As discussed last week, the first 10 games of the season have not gone exactly as planned. Now, the Hoos are in the midst of a full 2 week exams off until UNI comes to Charlottesville this Saturday. Whitey Reid described some of Tony Bennett's strategy during the time off - he is following Greg Popovich's example of practicing every other day, but going hard in those practices. However, the question remains - what is the team doing during that time?
If you're Tony Bennett, how do you spend the long exam break before the team's next game?
Phony Bennett: I'd be trying to figure who is going to be a leader on this team. Right now, we have none.
Matt Trogdon: First, I'd study up on late-game situation management. It's been a bugaboo throughout the Bennett tenure. We blew a 7-point lead in the last few minutes against VCU and we had questionable decisions in the last minute against Green Bay.
Second, I'd do what I could to light a fire under Joe and Akil. This is their last chance to leave their stamp on the program and they need to bring it every single night.
Paul Wiley: Brogdon needs to start making better decisions. I like how he's been able to slash to the interior. But he has no idea what to do when he gets there. It's either a wild shot or a desperation pass to someone who isn't in position to score. I don't know what kind of drills will help him make those kinds of offensive decisions better and faster. But that (among many, MANY other reasons) is why I'm not a Division I basketball coach.
I'd also like to see more finishing through contact. Tom Izzo famously puts his guys in football pads and makes them bump and scrap HARD. The B1G is known as a physical conference, but the ACC hasn't been any kind of cakewalk either. The number of point-blank shots that rimmed out the last two games has been infuriating. Having the guys get used to making those shots under heavy duress is going to make our front court advantage more pronounced.
Caroline Darney: Everything mentioned by my esteemed colleagues above is absolutely correct. The past two games have been just atrocious to watch, mainly due to apparent lack of confidence. I know that this team has all the pieces to be great...they just have to believe it. I know that sounds very Tony Robbins-y, but I honestly believe it.
Now here's where the problem lies. How do you build confidence through practice? I'll defer that to Tony Bennett, because he is a saint. The best news about the two Wisconsin related losses (and the VCU one for that matter) is that the problems are all fixable. Finishing around the hoop. Making layups. FREE THROWS. Those are all matters you can control. This team just needs to shake it off, and take over games like we all expected preseason.
Oh, and free throws. Lots and lots of free throws. Also, Justin Anderson.
Phony Bennett: I really think Justin is going to be the leader of this team, but I'm not sure it happens this year.
Brian Schwartz: Phony, I agree that Justin will one day be king...but he will have to wait a bit, this is still Joe's team. Hate to jump on the bandwagon of fans pressuring him...but he can handle it.
It is clear that the biggest problem with the team thus far is turnovers, so this has better be priority 1. No idea what Tony Bennett will do to get the Hoos to stop coughing the ball up, but he's the Coach, he'll think of something. However, one aspect that he must investigate is the rotation. It seems like the team's depth is harming chemistry, leading to turnovers; the coaching staff will probably want to spend time re-evaluating their substitution strategy.
And I agree with Caroline. Big men have to work harder finishing at the rim. And EVERYONE needs to make FTs.
Drop your thoughts down in the comments. If you had 2 weeks to to work with the team, how would you save the season?