That really just wasn't all that fun.
K-State travel to the brand new Intrust arena in Wichita for a "home" game against the Mountaineers of West Virginia in the inaugural Wildcat Classic.
Of course, the obvious storyline is the Bob "Huggy Bear" Huggins versus the pupil Frank Martin matchup, but let's be honest. These two teams were going to be so alike you had to have the different colored jerseys to figure out who was who. Hard work, preparation, effort, and physicality are trademarks of our beloved Wildcats under HCFM - but just where do you think he got that from?We were "treated" to a game that was back-and-forth all night, with neither team stretching a lead out by much more than 5 or 6 points - mainly due to whistles or sloppy play. We were "lucky" enough to see a very physical, bruising interior game officiated by guys that make random password generators seem consistent. And, we were "privileged" to see those same zebras call the numbers of players 55 times. Yes, 55 fouls. Both teams were in the double-bonus (10+ team fouls) with 10:30 left in the second half.
And not only were we "blessed" to witness all that, we got to watch it for 5 additional minutes. Then 5 more additional minutes. Finally, at the end of the day, both teams played like crap, the refs officiated like crap, and we're no further along than we were before the game. Except WVU has the win, and K-State took the loss.
Unfortunately, we've got some reflecting to do after this one. In my opinion, we were not clearly the better team, but we were good enough to win. And, being up 6 late in the second half, frankly - we should have. But a bad call and some ill-timed offensive struggles killed any momentum we had, and WVU crawled back to even the game up at the end of regulation. Its not that we fell apart - it just didn't happen for us. This game was dead even right up to the late missed 3 by Rod with 10 seconds left in the 2nd OT. Had a decent look - as good as you're going to get being down 3 on a sideline play - but just didn't fall.
WVU has three good players, and they all played well. Kevin Jones is a straight-up player. Came in averaging just shy of 20 PTS / 12 REB. The kid can make fluid post moves in any direction, rebounds very well, and can stretch jumpers out to beyond the arc (which he made at least two - one being no bigger than the game tying shot at the end of regulation). Jones did nothing more than hold up his end of the bargain regardless of the defender, going for 30 points and 12 rebounds tonight, playing 49 of 50 minutes. "Truck" Darryl Bryant is WVU's strong scoring guard, not shooting the ball particularly well, but able to get the ball to the bucket, and plays very solid pressure D out front. He went for 24 points, playing all 50 minutes. Finally, Deniz Kilicli - with Moses' burning bush on his face - is good for 10 and 7 pretty much every time out. Dude has an awkward shot, the "ground hook" - a sky hook he launches from shoulder level. He did his darnedest to give us chances with several late-game TOs, but still had his 12 PTS / 7 REB tonight.
Just have that strange unsatisfied feeling about the game. We didn't play well, we didn't play poorly. I'm not thrilled with anything we accomplished, I'm not disappointed in any particular facet. We just went out there, banged around with the other team, the refs did their best to screw the game up, and we all went home afterward.
And Huggy Bear gets the win.
Good things to take away:
- Offensive Rebounding. We actually did a good job getting after the offensive glass, pulling down 14 boards on that end. But, then again, it's not hard to do when you're missing bunny after bunny like we were at times.
- Defense. Our on-ball defense of guards was exceptional at times tonight, forcing multiple 5-second calls throughout the game. We also did a good job denying the passing lanes, coming up with 10 steals. Finally, for the most part, we were able to provide secondary help on penetration and interior moves and garner 6 blocked shots.
- Intensity. This was the first time that I felt like we held the same relative intensity and effort through the entire game, so in my eyes, that was an improvement. It was just an ugly game with no flow, so it was tough to decipher.
Things to improve on:
- Taking care of the ball. 18 TOs - matching the number of TOs by WVU - but a vast majority of ours seemed mildly forced at best. Instances of throwing passes directly into defenders' hands.
- Finishing at the rim / Offensive Execution. Of course, execution is once again our Achilles' heel. This game would have been relatively in-hand had we made some layups. Missed layups, clanked bunnies, and just substandard post moves created a ton of missed opportunities to score.
- Awareness. JO should not - I repeat - NOT be taking a steal coast-to-coast. Will Spradling should not - I repeat - NOT be forced to take Kevin Jones on defensively 5 feet from the bucket. Under no circumstance should we be leaving someone wide-the-**** open on the three-point line with 20 seconds left in 2OT. Just lost it on a handful of plays that, while one-at-a-time doesn't seem that influential, they become backbreaking as they stack up.
