We all knew it was going to happen.
Denver's been saying it for ages.
With how young this team it is, and just the inevitability of letdowns, we were bound to lose a game like this. A game where we just don't show up, at all, and the other team does everything right. Even last year's team, one of the better teams of the past decade, dropped a very similar game in Stillwater.
There is little, if anything, positive you can point to. We would play fabulous for quick, little three-minute stretches, and then they'd hit a three, and we'd go back to playing like utter crap for another seven minutes. To be honest, we just seemed very uptight and flat. I don't think we necessarily looked over the Red Raiders, just couldn't get up for it. There was so much intensity, so much passion, so much fury displayed on Sunday afternoon, it's tough to expect such a young team to get all pumped up for a game just three days later.
Hell, I'm just a fan, just a follower of the team, and I couldn't get up for it. I just couldn't do it. It wasn't that I was just overlooking them, or was guaranteeing a victory, or anything. It's just, there's only so many games you can really "get up for". And after two consecutive ones that were as big as they've been all year, we were due for a letdown.
We've had some letdowns before, but we've always recovered from them. Well, at least since this team became as good as it is now, and conference play started. The difference, this time, was two-fold.
On one hand, Alan Voskuil was just unconscious. Nothing you can do about that. Take the Nebraska game, for instance. Sure, we played much better late, and worked our way back into the game, but the Cornhuskers' complete inability to hit a shot in the middle of the second half helped us out. Last night, though, Voskuil couldn't miss, even when he went all Sherron on everyone and started firing off thirty-footers.
So, primarily, congrats, Red Raiders. You guys played to win, instead of not-to-lose. Whenever we got close, you came down and nailed a huge, Relly Ice-esque trey. Voskuil was the best, obviously, but Mike Singletary and Nick Okorie were both awesome, as well. If you guys could have played that well throughout conference play, you're an NIT team. And I mean that in the absolute best way possible.
The other reason, which shouldn't be terribly surprising, is after the jump, along with the rest of the player-by-players...
- MVP? I have to pick a MVP? Actually, this wasn't terribly difficult. Marcus Morris played quite well. He was the only one who got open at the beginning of the game, and while he missed both early shots in the first minute, he kept playing. And playing. And playing. 8 rebounds, easily the most on our team (on a night that Cole picked up 3), including six all-important offensive ones. He's still rough around the edges, and needs to control his temper (he probably didn't deserve the technical, but you can't even give the ref an option, there), but he's getting better. A lot better. Still want him to transfer to a D-II school, folks?
Tyrel Reed, I suppose, was next-best. Whenever a three was fired up, I immediately assumed it was out, unless Relly Ice was the one shooting. Then, I gave it some thought. He is still improving, obviously, and his D on Voskuil was just as poor as everyone else's. But, he's a better player than he was just a month-or-so ago, and I'm excited to see how far he can develop the rest of his game. Cause he's got a shot.
- OK, it's official, now. I'll make another post about it, but I'm officially starting up the Travis Releford bandwagon. I've been a big fan for awhile, but last night confirmed it for me. Releford can rebound, particularly for his height, skying for rebounds like no one else on our team does. At least, no one not named Cole. And he is as good of a driver, this side of Sherron, we have on our team. His outside shot obviously still needs a lot of work, but is a fine compliment to Tyrel Reed. One three-point shooter, one player completely capable of driving in and getting to the bucket. However, based on how he was used against Tech, what about playing him at the 4? Not entirely, and only in small stretches, at least at first, but I have a hard time believing he would do any worse than Smash does, there. More on this later, though, like I said...
- I'll give one more player a passing grade: Tyshawn Taylor. He didn't do anything awesome, but he was as average-at-best on D as everyone else, and he could at least drive. And when the threes ain't falling, taking closer shots is probably a good idea.
- Besides those four, everyone else was pretty awful. None moreso than Sherron Collins, though, who went all UMASS on all of us. 3-19 shooting is absolutely terrible, particularly 1-10 from three. I understand he's the leader and all, and he had at least three-or-four that went in-and-out, but come on, bud. Dish the ball off when you can't hit the ocean falling out of a boat. I still love you, and between the trip to Columbia and last night, he might have been the best player in the country (or close to it). But, if we have a performance like that in the NCAA Tournament, we'll be one-and-done all over again. And that, my friends, would suck.
- Of course, Cole Aldrich didn't play any better. 3 rebounds is absolutely embarrassing, as is 1-5 shooting. While Sherron shouldn't, ever, be shooting the ball 19 times, it's kind of hard to blame him when no one else could hit a bucket. Especially when our security blanket, dropping the ball into big Cole and letting him do his thing. When that ain't happening, and Sherron ain't on fire, our offense, frankly, sucks for stretches.
Brady Morningstar was absolutely awful, as well. He couldn't stay on Voskuil any better than anyone else, and he isn't the same defensive player he was earlier on in the year. He's shut people down all year long, but recently, I don't know if it's an injury or what, but he just isn't nearly as quick. And when he isn't playing good D, he shouldn't see the floor, because he hasn't had a good shooting day for a long-ass time. Another terrible performance against Tech, 1-6 from three, and we're at the point where I'd bench him. Maybe that's too harsh, but that's what I'd do. Bench him, and start Tyrel. With Brady's defensive drop-off, they're basically the same player, only Relly Ice is a better shooter.
- And finally, the two posts who I wish wouldn't see so much playing time. Markieff Morris and Mario LIttle -- blech. Kieffer is up-and-down, and Wednesday night was a down night. Still, he's solid, and he deserves to keep his 12-or-so minutes a night. Little, on the other hand, hasn't had a solid game in weeks. Maybe even longer than that; maybe a month. I mean, shit. I still think he can be a really solid player in the future, but he's got to show it, eventually. We can't live forever on just promise, Smash.
That's all, for now. Tomorrow, it's all about Travis Releford and Texas. Get ready. Oh, well, there's another Championship Week OGT tomorrow. Today's was all right, I suppose. Plenty of solid discussion, and hopefully we can get some more of that tomorrow.