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View Full Version : GU Guard Evolution (1995-2011)



Stache
03-13-2010, 07:29 AM
This might fit under a different thread. If so please relocate accordingly:

I love our staff and wouldn't change it for the world. These are just observations that aren't supposed to contain an ounce of criticism for the hard work and character of our staff and kids.

Working assumption: Our Staff values interior defense over perimeter defense. IMHO, It's good odds. Defend the area where shooting percentages across all talent levels is highest (in the key). But, you thereby give up some defense where the shooting percentages should be lower (outside shots).

Past PG: When we had the dead-eye outside shooters, we often lacked the foot speed to prevent penetration. Penetration led to big man fouls and lots of kick-out threes. Penetration jeopardized our big men with early foul trouble or the need to provide help defense, leaving the opponent's big man open for the high percentage shot that our defensive scheme seeks to prevent. In general, big men are harder to come by than guards (straight demographics - there are more 6'3" humans than 6'11" ones) and foul trouble to Cory Violette, Ronny, and even Josh typically exposed a GU softer underbelly. Moreover, really athletic teams (i.e, Memphis' of the world) could race by our guard/shooters and make us look like we lacked top 20 athletes. This board and others called for faster feet.

Fast forward to present: We have the PG's with fast feet, but we don't have the shooter or assists at PG. With the fast feet on D, have we stopped penetration? Largely, yes. Oh penetration happens and we can't have shut down defense every game, but the frequency of opponent's penetration is so much less than the days of Derek R, Blake S, and even Dan D that we have to acknowledge Meech and Steven can be the top 20, athletic, defensive guards that we always wanted.

Before I get beat up, I concede that the perimeter defense still seems to allow more made-three-pointers than many top 25 teams. Whether it is the overall defensive scheme or an emphasis on stopping penetration, we don't seem to be as good as other top 20's in guarding the three, and I know that I'm not smart enough to figure it out.

Conclusion: What do we have? The penetration defense is not, IMHO, sufficiently helpful to offset the continued exposure to opponents' three point shooting and the 4 on 5 offense that we are left with when the PG is not a viable offensive threat.

Oddly, as I think back over 15 years, was J Pargo the closest we have had to the ideal mix of an offensive threat with sufficient defensive athleticism to guard the opponent's speed?

What is the Future: I tend to think GJ's challenge will be mental and psychological. He has all the athletic tools, but can he give up being the highest scoring guy on the team and instant gratification of applause for scoring all for the sake of the team? I think Meech is a great 6 or 7 man, change of pace and defensive plug-in.

The immediate future: I think Steven has to realize he has a great gift, one year in which to display it on the present stage (pun intended), and he could find himself making great money for "playing a game" if he works his arse off on his ball handling over the offseason. SG has a very long, interesting life ahead, none of which may involve basketball, but he should realize that he will never get his senior year back. IF Steven can develop handles, then GJ can be spelled early at the point, and Manny, Grant, and perhaps a Juco shooter could make up an equation that balances outside shooting, perimeter speed and defense, and give us the rare hybrid of offense mixed with defense.

seasontixholder
03-13-2010, 07:59 AM
Nice post. However, the premise that our 3 point defense is still weak because of only decent athleticism is not accurate. Basically, we beat St. Mary's soundly twice by focusing on their shooters and letting Samhan roam. So that when the game scheme is to deny both penetration and the 3, our guys are more than able to do it. And not just in conference. We beat Wisconsin by locking down their guard stud.

Mark Few deliberately set upon a path of attempting to recruit better athletes at 1 and 2 just as the Stepp/Bankhead era was ending. It was going to have to be a process, rather than an overnight affair. Jeremy was the first person in that makeover. Unfortunately, his shooting and footspeed on defense were suspect at best. But so what? The very best was not going to land on campus right away. With Meech, he got superior defense. He took a chance that he could re-tool a more reliable outside shot (and that still could happen). It might be the case that, in two more years, we might conclude that the guard progress took another step upward. Maybe not.

Mark is still experimenting with his theory, and with his stated goal of improving the product enought to compete for a Final Four. It's not going to be accomplished with the old-school type players in this environment that is different from 10 years ago.

applezag
03-13-2010, 07:59 AM
I think most of your observations about how things have changed in GUs point guards are accurate. Dickau, Stepp, and Raivio could not defend a lot of perimeter opponents, and we had to play a lot of zone and do things to cover up those weaknesses. It drove me crazy, though I knew it was necessary. (for anyone who still wonders why Dickau has not stuck in the NBA, lateral foot speed is reason number one). Pargo and Meech (especially) are markedly more capable of defending on the perimeter. And, yes, neither of them can consistently hit shots to the point where teams feel they really have to guard them out there. It should be recognized, though, that there are a lot of very good teams who have won big with these kinds of point guards. It can work.

