@ Boston College 2/23/2023

Welp. This was the game we’ve been building toward over the past two – but really is a continuation of the issues we’ve been having since the Virginia Tech game with that brief pause against N.C. State. The month of February has not been kind to us and I’ve spoken at length about what I think the main factors are in this recent slump. This game was no different with a few other issues sprinkled in and I’ll talk about them some below.

But first, I want to take a bit of a different approach to this one and talk more big-picture since losses like this tend to bring out criticism more broadly within the fan base, which in turn brings criticism of the criticism. I try to be mostly outcome neutral in my analysis and many analytical models do this as well, to many fans’ chagrin. The goal is obviously to win any given game, and there’s no substitute for that when it comes to standings and tangible accomplishment. Predictive models tend to try to focus on what’s likely to happen in the future; not necessarily a tool that should be used when seeding a tournament, but often a more accurate starting point around how “good” a specific team is and how likely they are to replicate their results against other teams. Similarly, I try to look at a game, consider an opponent, and think about whether not specific aspects of what we’re doing are working or are “good” more broadly. Can they be replicated against better competition. Is it the result of playing worse competition. Are there things that are going well in a loss and things that are cause for concern in a win? Hence, you’ll often hear me harping about an issue after a win just as much if not more than after a loss because often winning obscures those issues and pointing out the things that we can build on after a loss or where variance plays a factor and is likely an anomaly.

One of the more frustrating things as a fan is to see something that is producing poor results repeatedly but not see any action taken to try something different. That’s where it feels like we are now with this BVP/Gardner frontcourt pairing. The metrics point to it being a bad pairing, the video (as I’ve been spotlighting for weeks now) shows the issues, and the overall quality of the team’s play has declined correspondingly to their combined minutes increasing and the combined time of Shedrick, Dunn, and even the four-guard lineup, decreasing. In the press conference last night after the game, there was no indication that CTB viewed this as a specific concern, more a concern with full team play. He did mention that we didn’t seem to get good looks in this game, where he normally feels we do, so that might be something. Either way, with playing time decisions it certainly doesn’t seem that way. During crunch time each of the last three games, he put the duo into the game to close despite seeing poor results correspond directly to that time played together. It’s a bit of a strange and helpless feeling as a fan when it’s apparent there’s cause for concern about something specifically, there’s a large sample size of data and results supporting that idea, but it’s not an opinion that appears to be shared by decision makers (and media appears reluctant to ask specific questions about it.).

I was asked recently on social media if I’ve spent time critically thinking about why CTB might be making the decisions that he has despite all of those findings and the answer is, yes, yes I have. The result ends up being a lot of speculation that I tend to reject in favor of just looking at what’s actually happening between the lines. But, let’s go down that rabbit hole a bit here.

Historically speaking, CTB often makes decisions that are not supported by metrics. He’s said in no uncertain terms, even recently, that he prefers the eyeball test in terms of how players compete against each other. Sometimes this has worked out brilliantly. Kihei Clark in year one is one example of this. That was a team loaded with talent and he was not expected to see much time as a freshman. His minutes increased over the season and the metrics did NOT support it. But, what CTB savvily understood is that we’d need his skillset with that team to make a deep tournament run. I wrote about this extensively here, if interested, where I break down how essential Clark was to that team during several games within its tournament run.

Sometimes, it has not worked out well. The 2020-2021 team had three NBA players in the frontcourt but struggled to find offense at times, especially late in the year, because we played both Reece Beekman and Kihei along side them and neither were a threat to shoot from outside that season. This allowed opponents to play compact help defense on Murphy, Hauser, and Huff, gummed everything up, and eventually led to a first-round tournament loss. Many people blame COVID for this, which has some merit perhaps with that specific loss, but overlooks the fact that the team had similar vulnerabilities all season despite being as talented as they were. All that year, many fans expressed desire for Beekman to back up Clark and to play more of Tomas Woldetensae at the SG position, as his shooting (42% from three) and size 6’5″ helped on both ends of the floor. The metrics supported this, with that lineup of Clark, Woldetensae, Murphy, Hauser, and Huff being basically DOUBLY as efficient than the starting lineup we used that season – which had over five times the amount of court time together comparatively. Given the final outcome, it’s safe to say that decision did not work out.

