I feel like I’m taking better shots, but I’m getting easier shots by attacking the basket more, said Vivians, who definitely did that against Tennessee. And my teammates are finding me on the outside when I’m open. Me being more precise where I shoot and how I shoot — not rushing things — has made my percentage go up.
Tennessee beat the Bulldogs in Starkville, Mississippi, in the regular-season finale last year, which kept Mississippi State from sharing the SEC title with South Carolina. But that loss is something that has kept motivating the Bulldogs — through last year’s postseason and so far through this season.
It was about toughness, competing and rebounding today, Schaefer said. I just loved my kids today — all the hustle plays, I really felt like we got. We set the tone early with [several] offensive rebounds on one possession. Everybody has seen that happen for the team wearing orange for many, many years. For us to come in and establish that early, I was really proud of our kids.
The most obvious second fix also comes out here: Put them out there without Rubio. He is an apparent weak link as both a shooter and as the ball handler on the pick-and-roll/pop game, and this is squeezing the effectiveness out of their two big men. I have no inside information about whether the Jazz have Rubio on the trade block, but his minutes have gone down this season (29.1 MPG) compared to last (32.9 MPG in Minnesota), so perhaps the Jazz are noticing that he just doesn’t work as well with their personnel.
All told, the Jazz bigs don’t have nearly the fantasy outlook for this season as might have been anticipated in the offseason. But if the Jazz make some adjustments as a team, working to their strengths and avoiding their weaknesses, there is still at least a bit of upside for things to get better.
As such, it is in the Jazz’s best interest to put the personnel out there and play the scheme that best allows for both to be maximally effective.