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10/20/2022 8:54 am  #1

Best Avenue For Improvement

If you can pick one and only one area where this team needs to improve on the court in order to truly begin turning things around for the better, which would you pick (I recognize that each choice is important; am asking which is the most important in your opinion):

a) Coaching needs to commit to certain styles of play on both ends and stick with this
b) Better defense in the paint
c) Share the ball philosophy resulting in a much higher percentage of assisted baskets
d) Newcomers Max Edwards, EJ Clark and I'll put Daniel Nixon in this category as well, need to more than make up for the losses of Bamisile and Freeman
e) Substantially reduce turnovers
f) Better three point shooting
g) Other

I'll cast the first vote by saying b) Better defense in the paint.  Lacking a true enforcer down low like a Yinka Dare,  Pops Mensa Bonsu or Zeke Armwood, GW teams of recent years have been taken advantage of down low.  If we were to put Ricky Lindo's defensive instincts (minus the silly fouls) in Noel Brown's body, we would have an answer.  Hunter Dean gets some blocks but they are often the result of his trailing the play and coming up from behind.  Keegan has size but is this particular aspect (being a defensive stopper in the lane) part of his game?

You can make a case that having guards who can keep guys from penetrating into the lane is just as important, but in all fairness, has a GW team ever been able to stop this?  I'd place a premium on bigs who not only can block shots but who can alter them as well.  Just like football where sacks are nice but guys who consistently pressure quarterbacks, even without the sacks, can be even more important.


10/20/2022 10:53 am  #2

Re: Best Avenue For Improvement

I agree with you about B, but I think if we had fixed E we would've been much better in the OOC and probably won 1-2 extra games in conference.  There were just SO many games where we'd throw the ball away or dribble off of our feet.  It's been a problem since Mojo so I have to think it's a problem that can get fixed with better coaching.  

Another thing I would put for G is just capitalizing on momentum (although it kinda goes hand in hand with E).  There were times in the JC era where we'd go on a run and you could sense that if the team just made one more basket or one stop the dam would break, and yet we'd find a way to spoil it.  The URI away game last year was an example of when we actually capitalized on the momentum and snuck past them at the end.



10/20/2022 10:54 am  #3

Re: Best Avenue For Improvement

Hard to say. This will not be the same team and coach. So improving one area might not be as important as would have been had the same team and same coach returned where you had a baseline for comparison. Almost undoubtedly, certain areas will be better and others may suffer based on points of emphasis. This is probably a question best asked at the end of non-conference play where one could analyze this team, coach's performance and style of play and ask what needs to improve during the Conference season. Put another way, if we defend better we may be able to afford the turnovers more or not improve three point shooting as much. If we don't then those things become more important. As they always say after a coaching change ... past performance may not be indicative of future results. 

Last edited by GWRising (10/20/2022 10:56 am)


10/20/2022 11:03 am  #4

Re: Best Avenue For Improvement

Just a reminder GWMayhem that there is a polling feature on the board when you create a new thread. You might get more responses from those who aren't inclined to respond with a reason

Based on the choices, I will also go with b) better defense in the post but I would potentially add two other options, one for communication/trust and another for rebounding.

It seems like the guys get along off the court but something that was completely missing on the court was communication/trust on both sides of the ball. It looked less like a team and more like five guys playing pickup. On offense, it was more "your turn my turn" because guys weren't sure if they would get the ball back once they gave the ball up. On defense, there was no understanding whether a teammate would rotate to where they have to be. Having simply better communication/trust would go a long way. This would probably be the most important area for me.

Rebounding is probably not the biggest need for improvement, but we certainly need to be better than we've been. We improved as a team in that category during conference play (we weren't last!), but for the season we were the worst team in the A10 in rebound margin (and that was even after Duquesne lost pretty much all the size they had and had given up). Hopefully with more size this year we can do better there. Like us, Miami has not been a team known for going after offensive rebounds so I don't expect too much improvement there but I do hope we are a bit better in defensive rebounding by boxing out better.

As for your other options:
a) Coaching needs to commit to certain styles of play on both ends and stick with this - I would definitely prefer this although it's not a deal breaker. I just think there are very few coaches out there who truly have the ability to adjust style of play to their personnel instead of the other way around. It makes recruiting easier in a way. You obviously need a certain amount of talent to succeed, but that only matters if you can get them to play within a system. I'm fascinated to see how Joe will fare in Moser's offense at Oklahoma this year. That still feels like a weird fit, especially when you have another ball dominant guy in Grant Sherfield coming in from Nevada.