This year’s dynamic feels much more like that, with Gardner/BVP as our Beekman/Clark and Dunn/Shedrick (depending on the matchup) being our Woldetensae. So WHY did he likely make these decisions. In ’21 he said that he liked the defensive pairing of Beekman and Clark, liked their ball pressure and their playmaking. Now, the team was much more effective defensively when Woldetensae played over Clark and was much more effective offensively when he played over Beekman and, collectively, much better as a whole when he played over Beekman – but that speaks to traits that CTB prefers. He liked the ball pressure, he liked the ball handling, those things made him feel more comfortable with those players but, in that case, it didn’t turn out that those were the correct things to prefer for that specific team and its needs. Similarly, this year, he’s mentioned that he likes the toughness, physicality, and offense that Gardner and BVP play with. Now, both are better scorers than either Dunn or Shedrick, and both are more experienced than either Dunn or Shedrick, but we’ve covered how when they play together, that doesn’t translate to optimal outcomes, or at least hasn’t so far, we don’t yet have a final chapter on this season but the trend isn’t good.

This brings me to a broader point. Coaches don’t always get it right. Now, CTB certainly gets it right, on average, more than anyone else. He’s phenomenal at building a program, adding his kind of players, designing a system that creates competitive advantage, and using his team to overperform within the context of that system and despite the constraints of the broader program as a whole. But any coaching staff on any team is going to make a ton of mistakes over the course of a season. If they were being fully honest, they’d tell you the same. From small in game decisions to larger tactical ones. It’s just unavoidable – almost impossible to take a perfect line. The reality is that a coaching staff is just a handful of very knowledgeable folks with limited man-hours trying to navigate a long season with a group of 10+ young adults. There are too many variables. The concept that any coach is always going to make the correct decision because they have the most experience and information is a silly one when you really think about it. And we can concretely point to any number of mistakes that even the best in the business make on a regular basis because we have the benefit of hindsight. So, the goal is never perfection, it’s just making as many correct decisions as possible, which requires constant re-evaluation. Conversely, the idea that thousands of fans who aren’t as knowledgeable or close to the situation but who are still knowledgeable about the game and the team are never going to be correct about something the coaching staff disagrees with is also silly.

Frankly, sometimes coaches are TOO close to a situation. They have a vision for what they want or expect the team to be and it’s hard to shake that view; belief perseverance. They may watch a certain player be better on a daily basis at X, Y, and Z skills in practice, which they value highly, than another player and so it’s hard to rationalize the second player being a better fit for what the team needs. I often think of Jack Salt on the ’19 team and how his knowledge of the defense, experience, toughness, and physicality were all things that CTB highly valued; but what the team needed most was the mobility, athleticism, rim protection, and finishing of Mamadi Diakite in order to make a deep run in the tournament. In that situation, CTB was able to re-evaluate and make a change to playing time very late in the season that worked out incredibly well.

The point of outside criticism isn’t (at least it shouldn’t be in the case of this program!) to imply that anyone else would do a better job holistically. For one, it’s mostly just about the entertainment that comes from thinking strategically about the team as a fan, but it’s to discuss and evaluate ideas about what might be an improvement. The discussion of those ideas has merit if it’s done constructively. Maybe it leads to someone asking CTB a question that gives us more clarity into the situation. Maybe it leads to an idea that wasn’t being considered that gets more consideration. Who knows. Its main purpose is just to enhance the enjoyment of being a fan of the team for people who like talking/thinking about this kind of thing. It certainly does for me and, if that’s your thing, this might be the place for you.

