Appearing on his weekly radio show Monday night, Denver head coach Joe Scott took responsibility for veering off track in his team’s preparation for the BTI Invitational in Eugene, which saw the Pioneers’ promising season get off to a disastrous 0-3 start with losses to UC-Santa Barbara, Oregon and North Dakota State on consecutive nights.
“Our preparation for these three games wasn’t what it needed to be, and I take the blame for that,” said Scott, speaking on Mile High Sports Radio’s Joe Scott Radio Show. “I don’t think that I did a good job preparing our guys for three games in three days.”
Scott, back in Colorado with his team after a flight that left at 6:00 AM this morning, explained that he spent too much time in the practices immediately preceding the Oregon trip specifically preparing the team for the defensive schemes of UCSB — the first of the Pioneers’ three opponents in Eugene — rather than continuing to focus on execution of “the staples” of Denver’s own play.
Scott defined those “staples” as “the way that we ran our offense, the precision offense, the discipline within our offense — five guys moving really hard, moving together, moving that basketball, doing it the exact way and in the exact manner that we work on every day in practice. It just wasn’t there. And again, that’s where I said to [the players], I take some of the blame, because we took the focus off of that heading into the first game against Santa Barbara as we worked on all these other things.”
Scott said the focus on UCSB’s pressure defense had some positive effects: “We did handle the press that best that we’ve ever done here,” both against the Gauchos and against Oregon — and the Pioneers had a chance to beat the Ducks as a result. “But that came at the expense of our execution in the half-court, our execution on the offensive end.”
Asked by radio host Mitch Hyder about the team’s poor shooting, Scott said the issue was not fatigue, but rather the failure to precisely execute his Princeton-style offensive scheme: “The reason we didn’t shoot the ball well is…because we were not running our stuff the exact way it needs to be run, which then produces a shot in a certain manner.”
“Our defense was good enough this weekend,” Scott said. “It wasn’t good, [but] it was good enough.” However, “we were not a good basketball team offensively at all this weekend, any of those three games.”
(Denver’s points allowed per possession in the three games were 0.744, 1.070 and 1.112, respectively. The three-game tally, 1.054, is only slightly worse than DU’s average of 1.025 last year. But their offensive efficiency of 0.865 — based on individual game numbers of 0.764, 0.903 and 0.936 — is drastically worse than last year’s 1.071 average. All stats via the marvelous Basketball State.)
“We didn’t go out there and play Denver basketball this weekend,” Scott said. “We go back to the drawing board tomorrow.”
“We gotta get back to getting good at what we do,” he added. “Our guys know what those things are. And we are going to hammer them home Every. Single. Day. Our practices are going to be very spirited in that regard to get us ready for Thursday [against Colorado State].”
“This is what we’re going to do for the next month. We’re going work every day on those things that we know offensively and defensively, and make them real simple and basic, and get really good at them every day. And as we’re doing that, we’re [also] preparing for the next game and developing a game plan for whatever the next game is.” But that game-planning won’t be allowed to overshadow the overall efforts to improve on the basics, as it did heading into the BTI tournament, Scott said. “Tomorrow and the next day, it’s long-term, this is what we gotta do all the time to develop these habits, and [also], how are we going to beat Colorado State on Thursday? And we’re going to keep doing that for the next month, and it’s going to be the same plan every day, because we’ve gotta develop some habits. Our guys must develop some habits.”