As of Thursday afternoon...
Elmore (cackling with glee): out.
Glockner: sort of in.
Katz: in. No, out.
BGS readers (yesterday): in.
BGS readers (today): out.
Brey: I don't want to talk about it.
The Future. Meanwhile, some food for thought from Ty Webb over on NDN.
Yeah, I am already thinking about next year. Hopefully, God smiles on us and by some miracle we get an NCAA bid, but I think that chance is slim to none. And I am certainly no expert, but these are just my opinions looking forward.
A lot has been made about the "pieces" not fitting together. Igor has made comments about we don't have a good mix of skill sets on this current team. I agree with that somewhat. I think the team would have been much better if we'd had a more consistent inside scoring threat in Francis. Without that consistent threat, some teams would just ignore him and concentrate on our perimeter guys. On the flipside, when that happened, our guards could not get past the defenders off the dribble (although Quinn started to show a bit of that later in the season). So suddenly we were in games were Francis was ineffective, our guards couldn't drive past defenders and we were stuck with our three point shooters having the defenders in their jocks. The result? Scrambled, offensive crap. Also, what didn't help was that amongst all our bigs - Cornett, Cornette, Francis, Latimore - we had no one that could step out and hit a mid or long range jumper. That skill set would have freed up the paint area. Instead, at times, the lane was clogged with defenders because we had two post guys who when they stepped outside, other teams would just ignore them.
Think back to our first few seasons under Brey. The "bigs" mix was much better. In 2001-02, Swanagan was our pure post guy - the post defender, the rebounder, decent post moves. Then you had Humphrey who was a guy that could play a bit outside as well as in. He could hit that 10 footer but he also could put the ball on the floor a bit. Then you had Murphy who was a guy who could play inside or out. The flexibility of Hump and Murphy helped immensely in the style that Brey wanted to play. Even in our Sweet 16 year, we had a better mix of bigs.
In looking to next year, I think the pieces might fit together better. However, that largely depends on how two guys develop IMO and what we can get out of Zeller. The two guys in question are Isreal and Kurz.
We all know what we are going to get from Quinn. I suspect he will be a heady PG for us. And while he doesn't have the physical skill set Thomas has, I think the gap between the two has shrunk due to Thomas' knee. Quinn showed a little bit of ability to put the ball on the floor late in the year and take defenders off the dribble. I also think Quinn is a better man defender than Thomas. If Falls continues to work on his game, he should be a better player next year. Sure, we still have a bit of one dimensionalism in our projected starting backcourt but I think with the right mix, that can be mitigated some.
And that is why I mentioned Kurz and Isreal, and to a lesser extent I think you add Carter into the mix. For me, and this is just my opinion, those three could dictate the 2005-06 season more than Quinn, Falls, Francis. And what I mean by that is that those three will bring certain skill sets that I think this team really lacked.
Take Kurz for example. I have seen Kurz play in high school and he could be a poor man's Murphy. Which I think would be a very good thing for this team. Kurz is a guy who can mix it up inside, but possesses a great touch from the outside. People have compared him to Novak or even Dunleavy in terms of his style of play. That is not too far off, but I think Kurz is a slightly better interior player. But it is Kurz's ability to shoot from the outside that could help this team.
Pairing him with Francis would be a big help because his ability to step outside doesn't clog the lane. Right now, when Latimore or Cornette stepped outside, their guy would usually crash down on Francis because no one feared their perimeter game. Every three Cornette took this year was essentially wide open. Why? Because no one cared he was shooting it. But if ND has an effective Kurz in the game, a guy who can hit a 12-20 foot jumper, teams have to respect him. But it comes down to development and Brey's willingness to get him into the rotation. A lot has been made about Francis going to a big man's camp to find consistency, but I would not be opposed to Kurz going as well although he isn't a pure big man.
Isreal takes a lot of heat. And in some cases it is justified. He does play out of control. But you are fooling yourself if you can't see the raw physical skills this kid has. He is quick, runs the floor very well for a guy his size, has long arms, can put the ball on the floor, can jump. Again, he is another guy I have seen play in high school against very good competition in DC. But he is raw, very raw. He is not a consistent shooter and needs work on his defense. However, he has a skill set that no one on this team has. Who is our 6-8ish guy that can run the floor like a deer, handle the ball, etc? We don't have one. And that's not to say Isreal will become a good player. Again it comes back to development. But if he can learn some control and polish his game, his skill set would be a big boost to this team.
Finally there is Carter. Like Isreal, he is raw. But much moreso than Isreal you can see he can score. He can shoot the three, can put the ball on the floor, get in the paint, etc. Defensively he needs work. However, like Isreal, if he could develop and mature he gives ND a guy who can play the 2 or the 3 that possesses a skill set we haven't seen at ND much. A rough comparison might be Miller. Miller could stroke the three but also put the ball on the floor a bit. Granted Miller was taller and Carter is quicker, but it is a decent rough comparison.
That is why I think that the success of next year could fall more on their laps than some of the more seasoned players on this team. Plus anything we get from Ayers, Zeller and Mac might be gravy.
And note, I am not suggesting Kurz, Isreal or Carter will become studs. But if one or two could become effective in their roles, I think the mix of players is much better next year.
Then again, I could just be drunk.
-- Ty Webb
PS - I think it would behoove Brey to spend a bit more time on zone for next year. Defensive foot speed is going to be a problem with our guards although I think Quinn is a better defender than Thomas. I think one reason why we saw less zone from Brey was because we just weren't very good in it. It might be helpful to work on it a lot more next year so as we have something to fall back on.