14.Nov.2010 Basketball Tip Off: Hope Springs Eternal
The men's basketball season tips off this afternoon, and there's reason for optimism. The team is athletic, long, focused,and more confident than past versions. Jared Cunningham went so far as to guarantee a spot in the field of 65. Coach Robinson subdued that talk, but he does sound confident going to battle with these guys.
I'm not buying it…yet. In the exhibition, the Beavers turned the ball over 25 times. That is very concerning. This is all hearsay, since the game wasn't broadcast anywhere, but from the sound of it Ahmad Starks was nervous, shaky, and made a lot of poor decisions. I understand it was his first game, and there will be jitters, so it's not time to condemn the guy. But it is cause for concern–maybe the pace at this level is significantly higher, and he'll need weeks to adjust?
Another cause for concern from that exhibition game were the number of blown 2ft layups. This has plagued the Beavers for some time. It's one of those things I can't understand, since I never see other squads blowing so many close layups. Again it seems like youth and jitters, but there are plenty of young teams that make those shots or even thrive on the inside game. Is it that the Beavers, since they are rebuilding, have had to take "raw" and unpolished talent? That's my guess. I really don't want to hear Mike Parker screaming, "He misses the two foot layup!" again, though. Jared Cunningham, for all his "hops", was notorious for driving to the hoop at 20mph and slamming the ball off the backboard at the same speed. Heck, I used to do that when I played basketball–it was due to a lack of body control while in motion.
Anyway, turnovers and low percentage inside game are my two biggest concerns. I think the defense should be good. Robinson has put a lot of focus on maintaining intensity, despite losing a key cog in Seth Tarver. And before this season kicks off, I might as well come out and say this I'll come right out and admit that I've got a huge of a man-crush on Craig Robinson, mainly for his recruiting prowess. I've been so impressed with his confidence and ability to get in the living room of national 4-star recruits. So, you probably won't hear me criticize the guy much, and maybe I'll even defend him. I truly feel we couldn't have a better basketball headman at this school right now.
Finally, I don't know anything about UT-Arlington, so I won't bother trying to analyze the matchup. Small mid major type schools usually play a quirky style of ball where they push the floor and bomb threes, but I'm not sure if these guys fit the bill. I know the Beavs aren't good enough to discount anyone, so they better come to play.