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The Rim Protector Problem
Created: 7/23/2014 4:14:05 PMReplies: 13
7/23/2014 4:14:05 PM - runnindawheel - 52 posts (#192)

Our team is constantly improving. We will be deeper and better than last year in all phases, except for one glaring problem.

Defensive rebounding and protecting the paint.

We can mask this issue against 75% of our opponents. A10 schools and other smaller programs are generally undersized anyway, so a skinny perimeter oriented lineup won't hurt us. It's against the high major schools where the size differential really comes into play. Remember Memphis last year? They crushed us on the glass in the first half. If we play a team with a couple of big 6'10" guys we might be in trouble. 

KevLar: While he is highly skilled and we are super lucky to have him, has never really been a prolific rebounder. He's more of an offensively minded back to the basket finesse power forward than a backline eraser. Zeke last year did the dirty work inside. KevLar has the size and strength to be that defensive and rebounding presence, but it's a lot to put on his plate if he has to do all that alone, while putting up double figure points. This year is really going to test him. If he picks up two quick fouls or gets hurt, there's no one to replace him. With Zeke he never had to shoulder defensive and rebounding responsibilities like he will the next two years. 

The 1-3-1: Our length and glut of skilled perimeter small forwards and physical guards really makes this defense a perfect fit. We can cause serious matchup problems and take teams out of their game. However, anyone savvy in basketball 101 knows zone defense's biggest flaw, 

Rebounding. With no set matchups rebounds become 50/50 balls, and when we have a skinny undersized lineup grabbing those boards will be problematic. You can play your tail off for 35 seconds, but if you can't board, it doesn't matter. 

Kopriva: John seems to set a great example and is a great locker room guy. His skills are improving and like I mentioned above, he should be fine against 75% of our opponents. The A10 and bottom feeders in the non-conference. However, from the cold hearted perspective of an uninformed GM, he lacks the physical tools to compete at a high enough level for our program to beat upper eschelon opponents. Can he finish at the rim in traffic against a team with legitimate size? I haven't seen it? Can he seal the glass? Can he preotect the rim when the zone breaks down? John, you seem like a nice guy, I wish you all the best. Stick this on your bulletin board and prove me wrong. I hope you do. 

The Biggest Concern: We don't have anyone coming in who I view can fix the "Rim Protector Problem." We don't have any open scholarships to fix this void for our big year in 2015-16. All of our big men who can help KevLar anchor the paint for that year, Cimino, Cavanaugh, and Goss aren't the "Rim Protector Types." (I excluded Yuta becaus he seems more like a SF than a PF) Goss is a project who will take years to develop. He likely won't see the floor much as a freshman. As for the other three, they are all really perimeter players, who are rail thin and most importantly, have never had to shoulder rebounding/paint protection responsibilties. Expectations for that year will be high and if we play a tough high major opponent with a three or four 6-10, 7 foot guys, which is not uncommon, it would take a heck of a coaching job by ML to fix that problem. When we recruit bigs it takes them a couple years to develop. That's the reality of the kids we can get. There's no real plug and play option for us for big men. Any 5th year transfer who can do that will have serious high major offers. To make an NCAA run that we all dream about, we have to be able to beat teams that will be much bigger than us. We don't have to be as big, I just see our current roster for the next couple seasons and wonder if the size gap is simply too large.

I love this team and don't want to rip them. I hope they prove me wrong. That's just an objective analysis I wanted to share. This has been a big concern of mine regarding this team. I wanted to hear from you all on this topic as well.  

7/23/2014 4:37:28 PM - GWSB'11 - 147 posts (#122)

As I said in an earlier post, we might miss Margakos more than we thought. Not saying here he would have turned into Zeek, but a 6'10" junior could've been a nice 10-min or so backup to Larsen that we don't currently have. 

7/23/2014 5:03:20 PM - ziik - 640 posts (#1)

Paris was still a year away. Next yeaar, he may still be a year away. And, he plays short. I'd be happy to have him on the bench, but it does not seem that is part of this program. 

Been watching GW for nearly 50 years now. Guys like Zeke in this program are as rare as the Mona Lisa. We've been lucky with big men, but not so much with complementary bigs, enforcers, bangers, or bounders. They seem to go to that school with the overrated Big Man reputation.

