lay down the law in this game and dominate Hibbert (the awkward moving center that he is) to establish his position as the top center in college. He shows flashes, but I think Hibbert is good (and strange) enough to require more than flashes.

As for ultimate, well... A week from now will be Fools Fest in Fredericksburg. "The beer tent won't know what hit them," seems to be the prevailing sentiment from the Tight Ass Country Club. I like the sound of that.
Rest Day


Bill Mill said...

So, what you're saying is, Barnes needed to follow the Jim Boeheim memorial coaching plan: give the ball to Carmelo Anthony and play D.

Also, Hansbrough is better than either of those guys in the middle. He won't be a better NBA baller, but he is a better college player right now.

(And NC sabotaged me in my pool by losing to G'Town. I had the other 3 final four teams, and I had NC losing to OH st, but I'll be just short of the win if everything goes my way.

dusty.rhodes said...

That is *exactly* what I'm saying.

Hansbrough is a very good college player. Big, Physical, Fearless. Oden is still playing with one hand. Durant is not an inside player. He's a guard.

That's what will make him great. In 3-4 years he'll be a 6'10" *guard* in the NBA.

I would still take Oden or Durant on my college team over Hansbrough, and not *just* because I hate UNC. I think they both have a bigger impact on the outcome of the game.

Tarr said...

Can I take this post and apply it to ultimate? I think you see both of the "Rick Barnes mistakes" a lot in ultimate.

1) Failing to take advantage of you best strategic options/mismatches. The most obvious example is when you have a player who can't be covered by the other team, but you fail to give that player the cutting opportunities he/she needs. This is particularly a problem in mixed play, where a dominant woman only dominates if you can create space for her.

Another example is failing to put players in their best defensive position. You can win a lot of games by getting your best marker in a trap zone, or by avoiding putting your raw athletes on shifty handlers with good break throws.

2) Failing to limit selfish behavior by your players. The most obvious selfish behavior on the field is the "greedy handler" who clogs the space near the disc and frequently takes all the long throws. This is particularly a problem on college or juniors teams, where the best player often doesn't realize that by lowering their total touches, they can improve the team.

dusty.rhodes said...

No you may not. There is only ultimate talk when I decree it to be the appropriate time.

You basically wrote the second half of my entry. I decided I was going to save it for some other day when I didn't have anything to write, and then you went and took my rainy day column away.

Anyway, I absolutely agree with what you typed.

I still feel that the most egregiously selfish behavior was the cutter who stands in the endzone. What his choice in position and motion is communicating is:

"I am the best receiver on the field. If I stand flat-footed in the endzone with my defender and you throw it to me, I will catch it. I am so sure of this fact that I will stand here and prevent all of our other cutters (who are, incidentally, not as good as me) from going deep. Though, if you like, you can throw it to the endzone for them and I'll come down with it anyway."

I find that if you throw it to this guy and he gets D'd a couple of times, he stops standing there. "That's pride fucking with you." It also lets me know that I do not, in fact, have an unstoppable scoring machine on my team.