So much for a top-5 RPI ranking and 'regular' top-10 ranking for the Hoyas. Tonight's game versus Temple was not good. The Hoyas were flummoxed by the Temple defense. Yeah I said it....flummoxed...
It was not so much just chaos and sloppiness, but the Hoyas, as Jay Bilas said, 'looked like they were moving in sand.' There were no backdoor cuts and not a lot of going to the hoop. The open man consistently was Julian Vaughn, who is the weakest offensive starter, and definitely not part of Run DMV. The Hoyas seemed to play into Temple's hands by taking looong 3s and feeding Vaughn going 1-on-1 against Lavoy Allen, the Owls' best defender. Jason Clark from deep was about the only thing going well.
Even with the Hoyas just looking bad on offense, I was surprised at how feeble Temple looked. They are not particularly talented, and really had only 1 guy on offense who could create anything on his own and wound up scoring almost half of their points. Defensively, it wasn't as though they were particularly strong, quick, or John Wall sneaky. Most of all, they were possibly the worst shooting team I have ever seen in NCAA division 1 men's basketball, just waaay off on many open 3s and jumpers.
My greatest frustration for the night is that the Hoyas played defense too aggressively. I don't know where to get points in the paint stats, but Temple had far too many. The Hoyas could have simply sluffed in and forced Temple to make long shots and drive to the basket, 2 things the Owls were incapable of doing with any success. To Temple's credit, they moved the ball well at times, and made Gtown pay for mistakes, but the Hoyas should have not been making those mistakes.
I think the big teaching from tonight though, is again that Chris Wright is the team's most important player. The zone took away his ability to drive to the basket, and rendered him pretty ineffective. Clark shooting 3s and Freeman forcing some stuff was all the Hoyas could get, nothing easy; it actually reminds me a lot of watching the Wizards without John Wall. Before this game, I simply thought at least 2 of 3 Run DMV members had to be playing well for the Hoyas, but it clearly all depends on Wright - the entire offense feeds off him. It is a lot of pressure, but in a year in which the Hoyas have a shot at doing something special, Wright needs to put his stamp on this NCAA season.
(Image courtesy of www.kansascity.com)