I watched the entire William and Mary game and my eyes still hurt.
Not only is SU “not a good team” right now, they are actually a bad team. They are, at home, three points better than a team that lost by 24 to both UVA and Richmond. While there are a few positives to be gleaned from the outing (Mookie Jones’ defense — yes really; Dion Waiters all-around solid minutes; and the continued quality play of BMK) the truth is that they were a couple of inches here and there from losing this one.
And yes, the season is only 10 days old… and yes, W & M made a few shots they have no business making (that floater bank shot in the lane and the 28-foot three-pointer come to mind)… and yes, SU historically plays down to their opponents, particularly when the Orange are young and have yet to learn to take every game seriously… and yes, when it really mattered they got the defensive stops and won the game… all that is true. But those are all just excuses to avoid looking at the big picture.
Melo, so far, is completely lost on the floor. He got so psyched out by fouling out of the first two games that he’s just vanished entirely. Kris Joseph played better in this game than he has been, but still can’t hit a jump shot. Rick Jackson can’t get any room to operate in the paint because nobody can make an outside shot. Scoop tried to duplicate his game against Detroit, but just ended up forcing a bunch of bad shots. And Triche seems to have regressed from last season, at least when it comes to his confidence. He’s disappearing for long stretches. That’s your starting five, folks.
(As for the bench, they’ve gotten quite a few minutes of game time, and I’m actually relatively satisfied with their performance overall so far this season. We can’t expect amazing out of the bench, just competent. Their shooting hasn’t been as sharp as we expected, but they have been able to contribute the little bit that they are supposed to. It’s the starters who are not holding up their end of the deal.)
I will be curious to see how this group handles their first game away from the Dome on Friday night, and their first against a “name” opponent. We don’t yet know, ultimately, how much of their bad play so far is due to a lack of talent and skill, and how much is due to a lack of focus and effort, i.e. not taking the opponent seriously and expecting to run them out of the Dome just by showing up. That latter shouldn’t be a problem on Friday; Michigan is a team that brings some name and respect. And maybe being on the road will focus the players too; none of the distractions of being on campus, and some team bonding time. (Let’s just hope they stay away from the gaming tables in Atlantic City.) This game and the next will go a long way towards showing what this team is really made of, and whether they have it in them to put together some high-quality basketball. All I know for sure is that if they play like they did today, they’ll be 4-2 and out of the polls by this time next week.