Let’s ease in to it, because no one likes it all at once. Yesterday I posted 5 factors (more questions than anything else) that were going to be crucial in last night’s game against the Spartans and I gotta say that I hit the nail on the head. First, some good news. Kentucky took a punch right square in the jaw to start the first half but God love em’ they didn’t fold. They fought, and they fought hard. You could tell that the Cats were a little shell shocked at first but the deficit never got out of reach. They hung around and chipped away at the lead and tied it up late in the second half. That’s pretty damn impressive. Also, I think it’s about time that people jumped back on the Alex Poythress train. He played solid last night and the every day battle he has with Julius Randle is starting to pay some dividends.
With that being said, let’s be honest here for just a second. Kentucky was out classed and out coached last night, period. Winning teams come out of the gates firing, know how to beat a specific defensive set, and most importantly championship caliber teams make their free throws. 55% is horrible, especially in an era of college basketball that seems determined to turn the fast paced game we all love so dearly into a free throw shooting contest. I said yesterday that Kentucky needed to shoot 70% from the foul line to win the game. If the Cats hit five more shots from the charity stripe (meaning 25-36) that puts them at just over 69%, and also keeps them out of the losing column. This isn’t a problem, it’s a trend. I don’t imagine that Cal has forgotten about his loss to Kansas in the National Championship because of missed free throws, so it’s puzzling to me that it hasn’t been corrected. You want to be a better free throw shooting team? Shoot them at the end of practice when your legs are tired and your mind is worn out. That’s the best way to simulate the in-game feel. I’ll never understand it, and I’ll just leave it at that.
Ah Julius Randle, you grown man, you. Randle is getting a lot of praise for his performance last night, and rightfully so. My problem however, is that the eight turnovers are being completely overlooked. I get it from a media perspective, as ESPN is really trying to bank in on the incredible Freshman thing from last night. But from a basketball standpoint that is completely unacceptable from your star player and it needs to be corrected. He went to the drop step/spin combo too often in the first half and Michigan State just took the ball away from him and started the break. I’ll venture that around six of their transition points came off of Randle turnovers. Take those away, and Kentucky wins the game. It’ll come with time, like most others it’s hard for me to picture Randle as an 18 year old kid, but the turnovers have to be cut down.
Remember though, this game was unfair from the start. That would be much more understandable if Kentucky were playing these Spartans…
Keep the faith #BBN. We’ve all seen this movie before: they’re young, (and restless?) and are prone to making mistakes. The biggest relief I have after last night is that the ridiculous 40-0 claims can go hang out with the Cardinal BCS hopes in the land of “ain’t gonna happen.” So back to reality… and the reality is that I’d hate to be Robert Morris right now.
Please take some time and enjoy some amazing journalism. This made my morning just a little better.
If you feel like I feel I got the anecdote.
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