Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Thoughts on Early Season Basketball

I watched the Calgary Dinos men's team play the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (an NCAA Div. 1 team) last night. I freely admit to not being an expert on basketball by any measure, so take these observations with a grain (or rather large lump) of salt.

This is a strange time of year to see a pre-season tournament. The Dinos start league play in late October, 2 months from now. The NCAA boys start in mid November. So they've each practiced, what, 10 times? How would this compare to a tournament played near the end of the seasons? I saw a LOT of stuff last night that could be chalked up (on both sides) to (1) rustiness of not playing competitively for months, and (2) not knowing the new players on your team.

The rules used were a compromise: FIBA rules except a 30 second shot clock (split between the 24 sec FIBA clock and the eternity long 35 sec NCAA clock). The NCAA boys didn't seem to play like they knew the "5 fouls and your out", and the two guys who fouled out seem genuinely surprised.

I don't think the Dinos were playing "out of class" with a Div 1 team. They dug a deep hole with poor shooting at the beginning, but were in the game a bunch in the middle, within 1 twice. The Blue Raiders were better, no question. The better team won. The Dinos "lost" a bit, too, with 33 turnovers, many unforced, and only 8 offensive rebounds (vs 19 for the Blue Raiders). I chalk that up to rustiness. 

However, this tournament strikes me as being more about sussing out your players than being indicative of anything, and to that end, the Dinos certainly gave a lot of people a lot of court time. Only Patrick Walker was in single digit minutes. Early observations of the Dinos 11/12 squad from a fan with no understanding of the game:

  • Impressive were Matt Letkeman (though Matt, work on your free throws) and Josh Owens-Thomas (a new guy)
  • Solid performances from Jared O-J, Keenan Milburn, Phil Labongo (who had a ton of energy if nothing else);
  • Wishy-washy performances from Tyler Fidler and Andrew McGuinness (both with consistently ice cold shooting)
  • Vacuous performances from Daan Wiersum (new guy) & Neb Kuljic, both of whom got good minutes and lots of chances to do something but didn't do much at either end
  • The "what the heck is he doing out there" award to Patrick Walker
We also have Boris Bakovic, rocket hot shooter but who at this moment is in China with the Canadian University team, and Dustin Reading, who from past experience typically ranks at or below "vacuous".

Extrapolating the first game that takes place 2 months before the rest of the season is risky, but I will try: if Backovic can propel us (and I've never seen him play), there's a chance we'll just make the playoffs -- but I doubt we'll do much better than that. However, if Bakovic doesn't keep up his 24+ ppg average, I'm not holding out much hope for the season.

But it doesn't matter. I'll still be in the stands rooting for them anyway. Bring on the rest of the season!!!

1 comment:

Edwin said...

Keep me up to par on Josh Owens-Thomas and offcourse Daan Wiersum (not that I like his game, but hey he's from Groningen, LOL) will you?