I don't necessarily think that the staff values interior defense over perimeter defense, but do think they would give up an open contested jumper over an open contested shot in the paint. So it is correct to say they design a defense that would prefer longer shots. I think pretty much every team in America does that. There are some stat mongers on the board who may be able to help me on this, but I'm not certain we actually give up a higher three percentage than an average team. It sure seems that way, but there have been years where it has seemed that way to me, but I have been proven wrong by the stats. That being said, the reason I see GU giving up too many open threes, or so it seems, this year is helping too much off of shooters when it is not even necessary. So, like Stache says, they are focusing on stopping penetration to the point where those open looks happen. I was at the St. Mary's tournament game and could not believe how many times guys helped off of McConnel and Allen when the dribbler hadn't even beat his man. Several specific players are the worst culprits of this, and I would imagine it drives the staff as batty as it does me.

My conclusion: play smarter defense. GU is much improved over the past three years, but still seems to want to collapse at times when it isn't necessary. I don't think going a different direction player-wise is the answer if the program wants to get to Final Fours. You have to have point guards who guard the perimeter, but you do not have to have ones who knock down the three if you have other guys who can do it. That being said, what we would all prefer is one who can do all these things--defend, shoot, penetrate, and run the team. Those guys are rare, but they are out there. No doubt that's what the staff looks for at that position.

As for Gray's future, I think he can play the point now. His handles are pretty good as it is. He doesn't always look smooth, but he can get it done at that position. I think he'll get a good look in the NBA as a shooter and a guy who can defend pretty well.

MickMick
03-13-2010, 08:09 AM
I agree with much of this, but not all.

I would love to take the best attributes of each. Pargo's strength and driving ability, Stepp's toughness and ability to make everyone better, Dickau scoring in bunches, Ravio's pure shooting stroke and handles, etc., etc.

Unfortunately, every player is a bit different and you have to take what they each offer.

Pargo isn't among my favortie Zag point guards ever, but of all the recent players that departed, he is the one most missed.

Zags take what they can get and make it fit. If Rotnei Clarke had decided to become a Zag, the playing style of this team would have been much, much different. I don't think they would have been necessarily better though.

The point is....the coach takes the best players he can, and makes the system fit to their strengths and weaknesses. I believe it is coincidence that an evolution of philosophy is perceived. It is strictly based on who wants to become a Zag, taking the best ones available, and making the system fit.

Believe this...if a player like Dickau, Stepp, or Ravio popped up on the radar, coach Few wouldn't take a pass in an attempt to "upgrade the athleticism".

seasontixholder
03-13-2010, 09:34 AM
Not sure about a young high school Dickau. Either way, he would make sure that a complementary athletic player was on the squad.

BobZag
03-13-2010, 09:45 AM
Until 2011 Zag fans will just have to endure 4 on 5 offense. The guards with scoring mentalities are on the way.

HillBillyZag
03-13-2010, 10:22 AM
Look, would somebody explain to me how you up grade the athleticism. And what is athleticism? Is the theory that its easier to teach an athlete to be a better basketball player, than it is to teach a basketball player to become more athletic? And what is the proper mixture of skill and athleticism to develop the best player?

bartruff1
03-13-2010, 10:28 AM
Look, would somebody explain to me how you up grade the athleticism. And what is athleticism? Is the theory that its easier to teach an athlete to be a better basketball player, than it is to teach a basketball player to become more athletic? And what is the proper mixture of skill and athleticism to develop the best player? Watch the Big East.. I don't think you can " become more athletic"....but you can become a "better basketball player"....the best mix ? Watch Kentucky...

U Zig, I Zag
03-13-2010, 10:59 AM
Until 2011 Zag fans will just have to endure 4 on 5 offense. The guards with scoring mentalities are on the way.

Free GJ.

Stache
03-13-2010, 11:41 AM
Mick Mick - I couldn't agree more that GU should gobble up a Dickau, Stepp etc because they were all great in their own way. The observation is meant to address the change in the Guard attributes that seem to coincide with our scheduling the "athletic" teams from other conferences.

As for "athletic," I am thinking of the God given attributes that you can't really learn or acquire from practice. Manny has some very long arms and a great leaping ability that come together for some amazing rebounds. GJ and Meech have speed that Grant Gibbs can't go learn. This is not to say that Kyle Bankhead was not an "athlete," but I'm guessing that his great stroke was honed in long hours facing a hoop. Hard work and smarts can get you in the right position to succeed (boards, the right place on team defense, find the opening in the zone where you can shot a 3) - Athleticism gets you boards, steals, blow by layups and dunks because your body bounces, accelerates or stretches secondary to innate, God-given characteristics.

Yes, it would be great to build a Robo-Guard who has all the great attributes of Santangelo, etc.....

StatMan
03-13-2010, 12:37 PM
The Zags are 91st out of 347 teams in three point defense so they're not actually that bad in this department. Here's the link:

http://statsheet.com/mcb/teams/stats?season=2009-2010&conf=&games=&stat=threefg_pct&stat_type=defense


Scroll all the way to the bottom and you'll see that EWU is 343rd and Santa Clara is 345/347 in three point defense.


