Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Midseason Report on BBall

With the basketball season halfway done and conference play beginning I decided to put a Cliff notes version of the team together for those yet to see them play. The good news is that this team is MUCH more athletic than the last few years which results in better defense, rebounding, and the ability to run the break. The bad news is that the team is very inexperienced resulting in poor offensive rythm throughout the game. ND, for example, showed that if you get physical this team has the propensity to play rec league style, i.e. four guys stand at the three point line waiting to launch with one guy downlow. The team has played very few road games and has struggled when they haven't jumped out to an early lead. Let's take a look at the team and then the schedule to see what is in store for the rest of the year.

The Returners:
Frank Young. We used to watch during his Fr. and Soph. seasons to see how many shots he made during warmups. Not many. Now he is the leading scorer on the team averaging 14.5/game. There was a report by Len Elmore that he was booed earlier in the year. Actually the crowd said "Fu," in support of Franks' long goatee.

Darius Nichols. Has improved on an aspect of his game every year. Added defense last year and outside shooting this year. His shooting percentages have increased from 38.4% to 49.0% this year while making 40.0.% of his threes and 88.9% from the line (all career bests). Wait until he adds chainsaw juggling next year, halftime will rule.

The Clones:
Joe Alexander. The replacement for Mike Gansey looks and plays like a taller, a little more athletic version. At 6'8'' he is the best pure athlete on the team, but very raw, sometimes resembling a new born dear or an elephant on stilts, he could sprint the court and throw down a breath taking dunk, or he could crash and burn getting his head stuck between the rim and the backboard there really is no way to tell.

Alexander Ruoff. Herbert was the jack of all trades, master of none that never left the court. Ruoff is a better shooting version of this mold at 38.4% from three. Much like Herbert, he is used to break the full court man press. Also like Joe, this is a breathtaking experience of limbs flying and dribbles oh so close to being off of a leg or stolen, however, he gets the job done more often than not.

Da'Sean Butler. Best pure player, would win any tournament of one-on-one with the team. Is a 6'7'' version of Tyrone Sally. Could be the X-factor to the team as he is one of the only players with the consistent ability to take their player to the basket if the offense breaks down.

The Down Low (players): A friend told me once that Kevin Pittsnogle looked like the kind of guy that smelled like cigarrettes and balogna. We have missed that presence this year.

Rob Summers. Most improved player. Went from lost last year to a defense presence. Sets the best screens on the team (actually important in this offense) and hustles on the boards. He also is able to play despite spending 4 hours a day trimming his line-beard and three hours admiring it (that's 7 hours of beard related activity daily).

Jamie Smalligan. Trying to take KPs' role as the big-man shooter not the smelling like balogna. Hitting 37.5% of threes. May be slightly thinning on top or has a really bad haircut.

The Bench:
Joe Mazzulla. The Fr. guard has shown the ability to handle the ball, but a reluctance to shoot. Only playing about 9 minutes a game right now, but may have to play more during some key games due to foul troubles of others.

Devan Bawinkel. At 6'5'' and a generous listing of 185 pounds the rail thin Fr. guard is hopefully the next sharpshooter of the bench. Right now he is showing not only his ribs, but a lack of aggression when teams are physical. He may be a pacifist or have an eating disorder.

Wellington Smith. Has not seen huge minutes yet at 5.1/game, but already leads the team in amazing dunks. The 6'7'' Fr. has thrown down follow-ups in a few games and is shooting over 60% from the floor in his limited time. Will be the breakout of next years team.

Remaining Games: WVU is currently 13-2 (2-1), we'll list these as games in which WVU shoule be favored or underdogs.

USF (9-8)
Marshall (5-10)
@ Cincinnati (9-6)
DePaul (10-7)
Rutgers (7-8)
Seton Hall (10-5)
Cincinnati (9-6)

@ Marquette (14-4)
@ Seton Hall (10-5)
Pitt (15-2)
UCLA (14-1)
@ Georgetown (11-4)
@ Providence (12-3)
@ Pitt (15-2)

So if we win the games we are favored and lose the dogs our record will be 20-9. Unfortunately, with the youth of this team that won't happen so we may need to steal a few dog games or make a run through the Big East Tournament to hit that record. Would that record get us in the Big Dance? Normally, yes. But, the Big East is down this year and won't be getting in 8-10 teams this year and our RPI will not be good due to the easy early schedule we played. So we may need to get a signature win (Pitt or UCLA) to enhance the resume. My guess as to the final regular season record after the Big East Tournament will be 19-12 and bubblicious.

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