This is going to be a quick one...there's no point in over-analyzing what just went down.
The Kansas State Wildcats (3-3) went into the half down one to the Pittsburgh Panthers (4-2), thanks in large part to Thomas Gipson's effort late in the half (finished with 13 pts, 6 reb). Pittsburgh came out of their locker room in the second half; I'm not sure the Wildcats ever did. The Panthers proceeded to body-punch us throughout the first 10 minutes, then stepped on us the last 10. The highlight of the game actually came when Pitt's Hawai'i-native Joshua Ko came in during scrub time, and nailed a three from the top of the key to close the game out. Pittsburgh ended up running a deflated K-State team out of the gym, 70-47.
If any bright spot can be taken away from K-State's performance, we out-rebounded a good rebounding team 32-22, (and allowed only 6 offensive boards, compared to their almost 16 orpg average). Secondarily, we went 15-17 from the FT line, for 88.2% on the night.
To refresh your memory: We started 3-3 last year, and ended up just fine.
I only have one thought tonight about that performance, and it surrounds answering the rhetorical question: How can we succeed when we're tired; how do we get more mentally strong?
Coaching shares part of this blame, because we don't run an offense that gets easy buckets without relying on being able to out-athlete the other team. I think its too complex of an offense schematically. It works when its run well, but if you're mentally tired, it's difficult to run it well. If you look at the season as a marathon and not a sprint (sorry - I hate that cliche, but it works), we tend to develop mental toughness through this kind of adversity, as opposed to finding ways of coming into the season with it to begin with.
Considering all our depth, we're actually integrating more parts in than we lost from last year, and that can cause some confusion, but that should be worked on in the off-season. With the practice restrictions and whatnot in place, it definitely puts a premium on experienced on-court leaders and coachable players. Seeing some of the interaction between Bruce and the players in the past three days, I don't know how "coachable" some of these guys are. Sorry...I'm rambling.
I mentioned in the preview - the Arizona game yesterday was not just physically demanding, but it was mentally draining. You might not have been able to pick up on it in the TV cameras; but sitting five rows up tonight, you could see it on their faces. You could see it in their demeanor. Our guys were gassed. Even after Assistant Coach Chester Frazier lit into the group coming into the under-12 timeout in the second half (specifically telling the guys to "grow some f***ing nuts" early in the tirade), the guys came out, played hard for 90 seconds, and fell right back off the train.
Stats that prove we were tired: 15 turnovers, 32.6% FG, 15.4% 3PFG, and giving up 55.3% FG to Pitt. The whole box score reeks of exhaustion.
University of Nebraska-Omaha will become initiated to the Octagon of Doom on Tuesday, December 2. What this team needs right now is some rest and refocus. Have some faith, ye Wildcats - we'll be a'ight.