The most frequently asked questions I get these days are:
- How are you?
- How are the kids?
- How is the business?
- And…what’s is wrong with Richmond basketball?
Yep, those are the BIG 4.
Well, let’s take them one at a time (like most really care about the first three).
I am fine….the kids are fine and the business is better than ever. As for Richmond basketball, that’s a really good question.
We can approach this in several different ways, but I am going to look at it as a fan (by the numbers this time), not a broadcaster or a former coach (an a less than stellar one at that).
Let’s look at the numbers following the loss to East Central Tuesday night:
First, let’s be realistic. This isn’t a very talented team and it’s not the first time Richmond has suffered from a lack of talent. Everything seems to run in cycles (Remember 1997-98? RHS was 3-18. The 1998-99 season wasn’t much better at 5-17. In 2005-2006 RHS was 5-16. In 2008-2009 the Devils were 7-15.) So don’t kid yourself, RHS hasn’t been a state power every season like some would have you believe.
Second, this current team is limited in what they can do on offense. Outside Christian Harvey (24ppg) and Rickie Wedlow (12ppg) there isn’t much more you can count on consistently.
Third, this group doesn’t shoot well from the perimeter. Outside Harvey (53% overall), every other shooter is well below 45%. For example, Wedlow 33%, Koream Jett 42% and Phillip Hobbs 24%. Take away Harvey’s numbers and here is what you have….Overall shooting: 38%….Wedlow/Jett/Hobbs 34%.
Fourth, post play is almost a non-factor in most games. Offensive production by the top four post players: 4.2 ppg…..2.1 ppg….0.5 ppg….0.9 ppg……hardly threatening. The Red Devils are consistently out rebounded, especially by our opponents’ offense (East Central is an example). Richmond is led in rebounding by Harvey (6.3). The Red Devils average only 7.9 offensive rebounds per game. That means few second chance opportunities. Their best offensive rebounding game came at McCutcheon (22). In 10 of 14 games this season, Richmond has less than 10 offensive rebounds per game.
Fifth, Richmond doesn’t get to the free throw line enough. In 14 games this season, Richmond is going to the line just 10 times per game. Harvey leads the Red Devils at six free throw attempts per contest. After that, Koream Jett is less than one per game. Too many players aren’t attacking the rim.
Sixth, Richmond doesn’t take care of the ball the way they were early in the season. There was a time when the Red Devils were well under 10 turnovers per game. Now the turnover rate is at 15.5. Richmond went through a stretch in which they turned the ball over 25 times against Connersville, 23 vs. New Castle and 22 against McCutcheon.
So, what’s the solution?
It’s not going to be a quick fix, but I believe there are some things they can do to make sure they are competitive down the stretch.
In the short term, every player needs to put the time in to be better. How many are actually working on their game outside practice? When they come to practice do they show up early and work on shooting shots they would take during a game or are they shooting everything but? When they show up before the games are they working on their game or are they more concerned about shooting half-court shots and dunking? Too many times I see our post players shooting three-point shots or half-court shots and nothing around the basket. I rarely see one post player helping the others get better by working on low-post moves, footwork and shooting around the basket.
As for the guards, are they working on ball-handling on their own? Are they shooting and making 300-500 shots before and or after practice? Are they working on passing? You know, all that non-sexy stuff that makes basketball players better! Like the post players, I see too many trying to look cool by attempting to dunk before the games, going half-speed during drills and basically not working to get better.
Fans can blame the coaches or we can blame the loss of population in the community etc. But the true blame is on the players themselves. The ONLY way they are going to get better is putting in the time ON THEIR OWN.
I remember watching a very young Lisa Shepherd at the YMCA, all by herself, shooting, dribbling and working on her craft. I remember watching Dominic James upstairs at the Tiernan Center, all alone, working on his game (nobody else around). They knew in order to be a winner and get better, they had to put in the time on their own. Ask the great players how they got to the next level and they will tell you the same…put in the work!
Now the question for this team is…WILL THEY PUT IN THE EXTRA TIME? We shall see.