The perfect storm has been propelling us after we bottomed out

A series of events have come together at the right time to create a perfect storm. With the shift to more active zone and Trey’s passing, we are starting to play the same style as Florida, Louisville and Kentucky. In my opinion this is what comprises the perfect storm:

  1. In my opinion, the biggest change has been CMA having the guts to admit the trapping on defense was not working enough to use all the time. He had the guts to change to a modified zone and the players took to it like a duck to water. I want to give a tip of the glass to CMA for making the change. I was one of the ones griping about his 90’s obsession and needing to get away from trapping all the time BECAUSE I have not seen him change since he has been here. I didn’t think he was going to change so I was not confident about his future here. He made a big change and showed us all that he can do it. CMA has proven me wrong and brought me back into his camp. The zone has kept our bigs in the paint to rebound and defend the rim. Conversely, the trapping and man defense has proven to be our alternative when we face weaker guard play.

  2. Trey Thompson has been the catalyst for unselfish play. His passing for back door cuts has been directly responsible for numerous players getting easy buckets, but the indirect influence is that other guys are getting into the passing act - Macon, Hannahs, and Thomas. Trey has created a new culture of unselfish play that has influenced the team. Trey has been at the top of the key a lot during the brewing of the storm, but I’ve noticed defenders sagging off of him to defend back door play. Trey is open for a lot of shots at the key FT line, so it would be devastating if the defender has to stay on Trey’s hip. A next step could be him making some of those shots and bring his guy out from under the basket. A next step is for the passing culture to be evident when he is not on the court.

  3. Barford and Macon have morphed into great team players. With Beard’s emergence, CMA appears to have also given up on forcing Barford to be the main point guard. We have Macon, Barford, Hannahs, Beard, and Watkins that can all score to some degree. A unique development has been that Hannahs, Macon and Barford are equally dangerous driving to the basket as they areshooting the 3.

  4. Glue Guys - Beard and Watkins. Anton Beard has been playing his best ball for most of this season. He has a few lulls but he has been glue. What more can we say about Watkins? His 3 pt shooting has caused some teams to have to respect him on the perimeter thus dragging a defender out of the paint.

  5. Moses has settled into his role on a team full of offensive studs. Moses deserves recognition here because the POTY tag caused him to try too much. He has been most productive during the brewing of this perfect storm.

  6. Last but not least, we are becoming a team that can press/trap, play zone AND have a good half court game with Trey. I think we are the most flexible team since the 94 and 95 seasons when we could put Darnell Robinson in with Corliss and Dwight for a serious half court team. Opposing coaches have consistently tried to push us into a half court game because we usually aren’t good at it…until now.

Don’t discount Cook and Thomas finding their roles and accepting them. The zone has let them defend and rebound more effectively as well. If we can just get them to reduce the silly fouls, we can have two very good complimentary players to support and clean up behind the scorers.

That is a great point. Cook and Thomas have been playing better but I lost sight of that with everything else that is improving. They even looked better when we were playing straight up man. It has been amazing how the use of more Zone has changed everything.

Yes, and that goes for the whole team. Our players have to play smart and not foul. It’s a fine line between playing defense and picking up a foul. I can appreciate a foul from sticky defense, but we have to eliminate the out-of-position fouls that Moses, Trey and Dustin have had issues with. Trey has improved the most in that area and then Dustin.

I do like this team. The zone has solved a lot of problems, but we have to be good in the man. We have to keep playing man to get better at it. We can switch around, but we need both defenses. Cuse has the best zone defense in the country. They aren’t going to make the NCAAT. And, I still want us to trap in certain situations (bad guards, generous refs) because it can lead to huge runs. But, we can’t be in it when we are bleeding to death.

More good news for our NCAA seeding <LINK_TEXT text=“ … and-losers”></LINK_TEXT>

What I’ve noticed:

We’re making our FT’s
We’re actually moving on offense ( especially when Trey is in)
Jalen and Dusty are driving to the hoop
Not much dropoff when Cookie, Dustin or Adrio are in
Not settling for 3’s

I too want us to keep the multiple defenses to throw off the other team when we switch. The press and trap are still good in measured doses. I think we have all noticed that the fouls have been better when we are in the zone. You are right about the out of position fouls but do you think those are mostly while trapping?