Decent post. I share your concern. But this is college basketball.Bringing in players and subs to meet every contingency, and a couple of practice players and a project or two, is unlikely to happen. We don't have anybody to guard an opponent's Shawnts if we see one, either. And, so far, no lock down defender or half court shooter either.

Looking at the roster for the coming season and the next year, give me reasons for hope. And, not to put too much pressure on him, but I'm thinking that Larsen, Kopriva and McCoy all will be broadening their skills this year. I was very impressed that Kopriva learned how to drive under the hoop last year, and expect to see more offense of that sort from him and his mates.

7/23/2014 5:39:25 PM - CH - 72 posts (#174)

All very good points.  I've spent much of this offseason extremely excited about the talent and depth of this years team, but a little concerned about the whole that Zeke has left.

I can't wait to see what Larsen does - if he's in great shape he has an opportunity to not only be a go to guy on offense, but also anchor our defense/rebounding.  He could end up on some NBA radars if he makes the most of this opportunity.

Beyond that, as people have said it will need to be by committee.  I really like the idea of Garino seeing some time at the 4.  We will absolutely be under sized, but imagine Joe, Kethan, Pato and Paul J getting out in transition with Kev.  So much finishing and ball handling.

Lucky for us, Lonergan is surely having all of these same thoughts, and he is much more qualified to game plan than we are.  It is going to be a really fun season.

7/23/2014 5:47:11 PM - Free Quebec - 5,713 posts (#2)

Yes, not having a Zeek or a high rebounding/shot blocking 4 is a weakness, but you also have to remember that there are weaknesses we had last year that will no longer be weaknesses - depth, inexperience, shooting beyond creek, length on the traps with anyone from the bench in the game.   Plus, KevLar improved by leaps and bounds on defense during the season and I expect that to continue.   

Yes, when we play a team with an nba frontline, we may have that rebounding disadvantage, but that's true of almost every team in college basketball.   And if we can shoot better and attack more for 40 minutes, we can compensate. 

7/23/2014 6:00:32 PM - The MV - 4,338 posts (#4)

I have often referred to what you are calling "The Rim Protector" as "The Gold Tooth Guy".  This is the junkyard dog, the guy nobody wants to mess with.  He is likely to be an intimidator but at the very least, he blocks some shots, alters many others, and grabs defensive rebounds.  Xavier used to have a guy like this practically every season.  So did Temple.  And GW hardly ever had this guy.  Yinka, but he was learning the game.  Bill Brigham may have come closest until Zeke these past two seasons.  That's like 20 years without a gold tooth guy.

What I've come to learn is that: a) there are fewer gold tooth guys in the game than you might think; and b) while we may lack the defensive means to intimidate or alter shots regularly, I do think we're going to be fine on the boards.  Rebounding boils an awful lot down to instincts and fundamentals.  Many shorter players have an instinctive ability to know where the shot will fall.  Many simply know how to box out.  Many simply have the drive and commitment to not get outrebounded.  I think our most of our guys fall into these categories.  I say this not because this is what i want to see, but rather because I believe this is what will end up happening.  Lonergan players are smart; they'll figure things out.


7/23/2014 7:23:51 PM - pops - 291 posts (#72)

know what cancels interior rebounding?  prolific 3 point shooting.  VCU hasn't ever had the guy you describe (until maybe this year, i'm not sure about those guys they've signed) but stretch 4's are kind of the alternative to intimidators.  they are long and lean and bring the big guys out.  i think what we lose in defensive rebounds we will make up in offensive putbacks.

i also think that we will see a stronger rebounder in larsen.  and do not sell kopriva short.  he may be over matched against teams like the marquette team we faced last year but he will hold his own otherwise.  Additionally all of our guards and pato are great at seeing and reacting to the ball and will win their board matchups almost every time.  kopriva does know how to seal the glass if that refers to boxing out.  jelly also knows how to seal the glass.

get ready for us to score 100 point at least 10 times this year and to literally destroy most opponents.


7/23/2014 8:58:57 PM - JAE - 178 posts (#106)

Wasn't Shawnta our leading rebounder in his day?

7/23/2014 9:19:49 PM - Free Quebec - 5,713 posts (#2)

100 points 10 times?   That would probably make us the number 1 offense in the country.   Not so sure about that. 