Lastly, I want to reiterate how one of the things that I love about being a fan of the program is that, even in the context of the above, you won’t find many fans, yours truly certainly included, who don’t think that CTB is doing a fantastic job overall and who aren’t incredibly proud to have him represent us/our university. I’m a fan of many teams across other sports and have been exposed to fanbases of many others and, fairly universally, there’s at least a loud minority that think any program/team would be better with a coaching change. Look at UNC’s fans now. They made the title game last year! You don’t get that here, certainly not very often. Almost all criticisms by our fans are targeted at decisions and ideas, not a referendum on the program itself or on CTB as a coach. There are exceptions, but they are true aberrations. It’s rare and a testament to the fantastic, program-altering job that he’s done and the respect that he’s earned. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it – lifetime contract, please!

Alright. What to say about this actual game? I’m going to try to give the Cliffs Notes after that long intro.

Reece’s Peanut Butter Hamstring

I’m not sure what that title really means but it sounds delicious. I had thought that Reece’s hamstring was pretty much fully on the mend after he dunked all over N.C. State. More recently, as his finishing around the rim and explosiveness have seemingly declined again, and his three-point shooting still not back to early season form, it had seemed very likely that it was flaring up again. Last game against Notre Dame I almost posted this clip, but got caught up on other points, but it stood out to me as him being hesitant. Earlier in the season there’s zero doubt, to me, that he would have taken this hard to the rack rather than pulling out and settling for the trailer three:

I mean, he looked physically labored at one point running that break. On Wednesday, he once again seemed tentative to go into the lane (some of that was spacing) and when he did, once again lacked the explosion to finish at the rim and, at times, seemed to force the issue out of frustration. Some of the clips in sections below have examples of this that I’ll speak to, but this one clip below really stood out to me on re-watch:

Reece is not a lack of effort player. He just looked so tender and was unable to get to that loose ball, like it was painful to change direction/get low to go after the ball so quickly.

So, as we talk about things contributing to our overall funk, an area for optimism (or not, considering he’s still fighting through this after months) is that it appears we had a closer to 100% Reece in our best recent game against N.C. State (also played Kadin 27 minutes) than we have in most of the games since. I’ll try to point out where it crops up in some of the other clips.


There are many issues going with the offense right now. One of them is Reece struggling to create and finish as explosively around the rim lately as he has earlier in the season. He’s made some uncharacteristically bad decisions as a result as well (I’ll show one actually at the end of the defensive section below). Another that people point to is the shooting. And, while that’s true, shooting is typically a baseline that fluctuates and extreme variance is a symptom of other issues. As a whole, collectively, this team has been an above average three-point shooting team on the year in college basketball. So, why have they gone so cold now? Some of it is clearly a confidence issue, which I’ll touch on momentarily. But why has the confidence fled? That mostly requires speculation and I don’t have line of sight into any off-the-court issues that might be causing this. What I will say is that often confidence is just a result of clean looks and seeing the ball go through the hoop. Enough misses from lesser quality looks and you start questioning your ability to make the shot, which then carries over to open looks. In the past few games it’s both been harder to get quality looks for the right players, and we’ve also missed quite a few open looks as well. Lastly, I come back to the spacing and attention we create through our offensive looks. Teams ARE adjusting to how they play our Triangle offense, switching often and cluttering up the middle of the lane. Furthermore, there’s the lineup aspect that I’ve talked at length about and will spend a little more time on today.

I want to make this clear that some of this content below isn’t a referendum on BVP. He’s been shooting poorly from outside recently, which has limited a lot of what we attempt to do offensively and, when combined with Gardner, doesn’t provide the defensive resistance that we need. But, just a couple games ago against Duke, he was our best player! I’ve seen a shift recently on social media where people are starting to call for him to come back off of the bench and Kadin to start alongside Gardner. I think this is correct, because I think some of his best games have been in that just under or around 20 minute range and as a spark/contrast to what our other bigs bring. BUT, after the Wake Forest game I was calling for Dunn and BVP to start together with Gardner and Shedrick spelling them to change up the look! The point is, it doesn’t really matter, in my opinion, which grouping starts or doesn’t, it more about seeing which of Gardner/BVP and which of Dunn/Shedrick are playing better throughout the game and then leaning into that pairing (one from each group).

