by Craig Yamada
As I pick up the broken picture frame from the floor, I realize I may be taking this loss a little too seriously. It’s only November, but these last two days have been downright painful for UW fans as UW dropped two heartbreakers back to back. We will need to silence all this Final Four talk, atleast for now as UW has some work to do.
Many fans have approached these two losses as positives because we “hung in there” with two of the top teams in the country. Sadly, the East coast selection committee won’t see it like that in March. At what point should hanging in there no longer be good enough? The correct answer is NOW. UW has elite level talent and if they want to be viewed as a true elite level team it needs to find a way to keep their composure in close games and sustain leads. With a ten point lead going into half time, Romar simply got out coached in the second half. Tom Izzo made an adjustment and as a result, the Spartans walked away with a 76-71 victory.
- Isaiah Thomas: All things considered, IT played a great game tonight scoring 13 points and dishing out a team high 6 assists. He was a non stop motor in taking the ball strong to the hole.
- Justin Holiday: Of all players, Justin had the best all around game today on both ends of the floor. Justin was the catalyst that propelled UW to a 10 point lead at half. He forced countless turnovers and had his stroke working tonight as he poured in 12 points tonight.
- Team Defense: I must admit I was impressed with the way UW played defense this game. They were able to force 19 turnovers and did well in guarding the pick and roll.
- Gant/Gaddy: Both of these guys stepped up their scoring today and played well to help keep UW in this one. They aren’t this team’s primary scoring options but played well when they had opportunities to score.
- Aziz: N’Diaye continued his dominance on the defensive end. Although he didn’t fill up the stat sheet, he was able to clog up the key with his length.
- MBA: Although he led the team in scoring and rebounding, he did have a few mental lapses in key moments of the game whether they be turnovers, not boxing out his man on free throws, or flexing after a made basket and having his defense get scored on because they were outnumbered in transition. Your biceps are impressive MBA, we know. But your biceps don’t win basketball games.
- Venoy Overton: Rough outing for Venoy Overton as he struggled on defense tonight. He committed a lot of chippy fouls and surrendered a crucial AND 1 to the hands of Kalin Lucas. Tough assignment for Venoy, but we know he can play much better when 100% healthy.
- Rebounding: UW surrendered 9 offensive rebounds tonight and proved to be the key reason why UW did not win tonight. As much as you want to blame the bigs for this, you can’t. Our guards were not crashing the boards hard in the second half. They simply didn’t block out on long three point misses and MSU got right back in the game as a result.
- Free Throws: MBA, I am not blaming you for that missed free throw, but as a team I hold everyone responsible. This game would not even be nearly as close if our guys can knock down freebies from the stripe. 15 for 25 is unacceptable. IT had another rough night from the stripe. Our guards went 8-13 tonight as a team. If we get that percentage to 80% or above, we win this game. Romar better have them running suicides ’til they drop when they get back to practice.
- Turnovers: Careless passes and turnovers kept UW out of this one at the end.
- Swingmen off the bench: The experiment continues between Suggs, Wilcox and Ross. Ross won the lion’s share of minutes tonight, which I can’t argue with. He presents the biggest threat to score all around the floor. At this point I think Ross and Wilcox are tied for first man off the bench dibs. Suggs is fading fast as he is struggling on defense against top tier teams and has shown he can’t shoot when curling off a screen.
- Go down with your leader: Not that bringing a cold player off the bench in CJ Wilcox was a terrible idea, I was hoping that IT would be the guy taking the last shot. IT kept us in this game and he should be the one that finishes it off.