March 1, 2006
Hello Tiger Fans,
I wanted to talk a little about the trip to Tulane. Obviously, everyone knows what happened down in New Orleans, and there isn't anything that I can say to make someone understand what actually occurred. The only thing I can really say is that it was very humbling and made me even more grateful for what I have than I ever did before.
Lots of people have been asking when are we going to wear our black uniforms? Well, we finally pulled them out for the Tulane game. Coach Cal has always liked the blue uniforms much better than our black. Why that is, I don't know. You would have to ask him. Allowing us to wear the black uniforms, however, did give us a little more incentive to play hard. He told us before we flew down to New Orleans that if we did not have high energy and intensity in the first half, then we would change into our blue uniforms at halftime, and we would not wear the black uniforms again the rest of the year. I think you could tell we were ready to play, and we definitely made sure that we were not going to allow that to happen.
I received an email in which someone wanted to know why we do not look to go into the post more. He said that both Joey and Kareem are capable of scoring down low and that it does not seem that they touch the ball enough.
He is right about both Joey and Kareem. They can both score the ball well in the post. There are several reasons why they do not get the ball more than they do. The first is that we have other players that can post up as well in Shawne and Robert. When we have as many guys as we do that can score in the post, everyone is going to have to sacrifice a little.
Our offense is designed to either drive the ball to the basket or kick it back out for threes. And, a lot of our post-ups are actually done a little further out from the basket than the block (like the traditional post up). Shawne and Robert post up from about 8-10 feet. You might say that is too far out to post up, but let's analyze it a little bit. We have not played a team that has a player that is as tall as those two are and also has the athletic ability that they have. What happens when we give the ball to those two about 8-10 feet from the basket is it forces the other team make a choice on where they are going to send the help from. If they double, their height allows them to pass out with ease, allowing an open shot from the perimeter or an easy dunk form Joey or Kareem. If the team decides to play straight up, then they get to the basket for a lay-up or they get to the foul line for a couple of free throws. Basketball is a game of match-ups and every team tries to exploit the biggest match-up, and for us, that is Shawne and Robert. If you watched what the Phoenix Suns did with Amare Stoudamire last year, that is pretty similar to what we do with these two guys. It allows us to exploit a mismatch and to spread the floor and allow our athleticism to become more of a factor in the game.
We want to get the ball in the low post, but we have to play to the strengths of our entire team and not just one or two individuals. If we haven't scored for awhile and need to stop a run, we will go immediately in the post to try to get the momentum on our side. We just have to go to our playmakers, and Shawne and Robert are just that - playmakers.
No coach ever wants a player not to succeed. The problem on this team is we have so many guys that can make plays that someone is going to have to make some sacrifices. All coach really asks from us on the offensive end is for everyone to make easy plays for one another. That requires each of us to accept a role. Each player's role on this team is not the same. If that player played for another school, the role would not be the same as it is here. As long as we continue to accept our role on this team and don't get jealous of each other, we will tough to beat. There will be nights where Kareem and Joey will get the ball in the post more than they usually do. There will also be nights where they don't get the ball as much. The key is to keep winning ball games by making easy plays for each other, finding the person with the hot hand, not being jealous of any teammates, and to happy for each other's success. Every player succeeds as long as the team is succeeding, even if some are not playing as well as they are capable of.
I appreciate all of the questions, comments and emails I have received. I hope to receive some more from you soon.
Go Tigers Go,