A few Reflections as a Result og Maya's Game Last Night (Warning it's long) | The Boneyard

A few Reflections as a Result og Maya's Game Last Night (Warning it's long)

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In the fourth quarter I finally saw from Minnesota what I expected to see much more often this season, Minnesota playing their five most talented players. Minnesota closed the game playing Whalen, Wiggins, Augustus, Moore, and Brunson and it worked pretty well.

It's not a lineup you want to start a game with, but it is a lineup Minnesota should have used far more often this season. The Indiana Fever with their star wings Catchings and Douglas regularly go to a similar lineup during games. That is unless Reeve is an evil genius saving her best stuff to the end of the season. The key feature is Maya sliding to the 4 where suddenly her entire offense role completely changed. She hadn't been the screener in a single high screen and roll all game, but she shifts to a post position and she's suddenly involved in that. Now that she's playing a post position Maya suddenly gets to grab low post position even though she was guarded by a significantly smaller player for the previous 30 minutes of the game.

This is more about how Maya's offensive role suddenly changed than it is about what position she is playing. Maya was the most devastating screener in the high screen and roll that WCBB has ever seen because when she faded for an open jump shot she was taking a 3-pointer not a 15-18 foot shot. The defense had to stretch to stop her from getting an open three and if they did Maya was also one of the best entry passers in WCBB history. She would make a pass into the exposed paint to a post player or cutter. Yet Minnesota practically never puts her in that situation. The same is true of posting up. Maya has had countless opportunities to post up up smaller defenders, but it almost never happens because she's running to the weakside corner to balance the floor for her teammates. And maybe Maya is just not recognizing these opportunities and being too dutiful as a teammate, and her coach would like Maya to break the offense to get scoring opportunities. But it would be that, breaking the offense which also drives me a little nuts. There's nothing that stops a basketball team from running a PG/SF screen and roll. Or a SG/SF screen and roll. Certainly the Celtics fans on the Boneyard have seen Paul Pierce and Ray Allen run it or Rondo and Pierce/Allen. I find it frustrating that the Lynx have gone nearly an entire season without employing Whalen/Moore or Augustus/Moore screen and rolls in any memorable way let alone significant way. Minnesota has the ability to do this with their starting lineup as Brunson and McWilliams-Franklin are both decent shooters.

I'm from the Chicago area and my basketball views were heavily shaped by Phil Jackson as he came in and made changes that resulted in Six NBA championships. And a big part of that shaping was the triangle offense. I'm not sure I would have become a UConn fan in 1995 if they weren't running the triangle at the time. Because it was my first hook into the game I was watching on TV, and because Geno's use of the triangle offense was representative of Phil and Geno's overlapping basketball philosophies. Geno admired the New York Knicks growing up and Phil Jackson actually played for those Knicks. That's just one common overlap that helped shape their basketball philosophies into something similar.

One of the principles of the triangle offense was that any player could replace any other player in the offense. There were nominally two posts and three guards, but the offense demanded interchange between the posts and the guards because they were supposed to react to the defense. Often the PF or occasionally even the C had to come out beyond the 3-point line to receive the wing entry pass with a perimeter player then assuming one of the post spots. Watch a Bulls game from the 90's and you would see everyone from the C to the PG play the high post, and often the low post as well at some point in the game. I was watching an old game recently and there was a play where there was a loose ball and once the Bulls recovered they got right into the offense based on where they were standing without any regard for what traditional position they played. The C and PF were outside the three point line in the base of a sideline triangle with the SG in the low post at the point of the triangle. The SF was on weakside wing and the PG was in what's called the pinch post or high post. Then they ran the offense as normal, and eventually recognized the opportunity they had with the PG in a post position and got him the ball where he quickly scored. That's the basketball I love, when there are five players on the floor with the versatility to do that and a offensive system that both allows and provides a structure to do that.

Geno moved on from the triangle offense itself unlike Phil, although Geno didn't have the creator of the offense sitting next to him on the bench like Phil did. But the offensive principles that Geno believed in and that attracted him to the triangle offense have never left (I think this is the way to frame it; Geno is a coach that had his center taking 3s on his first final four team and over a decade before it became fashionable). And one of those principles continues to be that all five players can occupy any position on the floor, and that it can happen naturally as a reaction to the defense. That demands recruiting versatility to the point of passing up really good players. There are numerous Hall of Fame players that couldn't excel in the triangle offense because they lacked that versatility. And for UConn that really effects recruiting at the ends of the spectrum, point guards and shooting guards. UConn passes all the time on great point guards that aren't comfortable playing without the ball. And they have to pass on centers that aren't skilled enough to be comfortable with the ball away from the basket. The principle of offense versatility is that important to Geno. And while there are other ways to be successful on offense, there are none I would prefer to watch.
 

