Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Monday Night Hoops.........

Much to the chagrin of my wife, I layed on the couch and watched 3 basketball games Monday night.....with some big name teams in action. Thoughts on what I saw....and opinions on where those teams go in the future.

Texas vs. West Viginia

Texas has a ton of big man talent....unfortuanetely they don't appear to like to use it. Daniel Gibson oozes talent....a kid that will definitely play in the NBA...but he is not a PG. He hunts his own shot every time down the court....1 assist in 38 minutes of play. For most of the 2nd half, the guards tossed up shots and Aldridge, Buchman, and Tucker had to go rebound if they wanted a chance to shoot. With the size and skill of their big men, you would think there would be more effort to get them the ball. All 5 starters played in excess of 35 minutes.....with almost nothing coming from the bench. If Texas is going to be a true contender, they need to develop some bench players. Only 3 missed 1 and 1's at the end of the game saved them...West Virginia should have won this game.

John Beilein can coach....that's all there is to it. Not one of the WV's players would have been recruited by Texas....not one. But, he spreads the court, and has a bunch of guys that can handle the ball and shoot, and he stays in games. A very fun team to watch play. Just like last year, they will be a very tough out in the NCAA Tournament. Kevin Pittsnoggle maybe one of the most overrated players in college basketball.....they have several players that I like better.

Kentucky vs. Iowa

Tough game to judge.....because Rondo played poorly (with the exception of the 19 rebounds). Rondo still can't shoot and makes some dumb plays with the ball. Joe Crawford has not lived up to high school rankings to this point. When you play a 3-guard lineup, and 2 of them combined to go 2-15, you are going to look bad. Juco player Rekalin Sims was clearly the best player on their team last night....one of those kids that seems to know how to score. Biggest problem.....ZERO production from a big man. They need Morris to come back to be a contender this year.

Horner and Haluska go a combined 3-19 and the Hawkeyes still win. I really like Brunner as a player....just a tough SOB that gets things done. He has the same problem as Augie.....he can't stay out of foul trouble. Mike Henderson played very well last night....if that continues, Iowa could be very good this year. Decent minutes and production from their bench. Iowa will have a very good season this year.....despite Alford.

Arizona vs. Kansas

Where to start? The urine yellow shirts worn by the Kansas coaches? Or the unbelievably bad basketball? Let's talk basketball. Even though I don't like Bill Self, I am going to cut him a little slack.....they are playing alot of first and 2nd year kids....so sloppiness is to be expected. Brandon Rush is going to be very good....NBA potential.....but he takes too many 3's...he should go to the basket more because he can. Chalmers had 7 TO's and 0 assists......and looked more like a SG than a PG to me. When the pressure was on him, his ball handling was pretty weak. Julian Wright is an athlete....and he can pass. But, he can't shoot..at all..and he is playing down low where he can get pushed around. Seems alot like Brian Randle to me...albeit a better passer. Downs looks like he could be very good on the offensive end....much more confident and skilled on offense than Julian Wright....looks like he has no clue on defense. Kaun looks like a real player....best on the court last night. Not sure what they were doing on offense....what was the plan? They will be good....eventually.....not sure when. When Jackson and Stewart rejoin the team, Self is going to have major chemistry issues.....count on it.

I give no slack to Arizona....alot of veterans on that team. What a disgrace. Have never liked Olsen as a coach....he has underachieved over the last 20 years with the amount of talent that has come through that program. He has a title....won despite him. Talk about rolling the ball out and letting them play. Hasan Adams is incredibly selfish.....did he pass the ball once last night? Kirk Walters was the best player on their team last night....too bad nobody would give him the ball. Rogers, Shakur and Adams looked like they were having a shooting contest...not playing basketball. They are going to miss last year's seniors alot.....perimeter shooters look terrible. Overrated.


The KU team really isn't constructed very well. Talented, yes, chemistry, none. They remind me a lot of MSU when they didn't have a PG, but less disciplined.
I agree.....too many wings....including their PF. They have alot of talent.....but I think Self will have major problems keeping that team together...he overrecruits even in the same class. While he spins a good story during the recruiting process, it is hard to explain to Downs, Robinson...whoever it is that ends up not playing....why his recruiting spiel wasn't accurate.
Chalmers=NOT READY.

Just imagine if Arizona shoots 40% how much they win by.

iowa-it'll be interesting to watch Brunner battle Aldridge & Buckman in the paint.
Butts, love the analysis here. Last night was great and it's awesome to have college hoops season here.

I agree with much of what you have to say, but not surprisingly, disagree with some thoughts.