Player Analysis: Starters:
- Rodney McGruder: B+. Finally scored the ball, going for a season-high 20 points, including making some dang threes, finally. Stuffed the stat sheet, coming up with 3 REBs, 2 AST, 1 BLK, 1 STL, 2 TO, 3 fouls, while playing 42 minutes. Came up with at least one 5-second call on D, and did a good job sticking his nose in the paint on help-side. Only thing keeping him from an A is missing both FTs attempted, and forcing a shot to try to draw the foul at the end of the first OT. Honestly, probably his best game so far this year, but I want more.
- Martavious Irving: B+. 6pts/5 AST in 34 minutes, again drawing the toughest on-ball D assignment. Kept his hands to himself better this game (2 fouls), and only committed 1 TO. 2-5 FTs and a "how did you just miss that" missed layup early in the game will keep you out of the A category. 2 points is 2 points, and we could have used those 2 points.
- Will Spradling: A-. Got after it on D, especially late in the game, with on-ball pressure. Forced several poke-outs to make WVU go run the ball down in the backcourt. Scored a season-high 16 points on 4-8 from 3PT, also managed to snag 4 REBs, in 39 minutes. Fouled out during the overtime periods, which took a legitimate shooting threat off the court when we really needed it.
- Thomas Gipson: D early, A late; overall, a B. Was getting his ass handed to him early in the game. Figured some things out - what he could and couldn't do against their big men - and finished the game with a double-double, 15 PTS/10 REBs in 28 minutes. Shot 7-8 FTs. Committed 3 TOs and 4 fouls. Really salvaged what was shaping up to be his worst performances with one of his better statistical performances. Dude needs to work on some defense though - he's a legitimate liability at times, being either out of position or slow to the spot.
- Jamar Samuels: C-. For all the supposed weight and strength he put on over the summer, the guy was getting pushed around a lot. Saddled with some foul trouble throughout the game, he managed to log 20 minutes before fouling out on a complete BS charging call that essentially killed any momentum we had with the lead late in regulation. 8 PTS / 3 REBs is a pretty absent performance, even considering the foul trouble. This is exactly the type of game he needs to get up for, get amped for, and show up to. Which he didn't.
- Jordan Henriquez: D-. Like I said, I won't fail anyone as long as they show up. Save for one play early, one play late, and a handful of blocked shots, JO was apparently still in Manhattan. 3 PTS / 3 REBs with 3 BLK in 21 minutes. Pulled what could be the Dumbest Play of the Year in his attempted steal then coast-to-coast layup. Looked just downright flailing and uncoordinated, and of course, another missed layup. Put himself in bad positions, played pretty poor straight-up D, took at least one other bad shot, 4 fouls, including one 30 feet from the bucket late in regulation...just not a good day for the seven footer. His saving grace was honestly the big offensive rebound late in the game.
- Shane Southwell: C. The Southwell Paradox strikes again, only I think there was more bad than good tonight. Some pretty lost and poor decisions mixed in with his usual stat stuffing (3 PTS, 5 REBs, 3 AST, 1 BLK, 3 TOs, 4 fouls) in 32 minutes. In fact, he only posted 2 FG attempted. Just wasn't very assertive on offense, and his TOs came at really bad times, and were really inexcusable, throwing passes that never had a chance.
- Angel Rodriguez: B-. By now, we all know we're getting pressure D, shooting the passing lanes, steals, and homerun passes from Angel. Kid went 2-9 (0-4 3PT) from the floor - they were all good shots, just not with him shooting them. Look, I believe the kid can shoot. We saw it in the exhibition game. But he's made ONE 3PT FG since the exhibition game. He took shots that I'm happy with Rod, Will, Tay, or even Shane taking. Just not Angel. Not right now. It's kind of a catch-22: I don't want him shooting because he's not making, but he won't make unless he shoots. Crap. I just talked myself into letting him shoot those shots. Was also a stat stuffer tonight (7 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL) in 21 minutes. The stat I had to double-take on: 0 TOs. Had some really nice over-the-top passes to Rod, JamSam, and Gip leading to easy buckets.
- Adrian Diaz: C. Adrian really looked ready to go tonight, and got his chance with foul trouble creeping into the frontcourt. 13 minutes of play, making his only FG attempt for 2 points, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 BLK, 3 TOs and 2 fouls. Diaz honestly looked like a servicable bench player for 10 minutes a game, if we have to go deeper than Jam/Gip/JO. Same gripe on D as with Gip - just not ready to straight-up D a real post presence.
No one else logged substantial enough time of note.