b) Better defense in the post - We had among the worst two-point field goal % defenses in the past few years partly because of the way we played defensively. JC preferred to run teams off the three point line, but that only really works if you have a person down low who can contest shots near the rim. Since we haven't had anyone that can really do that recently, it's basically a layup line for the opposition. Miami is not a team that consistently chases guys off the line so I expect a slight change in philosophy there. We may be better in the paint simply due to the fact that we will be more willing to allow opponents to shoot from 3. Based on who we've offered for 2023, I think it's interesting that we haven't offered anyone taller than 6-8. That may be partly due to the fact as to who we have on the roster right now, but perhaps that suggests that Caputo prioritizes positional versatility over having a guy who can block shots down low. At the very least, hopefully we force the opposition to at least have to adjust before attempting a shot near the rim. I don't expect a different result (not in terms of W-L but getting blown out) against Dayton anytime soon otherwise. Noel is the X-factor for me this year because Hunter isn't a true center despite his size and Keegan needs to get a lot stronger. I do think we were a bit better in penetration defense under JC, but the guards along the perimeter weren't consistent in guarding their man. I'm sure CC will emphasize staying in front of the opposition defensively and showing a bit more heart there (i.e.: draw more charges). It's cool to make the flashy steal, but often times reading a play incorrectly will either result in being out of position defensively or committing a foul like we did so much last year.

c) Share the ball philosophy resulting in a much higher percentage of assisted baskets - I was close to selecting this option. It is connected to the communication/trust point from above, but also again requires a certain amount of talent to work well. This roster is top heavy, much like last year's roster under JC so there will only be a handful of players who can make shots consistently unless many take giant strides forward this year. I can appreciate trying to keep a roster together and not trying to sign guys to create buzz on the internet, but I think it was in our best interest to begin the rebuild this year. It's inevitable - we are likely turning over a good portion of the roster next year anyways. It would have been easier if we filled four scholarships this year for the future and four for next year instead of potentially trying to fill eight scholarships this offseason. This is a conversation for a year from now, but we are losing Adams, Harris, Clark, and probably Bishop next year. That's an issue. I don't doubt that we'll bring in a PG transfer to help with a likely highly inexperienced roster but continuity will not be there. Additionally, the assists need to come from more than one player on the floor. The individual "assist percentage" stat that we were known for in the past few years is one of the most meaningless stats in my opinion because it almost discourages having other players on the floor be threats as passers. Going to the line and settling for fewer jump shots wouldn't hurt either.

d) Newcomers Max Edwards, EJ Clark, and I'll put Daniel Nixon in this category as well, need to more than make up for the losses of Bamisile and Freeman - might be true in the short run, but I would actually say the frontcourt needs to be significantly more productive this year to start showing signs of a balanced roster. Hunter can be used as more than just a screener, and Noel will have to provide more down low. Jabari's injury is unfortunate but I wasn't expecting him to do too much as a freshman anyways. The question with Daniel is defense because he's a pretty good shooter. EJ Clark isn't here beyond this year, but I'm not expecting more than a couple buckets at most off the bench. He only averaged 8 ppg at Alabama State, a team that was pretty uptempo. He needs to look for his shot more than he did last year with the Hornets. I'm intrigued by Max, partly because he seems like one of the few pieces that will still be around beyond this year.

e) Substantially reduce turnovers - we could definitely improve in the turnover department, but it wasn't a glaring weakness last year. We were roughly average nationally in turnovers per game playing fairly uptempo. This was an issue at times during OOC because the communication wasn't there and there were a lot of new pieces to integrate on the roster. I do fully expect that to be improved this year though. CC seems to always mention taking care of the ball as among the most important in his interviews, and Miami was sixth best in the country in turnovers per game.

f) Better three point shooting - I'll admit I had questions about shooting on the roster last year, and during conference play the guys on the team really stepped up there. Qwanzi shot over 50% from deep down the stretch, and Ricky/Keegan provide stretch options at the 4. The question with three point shooting is mostly in the backcourt as Bishop is streaky, and Adams/Harris aren't good shooters. EJ was a good signing who will help there, but long term I'm not too worried. I think Trey coming in next year is a good shooter (despite struggling a bit at Peach Jam) and this backcourt is going to look completely different a year from now. Max is also a relatively good shooter when healthy. It's mostly a short term issue.


10/20/2022 10:40 pm  #5

Re: Best Avenue For Improvement

My first thought was Other - better perimeter defense. 

Yes, we got taken advantage of in the paint, but soooooo many of our problems during the last two coaches was that our guards couldn’t keep anyone in front of them.  So it was easy to penetrate, the bigs would step up to help, and then someone would get an east dunk. 

CC has talked about ball pressure.  I think if we can pressure the ball and keep opponents from driving at will, we can hide some of the front court weakness.


10/21/2022 7:13 am  #6

Re: Best Avenue For Improvement

I think our biggest and most consistent issues over the past few years have been related to b, c, and e. I'm looking forward to improvement on all fronts, but hopefully, we improve our interior defense quickly because it was our Achilles heel for many close games down the stretch. Even when we had some semblance of offense, the defense regularly let us down.


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