The comments on the blog over the last week have accurately tracked my bipolar feelings about the Hoyas. On one hand, it's just a game, they're college kids, the games are still fun and it's early in the season and a turnaround is right around the corner. On the other hand, I have to admit some of the harsher assessments, highlighted by called out comments like pathetic, suck and I hate [fill in the blank], have crossed my mind.
How do you square these bipolar feelings? Somewhere back in the recesses of Catholic grammer school in the 1960's I remember a Sister Mary something or other saying it's not Christian to criticize unless you offer a positive suggestion.
So today, I'll offer a few suggestions on the lineup, not because I think anyone will listen or even that they make sense. I offer them so I can feel better about my occassional, occasional may be understating it, negative thoughts about this year's Hoyas.
I have three different suggestions each addressing a possible theory for why the team has stumbled. I don't see changing one person, subbing Nate for Jason or Hollis, making a difference. The problem is bigger, or not, and it's about more than one player, again or not. The first theory is that we're in a slump and we'll break out of it soon. Second, we beat out of conference teams because they are unfamilar with the JTIII offense and thus we are very predictable in the Big East. Finally, we don't play that hard, I think in large part to our stars pacing themselves and only turning it on in spurts. And we don't play smart.
1) Do Nothing -- This is a slump, the system works and the five best players for the system start the game. There is no reason to panic at this point, one hot shooting game will restore the missing confidence this team lacks.
2) The JT Jr Plan --We have eleven legit players who can contribute. Start playing them like JT Jr. No one plays for more than a 2-3 minute stretch. Everyone goes all out every second they are on the court. Bring the players in in waves using all sorts of combinations depending on game situations and who is playing well and putting forth the most effort. Press, run, attack and fall back into the system when needed.
3)The Elephant in the Room Plan - I wrote a couple of weeks ago here that Chris Wright was the most valuable player on the team. Over the past four games Chris has not played well demonstrating the value of someone running the team out on the floor. As hard as it seems, if he doesn't turn it around it might be time for him to sit.
But who runs the point? Markel is not ready. Everyone who got excited by West Virginia needs to remember a two minute stretch against Depaul where he turned the ball over repeatedly and let Depaul back in the game. He's going to be a very good player, but not our point guard this year. Some will argue for Jason Clark. I think Jason is very talented but his biggest weakness is ball handling. He's a two guard, not a point.
So it seems we are stuck with only one option. Not so fast. I also wrote a couple of weeks ago that Austin Freeman was the second best point guard on the team. Austin is a good ball handler, knows the offense and runs the team quite often when CW is on the bench. Austin has less of a wrecking ball attitude also. He likes the uptempo game but is generally the most careful guy on the team with the ball. The best reason though for making this change is that it would force Austin to keep his head in the game for 40 minutes. I'm not sure if he just sometimes loses interest or he's pacing himself because he's used to having to play 37-39 minutes, but keeping him at the point will keep him involved in every possession. And anyone who thinks you can't score from the point hasn't watched Connecticut play this year.
There are a few plans, let's see what everyone else has got. Remember, no one is really going to listen, but it might help those of you who struggle with being supportive and pissed off at the same time.