With a slight twist to the old adage you get, “Do unto others as they have done unto you.” That about sums it up. Bryant took it to us. Our game became theirs. Run, shoot, score and to hell with playing D.
As has been said repeatedly in earlier posts, scoring will not be a problem for this team. It wouldn’t surprise me if we averaged 80 ppg for the year and continued to shoot in the high 40%s in both FG and 3FG shooting here on out. But rebounding and D will get us into trouble when faced with a team we just can out-gun on a given night. Last night was a perfect example of that. Bryant, a team that shoots in the mid 20%’s from three connected on 11 of 23 (46.2%) and stunned us early (down by 11 with nearly 15 minutes to play in the first half). To a casual observer, you would have thought we were the team dressed in the dark uniforms the way they ran the floor and found the open man. Throw in (a) a few off nights (most notably GK’s 1 for 7 and 3 boards in 34 minutes), (b) BJ again not getting into the offensive flow (0 pts. in 24 minutes), (c) CJ not getting early touches, (d) our typical “can’t get off our feet” performance under the boards (out-rebounded 27 to 37 with none coming from JG or CB), poor/absent bench production (becoming all too familiar), and most of all (f) shabby (that’s being kind) perimeter defense (Reed and Co. had to be reading their ytd stats and not concerned about anything beyond the arc) and you get a home-court “L.” Not good. Certainly not what you want after 12 games with league play 13 days away.
Bryant, to no one’s surprise, started two guys that stood above 6’3″ (Francis at 6’6″ and Kondratyev at 6’8″). Yet, they repeatedly out-maneuvered us under the boards. Hell, Francis had a double-double in the first half and looked every bit the equal of UNT’s Tony Mitchell. Kondratyev played just 11 minutes and had 2 points. Their only other “tall” player (McMath) was on the court for 3 minutes and did nothing. Yet, we couldn’t grab a rebound and just 5 all night off the offensive boards. Mackey tied Gabe with 3 overall.
It was the perfect storm – a trap game if ever there was one. We (coaches, players, and fans) had to think coming into this game “no sweat, we got this one….Gabe and CJ will see to it…..let’s get back to our families for the holidays……VCU is still a week away.” Bryant, on the other hand, played with nothing to lose. They saw it as a chance to grab some headlines and put the NEC on notice that they have arrived. They succeeded.
As for KenPom and other rating services, this goes down as a “BAD LOSS.” Pomeroy dropped us from #57 to #71. Sounds about right. One thing Pomeroy and others don’t account for is “heart” and we didn’t play with any.