Friday, February 24, 2012

basketball thoughts: don't count us out

Editor's Note: Last week's version of this was essentially me having a conversation with myself. Who knows? This week's version may prove to be the same. For now, you're stuck with my thoughts following last night's win at Arkansas, pending a response from my brother Whit.

Photo via
• Was it me, or did Arkansas do us a favor by pressing? By speeding up our offense — instead of forcing us to play in the halfcourt — they inadvertently allowed us to gain some confidence in ourselves. And especially after a few 3s went down ... I mean, things are looking up.

• All the credit in the world to Anthony Grant. At intermittent points during the season I've either thought he didn't know what he was doing, or that his team didn't respect him. But no more — since the suspension of Mitchell, his team has played its best basketball and even the youngsters are gaining confidence. Tonight, we were playing away from home, one of our better players lately — Lacey, who had 8 — wrecked his ankle and left the game, Arkansas was shooting the lights out and we were still without JaMychal. It was the perfect excuse to mail the thing in and start thinking about Saturday. Instead they fought back into it, took the lead going to half and then ran away and hid in the second. All things being equal, that's a GREAT coaching job.

• Maybe the most exciting thing about the team at the moment is that we're finally seeing some of the versatility we anticipated before the season started. We can go bigger with Green, Gueye and Engstrom in the middle, or smaller with Randolph, Lacey, Cooper and Steele. Or, if we really need to turn the ball over and let the other team back into the game, we can always play Eblen.
(I'm sorry, I shouldn't pick on Ben Eblen. For all I know he' s a great guy and one of the most beloved players on the squad. Having said that, I'm pretty sure he's been our backup point guard since 1997, and I have no idea what he does well. And I'm positive he's afraid to shoot under any circumstances.)
I say we're in the NCAA Tournament if we take care of business Saturday vs. State. In a season like this one, that would really be something.

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