Let’s talk hoops for a few minutes.
Yeah, I know I said I was drastically reducing my expectations for KU after Udoka Azubuike was lost for the season. But, still, that loss to West Virginia last Saturday was fucking stupid. It put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Seriously, it’s been awhile since I’ve been that angry after a loss.
Why the change in attitude? Because West Virginia only showed the mildest of interest in winning that game for the first 37 minutes, because slightly smarter play over that stretch would have put the game out of reach, and because KU had a complete meltdown in the closing three minutes to hand the game to the Mountaineers. No matter what my expectations for KU are, I still can’t deal with them pissing away a game against the last place team in the conference. A team that went out Monday and got pounded at home by Baylor to go to 1–6 in the league.
And then came Iowa State on Monday, followed by a trip to Kentucky, a trip to Texas, Texas Tech at home, and then on to Manhattan to face the suddenly hot Purples. Man, this could get ugly quick. As Iowa State led by nine in the second half Monday, I texted a couple of my buddies and suggested, only kind of jokingly, that we might not win another game this season.
Then KU promptly ripped off a 14–0 run to take control of the game.
When Iowa State tied the game with about 2:00 left, I sent the same text again.
KU righted the ship and closed out the game to get a very important win.
So I guess I’ll be texting how we may not win another game a lot over the next two months. Hey, I might have given up hope on the Big 12 title and a Final Four trip, but I’ll be damned if I stop being stupidly superstitious during games!
Fortunately for KU, the teams I thought would be ahead of them, Iowa State and Texas Tech, have both struggled over the past two weeks. Unfortunately, K-State is healthy and playing great.
I don’t think there is a great team in the Big 12 this year. I expect that there’s going to be a lot of beating each other up between now and March, with a team getting a big win one night only to give it back a couple days later. Six losses might still win the conference.
Hey, KU has a chance. They are playing better defense. Marcus Garrett has been a revelation, except at the free throw line. Ochai Agbaji looks confident, steady, and explosive…other than when he peed himself in Morgantown.
I just don’t see them having enough shooting to weather the beast that is the Big 12 schedule. There are going to be nights when they can’t count on Dedric Lawson scoring 29 because the defenses are swarming him, and I don’t see enough guys around him to pick up the slack.
They should get pounded pretty good in Lexington Saturday. Bill Self has beaten John Calipari three-straight years and you know Cal wants that shit to end. Plus Kentucky is playing really well right now, and they are crazy big. If Self had a couple shooters, I could see him figuring out a way to out-coach Cal as he usually does when they meet. Just get out of Lexington injury-free and be ready to fight next week.
Since L has become a big Indiana Pacers and Victor Oladipo fan, we watch at least part of every Pacers game. Or rather I turn it on, she kind of drifts in and out, and after she goes to bed I settle down with the second half. That’s been a good routine because the Pacers have been excellent for the last month. To me they look like how you would want to build a really good college team: balanced across the entire roster with shooters, bigs, athletes, defenders, and depth. Good enough to beat any team on any night. The issue, though, is are they good enough to beat Boston, Philadelphia, and/or Toronto four times in seven games in the playoffs?
L was out of the room last night, and I was staring at my iPad, when I noticed the sound of the game had changed. I looked up and saw Oladipo lying on the floor, holding his knee, and waiting for a stretcher to take him off the court.
There’s been no official word yet, but given Victor’s reaction – he pulled down the sleeve covering his knee and then started screaming – you have to figure he’s done for the year. Which pretty much wrecks this season. The Pacers have a bunch of good players, which is enough to keep them in the playoff picture. But they will surely slide from the top four in the Eastern Conference where they’ve been all year to the bottom half, meaning they have to face one of the teams they really struggle with in the first round of the playoffs. It was one thing last year to take on, and really push, Cleveland. That was with Oladipo doing everything he could to match LeBron. Without him? Not happening.
Which is a damn shame because this team was a lot of fun to watch. The good thing is they are, for the most part, pretty young. If Oladipo can come back healthy next year and they are again smart in the off-season, hopefully they will be as good and fun to watch in the ’19–20 campaign.
- Jinx! ↩