Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Floor Time

Eight games into the basketball season, the rotation has become pretty apparent.

First, a couple notes about the team's performance. Aside from the obvious, our offense has been scoring at a very impressive rate (third in the nation). Scoring 84.0 points a game (19th) is pretty good too. Defense is a different story, where we place out of the top 100 on efficiency. We struggle a bit on the boards, out of the 100 in receiving and giving up offensive rebounds. If a change in the rotation needs to be made, there has to be an added focus on defense and rebounding.

Enter Tyrone Nash. The 6'8" sophomore has shown the ability to be tough in the post in spurts and plays with a single-minded focus on the issues we need to fix. What I want for Christmas is additional playing time for Ty Nash or improved work on the boards by guys like Zeller and Hillesland. Heck, give me both.

Minutes per game so far-
  1. Jackson- 33.8
  2. McAlarney- 35.0
  3. Ayers- 29.4
  4. Hillesland- 24.9
  5. Harangody- 31.8 (6 games)
  • Peoples- 16.1
  • Zeller- 19.0
  • Nash- 10.6
  • Scott- 8.4 (5 games)
The distribution is better than last season (though playing time will trend towards the starters as we enter Big East play). Last year, Ayers and Hillesland split time starting/off the bench at 25 and 22 minutes a game. The only two other significant players, Zeller and Peoples, averaged 11 a game.

Ideally I'd like to see something more like this:
  1. Jackson- 32
  2. McAlarney- 35
  3. Ayers- 30
  4. Hillesland- 25
  5. Harangody- 30 (Not a slight to the big man, as this was his average last year. He needs to stay fresh and out of foul trouble.)
  • Peoples- 10
  • Zeller- 15
  • Nash- 15
  • Scott- 8
That adds up to 200, right? Here's why I like this distribution: the starters get their normal time (with some opportunities to rest when they need it), the bench guys get enough time on the floor to establish a bit of a rhythm, and there is a good proportion of smalls to bigs (keeping the kinds of matchups we want on the floor).

Peoples is really just a reliable ballhandler on the floor. His ten minutes should be mostly spent spelling Jackson on the floor, with just a couple minutes alongside Tory with Mac on the bench.

Zeller has never established himself as a post player in four years at Notre Dame. While he has added some strength this year, he is clearly still most comfortable on the perimeter. Not necessarily a bad thing, you just have to understand how to use him. Luke should spend almost all of his time at the 4 in the high post, playing alongside a Harangody or Nash (guys who can establish themselves as rebounders).

With Nash only averaging below eleven minutes a game so far, it is unlikely we will see him get more playing time against conference foes (he played 3 against Texas and UNC). Still, he is grabbing rebounds at a rate of 12.2 per 40 minutes (compare to Zeller's 11.3 and Hillesland's 10.5). That kind of instant impact should be rewarded with more playing time. Tell Ty to forget about scoring for a bit and focus on rebounding and defense and you will get a very good role player.

Scott may lose minutes against good conference teams and that is a shame. Carleton adds a very interesting, if raw, ability that can mix up things on both ends of the floor. Give him just eight minutes a game to play the 2 or the 3. His slasher style is unlike anything else we can offer. A little extra experience will help him down the road and give the team an added bounce in its step with him on the floor.

Perhaps the most obvious problem in the early season is our lack of consistent free throw shooting. Under 60% from the line this year, it could cost us some games (some would argue it already has) if we cannot improve across the board. Most importantly, we need a reliable lineup to close out games with the lead.

Free Throw Lineup-
  1. Jackson- The best ballhandler is also the worst shooter, not a good combination. He needs to be on the floor due to his ability to keep the other team from creating turnovers, but should not be option #1 to shoot.
  2. McAlarney- Great shooter in all aspects, needs the be the first option to get the ball in foul situations.
  3. Peoples- Go with the three guard lineup to take Hillesland off the floor and get another good ballhander who can shoot free throws.
  4. Ayers- Not a good 4 on defense, can be substituted by Hillesland on that end of the floor but needs to see action due to his 75% average from the line last year.
  5. Harangody- A coach's dream in the closing minutes, the star big man can stay on the floor as a good foul shooter when the game is on the line.


Anonymous said...

I really liked the few occasions that Brey has gone to a 1-2-2 zone with Scott on top. His wingspan and athleticism cause problems for teams trying to get into their offense. His activity can also hide some of our defensive liabilities. This team is not improved defensively over last year's team.

Anonymous said...

I really hope Brey realizes that Nash and Scott should get solid minutes every game. I had hoped at the beginning of the season that Zeller could turn over a new leaf, but old dog, new tricks and all...

Nash has gotten bettter every game and could really end up being the defensive/rebounding replacement for Kurz [though he needs to shoot a couple hundred foul shots a day].