Monday, December 8, 2008

12 Thoughts from Basketball Weekend

Back to the way things should be for the Cards this weekend with 2 blowout victories against Indiana State and Ohio on Saturday and Sunday. I was fortunate enough to attend both games. Here are 12 takes/thoughts/observations on what I saw...

1 - First and foremost, T-Will's scissor-kick-windmill dunk against Indiana State goes down as one of the nastiest I have ever seen in person. His eyes were level to the rim and Dominique Wilkins would have been proud. Remember, this comes from a guy that had knee surgery something like a month ago. Here's the link - thanks to reader Jerb for posting it.

2- Jerry "Raindrops" Smith is back on track after an extremely rough start. I have always said that the team goes as Jerry goes. If he's hot, we win games. If he's off, we struggle more. Plus, Jerry is the type of player that feeds off his offense. He hits a big three and usually a steal is in the near future. I am concerned with the amount of tikky-tack, nickel-dimers (fouls) that are being called on him. It has to be taking him off his game.

3- We all should be fortunate that Earl Clark is playing for us right now and not riding the pine for the Charlotte Bobcats or some other joke of an NBA team. 16 & 10 Saturday, 17 & 14 Sunday. His maturity level is surprising to say the least. E5 is making smart decisions and helping the team in all phases of the game. I would like to see Earl get the ball more with his back to the basket. he seems to thrive more as a post player than as a hybrid wing. I know when he gets the ball up top he is a threat, but he gets himself in better position and less trouble in the block.
4- Samardo was rather quiet for his standards for most of the game Sunday, until he went on a personal 12-2 run midway through the second half. He was 10-12 from the line this weekend. His foul-shooting is obviously very important due to how much he gets fouled and so far he is shooting over 82%.
5- Kyle Kuric got the start on Saturday. I don't know if it was a gesture from Coach Pitino because they were playing his home state school or if he earned it through practice. All I know is he looked as if he belonged and will be great to add much need back court depth. He plays hawk defense, has a smooth Jimmy Chitwood-esque stroke and is surprisingly athletic. Glad to see he has recovered fully from an early season ankle sprain.

6- LadyBirds are looking as good as ever - performance-wise of course. Makes me take the 'Smoking Area Ban' at the Hall a little easier during halftime. I wonder if any of those girls come to the L Yes!? You never know...

7- George Goode has been getting after it on the defensive end. He had three blocks in each game and altered just as many. His long arms make him play a lot bigger than he actually is. Team's need to take note that it's a bad choice to bring it into Goode's hood because it's coming back just as fast. Plus, after seeing him in practice and now 5 games, he can knock down an open 15 footer with ease. I am completely confident with Mr. Goode in the game.

8- Edgar Sosa just baffles me sometimes. One trip down he makes an incredible play and I'm praising him. Next time down he takes a contested shot or dribbles into a double team and I'm cursing him. I guess you must take the good with the bad with Edgar and just hope that the successes outweigh the mistakes. He does have a 2.5 to 1 assist/turnover ratio which is best on the team. As long as he keeps his cool, he will be fine.

9- The depth on this team is ridiculous. Therefore, we can did what we did last year and in 04 which is just wear the opposition down through pressing and pushing the ball at all times. If in a bind, Pitino could go 13 deep with really only Terrence Jennings and Will Scott being liabilities in certain spots. This will be very valuable in the cases of injury and foul-trouble. When a guys like Preston Knowles and Reggie Delk are having trouble finding PT, you know you're deep.

10- Speaking of Reggie Delk - Doesn't he remind you of Brandon Jenkins or is it just me? Same long frame, same motor, same decent three-point stroke, and a spark-plug off the bench. I like Reggie's game a whole lot and think he has all the tools to be a great player. However, he is entirely too unfamiliar with the Pitino scheme to be stealing any minutes away from Jerry Smith and Preston. As the season goes along and he becomes more in-tune to what's going on, he will come up huge. I see a couple game-changing plays from Reggie this season.

11- Shooting is our Achilles-heel. If we can't hit shots, the dreaded trickle-down effect occurs where defense, rebounding and tempo suffers. A Pitino team is going to shoot the basketball, but I'd like to see them pound the rock inside to 'Mardo and E5 if the shot isn't falling. Sometimes a couple of lay-ups or dunks can help the shooting woes get back. Fortunately for the Cards, the shots were falling at a staggering pace this weekend as they put up 52% against Ohio and 48.4% on Indiana St.

12- T-Will is going to have a couple more triple-doubles this year. He is the definite team leader this year and is minimizing his mistakes. Last year there would be times where he tried to do too much, whether it be throwing an ill-advised pass or taking an arrogant, contested shot. this year T-Will is letting the game come to him, looking to pass first and becoming the consummate teammate. Sometimes it seems his cockiness is overshadowing his play, but no - it's just T-Will being T-Will.

More on the game against Lamar tonight as the Cards hope to keep the ball rolling.

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