Last night, Gardner was easily the best player on the floor for us and BVP had a rough one. There are going to be games where BVP is on fire/facilitating/defending well – and we should lean into him in those! It’s still just all about splitting the two and playing the hot hands. Against Boston College, I discussed last time how they mostly play Quinten Post, the 7 footer, and 4 guards/wings. When BVP is on the floor, Post covers Gardner, can bother him with length, and is able to clog the middle of the lane/help on drives. BVP isn’t as good as exploiting the post matchup on the other wing, and the offense stagnates. When Shedrick is in, Post has to guard Shedrick, leaving Gardner to feast on smaller players (AND Shedrick is much better at defending a player like Post). Given that BVP wasn’t playing very well on the whole, and Gardner was playing great, it would have made a ton of sense to run with Shedrick and Gardner for much more time (Shedrick only got 11 minutes).

This clip below, I think, best encapsulates all of the issues that we’ve been facing lately on offense. It’s with our starters only with IMK in for Franklin:

After the ball kicks around the perimeter a bit, it goes to Reece who Gardner attempts to play a two man game with a ball screen. Reece rejects the screen at first and attempts to go baseline but Post sags off of Gardner to cut off the drive, knowing that he has room to recover with his length and Gardner staying inside the three point line. Gardner then gets the ball and hands it back to Beekman, with a handoff screen attempt. Post simply slides to eliminate the drive and BVP’s man sags aggressively off of him to stop the dribble. The ball resets to BVP, having accomplished nothing, resetting the offense. Note, we’re down 12 with just over 2 minutes to go in the game. We aren’t trying to be deliberate! BVP passes it back to Beekman who immediately changes play by swinging it over to IMK, as there was nothing for him to do on that side. McKneely uses the momentum of the B.C. player to take a dribble across his body and shoot a long three off the bounce. It’s a fine look for McKneely and one he could make, but it’s not a very high quality look and is certainly one we could get much earlier in the shot clock. Namely, it wasn’t the result of good offense, it was the result of the offense getting repeatedly stalled and then resorting to firing up a shot. BUT, then there’s a long rebound and a deflection, and another deflection, and eventually BVP gets the ball and kicks it out to Reece, who fakes a shot, drives to the elbow, and kicks out to Franklin for the wide-open look, which he misses.

Why did that possession encapsulate our recent offensive woes? Because it was both an example of how our base offense with this lineup didn’t generate a quality look, and we had to settle for a less than ideal shot. But it was also an example of how we then got a very good look after a broken play and still couldn’t hit the shot. When you aren’t generating many quality opportunities AND you aren’t converting the ones you do, that’s the kind of thing that leads to .8 points per possession as we saw in this one… against a poor defensive team. Yes, we need to “shoot better.” That’s true. But shooting comes with confidence and confidence comes from offense, in general, coming more easily.

A few more examples of some of the points I made earlier. Here’s BVP attempting to exploit the mismatch in the post with Quinten Post on Gardner. This is a great look at why I say they’re not a great fit. Gardner is the smaller player, giving up 7 inches to Quinten Post. But BVP’s post game is slow developing and requires a lot of dribbling with the back to the basket. You can see here how Post was able to sag off in the lane so that there really wasn’t much of a threat for BVP to continue dribbling toward the middle, and eventually he just loses the handle.

Later on in the game, Gardner, who has had a great game scoring the ball, primarily when guarded by smaller players, is having to deal with Post on him again. On this play below, you can see that a lot of his action/moves work, namely, he gets free after flaring out from his ball screen to the baseline, but can’t shoot that shot because, even though Post wasn’t quick on the recovery, his length is an issue. Gardner gives a ball fake and Post actually jumps and, ostensibly takes himself out of the play, but is STILL big enough to recover and render a shot untenable on the drive. So, instead, Gardner attempts to pass the ball through to IMK on the other wing and turns it over. The most unfortunate part of this play is that it worked to create an opportunity TWICE, but because of the mismatch with no one to draw the larger Post off of Gardner, the opportunity wasn’t there.

