Regular Season Mid-Point Report Card

Halfway Point Grades

We have passed the midway point of the regular season and here are my grades given in each area.

Offense C-: Clearly an area very much in need of improvement (save for free throw shooting). Many would give an even lower grade in this area, but keep in mind that offense is a combination of scheme, execution and talent. Looking at the statistics, we are 302nd in the nation in FG% and 178th in PPG. In seasons past, our FG% went as our 3-point shooting did. This season we have seen a much welcomed inside/outside attack that has lead to more shots inside the paint and overall more high percentage shots. One of the largest issues plaguing the team is their inability to hit what you would consider good shots. That is why the offense as a whole, while still nothing to fear, is better than the credit it’s given. Missing many of those shots puts us near the bottom in FG%, but the good shots created by the offense that are hit, leave us near the middle of the pack in PPG.

Defense C+: This was to be, and has been, THE focus by Coach Major from day 1 when he took over this program. The human eye can clearly see the improvements by the players as far as hustle, hands, and toughness. Statistics tell us just as much, but go on to show that there is still much room for improvement. We are 180th in the nation in defensive scoring but a very respectable 86th nationally in defensive FG%. You have to factor in that up to this point, we have played very few offensive juggernauts, which is why this grade is tempered. The team has bought into Coach Major’s defensive philosophy whole heartedly, and as Henry continues to improve and remains the leading defensive fire under this team, the sky is the limit going forward.

Free Throws D: Does atrocious describe our free throw shooting so far this season? Who knows if the coaching staff is treating this area as importantly as most of us think it should be, but we’re only getting worse every game. Some perspective though, we are 262nd in the nation in free-throw shooting, meaning there are 82 teams worse than we are. It’s hard to look back and account for how many were missed at crucial times of the game, but you can factor in this: If we were shooting 75%, which would put us in the top-20 nationally, that equals just over 2 points per game. Another win or 2? Maybe, which could be the difference in whether we are invited to participate in any post-season play.

Coaching C+: Everyone agrees the team has made huge strides from last year to this, however, Coach Major is still only in his second season as head coach and there are times when the inexperience is shown. The most obvious area is seen nearly every game, and that is in the offense. Coach Major is of the defensive mindset, and has said numerous times, he expects that the better team defense they play the better the offense will flow. Whether you believe that or not, we see the inefficiencies on offense and how the team will struggle if they are not creating things from the defensive end. Coach still has a lot of room for growth with his offensive play calling and it definitely affects his grade negatively up to this point. Where he is excelling is in getting his team to buy into what he wants from them. We see it on the defensive end of the court, we hear it when recruits speak of the praise they heard from current players about their coach, and we have now even started seeing it in the way 3-point attempts are coming way down. The players seem to really like him which points to him being a good leader and so time should improve, if not solve, his inefficiencies.

Recruiting B+: Coach Major and his staff have shown their ability to appropriately target good players they realistically can get, and then landing them by the early signing period. The current crop of freshman as a whole may have disappointed a little, but individually we have seen he has found something special in Henry, who was in fact the highest rated recruit of the class. The class for next season comes with an equal amount of excitement, if not more, due to the offensive expectations 2 of the 3 come with. It is safe to say that Coach Major and his staff have returned Charlotte to a legitimate mid-major landing spot for mid-tier caliber recruits, and it happened immediately.

I’d go with a B- for the defense. The players cannot cover for the donut hole in the middle. That’s not their fault. The only other issue with defense is consistency. That’s why I’d downgrade them. However, when they apply themselves, this is a very solid defensive team except in the post (lack of a shotblocker/denier really hurts the overall scheme).

I’d probably agree with the rest. The offense gets good shots but we just cannot shoot - jumpshots or layups.

On the flipside, when we do shoot the ball, even reasonably well, we can beat if not blow out good teams.

Adding a note to your coaching assessment, Major said that the first year was about changing the culture here. It is hard to quantify that, but I really believe it is key and that he is achieving it. Everything from scoring inside and playing tougher defense, to bringing alumni players back to the program. No doubt there is a learning curve for his new role but I like where we are heading. I would score him higher for doing the right things, and bank on that the results will come.

I find it hard to fault the coaches at this point for the offensive inefficiencies, unless you want to fault player development. The offense generates good looks, most of them open. The defenses know by now who can shoot and who can’t, so they can adjust defenses to make it tough to get good shots, which is why Mayfield and Nickerson end up so wide open so often. Now if Thorne doesn’t get his redshirt, I’ll fault the coaches quite a bit.

I don’t think the current crop of freshmen disappointed much at all (from my view), but I guess I always tend to have fairly low expectations of freshmen. Henry plays like a soph or junior pg, just a great get (and clearly underrated by the recruiting services once they downgraded him). Williams has been a pleasant surprise, as I thought he’d struggle to get on the floor, but he’s contributed. Nickerson has been up and down, but I can see the potential once he adds strength, improves his shooting, and hopefully makes his moves more quickly. Thorne might be the only disappointment, but only because he hasn’t played. I think most of us knew he’d need some time to develop, but I’m still surprised he redshirted (I hope) if Ivankovic wasn’t ready to play at all.

The defense I’d put at more of a B to B+, it’s not always pretty but our D limits other teams to taking tough shots in most cases and has keyed several runs in games against tough opponents. The lack of shotblocker in the middle does make it tougher, but the players for the most part play sound D, and the team is 6th in the nation in steals per game!

I guess overall I’d agree with the other grades if we aren’t rating on a curve. But relative to expectations, the team is a little ahead of where I expected them to be so far (aside from ft’s).

Good analysis Mastin.

Not disagreeing with your general points as much as your grading.

That would not be analogous to blue ribbon. How do you account for our record? It can’t all be in the intangibles.

Our overall grade should be something like a B.

I’d say your grades are fairly accurate. But I’d probably switch Defense and Recruiting though. One stat you missed for defense is that we are 6th in the country in steals per game. Another is that we are 70th in defensive rebounding. Considering we play a PF at C, SF at C and our back up C is 6’7", I think 70th is very respectable.

As for recruiting, not that it really matters, but I believe EVN was in fact the highest rated recruit. He had 3 or 4 BCS offers.

I’d say the defense is a B to B+ and the O is a C+ with intangibles (playing well away) bring us up to an overall B rating. We are very strong on the road compared to average.

[font=sans-serif]43% of Canadians do not believe in god. [/font] :wink:

At the end of the day, the only real problem this team has is putting the ball in the basket (and free throws).
We were spoiled when we could destroy a zone with the three. Demon, Goldwire, Jobey would hit 70% of uncontested threes. A defense better guard them.
Now a tight zone could keep us to 50 points if Braz is kept in check.