As I sat in Coleman Coliseum with maybe 2,000 of my closest friends last night, in the first half I felt like I was watching us play Vandy. The gold jerseys, the motion offense, and 10 3 pointers in one half seemed like an all too familiar storyline.
We always seem to have a difficult time defending teams that use the motion offense to get good looks from the three point line. Riley looked absolutely lost on defense at times. He could not get through a screen or keep up with his man. I think he gave up 5 or 6 of those 3 pointers in the first half. In his defense, on a couple of those plays Rico got beat off the dribble, and when Riley came over to help he left his man open, but he still needs to get be a little quicker in getting back to his man.
We defended a little better out of the zone, but they were still able to shoot over the top of it from time to time. Switching to the zone with an occasional full court press seemed to throw them off of their rhythm in the second half.
Alonzo Gee was the difference in the game. He bailed us out in the halfcourt offense several times by making contested jumpshots late in the shot clock. He hustled on both ends of the court, and made some huge plays down the stretch. One sequence of events sticks out in my mind, he blocked a 12 ft jumpshot on defense, ran the floor, and made a 3 at the other end in transition.
Richard Hendrix was double teamed all night. He did a good job of finding the open man, and our guards did a good job of continuing to run the offense through him. We actually had a pretty good inside-out game last night, and once the shots started to fall in the second half, that opened things up.
The biggest positive to come out of this game in my opinion was the play of Rico Pickett in running the transition offense. In the second half, we got away from the halfcourt game and started pushing the ball up the court in nearly every possession. Rico did an outstanding job of running the point and making good decisions. The uptempo game allowed us to take advantage of our athleticism and take control of the game. I also liked the line up of Rico at point and Hollinger at the 2.
Free throw shooting continues to be abysmal. At times I honestly think I could pull 5 random people out of the stands, spend about 15 minutes teaching them how to shoot, and they would be able to make a higher percentage than our scholarship athletes on the floor. 50% is inexcusable for a 7 and 8 year old youth team playing at the YMCA, much less an SEC contender. The one bright spot, is we got several offensive rebounds off of our missed free throws last night.
Overall, I thought we did a pretty good job on the boards, considering Wofford was known for their rebounding. We were able to eat up a lot of clock with offensive rebounds late in the game. Gee and Hendrix did a good job on the glass.
Our substitution patterns, or lack thereof, continue to baffle me. Justin Tubbs did not even see the floor last night. In my opinion, he would have been a better option than Riley in the man to man defense against their motion offense in the first half.
Bottom line, a win is a win is a win. Good teams find a way to win on nights they don't play well, and that's what this team did.
Up next, the Broncs from UT Pan-American will pay us a visit Wednesday night at 7pm in the second game of the Las Vegas tournament. I hope to see more of you out at Coleman Coliseum.