Now, let’s flip it around when Shedrick is in for BVP. This is why Gardner is a better pairing with him offensively, not just defensively. Firstly, Post HAS to take Shedrick, they can’t put someone else on him. Immediately, this leaves Gardner with a much smaller defender. Post is trying to help on this one, but we just isolate Jayden on the mismatch and as long as Kadin stays on the opposite block, Post can’t really sag or help in the same way in the lane that he can off of other players (remember the help he could give off of Gardner on both BVP and Reece earlier) because we could just throw it up to Shedrick at the rim (or more easily get an offside rebound). He has to stay deep enough to protect the rim from Kadin, and Gardner exploits his mismatch.

This last clip, I want to show illustrates the benefit of this pairing, but ALSO highlights our weird shooting hesitancy in this one. B.C. attempts to adjust from the play above, notice that they’re having to react to us as opposed to the other way around as we normally do when we play smaller. We once again isolate Gardner on the block opposite Kadin. This time, B.C. attempts to allow Post to be more aggressive with his help, by pinching Kadin with the backside wing. Again, Kadin doesn’t score a ton of points – but he also doesn’t need to. Look at how much attention he draws just by being a long, athletic, player who can threaten the rim! Gardner spins off and beats his man, Post comes over to help and, correctly, Gardner notices that the wing has pinched down so instead he passes it out to IMK, wide-open, in the corner. Now this is the weird part. Rather than 49% three-point shooter since the New Year, Isaac McKneely, just launching this one, instead he gives a shot fake, allows the close-out to come, swings it over to Beekman, who swings it open to Clark, ALSO wide open, who ALSO hesitates, starts his shooting motion, pauses, and then continues, shooting anyway…

I have no answers for that one, and it clearly highlights that there’s some, significantly pervasive, confidence issue around shooting within the team right now.

Okay, so that was a quick look at how, with Gardner being the scoring big feeling it in this one, the Gardner/Shedrick pairing was the one to stick with. We HAVE to fight the misconception that the offense is worse with Shedrick in – literally all of the most efficient offensive pairings on the team are him and the other four starters from the beginning of the season and that’s the reason why – he requires attention from defenses around the rim to a degree none of our other bigs do.


Defensively we had a rough time getting stops in this one, especially without Shedrick or Dunn on the floor. Clark had an especially rough go of it, which is always made worse without the rim protection behind him. I’ve focused on this in the past but, at this point, this is what it is. He’s not going to be seeing less time, nor should he based on the offense that he’s been able to provide this season. We need to just offer him more of those bigs behind him to support. Additionally, IMK had some struggles on defense, (he and Gardner together are actually the combined least effective pairing on the team in total margin) but it made sense that he saw a good amount of run with us trying to get back into the game and with him going on that mini six-point run in the second half/with the way he’s been shooting over the span of the New Year. When Shedrick played, he wasn’t perfect – didn’t sag once on a backdoor lob that they threw for Franklin’s man, got beaten off of a pump fake for a little floater in the lane. But, collectively, the defense was much more stout when he or Dunn were in.

Here’s an early look at how easy things came for Post with BVP initially attempting to guard him after a switch. He just easily works his way to the hoop for a quality layup attempt which he misses, but then just plays volley ball to himself until he collects and makes an easy layup on the other end. This is just physically over powering anyone we have on the floor.

And so is this…

All things considered, Gardner actually did a phenomenal job on Post for his size. I mean like, all heart, forced a couple of travels, and some bad shots. Here’s one below where Gardner attempts to deny him the ball on the outside, gets posted, forces a kick out with some Clark help, gets re-posted, and STILL looks like he gets a piece of a fadeaway jump shot on the baseline. This is, actually, really, incredibly good. But, also, look how tired he looks going the other way. Considering he was the only reliable place we were getting offense, wouldn’t have been nice for him not to have to also defend their best player? (Aside, see how Beekman forces this shot and gets blocked badly against three players in traffic the other way. An example of him being unable to just use his athleticism to get a shot of as he could earlier in the season, but also a testament that he was pressing in this one – likely a discouraging sign about his mentality regarding his own game and confidence in how the team was playing).

