Basketball: The Importance of Experience (and LSU's lack of it)

Discussion in 'The Tiger's Den' started by TGer'nLHornLand, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. TGer'nLHornLand

    TGer'nLHornLand Founding Member

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    In LSU's recent short-fall of expectations on the hardcourt, many complaints and/or finger pointing has come out of the wood works. I think some of the common sentiments seem to be (1) Trent's recruiting has led to too many "4 year" players, not talented enough to compete, (2) the corollary of "we need more talented "one and done" players" to compete, and (3) fundamentals are poor, Trent must be doing a bad job. With that, being the hoops junkie that I am, I was thinking what is the secret to successful programs? Is it just that folks are getting more talented players? Are the Dukes, Ohio States relying on better recruiting, more talented freshmen? That seems to be the perception anyway, right? Kentucky's certainly doing it with their recruiting, right?

    The counterpoint of course, may just be that LSU is an inexperienced team. Frankly, playing with mostly freshmen or at least players that have had limited experience, has led perhaps to a lack of continuity or at least, not a fair chance to gel. Basketball is certainly, more so than any other sport IMO, a matter of chemistry, team dynamics on the court, knowing your teammates and playing together as a team at all times. The theory would be perhaps that LSU isn't necessary "untalented" but rather, inexperienced together.

    So, I took the liberty of doing some crude number crunching. I took the current top 10 teams, looked at their rosters to determine which 5 players on that team were getting the most minutes, and then assigned points to those players based on their class (1 for FR, 2 for SO, 3 for JR, and 4 for SR). Simple math, frankly, but by averaging their totals, you get a crude sense of how "experienced" the teams are. The top teams are simply living and dying with talented young recruits, right? Here are the results:

    1. Duke 2.6
    2. Ohio St. 2.6
    3. Kansas 3
    4. UConn 1.6
    5. Syracuse 2.6
    6. Pittsburgh 3.2
    7. SDSU 3.2
    8. Villanova 3.2
    9. GTown 3.4
    10. Missouri 2.8

    The top 10 averages a 2.82. That's pretty close to a Junior class average.

    Of course, LSU with Turner, Stringer, Dotson, White and Warren getting the most minutes, is at a solid 2.0. Which means on average, we have a team of sophomores driving the ship. You add to this that one of our Jrs, White, is a transfer, and Dotson, our sophomore is coming off an inury prone year.

    Interestingly, also, 8 out of the 10 teams are playing at least one SR in their top 5, and of those 8, 7 of them are playing with at least 2 SRs in their top 5. On all teams, with one lone exception UConn, when there are FR getting significant minutes there is at least one (in most cases 2) SR to balance that youth. [Of note, Jim Calhoun should probably be commended for the coaching job he's doing this year so far with his youth--although, Big East play is starting and they lost their first Big East game, I believe.]

    What does this all mean? Well, if you assume that these coaches know what they're doing, and are playing the kids that give them the best chance to win, they are generally playing more experienced players. They are not relying on "one and dones" to get it done for them, rather players that have been in the system for a while. Now, that's not to say that FR can't have an impact, b/c each of Duke (1), Kansas (1) and Ohio State (2) have FR playing in their top 5. When you get into that top 6-10, interestingly, you have NO teams with FR in their top 5, mostly Srs, Jrs and a few SOs. I think we also underestimate the reality that these are 18-23 year old kids. A 18-19 year old kid is not going to be as physically mature and strong, on average, as a 20-21 year old.

    I guess the upshot here is, as folks are just lamenting the poor play as though the LSU team isn't trying very hard or just out there running around randomly, perhaps the reality is just that LSU is a year away from really having the experience it needs. Perhaps, we should just recognize that Trent and this team needs time.
    :geaux:
     
  2. lsu-i-like

    lsu-i-like Playoff advocate

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    I love your posts. Keep up the good work.

    That said, I'm still disappointed where we are - that loss to Rice was bad, and we played worse that the score showed. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road.
     
