Well, that was a rough game. Syracuse pretty much let us have it, didn't they? Man.
Looking back at the last 9 games, we can certainly come to some more solid thoughts:
1) We are seriously struggling from behind the arc.
I know, we have three players shooting better than 40% and five better than 30%, but when we go up against good competition or when we are in a tough situation, it seems like we can't hit the wide open shots we are getting. It might be mental, but this is a serious area of concern, especially since it seems our entire offense is built around the 3-ball.
2) We are not dedicated to being fierce rebounders.
I know we have the athletes, it just doesn't look like we have the motivation. We don't have the players that have the attitude where they are going to get that ball. Or at the very least, the players that DO have that attitude are 6' tall.
Diene, Rogers, and Lomers seem very hesitant and even simply not interested in getting the tough rebounds. And it's showing up when they play teams of their approximate talent level. Having TWO 7' centers SHOULD give us a little bit of an edge in rebounding, or at least balance out the effect of having a three guard set.
Diene is averaging 6.8 rebounds per game, Rogers is averaging 7.0, and Lomers is averaging 2.9. That's 16.7 per game combined. I think we should be expecting Lomers and Diene alone to be combining for AT LEAST that many rebounds. Our guards are averaging less than 5 rebounds per game fewer than our posts... There's something wrong with that.
3) Our post players don't really get a chance
I understand that we are a 3-guard set and that we are putting a premium on our quickness. But we have GOT to put our post players to use. Rogers looks like he's getting better each game on the offensive end, but after he gets hot, the guards will go 4 or 5 possessions in a row where they swing the ball around the arc for 20 seconds and then jack up a three.
And here's the key, I don't really care if it's wide open or not. I know we have good shooters, but we have to force our opponents to at least make an effort at defending the paint. Think of how many wide open three pointers we'd have the chance to take if the defense had two guys glued to the paint? Think of how effective it would be if Rogers was averaging 16-18 ppg and was a FOCUS of the defense?
4) We don't believe in penetration on offense
Jerrells is getting better at this, but we swing the ball around so much, and never take it inside. Getting Fields back will make a big difference in this, but with all the talent we have at guard, we should be able to break people down more often. Watching Kelley on South Carolina ripping through our defense for layups made me shake my head and wonder, "Why can't we do that!? Shoot, why don't we even TRY to do that!?"
I have jumped off the ship or the bandwagon. I still believe that as this team matures (maybe not this year), they are going to be very good. And yes, there are bright silver linings. Rogers IS better than he was last year, so is Dou. Dugat has shown flashes of being incredible and Tweety is gaining confidence.
But this team needs Aaron Bruce to return to freshman form, it needs Curtis Jerrells to return to freshman form, and it needs the coaching staff to force them to be more aggressive. There's a lot of work left to be done and only four non-conference games left to go.