First, I can't stand West Virginia. For the exact reason many people like the Mountaineers, I find them very unappealing. I prefer teams that can run, dunk and out-athlete the competition. I don't like watching a bunch of unathletic white guys run around, set screens for each other and go over people's backs for rebound baskets. I agree that Pittsnogle is very overrated, if he didn't have a funny last name he wouldn't be nearly the media sensation he is. Gansey's a better player (and was last year when I watched, also).

I love the Texas roster. Just a group of studs with some awesome power players inside. PJ Tucker is a more talented Roger Powell who plays with a passion. This team will go as far as Daniel Gibson progresses as a point guard. If he realizes he's better off scoring around 10-15 points per game while racking up assists to the big guys, the Longhorns can win it all. If he keeps looking for his shot first, they'll disappoint.

Iowa is tough. Henderson adds an element of athleticism that Pierre Pierce brought without the selfishness and sexual assault issues. That said, Iowa is Greg Brunner foul trouble away from losing to anybody. He's indispensable to that team and the heart and soul of the Hawkeyes. Nice win for Iowa, let's see how they do in the tournament final. FWIW, I thought Tony Freeman looked pretty darn quick in the minutes I saw from him.

I love Rajon Rondo. Definitely one of 5 favorite players in college hoops this year. If Weber could have corraled him, we'd be talking Final Four this season. Watching Kentucky last night, I think Tubby Smith is definitely recruiting at a level below he should being at such a great program. I know they'll look better with Randolph Morris back, but guys like Orzbut and Bobby Perry should just not be getting big minutes for a program like Kentucky, IMO.

Kansas-Arizona was painful to watch. I like Bill Self as a coach, but he looked lost last night. His kids need major work on fundamentals and the guard play at KU is atrocious.

Sherron Collins would be the best guard in the program right now, and it's really not even close based on last night's play. Mario Chalmers has to be better than he showed, as he was just awful. You can get away with lazy crossover dribbles in Alaskan high school ball, but not against a talented Arizona team. I thought Russell Robinson was terrible as well. He's clearly not a point guard, made some bad decisions with the basketball and didn't show much in the way of shooting ability. Hawkins looked like their best guard last night.

I'd let Downs and Rush play the 2 and have Wright play more 3, with Kaun/Giles/Moody holding down the 4 and 5 positions. I agree with Butts, Downs looked good offensively. Rush would have been a godsend for the Illini, he's everything Brian Randle is not right now offensively. Anybody that doesn't think the Illini could have used Rush is smoking something. Wright didn't get much PT in the first half, had a nice dunk, played solid minutes in the second half and contributed some nice passes.

Right now, KU is a team without a rotation and an identity. Looks to me like Self needs to settle on a rotation and let his players know what each of their roles is. They have a ton of talent and could be good by the end of the season. If I'm a KU fan, I'd at least be encouraged by the defense and the fact that Self had 3 freshmen and 2 sophomores on the court during crunch time, and they still didn't lose by much to a top ten team.

I've predicted Arizona to go to the Final Four. Like Texas, I love the Wildcats' roster. I agree with Butts, Kirk Walters looked great last night. I must have seen a different Hassan Adams when I was at the Allstate Arena last March. He was an sbsolute stud in those two games and somehow he decided over the summer that he wanted to be a jump shooter his senior year. Horrible decision. If Arizona's going to be any good, Adams needs to do what he does best, and that's scoring inside and on the break.

Mustapha Shakur is a bad high major college point guard right now. I like his height but I hate his outside shot and his decisions are atrocious. If Robinson and Chalmers weren't so bad with the ball last night, Shakur's point guard play could have been the story. Arizona's better when Chris Rodgers runs the point.

Marcus Williams and JP Prince showed that they have talent. They didn't show that they will translate that talent to production right away, but those guys will get better as the season goes along.

I still like Arizona over the course of the season to be very good, but I think they'll get smoked by UCONN tonight. I don't think Olson is as bad of a coach as Butts does...but that's b/c even though he might roll the ball out, his talent usually is so good that he's going to beat most teams he plays. I also like that it seems that Arizona is always in these big tourneys and big games early in the season. Too bad the Illini won't get much hype this pre-conference season, outside of the UNC game, I don't think we'll be seeing much of the Illini on the Worldwide Leader over the next month...
I can't beleive you don't like watching West Virgini play....that is how basketball is supposed to be played. Spread the court, move without the ball, back pick, etc. You are correct...not many athletes...but extremely well coached. Just imagine if Self or Lute could coach like Beilein.....this style of basketball would produce all the running and dunking you could ask for......instead I had to watch 2 overhyped coaches send their very unprepared teams onto the court....and play one of the worst games I have ever seen at the high major level. But, to each his own.