Icebear

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Great observations and well said, Scotter.
 

UConnCat

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Interesting stuff, Scotter. I did notice the line-up you mentioned and wondered if Reeve was comfortable using it because San Antonio is a weak rebounding team, particularly from the center position. It was effective, and Maya was even able to score off an offensive rebound which is more difficult when she's parked in the corner.

I know it seems like picking at nits, but the failure to recognize and take advantage of mis-matches is one of the things that drives me crazy about the Lynx offense. There were a few times when Maya was guarded by Hammon and didn't get the ball despite calling for it. Running isolation plays for Seimone usually results in points because of her one-on-one ability, but taking advantage of mis-matches could make the difference in the playoffs when the defense is tougher.
 

RadyLady

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Wow - Scotter...While I was reading your post, I forgot all about Hurricaine What's-her-Name. Really really great and interesting stuff. Thanks!!
 
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I know it seems like picking at nits, but the failure to recognize and take advantage of mis-matches is one of the things that drives me crazy about the Lynx offense. There were a few times when Maya was guarded by Hammon and didn't get the ball despite calling for it. Running isolation plays for Seimone usually results in points because of her one-on-one ability, but taking advantage of mis-matches could make the difference in the playoffs when the defense is tougher.

Good point. And I do agree. Maya does tend to see a lot of mismatches on offense, But she rarely takes advantage of them. Now whether that's a coaching thing, or a Maya thing, I am not sure. But for the most part, when I see these mismatches on her, she remains in the corner trying to spread the floor for the rest of her teammates as Scotter said in the OP.

I have seen her at least try to post up a smaller defender on occasion, yet the ball rarely gets thrown into her. But there was a point in last night's game in which she was being guarded by Becky, she flashed in the post, got the ball, elevated over Becky for the jumper and canned it. That's really one of her best shots and I think the Lynx would be smart to utilize it.
 
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I've watched a lot of the Lynx games and don't get a sense Maya is getting many "high percentage" shots. She has really had to learn how to create her own shot, IMHO, because she is on a team with so many good shooters. As such, some of her shots are forced, often as time is running out. I also don't get a sense that she is a primary passing option for Whalen or Augustus, who often will take a shot rather than make a pass. This seems like an odd thing to say given all the assists Whalen has, but I find her often going to the basket rather than passing to an open Maya, but that could just be my Maya bias. You certainly can't argue with the overall results where they're respective stats are concerned. I think Maya has had to find her own way within the Lynx system and I also think her growth as a player is going to increase dramatically each year she is in the league. It's still fun watching the things she does that don't show up on the stat sheet at the end of each game, although I wish her shots would fall more often. I do believe they will eventually fall more consistently.
 
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this all maybe right on the money. but i seem to recall whalen on the bench at the end of the game. i actually only watched the last 4 minutes and dont recall seeing whalen play at all during that time. of course the game was lopsided by then, and the lynx were doing thier best uconn imitation by giving away 10-12 points in those last few minutes. i do recall and thinking seeing wiggins augustus moore on the court together looked real good. but i dont recall brunson or whalen in.
 
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I've watched a lot of the Lynx games and don't get a sense Maya is getting many "high percentage" shots. She has really had to learn how to create her own shot, IMHO, because she is on a team with so many good shooters. As such, some of her shots are forced, often as time is running out. I also don't get a sense that she is a primary passing option for Whalen or Augustus, who often will take a shot rather than make a pass. This seems like an odd thing to say given all the assists Whalen has, but I find her often going to the basket rather than passing to an open Maya, but that could just be my Maya bias. You certainly can't argue with the overall results where they're respective stats are concerned. I think Maya has had to find her own way within the Lynx system and I also think her growth as a player is going to increase dramatically each year she is in the league. It's still fun watching the things she does that don't show up on the stat sheet at the end of each game, although I wish her shots would fall more often. I do believe they will eventually fall more consistently.
 
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I've watched a lot of Lynx games ane find Whelan to be a shoot first PG. Maya has been a 4th choice in the offense and it is remarkable how productive she has been in view of that situation.
 
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whelan was that way in college because her team didnt have anyone else. she was also that way i believe with the sun. allthough i am not so sure monte isnt the same way as well.
 
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whelan was that way in college because her team didnt have anyone else. she was also that way i believe with the sun. allthough i am not so sure monte isnt the same way as well.
You are absolutely correct about Renee being a shoot first point guard; with which I have no problem until such a point guard misses passes, and/or takes her team out of a game with a poor shooting performance that is not compensated with an adequate floor game.

