USA TODAY Sports
Angel Rodriguez hasn't been at his best against Oklahoma State. It's time for that to change.
There's no shame in that, considering Smart was Big 12 Player of the Year and will likely be a top 10 pick in this year's NBA Draft. There are perhaps two or three point guards in the entire country (Trey Burke, Phil Pressey not in the last 2 minutes of a road game, and Isaiah Canaan on a good shooting night) that could really challenge Smart on a consistent basis.
However, the gap between Smart and Angel is not as large as the gap between Will Spradling and Michael Orris, which is what it has seemed like in the first two meetings between KSU and OSU. All I'm really asking is that Angel play within himself and understand his teammates are more than capable of making up the difference in talent at point guard, if he'll just show some patience and run the offense.
It's absolutely ridiculous that Rodriguez set his season-high in field goal attempts (16) in Stillwater, and as Jon Morse (I believe) pointed out in a comment, that doesn't even count the hopeless drives that ended with him getting stuck in the air and/or losing the ball on a dribble-drive. Really, McGruder, Southwell and even Gipson/JO in the right position are capable of getting good shots most possessions against the Cowboys. Let them have it.
To be fair, though, despite all the mistakes, Angel has still posted a 2-1 assist-turnover ratio against the Pokes, which is admittedly worse than his remarkable season average of 5.5-2.4. He still looked like our best option at point guard most of the time, though you could perhaps make the case for the less flashy but still disciplined approach of Spradling.
The frustrating thing about it is the same thing that irritates me about Jordan Henriquez's disappearances throughout his career, or the same issues that make Missouri fans blame Phil Pressey for the loss at UCLA despite the fact that he played phenomenally for about 37 minutes and would have had 20 assists if not for a wide open missed layup by someone (Oriakhi perhaps? Or Brown? I can't recall but it doesn't really matter). We know Angel can be better than what he's shown, particularly in the game last week.
Hell, he was better in that game.....for the first five minutes of the second half. If he plays like that all game, KSU could destroy OSU, though by the same token, if Smart hits guarded threes like he did occasionally, it could go the other way.
Really, though, if Angel just avoids stupid turnovers, doesn't force too many shots he can't make, and stays out of foul trouble on defense, I like our chances. Strange things can happen, and hot or cold shooting for either team could tip the balance either way, but K-State should have the upper hand, especially in front of a purple-friendly crowd at the Sprint Center.
Just in case I need to remind anyone why this game is important, it could very easily decide whether K-State is playing in KC next weekend or gets shipped out West to Salt Lake or San Jose, in which case I'll be disappointed but happy for Anon. It's possible Okie State would go to Austin if they're ahead of KSU on the S-curve, but Kansas City is considerably closer to Stillwater and I'd rather see K-State leave the committee no choice but to send them back to the Sprint Center.
One thing's for sure: We DO NOT want to be in a position at the end of the game where the referees could decide the game. Anything could happen.