For all those with a “the program is dead” perspective following our rough start, here are a couple things to consider.
Major took over a team that is not very athletic. Major’s style of play, modeled after Thad Matta’s, needs athletes that can be molded into good college basketball players but Lutz never recruited players who could run and jump with the best of them. Anyone who saw the game today could tell that Coastal Carolina’s players were more athletic at nearly every position. The 2-guard was the only place we had the advantage athletically, but their guy made up for it in hustle and scrappiness. Think about our best players:
[ul][li]Spears: He’s our best player, but he’s hardly what you would call athletic. He can shoot and use his size to back someone down, but he can be out-ran and out-jumped by most of the players he matches up with.[/li]
[li]Green: Probably our most athletic player, he’s still not someone who will out-run or out-jump many opposing players or be able to finish fast breaks by going over or by anyone. He’s doing more trying to get to the rim but as we saw against George Mason, any reasonably quick defender can stay in front of him.[/li]
[li]Braswell: Most people would say this guy has as much promise as anyone on the team, except for perhaps Briscoe, and hes actually the least athletic guy in our rotation. He gets sat for Jones a lot already and I think we’ll see even more of it as the season goes. He runs the floor very slowly, and a few times today, I saw his guy beat him down the floor making a guard pick up his man and allow an easy basket or have to commit the foul.[/li]
[li]Briscoe: This guy is good, and IMO, the jury is out until he can improve his ball handling skills and is allowed to push the ball and start creating on his own.[/li][/ul]
The Bright Side: With the addition of Mayfield from Georgia and from what the scouting reports say about the guys Major has signed for his first recruiting class, our athleticism will jump (pun intended) dramatically next season. For now, Major wants to play high pressure man-to-man defense and will keep doing his best to get our guys to run his system, for better or for worse. I’m okay with that.
Major inherited a very thin team…and then there were injuries…and then there was the NCAA. We all know the obstacles we face with our depth due to guys transferring, graduating early, guys out to injury, and the NCAA not being able to make a decision. Everyone we play this season will push the ball any chance they get and force us to run and run and run some more. Our guys had dead legs at the end of the Coastal Carolina game and was evidenced in the amount of free throws they got down the stretch. They would drive the ball, our guy couldn’t keep up and fouled instead. Add to that Lewis is getting a considerable amount of playing time for a walk-on. It doesn’t matter who we play…their scholarship players are going to be better than our walk-ons.
The Bright Side: Time will pass, and so too will injuries and NCAA red tape. By conference play we’ll have at least 2, if not 3 additional players for the rotation. By next season we’ll forget how thin we once were.
All things take time. Major has spent years studying a system he believes strongly in, and we can all agree works with the right players (OSU has been one of the best teams in the country the last few years). He will coach and teach and coach and teach and over time we’ll add the players he needs to do it successfully. For anyone not familiar with his first recruiting class, insiders grade it as one of the best of any non-BCS conference teams.
Am I disappointed in our start? Absolutely, but the sky is overcast - not falling.