Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Long Absence is Over

Man, it's been a while.

I'm sorry for the long absence, but I've had a lot of things going on in my personal life lately which has brought me away from my writing here.

So, what's been happening? Mainly, basketball. I've washed my hands of the football season.

Let's talk about what Scott Drew has been doing this year. I won't go game by game, but I'll try to do that from now on. For now, I'll just touch on the individual players and the team as a whole.

Aaron Bruce -
Man, this guy was in a sick shooting slump, but he looked like he busted out of that in a big way against Alcorn State, hitting 6 of 9 three pointers and generally looking like his old confident self. Even with the huge shooting slump, Bruce was able to contribute with tougher defense and leads the team in assists. We'll hope his shooting is back to stay, but even when it's not, Bruce is a great asset to have on the floor.

Curtis Jerrells -
This is another guy that hasn't exactly been lighting it up after a very good freshman year, but he was warming up last night scoring 16 points and he also made it a point to feed Bruce, and racked up 6 assists in the game. I am hoping that Jerrells can get back to driving to the hole more, a role that we don't seem to be filling often enough. Jerrells is great around the basket and it'd be nice to see him driving it.

Henry Dugat -
It really looks like he's coming into his own this year. Averaging 16 points per game, Dugat has kept the team alive with his scoring, especially in the Colorado State game. This guy is such a fantastic athlete that when it truly all comes together, he's going to be even better, but I think we are starting to see what Dugat is capable of, and that's quite a bit.

Demond "Tweety" Carter -
I have to admit that I am a bit surprised with how well Tweety has been playing. He's shown himself to be more of a pure point guard than I thought we would see this early in the year. I didn't think there was any way he'd have enough playing time to earn Baylor a third straight Freshman All-American honor, but with the way he's playing, I might be wrong. I don't know if he'll have the scoring opportunities to make All-American, but he's already had a good impact on the team and I think there's more to come from this young player.

Kevin Rogers -
The third leading scorer on the team, Rogers has shown flashes of being very good, but has also shown the tendency to disappear for stretches. He's averaging 12 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game, but he has a lot more in him. If he was a little more active around the basket, he'd be able to get a few more put back baskets and a few more offensive rebounds. Rogers is shooting a very, very good percentage on his shots at nearly 62% of his field goals. I hope that we see the guards getting Rogers the ball and Rogers doing more with it when he gets it as we finish out this relatively easy streak of the non-conference leading up to the South Carolina game. Rogers has the potential to have a HUGE impact on the end result of this season.

Tim Bush -
Tim has shown true senior leadership. A guy that many, including myself, had relegated to very few minutes and little impact has shown that he is going to do what it takes to help this team win. He's battling down low for rebounds and baskets, he's hitting over 63% of his 3-pointers, and averaging 8.8 points per game. A true "glue" guy, Bush's willingness to come off the bench and play hard, I think we can look to this guy to help us win games, maybe more than we thought.

Mamadou Diene -
Diene is having a pretty standard year for him: 5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. He's still recovering from a badly sprained ankle, and I think we'll see all of those numbers increase, but he's still doing a good job of staying active and doing his best to work hard. He's averaging only 22 minutes, which I think is a good amount for him, and as he more fully recovers from his injury, I think we'll see him playing a few more minutes and being a lot more productive.

Josh Lomers -
What a solid player for a true freshman. Averaging 7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, Lomers is proving to be a very good substitute for Diene as he brings a little bit more offense and a more thorough knowledge of the game of basketball. He's still got to improve his endurance (he's got asthma), he's got to improve his strength even more, but this kid is going to be very good in a year or two. He's not the athlete that Dou is (there are very few 7 footers that are), but his understanding of the game is evident and helps him a great deal.

Injuries -
Pat Fields and Penny Thiam have both suffered injuries. Thiam is done for the year with a torn ACL, but showed a great deal of athleticism and a great need for some added strength. The redshirt year should help him a lot in being able to make a difference and contribute. Fields should be back soon and he's going to add a new dimension to the team. Fields is the best at driving the ball to the hoop and drawing contact/fouls. And he does a good job of converting those fouls into points. Getting Fields back will do nothing but make this team better. I can't wait to get him back.

Overall -
We are better than I thought we would be based on one main thing: Bruce and Jerrells hadn't really shown up until last night, but we were 3-1 and played a good Gonzaga team on the road in Spokane very competitively. With Bruce and Jerrells looking like they are getting back to form, I think the team has the chance to take off.

There are plenty of areas we need to improve in. Interior offense HAS to get better. Diene and Lomers have combined for 12 points per game, and that needs to be at LEAST 15+ for this team to seriously think about postseason play. I'd like to see it north of 18 points per game, unless Rogers is going to pick up some of that slack by averaging around 14-16 points per game.

We also need to improve our defense. It hasn't been awful, but it could be a lot better. I'm not sure if it's the young players not playing with a lot of confidence, but whatever it is, we need to firm it up and get the right mindset.

All in all, I think we are looking at a NIT team, with an outside chance of the NCAA, and a decent chance that the team stays home, barring improvement. If I had to put money on it, I'd say we finished in the NIT, but it'll be easier to say as we get into conference play.

Baylor plays Grambling tomorrow night. Be sure to tune in and check out a game that should be an easy win for the Bears.


lpret said...

One of the things I like about our lineup this year is that we have depth with so many threats. You take CJ and Bruce off the court, and you let in Tweety and Dugat. You take Pat off the court and you let in Bush. You take off Mamadou and, oh wait, there's another 7 footer waiting in the wings. I think this depth alone will take us further than people expect.

JudgeChamber said...

Our depth is only going to get better the more playing time the younger guys get.

Bush has been a huge surprise for me personally, and I think for most Baylor fans. He's really been playing smart and hard. Just what you should expect from a senior. Makes me sorry I doubted him.

lpret said...

Yeah, seriously, where did Bush come from? I know he's the "emotional leader" and all that fluff, but his production and intelligence on the court has been phenomenal.

With Penny out, this puts a strain on our already weak forward situation. With Rogers, Fields, Bush, Shep, Hurd, and good ol' Jari, it's a fairly weak part of our team.

I guess we can get away without a SF as long as we run a three guard set (and with our stable of guards, why wouldn't we?) but that PF spot is still pretty thin.

JudgeChamber said...

I think Fields will be a huge addition to the team. He just has to learn to kick out to the open man on those drives to the basket.

I'm hoping to have Fields wow me against South Carolina, though in all probability it will take him a game or two to get into swing.