This is a great post from all of you!
I’d like to add just a little.
In the Auburn Macon for called for a charge using his off arm to create space. This has been called in others games on Hannah’s. Beard, Bardford and Macon! At some point you would think they could learn and adjust. The carry that was called on Macon twice in the same game is the same issue. We have possession away in that Auburn game that we should grow from.
We are rebounding now better as a team and hitting the offensive glass better than ever. The ball is moving with the pass more instead of the dribble.
How long has it been since we were able to watch the hogs hold on to win this many tight games! Before we have found ways to loose. This year we have made the free throw and make the big play. That is since the Missouri game. At times we still have some tuff shots taken at the end of the shot clock that worries me. Especially end game situations.
2 more wins and then if to the SEC tournament.

The arm charge is being called more in all of college basketball. I get that we should learn from it, however, but those are just habits from years of getting away with it. I think it will get better, but we are still going to see it, and not just by our team. Same thing with the carry. Honestly, I think there’s a lot of carrying in a lot of games, by a lot of guards, but it just depends on which ref you get. The newer refs tend to call it more, like the arm charge.

On the other post, by Hog Treat, my answer is I do think some of the press causes the bigs to get out of position, but I’ve noticed it the most on switching screens. Moses and Dustin are slow in that regard. Trey and Dustin get frustrated on rebounds they don’t get. Both are doing better in rebounding, hence less frustration fouls.

The carry can be called all day in every game you watch.
The off arm charge may be habit but it kills runs! The Zone is what brought the rebounding back into focus.
This team had too many new parts. Usually by January teams start playing pretty good. This team failed to hit a stride until they got thier brains beat in. They are much better than their record.
The win over South Carolina made me think about when the hogs beat North Carolina at the Pine Bluff convention center with Klein and Balentine and Michael Jordan played for North Carolina.
SC was not #1 but it was a sign we are headed back upward. Good times are coming and MA has the ship sailing with good play on the court and recruiting.
The defense will be what we will have to keep improving.

In addition to the zone-trap defense, which has been very effective in several of our recent games. I really like the chemistry between Trey and Moses out on the floor together.

We normally see that later in games, which is appropriate since we HAVE to have one of them in the game virtually all the time - so cannot afford to get them both tired at the same time and/or both pickup early fouls. In the final 8 minutes or so, we don’t have to “save” them and it helps us to defend front-court scoring threats, and also really improves our defensive rebounding.

Mike has had a lot of moving parts all season, but he is finally becoming comfortable in utilizing the variety that affords him. No small part of that is the natural growth/maturity of the newcomers at this point of the season. They have become much more of a team than a group of individuals. It’s fun to watch them play.

Agree. CMA’s willingness to become flexible with defenses has become the difference maker. Use what works in each game. I believe the whole team is working together well at the right time.

Comments: A perfect storm or not I like to refer to those two troubling incidents as adversity that had to happen to get this ship afloat in troubling waters. Losing those two games captured every players attention and made it easier for Mike/staff to get and hold their previous divided attention. Hannah, Macon, and Braford once believed good offense beats good defense. I’ve since noticed better defense from all three of our guards, especially Hannah, who is now making a strong effort to stay in front of his man. I feel good about T Thompson solid play just at the right time of the season, and if my gut feelings are accurate I believe his points and rebounds production will increase as well, double double 10/10. Hey this young man is 6’9 265 you won’t push him out of the lane unless he’s ready to leave.

Well stated rollingwithmike

I had not thought about the improved defense by Hannahs, Macon and Barford. You are so right about the lack of defensive lapses by those 3 and especially Hannahs. Do you think the Zone and reduced trapping has helped their defense?

