After 5 more games, here’s my updated take on the team.
First, we are a bad major conference team. I don’t understand why people are optimistic for next season (or even later this season). This team is struggling because we don’t have any big-ten caliber front line players. Our problem is not youth/inexperience, its that our current roster makeup isn’t going to be successful. Unless ED brings in a JUCO power forward/center, we’re going to struggle again next year. Our front line is putting up stats simply because its impossible not to record 6 and 6 when you play 25 minutes a game.
KidC is dead-on in his assessment of our offense - without any post presence, its abysmal. No matter how good Battle/Buie are next season, a front line of Brooks/Jackson/Jones/Ott isn’t going to win games. I’m guessing ED sees it as well, and he’s going to start opening up scholarships next season for a JUCO (likely Oliver/Woodyard). People need to be realistic - its shocking that fans think we’re a lock for the tourney next season, and even more so, that we’re going to be a lot better in a few months with the same roster.
Also, Gottlieb is one of the best announcers on TV. How many other announcers would have picked up on these tidbits from two of the least notable major-conference teams: (a) Frazier can’t go left, (b) Davila has the best jump hook in the conference, and © VaTech’s terrible defensive spacing. Gottlieb is annoying to many because he takes positions on the issues (unlike Dickie V/Rafterty), but he was great today. I was amazed he knew that much about the two teams today.
As far as specifics:
Battle - playing as well as he can. He should be honorable mention AA. Agreed on the criticisms that his FF form is broken - and it cost him today. Can’t say enough about him.
Frazier - really struggling. Doesn’t have the offensive game yet to compete at this level. I’m starting to temper my expectations for him a bit. He has some serious flaws in his game (no left, no shot) that are going to prevent him from being a big contributor in the near future.
Edwards - great basketball sense, but he’s also going to struggle until he devotes himself to the weightroom. If he transforms his body over the next 12 months, he could be a huge asset. ED should be getting him more minutes now.
Jackson - Jackson is playing better lately, but the problem is that he’s playing the 4 spot with no toughness/rebounding. He’s overmatched down-low and its going to hurt next month. The Sacred Heart game was a complete mirage - that front line was DII caliber. Yes, 11 FTs, but at least 5 were on jumpers and the SH defenders looked like high school kids.
Brooks - he’s also really struggling. Today was another example of him disappearing against physical teams. He’s crucial to having a somewhat respectable season, so hopefully ED can get through.
Jones - Jones is giving the team nothing at the 5. You are going to average 6 and 6 just by playing 25-30 minutes a game.
For our starting front line, there’s a great stat that Hollinger uses in the NBA called replacement value, which takes into account how much better or worse player x is than the average NBA player at his position. Where PSU struggles is that each of its front-line players get seemingly decent statistics, but we need to remember that these are so far below average for the big ten. We are getting nothing out of our front court statistically, and what compounds the problem is that none of them have any post-up games that allow the offense to work.
Babb/Woodward - I don’t understand why Babb is getting more minutes than Woodyard. Babb is too one-dimensional, and at some point, he can’t keep sending him out there to go 1-5.
Ott - played his heart out today, but he’s just too slow to give effective minutes. It is clear watching the game he’s overmatched physically.
Sasa - I’m starting to worry about him as well - if he can’t get minutes on this frontline, then that is a problem.
Depth - Many people are also saying this is the deepest team we’ve ever had under ED, but I don’t see it. Realistically, ED is going 7 deep (with Ott/Woodward getting token minutes). And after Battle, 2-7 are nowhere near the caliber of guys like Pringle/Cornley/Morrisey. I knew we’d miss Pringle, but even Morrisey is a huge loss now.
Overall, I’m guessing that 8-4, 5-13, 0-1 for 13-18 is about right for this year. This team is not going to get a lot better as the season goes on - it just has too many missing parts. Even if some of our young players improve as the season goes on, its doesn’t change the roster. And that’s the problem. We’re going to see a lot more games like this in the next months (where 4/5/6 guys have 1-fers)
As far as ED’s coaching, he’s doing a decent job with a very limited roster. However, I’d like to see Edwards/Sasa get more minutes. Also, I agree with the posters saying that its NCAA tournament or bust next year for ED. If ED doesn’t get Battle to the tournament next year, he should be fired. At some point with ED, enough is enough and let’s get someone in here who can get the job done. The NIT run was great, but that shouldn’t buy him another 3/4 years.