There is something that has been nagging at me for a while, but I couldn’t articulate it until reading our good friend Hawks#1Fan posts. The conventional wisdom is that we are much more “talented” than the rest of the A10, and that we are poorly coached, but I don’t think its true. We do have a deeper bench than the rest of the league, and we have great athletes, but that doesn’t equate to talent. While I wouldn’t trade our roster with anyone else in the league, we don’t have any clear cut all league players. With the eception of Mike Hall and TJ our players don’t have the classic skill set for their positions. Pops can jump out of the gym, but is not a great defender or rebounder. I don’t think you can say he is clearly more talented than Thornton or Freeman. I love JR’s defense and mid range game, but I don’t think he is more talented than Pat Carroll.
While I think the talent gap is eaggerated, I don’t really see “coaching gap”. Given our personnel, we should be vulnerable to a half court, feed the post offense. We have covered up that weakness in personnel by trapping defense and weak side held. We have also been burned when teams beat the trap or get those second chances because we haven’t blocked out because of the weak side help. But I think that that is more eecution (either great eecution by our opponents or poor eecution on defense) than coaching. Similarly, given our personnel, we should be vulnerable to a 23 or match up zone, but we have consistently have had disciplined and effective offense schemes against those zones. That patience and discipline against the zone (more than we had under Jarvis or Penders) is a result of coaching.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we are the best team in the A10, and when we play to our potential one of the 25 best teams in country. It just seems like the hype of our “talent” advantage has gone to our heads. We win when we play smothering defense and create easy baskets. If we come out with less energy than the other team our weaknesses are eposed and we look average. I just hope we can learn that before our tournament hopes get away.