I arrived home from AFH about 4 hours ago, so I got up to write this and then I going back to get some rest. I had a lot of time to rehash the game several times during the 3-hour drive home.
The night started out kind of fun for me on a personal note. We entered AFH as soon as the doors were opened. My son and I immediately went over to the hallway by the Nevada locker room in hopes of seeing Coach Fox for a minute or two before he entered the court area. We waited for about 5 minutes, and it turned out they weren't even in AFH yet. Their bus pulled up, and the players started coming in to the locker room area. I saw Coach Fox, and I was going to yell at him; but I didn't have to. He recognized me and came straight over. We got to talk for 3 or 4 minutes. That was kind of nice because I hadn't seen him in about 20 years.
We were really impressed with the way AFH looked. I was surprised to still see empty seats in the northwest corner, and I saw several groups of empty seats in the chair-back section. How could anyone miss this important game? Give the tickets to someone who wants to come!
This game was really hard for me to watch. Like we have talked about, the team is a real contrast of good and poor execution. We have so much talent, but they are still learning to become a team. I said after an earlier game that one of my main concerns was where the points were going to come from, and it didn't change much last night.
The first half was particularly painful to watch. Early on we couldn't control our handle on the ball. We couldn't knock down a shot - even when we had a wide open look. We seemed out-of-sync for most of the half. We did make one good run, and the crowd really tried to "will" the team on. Boy, did it get noisy in that place! During the 2nd half the crowd really helped light a fire under the team, but it just wasn't quite enough. We worked so hard to get over the hump and take a lead, but give Nevada credit. They never seemed to be intimidated too much by the crowd. I don't know the statistics, but they shot the ball extremely well - especially free throws towards the end of the game when they had to have them.
I never blame a loss on the officials, and I don't this one. But I will tell you this. The officiating sure was hard to figure out - at BOTH ends. They would let guys get absolutely clobbered, and then they would call a touch foul. The players were having a hard time adjusting, too. It seemed like in the first half almost anything was allowed, but then it got real ticky-tack for a while in the 2nd half.
I have to say that I thought Hawkins "hawking" defense was something that really helped get the team going. He does do some crazy things, but almost everybody on the team does at some point. There was no question that he got clobbered on that last play, but it's no surprise they didn't call it. I thought that he might have taken the ball in a little deep. It looked like he could have dished it off to one of the other guys after he drew a crowd. But, I am sure he planned on scoring or drawing a foul.
Sasha kept us in it in the first half. My only concern about him is that once it goes in to him he has a one track mind. It would be nice if the ball could go in and come back out on occasion. Of course, if we can't hit the perimeter shots, then he might as well take it to the hole. Giles, I can't figure out. Like I said in a previous report, he needs to show up every night - every possession. He's got so much talent, but he picks up the quickest fouls - and not very smart ones at that.
Brandon turned it on offensively in the 2nd half. There were times when we kept trying to come back that he tried to do too much himself. Of course, part of that could have been the frustration that we weren't getting it done any other way. He was the one that seemed to have a consistent ability to hit a shot.
I hate to second-guess Coach, but isn't that what the Internet is for? I'll just say that I am surprised that Micah got pulled out of the game a couple of times - especially during the last seconds of the contest. We needed someone who could score the ball, and Micah had just knocked down a big three. I know that we only needed two to tie, and we probably wanted a chance for a follow shot on a miss, but all night I kept thinking that Micah should have been on the court more.
I haven't read any articles or any posts, so I don't know how serious Chalmers’ injury was. He got knocked down pretty hard. I'm not sure it would have changed things much anyway. He wasn't connecting on his shot, and Hawkins was playing the better D out front. Chalmers will be a very good player for this team, but his time isn't quite here yet.
I don't think Wright played in the 2nd half. He didn't play well in the first half. Maybe that, plus the matchup difficulties, kept him out the 2nd half. Or maybe there was something else that I am unaware of. RR had a terrible time handling the ball early on. He did a much better job as the game wore on.
All-in-all a very frustrating night. You wanted so badly for the guys to succeed. It seems like Nevada would pull away by 7 or 8 points, and then we would come back. We couldn't get over the hump until around 8 minutes left. The place was going crazy. But Nevada kept it's cool and knocked down some big shots. Fazekas was just outstanding on the offensive end, but we gave him the ball in easy scoring position way too many times. He also knocked down a couple of perimeter shots that were like daggers in our runs.
We rebounded poorly. You don't always see it on television, but we just let too many get away. The weak-side rebounding was horrendous. We would have position and still couldn't get it. They even had some put-backs on missed shots by some of their small guys, although they were leapers.
This team has got the parts. They somehow just need to get it put together. We need somebody besides Rush and Kaun that can score the ball consistently. We absolutely somehow have to find a perimeter game. I hope Micah gets a chance to help out more there. Our defense was pretty good. We leaned on Fazekas a lot, but he just is a player. The zone helped changed the pace of play, but they had guys that were't afraid to shoot it up from outside. Plus, they passed the ball around the zone very effectively and got some good looks.
Enough rambling. Saturday is another day. We have to win some of these games now. That would have been a big quality win. But now we just have to improve as a team and get to a point where we can win this kind of game.
It's still a great day to be a Jayhawk. The atmosphere was electric.