A lot of thoughts are running through my head as I sit here this morning of the Hoos' first ACC game. All of the time critical content is done. The code is in a fairly stable and acceptable state. The big projects can wait a day. I can pause and take a breath, and so the thoughts uncurl into wisps lazily reaching for the ceiling like cigarette smoke out of an open mouth, no exhalation forcing them into a cloud. Each strand can be observed and examined.
While walking in the rain yesterday, I was watching the water on the concrete patio, supposedly level, and yet little channels of water formed like tiny rivers, gathering and running down some imperceptible slope to pool somewhere and eventually make their way to Puget Sound, and it made me think: I love the irregularities and imperfections in the creations of man, the surfaces that are supposedly flat and level but that are betrayed for what they are by elements like water and air: irregular and imperfect. It's the irregularities and imperfections that remind us that we are just a small part of something infinite and wonderful, that no matter how flat and level a surface we make, it will never be completely flat and level, no matter how finely grained it might be, the universe has a smaller particle to find the slope. We think and act, study and create as if we can know everyting and create perfect regularity, yet the universe constantly reminds us that no, we can't. Perfection and regularity do not exist in this universe, merely the simulacra of perfection and regularity. Beyond every thing we learn, every variable we detect and control, lies another outside our reach. As long as I know that, as long as I keep it in my mind, I can walk forward with wonder and excitement to see what mysteries today holds. God forbid we ever know everything, be able to control everything, create perfection.
This is a good time to thank the team of contributors who have joined this endeavor and made it way more than I ever conceived before StLouHoo accepted my invitation to contribute. I wanted his game previews. I got those and so much more. Word of warning to the public - they or at least critical portions of them will become Friends-only at some point. He added a recruiting coverage I never intended and has managed it well. The Season Preview was his idea. The power rankings, and so much more. Kendall created a football section and then Karl Hess came on and supplemented it. Karl is like our glue guy, filling in the gaps with great stuff. Those two plan to bring us baseball coverage. What's best is these three guys are great to work with. It's very cool to be part of a good team for once, and it makes this a ton of fun.
I'm also grateful to all the donors, our Hoo Friends, because their support makes this even more fun, and it helps with the confusion of code and the tedium of video work to know that people give a crap about the product. Publishing is something I've always loved. Started writing at 6 when my mom put her old Smith Corona typewriter out to pasture, sticking it on the desk near the attic door until she could get around to burying it in the attic. When I stuck a piece of paper in it and started pecking at the keys to tell a story, that typewriter had found its home on that desk. I never stopped pecking out stories on keys, and at times those stories have been read by others. What you see here is the sapling from a germ of an idea back in April 2014. With the continued support from the donors (and more donors! lol), the sapling will grow into a mallorn tree.
As for hoops, I differ from my mates on a few things I've read recently. In no particular order -
Karl made a statement yesterday that I think was premature and overly declarative: "We can pretty safely eliminate a nine player rotation." He posits a seven man rotation with spot minutes for Hunter as a likely outcome, but hopes for an eight man rotation. I will say this: It will be an eight man rotation, and a nine player rotation - or at the very least an 8 man rotation with spot minutes for a 9th - is entirely possible by the end of the season. Hunter is in. he's going to play regularly. By the end of the season, Jay Huff could also be in. He will continue to practice and study, and as he learns, his chance of getting on the floor will go up. Remember that last season Ty Jerome began the ACC schedule as a lightly-used sub and ended it with 5 games out of the last seven of more than 20 minutes.
StLouHoo also wrote something that I differ with, in his re-forecast of the ACC schedule that is part of our "Situation Report" publication released this morning. He has the Hoos going 14-4 in the conference schedule, with the losses being basically the four biggest road games. I don't agree that this team is not going to get a big road win. We're going to win at least one and probably two of those 4 games he has pegged as losses. I suspect we'll also lose one of the home games he has as a win and end up 15-3.
I'm going to come out and say it here: I'm thankful for the transfers. It's just made things cleaner, and opened the way for talent to hit the floor. We've already talked about how it means the 2016 players will have to be allowed to play through things because Bennett doesn't have the crutch of three more experienced guys to put in the game, but what occurred to me last night was how much cleaner the leadership picture is. Isaiah Wilkins and Devon Hall are leaders and captains and there are no other seniors to be wondering why they aren't also. When your seniors are your leaders and your leaders are two guys who so clearly devote every bit of themselves to their team and teammates without regard for their own individual laurels, it inspires everybody else to have the same mindset. I'm not so sure those other guys shared that mindset to the same degree as #ZAY and Crockpot. They're gone and it's a clear demarcation between the leaders and their men, and the leaders are guys who will run into the fire, and their men will run in there with them. I think the team is mentally tougher and more emotionally cohesive as currently constructed.
One thing that I wanted to do for the SitRep but was unable to because of lack of time (due to my poor planning) was look back at the offense piece from the preview and see how much of it has played out. How has the offense looked in these ways? Part of the problem is that I have not had the time to write the code to take advantage of the new Transition tag and time codes I've been recording. Without the analytical code, I can't use the data to evaluate how we are doing at getting into the attack quickly. Without the time to really analyze statistics and review some video, I can't give an analysis, all I can do is give impressions, and impressions are worth shit for analysis. So I declined to add a piece on it. This being just a blog entry, which basically means "receptacle for verbal diarrhea", I'll give some impressions:
We are consistently getting the ball over the time line faster than last year but not necessarily taking shots any earlier. We are getting across the time line and into the offense. I just think we're running more motion between initiation and initial shot. I can't provide meaningful comparison on transition shots because I don't have the hoop-math.com breakdown from last season's non-conference schedule. Comparing end of year with pre-ACC is meaningless, because we slow down in conference - hell, everybody does. So, yeah, transitions are way up over last season, but at this time last season they were up also. I remember noting it, then at the end of the season, we were in January molasses territory.
We do look to be attacking more consistently and doing less aimless wandering. Guy is using screens a lot better. Fewer shots in the last ten seconds. I can't say we're using the dribble drive more but I am seeing ball screens with regularity. A lot of different actions occur off of ball screens. At times, I've seen more than one ball screen in a possession. When Tony says we'll never be a ball screen team, he means we won't have a lot of possessions where we just set ball screen after ball screen, constantly re-setting. When we ask for more ball screens, that's not what we're asking for either. I've been pleased with the incidence of them and think it's been a good weapon. I would still like to see us featuring them more for Hunter, Guy and Jerome.
Virginia Tech game film to break down for the preview...