Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bama blows it, Cocks come away with win.

Another good effort, but once again we find a way to lose.

In the first half, and for most of the game for that matter, Riley and Hendrix kept us in the game. I think they were the only players we had to score for the first 8 minutes or so in the game. Our offense wasn't great, but Riley bailed us out with several incredible shots. He was the answer for South Carolina's #2 who also scorched the nets.

The key to the game was turnovers. South Carolina scored at least 10 points by intercepting a lazy, telegraphed pass to the wing and converting a layup on the resulting 2 on 1 break. They were extending their defense and overplaying that first pass. Not once did we clear out underneath the basket, fake the pass to the wing and burn them back door.

The Gamecocks were in control for most of the game, but we showed a lot of poise on the road and kept fighting back. It seemed like everytime they were on the verge of putting us away, Riley would make another huge 3 pointer. We took the lead late and had a golden opportunity to win the game.

Free throw shooting was not great, but it was not atrocious.

Carolina did a good job of fronting Hendrix and denying the entry pass. Torrance made a few bad decisions in the halfcourt trying to get him the ball which resulted in turnovers. Still, Hendrix made the most of his opportunities and had another great game.

Our point guard play was inconsistent at best. Both Hollinger and Torrance struggled at the point at times. I know Rico has struggled, but I would have at least gave him a shot in this game. In fact, with the season already being pretty well cemented in the sewer, I would make sure the freshmen get meaningful playing time in every game. It's time to start building for next year.

Speaking of substiution patterns or the lack thereof, where was Justin Knox? Jemison played 25 minutes, Coleman got a few minutes, and Knox never got off the bench. This after Knox had an outstanding game against Ole Miss. South Carolina's bigs like to play on the perimeter, and even Hendrix was forced out to contest a couple of 3 point shots, so maybe that is why the smaller Jemison got most of the playing time, but I still think you need to find a way to get Knox into this game. This is yet another example of how we are always forced to play our opponent's style of game.

I thought we played pretty good defense for most of this game. South Carolina's #2 just went off on us, but most of his shots were well contested.

Our coaching decisions at the end of both halves was puzzling. At the end of the first half we had the ball with the shot clock off and a chance to take the last shot. We call timeout and draw up a play that has Hendrix shooting with 10 seconds left. He was fouled, and South Carolina had plenty of time to get off a final shot. Thankfully, unlike everyone else who's taken the final shot of the half against us this year, the Gamecocks did not convert.

The last minute of the game was one of the most frustrating things I have ever witnessed. Multiple poor decisions by our players and coaches cost us the game. We have a one point lead, miss a shot, and Hendrix gets a rebound with 35 seconds left. Instead of backing it out and getting the ball to a better FT shooter, he tries to score, is fouled, and makes only 1 of 2 free throws. With the shot clock off and a 2 point lead, defending the perimeter should have been priority #1. Torrance inexplicably leaves his man to double the ball, when they pass it back to his man he has a wide open, albeit long, 3 point shot. Torrance overcompensates and fouls him long after the ball was released, resulting in a 4 play and a 2 point defecit with 10 seconds to play.

Now, I can understand not immediately calling timeout in this situation, God knows we've had a hard time scoring on inbounds plays out of timeouts. But when the clock is running down, and Torrance is dribbling with his head down being smothered 40 feet from the basket, with nobody open, no passing lanes, and no movement, the coach has got to recognize that nothing good is going to happen and call the timeout. At worst we should have stopped the clock with 3 seconds to play. Instead, SC deflects a pass out of bounds and THEN we decide to use our final timeout with .2 seconds to play. As if that weren't bad enough, we designed a play where Hollinger comes off a screen, catches it in the air and shoots. According to rule, you must have .4 seconds to completely possess the ball and shoot, anything less than that must be a tip in. Perhaps the coaching staff thought we were playing by "21 street ball rules" where you can "tip out" your opponent by making a shot off of a rebound without allowing your feet to touch the ground before releasing the ball. Hollinger's shot attempt was not a tip. We should have inbounded the ball toward the basket and instructed our bigs to try to slap it in.

I have now been to every arena in the SEC, and I must say South Carolina's Colonial Center is one of the nicest. I would rank it a close second behind Arkansas's Bud Walton arena. We were in the upper deck but still had a decent view of the action. It is not exactly on campus, but I understand the USC athletic dept. is the primary owner, along with the City of Columbia. It seats 18,000, but I would estimate a crowd of about 8,000 were on hand, only 60-80 of which were Bama fans. Thanks to the Gamecock fans we encountered for being gracious hosts.

Up next, we get some time off before travelling to the ugliest village on the plains next Sunday to take on Jeff Lebo's band of midgets. Tip-off is set for 1pm CST from auburn, and the game will be televised on CBS. The tigers are coming off a big road win in Oxford over the Ole Miss rebels, who continue to watch their season slip away. We have much more size and talent than auburn, but they run a system that has given us trouble in the past. Expect the Tigers to be fired up for this one, and if they are making their perimeter shots, this will be another tough game.

2 comments:

Alias said...

Call me and let me know what the final score is. I cannot bear to watch us lose to a dismal api team yet again. I just don't have the stomach for this anymore.

bobbyjack said...

I think the universty should reward you with frequent traveler miles for supporting the team at home and on the road the way you do. At the very least they should comp your meals. Good report as always.

Auburn's won once at home in SEC play so there's hope.

I have a feeling when CBS took the Bama-Auburn game they thought it was a winter football game. Outside of the state of Alabama and some diehard hoops fans, the ratings share for this one is gonna be low.