So I have to admit that when I saw the game on Friday I was at an apartment gathering with the game in the background and after having had some beers so in hindsight my judgment was a bit clouded. As I am living a life of leisure between jobs with my new one not starting until January 3 (yes I am a lucky man) I decided to rewatch much of the game tonight (I'm a masochist apparently). I found my opinion changed greatly.
Frank - (Camera obscured curse)
Jake - (Motioning to the clock)
Frank - "Are you (curse) kidding me after that (curse) turnover?"
Jake - "Calm down Frank."
Frank - "Shut the (curse) up."
All the while Rod is grabbing Frank's arm and guiding him away from Jake, Figgs is wide eyed looking like he's thinking 'oh my god this guy is insane', and within half a second Jake is just chilling in the huddle as if nothing happened. Business as usual
A pretty amusing exchange, and probably not that unusual for this team, but I did think there were a few interesting factors involved - 1) Jake, despite playing a rough game offensively was still out there trying to teach Sprads like a true leader, 2) Frank, probably aware that whether admitted or not there probably is some healthy rivalry and competition developing here with Jake and Sprads as Sprads is starting to take away a bunch of the PG minutes, pushing that button while also proving the point even the AA and unquestioned team leader has to be held accountable, 3) Rod has eased into the 'calming Frank role' which seems to be a pretty good indicator of future studs/leaders (Denis, Jake), and 4) when one is done with over three years with Frank Martin you have pretty damn thick skin.
- Another amusing and strange anecdote: if anyone has the game DVRed, go to 4:11 left in the first. Jake is bringing the ball up the court. If you press FF one arrow, somehow because of the rate of the FF and Pullen's steps and dribbles, the ball stays at the top of its bounce and Jake's feet stay motionless as he advances so it looks like he's hovercrafting up the court with a permanent palming of the ball. It's very eery - like a bearded ghost. If I had any idea how to I'd video it and post it.
- Some random game thoughts, just one major mea culpa and I think a couple fresh observations (as this game was discussed at length):
I don't know what I was watching when I saw otherwise, but Spradling played a great game. His first half couldn't have been much better. He struggled on D for the middle stretch of the second half but his passing, decisions, FT shooting, and guts were just phenomenal. I'm assuming he'll start hitting 3s at a higher clip and when that's the case this kid is going to be awesome.
This team has a few guys with very strange running styles. McGruder, JamSam, and Kelly all look a little bizarre when they're moving out there and each style reflects their play. McGruder looks like he's going to bounce off the floor with every step. He runs with a lot of energy. Kelly has a very strange almost sloppy gait. He's got the speed and agility, yet seeing him sluff around there he almost seems like a kid in pajamas sometimes. JamSam keeps his head down, running up the floor with an almost sheepish look. He runs like an athlete who might at any moment slip from out of nowhere to make a thunderous dunk but also might disappear down there with his head tucked.
Okay, back to real "analysis". Jake didn't play well offensively. The TO were rough. But after watching again, I truly appreciated his D on Thompson. Jake's defense was simply sensational in that game. A ton of credit to the guy who gives his all on defense even when his offense is hurting. Overall the team defense was very solid. It was an ugly win, but there was a reason why WSU was playing so ugly.
Curt was an offensive force. I'm not saying this was Butler, but I think we all know Curt is streaky by nature and I just don't understand why sometimes he doesn't get the ball every time down the court when he's clearly got it. As far as I'm concerned he could have scored 30+ if he'd been given the ball more times on offense. Some of that has to do with the defense, but when Curt (or JamSam for that matter) are feeling it, they should be treated like a hot shooting guard. Get them the rock.
Lastly, he didn't play particularly well, but something about Shane Southwell screams future star to me. This is completely based on looks and no real info (and I admit thinking the same about Nick - yes BC I know he hasn't shown a ton - or much or anything? - yet, but there's something there and I hope he gets to show it this season).
In the end, a very good win in a hostile environment. A lot to be happy about. There are a lot of already very good pieces to this team. But when you think about potential (an always dangerous word) this team has it off the charts. Jake hasn't been hitting shots at the clip we expect, Kelly and JamSam are just getting into a rhythm, Sprads and Asprilla are still getting acclimated as newcomers. Then we've got Marty's vastly improved offensive game, Russell's tremendous potential, Southwell and Nino growing but already being high energy highly athletic freshmen, JHR being one of the most fluid 7 foot plus players in the nation, and OJ a pretty damn athletic "energy walk on" all things considered. SO my longwinded point is really only Rod (and probably Sprads) are giving us "full" (to this point - not saying they won't improve, they very much will) potential. If we get a couple more guys to reach that level, this is going to be a ridiculous year. Of course the flipside is if only one or none of those guys reach potential there are enough flaws in the current unit to end up being pretty disappointing. Let's hope we get the former. I think we will.