I’m writing this in an abandoned parking lot abut 200 yards from Murphy’s right now and it’s not even the weirdest place I’ve written a post game recap in Stillwater.
Great college basketball1 game tonight in Stillwater as OSU lost a heartbreaker to a crazy deep Gonzaga squad.
I was in town for the game and I have thoughts on what played out…
1. Smart’s missed free throws to tie it at the end were gut-wrenching. You know nobody was more bummed out than him but a moment of honesty here: OSU loses by 15-20 without him on the team. So I have trouble criticizing him for faltering at that moment.
Mark Few had this to say after the game:
Gonzaga coach Mark Few on Marcus Smart: “He’s an all-time great. I’d go to war with him any day.” He worked with him this summer.
— Brendon Morris (@brendon_wm) January 1, 2013
2. The crowd was terrific tonight. I was a little worried that with the cold weather, rain, and bowl game in Dallas tomorrow that we might be a little disappointed but everybody brought it, and we were dying to close the last five minutes (more on that in a minute). If we could figure out how to convince Boone to buy 4K tickets to the rest of our games, we’d be set2.
3. Ford’s management of the last five minutes of the game was pretty questionable. I hate the whole prevent offense thing and we went to it really early — like right at the four-minute timeout mark. I don’t know if you guys know this but our half court offense isn’t something taught at youth basketball camps but we banked on it pulling out a game for us against a top 10 team after thriving the first 35 minutes with helter-skelter defense, trapping, and fast breaks.
I understand why you go into the prevent offense (I guess), I just don’t agree with it. Another unintended consequence is that you don’t let a crowd falling over itself to close a game for you because of how disjointed the last few possessions are. Disappointing after a pretty good game plan for the rest of the game.
4. Gonzaga is really, really good. They’ve now beaten OSU, OU, Baylor, West Virginia, and Kansas State. They’re a KU neutral site W from being able to claim the Big 12 crown.
5. One thing I noticed that really impressed me throughout the game was that everybody on OSU’s team with the exception of Nash had a true sense of how big the game was. It’s a byproduct of Smart being a great leader3 and it’s something that’s been missing since Eddie left.
Cobbins was doing long-armed Cobbins celebrations, Forte had his Brady-fist pump going all night4, even Mason Cox got in on the action with a strong “rise up off the bench with my arms extended and let out a primal scream to the rafters of GIA after one of my teammates rock an and one dunk” performance. I can tell he’s been working on it.
6. Markel was amazing in the first half. Kyle Fredrickson said it during the first half (can’t find the tweet) but he’s really transformed himself from a player known solely for his hops to somebody who has a legit all-conference game.
7. I thought the refs totally lost control of the game in the second half. The third foul on Olynyk 25 feet from the bucket was absolutely atrocious and they called 10 fouls in the first six minutes after letting both teams brawl in the first half. It didn’t lose either team the game, I’m saying it more as an indictment of college hoops in general.
8. I was at the game with my buddy, Quade (@mattquade12 on Twitter if you want to unfollow after I tell you this story). During the middle of the second half Olynyk was about to shoot free throws and Quade looked at me and said, “look how sweaty Smart’s shorts are.”
I just stared at him.
He continued, “I just mean he’s a really sweaty guy. He really sweats a lot.”
9. If someone would have said “if Pangos hits both of these, we double your salary at CBS. If he misses, you relinquish the position and go back to your old desk job” before Pangos’ last two free throws with eight second left, I would have taken that bet. And yawned.
10. My buddy Amilian said it best so I’ll let him have the stage for #10…
The good news, this #okstate team is who we thought they were. Tough loss, but Big 12 outlook is bright
— Matt Amilian (@mattamilian) January 1, 2013
- Does saying the full name of the sport I just experienced make me a more legitimate analyst like those dude on NFL Live saying “national football league”? ↩
- Also, if the athletic department was smart they’d put all the 300-level tickets on sale for $10 a game for the rest of the year. That would be worth a win or two and you’d probably make more than you’re making with them priced at $35 a pop. ↩
- Few embraced him for a good 30 seconds after the game and held up the hand-shaking line, it was pretty awesome. ↩
- He was borderline distraught after the loss, you can tell he gives a crap every game. ↩