Here is a thread from the Insiders Board, HI.com's premium message board concerning the Razorback basketball team. Biggus Piggus had some questions, and Don Oglesby, HI.com's regular at hoops practices, tried to answer. It's good stuff, and I wanted to share this with everyone. -Clay Henry.
From Biggus Piggus:
Dog Lesby never answered my question
So I will restate it.
You have seen Nolan adjust his plan each year to fit his roster. What defensive and offensive cards do you think he should play this year? What best fits this group?
I have been trying to come up with a past team that was similar to this one, and I am at a loss.
The heart of the team will be the Cleveland-Dean-Gipson-Pargo-Sullinger-Tatum guard rotation. It still will be a challenge to get more than one of the shorter guys (Tatum, Cleveland, Dean, Pargo) on the floor together, because of the shortcomings of the inside players. If the Hogs could establish two anchors inside, then maybe the guard rotation could be more liberal.
I count Satchell and Baker together as essential to the prime-time rotation. Can they cover rebounding, defense and scoring needs? If not, Nolan will have to keep juggling.
That brings in the wild cards. The Hogs could get a lot or a little out of Jones, Gomez, Lane and Eddins.
Lane probably stands as the main alternative to Satchell. Jones seems a little too perimeter-oriented, but maybe he can handle the defense for short stretches.
I expect Jordan to be used as a situational substitute, someone to make a quick bang then sit down. That would minimize how much he would have to master before making an impact.
Nolan probably has a lot of experimenting to do before deciding what kind of combinations he can put together. I agree with you, Dog. Sullinger probably will have to play the wing to compensate for some of the shorter guards. If Sullinger is ready, we might see moments where the five on the floor are Satchell and four guards (two of those taller).
The six best players on this team all may be guards, or at least five. That implies the best plan might be to ensure that three guards are on the floor most of the time. It also suggests a strategy of pushing high tempo and relying on the guards to get points when the defense is unsettled. This game plan requires an all-out, unhedged commitment that Nolan has been uncomfortable with in recent years (probably because he doubted our ability to execute it).
Some major questions in my mind, part new and part left over from last season:
1) What are the roles of Dean and Gipson? Will they be handed the reins as seniors, or asked to play complementary roles like last year? Can we score well enough with both on the floor?
2) Is Tatum ready, and if so, how much does the plan have to work around his strengths/weaknesses? (Context: Since Tulsa time, Nolan's most favored plan has seemed to be rotating a roster deep with rangy, long-armed players who could cover the floor well.) Do you put the ball in Tatum's hands or spot him up?
3) Is Eddins ready to be a solid swing player after a good freshman start and a sophomore year in which he was badly slowed by injuries? In my view Eddins could be a real difference-maker, in a complementary way, bringing an outside threat, some inside toughness and a great work ethic.
4) Do we have time and a place for Lane? I attribute his lower effectiveness last season to circumstances. Nolan managed his team to solve problems, and sometimes that left several players on the bench rather than giving them a chance. With Jones and Jordan available, there is a little less pressure on Lane to fit a narrow definition. Can he add enough to his game to make him more than a spot reserve?
5) What will Carl Baker do out of the shadow of Joe Johnson? Baker showed tantalizing flashes last year, but he was not quite ready to be a go-to guy. If Nolan can afford to let Baker play more of a wide-open game, not restricting him to dealing mostly with rebounding and paint defense, then who knows what he might do.
6) How well will this team pass? Johnson dictated the direction of the offense whether the ball was going to him or he was hitting the open man. In a way, this team has six point guards and no point guard. I have to believe this bunch is going to create some great shots--IF they can find somebody to catch the ball in the paint and do something with it now and then. This should be a team that can run some slick offense and get a lot of open shots, if Nolan asks them to do it.
7) What's up with Satchell? Will he be better after a rather casual summer? In my view, he was headed in the right direction last year and just needed a little more polish, a little better judgment about when to take someone's head off. All that comes with experience and Nolan's anvil-like fist.
From Don Oglesby:
Sorry, BP. I didn't see your original post. Was out of town for a couple of days. Thought I had checked but must have missed your post. Concerning this one, for the most part I agree with your observations.
Regarding the most similar NR team my vote would have to go to Richardson's Runts... the year before the national championship team. The main difference may be that that team had Corliss, however, Corliss was not nearly as dominant that year as he became in his sophomore and junior years. Yes, Nolan does adjust his schemes to his talent...both on defense and offense.
I strongly agree that this year Nolan will go with all-out
full-court or 3/4 court pressure at least half the time and an aggressive trapping matchup most of the rest of the time. ( The only departure is apt to be if the opponent gets into the two-shot penalty free throw situation early. ) This will enable him to keep three guards on the court most of the time and hopefully minimize the offensive liabilities in the post... and you're quite right, two of them will be rather small, reinforcing the need for defensive pressure to partially offset the lack of height.
