There were about 4 games within a game today as each team fluctuated between dominance and awfulness as though they each had spent all 30 games this season honing their inconsistency. The guys at Rock M Nation came up with the idea, that I think is genius, to look at a basketball game like it were boxing, count each of the four minute periods of gameplay between the official timeouts as a round, and score each round just like a boxing judge. In this ten-round fight that the Red Raiders and the Cowboys put together today, each team would have won their share of rounds with the knockdown/domination score of 10-8. I will choose to view this from a positive standpoint and say that it is nice to see two teams, that ostensibly aren't playing for much, show this kind of heart and desire as you could tell that each side really wanted this game.
How about two quick lists?
Quick List #1 - Things that did not make me happy
Keiton Page forcing himself to force himself to force everything. What had always made Keiton such an asset was that he knew how to pick his spots. He knew how to work off of the way defenses would over-commit to James and Obi and would find his openings. I hate to say it, but an off-season spent training to be "the man" caused his game to regress a notch or two (is that a lot of notches?).
12-21 on FTs. No way to analyze this that goes any deeper than "gotta make the free ones".
Quick List #2 - Things that made me happy
Jean-Paul Olukemi - a trip to the bench turned out to be just what he needed
Reger Dowell - continues to function so well as a distributor, even if he looks for his own shot a little too much sometimes
Matt Pilgrim - glad to see Matt starting to reach his potential with 4 games left in his career. And he had a nasty swap in the first half that I am currently trying to find video of.
Marshall Moses- these last two games he is back to the form that originally started commanding those double teams in the first place
15 assists to 12 turnovers - this was the first game in conference play, and only the 4th game overall, that the Cowboys have finished with a positive assist to turnover ratio. The other three oddly came in consecutive games, Missouri State, Alabama, and Stanford.
50% shooting from the field, and that is with a 2-15 performance from three. On 2-point FGs the Pokes shot 63.4%. There was much better ball movement and far more make-able shots, especially for the slashers.
The heart of this Cowboy team. They were playing in front of 11,000 sold tickets, and maybe 7,500 actual fans, in a game that at most secured an NIT invite, yet the players were screaming, chest-bumping, high fiving, ass slapping (in the straight way), and picking each other up. The team reaction after JPO hit the clinching shot and got the "and-1" call was on par with any reaction I have seen from the team all season. I tend to forget that they have been through a lot together this season, they have been challenged, and they have been in numerous situations where a lot of Cowboy teams would have pulled a Boggan/Monds and just quit on the season. But this team hasn't done that. Believe me, I hate to compliment a team for "playing like they give a shit", but if this program is ever to return to the level we want it to be at, it has to start with the play on the court. The 6,000 empty seats tonight proved that we aren't going to support a team that either isn't winning, or we don't feel a connection to. Seeing a down and out team play a meaningless game as though it isn't a meaningless game, and they aren't down and out, is I think what most of us need to see to begin to renew our love of Cowboy basketball. I was as proud to experience this two-point, near choke, win against an 11th place team as I have been to attend any Cowboy basketball game over the past few seasons.
And to follow up on the chances of making the NCAA tournament article.... using the same formula, with this win the Pokes have improved their estimated chances of making the tournament from 1.02% to 1.43%!