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Some observations after the Portland game


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This was a very good win for the team and the fans. The coaches and the announcers said the players were still a bit tired from the long trip and then back to school and practice right away. We looked a little rusty at the beginning but when we subbed in MM, JJ and Cody we then played an excellent 10 minutes from that point in the first half. For about 10 minutes our defense was fantastic and we really shut them down until we were up 46-20 in the middle of the second half and we subbed in several deep bench folks at the same time. They went on a 13-4 run and tried to make a game of it. The front line players came back and brought order and we had a comfortable win.

Some thoughts:

1. Our first 8 or 9 players really give us more quality depth than we have had in decades. The only guy in the rotation who still seems to be really up and down in Cory R and I still have hope that he will understand that he is not expected to be an offensive threat except for layups or dunks.

2. Our young guards, MM and JJ, are looking better all the time and really give us starter quality players coming off the bench which creates real matchup problems for the opposing coach.

3. Conklin and Ellis did not play big minutes but they had big numbers. They have both improved-- a lot! Ellis is more comfortable on both ends and Conklin is very aggressive in a much more controlled way than in past years. It is truly amazing what good coaching and a commitment to improve by the players can bring about in terms of quality play on the floor.

4. Evans played absolutely fantastic defense against their big time three point shooter and he made some beautiful drives to the hoop for scores over the inside defenders. He is also on a nice improvement trend and imo he still has room to get better.

5. Except for a few minutes early and when we subbed deep in the second half this looked like the team against Washington and the team that won the 76 Classic going away. That stupid LMU letdown game is ancient history-- I hope!!!!!!!

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Something I haven't seen mentioned yet is the great hustle of JJ. Wow. His motor simply does not stop. In particular, when one of our guys (Ellis?) missed his second ft, he flew in for the board, wrestled a shot up, and got the and 1. This, on top of the number of saves he had to keep the ball in bounds, was really impressive.

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And the best is yet to come once KM gets his shot back and RL makes a big second half leap in development. I was surprised at the minutes last night. It seemed CE played a lot more than 16. Of course he made efficient use of his time on the floor scoring a point a minute. Also, he is showing just how tough a matchup he can be by making some great moves on the inside while still being deadly with his 3 pt shot. As someone said, this team is very deep and you don't feel uncomfortable when wholesale subs are made like last night. In fact the bench pulled us out of our funk. Vermont lost to Yale last night I think by double figures. Don't want to get too comfortable w/ any team, see Buffalo over Dayton, but these next 5 games should be fun to watch.

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I think one thing to add to the game recap is that Kwamain is still really scuffling on the offensive end. He is the glue on this team, and when his offensive game is flowing this team is much more dangerous. I think this stretch of games in December should have us primed to be brutally tough in the conference season. He will have some time to work out the kinks against some inferior competition.

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My thought on Kwamain is that he's never played with this much talent in the lineup. Before he was the only player who could break someone down off the dribble. Now, McCall, Jordair and even Dwayne can get into the lane for layups. We also have better shooters than before and Cassity doesn't seem hesitant to shoot like he did his first three years. Kwam is having to adjust to the role of actually being a distributor as much as scorer, and he's being effective in doing so. There have been numerous times when he made the pass that led to the assist, the "hockey assist" pass I've heard it called.

Kwam is having to adjust to a team he's never seen and it's taking him some time. I believe that even if he starts stroking the J, his numbers will be down a little from two years ago, but he can be just as effective and important to the team setting up guys who can get it in the hole.

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My thought on Kwamain is that he's never played with this much talent in the lineup. Before he was the only player who could break someone down off the dribble. Now, McCall, Jordair and even Dwayne can get into the lane for layups. We also have better shooters than before and Cassity doesn't seem hesitant to shoot like he did his first three years. Kwam is having to adjust to the role of actually being a distributor as much as scorer, and he's being effective in doing so. There have been numerous times when he made the pass that led to the assist, the "hockey assist" pass I've heard it called.

Kwam is having to adjust to a team he's never seen and it's taking him some time. I believe that even if he starts stroking the J, his numbers will be down a little from two years ago, but he can be just as effective and important to the team setting up guys who can get it in the hole.

On really good teams the scoring seems to be distributed - players do not normally average 20 points a game routinely - you see a more 12-15 ppg thing happening with maybe 3-5 players. In the tourney in CA, KM had some good shooting games but I do agree with you that he has so many more weapons to help him that honestly he would be doing the team a disservice if he tried to be the main man as before. When Is saw JJ last year I knew he was going to be something special. He has the size - not height - speed, and physical ability that none of our guards have had for many years. Nobody and I mean nobody can push him around and that is a key at to why he will be a special player for us. I understand that he has to improve his outside shooting but it is not bad as it is - with just a little improvement he can open things up for himself as to where he will be unstoppable.

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On really good teams the scoring seems to be distributed - players do not normally average 20 points a game routinely - you see a more 12-15 ppg thing happening with maybe 3-5 players. In the tourney in CA, KM had some good shooting games but I do agree with you that he has so many more weapons to help him that honestly he would be doing the team a disservice if he tried to be the main man as before. When Is saw JJ last year I knew he was going to be something special. He has the size - not height - speed, and physical ability that none of our guards have had for many years. Nobody and I mean nobody can push him around and that is a key at to why he will be a special player for us. I understand that he has to improve his outside shooting but it is not bad as it is - with just a little improvement he can open things up for himself as to where he will be unstoppable.

The Portland coach Eric Reveno was quoted in the ESPN.com recap as follows:

"We have played some good teams and they are the most skilled and toughest that we have probably played in terms of execution and just good basketball".

The lead of the article is "Portland lost by 24 to top ranked Kentucky last week. Pilots coach Eric Reveno believes St. Louis is better"

Reveno goes on to say that he does not think we could beat them at Kentucky but this is really high praise! Interesting stuff!

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