Regression to the mean. That's scientist/statistician talk that only in part
explains what happened this evening. New Mexico came out shooting unconsciously
in the first half--aided by some less-than-stellar defense. But, the larger
sample size (the previous games of the season in total) tell us that they are
about a 36% shooting team from 3-pt land. After missing almost nothing from long
range in the first half, the Lobos went stone cold for what seemed like a
semester, finishing much closer to their season average (they were 8/20 for
40%). It's a good thing, too, because while the Birds shot MUCH better in the
second half (regressing UPWARDS towards their mean at 51% for the game), we
didn't hit the 3's very well for the second straight game, finishing at 4/17
from long range--that's 7/29 for the last two games. (BTW, the South basket
outscored the North basket 82-40 tonight. Coincidence? I think not--maybe we
need to pull out the tape measure)
For those of you bored by statistics, though, let's move on to some more qualitative analysis...
WOW, WHAT A FRIGGIN' GAME, BABY!!! A comeback for the ages based on tremendous defense, offensive urgency and drive, and a crowd that'll, in the long run, cost the taxpayers dollars for all those grads retiring with disability claims for hearing loss. Most of you heard Coach--if your ears weren't still ringing--the 6th Man did it tonight! Down 21 at one point, the crowd never, never gave up on the Birds--and neither did the staff. I didn't see anyone lose their cool. In fact, I saw a few chuckles when things didn't seem like they could get worse. But in the second half, Danny Nwaelele, Matt McCraw, Nick Welch, Jake Burtschi, and Tim Anderson were relentless all over the court.
The first half game plan by UNM was very, very good. I'd call it a spread 'em and split 'em offense that pulled us to the perimeter defensively as well as anyone has. Combine that with VERY fast slashing guards, the aforementioned somnambulant shooting touch and some inside shots by Danbridge (that looked like real NBA stuff), and we were firmly on our heels. Subs didn't work. We'd get a steal and a hoop, they'd answer with a three. The lead just seemed to grow. I made notes of times I thought we would start to turn it around, but each note was followed by an even bigger UNM lead.
In the second half, we just seemed a step quicker. When Prentice (who's DAMN good) or Kersten (Dunst) would drive, we'd have position. Better still, their outlet passes were covered and no one open for a three. Danbridge was a non-entity thanks to tenacious fronting defense by whomever switched to him. The basket seemed to have a cover on it--even for free throws--as the Birds took a 42-41 lead after trailing 39-24 at half. We were on an 18-2 run!
Tremendous credit goes to Danny and Matt for challenging in the lane over and over--aided by Nick, Jake, and Tim making some great passes, driving when they had the chance, and setting some great screens. Tim's three pointer--his first basket of the night--was as big as Danny's late three against UNLV. By the time it was 47-42, thoughts of holding the Lobos in single digits for the half were swirling in our heads.
As said in an earlier post in the forums, we won this one at the line--a by product of our slashing attacks to the basket. Our speed to the hoop and superior position caused a rash of fouls that sent their big guys to the bench for O2 and the Falcons to the line for 21-23 FTs.
Player of the game was really the crowd. Deafening. The cadets were at their best. D&B was what they should be EVERY game. Most of us spent the second half on our feet. We'll take this one, gentlemen. We deserve it.
Danny & Matt, as mentioned, were unstoppable. Danny's reverse lay-ups with enough spin to make the ball oblate (cool Astro word, huh F16Jock?) have become second nature, and Matt's touch off of a 40" vertical is absolute velvet.
Timmy, Timmy, Timmy. Could you make a couple more timely steals? I didn't think so. You could pick the pocket of a Kangaroo on full hop. Amazing steals that just sent the crowd crazy. Heck, if we'd have converted a couple more of those lay-ups, I might've beaten F16Jock in the prediction thread. Superb rebound, too.
Note to fans: When we have a poor FT or RB game, we tend to recover pretty well the following game, don't we? Coaching does that.
Nick was aggressive and missed a couple of those heart-breakers, but is steadily returning to the Nick we love and need.
Jake was the usual bundle of energy, with three steals of his own and a bunch of big RBs off the UNM boards, he was solid throughout.
We sure did a good job of passing around the fouls, too. Danny finished with 4, Nick had 2 early fouls and the other 3 starters had 3 each.
Kudos to Anwar Johnson for some excellent defense when he played. He's got an energy that will pay off. But, Anwar, when you make a great cut to the hoop, trust me, the ball coming your way is yours. Catch it and slam it. Really.
That's about all I've got folks. Gotta teach tomorrow morning. I won't be going to the Wyoming game--I'm officiating the first indoor track meet of the season in the Field House--so I'll have to depend on ltcpilot or some other trustworthy source for a report.
Thanks again to all who came out tonight. It was truly memorable! Go Falcons! Sock the Cowboys!!!!
The Falcons travel to Wyoming and take on the Cowboys on Sat, 13 Jan 07. Game time is 2 pm (MT).