Swift decapitation seems like the best option if one must be executed. But in basketball, the bleed out still takes 40 minutes.
Kudos to Baylor assistant Alvin Brooks for recognizing that Illinois can be neutralized simply by shutting down its top three scoring options simultaneously. His scouting report proved deadly.
Rattling Adam Miller into an 0-for-4 get-go — and two turnovers in the first 69 seconds — allowed the Bears to effectively triple-team Ayo when he dared to penetrate. Jonathan Chumbawamba wasn’t planning to let Kofi catch a pass, and the rest of Baylor’s defense somehow encouraged Trent Frazier to kick or hoist the ball toward an abandoned baseline whenever an open opportunity seemed ready to brew.
Brooks coached with Bruce Weber and Chester Frazier at Kansas State before recognizing, as did Chet, that the turd was about to sink. His move to Waco kept him in Brad Underwood’s home conference. Let’s go out on a limb and speculate that he’s scouted Brad before.
Combobulating this team in time for Duke, following two deflating performances, would move Underwood to the top of COY lists. And if your aunt had a penis, she’d be your uncle.
Given modern technology, neither of these outcomes is beyond our ken. But reassignment surgery might be easier than teaching freshmen to execute like seniors. Miller might not see such a smothering defense for the rest of the season, but Ayo is likely to get every opponent’s best 1-2 punch. Finding the open man is Rule One in besting a double-team, and Ayo threaded that needle last season in memorable situations. Alan Griffin was good at being found.
Ayo hasn’t developed the same rhythm with Adam, and Da’Monte —despite his alarming improvement from the arc — is still locked in Little Things mode when you might prefer him floating to the wing.
Andre Curbelo played the Warren Carter role on Wednesday. “Instant Offense!” cried the fans. “For the other team!” retorted Weber.
‘Belo handled the ball well (4/1 ATO). He made his shots. And he finished with a team worst -17 scoring differential. The metric invites scrutiny and skepticism. Who else did Andre play with during those sixteen minutes? Nevertheless, there it is, glaring from the box score.
‘Belo’s success, and Giorgi’s, were perhaps a side-effect of the Bears focus on Ayo and Kofi. Even if Brooks’s scouting report emphasized their tendencies, it’s hard for players to remember all the fine points. And really, it didn’t matter. Baylor cruised to this win.
Big Ten teams will already know Giorgi, and they’ll learn about Andre. Some won’t have the advantage of Baylor’s quick guards and energetic bigs. But they’ll all have one more game’s worth of video to study.
As Davion Mitchell said of Ayo: “We listened to the scout. We didn’t let him get to that right hand.” It’s not really that simple. But he added “it wasn’t just me, it was our other guards … we all locked up.”
And that’s the barrel this year’s team is looking down.
On the bright side, Ayo now has an opportunity to show fans and NBA scouts that he can turn a double-team into double-digit assists.