Great observations Scotter. Still, we, on the outside, have very little room for criticism given Minnesota's success. Minnesota was, obviously now, a very good team missing a key working part last year. It is still Seimone's team into which Maya has blended in nicely. You, I, and everyone else would love to see Maya explode offensively every night. For now, though, we will have to settle for her merely having a positive impact.
 
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and its a class impact at that! i think blended in as was said, is key here. maya is in pro physical shape, hustles back on d, and has an impact on just about every play she is in the game for. you notice when she is out of the game. the team is not quite the same. she will have a long career on winning teams.
 

HuskyNan

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whelan was that way in college because her team didnt have anyone else.
Janel McCarville would be surprised to hear that.
 
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with all respect, nan, mcCarville was a bit overated dont u think? where is she today? but what i was getting at is there wasnt a lot of depth on that team when it came to shooting options from the floor. or outside the paint if you will.
 

HuskyNan

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with all respect, nan, mcCarville was a bit overated dont u think? where is she today? but what i was getting at is there wasnt a lot of depth on that team when it came to shooting options from the floor. or outside the paint if you will.
Overrated? Well, no. From Wikipedia:

McCarville started all four years during her time with the Golden Gophers, playing alongside her teammate Lindsay Whalen, and turned the program around from being the worst in the Big Ten Conference into a Final Four team in 2004.

McCarville is in the all-time top five of every major statistical category for the Golden Gophers' women's team, including points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. McCarville holds the NCAA record for most rebounds in the tournament, with 75 rebounds in five games. She also holds the NCAA record for tournament rebound average, with 15 per game.

When UConn played Minny in the Final Four in 2004, McCarville had 18 points, 7 reb, 3 assists and 4 steals. She made me crazy that game.

She's not playing in the WNBA for voluntary reasons - she didn't bother to show for training camp. But she was a very good pro for the Liberty.

Whelan and McCarville were the two stars of that Minny team, no doubt about it, but that was a very good team.
 
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Minnesota gave UConn fits in that game. Had Whelan been just a tad sharper offensively, UConn's quest for history would have been derailed.
 
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or, if minnie had anyone else on the team besides her to shoot. it really has nothing to do with mccarver, as she was in the paint.
you could also say some of the uconn players could have been just a tad worse offensively. or a tad worse defensively.
but my original point was whelen , imho, is a bit of a gunner. and i still beleive minnie didnt have another threat like her, so she naturally took a lot shots.
nan has a higher opinion of mccarver than i do, and i accept that and being the case , i should have been more explicit in my original statement.
no doubt of mccarvers contributions to the GGophers. and personally, i used to think she was better than i do now, basicly from watching the few ncaa games back then.
i dont think her pro career was all that great. i dont recall the liberty being very good at the time she played with them. and of course her reasons for not playing are not my bizz. but i doubt she was going to make much of a splash when the league reduced the number of teams.
 
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but more to the point of this thread. the Lynx are great! they have a really top notch combo of younger players and solid veteran stars. its amazing that both augustus and wiggins have stayed healthy, that maya fit right in , and whelan has "come home" so to speak.
good luck to them the rest of the way. i really think this is the team to beat this year, and for a few years to come.
 

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Nan - why did McCarville "not show up for training camp"? anyone know? do you have any speculation you can share (obviously not if it's harmful to the player". she seemed to start slowly in the W but was coming on strong the past few years IIRC...
 
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my guess, and its only a guess, is the role she saw she might have in the wnba was not enuff to over come some other personal priorities. i cant help but speculate that if she was to become as big a star as her co-gopher ms whalen, she might have stuck around a lot longer.
 

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Nan - why did McCarville "not show up for training camp"? anyone know? do you have any speculation you can share (obviously not if it's harmful to the player". she seemed to start slowly in the W but was coming on strong the past few years IIRC...
She was playing in Europe. Here's a news link to some more info including a e-mail she wrote to the reporter.
 

HuskyNan

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my guess, and its only a guess, is the role she saw she might have in the wnba was not enuff to over come some other personal priorities. i cant help but speculate that if she was to become as big a star as her co-gopher ms whalen, she might have stuck around a lot longer.
No, she was suspended for not reporting to camp. She came back from Europe later than expected due to playoffs there.
 

EricLA

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No, she was suspended for not reporting to camp. She came back from Europe later than expected due to playoffs there.
that seems kinda bogus. ur playing for another team in another country that has a slight overlap with the WNBA and you get suspended for playing for your team who's in the playoffs? i don't blame janelle for being miffed if that was the case.
 
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but why doesnt it happen to more players? they dont do that to the true stars. players have playoffs overseas all the time. some leave, or are late because of national team commitments, some have babys even. so yeah, its bogus allright. they dont suspend LJ or
Parker. but i will defer to nan on the issue. it was never my intent to turn a thread on maya into a topic on JM.
 
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