Hello Followers. Hope you’ve had a nice, long weekend. I know I sure did.
Fortunately for all of us, our young Cougies also were able to gain some solace from our fortunes the past weekend. But that sure didn’t stop Ken Bone and others from exploring the possibility of a line-up change.
Don’t know about you, but count this Sutra in as a guy who believes that a trip to the post-season demands a major shake-up. Want to know how I would re-structure our lineup and rotations? Then read on.
Followers, outside of the “we can’t start” and “we lose big leads between the 10 and 5 minute marks of the second half” stuff, there are several much BIGGER challenges facing our young Cougs both now and in the future. Here they are in a nutshell:
1) We are undersized.
2) We can’t rebound even after we’ve forced missed shots (see Oregon game).
3) We have no consistent offensive presence in the post.
4) Our stars are playing too much and are wearing down.
Within these problems are a couple of obvious points:
1) We are playing guys at the 4 spot who are not power forwards, and even worse, don’t have baseline games that allow them to out-quick guys down low.
2) Most of our rotations revolve aroudn a three guard lineup with only two guards who are perimeter threats.
What this means practically is as follows: Because we can’t score down low, other teams are able to clog the outer reaches of the paint. This makes driving difficult for guys like Klay and Capers and it also allows other teams to have lots of guys that can contest our mid to long-range jumpers. The result: We tend to score in bunches, and when we do, its because of talent–not because we are getting great looks.
As a consequence, the central idea for my line-up change is based on two basic principles. The first is for us to get away from using Abe and Nick as power forwards, at least until the end of games and/or halves. By making that change, I think we are more apt to create weakside rebounding opportunities on offense and defense. The second is to find more creative ways to generate offense out of the three spot. By doing that, I think we will not only be able to take tremendous pressure off of Moore and Klay, I think we will also be able to take advantage of Capers’ biggest asset: His length and versatility.
With that all in mind, here is my idea for a basic rotation structure to use from here on out. Keep in mind, that this is meant to be a structure: Particular match-ups and game circumstance (foul trouble and score) can and should require tinkering by Bone and his staff.
20-15 minute mark 1st Half:
PG=Moore; SG=Klay; SF=Xavier; PF=Casto; C=Charlie
With Xavier on the floor, we start each game with offense, offense, offense. Xavier provides a triple threat for us starting games. He can drive, he can shoot, and he can set up the offense, allowing Moore to get in a groove without killing the ability of others to get touches. Meanwhile, by starting Casto at the 4, he will be able to roam the weakside glass on offense at the same time that he can more freely roam the paint to shot block against penetration as well as play weakside shot-blocker a la Ivory Clark back in the day. More offense + More rebounding = Better starts. Nuff said.
15-10 minute mark 1st Half:
PG=Capers; SG=Klay; SF=Nick; PF=Watson; C=Casto
Capers enters the game to guard the other team’s point guard. Hey Thomas, Wise, Randle, and Gerrity, you boys like the idea of chasing Moore around to start a game? How about getting a nice whiff of a 6-6 manchild in your grill for the next five minutes? In this second lineup, we go “big” in the front court. Nick is able to use all of his skills on the perimeter and on the baseline operating out of the 3 spot. Watson and Casto provide hops on the glass as well as speed to wear down other post players in transition. Meanwhile, other teams with small point guards either have to guard Klay (good luck with that) or Capers. In the later case, Nick sets up the offense and we run Capers on the low-block for post up opportunities. Oh yeah, try to keep Watson and Casto off the glass when other teams have to rotate for help.
10-5 Minute Mark 1st Half:
PG= Moore; SG=Xavier; SF=Capers; PF=Nick; C=Watson/Charlie
Klay gets a five minute blow in this stretch. Moore and Xavier provide plenty of offensive punch. Capers continues to play his baseline game and Nick provides a match-up problem for the other power forwards. Watson and Charlie continue to be overmanned just as they have been, but at this point, this is all about holding a game—not gaining ground.
5-0 Minute Mark 1st Half:
PG=Moore; SG=Klay; SF=Capers; PF=Casto; C=Charlie
With Klay and Moore in a groove at this point, we return to an offense that is perimeter and baseline focused at the same time that we have more presence and girth on the glass. Casto and Charlie provide increased size and length to run Klay off of screens. Ideally, Casto’s size on the weakside provide back-door screen opportunities for Capers to get some mammoth alley-oop dunks.
20-15 Minute Mark 2nd Half:
PG=Moore; SG=Klay; SF=Xavier; PF=Casto; C=Charlie
Start the second half the same way you start the first. Lots of offense, much more rebounding.
15-10 Minute Mark 2nd Half:
PG=Capers; SG=Xavier; SF=Nick; PF=Lodwick; C=Casto
In this five minute stretch, both Moore and Klay sit down so they are on the court and have energy for the last 10 minutes of the game. If other teams want to put a point on Xavier, I like his ability to break them down. Nick and Lodwick provide opportunities to spread the court so that Capers can post up down low. Casto stays in to help with the rebounding, which in this lineup has 4 guys on the court who are 6-6 or taller. This now become a stretch to hold the game as is.
10-5 Minute Mark 2nd Half:
PG=Moore; SG=Klay; SF=Capers; PF=Nick; C=Charlie/Watson
In this critical stretch, we play all of our regulars (less the Center spot) who now have been rested for five minutes. In the meantime, Casto sits on the bench resting his legs for the final five minute push. This lineup should be able to score. And with either Charlie or Watson fresh, we should have enough energy to hold down low.
5-3 Minute mark 2nd Half:
PG=Moore; SG=Klay; SF=Xavier; PF=Casto; C=Charlie/Watson
To close the game, we re-introduce the starting line up to promote both scoring and rebounding. In so doing, we allow both Nick and Capers to get needed blows for the final 3 minutes.
3-0 Minute Mark 2nd Half:
PG=Moore; SG=Klay; SF=Capers/Xavier; PF= Nick; C=Casto
To close the game, we go with the usual suspects who have closed games. If the team that was on the floor previously is in a groove, then we don’t need to tinker much. In fact, if we’re in a zone, we might even consider throwing Capers in at the 4. Regardless, at this point, no one on the team has played more than 30 minutes, so we should be able to finish. What is important in my mind is that by putting Xavier on the floor late, we’ve got another scorer that can make teams PAY for overplaying Klay and Moore. Of course, if they don’t, either of those two guys will eat other teams alive.
So, there you have it, Sutra’s cure-all line-up for the Cougs. Would there be growing pains? Sure. But we’re facing those anyway. However, with the addition of a more robust front line to go along with a more high-powered backcourt, I think that this team has both the shooting and the length to make this really, really interesting the rest of the way.
Now, can we please find a way—ANY WAY—to beat SC????
Enjoy your week. And Go Cougs!