The team is 24th in the league in fast-break points so far, according to Coach Jim O’Brien — and that’s not going to cut it. Moreover, it’s not strategy that has a team that has for the past three years played at a rate of 97.1 possessions per game (2009-10), 96.5 possessions (’08-09) and 97.7 possession (’07-08) only getting 94.1 possessions a night this season.
The problem is that the Pacers players are not executing, says the coach.
“We have one big (man) that’s running to the front of the rim, and that’s Solomon Jones. Roy Hibbert, Josh McRoberts (and) Tyler Hansbrough are not committed to running to the front of the rim and, as a result, we are not in position to get the type of points we want to get early in the shot clock.”
Starting point guard Darren Collison, O’Brien said, is pushing the ball correctly but needs to keep the ball in the middle of the court. Last year, Collison played for New Orleans, which runs a sideline fast break, something the Pacers don’t.
“We are not getting guys who are persistent and mentally tough to run and run consistently,” O’Brien said. “If you can’t get the basketball in the lane, reverse the ball and move constantly.
“Mike Dunleavy and Brandon Rush do it consistently. If everybody moved like them and ran like them, we’d be fine.”
I personally expected Darren Collison to make a little more of a splash early on this season. His quickness in the open court and ability to get by his defender, particularly when aided by an offense that keeps shooters on the wings, were skills I expected to quickly translate into production. It has been difficult to pinpoint exactly why that hasn’t always been the case. Thus, I have figured that it has mostly been the expected learning curve issues with him trying to get comfortable in the offense and balance his floor general responsibilities with his freelancing abilities. (Don’t get me wrong — DC has been more than adequate so far. He just hasn’t had the same impact on the offense that I expected immediately. His defense on the other hand, especially in the pick-and-roll, has been rather bad. We’ll discuss this later.)
In that sense, it is at least helpful to hear the coach note one technical aspect in which he thinks his point guard is faltering. The best part is that this seems like a very fixable issue. Darren’s learned habits tell him to push the ball up the sideline since that’s how he was taught last year. Now he is supposed to go middle. Pretty easy solution to that problem. (I will note, however, that I have actually been quite fond of how Darren receives outlet passes. Josh McRoberts in particular has gotten the ball from the rebound to the attack very adeptly and I think a large part of that has been Darren’s ability to make himself clearly open for a pass while already moving up the court. Most of the times that I’ve noted this as a positive, DC has caught the ball near the back court hashmark. Maybe he can keep doing this and then dart middle? Or maybe he shouldn’t be doing this at all and my affinity for it is something that O’Brien does not share? I dunno. I’ll watch some tape and get back to you.)
As for the other guys?
Well, they’ve been here for at least a year. We can give Tyler a slight pass for botching the running lanes perhaps since he’s still so inexperienced due to his vertigo, but not on the effort to simply run. His relentless effort is supposed to be considered a skill. I’m basing this on Jimmy’s quote, not necessarily my own experience watching him run, but if the coach is going to call you out in the paper for not running when you’re paid to be a runner, that certainly doesn’t bode well for his assessment of what you’re bringing to the transition game.
Same goes for Josh.
Lastly, nice little feathers for Solomon and Brandon’s caps. (Also, kinda weird that there’s no mention of Danny here. Weirder still that he references all six players he mentions in that passage by both their first and last names.)