Following an incredibly painful loss on the road Mike Boynton had this to say about his team: “They have a chance to be really good.” Wait, what? Did he see the same game we did? The one that blew a 24-point lead on the road?
The cool thing is, he did. He saw the potential of his young players. He saw their ability to get a 24-point lead in a true road environment. He saw a team that was further along, especially on the defensive end, than he expected.
In this the 80th Cowboys home opener in Gallager-Iba, we got to see glimpses of what has Coach Mike Boynton so excited (it just took until about 5 minutes after the game started).
The Cowboys didn’t score a point until the 16:26 mark of the first half, when Cam McGriff made one of two free throws to bring the score to a worrisome 1-9. Not the start Boynton was looking for after the rough ending to the previous game and the Cowboys appeared to be in full hangover mode. Luckily, a flurry of buckets by the usual suspects McGriff, Lindy Waters III, and Isaac “Ice” Likekele gave the Cowboys their first lead of 17-16 at 11:24.
After trading some buckets, Thomas Dziagwa went on a 9-2 run basically by himself after making three straight 3’s. From that point on, Oklahoma State felt like the team we were hoping for at the start of the game. The last of Dizzy’s 3’s put the team up 28-21, and it was a lead Oklahoma State wouldn’t relinqusish for the rest of the night.
The Cowboys took a 36-27 lead to the half after Boynton settled on a high-energy lineup that included Waters, McGriff, and walk-on Luke Major.
The Roadrunners went on a couple small runs in the 2nd half to make the game interesting, but it was mostly an impressive half for the Pokes; especially on the defensive end. The Cowboys held the Roadrunners to an impressive 60 points while scoring 82 of their own to deliver the decisive victory.
The nice bounce back win pulls the Cowboys back to an even .500, and man does winning feel nice after a rough weekend for the Pokes.
- The Cowboys have played very well defensively for the most part but some of this is helped by poor shooting performances by their opponents. Their help defense in man has caused some poor shots, turnovers, and bad decisions, but it has also led to wide open shots that better teams will not miss. I’m curious to see if the Cowboys dial back the help as the season goes along, or if they just get better at recovering and knowing how much they can play off their man.
- McGriff scored 20 on an inefficient 18, but also grabbed a double-double with 10 boards along with a steal and an assist. He posted the highest +/- of anyone on team (again) at +28. He also drew at least one hundred charges. Even when his shot isn’t falling, Cam just makes winnings plays.
- Dziagwa had a clutch 16 points on 6-8 shooting and 4-5 (80%!) from 3-pt. He felt like the most important player offensively, even though McGriff had more points. I don’t expect 16 every night, but this level of efficiency would make Dizzy a major asset for this team offensively.
- If it’s possible, Lindy posted a very quiet 14 points, 7 boards, and 6 dimes.
- Ice has been compared to Marcus Smart. He’s not where Marcus was coming into college, but he put up a very Smart-like line. 8 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals with the second-highest +/- at +20.
- Yor Anei had 4(!!) blocks, including one on the perimeter that made me get up out of my seat. He also made one really strong move to the basket on his only field goal. He’s not there yet, but his shot-blocking ability could really bolster this defense. There’s a reason he’s starting.
- Duncan Demuth got the game ball from Boynton, as his hustle sparked the team early on when they couldn’t get anything going. He’s been a savvy, tough player so far and can be a valuable role player if his offensive game can develop a bit.
- Maurice Calloo scored 11, but this was on 9 shots. It seems like he’s really forcing it right now. He made some nice plays that didn’t show up in the stats, but he often looks lost on defense and his stats reflect that. Besides 3 personal fouls, his only other tallied stat was a single rebound. His offensive game has shown a lot of promise, but Calloo will need to continue to grow within Boynton’s system.
- !!Weathers sighting!! Michael Weathers saw his first game action today after being reinstated to the team on a practice-only basis before the first game. He only played 3 minutes in garbage time, but threw down a monster dunk, indicative of the kind of athlete he is.