While the nuclear armageddon that is BCS Bowl Snubbing gets underway, here's a real quick opinionated recap of the game tonight:
Frank Martin gets our Cats to go hard for 20 minutes yet again, for his 100th career win. K-State takes an early lead, falls behind to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute by 6 at half, then comes out HARD and follows through for the 8 point win. Congrats to HCFM and the team!
This game started off with more effort than we've been accustomed to seeing, but inconsistent officiating kept the Cats down. A very poor shooting first half (<30%FG, 33%FT), loose ball play and combined with some early foul-trouble landed the team behind the eight-ball in the first half. Despite the lackluster offense, the defensive intensity was greater than we've seen this year, keeping the score to 28-22 VATech at halftime.
Second half, as previous games would indicate, was much different. The Dobermans came out, and some good offensive possessions yielded a 12-2 run. K-State slowly pulled away to 10 clear, and kept the game at arms length for the most part. Some fouling at the end of the game (why? Please! WHY?) kept VATech hanging around, but Will Spradling made some clutch free throws in the last minute to keep the game in our court.
Good things to take away:
- Road win. This is a resume win - one that will be banked when it comes time for NCAA tourney selection. A quality team (win against OkSt on a neutral court) we put up a fight and came out victorious against.
- Jamar Samuels. Saddled with two fouls in the first two minutes, he came out with purpose in the second half, and clearly assumed the leadership role for this team in the second half.
- Conditioning. We kept up the defensive intensity the entire game with very little evidence of fatigue late. Conditioning coach Scott Greenawalt has apparently done his job. Good man.
Things to improve on:
- 40 Minutes. We still haven't played 40 minutes. From what I saw in the second half - if we could play 40 minutes at that level, we'd be very tough to beat. By anyone.
- Execution. Gotta leave this one in there. Much better in the second half, but our offensive execution, and more importantly - recognition - was suspect. And, while its very tough to not let it happen - our lack of prowess putting the ball in the hoop in the first half did affect our defense at times. Not drastically, but we did see some lapses and easy backdoor cuts by VATech.
- Poise. At the end of the game, we started playing a little hurried and sloppy on D - a mark of a young team on the verge of a big win. Gotta work on staying composed and play hard consistently, and not look ahead to 0:00.
- Will Spradling: B+. Played good D (2stls, drew a couple charges), made a couple of big threes when we needed them, and nailed clutch FTs at the end of the game. No TOs in 38 minutes, but only 3asts. Only thing holding him down from an A is 2-8 shooting from the floor.
- Martavious Irving: C-. Usually takes the hardest on-ball D assignment, but way too hand-check happy. 4 fouls, 3 TOs in 14 minutes. Did make all 4FTs he attempted, so stays out of the cellar (I won't completely fail anyone in this course).
- Jamar Samuels: INC (First Half), A (Second Half). Wow. If we could get this JamSam every night...well, let's just say it was the type of game that makes us all want him on the team. 17pts/14rebs in 28 minutes. 7-8 from the floor. Only committed two fouls - the two that took him out of most of the first half. Oh yeah - no TOs. What? Energy, production, good.
- Rodney McGruder: C+. Again, a very pedestrian game from Rodney. 7pts/5rebs in 28 minutes. 0-4 from 3Pt, 2-8 from the floor in all. Had a fantastic play on the first possession, but just kind of disappeared afterward. Played with decent energy all game, but just not getting the production on the glass and on the scoreboard. Hope he can snap out of his shooting funk.
- Thomas Gipson: B. Reality check. The Big Gip had a much tougher row to hoe tonight with a real Division 1 opponent. Only played 22 minutes - mostly because of some ineffectiveness on D - but still shouldered 9pts and 6rebs. His desire to use his left hand entirely wasn't necessarily exposed by VATech, but was certainly apparent. On the upside, he was the only player that has the girth to clear space on the block against taller players in a half-court set.
- Jordan Henriquez: A-. Could be the best performance JO has had all year. 9pts/4rebs, with 5 blocks, and many more shot pressures. Has had better statistical games, but not against this level of competition. Made some great reads in the high post (passing, shooting, driving), only committed 2 fouls. Rebounds should have been 7 or 8, save some no-calls on over-the-back by VATech. If we can get this out of JO on a consistent basis against good competition, I'll be happy.
- Angel Rodriguez: C. Lots of energy. We know we're getting quite the smoking pistol when he's on the court - this can be good (lots of hustle plays, 3stls, 4asts) and bad (2 fouls, 2TOs) for his 19 minutes. His nonchalant ballhandling gets under my skin. I really want to see this guy shoot better. Took good shots, but missed every dang one of them.
- Shane Southwell: B-. Officially dubbed "The Shane Effect", he had a habit tonight of following a bad play (missed layup) with a much-needed play (cashed a 3 on the next possession). Makes you scratch your head and high-five your buddy at the same time. Still a stat-stuffer, with 11pts/3rebs/1ast/1blk in 20 minutes.
Thanks for reading my opinion, you may now go lynch the bowl selection committees. Give me a second, I'll be there in a sec.