I really hesitate to give you my honest answer to your questions about the post, because I have been here before and have not learned from the error of my ways. I still believe Dionisio Gomez is going to have to play a big role... maybe not initially, but by the time conference season rolls around. Satchell may come around, and I sure hope he does. He has shown some moves in the pickup games that I didn't see much last year. Lane has great footwork in the post and when somebody gives him a seam his power move to the basket is awesome. But when you have said that you have named the positives in Alonzo's game. Doesn't have a reliable shot from 10 to 15 feet, doesn't make his free throws (a real liability because his game creates fouls for himself). doesn't find the open man on the perimeter when he is covered in the post. He doesn't rebound well, for his size doesn't set very good screens very often, seldom takes charges, and is at a decided disadvantage trying to cover a post man over 6'8". I'd like nothing better than for Alonzo to make me eat those words. I think maybe the coaches still think Lane has the potential to be a poor man's Corliss, but I'm not sure he'll make it. In spite of the limited success he has had so far in his career I stand by my evaluation that Gomez has the skills Nolan needs in a big man. He can run the court, he rebounds, he takes charges, he blocks shots. And few may believe this, but he actually has some very good post moves and can hit the 10 to 16-foot jumper. Actually I have seen him hit a high percentage of threes in pickup games, but Nolan doesn't want him shooting threes, and given his performance to date in games I can't find fault with that. I think much of whatever confidence the coaching staff had in Gomez eroded toward the end of last season, so it may take a while for him to regain it to the point of getting more than 10 minutes or so. Nolan has been quoted somewhere as saying that Nichy needs to realize that he's a role player. I think he could become more than that, but I guess it will be a surprise to most if he does.
I honestly don't know what to think of Baker. Sometimes he reminds me of Scotty Pippen. At other timnes he seems to disappear. One thing he always gives is effort and he seems to relish playing defense. He has an OK-looking shotr from the perimeter, but is inconsistent with it.
I agree with your eveluation of Jordan's role this year... probably 10 to 14 minutes of rebounding and shot-blocking with occasional dunks that bring the crowd out of its seats.
Regarding Dean and Gipson, I really expect both of them to have fine years, (along with Pargo) which accounts for much of my optimism about the year as a whole. All three have shown flashes of brilliance. I believe Joe's presence actually worked to their disadvantage last year. I think both want very much to make a splash. I expect one of them to be on the court almost all the time.
Tatum, based on his pickup game play, is probably the most improved. His game started to come around last year. Nolan has got to find playing time for him, but it won't be easy given the four senior guards. To answer your specific question, I think you spot him up and let TJ, Pargo and Sullinger handle the point. But because Tatum has learned to penetrate and is so very strong he won't be strictly a three-point shooter.
dins' role depends on whether his back is healed and stays that way. If it's not, and becasue of the wealth of guard magterial, I'd like to see him redshirt to balance the classes a bit, but I doubt that that is bvery likely. I think Blake will play two roles... spot-up shooter against zones and in the secondary break and a Guy Whitney-like role when we need somebody to wake up the crowd or his teammates.\
I don't think pasing will be a problem. Pargo and Sullijnger are both good set-up guys and TJ also seems to have a knack for getting the ball to the right guy at the right time.
Jones could be a wild card. I don't expect him to play a major role this year, though he could surprise, but I believe Mike is going to be a very good player in a year or so. He is quite agile and athletic for his size and has a nice touch on his shot. A 6'10"-or-so perimeter player ain't all bad, and I imaginge the coaching staff will trry to find out what he can do in the post to minimize the uncertainties you point out.
You ask a lot of questions. (Just kidding.) If I didn't respond to something, remind me again.
And, a reply to the reply from Biggus Piggus:
here are the answers I come up with.
This team will press a lot and rely on something like the 1-1-3 matchup zone in halfcourt, with the scramble coming out later in the season.
The main rotation will look line (in order of PT at the position):
Guards--Pargo, Dean, Gipson, Cleveland, Sullinger, Tatum.
Swing forward--Gipson, Sullinger, Eddins, Baker, Jones.
Power forward--Baker, Jordan, Gomez, Eddins, Jones.
Post--Satchell, Lane, Gomez.
The team will have an excellent assist-TO ratio, but it is unclear how successful it will be in halfcourt offense, or in counteracting slowdown tactics. Ability to get good shots depends on how much opposing defenses will be able to cheat against our inside players. A critical factor will be offensive rebounding, which I happen to think will be better.
The team should be marginally better in post defense because of added experience and depth, but it still will have to adjust each game to matchup problems. Defensive rebounding will be relatively weak whenever we have two small guards on the floor. I am looking for Sullinger to have a positive effect.
Dean and Gipson will play leading roles, as Nolan always leans on his seniors (and prepares his players to blossom as seniors).
Tatum's role will depend entirely on how hard he makes it on Nolan to keep him off the floor. If he is the Charles Tatum that many people anticipated when he was a high schooler, he will have to play. It's my impression he would really thrive in a program that gave him a lot of shots, though (as it has been since he was recruited).
Eddins, well, I'm holding out hope for him.
Lane will continue to be a situational player who risks being left behind. If he rebounded better, his place would be assured, because his defense is reasonably good. He may not be a good FT shooter, but merely getting opposing players in foul trouble is of significant value.
Baker is the big question mark for me. I don't know what to expect.
Satchell will be a little bit better and stay out of foul trouble long enough to bring the Hogs some fierce inside play, and he will be complemented well with the somewhat reckless abandon of Jordan.
Gomez...you think he will help, I think he lacks sufficient experience against high-caliber big men. He can't get it on campus, and Nolan cannot afford to give it to him in games. Still, this is his fourth year in college, so maybe it is time.
This team's ability to compete with the best of the SEC will depend on (1) how good the defense is, (2) how much