I felt like I was watching a HS JV game last night between KU and UA.
I, too, thought Arizona would have a good year. And, I know it is early, but if Adams continues to try and prove to the NBA that he can shoot, they will be a major disappointment this year.
Butts, with teams like West Virginia's, you just know they have to play pretty much a perfect game to beat the elite teams. If anything doesn't break their way, foul trouble happens, cold shooting day, whatever, West Virginia and teams like them have no chance to win. Unless he starts recruiting better, Weber may be taking Illinois down that very same path. Just not my cup of tea, I'd rather have the athletes available to win even if you're team's not playing well. Look at KU last night, they ran around and played like a bunch of idiots, but still had a chance to beat a top 10 team last night...and when athletes like that mature and become more skilled, you have teams like the 2004-2005 North Carolina Tar Heels.
Does anybody seriously think West Virginia has a chance to make the Final Four? I sure don't, not even after last night's performance against a very good Texas team.
How far did West Virginia go last year without any talent? Elite 8? I guess they had a chance, and a big lead on Louisville, IIRC.

I love that style as well. When you coach basketball, that's what you're looking for. We saw that from Illinois last year with better athletes.
Yeah...but your selling Roy Williams short. NC had a ton of talent....but he actually coached the kids and made them play the right way. May got the ball every time down the court...the only reason they won. If he let them run around and throw up crap...Illinois would be champs. Coaching is a much bigger part of this than you want to admit. If it wasn't, Arizona would have 5-6 championships in the last 15 years...because their talent has been that good.

I'm not saying West Virginia is a great team....but they play the right way. What would happen at Kansas or Arizona if you took that talent and made them play basketball with a real system? Beilien would be scary with Kansas' talent. We will see what Self can do.

Butts, so does that mean that Roy Williams outcoached Weber in the final game last year since the Illini shot 40 three-pointers?

A lot of people rag on Roy Williams and say he isn't a great "coach" in the mold of a John Beilein, Bruce Weber, Gary Williams, etc. I don't agree, as I believe coaching at the high major level is at least 70% recruiting.

If Beilein and Weber could recruit at the level of Self, Williams, and Olson, they'd probably win national championships like Williams and Olson have. Yet, Beilein's at West Virginia and Self's at Kansas. And Weber's at Illinois who will field an Illinois team without a McDonald's All-American on it next year for the first time in many, many years.
Nut---just an unbelievable amount of talent on the court last night.....did you enjoy watching it?

Butts, yes I enjoyed watching Arizona-Kansas more than I enjoyed watching West Virginia-Texas and Iowa-Kentucky. It will be fun to see those teams play later in the season after they've gotten a better ability to work through the kinks.

Self is struggling right now, no doubt about it. Illini fans are having fun with it, and indeed they should enjoy it while it lasts right now. Weber's still playing with the house's money, i.e. mostly talented players that Self left him. I'd still rather have Self than Weber as coach for the long-run, even though Self is definitely struggling right now...
Nut...you lose credibility with me on every post. Arizona versus Kansas was quite possibly the worst exhibition of basketball that I have ever seen....I had to keep telling my 9 yr. old that "that is not how you play." With each game I watch, I become more sure that Self can't coach....way to draw up a good play today Bill. You can keep Russell Robinson and Chalmers....I'll take Jamar Smith.

IHN, you are the only person in America who enjoyed watching that crap last night. I couldn't watch all of the game straight through.....I would rather watch paint dry. And West Virginia has no shot at the Final Four???? Seems to me they were almost there last year, and this year they have that extra experience. West Virginia is a joy to watch. It's a joy when KU's games are over.
Bill Self is a great recruiter and a terrible basketball coach. Outside that one run in the tourney at Tulsa - there has not been one season I didn't think he underachieved with the talent he had.

His team's fundametals are bad, they don't seem to execute anything but grabbing people on defense, and almost every good player he's every had has regressed under him in terms of development.

West Virginia would kick the crap out of Kansas. And Bill Self is a bad basketball coach. He's a great recruiter - perhaps he'd make a good lead assistant coach.
The only reason KHN liked that game is because he cares more about what a team SHOULD be able to do based on recruiting ranking than what they actually accomplish on the court.

Teams that win without a top 5 recruiting class are painful to watch. Teams that regularly throw the ball into the cheap seats, but have 5 McD's AA's on the team are simply developing.

There's no other reason in the world someone would have preferred the KU-AZ game, other than KHN having an opportunity to see his hero wearing a urine-yellow shirt and smooth the fake stuff over the real stuff over and over.
Phil, great comments as usual. I enjoyed your photos from Sunday's game on the Illiniboard, looks like you must have invested quite a bit at your local Walgreen's for that outstanding digital camera.
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