I know that I was not the only fan to overestimate the Hog basketball team. BUT This team was playing much better basketball at the beginning of the season. Now, every flaw and shortcoming are easy to see ( especially on the road).
This team is not a good defensive team and does not have the athletes to play the trapping style defense we use most of the time. We have to play Barford and Macon too many minutes. Hall seems to have a lot of talent and will be a good SEC player with some more seasoning but he can’t play 30+ minutes in a trapping defense. Beard is too little and is slowed by a bad ankle. Jones is not a good defensive player yet, but he can be an offensive weapon if he is hot.
The power forward position is still a glaring weakness. None of the 4’s are an offensive treat. Defense and rebounding are mediocre at best. Thompson may have to play some at the 4. Gafford is a freshman and it has really shown in the last 2 games against bigger stronger players. Foul trouble will continue to be problem for him until he has more strength and experience. Thompson can’t play 30+ minutes at his current weight.
Offensively, this team only has 2 consistent threats, Barford and Macon. It does seem that they are wearing down from all their minutes. Beard can score, but his shooting percentages are below average. He is a dependable free throw shooter.Hall has been a surprising offense force. Jones is a streaky 3 point shooter. Gafford can score around the basket, but his free throw shooting has been poor recently. Thomas and Thompson are limited offensively. Bailey and Cook are not scorers.
The bottom line is that we are nowhere as good as we were in Seattle. I agree that we cannot use the trapping pressing defense most of the game. Our matchup zone has been effective most of the time that we have used it. It should not tire our team like trap and press defense does. It should help keep Gafford out of foul trouble. Rebounding can’t get much worse. And you can hide weak defenders like Jones in zones much easier than in pressing man defense.
On offense, Macon should replace Beard in the starting lineup. We need our best scoring team on the floor to prevent falling behind by 10-20 points at the start of the game. Until Beard starts shooting better, he needs to be point guard first and a shooting guard only if he has a good shot. We must move the ball to create good looks on most possessions. Gafford needs more touches and we need the 4’s to score at least double figures most games. Hall needs to continue to take good shots. Jones needs to shoot off screens. They need to study old film of Pat Bradley coming off screens and run set plays for Jones. He should play 15-20 minutes every game and average 10+ points a game.
I don’t think that we have the depth or the talent to continue to play like we have been playing and win enough to make the NCAA. We need to back off the press/trapping defense and play more match up zone. We need to concentrate on starting well and not get stagnant on offense. We need the right shooters shooting the right shots. We need to play Hall and Jones more so Barford and Macon have fresh legs. Beard should be a passer first and a shooter only if he has a good shot. I know this is out of the box , but if Nick Saban can change quarterbacks in the title game, The Razorbacks can alter their game plan too.