On the other hand the Zags do give up a lot of three point attempts. They allow 19.1 per game which puts them at 251st in the country in terms of stopping three point attempts. (Chattanooga allows a whopping 28.6 attempts per game while Princeton holds opponents to only 12.2 per game)

whatazag
03-13-2010, 01:36 PM
This will never happen, but for next year I'd like to see some time with GG running the point with Gray at the 2. With these guys on the floor, Gray would have to guard the point of attack of a fast opposing pg. I think the floor sense and passing of a guy like GG is underrated in basketball to some degree these days with the emphasis on athleticism. When you have a pg that sees the floor that well, your offensive efficiency is bound to go up. This all predicated on GG continuing to work on his shot and handles over the summer (and no question his defense really needs work regardless of who he is guarding). Haven't seen enough of GJ to say how good of a distributor he can be, but Meech does not appear to have that vision. Speed is nice in a pg, but I don't buy the idea that you need it to break a press, that's what passing can be used for.

BobZag
03-13-2010, 02:14 PM
Dranginis / Bell / Pangos

2011, baby.

surfmonkey89
03-13-2010, 02:58 PM
Dranginis / Bell / Pangos

2011, baby.

Which makes me nervous about 2010.

BobZag
03-13-2010, 03:00 PM
Which makes me nervous about 2010.

Just more 4 on 5 unless changes are made. 2010 Juco PG?

229SintoZag
03-13-2010, 03:13 PM
Just more 4 on 5 unless changes are made. 2010 Juco PG?

Call me crazy, but how about we teach Meech to shoot?

Solves a ton of problems.

BobZag
03-13-2010, 03:54 PM
Call me crazy, but how about we teach Meech to shoot?

Solves a ton of problems.

I'm certain they'll try, but can it be done? That's the question. They tried to last offseason.......

applezag
03-13-2010, 05:20 PM
Call me crazy, but how about we teach Meech to shoot?

Solves a ton of problems.

I'm sure the lessons have been given. For him to get his shot where it needs to be he needs to put in Raivio-like gym time. It's just a matter of how disciplined he is to become a better shooter.

1973Zag
03-13-2010, 06:34 PM
still don't see much changing with the shooting at this point. If it were that easy,Will would be putting up 50 a night by now. DG's shot may improve a bit, but speed is his asset. Don't think that will be enough- we need speed+an offensive threat at PG. Love DG's fire and effort, but I think we will see much the same this fall -will that be enough?














dg

LynetteG
03-13-2010, 07:11 PM
Free GJ.
http://i298.photobucket.com/albums/mm257/greghueners/19948_298272524567_588194567_325151.jpg

BobZag
03-14-2010, 08:23 AM
http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AZS-nUo5WL0rZGZ3cWpqcHpfMzZjajVwaHpoZw&hl=en

NorthoftheBorder
03-14-2010, 10:00 AM
12/25 (48%) from three point range in the State Tournament.

Looks like a good three point shooter is on the way.

jazzdelmar
03-14-2010, 10:12 AM
Until 2011 Zag fans will just have to endure 4 on 5 offense. The guards with scoring mentalities are on the way.



the #1 most deflating post on the board this year.....and the most honest.....at the ncs, few wont be able to fence himself off Tiger style from the media. maybe some dauntless journo (kelley?) will ask him: why meech?

BroncoZAG615
03-14-2010, 10:32 AM
This will never happen, but for next year I'd like to see some time with GG running the point with Gray at the 2. With these guys on the floor, Gray would have to guard the point of attack of a fast opposing pg. I think the floor sense and passing of a guy like GG is underrated in basketball to some degree these days with the emphasis on athleticism. When you have a pg that sees the floor that well, your offensive efficiency is bound to go up. This all predicated on GG continuing to work on his shot and handles over the summer (and no question his defense really needs work regardless of who he is guarding). Haven't seen enough of GJ to say how good of a distributor he can be, but Meech does not appear to have that vision. Speed is nice in a pg, but I don't buy the idea that you need it to break a press, that's what passing can be used for.

Grant is not underrated. He's about what everyone thinks and yes, a lot of basketball is based on athletic ability unless you have just outstanding basketball abilities which I haven't seen yet from him. Grant's footspeed and lateral quickness is also very slow which will prevent him from ever seeing quality time at point guard next season. Steven Gray has to be given a break on his defensive responsibilities next season or he'll be worn dead by midseason and he's far too important on offense. What you are suggesting would lead to a colossal collapse halfway through the season.

Steven, Meech, Manny, Bol, and GJ are all going to be ahead of Gibbs in the rotation and I can never really see him cracking the top 6-7 of our rotation considering who we are recruiting in 2011.

I guess I'm in the minority that still has faith that Demetri can improve and work his skill set into his speed. He's still got two years but I agree that production must seen immediately in 2010-2011.

bartruff1
03-14-2010, 10:42 AM
Hummm...4 on 5....I guess that means all the teams we play have 5... and we have a player who is a 0....or all the teams we have had had 5...on offense...well, I don't remember Meech costing them any games this year.. IMHO he is not the problem..it is the 2 on 5 playing defense that has lost games..I always assume Few knows what he is doing..I would be very surprised if Meech is not starting for the rest of his career at Gonzaga and I am looking forward to it....so there...:)