There were a lot of pleasant things to see upon watching KSU beat a decent and disciplined NU team. My thoughts on some of the positives and a poll which asks what you as a fan would prefer, a B12 Tourney title or an Elite 8 appearance, are after the jump.
These statistics and factors from the NU game were encouraging:
1. We held the lead. Our largest lead of 19 points came with 7:06 remaining in the second half. We won by 16.
2. We won the rebounding battle 32 to 24, and the offensive rebounding was also in KSU’s favor, 12-5.
3. Our assist to turnover ratio was respectable at 14 to 13. Jake gets a solid A- at 6 to 3 (and at one point in the game he was 5 to 1).
4. What can one say about the free throws? We were 21 for 25. And the kids were relaxed at the line. Their body language was positive. This alone was a joy to see, and it is not a small sample size. Players that have the self-confidence to knock down free throws will have the self-confidence to execute an offense and a defense and make the tough plays necessary to win the close games that await this team.
5. It appears HCFM is finding a good eight man rotation. Spradling, but for an injury, would most likely have had more than 8 minutes. JHR had 15 minutes. JM had 4 minutes and VO had 1 minute. There was little jerking a kid out of the lineup upon a single mistake or breakdown. Hence, I believe, when the kid is on the floor he plays more relaxed. Just my thought on that. I believe that the improved execution in the half court set is directly related to the fact that this 8 man rotation is probably getting more practice time together and therefore more comfortable and trusting of each others’ moves in the half-court set. A good sign. I know an 8 man rotation does not lend itself to the 40 minutes of hell that some seem to cherish, but I believe it will lead to more wins with this collection of talent.
6. The defense was obviously improved. The zone gave up far fewer cheap back door buckets. And the defense led to an otherwise careful NU team committing 22 turnovers.
So, let's assume these positive developments continue, and that good things can happen for this team. Let's do a poll. It asks which would satisfy you more as a fan (a) winning the B12 post-season tournament (and assume we only make it to the round of 32 with that result) or (b) another run to the elite 8, with a loss to Pitt to keep us from the Final Four.
Explain your thoughts in the comments. For the integrity of the poll, vote before you read others’ comments.