Thursday, November 26, 2009

Looking for a sign

Economists and financial experts search daily for signs the country is pulling out of the "Great Recession." Black Bears fans are no different, looking for something, anything from the 2009-10 edition that signals an end to several season's worth of hoops doldrums.

Through five games (remember, it's only five games), there's not much to hang our hats on. In fact, we've already seen many familiar warning signs: blown leads, second-half defensive meltdowns, poor shooting, home arena woes, just to name a few.

It surely must not sit well with some fans and the coaching staff to come back from the season-opening road trip and put up a performance that was described as "tired" the following day in the Bangor Daily News.

The obvious question is: Given the results of the past few seasons and all the pre-season talk of finishing games and a renewed emphasis on in-game leadership, how does this happen?

Forty-six points and a 13-point loss to Quinnipiac in the home opener? Coming off a game at Brown in which a team picked to finish last in the Ivy League scored 43 second-half points to beat the Black Bears.

Already this year, teams are focusing on Gerald McLemore and daring anyone else on the Black Bears to pick up the slack. Shooting 30 percent at home is not picking up the slack.

The bench has been almost non-existent through the early going. The offense comes and goes (and that's not unusual in basketball), but when the defense plays in spurts ... that's when you have problems.

Newcomer Terrance Mitchell has given the Black Bears a lift at times, but he's having trouble staying on the floor, fouling out in three of the five games. Jerrell Boswell, reportedly a new-found outside shooting threat, can't be found, playing about five minutes total with a DNP Tuesday.

On the positive side, the Black Bears knocked off two teams (A-10 bottom feeder Fordham and MEAC cellar-dweller Delaware State) they should beat and surrendered a lead late in a loss to Norfolk State (expected to contend in the MEAC).

Then came Brown and Quinnipiac and the ghosts of seasons past could be heard in the wind.

It's only five games, but ... It's only five games.

Are we already pinning our hopes on the return of Malachi Peay and the arrival of Travon Wilcher?


MattT said...

I attended the home opener and it reminded me of last year. Way too much reliance of the 3-ball. It's an ongoing theme for Ted Woodward's teams. From Ernest Turner to Jon Sheets to Mark Socoby it's been bombs away baby. Notice I didn't mention Kevin Reed. You had to let him shoot, because every shot he took looked like it was going in. You just leave that alone. Maybe I'm old school, but I'm not a fan of an offense that lives and dies by the 3. Now if you have Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin on the court that's one thing, but when Sean McNally and Troy Barnies are shooting more than 1 in a game, I have a major issue. Barnies has the best post moves on team and he's playing point forward at the high post in most of the sets?
Woodward mentioned during his pre-game interview that they were trying to implement a faster tempo with more pressure and trapping going forward. Let's hope so because they can't get it done in the half court based on what I've seen. Things get bogged down because Junior is the only guy that can get to the basket. That being said he can't make runners anymore and when he gets to the line, it's an adventure.
I hate to say it, but we are pinning our hopes on Peay and Wilcher. They need to add defense and energy to this group or they will run out of gas against Vermont, BU, and Stony Brook if not the rest of the league as well.

Dan King said...

Teams that are one dimensional, no matter what the one dimension is, are easy to defend. Black Bears have been extremely easy to defend the past several years.