Or maybe you could say the honeymoon is over. ISU had a thorough scouting report and their players executed it very well. They recognized that we have been running our offense through Mirambeaux. They force him to come out and get the ball and one of their 6-10 centers took him one on one. They denied his passes to 3 point shooters and also took away all back cuts and most other cuts. When Morris came in they were taking the ball away from him. So really good defense. All that was left for Anderson was to back their big center down and try to score over the top of him. He had a poor shooting night. He went 3 for 11. They crowded Billy Smith and took away his 3’s. He had no answer and went 1 for 6 and 0 for 4 on threes. Many of the cut to the basket layups to Safford were denied or turned into turnovers. Lairy is always an option when other things fail, and he came through big at Georgia when that happened, but he shot very poorly ( 2 for 10 and 0 for 7 on threes). Some days he might hit those shots. Mabry, who has played so much better when he comes off the bench, was the only guy who actually hit his shots and played pretty well.
Defensively, we did not take away their bread and butter. They are a 3 point shooting team ( we have been that as well with 3 starters missing a lot of games) and they took ours away but we did not deny their’s at all. They average 11 and we average 9 per game, which are both big numbers, but in this game we were a horrible 3 for 19 ( all by Mabry) and they were 16 for 34. That is a 39 point difference.
When teams are draining 3’s on you, a game can get to a 20 point margin in a hurry. They had 11 threes in the first half ( that is 33 points), I think we had 2. That is why we got down 30 at halftime. Much the same thing happened vs Marshall.
Those are reasons we got blown out so bad. We really are not good enough at this point to compete against that level of a team. We are playing too many freshman and inexperienced guys to compete successfully with top 100 type of teams, much older more experienced teams. Without Lewis or Williams, we did not even have a guy on our active roster to try to match up with their 6-4 star who had 24 points at the half. He was either too tall or too quick for any of our active players too match up with him. Now those are reasons we got hammered. Reasons are sometimes labeled excuses, but that does not change the truth.
We have 5 games on our schedule which I would call scheduled wins, 3 NAIA teams and two 300 level teams, all at home. Our 3 wins all came from that list of teams. In those games we could run our offense and get great shots. Teams like Marshall and ISU took those things away from us and pointed out just how far we have to go.
I think this was a wake up for the coaches as well. They had to be really disappointed with the fan/student turnout. Just wait till they see the crowds the next 6 weeks as students and many townspeople will leave. With Christmas vacation and then J-term, it will be the last weekend in January before there will be fans, bands, dance teams, pep bands, and students. There is a major task ahead to rebuild support, and this game was denied what could have been a big student crowd by all the national attention given to students in uptown bars supporting Team USA. That was the big event in town on Saturday.
There were a few other issues which popped up at the ISU game. Our players lost their confidence and appeared to be hanging their heads and looked beaten. Coach Steele fought hard early in the game, arguing with the refs and talking sternly with the players. Then he got a Technical for yelling at one ref several times ( no bad language, just bitching too much and too often). However, after that he also did use some poor language, which is nothing compared to what Coach Martin or most all football coaches do, but sitting in a quiet gym about 20 feet away from the bench, it is another situation and several people in the stands were not good with it. He also yelled at his team when they were standing at mid court with their heads down, which I really liked.
The second half was much better, we actually outscored them a few points, as both teams played everybody. We did fight and scrap in the second half so they got that corrected at halftime.
We have played way too many freshman this season. Unless you have big time stars, a good program is not going to start more than one. While Mirambeaux is a 4th year players, this is the first time in his career that he has played a big role in D-1. Lairy has great experience, but has always been more of a scorer, not a passing point guard, This role is new for him. Safford, in his first year here, seems just fine to me. We need more of that. I personally think our two best players are Lewis and Williams, neither played Saturday. They both have nice size and length, good athleticism, and they can both kind of do it all. Last year Williams got to start the last 10 games, and averaged in double figures in those starts, but his offense was strictly catch and shoot from the perimeter, and get a few stickbacks. This year I was really excited about what he showed in the exhibition game, because he had expanded his skill set in the off season. Besides being a catch and shoot 3- point expert, he had added a game off the bounce, both a midrange jumper and taking it to the hole and finishing. Everybody has seen what Lewis can do, what an all around game that he has. When we get to the point where we can start Mirambeaux at center and Lairy at the point and Lewis, Williams, and Safford in between, I think that would be a lineup which can compete against good D-1 teams. Our best freshmen, Smith and Mabry and Morris will still get plenty of minutes. Too me that looks like a team which can compete at a much higher level than we are at right now.