It was just brought to my attention that the Perfect Storm is helping build us up for next year. Watkins, Hannahs and Kingsley are great seniors that will be missed, but their replacements are improving rapidly the last few weeks. We are going to miss all 3 of those SR’s. The replacement’s improvement is paired with confidence for the new players (Macon, Barford, Cook, Bailey, and Thomas) as well as guys like Thompson and Beard. Macon and Barford are peaking at the right time and gaining the respect of their teammates. Beard has recovered from his personal struggle after a transitional year, but has surprised many fans with his improvement. We could have one of the best guard groups in the SEC next year with Beard, Barford and Macon which is being forged during this recent surge. CJ Jones will get a ton of minutes next year. I hope that we see CJ during the SEC and NCAA tourney that stretches depth.

Beard, Barford, Macon and Trey with a rotation of Dustin, Arlando, and Adrio Bailey would create a pretty solid starting 5 for next season. Thompson is playing more now by himself with Dustin Thomas, Cook or Bailey; which is creating chemistry with the main front court players for next year. That front court lineup was successful together in the AU game when Moses was out with 2 quick fouls. This year’s Freshman signees are intriguing- Adrio Bailey has had some good minutes this year, CJ Jones should thrive if he continues to improve his defense, and Hazen is said to thrive in the new defensive plans.

The Barford class and Gafford class are the 2 best infusion of talent (other than the Portis class) since the late 90’s. The infusion of new talent this year has been a breath of fresh air, but this next class is even better with guys that should be here 3-4 years. One thing to remember is that we have NOT had consistent high-level talent since the late 90’s, so most of the recent years (minus Portis and Qualls) have been marginal infusions of talent. “Wait for next year” has been centered on hoping that the recruiting chances we took would improve quickly.

Next year will be a good team BEFORE you add Gafford 6-10, Garland 6-6, and Hall 6-6.

Beard, Barford, Macon and CJ Jones

Trey, Dustin, Arlando, Adrio Bailey and Hazen

No doubt he seems stubborn at times but I really believe he had to learn about his term as much as his players had to learn to play together. There are a lot of new parts to this team. Trey Thompson is a veteran compared to over half the team. Let that sink in. It has taken everyone every game to learn. I think we are going to be ok moving forward but we really need to find that person that is going to fill Manny’s role. I never thought I would say that. Maybe that means Mike has a way of making stars out of players. That has me excited about next year as there will be more new parts.

i believe his stubbornness is paying off. as he says it is important to have multiple defenses to keep the offenses off balance. and the deal is it takes a whole season nearly to get a bunch of newcomers playing that half court and full court press well. even when it was ugly and a major work in progress Mike never gave up on instilling that press with our new guys. everything was built around preparation for March. we are going to be thankful for the “stubbornness” and learning curve we had to endure when we pull out the multiple trapping press defenses this march. WPS

Reply: Most definitely Mike’s match-up zone is the key and it changes often in their half court defensive setups. They still try to trap when the ball is on the sidelines. For me Trey is the difference on both sides of the ball, he is so steady with what he does and the cool thing about it all is he can do much more once he makes up his mind. I looking for his points and rebounds to increase to a double double 10/10. In addition it appears he settles Kingsley down. Our new fours at times have left Kingsley out on an island and he becomes frustrated and pickup silly fouls etc. remember 8-9 years ago Kingsley wasn’t playing basketball in his home land. He has come a long ways in a short time. Oh and don’t forget as Trey cut into the minutes of our fours, both Thomas and Cook are beginning to play more efficiently less turnovers with an increased production output…

There is a real argument to be made that we need to shoot MORE 3’s.

We’re making almost exactly 3 of every 8 shots we attempt from outside the arc. Which is equivalent to making 4.5 of every 8 shots inside the arc, or almost 56%. We are not shooting 56% on shots inside the arc; it’s a smidge over 50%. Of course, that’s everything from 20 footers with a toe on the line to dunks.

Looked at another way: We’re second in the SEC in 3pt%, 11th in number of 3’s attempted (about 18 per game), and 8th in number of 3’s made (6.75 per game). Would have had to make another 2.15 treys per game to be in second in makes, which at our percentage would be almost 6 more attempts per game – increasing our number of attempts by almost a third. And our scoring would go up as a result, by a half-point or so per game, assuming that the total number of shots doesn’t increase and shooting percentages stay the same.