Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Who is Robert Morris?

Well, I was hoping BC would finish their out-of-conference slate relatively unscathed. There is no shame in losing in overtime to a solid Big East team (Providence), losing by three to one of the better teams in the up-and-coming A-10 Conference (UMass), or even getting blown out at home by a Top 5 squad (Kansas), but stubbing your toe against unknown Robert Morris hurts, notwithstanding the fact that the Colonials are actually a pretty decent team (11-5 overall). As I said in my prior post, this game had letdown written all over it coming just two days after playing before a capacity crowd on national television against one of the most storied schools in the land, and letdown the Eagles did.

What's wrong with BC? They have a disjointed and clumsy offense that depends far too much on one player (Ty Rice), they have major, major rebounding problems with a 7'2"center with no hands and an undersigned "power forward," and they are very young, which translates into turnovers. All three of these flaws bit the Eagles in the ass yesterday, and the result was one of the ugliest games in memory. BC just could not get any flow to their offense, with baskets coming by accident more than design, and the ball ending up in the front row more times than the hoop.

What needs to be done? Some changes in the rotation for starters. Al has traditionally had 7-man rotations over the years, and that seems to be the number he is most comfortable managing. I think Al needs to identify those 7 players and tighten his rotation, giving the vast majority of minutes to his best guys. These players, in my view and in order of importance, are the following: (1) Ty Rice, (2) Cory Raji, (3) Rakim Sanders, (4) Shamari Spears, (5) Tyrell Blair, (6) Biko Paris, and (7) John Oates. I would be happy to see any combination of those guys on the floor at one time, though I do not want to see too much of Oates, especially on defense. Note that I have left Tyler Roche out of the discussion, and that's for a reason. As I have said in prior posts, Roche absolutely cannot play at this level, I've seen enough evidence (about 30 starts dating back to last year). He is averaging just 5 points and 2 rebounds in 30 minutes a game this year. That's not gonna do it against the likes of Mercer and Longwood, let alone Duke and UNC. I know I sound like a broken record with him, but enough is enough - he doesn't pass, score, rebound or defend. What else is there? Get him out of there and let the best guys play, the sooner Al does that, the better. However, I am not optimistic. Al has exhibited a penchant over the years for playing good kids, good practice soldiers, talent be damned. I don't expect him to change here.

Circling back to the Robert Morris game, with a young team I expected at least one loss like that this year, maybe two, so I can't say I'm overly surprised or gravely disappointed. I hope that a week to stew about it will mean they come out fired up against a very beatable Wake squad at home this Saturday.

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