Gathered my final thoughts on this team and what this season means for the program’s future:
Good job Zach. You pretty much nailed it
So given the questions around all of the young players what do you think is a reasonable timeline to return to being a legitimate national title contender? 22-23? 23-34?
Yea I’ve had this conversation with @JoeBoxley a number of times. In reality you never really know what with transfers, etc but if I had to wager I’d guess 2024 is the next time I’d be confident with the 2022s as sophomores. Maybe 2023 if we get impact 2022s as first years and a legit transfer or two.
This is a great piece! Been reflecting on what the future holds and had the following thoughts:
The pieces never quite fit on this team and I think Bennett spent more time trying to make Sam, Jay, Tre, and Kihei fit because it really wasn’t the plan to start with. I think that, combined with no real “pre-season” due to Covid, put him in the position of trying to make a line up work rather than working with different line ups to see how the pieces worked together. That probably cost development for other players which may lead to the transfers we are expecting.
Bennett, despite his humbleness and lower key demeanor, is a very, very competitive person. I’m sure, as frustrated as we fans are, this season was even more frustrating for him. I’m sure he will spend a great deal of time and effort tearing this season apart and working to figure out how to make it better next. I’m also pretty sure his track record says he’ll figure it out.
I’m concerned that we seem to being trying to recruit the next Dre or Kyle or Malcolm. Filtering your evaluations through that lens is seductive, but may lock you into trying to put what turns out to be a square peg into a round hole. I’m thinking Justin here - we want him to be the next Isiah, but he’s different. At the end of the day, we don’t want some one who wants to be the next Dre, we want the next [insert name]. And show we consistently develop players with different characteristics but who reflect common elements that could be developed by the staff. I’m not making as much sense as I’d like here, but hopefully the idea gets across because I’d love to have the next Dre, but I also wanted the next Ty, the next Kyle, the next Joe, the next Malcolm, the next Akil, the next Darion - hopefully that explains it better.
We need to find our toughness again - this team tried hard, but they just didn’t have both the physical toughness we have come to expect, but also the mental. Teams in the past just knew they could win. This team seemed to always be questioning whether they might lose.
As pointed out, our guards have to be able to shoot. I’ve seen people here saying Reece should spend time working on his jumper. I’m sorry, but by the time you hit 18 in basketball, you either can or cannot shoot well. A good shooter can become a really good, maybe even great, shooter, but a poor shooter with mediocre mechanics is highly unlikely to become even an average shooter. Bennett needs to re-evaluate how he looks at his guards as primarily facilitators and look for more physically dominant guards who can shoot.
Covid really eff’d this team over. That and John Calipari. I’m watching our scoring guard J. Juzang play for UCLA. Calipari needs to lose more and be run out of Kentucky. Couldn’t happen to a better coach.
Finally, forgive my typos. I’m an awful typist and worse proofreader.
I think this is a good point. Passing over good players early because they aren’t Dre or Malcolm. Compounded for 2021 and 2022 because of covid limiting evaluation opportunities so we don’t even have a chance to find those guys.
I don’t know if Reece can or cannot improve his jumper, but I don’t think it’s absolute that a poor shooter can never become a good shooter. Look at Blake Griffin for example. First 6 seasons in the NBA he took something like 150 total 3 pointers at like a 20% make rate. Then starting his 7th season until now he started shooting 200 a season including 500+ in 18-19 at like a 35% clip.
Now, I’m citing the example of an extraordinary athletic physical specimen so maybe that played a part in it too. His FT shooting also improved from early in his career to something around 70% lately and I read that he “fixed” his shot mechanics.
I’m just trying to keep hope alive.
He doesn’t even really have to become a “good” shooter, I think. He just needs to develop the ability to make the open shot with more consistency. If he can do that, it’ll be really hard to stop him!
What about all those Midwestern kids who are great shooters because they took a million shots growing up. It is hard to get more athletic if you are not born that way but skills can be developed through hard work. I think a college freshman who is good at most things basketball and spends his free time working on improving his shot should be able to do just that.
I think my point about Reece is that he will be an good 1 but no London Perrantes. He will be effective but only pared with a good shooting 2. Him and Kihei - we’ve seen that movie and I don’t know that it can get much better.
Casey supposedly spent a bunch of time in the offseason on his shot - just saying.
That’s why I’m bummed for Casey. He worked so hard and he really wanted to be at UVA. Just couldn’t shoot.