Rhoades - Year 4

GuardTheArc

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Dec 4, 2014
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If we're going to turn this thing around in 2020-21 (and I'm not sure we can/will - our "decade of domination" ship may have sailed), Mike and his staff, IMO, need to adjust/elevate some their thinking/approaches in two distinct areas.

#1) Recruiting/Roster Construction/Roster Mgmt

#2) Game Management - Grade C-


Some of the decisions (or non-decisions), on all fronts, that I've witnessed over the past three years give me great pause/concern. We'll get to #1 above at a later date but #2 is worth mentioning/discussing now.

#2) GAME MANAGEMENT: I'm not sure about the true relationship/dynamic between Mike and his assistants regarding a host of pre-game and in-game approaches/strategies/tactics but some of the head-scratching decisions/philosophies I've seen lead me to wonder about the relative power/input/influence of each staff member in practice, in games, and in meetings. For example:

A) 2-foul rule - sitting a key guy for what often amounts to 10-14 minutes in the first half after he picks up #2; often times, this is unnecessary and detrimental. Wonder if the staff has really deep-dived this one. Several studies suggest this is generally a major overreaction and would be handled better "situationally." Most of the time, it's an unnecessary move and reduces overall win probability.

B) Substitution patterns/routine - so much to unpack here; from taking out the "hot guy" after he's stroked a few to bringing in guys at the same intervals every game regardless of how the group on the floor is doing to properly utilizing offense/defense substitutions late in games to removing poor FT shooters late in "fouling" situations to better protect a lead (i.e. get MSS out of there), I've seen so much mismanagement of these "relatively easy" game flow decisions, it hurts my head. The staff just needs to improve their overall situational awareness and tactical acumen during games.

C) Starters (vs rotation) - a program doesn't need to start upperclassmen just because they are upperclassmen. Some of the best rotation guys are juniors/seniors. Some kids (at any age) play better off the pine. Some underclassmen really value being a starter (mentally) and need to start (to become fully engaged - sad but true). Seniors, especially, don't necessarily need to start (they aren't going anywhere anyway - i.e. transferring if they become disgruntled). Simms NEVER should have started his senior yr. Minutes played is ultimately what matters. Even a junior/senior off the bench can still play significant minutes (25+) and have a leading role (be a major impact).

D) Timeout/clock usage - this nonsense of not using timeouts and "letting the kids figure it out" is ridiculous; Mike's overthinking this, especially when the data suggests otherwise. Timeouts can be, and ought to be, used to halt runs before they start, to remind kids of strategies/tactics, to alleviate confusion during a set, to set up a critical possession/inbounds play, after we hit a shot late to close a deficit, to make a key/critical substitution late, to switch defenses, or simply to give the guys a quick blow.

E) Changing defenses - any competent high-level D-1 program should be able to switch defenses on the fly in-game (and execute accordingly/effectively). The thought process that a pressing/trapping team (Havoc) can't learn/play effective zone and other defenses on the fly (box and one, triangle and two, man, etc) is silly. They can and they do, often on consecutive possessions. Switching defenses (to slow/confuse the opponent) is a staple of many a successful coach.

F) Player/coach relationship(s) - Mike may scold his kids in practice and behind closed doors but the bottom line is a team ultimately reflects the personality of the coach and we have been physically and sometimes mentally soft (mostly finesse) for the past 3 years. We aren't big, tough, strong, physical, intimidating, gritty. I personally don't care if the players "like" the coach/staff, and they really shouldn't care either.

G) Embracing (advanced) analytics - rumor has it the staff does; I'm skeptical. There's too much data to suggest otherwise. From lineup combos to game strategies to certain defensive looks to offensive shot selection (who and from where and how often), the results do not always support a concerted effort to follow the analytics. I would suggest they get more on board.

H) Lineup composition - Mike's "small ball" approach (starting a 6'6" center and 6'4" PF for example). Size does matter and "cumulative" size matters even more (especially if your talent/ability isn't off the charts). Margin of error is reduced for nearly everything when the team is fairly undersized across the board (and by undersized I mean not only height but strength and athleticism). Take a close look at most Top 50 NCAA programs (serious contenders), their lineups/rotations, their rim protectors, wings, etc. Even a pressing, full court approach still requires, and benefits from, length/size/bulk. We need to get bigger, stronger, longer, more athletic, and more skilled across the board. Yes, a certain type of 6'10" C and a 6'8" PF can still press/trap effectively (see Louisville, West Virginia, etc).

I) Miscellaneous - from seeing smart two-for-one (possessions) and situational substitutions at the end of halves to mixing in some offensive lobs to working the refs to wearing the right uniforms/warmups (hoodies - really?) to "getting in better shape" himself, there are a bunch of little things that Mike controls that need some work.

