January 12, 2008

Signals from the hardwood

Surprisingly Slow: Most small basketball teams make up for their lack of size with an excess of quickness. One would expect Bob Knight's Red Raiders, hardly a large team by anybody's standards, to be very quick. Those expectations would have been frustrated based upon what one saw in the loss to [tm]Oklahoma State[/tm]. In short, the Cowboy's made Tech look slow. And this was particularly evident at the guard positions, where Byron Eaton, Terrell Harris, James Anderson and Obi Manuelo repeatedly broke down the Tech guards off the dribble. Their ability to do this produced the soft perimeter defense that yielded Oklahoma State's terminal three-point explosion midway through the second half.

Not Ready for Big 12 Roughhousing: The Cowboy guards abused their Red Raider counterparts in another area as well. Specifically, they got in Tech's kitchen and the Red Raiders could not cope. The Cowboys were constantly slapping and digging at the ball and were grabbing and banging the Red Raiders off the ball. As a result, Tech guards Martin Zeno, Alan Voskuil, John Roberson and Charles Burgess committed a combined 12 turnovers. They also shot 8 of 29 from the floor. If the Red Raider guards cannot handle the intense Big 12 defense they will see the rest of the season, Bob Knight may have to wait a good long while to get his 900th career win.

Beanpole City: Although the Red Raiders actually fared pretty well on the glass against Oklahoma State, one could not help noticing the size and strength differential between the two teams. The Cowboys suited up powerfully-built players such as Martavius Adams, Obi Manuelo, Byron Eaton and Ibrahima Thomas, while the Red Raiders trotted out a bunch of string beans. It looked like Charles Atlas and his band o' bullies against Shaggy, Scooby and the gang from the Mystery Machine. This is the sort of physical disparity that used to plague the Tech football team back in the Jerry Moore years.

Sand in the Gears: A key reason Tech scored only 55 points was the inability of point guards John Roberson and Charles Burgess to initiate the offense. Both players were locked up by a Cowboy defense that was constantly knocking balls away, creating turnovers, and forcing bad shots. (Roberson hurled at least two airballs on the afternoon.) This is the sort of defense Tech used to play, and until Roberson and Burgess learn to combat it effectively, the Red Raiders will struggle horrifically on the offensive end.

Broad Sides of Barns Need Not Fear: One final note on the guards as a group: 0 for 6 from three-point range. If you can't shoot, can't initiate the offense and can't defend…well…I don't even want to say.

Yo-Yo Man: John Roberson has probably the highest dribble I've ever seen. He is five-foot-eleven and dribbles the ball about five-foot-ten. Roberson could get away with that method against Plano East. He may have to shorten up his stroke if he's going to be effective as a point guard in the Big 12.

Another RMK Mind Boggler: Clearly, part of coach Sean Sutton's game plan was to play extremely physical defense against skinny Tech guard Alan Voskuil. And the refs allowed them to do just that. Oklahoma State's Terrell Harris and Obi Muonelo badgered and bruised Voskuil off the ball all day long and the referees essentially swallowed their whistles. About a third of the way through the second half Voskuil decided he'd had about enough. Muonelo threw a body block on Voskuil that would have made Kamala the Ugandan Giant proud. No call. A frustrated Voskuil retaliated by slamming into-and bouncing off of-Muonelo at which point the ref called a double foul. How does Bob Knight treat this rare instance of spirited and aggressive play? He benches Voskuil for the remainder of the game. Score one for Sutton Jr. against the Hall of Famer.

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