And, all credit to him, it was still a significant mismatch when Post would catch the ball. He missed a couple of bunnies deep, but this clip below shows the relative ease with which he was a threat.

Even with some of the misses Gardner forced, though, you can see the challenge on the defensive end and the respective quality of the shot that Post was able to get. This clip below is good effort from Gardner and a good outcome – but it’s not reliable to expect this to be sustained. This was a very makeable shot and, candidly, Gardner should never be in a position to have to guard this guy one-on-one.

And also with help side, as always, the duo doesn’t offer rim protection. Notice here on this clip below how both Gardner and BVP are there in position to help on the drive but neither are able to bother the shot enough and Jaeden Zackery is able to finish at the rim. (As an aside, another way you can tell Reece’s injury was flaring is in this clip. You almost never see someone get this far by a healthy Beekman off of the dribble).

Even with Gardner primarily guarding Post, BVP still gave up some plays on the other end that he shouldn’t have. On this play below you see B.C. attempting to isolate IMK off of the dribble with Zackery. BVP helps off of the dribble without taking himself out of position, but just completely doesn’t box out, takes a bad rebounding angle, and concedes the easy put back to the smaller Devin McGlockton.

Meanwhile, when Shedrick was in, as I mentioned, it wasn’t perfect, but it was far, far easier. Consider how physically overpowering we’ve just watched Quinten Post be on both BVP and Gardner in a lot of the clips above (despite Gardner playing him very toughly), and then watch Shedrick just engulf his shot below.

Night and day. A one-on-one nightmare mismatch for us becomes an area where we’re a plus defensive matchup when Shedrick is on the floor. Certainly, Post has to work harder and make much harder shots to get his (the only time he was successful was a running floater in the lane after a shot fake – far worse percentage shot than layup attempts over much smaller players)

Similarly, when Dunn was in, they kept Gardner on Post – but Dunn was able to completely shut down the other frontcourt player and more effectively help others. Here’s a good example of them running an out-of-bounds play for his man (this is without Post on the floor), passing it to him, and Dunn blocking the shot, leading to a run out the other way. Dikembe Mutombo finger wag necessary, here. (Side note, the lack of explosiveness for Beekman again to finish around the rim, requiring Gardner to grab the board and get fouled).

Here’s a clip, below, with Post on the floor. It also shows how Dunn is not the most technically sound player, but is athletic enough in most situations to still have a positive impact. He initially gives up space off of the dribble but is able to recover enough with his length to deter a shot. Both Gardner and Beekman are pinched down on Post, and Dunn gives an oppressive contest on the shot. He still gives up rebounding position in the process, but is athletic enough to get to the rebound anyway and deflect it, which Gardner gathers. A great example of, even when we did play Gardner on Post, how having Dunn’s presence opposite him helped everywhere else.

Given the program’s emphasis on defense and the vast discrepancy in the quality of the defense on display in the clips above – certainly the difference in the ease of which B.C. could create shots against their individual men, you would think that the alarm bells would have been ringing. Apparently, the desire for offense and the perception about how to get it trumped the defensive need; but we already showcased how the offense wasn’t improved either.

In Conclusion

I want to conclude by returning to an earlier point I made where someone asked me if I’d given critical thought as to why CTB continues to play BVP and Gardner together. Yes, I very much have. Given everything we’ve seen this season, here’s my best guess:

I think it’s misattribution.

We know through his press conferences and how he talks about the game that CTB is a flash bulb moment kind of guy. Certain moments or intangible things stand out to him or impress him and then he builds around those. Kadin Shedrick was removed from the starting lineup after the UNC game. He had one of his worst halves of the season in the first half of that one, primarily after poorly adjusting to going from planning on defending Armando Bacot, to instead defending Jalen Washington (Nance was also hurt). It was also one of the first games implementing the Triangle offense as the base, and UNC effectively sagged off of Kadin when he would get the ball at the foul line, forcing him to shoot and cluttering up the middle of the floor. Capable but not confident enough to hit that midrange jump shot, and with the offense not integrated enough to have many other wrinkles, we stalled when he was in the game. In the second half, we came out and ran Smalle(st) ball primarily with our four guards and BVP at center. This worked amazingly because BVP played more physically with Washington, and the spacing created by the four guards allowed us to carve up the interior of the UNC defense for one of our best halves of basketball of the season. I believe that, from this, CTB drew the conclusion that BVP was the “tougher” defender and drew the, incorrect in my mind, conclusion that since BVP could open up the interior of the defense, if he could defend close to as well (he can’t) that we didn’t need as much Kadin and could be better as a spacing/flow offensive team.