To me, it's a bit troubling to see so much variation in Mike's philosophy/execution compared to what should be fairly "common/expected" approaches in these various "game mgmt" areas. I don't personally view Mike as this worldly, battle-tested, confident, in-control, $1.5M+/yr 47-yr old heady, veteran D-1 coach/strategist/tactician leading a Top 50 program. Rather, I see a guy who (even after 3 yrs each at Rice and VCU) still appears at times confused, unsure, and conflicted (in many areas). Fortunately for him (if he can do it), some high-level recruiting and competent roster construction/mgmt (i.e. success with #1 above) can pretty much cure all that ails us (and smooth over many of these game mgmt issues as, quite frankly, it partially did with Shaka). Regardless, I hope the staff re-evaluates some of their game mgmt philosophies/approaches.......and soon. Otherwise, the next few years are going to be rough.

More on #1) RECRUITING later........
 
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May 4, 2012
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Regarding the 2 foul thing, when we are thin at a position and opposition knows this and is actively trying to get fouls on them, we have little choice. To fix this is a matter of better recruiting. Don't get caught thin. Cant help injuries but thts where recruiting for depth is crucial.
When they hung 2 on MSS we had no good option and just had to hope we didn't fall apart. Ditto Hyland when Evans was hurt.
 
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LQuarles

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@GuardTheArc sounds like your post could've been written exactly about Shaka, especially before he started running any zone. Heck, I'm still salty about how he coached the 2013 Michigan game and SFA game.
 
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rammad90

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Jan 19, 2010
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Well.........YOU'VE obviously got a whooooooole lot of time on your hands right now.
And a lot on his mind.

Are the wheels really about to fall off? I must say that this was an odd year for me as I dont remember attending any games. First time in 20 years. At one point I attended all home games and at least 80% of all away games. Attended every NCAA game regardless of location except the Georgetown game in Chicago a buddies wedding occurred but we did set up a TV in the reception hall (the wife wasn't thrilled but the groom is a Ram).

I state the above to give background that I have no clue as to what is going on, and I usually have a bit, not a lot, but a bit of insider info. Given this, are things as bad as this poster states?

I watched a few games on TV when I had the opportunity but work, traveling, and the virus took precedence. Is this a Mack or a Sonny moment or do we just need to reset? Personally, I like our team Ace will help a ton, Bones will mature, as will Curry, Hyland, McAllister, Clark, and Williams. Douglas, and MSS will give us what they've been giving. I also think that the kid from IMG Brown-Jones is going to be a very pleasant surprise. He'll give us size, length, and strength on the wing something we haven't had for a while and if we recruit correctly he will pair up well with Hassan and whomever we get at 6'7 or better.

So again, are the wheels falling off, and if not wth, is wrong with Guard the Arc?
 

rammad90

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Jan 19, 2010
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@GuardTheArc sounds like your post could've been written exactly about Shaka, especially before he started running any zone. Heck, I'm still salty about how he coached the 2013 Michigan game and SFA game.
Obviously you didnt watch the Michigan game. That team had 6 first round NBA players on its roster. Their PG was the CPOY, they were bigger, stronger, and faster. We played in their backyard (Detroit), and our pg played all of 3 minutes in the first half due to fouls trouble, Juvonte our leading rebounder and 2nd leading scorer played 10 minutes and had 3 ticky tack fouls on him by half, Troy our best gunner was 0-6 fg, 0-4 from 3, Rob B was 0-4, 0-2, super stub back up Melvin Johnson was 1-4 all in the first half.

Without Ju on the floor their big McGary looked like an all star. He scored inside at will. Ju did comeback and play 14 minutes but by then it was too late. Ju was the only player who gave as good as he got he ended up 7-11 with 16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal.

Salty about Michigan you tell me what SS could have done differently given what occurred, other than b smack the refs for making those calls that took Ju and Theus out of the game in the 2nd half. Remember Bri wasn't Bri at the point in his career.
 

rammad90

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I think our team next year will be filthy good. We have to face the Coach of they Year, but we won;t have to face the Player of the YEAR!
Bang these COY's are a lot less intimating with they are without their POY's.
 
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LQuarles

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Obviously you didnt watch the Michigan game. That team had 6 first round NBA players on its roster. Their PG was the CPOY, they were bigger, stronger, and faster. We played in their backyard (Detroit), and our pg played all of 3 minutes in the first half due to fouls trouble, Juvonte our leading rebounder and 2nd leading scorer played 10 minutes and had 3 ticky tack fouls on him by half, Troy our best gunner was 0-6 fg, 0-4 from 3, Rob B was 0-4, 0-2, super stub back up Melvin Johnson was 1-4 all in the first half.

Without Ju on the floor their big McGary looked like an all star. He scored inside at will. Ju did comeback and play 14 minutes but by then it was too late. Ju was the only player who gave as good as he got he ended up 7-11 with 16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal.

Salty about Michigan you tell me what SS could have done differently given what occurred, other than b smack the refs for making those calls that took Ju and Theus out of the game in the 2nd half. Remember Bri wasn't Bri at the point in his career.
Obviously I watched the game, or I wouldn't remember it turning into Dunk City, along with over 50% FG shooting, as we continued to press those NBA players until it was more than too late. We were lucky they didn't hit those wide open 3s as well, or we lose by 40 instead of only 25. And yeah, blame the refs, common theme on here. Maybe it was karma for keeping the starters in too long against an injured Akron. Thanks though.
 
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