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How Much Can Tracy Smith’s Return Fix This Team?

December 20, 2010

Tracy Smith may not cure all that ails this team when he returns.

The big question bouncing around in my head at the moment is this: “How much can Tracy Smith’s return fix this team?”

The Sidney Lowe apologist in me keeps screaming that things would’ve turned out differently in our four losses were Smith not injured. Were Smith on the court, Mr. Apologist contends, State would’ve had the steadying influence of a senior big man who could keep the troops focused and provide reliable scoring when the offense stagnates. “Just dump it to Tracy,” Apologist says, “and he’s worth a bucket when you need it most.”

I think there’s truth in that argument.

However, can I fully believe that having Tracy on the court would salve all our offensive woes? No.

For one thing, Tracy is a “lead by example” kind of guy, and I feel like what this team needs more is a “I’m’a get in your face and make you understand that if you follow me I can take you to the basketball promised land” kind of guy.

The youth of this squad seems to be negating the surge in talent on the roster. No one can deny that CJ Leslie, Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow are the three most talented players to come through State’s doors in the last five, maybe 10 or more years. But their youth an inexperience with dealing with adversity is killing this team’s offensive flow.

If a strong, vocal leader were there on the court to keep them focused, remind them of their roles and keep them from sagging their heads when things don’t go well, I could see this group of talented freshmen performing at a much higher, more consistent level.

But Tracy Smith’s just not that guy. His leadership is the kind where a youngster can see how hard work in the training room, film room and practice gym can bear fruit on the court during the game. And while that’s critically important for a young team, as well, it’s of little use when the bullets are flying and a team’s getting punched in the mouth. It also doesn’t help when it’s stuck on the bench with an injury.

And since Tracy isn’t that loud, vocal leader on or off the court, his leadership ability during timeouts and from the bench during the game is negligible. I’m reminded of watching Kevin Garnett scream, implore, berate and enthuse his Celtics teammates last season when he was injured. He understood he could be a factor in a team’s mentality even while in street clothes.

State does not have that type of vocal leader now. The closest we’ve seen at State in recent memory would be Julius Hodge, and unless Hodge joins the coaching staff posthaste, we won’t have one this season.

I’m not asking Tracy Smith to become something he’s not. Players respect players who are who they are; they can see through a B.S. persona just as easily as anyone else. I just have to wonder if getting Tracy back on the court will miraculously fill that leadership void that some, like myself at times, have assumed he would.[

One Comment leave one →
  1. Core permalink
    December 21, 2010 12:08 am

    Tracy coming back will definitely help out on the offensive end of the court. He is our best back to the basket threat in the low post that will draw double teams. That will allow weakside rebounds and stick backs for Leslie, Painter, and Howell. Smith also forces the defense to concentrate on him freeing up space for Wood, Brown, Williams, and Harrow to either shoot or penetrate. His presence also limits the minutes big Vandy will get in meaningful action which from watching last night is a good thing due to his lack of foot speed, defense, and offensive abilities.

    The one thing Smith doesn’t improve is overall team defense, which is one of the most lacking areas in our team right now. Both Howell and Smith are not high rising prolific shot blockers that can control the lane and help on penetration defense. One of the most glaring problems I see is a lack of rotational defense once the primary defender has been beaten. This leads to silly reach ins, uncontested layups and dunks, and being out of position to rebound.

    Let’s push the ball with Harrow and Brown, Wood, Leslie, Painter/Smith, and Howell. Take our lumps with the freshmen and hope the light bulb comes on and they begin to feel their way into the conference season. Bring Javy, CJW, and Vandy in just for a quick breather for the starters and then reload again. No whistling from the bench, no griping at foul calls or no calls, hustle, and HAVE FUN!

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