While I was wrapping up last season, I highlighted a couple of things I thought were going to be important this season. Let's see how State's doing.
1.) Get the TO% under 20.0. There is going to be a significant adjustment period as guys who've either never played at the college level or aren't used to heavy minutes at the college level attempt to get comfortable with what's expected of them. It's likely that shooting and overall cohesiveness is going to be a problem for a while, which makes it extremely important that they give themselves as many effective possessions as possible.
I already touched on this a bit earlier today. Lo and behold, the guards have managed to cut down on giveaways and the freshmen have for the most part avoided extended periods of dumbassery (at least when it comes to TOs). Go figure.
|In ACC Play||TO%||Opp TO%||TO Margin|
But when I said that shooting and cohesion were probably going to be issues for a while, I was thinking they'd be issues for, say, a month and a half. I was not thinking that the offense would start out okay and then self-destruct in late January. State has been held to sub-45% shooting in eight of ten conference games, sub-40% in each of the last three. Still, what they've done with the turnover rate is a minor but laud-worthy triumph. Imagine how bad this offense would be if the guys were turning it over like they did last year. Reports of controllers hurled at televisions would be up 4000 percent.
2.) Clearly define roles sooner. Tracy Smith's insertion into the lineup was one reason why the offense became more efficient, but Lowe's transition to a tighter (generally 8-man) lineup shouldn't be overlooked either. I don't think it was a coincidence that when the role players found their minutes growing more consistent they started playing better. The sooner the coaches establish a set of expectations for the new contributors (before January would be preferable), the better off the team is going to be. Save the trial and error for pre-conference play. The production is going to be inconsistent, and that's okay, but I think the coaches need to do a better job of looking past small samples and staying focused on the long-term plan.
Nine different guys have started a conference game this season. It is a well-known fact that Coach Fowler selects the starting lineup by firing darts at a board after he's consumed four pre-game whiskey sours. He hasn't hit the Johnny Thomas bullseye yet, but I have to think it's just a matter of time. Until then, everything continues to come up Josh Davis.
The way the team is playing these days, this seems like more of a peripheral issue, anyway. It would help if people would stop getting the flu and/or running into sharp metal objects, but what are you gonna do.