DOES DLSU NEED AN OVERHAUL?
In the last three games of DLSU we have seen them in a sort of nasty tailspin. Just when they got hot on a four game winning streak and capping it off with a heroic come from behind win vs UST in double overtime, they hit a hump. It must have been a nasty hump and seems to have them head backwards again. Yes arguably two of those losses were to arch rivals Ateneo who many would concede as clearly the stronger and more experienced team vs the Archers. But you have to look closer at the losses, not just the points, but also the effectivity of what they try to do.
As of August 20 DLSU was still the worst over all field goal shooting team in the league at 33.2%, and their 3 point FG shooting is at 3rd to the last at 24.9%. This is clearly attributed to the poor (maybe an understatement) shooting of their veterans like Mangahas, Malabes, Atkins, Villanueva, Ferdinand, and Co. Even the 2nd year player Bagatsing is part of this poor shooting parade.
DLSU has to be thankful to rookies and 2nd year players Webb, Bringas, Tolentino, Mendoza, and Andrada for keeping their heads above water. Given the limited time they get compared to the veterans, they have been relatively and respectfully effective for what is expected of them on the floor. Add to that given their limited time for Tolentino, Mendoza, and Andrada.
There are some highlites on the stat-line of DLSU. Yes they are still one of the best at forcing turnovers 22.8 per game for 2nd best. Then there’s the bench scoring where they are number one with 42 points per game, but you can thank the poor scoring from the veteran starters for that too. And of course they are the best in steals at 7.8 per game.
But if you look deeper and try to figure out why they are shooting and executing so poorly, you can come up with this arguement: Does Franz Pumaren’s very succesful systme still fit with his team today?
Yes you cannot argue with success. They are still last year’s runner-up. As they say, if ain’t broke don’t fix it. But hey, it looks broke to a lot of people right now.
The system of having a very strict operation on offense where almost every single play is called from the bench. You see numerous screens for shooters cutting from all places to free them up for outside shots and you also see post ups for the bigman. That daunted fullcourt press still gets steals and turnover points against the weaker teams like NU, UP, and even Adamsom. But it has not looked so daunted lately vs UST, UE, Ateneo, and FEU.
One can argue yes, they got that 4 game winning streak so they say it still works. But only 2 of those games were good wins, vs UP and NU. They struggled vs Adamson and barely won by a point 64-63. And we all know that double OT magical win vs UST that looked like they were beat after 3 quarters if not for a breakout performance from Arvie Bringas and once in a blue moon heroic shots from PJ Barua.
Heck I even heard a dentist say this last week, he is an old timer alum of DLSU. He said, “why is La Salle still running plays from 9 years ago? those were plays for Yeo, Casio, and Ren-ren. We have nobody anywhere near their caliber now.”
Agree or disagree? He has a point. Why would you do that to Malabes or PJ Barua who are in shooting slumps out of horror movies as they shot 13 out of 70 from threes in the first round? Its only rookie Sam Marata who is shooting well from 3 at 11 for 24 or 46%, but strangely he only averages 10 mins per game.
So here is an extreme that some people are playing with in their minds right now: Can you imagine DLSU running a free flowing “run & gun” system like UE or UST?
Do you think it will work? I think it has it’s merits simple because their current material aches for it. You have a talented rookie point guard in Tolentino who can blow by anybody in the open court. You have Joshua Webb who can run circles around anybody. You have Arvie Bringas who is undersized for a bigman (it makes me wonder how he lists himself as 6’5 but he’s clearly 2 inches smaller than Al Hussaini) but is quiker than most of them. You have a gutsy 6’2 off guard who has been your best 3 pt shooter this year in Sam Marata.
And this brings me to most old timer alums favorite arguement of benching those who deserve to be benched and give playing time to those who are waiting and willing for their time to shine. Malabes, Bagatsing, Barua, Co, and Ferdinand are just not themselves this year. As i’ve said before, its like the Space Jam aliens came in and sucked their joojoo out. They are all good and talented and i have seen them shine before, its just too cloudy so far for them in Season 72.
So who can they go to? Why not give more time for Tolentino (who only gets 8 mins pg), Marata (10 mins pg), Andrada (11 min pg) Mendoza (9 min pg), and Banal (6 min pg)
Let me tell you what i know about Banal while i’m appealing for these youngsters playing time. He was the sidekick of Jeric Teng in Xavier High where they totally dominated the Chinese league. They were an awesom one-two punch that did the damage from inside and outside. Yes both of them can play in and out. And their talent level is not that far apart. I give great credit to their HS Coach Lito Vergara (former UP coach) who helped mold them to what they are today. We all can see how awesome Teng can play and what he did to DLSU too. Banal is not as quick but he is smoother and smarter on the court. Heck, how could you not grow up with basketball smarts if your father is Joel Banal, ironically the man who denied Franz a 5th straight title in 2002.
So with a system that still seems tailor made for the Yeos, Cardonas, Casios, Allados, Gacos, and Mairhoffers, does DLSU need to stick with it or is it time for an emergency overhaul?
The major stumbling block of course would be time. I understand who difficult it is to teach a system, more so to do it mid-stream in a season that you have prepared so hard for for the past 6 or so months.
But with all due respect to the very succesful program of Cocah Franz of whom i still consider one of the best to ever coach in the UAAP, i will categoricaly say, sometimes change is a good thing. Now its up to them how much they are willing to change and when. It will take guts, and a lot of it. Specially if you opt to make that tough decision of benching some key yet underperfoming starters in liu of the younger yet likewise talented.
Would they go all out and make major changes? Give the PT to the younger and hungrier players? Or in instead of going to the extreme,could they meet halfway and adjust some time for some players and at the same time let them “loose” a bit and attack quicker to get easier shots?
Its still not too late for DLSU, they are still at 4 and 4, but with ADU and UST gaining steam and rythm, something DLSU has lost in the last 3 games, time is not on their side.
Lets see if they pull the trigger and make minor or major changes in their game vs UP this Saturday.
Good luck and all the best to DLSU!