I honestly don’t know what to say anymore. Our pups are obviously frustrated with such a prolonged losing streak. It shows in their morose huddles, pained expressions and increasingly frequent outbursts towards each other. But they don’t make any of the necessary adjustments to rid themselves of this dark cloud. They aren’t rebuilding, they’re resigned; entirely too accepting of their fate.
There’s no communication. Every defensive stance is foiled by at least two Wolves wandering aimlessly about as though they’re merely waiting for the possession to be over rather than attempting to stop it. Oblivious to back door cuts, indecisive on pick and rolls, and late to rotate towards open shooters, our boys helplessly watched as three after three after three settled through the basket. After 81 games, it’s still unclear if such porous defense is more due to poor coaching or sheer ineptitude, but neither are excusable.
The offense isn’t much better. Their gaudy point total isn’t reflective of effort or execution, just prolonged exposure to a team as disenchanted with defense as they are. There weren’t recognizable sets, just a meeting of mercenaries that struggled even when they were winning. Little structure and less communication; too much ball stopping and too many self serving attempts to be the hero.
Sure, Michael Beasley had a few chest-pounding moments, but his ill advised, yet fortuitous shot selection didn’t impress me. A lazy jab step and forced three led to a fast break where he was outrun by Grant Hill, who was in his third year at Duke while Beasley was still in Underoos. It’s not so SuperCool anymore. In fact, it’s trite and counterproductive. Nothing encapsulates this season’s struggles more than watching Beasley trot out the same repertoire against every team as though they’re not all reading the same scouting report.
They’re all aware of his scoring mentality. He wants to shoot every time he touches the ball. No one expects him to pass. We’ve all seen him isolate himself for that same two dribble midrange jump shot. His right handed spin move in the lane is little more than a bad habit. Does he know this? Does he know we know this?
Guess what else they know? Make him work on defense. He doesn’t want to guard and will take shortcuts. He struggles to adhere to defensive principles, doesn’t handle pick n roll or rotations well and is constantly ball watching. He lost Grant Hill more times than either of us can count; leaving him to help players who weren’t in position to score, running under screens and moving his mouth far more than his feet. How can we improve if he doesn’t?
I could ask similar questions of our latest project, Anthony Randolph, but it wouldn’t help this angsty post or my building blood pressure.
Ultimately, I’m tired of endless attempts to construct an optimistic narrative-to inject some semblance of hope, progress or reason-despite all evidence to the contrary. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood. Then again, maybe I’ve come to the realization that none of this will change. That our best hopes are an ocean away or in a glaringly weak draft class. That a lockout could dissolve what little chemistry this team has concocted.
Yes, I remember the good times, I even saw some of them tonight; Martell Webster’s go ahead three, Beasley’s lone drive to the basket. etc. But they did little to distract me from this inescapable longing. I want to see competitive and exhilarating basketball. I need the reminder that this is supposed to be fun, that it isn’t always so predictable. I just want this season to be over.
The playoffs are here. Not for us, of course, but it’s still something to be happy about.