Another week in TURKISH AIRLINES Euroleague is over and we’re halfway through the regular season. Bo McCalebb drives past, through, over the Barca defense, Dusan Kecman powers yet another Partizan miracle, thus contributes to a dark week for the Spanish, Saras makes his highly anticipated debut for Rytas, Real Madrid goes down in unprecedented fashion in Charleroi, whereas Fenerbahce loses its first of the season, in Cholet.
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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