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  • Excel spreadsheet musings...

    what if we were playing the wlu brand of ball at last year's season averages of:
    1.26 points per possession?- we win 123-100.
    shooting 3s at 42%?- we make 5 more threes and win 110-100.

    I'm not even considering other stats that were better last year.

    If we play team ball we win. If we continue to make bad decisions and me first decisions we are in for a long season. Wvsu should have taught us that other teams have players that can beat us.


    • Out of respect I've stayed outta this all season ...

      But WTF is going on down there? Another loss?


      • Originally posted by IUPbigINDIANS View Post
        Out of respect I've stayed outta this all season ...

        But WTF is going on down there? Another loss?
        Appreciate the respect, IUPbig. If I knew what the heck was going on, I'd let you know. Still trying to figure that out myself.

        Can't shoot. Can't score. Can't turn anyone over. Sloppy with the ball. Ugly stuff. Looked like a very pedestrian team over the early part of this season. No identity whatsoever. Really hard to figure out why.

        Naturally, the preseason workouts were likely clipped due to COVID. And I know other posters have theorized in the past that this system--if it is to work--requires all the pieces to be tuned just right. The only thing I can figure is that there just wasn't time to tune the pieces. Shrug. That's all I got. If that's true--I'll assume things get fixed sooner or later, and I'll just accept that even the great WLU machine can't defeat a global pandemic. ; )

        But if it's something more than that (i.e. a culture issue, a Howlett issue, a roster issue, etc.), then I guess time will tell.

        The run of dominance does have to end sometime--we're kidding ourselves if we think it can go on forever. All great runs do come to an end (Kentucky Wesleyan's did, so did Winona's, etc.). But I'm not ready for this one to end (especially without a championship banner to hang). Here's hoping it's COVID-lag, and they'll snap out of it soon enough!


        • They might be toast, crazy


          • For reference:

            The last 3-game losing streak was in 2007-08 when they lost to UPJ, Fairmont, & Seton Hill in a row. That was Crutch's 4th year at the helm, and one of only 4 times they missed the Regional Tourney in the Crutch (and post-Crutch) era.

            Without the PSAC playing any ball this year, they might make the tourney by default anyway. Might. But they're in serious danger of losing 4 in a row when red hot Glenville comes to the Hilltop on Monday. They have two days to figure something out. There has never been a 4-game losing streak in the Crutch and post-Crutch era. Stay tuned!


            • And you longtime fans can correct my memory if it's wrong, but I recall that it was after one of these tough stretches (I wanna say it was the two-game losing streak in 2015-16) that Crutch started the platoon substitution pattern. Out of anger. He started wanting to send a message to his starters about their effort by sending in the entire second team all at once. And then he realized that doing so just made sense within his system regardless of whether he was angry at the starters or not. But I'm almost certain it was after a tough stretch that he radically changed his substitution patterns to try to change the team mojo. And in doing so, he accidentally fell into a whole new layer to his system. Let's see if Howlett has any tricks up his sleeve!


              • I am a dummy but imho, there are several factors at work:

                - opponents are now recruiting players with an eye toward competing with wlu- good all around players who can shoot threes. More players that can shoot high 30s or low 40% from three and break the press. They are also milking the shot clock and avoiding playing too fast.

                Wlu is shooting poorly with elite shooters in horrendous slumps. Last year 50% fg now 45%. Last year 41.3% from three, now 33.2%. Only elite scoring at the rim and offensive rebounds are keeping the losses close.

                Generally speaking, possible shooting woes can be issues with shot selection/difficulty, mechanics, fatigue, residual effects of illness, etc. Have no info if any apply to wlu.

                Unrelated, but Matthews of wvu was ill and lost 18 lbs, much endurance and his shot even after 2 weeks.


                • I agree with you that opponents' recruiting practices can't be discounted as a factor. When Crutch was first implementing this system, there were teams that simply couldn't even get the ball across half court. It often looked like one of those lopsided middle school games that happen so often. But part of that was that his system was so foreign and unknown to WLU's opponents that they simply didn't know how to react (or if they knew, they didn't have the personnel to react with success).

                  In many ways, Howlett has a much harder job than Crutch. The system is a known quantity now and there's plenty of it on film. WLU doesn't surprise anyone anymore. Teams build specific plays for WLU (such as Osborne's "everybody is running sprints on the endline" set he was running at the end of the game last night). And, yes, teams recruit specific kinds of players that are WLU kryptonite or that can play in this style.