  3. Tom Callender

    Tom Callender Founding Member

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    I respectfully disagree to a degree with you assessment that you need upperclassmen (experence) to succeed in basketball. My feeling is that if you need a full year or more to teach these kids how to play great defense somethings wrong, If you need a year to teach them how to set a screen or correctly run a back door play somethings ether wrong with the players or the coaching. You learn in high school how to block out & rebound & to tell you the truth about that its mostly hustle, desire & being able to beat your man to the position to rebound. I'm not calling for TJ's head but I am very disappointed in his lack of fire on the sidelines & the team not being able to out rebound or block out anyone. Darn, we only out rebounded Southern by 6 rebounds. Thats terrible, This team is foul prown & doesn't hustle. In my opinion that is a reflection of the coaching. I expect more out of the coaching staff than I have seen so far.
    I do think that in basketball one good/great player can make a world of difference. That being said next year should be a very strong year for LSU. I just didn't expect this year to be as bad as last year & unless things get better fast its gonna get ugly..
     
  4. lsudolemite

    lsudolemite CodeJockey Extraordinaire

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    This thread is a good opportunity to make a point that IMO is overdue with regards to fan expectation, enthusiasm, and support for the program.

    There seems to be a lot of LSU fans who frankly don't care at all about LSU basketball. These fans were perfectly happy with a Dale Brown or John Brady. In the latter case, those fans were perfectly happy with the occasional tournament run as a novelty, with no concern for consistent success or the drastic swings in the program between those runs. In their minds LSU basketball can never be better than what it was in the 80s and the good years of the 2000's, plus nobody cares, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Therefore, replacing Brady was a mistake.

    Those same people will turn around and throw all of their support and energy behind LSU baseball this spring. Yet the same thing being said about basketball today could have easily been said about LSU baseball in 1984 when an up-and-coming coach named Skip Bertman took over head coaching duties. At that time LSU hadn't sniffed post-season play for nearly a decade, and it would've been easy for fans to write off baseball the same way they do for basketball today.

    I'm not saying Trent Johnson is necessarily anywhere near the same league as Skip. But this state and this region of the country is not bereft of talent or resources if the AD and our fans are committed to building a solid basketball program. It is possible to become a tournament contender every year, and that's not an unrealistic goal to set our eyes on. Maybe Trent will be the coach to get things turned around, maybe not, and there is a ton of work to be done before that happens in any case. But a couple of rough seasons with known and thoroughly explained causes just isn't enough to throw Trent under the bus yet,
     
  5. COramprat

    COramprat Simma Da Na

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    The big problem is fundamentals. It's not being taught as kids are coming up in this age of that reality TV show called the NBA. Kids watch these guys and think basketball is all flash and dash and a lot of coaches fail at changing that in the lower levels. I've seen several fundamentally sound teams gives these athletic can't be beat teams fits in high school games. Problem is that those coaches who preach the basics are few and far between. Dale Brown was the master at teaching the game and getting after those teams that may have had better talent. It remains to be seen if Johnson can do the same.
     
  6. Tom Callender

    Tom Callender Founding Member

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    Well, thats what is so suprising about this team & coach Johnston. I thought he was a structured type coach.. Program players, great defense, Position Rebounding & pick & screen offense. Just not seeing that so far. I think the freshmen are doing ok, its just that the returning players are not improved much & White has been a major disappointment in terms of rebounding & being a defensive presence in the middle.
     
  7. TGer'nLHornLand

    TGer'nLHornLand Founding Member

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    In part I agree with you, i.e., defense is a big part effort and hustle, but I do think that we underestimate, as COramprat pointed out, the varying degrees to which high school kids are being taught "fundamentals". You also underestimate the sophistication of some college team's systems and philosophies around defenses. Whether you play hard man and switch, not switch, trapping on the sidelines, doubling down on bigs, etc., and then go back and rebound and block out, can be new for a freshman or sophomore--getting to do it in the context of a new team and new players is even tougher. If you believe Trent Johnson (as stated at his press release earlier in the season), kids like Stringer and Turner played on teams where basically, all they had to do was score, and the teams simply relied on them to shoot. They were not used to structured defensive schemes. On the other hand, you've got Matt D and Eddie L who come from pretty well structured coached systems, but in 1A private school leagues, they're not used to the athleticism of big boy NCAA ball. So, I stand by my point, which is it takes on average a year or two of "normalizing" before high school kids adjust to college ball and their system. Again, if you believed that kids came out of high school "ready" to do this stuff, then you'd see more inexperienced teams getting farther. I think the truth of the matter is, a true top 10 program is both recruiting good players (although you look at the success this year of San Diego State and they may be this year's Butler--what great recruits did they sign?) and then they are developing them with good coaching. But, the ultimate point of my thread is that it takes time, no matter what program you're in. Even teams like Kansas, Georgetown, Villanova, Pitt, are relying on Juniors and Senior teams, and the UConns are the rare exception.

