Monday, September 5, 2011

Hedo's Progress After EuroBasket 2011's First Group Stage

I checked out Turkey Dance's first 3 games of EuroBasket 2011. Now that Turkey has moved onto the second round of the competition (they've played 5 games total), we can see if he's improved on a somewhat rocky start. 

Turkey was 2-1, and then they go off and lose to a very short-handed Poland at the buzzer. Again Hedo doesn't get the ball in crunch time. Kerem Tunceri will not win you games in the end. Turkoglu is the main face of the team, he's still that country's best player, and he's proven time and time again why he's Mr. 4th Quarter.

The 'scandal' involving the refs at the end of the 3rd quarter put Poland right back into the game. Either way, Turkey was a clear favorite and should have won. Mental mistakes are costly in international ball.

Look at the boxscore, and you see Hedo had a very solid game. 13 points and 3 assists off 5-of-8 shooting and no 3-point attempts. Again, Turkoglu got very few touches. After all, he was on the court for 29 minutes. It was Enes Kanter's best game yet they didn't force feed him the ball in the post when it mattered. I'm really questioning the competence of Head Coach Orhun Ene and his staff. 
Lucky for them, Great Britain beat Poland early on Monday. Which meant Turkey's 'must win' matchup versus Spain didn't matter as Turkey took the 3rd and final qualifying spot with Spain and Lithuania placing above them. Luol Deng definitely deserves a gift basket. 

Still, Turkey had to prove that they earned their spot into Group E. 3-2 is a lot more respectable than 2-3, even in such a challenging group. Plus, the Spaniards were deemed unbeatable (though Pau Gasol would rest his ankle in this contest). Oh yeah, and having that extra point going into Group E is sort of a crucial matter as well when trying to claw your way into the knockout stage.

Well the game was played and Turkey pulled off the upset over Spain. Hedo was more than active towards the end. Hey look, the Turkish coaches for the first time this entire tournament trusted Hedo with the ball in crunch time, and he came through. Shocking I know. *Shakes head* Turk put up 12 points, 3 boards, 3 assists, and a block in 30 minutes.

65-57 isn't exactly a barnburner, which demonstrates that Turkey is starting to play defense again. Defense was a big reason why they earned silver last year in the FIBA World Championships. That and of course the help of the home support.

Hedo's numbers are a bit better, but he's still beyond pitiful from 3-point range. He's now up to 24.2 minutes per game. 11.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, and 2.8 apg. The biggest improvement is in the field goal percentage department. He went from 41.7% to now an acceptable 46.5 total field goal percentage.

23.8% from downtown though would make Stan Van Gundy cry if he's watching. Turkoglu always seems to have the knack of raising scoring averages the bigger the stakes become. His nation will need that upward trend to continue.

Turkey's got a lot of fighting ahead of them in the coming days if they want to reach the eight team knockout stage. They play France on Wednesday, Germany on Friday, and Serbia Sunday. The Turks will very likely have to put up a record of 2-1 if they want to grab one of the 4 spots.

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