"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Successfully navigating conference play

Many thanks to one of our faithful readers who pointed out an interesting column from Clark Kellogg of CBS Sports. Kellogg's latest effort looks at six key factors to consider when evaluating a team's prospects for navigating a tough conference schedule -- attributes of conference champions.

What I've done below is summarize Kellogg's criteria in bold and offered up Mr. Anonymous Commenter's narrative in red. I've added my thoughts in italics. What do you think about how MU stacks up using Kellogg's criteria?

1. A 60/40 blend of experience and talent.
"MU seems to be around 30/70..."

2. Toughness -mental and physical.
"We're pretty strong there for the most part." Yes, MU plays hard and overall team defense and the improvement in rebounding reflects that.

3. A go-to player.
"If Crean would play James at the point in the first half of games we would have one for more than 16 minutes in the second half of every game." James is MU's only potential go-to guy.

4. Winning on the road
"The one road game was a struggle. Against the Big East we might have some problems. I'd probably be satisfied with 3 conference road wins." I'll take the road win and still believe that the wins on a neutral court over Duke and Texas Tech are impressive. Few Big East teams have played meaningful road games to date anyway.

5. Make shots
"We're in deep trouble." MU's poor free thow shooting isn't helping here either -- not to mention the team's inability to make sure the right players are taking the most shots.

6. Balance and versatility
"There are a lot of players who can play multiple positions, not hurting here." Agreed. Methinks MU's versatility will emerge substantially over the next six weeks with the improvement of Hayward and increased roles for Fitz, Trend and Cubillan.

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