    Give Trent some time, he is a good coach and he recognizes the problems. I think the interesting thing the rest of the season will be, as you noted, how strongly do his kids believe in his system, are they being held accountable for living the program and doing the little things and giving full effort? Will kids like Derenbecker, Turner get better on defense? Or will they hit the "wall" and not be hungry and stay with it in the face of adversity? Will White and Warren start to hit their free throws (frankly, if you're going to complain about fundamentals, that's my complaint. I am not happy with White, Warren (throw in Green there for good measure) hitting barely .50 from the charity stripe... that's killing our inside game).

    Also, since I started this with stats, I was also curious on a macro level, whether LSU fans should have any silver lining in the performance so far.

    If you just take a look at raw season end statistics for the past few LSU teams, you can simply look at overall points, rebounds, assists, TOs and shooting percentages.

    So far in this year, through games to date, LSU has averaged 69 ppg, 37 rpg, 13 apg, 14 TOpg, FG%: .423, 3FG%: .376, FT: .675.

    Trent's SEC C team: 75 ppg, 39 rpg, 15 apg, 12 TOpg, FG%: .448, 3FG%: .372, FT%: .712.

    Trent's last year team: 61 ppg, 36 rpg, 11 apg, TOpg: 13, FG%: .400, 3FG%: .287, FT%: .696.

    So, I think if we keep this season so far in perspective, you can say, we're certainly a better team than last year in some encouraging ways, we actually rebound better, shoot the ball better, score a lot better. We are relying on our 3 point shot, b/c our inside game/FT%s aren't where they need to be, we're working on keeping TOs down, but overall we have a ways to go before we are a good team like the 2008-9 team was, which scored in the 70s, rebounded better, had a better assist to TO ratio and shot the ball just as well if not better from the inside. Interestingly, THIS year's team has a better 3 point shooting proficiency, which should be encouraging... we have a good shooting team. You add some beef down low next year, and cut down the turnovers, and our rebounds and inside scoring will go up. We should be hopeful for next year, for sure. Now, I think when we talk about "fundamentals" our season will be predicated on our guards continuing to improve in their shot selection and turnovers and perimeter d, and our bigs also keeping turnovers low, rebounding better and hitting their free throws. I always like to look at these stats, b/c in reality the only thing separating teams in college basketball teams year to year are a few extra buckets, rebounds and free throws and a few less turnovers....
    :geaux:
     
  8. stevescookin

    stevescookin Certified Who Dat

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    Awww...what do you know about basketball anyway, TigerinHornland ???








    (Just Kidding...I like your posts and am learning from them too. :hihi:)
     
  9. TGer'nLHornLand

    TGer'nLHornLand Founding Member

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    I try. Thanks. :grin:

    Whatever I can do to keep LSU basketball from becoming the forgotten sport... :eek:



    ...

    raised on Daddy Dale LSU basketball. :geauxtige:bball::geauxtige
     
  10. SyrTiger

    SyrTiger ooo yea thats hot

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    I don't know about other teams, but similar to football, redshirting can also help out a lot. I know Syracuse redshirted for this team Scoop Jardine(so that would boost your 2.6 if you didn't include him as a senior academically). On top of that, Wes Johnson, Onuaku, and Andy Rautins were all redshirted a year each. It helps because it gives them time to bulk up, work on their jumpshots, free throw shooting, playing with teammates for a year longer, and overall getting a year with the system.
     

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