Thursday, February 08, 2007

2nd Consecutive Home Blowout-Pathetic

An indicative photo of Hernandez's defensive effort

Why it happened:

Where to begin? There are many factors that came together to form the effort that resulted in a second consecutive home loss. We could talk about transition defense, we could speak on post defense, finishing at the rim, long scoring droughts to open both halves, not taking advantage of the opportunity when Nevada isnt making shots, not rebounding on either end of the floor, getting outrebounded 51-25, giving up 22 offensive rebounds, Hector Hernandez and his lack of effort all over the floor and his inopportune shots that stop scoring runs. Lastly, I could speak on the free throw shooting:

You know, the 10-25 effort from the charity stripe!

Since when do teams shoot 40% in home games but 75% on the road from the line. The Save Mart Center has been a road venue throughout the season for this team. In the preseason they played in an empty arena against below average teams. As they played more games the new players have gotten much worse shooting the ball in the alleged "friendly confines" of the SMC. The last two efforts have been what can be referred to as "rock bottom" for the Bulldogs. Although the shooting from the floor and three improved against the Wolfpack the free throw shooting was a joke.

Opportunities squandered:

The Bulldogs did what was necessary on offense to win this game. They were aggressive taking it to the rim and got to the line, which would normally be a great asset in a home game. Hosley and McGuire worked the double post well both flashing to the elbows and attacking down the lane line.

At halftime it seemed as though the players and fans were satisfied with only being down 2 to the Wolfpack, but my issue was that they should have been up 5-7 points. Nevada had difficulty scoring in the first half and had two semi droughts that the Dogs should have pounced upon. The free throw woes combined with 2 or 3 trips that ended in missed layups really hurt the Bulldogs by disallowing the halftime lead which was an absolute necessity.

When they made a great run and had the crowd into it after the back to back dunks by McGuire and Hosley, they were primed to take the lead. After a big defensive stop McGuire gets into transition and instead of attacking Fazekas tries the up and under reverse layup. It spun out and with that went hopes of a halftime lead.


Some have said that Hernandez has been the best player up until the halfway point in conference and to those folks may I ask what game you watch?

He is the player on the floor that gives the least effort. He only had 1 stretch of 45 seconds where he actually looked to be giving maximum effort, only because he made a shot prior. He killed them offensively with a 4-17 outing and took multiple forced and ill-advised threes. He had no defensive rebounds in 31 minutes of play. That, my friends, is pathetic at 6'9".

He did not work hard to get back in transition, watched Nevada players grab rebounds in front of him and put it back in. Whoever he was defending ended up making plays whether it was an open three, a put back, or a floater. Its hard to be a good player when you only do one thing, and what happens when that one thing is not working?

Other player evaluations:

I will say I was happy with point guard Kevin Bell's play. He was efficient on 4-7 shooting, had a nice drive and finish(missed the free throw obviously) but handed out 5 assists with only 1 turnover. He also had three steals and had them at times in the game where they needed someone to make a play. He did a nice job on Wolfpack guard Ramon Sessions. These are the kind of games that I look from from Kevin Bell and was really pleased with his performance.

Hosley played well and had a highlight dunk and pass in a 2 possesion span that showed the overrall potential he brings with him each outing. He played hard as usual, I was disappointed in the foul he picked up in the middle of the floor for no reason after the defense had made a big stop and were trying to cut into the lead.

Eddie Miller was obviously out of his league and Nevada did a great job on him throughout. He is not ready to assume a starting role and be asked to perform at a high level, but he must show improvement asap. This is also a good time for Miller to learn what he needs to work on to be a successful player by next season. He must add weight to his frame and work on his ball handling.


As far as the coaching goes I dont think it was the real issue but I do have my points of contention:

Not calling quick time outs at the beginning of each half was a mistake. Not utilizing the time outs to rest his players during periods of up and down play or full court pressure was also incorrect. Those were issues Cleveland needs to think about and resolve.

Allowing Hernandez to play too take them out of offensive flow and rythym. Hosley took two bad shots, 1 a three and 1 a midrange jumper which he was double teamed on. Miller took two fade away baseline jumpers that were ill-advised. McGuires reverse layup was a bad shot because he took the wrong approach. Hernandez took as many bad shots as those players combined. Quick transition threes, a fade away on Fazekas? Quick release threes contested by Fazekas running out full speed. Maybe a head fake Hector?

Lessening runs and chipping away at leads:

My problem with shots like stated prior are there was time on the shot clock and someone else could get a better look. Those type of shots can be had at any point in the game, why would you shoot them when Nevada is in the midst of a 10-0 run. If you are going to have a scoring drought, have one where you use up 25-30 seconds of the shot clock and get up a good shot. Do not jack up quick shots and then compound it by failing to get back on defense and allowing the layup or open three.

Not only have you shot the ball in the first 10 seconds of three straight possessions, but the opponent (Nevada) has gotten two open layups and an open three in 5-8 seconds of their possession.

Result: 8-0 run in less than a minute and now the Bulldogs are decimated and Nevada is smelling blood. The result of that is players compounding that run by trying to shoot their way back in it in three possessions. Leads are not overcome quickly, they are chipped away at with solid defense and not allowing offensive boards, also attacking the rim and taking good shots.

Leads may be built fast but they take time to erase. The key is patience.

Up Next:

Thats all I have for this debacle of a game and I will post the New Mexico State preview tommorow. This game does not look very winnable based on team confidence. Are we looking at 3 home conference losses in 1 season? Not what I thought coming in.

Check the Boxscore at your own peril!

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