Great early season basketball game tonight by our Zips and the Flyers. Not a win, but an entertaining look into what the team looks like and what we might expect against good D1 competition. Great to have it on TV. From what I saw in the in-game thread, I'm glad I muted the FSN guys and put on Frenchy.
So we're off! Another season of dreams is underway.
And with sincere apologies to Sergio Leone, my notes from the game ...
- Resiliency: It was a nice recovery to get back into the game (2x) when things appeared to be getting out of hand. I take this as a very good sign of the toughness of the club. They didn't finish the Flyers out, but the also fought to stay in it. For game 1 of the D1 slate, I think this was my key takeaway.
- Nitro: 21 points on 15 shots in 28 minutes. Can we please stop calling the guy a bust? He's got a ways to go in demonstrate some consistency, but the guy played a nice game on the offensive end. For much of the first half, he was the only offense. Excellent game by Brett tonight.
- Newcomers: I was very surprised to see Euton drop the redshirt, but not disappointed. You can see the guy knows the game, and gets himself in position to make plays, instead of counting on athleticism. This guy is a basketball player, and will help us this year. 2 for 2 on pop out threes. That's HUGE when you have a big going to work inside at the same time. Abreu was clutch also. Took good care of the ball for the most part against the press. Lost it a few times down the lane, but he seemed comfortable out there overall .. and enabled Steve to move over to the 2 spot, where he found his shot a bit.
- Nik: Did not shoot well from the field tonight, but 11pts, 10 rebs & 7 assts is a stat stuffing night. He kept his composure and led the team in a lot of ways. He's not going to shoot 20% .. he just isn't. When he starts hitting a more normal rate, this guy will be a load .. especially opposite some other capable bigs. Nice game by Nik tonight.
- Zeke changes everything: I'm really dying to see the +/- numbers from tonight, because my perception right now is that Zeke must have a pretty good + number. The feel I had was that it really altered things on both ends of the floor. His stats weren't overpowering, but he changed what Dayton did .. drew a double & triple team every time he had the ball, and did a pretty darn good job of passing out of those situations to an open shooter. If he masters that skill of sensing the double and waiting to the right moment to kick out .. our shooters will have open shots, and the number of threes the Zips hit tonight will be the norm. The Zips could very well become a "pick your poison" kind of problem for opposing coaches.
- Team play on offense: The Zips assisted on 18 of 22 FG's and had only 7 Turnovers against a longer, more athletic team. Read that again. That's a great sign of the state of the offensive execution. The ball is being moved around to the open shooter. There weren't too many forced shots, and they did an adequate job of protecting the possessions.
- They lost: There are no good losses. The Zips got close to a good D1 team on the road. Let them get out to a double digit halftime lead, fought back to lead by a possession or 2, and then gave it back at the end. This is an early season game, but I'm sure KD joins us in wanting to see the team grow to the point where they can sustain that run in the middle of the 2nd half and put Dayton away.
- Scoring Droughts: CK warned about it today. Some may say jinxed the Zips .. but the droughts reared their ugly head again @ UD Arena. Frankly, with the 10 minutes or so they went without a FG in the first half, it should have been walkon time in the 2nd half. Nik's aggressiveness with the ball got him to the line, and that kept the Zips in it. If the Zips are to be successful in March, they have to find a way to get good looks when Zeke isn't in the game. They can't continue to have these stretches of no offense.
- Rebounding: The rebound totals were 39-25. You don't need to look at the box score to see that UD had more. The Zips were manhandled on the boards at critical times in the game. Frenchy described a few of the offensive boards as weird spin outs or odd bounces, but for the most part they were due to bad positioning, and/or the Zips guy just not putting a body on the Flyer who eventually snared the board. Exception: in 10 minutes on the floor, Dakotah had 4 boards. That's as much as our 2 centers had in 33 minutes. The Zips can not get beat on the glass by 50% and expect to beat good D1 teams.
- Foul trouble for Zeke: Gotta keep the big guy on the floor. I can't help but hope the MAC officials call fewer of the bogus freshman ticky tack stuff. His 3rd foul was a joke. It's plain to see that he alters the game. Now the Zips need to find away to keep him on the floor for more than 19 minutes. He plays more in the first half, the deficit is probably half of what it was.
- Nik survives first season ending injury of the 2010-11 campaign: I remember a practice 2 seasons ago where Nik stopped play rolling around on the floor, only to get back up and be on the court in 2 or 3 minutes. KD was furious at him. Good to see Nik bounce back from his first season ending injury of the year.
- Bardo on a poster: Let's face it, The Old Spice Guy or George Clooney wouldn't look much better on the Chris Wright poster that's getting readied for sale in the UD bookstore in the morning, let alone Mike Bardo. Mike, you've got to put him on the floor in that situation. Does 2 things: keeps you off the marketing materials for UD sports, and maybe makes the guy a little slower to drive in on you.
- Live & die by the 3 ball: I have no issue whatsoever with the Zips taking 36 3-balls last night. They made a bunch of them. My struggle with it is only when it starts to happen without any inside action whatsoever. Be it a dribble drive by Abreu (happened a few times) or a dump to a big guy .. the threes fall better off an inside out action. The scoring drought really took hold when there was no inside activity or success in penetrating to force the defense to address the paint. This team can shoot the rock and should shoot it .. but they need the inside out to have more open, higher percentage 3's.
... And a Few Comments More:
- Love the zone to man switch: French & Dunn made noise about Dayton being confused by the Zone look in the second half .. but I think they missed what KD was doing, and probably what caused UD the most trouble. The Zips have the habit of sitting in that zone for a portion of the shot clock and then quietly slipping back into man. UD never caught on. It's not something you can do all the time, but I expect to see more of it. I really like the look .. and if the Zips can pull it off without losing a man here or there, it should be pretty effective. It causes the opponent to run a different zone set offensively, but gets the Zips back into a man before the shot .. and it's always easier to rebound out of man than it is zone.
- Chris Wright: This guy killed the Zips. I think he might be the best player the Zips have faced under KD. I've not had a ton of time to think about it, but there's not been a guy in the MAC even close to this guy in the last 6 or 7 years. Maynor for VCU was pretty tough. Lots of athletes on URI last year .. but at the moment, Wright stands apart in my mind. I can see clearly how and why he's on the Wooden and Naismith watch lists.
- Team unity:In the ZTVsports post game video, a comment by KD stood out: "we get along." That was nice to see today. There didn't seem to be any conflict internally that was visible on the court. The guys seem to be on the same page. There weren't a bunch of TO's due to complete mis-communication, as we've seen in the past. I think this bodes well for the season.
- Can't wait to see more. My appetite for Zips hoops is officially whetted. This was a good competitive game. The offense is turned up from last year .. and now they need to get the D in line with KD's expectations. The potential is here for a really strong season, not just one waiting for the 4 horsemen to be able to join them.
That's what I got. There's probably more.
Get 'em on Zips fans!