7/23/2014 9:36:00 PM - Pops - 291 posts (#72)

Well maybe 6 times

7/23/2014 9:48:21 PM - Pops - 291 posts (#72)

I do know that regardless of what happens we're not going to miss Paris.

7/23/2014 11:40:21 PM - bobo - 2,928 posts (#8)

With the departing Armwood, Creek and Co, GW missing 65 of the team's 135 blocks from the 2014 squad.  130 of the team's 187 3ps made will also need to be replaced. But Griffin, Jorgenson, Swann /Bryant, Garino, Yuta and Cimino should all be able to add more 3s.  The blocks have less obvious potential replacement sources for Armwood.

Lonergan has always tried to keep 2 bigs on the floor at all times for defense and rebounding.   Last year Kopriva finished 3rd in Def Rebounding (after Armwood and Larsen) and 2nd in Off Rebounding (after Larsen).  Kopriva has worked hard at increasing his stregnth and improving his footwork. I think he'll be fine for 14-18 min/game grabbing boards, setting picks, running the floor and playing D.  Cimino needs to play and be sufficiently effective since he's GW only other big.  He's also GW's hghest rated recruit so I'm sure he'll get a good shot at his stretch 4 postion from Lonergan if he can be in the right position defensively and give good effort on the boards.

GW's best recruit might be Yuta. At 6-9, 200 lbs he should be abe to give some minutes at the 4 - stretch 4 position to be specific.  He might be more suited for the 3 but GW needs him more at the 4 now. That frees Garino up to stay at the 3 where he's much better suited. The problem with trying Garino at the 4 is how to do so defensively(?).  Garino is too small to cover any sizable 4 in man to man D and if you put him in Arwood spot on the 1-3-1 ( the middle player of the 3), then you take away from Garino's best defensive quality - stifflingly tight on ball defense as the 1 on the 1-3-1.  He's as good at that as we've ever seen at GW and that should be where he plays every single minute GW's in the 1-3-1.

7/24/2014 12:41:50 AM - DEA - 1,432 posts (#21)

ACtually VCU has always had those types of guys. Larry Sanders, Juvonte Reddic just to name a few. Larry Sanders is one of the best in the world at doing what the OP describes, knuckelhead that he is aside. This will be an issue this year and I'm sure the coaching staff is worried about it. At the same time, as others have said here, there are very few teams in college basketball with no weaknesses and we should be able to make up for it in other ways. I.e. UConn didn't have a big guy who could do a thing this year and look how they ended up. 

The real key for this team I believe, is if McDonald or Savage can take that next step and become the go-too scorer at the end of the game. You win in CBB with great guard play. We know we have great wings, and Joe is tough as nails, but that's the real question for me at least. 

7/24/2014 5:54:34 AM - pops - 291 posts (#72)

i never saw sanders play.  he was pre shaka. that was not reddic's game however.  reddic was more of an offensive threat who could not muscle you on the boards.  i think generally the type of intimidator/rebounder we're talking about mostly plays the 5.  i think because we had zeke we forget that we still have larsen.  VCU played a 3 guard lineup with their bigs at a very lean, unintimidating 6-9 and 6-6, Reddic and Graham.  Actually Allie-Cox comes closer to being the rim protector for them.  he's also only 6-6.  as a part time player he led the team in blocks.  the year before they had no one in that role. Nor did they on their final four team.  spears was more of a larsen type if i remember correctly.

The point is, as DEA says, not all really good teams rely on big intimidating front lines.  Weber was VCU's 3rd leading rebounder last year.  Will we lose more rebounding battles this year than we did last year? absolutely.  but we will be better in so many other ways. 

i agree with DEA that finding that go to scorer will be important.  I've always loved joemac for that guy.  His shooting was hurt last year by no practice.  Really, I'll be surprised if this doesn't become Garino's team.  i also see Pato becoming the go to guy. that will require his shooting to improve which i really think will happen.   but you guys are going to love jorgensen.  he's a bigger version of joemac with a shot he can make from anywhere.

Creek gave us a new dimmension last year but except in a few early games when both he and mikic were knocking down 3's from opposite sides of the floor, when mo was  not on we didn't have other 3pt options.  i think this year we'll have much better outside shooting with several more options.

Ziik, the team lacks a lock down defender? 


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