I’m just a fan with a coaching record that is considerably shorter than that of the accomplished AU coach Jeff Jones. But sometimes it seems like the fans work up more of a sweat than the players on the court. Now this is not an attempt to say that the Eagles don’t work their a**es off when they step on that court. It’s hard not to run like a bat out of hell when you’ve got JJ breathing down your neck.
What I am trying to say is AU seems to favor a slower half-court style offense when they have the personelle to do the exact opposite. At times, their scheme almost looks like a Phil Jackson-esk triangle offense. This year, the Eagles have done their best to imitate the age old Lakers’ offense that in the recent past has utilized the strengths of superstars Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol (or Bynum). Think of what Eagle Nation would do to the Patriot League with any one of those studs on the roster. However, American’s version utilizes their stars, Brewer, Hinkle and Wroblicky in a mildly successful half-court set. Not to mention, substituting the hot headed Jones for the Zen Master.
Although this slower half-court style has yielded early success, the Eagles lineup is prime for playing uptempo basketball. Despite the impressive development of Munoz (see Eagle Vision: Danny Munoz), he is not a point guard that can command a team in the half-court like Mercer once did for the Eagles. However, Munoz has displayed the basketball IQ to make things happen in the fast break. With the exception of the big men, every player on the roster has the ability to get up and down the court in a hurry. Not allowing Brewer to utilize his athleticism in the open court is a crime (see Brewer’s last second dunk against Hampton). When Riley Graft went off for 21 against Howard, it was sparked by a huge (HUGE) fast break two-handed slam in transition. Charles Hinkle has the ability to knock down shots off the dribble, which fits perfectly as a trailer in an uptempo offense. Also Simon McCormack, with his throwback baby hook, can provide the legs off the bench to fuel the fast break scheme.
The x-factor in this transition system is junior, Blake Jolivette. After sitting on the bench for the majority of his career thus far, Jones has started to give him a chance. With his opportunities, Jolivette has shown a serious ability to take players off the dribble and knock down that fading 15 footer or finish at the rim. At times he has looked like a fire ball with the ability to slash to the lane past even the most athletic defenders or dish the rock effectively (when he wants to).
The Eagles too often opt to conservatively pull the ball out and not take advantage in fast break situations. The old guard of Eagle Nation still dream of the relentless fast break attack led by Mercer, kick outs to the silky smooth Carr or Gilmore and hard nosed put backs by the big Jordan Nichols. It’s time to hit the gas and light a fire under the red, white and blue.
- Eagle Nation