Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Darkest before Dawn, Dayton Dominates, 80-48.

This is what happens when you have a young team, trying to learn a new system, which frankly does not suit their talent, playing against a good team on the road.  This won't be the last game like this in the 2015-16 season.  I really don't even want to write about this game, but I know some of you were probably stuck at work and unable to watch, so I feel I owe you at least a halfhearted recap.  

Let me preface this by saying I was watching on TV in a bar with no audio.  Also, I missed part of the second half as I left once it got out of hand to walk back to my office.  

We were competitive early.  It was an ugly game for the first 10-15 minutes or so, with both teams committing numerous fouls and turnovers, but we were scrapping.  The game had no rhythm, but we were sticking around, and actually went on a 7-0 run to take an 18-16 lead.  Dayton promptly answered to go on a big run to take a 40-24 lead into the half, and that was that.

We were simply over-matched.  We tried to play fast, but that often resulted in turnovers or horrible shots in traffic near the basket that were easily blocked.  We didn't have a single player score in double-digits.  Once Dayton started taking care of the basketball and making their open shots, it was game over.

Neither point guard had a great game.  Ingram had 2 points, 4 assists, but 4 turnovers, while Coleman had 3 points, 2 assists, and 3 turnovers.  Hale is supposed to be a veteran on this team, but once again he had 2 points and 6 turnovers. He is hurting this team more than he is helping it right now.  Retin was 2 for 10, and only scored 7 points.  Again, we need more out of our veteran leaders.  

If you are looking for a bright spot, I thought Donta Hall played reasonably well again.  He had 7 points and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes.  Norris also didn't have a terrible game, he was our leading scorer with 9 points, although I'm fine with never seeing him attempt to dunk again.

The bottom line is this is a team that is trying to play with a fast tempo despite a horrific inability to shoot the basketball.  We were 5 for 20 from three point range and once again stunk it up at the free throw line, going 9 for 17.

I thought we got frustrated on defense once the game got out of hand.  We switched to a zone early in the second half but did not look comfortable in it at all.  It felt like a desperation move at the time.  

Coach Johnson is in a tough position.  He's promised the incoming recruits that we are going to play this way, but this style of play really doesn't give the current team much of a chance to win against better competition.  I worry that many losses in this fashion could hurt our recruiting efforts, but at the same time he loses credibility with prospects if he doesn't do what he says.  He's also still learning the college game, and I think he expects his players to be a little better fundamentally than they are.  

As fans, we need to accept the fact that this is a transitional year.  Stay positive, support the team and the staff, don't worry too much about wins and losses (and margin of defeat), watch for player development throughout the season and rest easy knowing that help is on the way.  The team never gave up, they just got stomped by a far superior opponent.

Up next, the Ragin Cajuns from Louisiana Lafayette come to Coleman for a 7pm tipoff Friday night.  They were in the NCAA tournament 2 years ago and made it to the quarterfinals of the CIT last season, so this will be another challenging game.  We need another good crowd in Tuscaloosa to let the guys know we're still behind them.

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