                  I'm always amazed at the fact that certain players seem to play better against WLU than they do on an ordinary night. Keith Williams of UC is the one that comes to mind right now. He came into last night averaging 8 ppg. He's a 4th or 5th option on UC's team on a regular night. But for the second straight year (I recall the same phenomenon last year), he's had a hugely productive game against the Hilltoppers. It's almost as though Williams isn't exactly the kind of recruit that Osborne and Osborne's system wants/needs, but they bring on a player like him as a WLU antidote. He's a 5th option on a normal night, but he's the go-to guy when WLU is in town. There are other players like this in the league as well (Daylin Lee from WVWC is another name that comes to mind).

                  So you may be right, Columbus. And that's what makes it a more difficult task for Howlett. He may have to find another new wrinkle to throw at teams that now know the script. He may need to innovate in news ways to find a new "market inefficiency" the way Crutch did when he created this system. Otherwise, WLU may end up a good-but-not-dominant member of the MEC.


                  • I agree that coach Howlett has a challenging job. Thankfully he spends tremendous amounts of time after work on recruiting. He is getting better athletes who are want to play the wlu style. As wlu worked the weave late in the game, I marveled at the skills of the players and the opponents' stress in switching from guarding frying pan to guarding the fire, so to speak. Each player just needs a sliver of an opening to get a layiup.
                    I think getting better athletes each year is one way to counteract the opponents' tactics. 2020 class and 2021 class are raising the bar imho. Guard the three and they will take you to the rim.


                    • FYI Here is the statistical summary of the Charleston game.

                      A dummy's observations:
                      1. WLU played their guts out, especially on the offensive glass, getting an insane 47% of the opportunities. Tremendous effort. The ball did not stick nearly as much as in the previous losses.
                      2. Rare occurrences - Opponent had fewer turnovers that WLU (16 for WL versus 11 for UC) and more assists than WL (13 to 6)
                      3. Charleston was very effective in limiting the possessions to only 71. That is part of the script for competing with WLU, provided you can keep the game close.
                      4. Charleston limited number of three point attempts to 22. To WLU's credit, they looked for on-balance 3 point shots, so I credit the Charleston defense in limiting those.
                      5. Shooting woes continue to plague WL. If they shoot like last year (FGs and threes), they win 86-78. If they reach 1.26 points per possession like last year (instead of a very average 1.04), they win 89-78. If you are shooting poorly, you must get extra possessions by generating turnovers, avoiding WL turnovers, and winning the offensive glass. WL only achieved one of the three. Hence the loss.
                      6 WL typically averages over 20 assists. WL players need to get open for shots AND make the shots to get the assist numbers up. Otherwise, all that is left is a drive to the rim or a contested shot. WL has to be able to break down the opponent's half court defense for easy shots.

                      Statistic West Liberty at Charleston (WV)
                      POINTS 74 78
                      FGM 23 27
                      FGA 61 59
                      FGPCT 37.7% 45.8%
                      3FGM 7 10
                      3FGA 22 26
                      3FGPCT 31.8% 38.5%
                      FTM 21 14
                      FTA 27 21
                      FTPCT 77.8% 66.7%
                      REBOUND OFFENSIVE 18 9
                      REBOUND DEFENSIVE 27 23
                      REBOUND TOTAL 45 32
                      ASSISTS 6 13
                      TURNOVERS 16 11
                      BLOCKS 5 9
                      STEALS 5 9
                      Num Possessions 71 70
                      Points per Possession 1.04 1.11
                      Assists per 100 Possessions 8.45 18.57
                      Turnovers per 100 Possessions
                      (< better)
                      22.54 15.71
                      Assist to Turnover Ratio 0.38 1.18
                      Offensive Rebound % of Missed Shots 47.4% 28.1%


                      • Numbers within the numbers...Shooting first half 41% (50% from 3), second half 33% (10% from 3).

                        Clearly something is wrong with this team and it needs a HUGE wake-up call. I'd start by changing my starting five to:



                        • Sinking ship but you didn't want to listen!


                          • Boat -
                            You might want edit your new starting 5 post after viewing those who are not available due to injury. They would also be height challenged.


                            • Originally posted by Columbuseer View Post
                              Boat -
                              You might want edit your new starting 5 post after viewing those who are not available due to injury. They would also be height challenged.
                              What ever. The point being that trotting the same starting 5 out with the same second 5 clearly is not working. When you get down to it, really the only move a coach has when a team is playing poorly, is a change in his rotation. Maybe having some extended bench time for some of these starters will light a fire under them.


                              • Originally posted by IUPbigINDIANS View Post
                                Out of respect I've stayed outta this all season ...

                                But WTF is going on down there? Another loss?
                                Perhaps the MEC isn't as weak as some say it is??