Well, that Houston-Baptist game didn't quite go as planned. The Pokes simply could not put away the Huskies and especially had no answer for the athletic Andrew Gonzalez other than to foul him. The Cowboys led the entire game but never could put the game into the unreachable zone, and even allowed the Huskies to climb within 8 before finally closing the deal in the last 2 minutes. Hopefully tonight will be more of the straight up beating variety.
The Pokes enter this game still trying to figure out their identity. Out of the new guys, Jean-Paul Olukemi and Darrell Williams are stepping up quickly while the others are still developing. This would be fine except that the returning players aren't quite up to mid-season form themselves. In Saturdays game, Keiton Page was 1-6 from three, Ray Penn had 2 assists to three turnovers, Fred Gulley didn't do much except foul Gonzalez, and Matt Pilgrim is still having champagne dreams about Cincinnati..aka: where everything happens. The bright spots were Nick Sidorakis who shot well from long range and even had a couple of nice finishes at the rim, and Marshall Moses who finished with 17 points and 7 rebs.
As far as Texas A&M CC, there isn't much I can know about them this early, but they are coming off a 21 point loss to Texas A&M in which the game was over early as A&M jumped out to a 23-8 lead. The Islanders are turnover prone and can play a rough style so there should be plenty of FT attempts for the Cowboys once again, and if they can push that FT percentage above 70% this looks like an easy win.
Going forward, I want to start tracking what I consider to be the important factors for this Cowboy team to play well overall. I will probably add factors in as the season moves on (and I am certainly open for suggestions), but for now here are the 3 important factors I have noticed from the one game I have seen, and looking through the boxscores of the 2 pre-season games.
Factor #1: Assists to FG Made
None of our guards are natural distributors, and without the pure scoring of James Anderson I see that becoming a huge problem this season. Last season the Cowboys had 413 assists on 839 made FG for a percentage of 49% (and how many of those 413 were simple passes to BGJ that he turned into points? Probably a lot). I would say that the Pokes should be hitting this 50% mark, or higher, if they are moving the ball around like they need to be given their personnel.
vs Houston-Baptist: 46% (13 Assists on 28 Made FGs)
Factor #2: Free Throw %
Arguably, this Oklahoma State teams best attribute is that almost everyone is big, quick, physical, and athletic. Because of this, there should be plenty of free throws attempted in every game (by both teams)... the difference between a win and loss for the Cowboys may often come down to how well they shoot from the line.
vs Houston-Baptist: 61.9% (26-42)
Factor #3: Percentage of 3FG to Total FG (and 3FG%)
Kind of a combo of two here, but it is really pretty basic. Are we taking too many threes, and are they going in? Last season, a whopping 42% of the Pokes attempted shots were from behind the 3-point line. That is borderline absurd, but they did have the shooters for it last season as they shot 35% from three. This season there are only 2.5 true 3-point shooters (Page, Sidorakis, maybe Brian Williams), so the attempts should go way down unless the 3FG% can match last seasons 35% (which it wont).
vs Houston-Baptist: 16 of 60 shots were from three (27%), and they made 4 of the 16 (25%)
note: I am going to think of some way to roll-up factor #3 into one number that is representative of the whole point of the factor, but I haven't figured out a way to do it yet. Also, I want to work in a defensive factor, but since defensive stats suck, and I have yet to find a way to pull plus/minus information, the defensive factor may end up being something purely descriptive like "play tough defense on the wing", and then I will assign some sort of a one-to-ten judging score to that factor based on what I saw.