Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Best Defender in the Country is... Ronnie Moss?

Of course he is... assuming you abide by the logic that by holding the top ranked scorer in the country to his lowest point total of the year when playing full minutes, he's the best by default. I don't think that's what Luke Winn of SI.com was going for here, but it's pretty telling that he devoted the entirety of his BYU allotted space in his weekly power rankings to praise Tuffy's efforts against Jimmer Fredette, aka the Ragin' Pagan... or at least that's what I call him. For those of you who do not want to sift through the basketball-ese that Winn espouses from every pore in his body, I'll sum it up:

TCU basically said, "Here, Tuffy, you guard the best white guy on the floor, and we'll hopefully take care of the rest of them" by implementing the box and 1 defense, otherwise known as "Defending a one man team." In other words, it's Moss' job to keep Fredette from destroying us on offense, especially from the outside, and if he gets past him and drives inside, there are 4 guys who are going to immediately collapse on him like a bunch of grandfathers on the 4 year old granddaughter at a Mormon family reunion. It's kind of a high school defense since so many high school programs feature one outstanding player and some scrubs, but in this case it was entirely necessary. It opens the door for the other four guys on the floor to go all bombs away on you, and makes you terrifyingly susceptible to skip passes, but as long as you don't get owned by Fredette you'll take your chances. Because being owned by a grown ass man named Jimmer certainly casts doubt on your own orientation by proxy.

And, shockingly enough, it worked. Sort of. Yes, the Cougars got the win and yes Fredette still scored 21, but it was his lowest point total of the season when playing over 30 minutes. And, if you dig deeper into the numbers, Fredette was 1-8 in the first half when being guarded by Moss, and the one FG he gave up was that absolutely silly 30 footer that Jimmer has been known to pull out from time to time. And in the second? Two FG's, only one of which came on Moss, and 7 free throws. The seven free throws are the clear drawback to the box and 1 when being implemented against a solid free throw shooter because our slow footed defenders are going to foul him every single time he cuts inside, but the clear point Winn was trying to make is that Moss did as good of a job guarding Fredette as anyone likely will all year.

And while I know that in the wake of that loss and Saturday's to Utah this sort of praise rings hollow, in a season that's looking as gloomy as this one, you have to grasp for all the straws you can. If only we had a few more guys who played defense like Tuffy - and, whoo boy we do not. I watched Saturday's game. Our defense makes every offense look like the Phoenix Suns of yesteryear - we might not be talking about another year of sitting at home in the post season.

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