But here’s the thing. Jayden Gardner ALSO didn’t play for almost the entirety of the second half of that game. He got into early foul trouble, sat, and did not return. The offensive spacing revolution happened with him on the bench, with 4 guards (not even Dunn), and was uniquely effective because UNC was without both of its starting bigs. They were left with Jalen Washington and, ironically, Justin McKoy, and neither were able to punish our defense in the second half. But the idea that there was this path to being a better team that opened up through fewer Kadin minutes was created and only cemented as we went on a winning streak against lesser competition (we had already played Pitt/Miami). At this point, Dunn also got a spike in minutes, and we saw that Dunn/BVP Smaller Ball pairing more often, which is a very effective group when BVP is on.

So, why was Gardner sort of Grandfathered into this lineup? Well, for one, he is a volume scorer in his own right, so it theoretically makes sense to add more scoring, and you can’t play 4 guards in most matchups, and Dunn isn’t experienced enough for CTB to likely want to trust him for starter’s minutes. But I think you can also look to another game earlier in the season, Michigan, which was likely the game in which we played our toughest of the season. That was a character win in a hostile environment against a LARGE team, and both Gardner and BVP played a big part in that one, especially after Beekman got hurt. I know that one impressed CTB by his comments after the game and shortly thereafter about our toughness, and it was also probably the peak of our quality run this year; building right after the Vegas trip and before the Reece hamstring injury and the Houston loss. But here’s the other thing, Kadin ALSO played good minutes in that one, did the best on Hunter Dickinson and, for that game, the big innovation there was playing all three of Shedrick, BVP, and Gardner together, which worked well.

So, yeah. I think it’s mostly been a string of circumstances, along with general preferred player traits, that have caused a misdiagnosis of what works best and what doesn’t. No, Kadin hasn’t always played great since then when he’s been given an opportunity (sometimes that happens when you go from a starter to such a reduction in minutes, no even playing in one game) but neither have any of the other bigs and, as I’ve been documenting for weeks, on the whole the team has played considerably better when he (or Dunn earns it) see that uptick in minutes and when that BVP/Gardner pairing that somehow got cemented along the way gets broken up. Both are great parts of this team in their own right. No, they don’t fit together well. And, even just conceptually, it makes sense. You don’t need two volume shooters in the frontcourt at the same time, especially when neither matchup well with true centers offensively OR defensively when the other one is playing. All you need is someone to command attention (either on the block, or in Dunn’s case, at the three-point line) on offense, be able to finish opportunities at the rim, and to be better at making offense harder for the other team on the interior.

UNC sparked this change the other way. Here’s hoping that with both Bacot and Nance back, it sparks us to change back; better balancing our mid-season findings with what was working at the beginning of the year.

One response to “@ Boston College 2/23/2023”

  1. Well, I have to say this is your best work
    yet! I think you have actually nailed it. It has been so frustrating seeing some of these issues and Tony just letting them go.I wonder if any of the assistants see these and make suggestions. I noticed Beeks being “gimpy” in that game and wondered why he was left out there. He didn’t even look 70%. He was not helping out there like that. What is so tough is that it was easy to see that Post had it easy on Ben or JG, but really had to work with Sheds on him.Tony just had to see that. I have listened to Tony stress “D” for years. He has said it starts with D. Maybe successful D, helps with confidence too. I hope you are right and that Tony gets the light bulb moment. I wonder what would happen if Tony went back to the Baylor starting line up against the heels.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: