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Jim Whitesell: First Season as HC

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20 hours ago, BullBoy said:

So this is going to be one of those years where nobody gives the coaching staff credit after a road win, but will be the first to come back on here after every loss?

I think your point is valid however I think the issue is the general sense that the team continues to play below their talent level. A team consisting of Jordan, Graves, Segu, Mballa, Williams etc. should be expected to compete for the top of the league, or at least it feels like it should. At the very least with a team relying on so many new players for big minutes you'd hope to see some level of progression in playing as a cohesive unit it doesn't feel like we're any closer to that now than we were at the beginning of the season. When it feels like talent is being wasted then people will blame the ones who are doing the wasting, fair or unfair. 

I think people were hoping that this season would be like Nate Oats' first in 2015-16. Newly promoted head coach who had to scramble to cobble together a workable roster after players decommitted when the previous coach left, but Oats finds enough play makers and gets lucky on a guy or two and we sneak into the tournament. Instead this is feeling more like Oats' second season 2016-17 where we have some head scratching losses in non-conference play and in conference just sort of drift through a few games above 500. The whole season felt like a bit of a hangover. I think that is completely forgivable for a head coach's first season but for a guy with Whitesell's experience both at Buffalo and in college basketball in general it feels a bit underwhelming.

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22 hours ago, BullBoy said:

So this is going to be one of those years where nobody gives the coaching staff credit after a road win, but will be the first to come back on here after every loss?

We beat a mediocre-at-best Miami (OH) team on the road. A win is great and hopefully a sign that we're headed in the right direction but I still see significant defensive issues and overall offensive flow and consistency has yet to be found. I'm hoping this is a step towards positive things but I apologize for not getting excited about winning a game we should have won after getting demolished by Ball State and losing to NIU at home...

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22 hours ago, UB92 said:

Not after every loss.  This thread was started (and then exploded) after two MAC losses...against the background of home losses to Dartmouth and Army.     So this thread didn't start right after the Dartmouth embarrassment, but started after a bad home lose to NIU.   

Likewise, if UB plays a strong game and beats Ohio, I suspect (depending on the performance) you will get some of the more positively-inclined people to give Whitesell credit.

 

This is a good post. 

This Ohio game is a good gauge of where we are at. Probably a .500 MAC team here (we've already lost to the other NIU).

IF they lose this one at home, it's going to be a long season.

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23 hours ago, UB92 said:

Not after every loss.  This thread was started (and then exploded) after two MAC losses...against the background of home losses to Dartmouth and Army.     So this thread didn't start right after the Dartmouth embarrassment, but started after a bad home lose to NIU.   

Likewise, if UB plays a strong game and beats Ohio, I suspect (depending on the performance) you will get some of the more positively-inclined people to give Whitesell credit.

 

Those were some bad loses. At the same time, we swept the big 4 for the first time ever, and have wins against Harvard and DePaul. I think many of the pessimistic leaning posters here are treating our team as bad rather than inconsistent, which IMO there is a big difference. 

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Personally, I give Whitesell credit for steering the team to a win at Miami. After two bad losses, one at home and one of the road, the mood of the team had to be quite down. It is not easy to bounce back from that especially on the road. Let's hope they figured something out and get consistently better from here.

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6 hours ago, BasketBull said:

A team consisting of Jordan, Graves, Segu, Mballa, Williams etc. should be expected to compete for the top of the league, or at least it feels like it should. 

I think people were hoping that this season would be like Nate Oats' first in 2015-16. Newly promoted head coach who had to scramble to cobble together a workable roster after players decommitted when the previous coach left, but Oats finds enough play makers and gets lucky on a guy or two and we sneak into the tournament. 

I never bought this belief. Jordan and Graves have been effective role players before this year. Certainly most hoped and many expected them both to seize the leadership mantle left open by the graduating seniors. Neither ever displayed the ability to take over games like Perk, CJ or Harris. I love both of these guys, but still waiting for them to do it every game.Williams and Segu have made big strides, but still have a long way to go. While Mballa has been terrific for the most part, but he in no way replaces anything close to what Perk and McRae brought last year.

To achieve what Oats did his first year, we need some of the new guys to develop like Conner and Hamilton did after a rough start in out of conference play and become All Mac type players. So far no one has shown that they will make to same huge leap from OOC play. Also Oats benefited tremendously from CJ and Perk ready to be a stud from the start. Unfortunately this team just does not have those type of players on the roster.

 

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16 minutes ago, UB85 said:

... While Mballa has been terrific for the most part, but he in no way replaces anything close to what Perk and McRae brought last year. ...

I think we remember McRae differently 😀

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4 minutes ago, 121Merrimac said:

I think we remember McRae differently 😀

I doubt. McRae made some timely 3s, had some nice blocks and was a good contributor on a tremendous roster. Mballa is a much better rebounder and around the bucket, but my point is he cannot replace what Perk AND McRae brought.

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On 1/13/2020 at 2:26 PM, UB85 said:

I never bought this belief. Jordan and Graves have been effective role players before this year. Certainly most hoped and many expected them both to seize the leadership mantle left open by the graduating seniors. Neither ever displayed the ability to take over games like Perk, CJ or Harris. I love both of these guys, but still waiting for them to do it every game.Williams and Segu have made big strides, but still have a long way to go. While Mballa has been terrific for the most part, but he in no way replaces anything close to what Perk and McRae brought last year.

To achieve what Oats did his first year, we need some of the new guys to develop like Conner and Hamilton did after a rough start in out of conference play and become All Mac type players. So far no one has shown that they will make to same huge leap from OOC play. Also Oats benefited tremendously from CJ and Perk ready to be a stud from the start. Unfortunately this team just does not have those type of players on the roster.

 

I think any expectations that this team would be as good as last years was wishful thinking at best, so I don't think it's reasonable or useful to compare production loss from last years' team to this years team. We don't need to be last years team beating MAC opponents 15 points a night to win the MAC. The talent level on this roster is good enough to be the best in the MAC - I mean look around the league: would you really want to swap out our roster for any other roster?

As for CJ and Perk being ready immediately, as freshmen when UB won the MAC with Nate Oats for the first time Perk contributed 7.6 PPG and 4.3 RPG on 19.1 MPG; CJ was 11.3 points  and 4.1 rebounds in 25 minutes. Both excellent contributions but not dissimilar from Williams and Segu this year - sure they're doing it a year later than Perk and CJ but that's comparing 2 of the best players in UB history. Hell you could even argue Mballa as a sophomore is ahead of where Perk was as a sophomore. As a team in 15-16 we averaged 77.6 points, 39.1 rebounds, 12.7 assists, 6.9 steals, 3.6 blocks, and 13.7 turnovers on 43.8% shooting (33.7% from deep). This year we are at 77.9 points, 41.2 rebounds, 16.4 assists, 8.7 steals, 4.4 blocks, 14.1 turnovers on 44.3% shooting (33.4% from deep). Pretty on pace to match that years squad for better or worse. What I don't recall about that years squad was their defensive intensity, something this year seems to sorely be lacking. 

We have players contributing very similarly to how they contributed in 15-16. We stole a championship that year - it was Akron's to lose and it may be again this year. 15-16 wasn't about having enough bodies to make clutch shots down the stretch, it was about THE clutch shot that Hamilton made to win it all. To achieve what Oats did that year all we really have to do is get hot at the right time. We were sitting at 9-8 in MAC play and 2 games over .500 overall in March of that year and I don't think the MAC as a whole was any better that year than this. It just feels different because of some really dud games against teams we know we should be better than and the fact that we just don't know how this season will end yet. 

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1 hour ago, BasketBull said:

I think any expectations that this team would be as good as last years was wishful thinking at best, so I don't think it's reasonable or useful to compare production loss from last years' team to this years team. We don't need to be last years team beating MAC opponents 15 points a night to win the MAC. The talent level on this roster is good enough to be the best in the MAC - I mean look around the league: would you really want to swap out our roster for any other roster?

As for CJ and Perk being ready immediately, as freshmen when UB won the MAC with Nate Oats for the first time Perk contributed 7.6 PPG and 4.3 RPG on 19.1 MPG; CJ was 11.3 points  and 4.1 rebounds in 25 minutes. Both excellent contributions but not dissimilar from Williams and Segu this year - sure they're doing it a year later than Perk and CJ but that's comparing 2 of the best players in UB history. Hell you could even argue Mballa as a sophomore is ahead of where Perk was as a sophomore. As a team in 15-16 we averaged 77.6 points, 39.1 rebounds, 12.7 assists, 6.9 steals, 3.6 blocks, and 13.7 turnovers on 43.8% shooting (33.7% from deep). This year we are at 77.9 points, 41.2 rebounds, 16.4 assists, 8.7 steals, 4.4 blocks, 14.1 turnovers on 44.3% shooting (33.4% from deep). Pretty on pace to match that years squad for better or worse. What I don't recall about that years squad was their defensive intensity, something this year seems to sorely be lacking. 

We have players contributing very similarly to how they contributed in 15-16. We stole a championship that year - it was Akron's to lose and it may be again this year. 15-16 wasn't about having enough bodies to make clutch shots down the stretch, it was about THE clutch shot that Hamilton made to win it all. To achieve what Oats did that year all we really have to do is get hot at the right time. We were sitting at 9-8 in MAC play and 2 games over .500 overall in March of that year and I don't think the MAC as a whole was any better that year than this. It just feels different because of some really dud games against teams we know we should be better than and the fact that we just don't know how this season will end yet. 

Great post.

2 wins is a step in the right direction but I still scratch my head at squeaking out a win at home against a not very good Ohio team. I don't need to win by 15 but there's no reason we should be giving up 2 25+ pt performances against a team without much overall talent. Hopefully this is a trend and I eat all of my negative words in this thread come March!

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People are quick to criticize Jim & co. when things aren't up to their standards, but not a lot is said when a solid job is done. While they have had some puzzling off-nights, this team is still a work in progress overall. While some of the pieces were here last year, their roles have changed, leading to different responsibilities therefore causing for transition even with those returning players. This team seems to be going through some illnesses, so the bench was even more limited than normal last night. This team does have several players who can hit big points on a given night, as shown by 5 players in or around double digit scoring averages on the season. If the team dynamic improves overall and players buy in to their roles, this team can achieve a lot of wins this season. Last night was the first night (possibly all season) where Johnson forced very few outside shots up. Consequently, his shooting % was vastly improved. In prior games, he was "trying to get his" and it showed in some less than quality attempts and a lower %. Grant, who has taken a beating from many on this board, was very positive last night. While his stats were minimal, he took a big charge (from a BIG man) and was extremely "up" on the bench last night, more so than he has in previous games. Little things like that count in the long run and hopefully he and a few others who have shown some bench negativity  over the first half of the season will get into the positive team culture aspect of athletics and make the right choices over the rest of the season. 

2-2 to start may not be where everyone hoped to be, but this league can be a grind, as we've seen for most years. Last year was an anomaly and shouldn't be expected every single year (at least not until we become the "Gonzaga of the East" or something of similar ilk). This team has more than enough opportunity to secure a top tier seed and have a shot in Cleveland.

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skrabukes, The other day you mentioned players on the bench not showing much enthusiasm.  Above, it seems like Grant's bench attitude seemed better last night.  Was it mainly just Gabe, or was it a more positive bench overall.   We had to miss last night's game but hope to be there next Tuesday.

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27 minutes ago, skrabukes said:

People are quick to criticize Jim & co. when things aren't up to their standards, but not a lot is said when a solid job is done. While they have had some puzzling off-nights, this team is still a work in progress overall.

Off-nights, are part of growth. Getting run out of gyms by mediocre teams is what led me to worry and come down hard on the staff.

27 minutes ago, skrabukes said:

Grant, who has taken a beating from many on this board, was very positive last night.

Glad to see him contribute but he also didn't travel with the team for 2 games so there's a chance that the staff was frustrated with him as well...?

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2 minutes ago, Jeseph said:

Off-nights, are part of growth. Getting run out of gyms by mediocre teams is what led me to worry and come down hard on the staff.

Glad to see him contribute but he also didn't travel with the team for 2 games so there's a chance that the staff was frustrated with him as well...?

I don't disagree with either point. We all had some nervousness after falling to 0-2 and having an extremely ugly 2nd game. The staff and team have bounced back solidly, evening up the record. While not playing the traditional "powers" of the league yet, they still have gotten the job done over this last week.

I'm sure they must have been (much like many others were as well). What they did has appeared to have worked, at least last night anyway. I have no idea if something happened or was said, or if it was a cumulative effect, regardless, job well done in turning a negative into a positive for the team. As much as some (and especially one or two) like to knock Grant, this team can be better with him than without him. Same goes for a few other players on the team, provided they are all willing to be positive members and take on their roles within the team, whether it's 30 minutes or 0 minutes, whether it's taking 20 shots or 0 shots. If you're on the team, they need to be a collective unit in order to the most success to be achieved this year.

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6 hours ago, ChubbyHubby said:

skrabukes, The other day you mentioned players on the bench not showing much enthusiasm.  Above, it seems like Grant's bench attitude seemed better last night.  Was it mainly just Gabe, or was it a more positive bench overall.   We had to miss last night's game but hope to be there next Tuesday.

As a whole, it was a much better positive bench. Jim was quite amped up, encouraging the bench and crowd. Positivity goes a long way!

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14 hours ago, skrabukes said:

As a whole, it was a much better positive bench. Jim was quite amped up, encouraging the bench and crowd. Positivity goes a long way!

The team's energy as whole was way higher (even with some guys sick) and that all flowed down from coach to end the of the bench.  At this point in the season it's clear this team has not met the lofty expectations of most but the fact that these kids can still feed off positivity from coach to win another conference game, a critical home game, is huge. They need short memories, take each game as it comes and improve on the last.

Fact is, they're just an average team this year. Currently 113th in AdjO which is above average overall, middle of the pack in the MAC. Defense is clearly what's killing them. They're not going to blow anyone out this year. But that doesn't spell doom. Gotta take the wins anyway they can get them. The focus has to be getting a little better each game on defense and on getting a seed line in Cleveland with a shot to win.

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On 1/15/2020 at 10:43 AM, Jeseph said:

Great post.

2 wins is a step in the right direction but I still scratch my head at squeaking out a win at home against a not very good Ohio team. I don't need to win by 15 but there's no reason we should be giving up 2 25+ pt performances against a team without much overall talent. Hopefully this is a trend and I eat all of my negative words in this thread come March!

Agree. Many very good objective posts above. Our expectations and forecasts for this team based on our last few great years of success were probably overhyped. Do agree this team is athletic and talented on paper but you have to show it on the court. Our expectations were that Johnson, Grant, Hardnett and Nickelberry would contribute significantly. Still games to be played to see if they can improve on both ends of the floor. This looks to be a roller coaster type year so I think we have to buckle up and try to enjoy this ride. Go Bulls!!!!

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On 1/15/2020 at 8:59 AM, BasketBull said:

I think any expectations that this team would be as good as last years was wishful thinking at best, so I don't think it's reasonable or useful to compare production loss from last years' team to this years team. We don't need to be last years team beating MAC opponents 15 points a night to win the MAC. The talent level on this roster is good enough to be the best in the MAC - I mean look around the league: would you really want to swap out our roster for any other roster?

