Good morning folks!
for Newtman: I haven't sat down for a meal, but will be making Carbonara in a bit if anyone else wakes up.
The reason I post is to explain why getting Kopriva was such a coup especially in light of the most recent Kenner League postings by a number of GWHoopsters. Here is the deal... football quarterback. Coming out of high school, there are two extremes in the preparation for the next level that you see--HS quarterbacks and HS basketball stars.
The acid test is when you get a bunch of those folks mixed together and see what happens. The football players are seeing a game that changes in an instant. They are forced to adapt to the immediate situation. The guy who has to do that most often is the guy holding the ball. On the other extreme is the basketball star with great physical attributes. Watch guys play a high level AAU game and you see a slow and predictable sport. The coaches are basically showcasing the physical attributes of their players. Other than seeing two guys go head-to-head, that's about it.
Why did, Kopriva seem to get rave reviews in camp play? He understands the benefits of basic technique. He has been coached on footwork to the nth degree. Most high school players don't appreciate the speed and precision of the college game until they are deep into their sophomore year and their coach keeps yanking them off the floor. Which brings me back to one of my favorite Colonials Carl Elliott. What do Carl and John have in common? Remember in Carl's last year, his shooting was sort of "not" there, but he willed us to the tourney after the GW bigs had brain farts and couldn't manage to block out defensively on free throws? Carl took the number one spot.
John, has the foot-speed to outrun some cornerbacks and safeties. He can hold the ball and run; he can think with the ball in his hands. He can pass. What's more, he has the understanding to influence the actions of the defender. Back to the AAU team or your basic high school basketball team and you see very monotonous basketball. The same thing over and over. Very little happens out of the half-court game other than outside shots or guys being taken off the dribble. Remember that GW's best player (IMHO) came to college with a huge rep about taking folks off the dribble and think back on Tony's freshman season and how rough it was on him. The game is different. The opportunities are much less and you have to do all the influencing and changing your tactics and you have to do it lighteningly quick.
OK, so the report from MV and others says/implied that Copes was frustrated by Kopriva. That's a guy who is at least 30 lbs lighter, shorter, and without the obvious muscle. We also see a guy who is confident enough to take a meaningful shot that he created with a step back and hit it. Quarterback--albeit a six-foot--seven quarterback.
On Copes, do I wish he were in the GW family still? Absolutely. Clearly, there is a lot there from the comments. I pretty much know that Copes' frustration at games end is a competitive manifestation--a feeling that many of us have felt at one point or another if one plays a sport at a competitive level. Managing that reaction and improving is all part of that journey. More, though, Copes was, as I said earlier in a High School sports nest. He had great potential. He has been a man among boys and hasn't had a lot of new stuff thrown at him. Then, he gets taken to the woodshed by a skinny kid from Wisconsin who, potentially, might have been his teammate for four years.
OK, back to Kopriva. I mentioned elsewhere that he had a number of the qualities of a Walt. I absolutely don't expect the scoring machine that could go up against a Dr. J, but I do see some of the defensive tools and quality in the paint to limit damage against good teams. Competitor... Battler... Awareness and very good athlete in one package.
From just a few clips and your comments, are we seeing a Mike Brown in Copes? Not unless he gets a lot better in two months. I remember the freshman year battle between Mike and Patrick Ewing. Gtown won, but the game in the paint was the battle. Patrick had been making mince meat of his previous competition. They had already played St. Leo's, I am sure. Then he ran into Mike.Brown who had the footwork and speed to go with his size and it kept Ewing out of his sweet spot. I remember multiple missed jams as Ewing smacked the ball off the front of the rim.
The best part of the battle however was that, as was the situation in the day when there was no network desk to cut back to the moment the game ended, the broadcasters had a bunch of time to fill and, if you remember, during that time, Ewing was kept away from the press, so commentators did the next best thing and pulled Mike Brown in... and started with the classic first question, "Great game ...." and as I remember, he started with "Actually ...." and proved within the first sentence that he was a very smart and articulate guy. The interview was hugely memorable and was the foreshadowing on a wonder career as a Colonial, professional career and now coaching. Is Copes a Mike Brown. No. We know that. Even as a freshman, Brown could kill you if you let him down to the low blocks.
I am also thinking that the trio of Edwards, Warren and especially Pellom will flourish under the Lonergan coaching staff. They may not know it or want to accept it yet, but they will if they so choose. Take a guy like Pellom who has amazing talents and see what he has accomplished so far at GW. Except for a couple really great games, it comes down to a lot of "coulda, shoulda, and wouldas." If we could get 20 UNCC games rather than 2 per season, it would be a whole different story. Compare his play to Dwayne from the last half of this past season and you are seeing a difference, if only in appearance, of one player who will do anything to win and one who is, as we say in some sports, a passenger on the bus.
Based on skill and physical talents alone, David Pellom most likely would be the starting 5. GW has several options for 2 to 4 to see David getting significant time at 4. One has to get guys who can score on the floor. If you are just alley-oops and you are a rebounder, then you may end up in today's GW team at 5, which he would be more than capable to handle. I am also guessing that ML and staff have called off the dogs on a guard signing for this year as they are aware that they can cover 1 and 2 with many combinations. Their focus became 2012 at guard, fairly early on. Bynes' play/improvement over the season was impressive and reports from Kenner have been even more encouraging.
What I see for 2011/12 other than a new coaching staff is a team that will be far less likely to beat itself and survive the tougher shooting games. Just like Mikic was part of the puzzle last year, Kopriva will come in to make that doable this year. We will go about 10 deep so there will be some running. In Lonergan, you have a coach who will try to exploit match-ups. We also have a team that can go from very good small to very good big with two subs. That's also something that ML will do. Heck, he could do it with just one... start with TT, BB, LK, DS, and JE. Then take out BB and slot in DP at 4 to make TT, LK, DS, DP, and JE.
So, again, where does this leave us? To Coach Hobbs' credit, by year's end, we had gotten to the point where we would get that run that he so often talked about to win a game. Not all the time and it was high enough risk to give people ulcers. As market watchers would say, our approach under Hobbs had a high Beta. It was risky. Hobbs had a very decent team assembled, no doubt. In Lonergan, you have a coach who is in the classic steal points through a steady, well-oiled offense that creates open looks and then gives up little in transition or in set defenses. Force the opponent to take difficult shots and give up few freebies.
All being said, my hopes were that we could become an East Coast version of Gonzaga--attractive private smaller school playing an upscale schedule and taking on all comers and winning or keeping any game close by playing solid ball.
So what does this have to do with Kopriva? Well, he is the type of player who will get that last board and hit that last shot that kills you. Gonzaga routinely has 4 to 7 guys with that skill set.at the college level. In Davis and Kopriva, we have two guys who will eventually be there in my opinion. They are proven money players who can hone their skills for the next level. I also think that guys like Aaron Ware will be more successful offensively in a Lonergan offense. The transition will come from a requirement of a whole new set of skills from our 3-4-5 players. If they can get it rolling, this team will, in my opinion, experience a great awakening.
OK, newtman, everyone woke up so I can make breakfast.