After the last three halves of basketball, you have to question the coaching. I want to preface this with the fact that I obviously support Coach Turgeon, and think better days are ahead no matter what. The energy he's brought to recruiting will pay off moving forward. I still believe that as strong as ever. So this is more of a vent post, than an indictment on Turge, who I still believe is a good man to lead this program.
That being said, it is what it is, and Turge has a record to discuss even if the personnel is still being re-stocked. I have 3 huge complaints with Turge's performance this year:
1. His substitution patterns. Faust, Wells and Len should be 35 mpg guys and we should have trimmed the rotation to 8.
We have 1 really good player (Faust) and 2 STUDS (Wells and Len). These three guys should play as many minutes as possible. This isn't JV basketball, we are playing to win games. The rest of the guys all bring various things to the table but those three should come off the court only when they NEED a breather.
These three guys instead were out there for 86 out of a possible 120 minutes against Miami. That is ludicrous. All of them should be 35 mpg guys, and should have been conditioned to be such during the warm up games. Much of those 34 minutes went to completely ineffective players like Howard, Logan and Padge.
So there is the mpg criticism. More globally though I think Turge believes in his depth way too much and so it's not only that he doesn't play his best players enough but its WHEN and HOW he takes his best players out. I literally almost threw my remote at the TV after Wells came out for a "breather" after a sequence in which he made 3 outstanding drives to the hoop and finished, and then had an amazing behind the back pass to an open Allen in the corner (but unfortunately charged). He was asserting himself, taking over--but he's got to sit now because we have to be 10 deep so that we can save our guys for...what? This is not an isolated incident too. It's Turge's plan--guys need to be preemptively taken out so they are fresh later. 2 of Faust,Len or Wells should always be on the floor--and Turge has to recognize that if this is not the case then we are not going to be competitive. At one point I swear I saw Logan, Allen, Howard, Layman, and Padge out there together. A good question would be WHY? That line up should never happen unless we are trying to send a message to our top 3 that they need to bring more intensity.
So yeah we go 10 deep, but we are a fraud at 10 deep. In reality we should have 3 guys play 35 minutes a night, and should have settled on which 4-5 of the remaining 7 players can compliment these 3 guys. He had all of November and December to figure this out, but he insisted on playing 10 deep, and now we are reaping the rewards of that strategy. I think it was a big flop.
2. Alex Len isn't being used right.
His inability to get the guys to understand they have an NBA lottery pick down low and that we have to get him the ball is mind boggling. The last 3 minutes of the game--Len scored like 10 points because we got him the ball quickly and let him go to work. Sometimes it's us not getting Len the ball and just passing it around the perimeter if he's not open right away and sometimes it's Len not being assertive enough. It's all not how a well coached team would play though.
3. Dez Wells can score--so let's get him the ball in scoring positions maybe?
Wells' talents are not being used. He should be catching the ball coming off screens and pulling up for mid range jumpers or taking it to the hoop ALL DAY. I don't see how he can be stopped coming off a screen at the elbow. Or how about we run a pick and roll for wells with Len setting the screen? That seems like it would be very difficult to stop. Instead he's standing around the perimeter, and has to go through three guys by himself just to get in a scoring position--which amazingly he is able to do at times.
This deliberate, painful offense of passing it around the perimeter is killing us. We don't have anyone who can do any damage on the perimeter, and we certainly dont' have anyone who has any confidence in their shot right now. We do have a stud down low and a freak athlete with a smooth mid range game who can also drive and finish. If they want to front and double Alex to deny him the ball why not run a play for Dez to catch it in a position to drive or pull up? Instead we just pass it around until someone has to force a pass or go through three guys to get in scoring position. We unsurprisingly turn it over quite a bit with this strategy.
These are not minor complaints. Figuring out a rotation, getting your studs on the court so they can gel and having an offense revolving around Len and Wells were basically his whole job. So far he's failed. There's time to right the ship this year but honestly it doesn't look very bright right now. The month of January is setting up to be a disaster barring a very quick turnaround.
All that being said I think that the personnel isn't ideal. We lack consistent outside shooting and we don't have a PG on this roster. Allen is a mismatch at that position and Howard is limited athletically and with his shot. These aren't minor flaws. So that has to be considered as well.
I tend to believe that the problem lies more in how Turge has coached this team. Every coach struggles to coach his team the way it needs to be coached on any given year, especially with a lot of young players and new faces. I'll also admit that I thought he was bringing the team along perfectly until this recent 3 half stretch. But it is what it is and let's not mince words. The 10 deep strategy has failed and the inability to have anything approaching a sane half court offense that works around wells and len with Faust as a 3rd option is worse. If he turns it around, I'll be the first to call it a great coaching job but for now it's looking pretty bad.