By DAVID BROX, firstname.lastname@example.org
As Vernon Birmingham pointed out last night, Bonner Springs is my home away from home.
Considering that two members of the original TeamSHUKC played there made me a fan of the school. Seeing the team struggle this bad is disheartening and I want to offer some analysis on what I have seen.
It should be noted there isn't a lot of positive things to say, so while I respect the players and coaches, this isn't fixed without having tough conversations. I hope this is taken as it is intended.
1. Bonner will need to realize that they have two teams.
One is when Tyler Howell is on the court and the other is when he is not.
Playing aggressive defense with Howell on the court has not been good. This is no more evident than when teams utilize the pick and roll with the man that Howell is guarding. It turns into a pick your poison situation. If you switch, then you have a small guard trying to hold a big in the post. If you switch, you have the 6'9" Howell holding a guard. Chase Younger exploited this matchup over and over in the Basehor game and we saw it again last night with Harper and Long.
When Howell is on the floor I would play exclusive 2-3 or 3-2 zone. I want this young man to be a presence at the rim to alter shots and rebound. You have the guards quick enough to move along the three-point line in Brandon Moore, Jason Van Maren and Austen Twombley.
2. Hack a Howell was in full effect.
Howell was a huge presence in the post but it became very clear that Piper head coach Steve Wallace was deep enough and content to foul him at the rim. Going into the game, he leads the team with 19 free throw attempts while only making seven.
I pay a ton of attention to players at the free-throw line. I nit picked Vernon Vaughn from the 8th grade about his habits at the free throw line and the results turned out pretty good. The staff at Bonner does a great job with film and I would be more than happy to break him down at the line and offer some things to work on.
He went to the line I would guess 12 to 14 times last night. If this can be figured out, he could easily average 15 to 20 points a game.
3. Point guard play simply must improve.
During the game last night, we discussed the importance of point guard play. I compare this position on the basketball court to that of the quarterback in football. It is difficult to win basketball games with a negative assist to turnover ratio. The issues however go a bit deeper for the Braves.
It is essential that a player on each possession - whether it is one person or four - to dribble the ball up the court and start the offense. I mentioned several times in Paola and last night that Bonner is starting their offense too far out on the court. Piper's pressure defense had a lot to do with that, but if things are going to improve, this has to be solved.
So the answer in my opinion is in what I just said. Brandon Moore has been the primary ball handler, but this young man needs to have some pressure relieved. It is clear in his body language that he is frustrated. He is giving 100 percent effort but again pressing, which is not yielding the results the team needs. Get him off the ball and rotate the PG duties or go strictly by the matchups the game present.
If Twombley has the best match to get the ball up the court and start the offense then so be it.
4. Bombs away!
It would be simple to say lets get Jordan Jackson and Twombley more good looks from three but, until we can simply start the offense that won't be possible. It may come down to working the offense specifically through these two in regards to getting the offense started. It is not ideal, but there are plenty of sets you can run with them at the point.
Jackson is playing big this season and it isn't yielding him a ton of quality looks from the three-point line. The young man had a 7 3-pointer game last season so we have to figure out how to get him free. Jackson made his first three of the season last night according to MaxPreps numbers. Going into the game last night he had only taken four shots from the three-point line. He should be taking four a game!
Twombley is a stat stuffer averaging 12 points, 4 assists, just under 4 rebounds and 2.6 steals. My initial reaction was that he needs to try and do more. Volume scoring however is not the answer. Of all the things that I would like to see change, Twombley isn't one of them at this time. His biggest benefit would be seeing the initial three things addressed.
If they can get into a flow in their offense, Jackson is able to stretch the court and Howell becomes a legit presence in the paint, then Twombley will natually see his numbers improve.
I write this article as a wanna be journalist, broadcaster and fan for the Bonner Braves. My desire to see all of the teams in our area improve and have some success. I hope the players from Bonner work hard heading into Thursday and over the holiday break.
Photos provided by Kelly Oaks