There are defeats, and then there are defeats. A week after a dubious ref call bailed them out at home versus Bamberg, Real Madrid came up with a mindblowingly low-level performance in Charleroi. And I don’t want to disrespect the hosts’ performance that night, they were great. It’s just that you expect different from a Messina-coached Real. First, we have to say that 37-year-old Andre Riddick had a feast inside in the first half – blocking shots, dunking it hard – and that always has a psychological impact. It is still no justification for hoisting 30 midrange jumpshots, most of them contested. Catastrophic decision-making by the players or symptoms of (team-)offensive incompetence? Probably a mixture of both. Poor floor spacing that inside-minded power forwards Felipe Reyes and D’Or Fischer create is one of the main problems, in my admittably rather amateurish opinion, but shot-selection of individual players was definitely ill-advised as well. But then, maybe that’s a result of a lack of trust in the system. A death spiral. Now, voices are coming up, saying that Messina’s basketball had always been “defensive minded”.
That’s not true. His basketball has always been slow-paced, not defensive minded. For example, the first season I really gathered advanced stats for the Euroleague (08/09), CSKA was only 11th in the league in points per game, but they were 2nd (behind former TAU Ceramica) in points per possession (before F4). A prime example of why pace-adjustment is a necessary measure in basketball statistics. But we’re sliding off-topic: Tomorrow at 12:30CET, Real is facing Valladolid in Caja Magica. You never know.
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