Can the Jays Carry their Defensive Shortcomings?
Courtesy: Creighton Athletics
09 January 2017
The #8 team in the country, the Creighton Bluejays are 15-1 and have won 2 true road games since stumbling at home against the defending National Champion Villanova Wildcats. There is much chatter afoot amongst the faithful on the Creighton boards. And whataya know, most of the debate is about our old friend – lack of rebounding.
Rebounding or the lack of it is not only a problem for CU, but several of the high scoring variety of teams this season. So is their cause for great alarm? Several folks on the CU boards think so. While cognizant of the need for some improvement, I am not alarmed – yet. The team is rolling and although there have been a couple of off games offensively, the Jays continue to win.
Pages 33-35, 2016-17 Men’s Basketball thread, on the BJU go into great detail of the arguments and suggestions. http://www.bluejayunderground.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=4288&start=330 Now, while this is an annual recurring theme with the Jays and their style of play, it has not been a major issue this season. On the couple of games where the shooting accuracy was down, Creighton found other means to secure the W.
Wizard of Westroads wrote:At 15-1, we’re:
* 5 in RPI on Warren Nolan, 4 in the power index.
* 5 in LiveRPI.
* 7 in Massey.
* 17 in Sagarin.
* 18 in TeamRankings, forecast at 25-6 and 12-6 in the BE.
* 19 in KenPom, 7 in offense and 69 in defense.
Gtmo has been preaching Final Four since August, but I’d guess the majority of fans thought it was pie in the sky at that point. The talk doesn’t seem to get brushed off any more, probably because we’ve read national writers saying it. Nobody thinks we’re a favorite, it’s just that we’re in the conversation. So what would have to happen for us to get there?
The obvious answer in improved rebounding, but how much can we really improve? We like to think our guards are so much more athletic than before, but they’re still pretty small compared to the top teams. Justin gets better every game, but probably not realistic to expect that from the juniors and seniors. The only other possibility might be to keep everybody in on defense and cut back on our running, but it’s hard to believe we’re going to change who we are.
So the one thing I’d like to see involves team health. I thought Cole had some great moments against St. John’s and like to think he’s turning a corner on his injury. He’s our best shooter and while not a great rebounder, provided more boards last year than he is now. If Cole is healthy, then our offense would be even better than it is now and could better overcome our defensive and rebounding sufficiencies. And then there’s Zach. His return would give our toughness a bump and lessen concerns when Justin gets in foul trouble. CU Med Center, the season’s on you.
Have to disagree about some of this. Cole helps us a lot if he’s hitting shots, but he’s not our best shooter. He can get a shot against some teams, but not all of them and when he’s not hitting shots he’s a net negative on the boards and especially on defense. He can get by against teams that aren’t that physical (St. Johns), but teams like Providence really push him around. He pretty much needs to start due to his injury and inability to warm up mid-game to come off the bench, but over the conference schedule we’ve played better with Hegner on the floor (yesterday we were +16 with him on the floor in 20 minutes and -1 with Huff on the floor in 22 minutes). Especially if we continue to play Patton on the weakside (probably crucial if we plan to continue getting 30 minutes a game from him), we will see a lot of Hegner playing a lot, and we need him to play a lot if the success of his playing time is an indication (and it is) so far in the conference season.
With regards to the rebounding, we are always going to give up a good number of Offensive boards, it’s a question of how much we lose the boards, though — first half against Providence we were -10 (22-12). Second half we were -5 (20-15). We lost a few caroms in the second half, but I thought we were a lot tougher and more physical in the second half (again partly due to Hegner getting more minutes in the second half after the foul trouble in the first half, but mostly due to a much better effort by everyone to not let themselves get pushed around).
But even with all of that, we tend to get a push inside on the boards. Our forwards and centers do pretty good work in blocking out if they can’t get the rebound and preventing their opponent from getting the board. The bigger problem is our guards. We do run as fast as possible, but too often our guards neglect to block out as we did in the Nova game. Our guards got crushed on the boards in that game and if we want to beat them, we need to do better in that regard.
cujaysfan wrote:i’m wondering – is there a place where there are old LMU box scores from the hank gathers, matt friar, bo kimble days
no one pushed tempo and let it fly like those guys – i’m curious to see their rebounding numbers and see how they compare to what we’re doing.
LMU’s opponents missed 1263 shots and got 531 offensive rebounds. 42%. LMUs miss/Off Reb = 42%
To date CU’s opponents have missed 580 shots and have 193 offensive rebounds. 33%. CU’s number is about 25%
LMU was able to negate opponent offensive rebounds by getting an equal number of their own. CU’s is obviously not negating with their own offensive boards but 8% isn’t a huge disparity. But in conference it’s worse (granted, it’s a small sample so far)….opponents are getting 41% and CU is only getting 21%
Many have offered up suggestions to address the problem. The one certain thing is that the coaching staff is aware, taking steps to remedy the issue, whether in terms of gameplanning-scheming-or increased effort, and Creighton should show improvement over the course of the remaining season.