As for CJ and Perk being ready immediately, as freshmen when UB won the MAC with Nate Oats for the first time Perk contributed 7.6 PPG and 4.3 RPG on 19.1 MPG; CJ was 11.3 points  and 4.1 rebounds in 25 minutes. Both excellent contributions but not dissimilar from Williams and Segu this year - sure they're doing it a year later than Perk and CJ but that's comparing 2 of the best players in UB history. Hell you could even argue Mballa as a sophomore is ahead of where Perk was as a sophomore. As a team in 15-16 we averaged 77.6 points, 39.1 rebounds, 12.7 assists, 6.9 steals, 3.6 blocks, and 13.7 turnovers on 43.8% shooting (33.7% from deep). This year we are at 77.9 points, 41.2 rebounds, 16.4 assists, 8.7 steals, 4.4 blocks, 14.1 turnovers on 44.3% shooting (33.4% from deep). Pretty on pace to match that years squad for better or worse. What I don't recall about that years squad was their defensive intensity, something this year seems to sorely be lacking. 

We have players contributing very similarly to how they contributed in 15-16. We stole a championship that year - it was Akron's to lose and it may be again this year. 15-16 wasn't about having enough bodies to make clutch shots down the stretch, it was about THE clutch shot that Hamilton made to win it all. To achieve what Oats did that year all we really have to do is get hot at the right time. We were sitting at 9-8 in MAC play and 2 games over .500 overall in March of that year and I don't think the MAC as a whole was any better that year than this. It just feels different because of some really dud games against teams we know we should be better than and the fact that we just don't know how this season will end yet. 

Nice analysis.

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The longer Akron stays undefeated in conference the more they become the hunted and we can be the lion waiting to pounce.

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It'll be interesting to see how they finish the last 14 games. They pretty much still play the entire conference at least once (BSU, Ohio, MU again) and CMU/Akron/Kent/BG twice (pretty sure the league's top 4 teams and most likely bye candidates). UB will have to split those 4 games in order to be competitive in the conference this season. The 4 game opening slate was their easiest starting slate of any 4 game stretch that they'll have in conference play. 

The team is still 159th in Kenpom and dropped a few slots after winning. They are rated as top 25 in luck based on their statistics, meaning that UB has won 3 games this year that they should't have (based on how they played). The only luckier team in the MAC is EMU (1st in the nation before conference play) and then they dropped 4 straight. 

 

Edited by Erie County

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On 1/15/2020 at 11:34 AM, skrabukes said:

People are quick to criticize Jim & co. when things aren't up to their standards, but not a lot is said when a solid job is done. While they have had some puzzling off-nights, this team is still a work in progress overall.

 

This team has more than enough opportunity to secure a top tier seed and have a shot in Cleveland.

I think this was already addressed, but you must have just dismissed it.  Thus, I will make the same comment.  The criticism was NOT quick, but really took two games into the MAC season (that's when the real negativity flowed).   The fact that UB got past Miami and Ohio stems the bleeding a bit, but it will take several games before most w/o White(sell) colored glasses before meaningful progress has been made.  I suspect if the team has some games where they win (where they are underdogs) or blow out a team with a great defensive effort, you will see more substantial compliments of the coach.

 

If the team makes it to Cleveland as a top-4 seed, this would meet/exceed most expectations of the team this year, per the poll done before MAC play started on this board.

Go Bulls.  Want to see a strong showing today at CMU!

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Now it's quiet on this topic after 3 straight wins, with the most recent one in blowout fashion on the road. This team is as we hoped when they play as a collective unit. Let's hope they've turned the corner after the 0-2 start and have figured things out. They're not going to go undefeated the rest of the way, but 10-3 over the rest of the regular season would be super and easily be a top 4 if not top 2 seed come MAC playoff time. It's just one game at a time, and hopefully they'll keep up the winning ways back at home next week!

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2 hours ago, skrabukes said:

Now it's quiet on this topic after 3 straight wins, with the most recent one in blowout fashion on the road. This team is as we hoped when they play as a collective unit. Let's hope they've turned the corner after the 0-2 start and have figured things out. They're not going to go undefeated the rest of the way, but 10-3 over the rest of the regular season would be super and easily be a top 4 if not top 2 seed come MAC playoff time. It's just one game at a time, and hopefully they'll keep up the winning ways back at home next week!

Was out of town today.  Only saw score, read box score and comments.  Seemed like team really committed on the defense end and played a complete game.  Fair play to Whitesell for getting his guys on a 3 game win streak with this last one the best of all.  Keep it going!   

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