Let's take a look at why the Titans finished their out-of-conference schedule at 4-5:
Career Games Kill Us
As predicted by Throwback (and here) on the TitanCentral.com message boards, "some idiot from LMU shoots the lights out " (or "somebody will have a career night from behind the arc "). Turns out that idiot was Charles Brown. The 5'-11" Brown came into the game hitting 27% of his three-point attempts (8 for 29) in 10 games. In one game, he hits 5 of 9 from behind the arc and scores a career high 25 points.
Would love to say this guy is a pure shooter or our defense was sagging which left Brown wide open but this was simply not true. The guy has to double-pump the ball just to get it to the rim and, while we don't have the best defense in the world, we were covering him fairly tight all night. Call it what you want, but I will call it luck. This guy will not make 5 three-pointers in a game the rest of the year. He is an awful shooter but came in and stole a game from us.
Bobby Brown Didn't Shoot Enough
Sure the boxscore says he took 10 shots and hit five of them (2 for 4 on 3-pts) but one came on a half-court shot to end halftime and another came on a desperation three-point attempt at the end of the game when we were down four (it was blocked). And it wasn't so much that he took only eight real shots. He just didn't look to shoot tonight and really never got the team going from that standpoint.
The best part about Brown is that he is a gamer. When others are failing to score, which is usually the case, he comes up with a big three or drives to the hoop for the easy bucket. Tonight, he did too much standing around and I felt he held back on what he is all about. Hopefully this is a one-game anomaly and right now I wonder if the remarks in the OC Register which stated that he "takes erratic shots instead of looking for an open man" got to him. Bobby, trust us, this is not true. We need those "erratic" shots. In fact I will take 10 more "erratic" shots as long as you keep making half of them.
Turnovers and Defense
I thought our defense played better tonight but it still needs to improve. The 17 turnovers are still way too many to win games against a team like LMU. I don't know if the Lions brought their "A" game but they certainly played much better than they did against Long Beach State. If we are going to win the close games -- and they are all going to be close -- we need to take better care of the ball.
I rarely like to blame games being lost on the officials and this game won't be one of them. From a selfish standpoint, I would like to see us get some calls in our house just once. Tonight it wasn't the calls made but the ones not made. Our guys were battling hard and deserved more than the 18 calls on the Lions.
And when fans point this out, referees like Mike Scyphers need to take it like men and not go lying and crying to the nearest events manager.
On a crucial possession late in the game, Pape Sow comes down with a rebound only to get hammered by two LMU players but there's no call. The ball goes to Anthony Bolton who also clearly gets fouled and, still, there's no call. The ball goes out of bounds in LMU's favor, of course. LMU promptly hits a three-pointer to take the lead. As you would expect, the crowd goes nuts.
After the crowd calms down somewhat I let the ref know that those calls were not appreciated and Scyphers turns around and stares at me. So I tell him again, he blew it. We were clearly fouled down there by at least three different players and he needs to start doing his job. Yes, I was yelling at the guy but certainly there was no profanity and the fact a referee even acknowledges a fan is ludicrous in itself.
In hindsight, he obviously wanted to hand out a technical, hoping I would go ballistic and start throwing out F-bombs.
Next deadball he talks to Ron Andris who is in charge of such things and points me out. Andris then pulls me aside at the next timeout and says the referee has singled you out as using profanity against him. I tell Andris there was no way I was cussing at him and he can ask anyone around me if this was true or not. Satisfied, Andris just says we really don't want to get a technical in such a tight game so try to tone it down.
Andris did the job he was supposed to do but for a Big West referee to try instigate something with the fans and then lie about it to help make his case should be punishable. Referees who deliberately engage fans should not be tolerated by the Big West.
Well, enough of my rant. I would like to point out Pape Sow had a monster offensive game. He was just as dominant as the boxscore indicates. 33 points were nice but when he hits his free throws like he did last night (12 of 13), this will only help his cause. I just hate to waste great games like this. We need to find a way to come out on top in these types of games.
Hopefully we start doing it on Saturday night at home against Northridge. Don't forget, there's a Chalk Talk before the game at the University Village.