That's really what summed up the night last night. I mean seriously! How can you be leading for 37 minutes of the game, and find a way to lose??? This felt like Hawai'i all over again, yet we can't blame the long trip or the wack announcers!
In the scheme of things for the world of mplscyclone, everything is all good. A lot of people at my work got laid off and I knew some of them. Being thankful for having a good job, certainly outweighs the shortcomings of the basketball team.
Anyhow, here's what I took away from the game:
- ISU built an early lead. Mainly led by Lucca. He was just unconscious from 3 point land. I think he scored 15 of our first 20 points. Basically he hung out in the corner. Drake was playing a 3-2 zone, and sort of gave Lucca the 3; there was no one pressuring him when he had the ball; they were giving him the open shot. This was the case at the start of the first half: Lucca motioning to the corner, and him hitting an open 3. We were up 20-9 at one point in the first half which was great. With a team we're dead-even with, you want to build an early lead. In the 2nd half, Drake made sure to get a hand in Lucca's face. To be fair though, you can't really expect more than what Lucca did. When he started 5 for 5, we knew he likely was going to cool off a bit. At the very least, you had to figure Drake would eventually guard him
- Great showing by the student section: I think they had an awesome turnout, had tons of energy throughout the game, and that was awesome to see. Section 202 was about the same. I certainley did some extra screaming, but often times felt like I was the only person in the stands cheering (I lost my voice lol)
Not many other positives. When you give the game away, it's hard to find a ton of positives. Not trying to be a downer, but there is NO excuse. We should've won this game.
- "The team doesn't know how to win games". I actually hate that say lol. That's the negative. It just sounds so stupid, contrived, and too Digger Phelps or Jay Bilas.
- ISU doesn't know how to play with the lead. This is what I would say as opposed to "the team doesn't know how to win". ISU built a 20-9 lead in the first half. What did we do? We started to play timidly. We didn't run an efficient offense; guys were content with a bad looking shot, and guys didn't move around. There was a stretch in the first half where we had Petey, Haluska, Eikmeyer, Hamilton, and JVB all on the court. I am not certain if we scored at all during that stretch. All 5 of them hoovered on the perimeter and took turns throwing up garbage shots. No offense was being created, there wasn't really any screens being set. Guys were just standing around, not knowing what to do. Hamilton tried to go inside, but he showed us how he's a very big work in progress as he looked horrible trying to finish in the post. When we have a good lead, instead of trying to find ways to extend the lead, we seem to wait for the other team to do something. We go from being aggressive to being passive with the lead, and this has to stop.
- Rebounding. Drake isn't a good rebounding team, yet they out rebounded us significantly. Actually if you look down the stretch, they caught up and took the lead from getting 2nd chances from offensive rebounds. I've been saying it all year (and will continue to do so). If you don't rebound well, you don't control the game. It's such a rally killer to have a good defensive stand and give it all away by allowing an offensive rebound. Drake got 40 rebounds to our 32, including 11 offensive rebounds. Their rebounding put them in a position to win.
- Maintaining intensity. It ties into my 2nd bullet point, but we need to stay aggressive throughout the game. We play better when we have a small lead then we do when we have a decent lead. In the first half, we lead by double digits and Drake cut it to 4 in the half. In the 2nd half, we lead by double digits with 8 minutes left, and Drake took the lead with 3 minutes left. All of it stems from being content with shooting a crappy shot, playing sloppy D, and not rebounding well. When a good team gets a 10 point lead, they try to extend it to 20 points. If you have a 20 point lead, you extend it to 30 and so on. It's easier said then done, but look at the Drake game last year. Drake kept piling it on, and they weren't too shabby. I understand when you get a good lead, you tend to sub guys, but there's no reason why the guys coming off the bench shouldn't be intense. In any effect, it's their chance to show Coach what they can do.
- Post presence. Brackins was a non-factor in this game, and we couldn't establish anything in the post. Drake isn't even known for it's post players. Wait until we play Mizzou and Oklahoma. Those teams have some All-Big 12 type bangers and Brackins is going to need to man up! You heard me! I am calling out Craig Brackins! I think he's a great player with a lot of potential. I think people are allowed to have a bad game to an extent, but there are other things you can do. For example, if your shot isn't falling, you can still try to grab some rebounds and block some shots. There is a lot of ways great players contribute to their teams even if they aren't putting the ball in the hole. Don't get me wrong, I love Brackins. The problem is that he's supposed to be a leader on the team, and during dry spells where we can't make a shot, he needs to find a way to put the ball in the hoop. This may sound rough, but we need him. I think most of it is mental (although hitting the weight room a little may help). It just seems like if things aren't going well for Craig, he checks out of the game
Areas of Improvement: We need to fix all of the above negatives to improve as a team.
I will stop there. Replaying this game is just frustrating to do. As a team, we regressed during this game. Drake definitley turned it on at the end, but a couple of made baskets in the last 8 minutes of the of game would've put it out of reach.
Even though Drake is down from last year, they played like they wanted it more. It would've been easy for Drake to mentally check out after we were bombing threes in the first half, but they really hung in there. When we were only up by 4 at the half, I started to be a little nervous. I thought if they could withstand us shooing 60%+ from 3, then we were in trouble.
We started out like we wanted it more, and that was awesome to see! Unfortunatley, it's more about how you finish than how you start.
Rebounding. Drake outrebounded us by 8, and they had 3 key offensive rebounds in the last 3 minutes or so of the half. You need to outrebound bad rebounding teams.....
Thought of the night:
For the desperation 3, why did we have Lucca inbound? He just hit 8 3s in the game? Don't you guys think it would've made more sense to have Brackins or AT inbound? I just feel like if we had Lucca out there, they may have put 2 or 3 guys on him, while we could've possibly gotten it to Eikmeyer or someone. If they didn't put a ton of guys on Lucca, I'd rather have him throw up the desperation since he was hot earlier..
I also wish Peterson didn't throw up that 2nd 3 pointer after he got his own rebound, and we were able to get a timeout in. I will say that I love his effort though. You could tell he wanted to win the game, and sometimes in the heat of the moment, you can't make the best decisions he had the confidence and effort to throw up a 3, get his own board, and throw up another one. Even though it didn't go in, I wish we had the intensity more in the 2nd half. If we played like Petey did down the stretch, we would've been fine.
Do you realize that when Drake took a 64-62 lead with 3 minutes left in the game, no more points were scored until 29 seconds left in the game??? Both teams had chances to put it away and just flat out did not.
MVP: The student section. Part of me is tempted to give it to Lucca, but he really played well the first part of the first half. That's not a knock on him, but a player of the game award (at least mine) is going to weight the end of the game more than the beginning. The students brought it the entire game, even when people were getting negative and starting to get to their cars. I know some people bag on them, but if it wasn't for the student section, Hilton would be much quieter.
Next Game: Friday 12/12 7pm @ Iowa - Big Suck (10) Network. I hate to say it, but Iowa is looking tough. I will do some more research and post my pregame report tomorrow.
I hope we can rebound and play well in Iowa City. I guess we will see on Friday!