Friday, March 16, 2007

The Season is Over..........

The season is over. In what could be described as a major season ending fizzle, the Jackets once again prove that they don't know how to close in the closing minutes. They lose to UNLV 67-63.................. and just like that there is no more basketball.

The bitter disappointment of this is deeper than you know. A bunch of buddies of mine have tickets to the St.Louis regional next weekend. We were holding out that oh so small glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe the Jackets could make it there. But before I even had a chance to feed that hope, the lights go out.

How does a team play a first half as ugly as the Jackets and only trail by 7 at the half. Frankly, I don't get it. When Mario West, Z.Peacock, De'Andre Bell and Alade Aminu are your leading scorers at the half, you know something is drastically wrong. Javaris looked totally lost. Young was forcing things way too much. The offense looked totally lost. We only had a small handful of assists. Every pass was like an adventure. The only real success we had was in the post, and we seemed to forget that for much of the half. There was no leadership on the floor. We were actually outrebounded on both the defensive and offensive glass by a VERY undersized team.

Adjustments were made. We somehow pulled to within 7 at the half, and then we managed to tie the game early in the 2nd. Then it was see saw, back-and-forth for awhile. Javaris found himself, gained some confidence, A-Mo found his stroke....................... then we continued to forget how to rebound. We had another offensive series of lapses and UNLV went up by 7 pts......... but again the Jackets battled back and took the lead for the first time with 3:26 left................... only to give it up again with a shot clock violation and giving up a layup............. then they used their last timeout with 2:39 left............... Jeremis Smith missed free throw, but then tied it again at 59 ...................... Then UNLV missed 3 consecutive shots after getting 3 consecutive offensive rebounds........... and on the 4th try - a layup and 3pt play.............COME ON!!!!!!!!!!! COULD I POSSIBLY GET MORE FRUSTRATED!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!.........

Oh wait............. I CAN GET MORE FRUSTRATED................... JAVARIS, how about you DRIBBLE AROUND AND AROUAND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND GET A 5 SECOND CALL................... Why don't you do that.................. Oh wait - YOU DID!!!

I'm calm now. Oh wait, UNLV just got 3 MORE CHANCES AND GETS FOULED AND HIT 2 MORE FREE THROWS.................... 4 point lead with 36 seconds to go.

....................... and that was all she wrote.

Hey Javaris - don't take my rant personally. The bottom-line is that we're not even in the tourney without you................. it just a frustration factor with the talent level that we all know is there.

2006 / 2007 R.I.P.
I just don't know what to say to be honest. While this team improved during the season, the bottom line is that this season was a major disappointment. Progress - yes....... Satisfaction - not even close............. A strong finish to the regular season only to bow out of the ACC tourney against one of the worst teams in the league and then a loss in round 1 of the tourney in a winnable game. Outrebounded by a weak rebounding team. You hold a team to 32% shooting and you think you just might win. Not us. If the game is close and we're not at home - we're losing - and we did.

At some point, I'll do a post-mordem on the season. For now, I'm just going to focus on something else because I'll just get incredibly frustrated again.

Now, having expressed my frustration, I want to temper yours. Please don't start making stupid comments about getting a new coach. We don't need a new coach. We may need some new offensive schemes. We may need a new off-season training regimine. We may need a new approach to X's / O's. I'm not totally sure what we need, but I'm darn sure it's not a new coach. However, I do expect Coach Hewitt to make adjustments to improve the team next year. Some of that will happen through their experience. However, I find it funny as I type this - but he needs to take a page from Coach Gailey's book. Coach Gailey has upgraded his staff, upgraded his training, upgraded his offense and upgraded his recruiting........ you get the point. While we've been frustrated at times with Coach Gailey, he has made steady improvement in a lot of areas and it shows............. Coach Hewitt has clearly upgraded his recruiting - but that's about it. There needs to be something different, something new. He's got the talent. Now he needs a better gameplan. I am a big Paul Hewitt supporter but we should absolutely do better than this.

So there it is. The next round of discussions will be the "will he stay or will he go" discussions for Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton. Right now, I peg the odds of TY staying as about 25% and Javaris about 75% to stay.

Now, let's not start this talk of how good we'll be next year with the additions of Gani Lawal, Mo Miller and Lance Storrs and getting Clinch back - if we only lose West. Know why - only 5 guys can play at once. Incredible depth helps to provide a little additional competition and helps to absorb injuries and academic casualties over the course of a season, but it doesn't help to create a fluid offense or defensive intensity. the coach has to develop a game-plan for those 5 guys and then those 5 guys on the floor have to make it happen.

Coach Hewitt said he would never get caught again by the Jarrett Jack / Austin Jackson / Buck Fredrick PG recruiting situation. He made good on that promise by signing Mo Miller, a very promising PG, who will come in with Javaris only a sophomore. Now we need something different related to X's & O's. Something about developing schemes and sets that utilize the strengths of the players on the floor. We just don't do that with any consistency. Something that allows us to actually have a timeout left before the 10:00 minute mark. Again, I don't know what it is, but then I don't get paid big bucks to figure it out either.

Lastly, I wanted to send a major shout out to Mario West. Rio, you made us proud. You showed us all what it REALLY means to be a student-athlete. Thanks for your example, your hard work, all those steals and highlights. You da man !!!! All the best in the future.