How Hard Can It Be…?

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The Minutemen had two losses in the past week to teams they probably should have beat. Saint Louis topped UMass 74-70, and George Mason came into Amherst and pulled out a 76-74 victory. The Minutemen team that held so much promise in the non-conference schedule has taken a nose dive and is now sitting at 2-7 in the A10. Which leads the UMBR to ask: How Hard Can It Be…? Think of it as a season-encompassing knee jerk reaction, with a slightly more pessimistic tone.

How Hard Can It Be…?

  • To draw up a play in the half-court offense which doesn’t require a big man to set a high screen? I only realized this while watching the Mason game on Saturday, with DeJon Jarreau beckoning frantically to his teammates for a minimum of five seconds for someone to come outside the 3-point line and set him a screen. Offense couldn’t get started without a screen, even if the screen has absolutely nothing to do with the play at hand. When UMass isn’t bringing the ball up the floor in transition and needs to play the half-court, nobody knows what to do without a screen. Mix up the bread and butter once in a while with a fresh dollop of marmalade!

How Hard Can It Be…?

  • To beat the 2-3 zone? We know Kellogg doesn’t use this type of defense very often, but he has used it in the past. Back in UMass’ only recent NCAA Tournament appearance against Tennessee, which for the most part was not close, the Minutemen were struggling to stop the Vols athletic forwards. At least twice during the game, DK switched up the defense and employed a zone, which put the Minutemen on a little run and gave the fans a false glimmer of hope. So DK knows how to use the zone (even if it isn’t done often), which means the zone could be played against in practice! It’s unfathomable that every player on the team looks like a deer in the headlights when the opponent uses the 2-3!
Seams in the 2-3 Zone

Seams in the 2-3 Zone

  • All zone defenses have their weaknesses, doesn’t matter what the sport is. The major weakness is a “seam” between the coverage areas of two defenders. For the past few years, George Washington has regularly been employing a nasty 1-3-1 zone, which not too many teams use. It would always catch UMass off guard, but then someone would discover and take advantage of the seam in the 1-3-1, which is along the baseline. Sampson Carter loved the baseline drive.
  • The same thing can happen in the 2-3 zone, where the seam is in the high post / free throw line area. Just find the seam and exploit it. Of course, this can be tough when your perimeter shooting is atrocious so the defenders don’t have to leave their homes down low. Or when no one on your team can hit a mid-range jumper. Speaking of which…

How Hard Can It Be…?

  • To hit a mid-range jump shot? If you can hit a free throw, you can hit a mid-range jumper. They are literally the same distance away from the basket. Now UMass isn’t a stellar team at the charity stripe, but we do have guys who are respectable. Also, a few guys on the roster have shown in games that they can hit that 15-footer, namely Donte Clark, Ty Flowers, and Zach Lewis. But Donte and Zach seem to prefer taking ill-advised threes for the potential glory rather than settle for a lowly 2-pointer, and Flowers hasn’t been seeing that much playing time recently.

Fun Fact:

UMass’ next opponent, La Salle, is one of seven colleges in the USA associated with the De La Salle Brothers (h/t Wikipedia). The others are Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Lewis University in Illinois, Manhattan College, Saint Mary’s College of California, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, and Santa Fe University of Art and Design in New Mexico.

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