The Day After: Kent St.

That was a good win for the young ‘Hawks. But it's too bad that the officials had to become the center of attention the second half. It's going to happen when they blow their whistles every five seconds or so.

Neither team can establish any rhythm, the fans start sitting on their hands, and the whole flow of the game is changed.  I know they wanted to "control" the game after the little altercation, but I don't know if they needed to do it for the next thirty minutes or more.

I don't know what happened in the altercation.  It appeared on the replay that Markieff got elbowed twice and retaliated.  I think he got in trouble when he got up in the "ready to square off" stance.  I hadn't realized that he had been ejected but allowed to stay on the bench until he didn't come back in.  It's a fine line that will be discussed quite a bit.  When does aggressive play and not backing down turn into uncalled for actions?  I don't know if I like the term "dirty" play.  Seems to me that there is a lot of physical play that goes on, especially under the basket.  I really don't think Coach would sit there and tolerate any of our players intentionally throwing elbows and stuff like that - by the way, kudos to Coach Manning for getting Markieff out of there before he really had problems.  I remember a lot of games way back when where we complained that our players weren't tough enough.  It IS a fine line.

I do know one thing I don't like, and that is to have players continually talking to the refs about calls.  I think it's okay for the captains to get an explanation of what happened, but I have never seen a call changed because a player complained or pointed fingers.  I know you have to “work the refs,” but that should be the coach's job.  I remember last year how the guys just walked away even if they had a disgusted look on their faces.  In the end I believe you play better when you aren't upset and can put it behind you.

Back to the game.  I'm not into nicknames, but I was thinking that maybe we should start calling Cole "Double B" - blocks and boards.  The guy is a monster.  I think we sometimes forced the ball into him when he was doubled and tripled teamed.  He needed to get the ball back out more, and he usually does, in those situations.  He tried to make some moves a couple of times and just couldn't against that many defenders.  But just when the opponent thinks they have a shot underneath here comes the long arm of Mr. Aldrich to swat it away.  I have to admit that I checked a box score because I wanted to see how many minutes Markieff had, and I then realized that BOTH Cole and Marcus had a double-double.  That's pretty impressive for two big guys to do that.  

Too bad the play at the end of the half didn't count, but it was still impressive.  By the rules I think it was the right call.  As they explained, Cole grabbed it with both hands before sending it through the hoop.  With only .2 of a second left you are not allowed to catch the ball.  But it definitely got everybody riled up.  What a great pass, too!

Speaking of Marcus, I thought he had another good game.  If only he could hit his free throws.  I mean, he was 8 out of 12, and the rest of the team was 24 for 24.  Wish we had used some of those up against Syracuse.  Marcus looked a lot more determined on the boards.  His defense was solid, also.  And he has shown that he can handle the ball when he needs to help bring it up the court.  I think as long as he can channel his aggressiveness into the things he does so well that he is going to continue to grow and mature as a player.  I think he is going to be really good.  The one criticism I can think of for this game is that a couple of times he really forced an individual move early in the shot clock.  He can get those guarded jumpers anytime.  But when he starts knocking them down then I won't say anything.

Speaking of really good, how about Sherron Collins?  Whenever they guy "turns it on" he can be as good as anybody.  He can blow by you in a second, but he can also pull up and knock down the jumper.  He has accepted the leadership role, and you can see him constantly talking to the younger players - especially Tyshawn.  

Speaking of Tyshawn, the young man has come a long way already.  I don't think I need to point out how he needs to finish better.  I bet he felt good coming out beginning the second half and hitting that drive through the lane.  He's also knocked down some perimeter shots the last couple of games.  But the thing that will earn him the most minutes is his effort on defense.  It was most obvious the last possession of the first half for Kent State when we got the shot clock violation.  

If I'm going to talk about Cole getting the ball back outside on a feed to the post, then I have to say the perimeter players have to be ready to take that open look.  More than once the ball was passed back out and we stood there and reset it.  It's going to be a lot easier for Cole if we can hit a few of those and get those guys away from packing the lane.  Brady and Tyrel are two guys that are in there to help that situation.  I thought Brady played another solid game.  I have stayed out of the debate about playing time as best as I could, but I can say that I don't see any reason for him not to be getting his minutes - at least at this time.  Yes, he makes mistakes.  But so does everybody else on the team.  But he does enough things well that he is an asset to have on the court.

I thought Markieff was doing some things well, too, before the incident.  I hope it helps him understand that he cannot help the team sitting on the bench.  But he was doing a good job under the basket and on the boards.  Both twins have a good stroke.  You can see it from the foul line.  Our rotation of big guys is really getting more solid, and we need to have him available to be part of it.

Travis Releford came in, got beat out in position for a rebound, and immediately went back to the bench for an extended period.  Then he came in at the end of the game and was very productive for his few minutes.  To me he just doesn't seem to be quite "there" yet.  He's got all the tools.  It's just a matter of him finding a comfort level and performing at a level that Coach feels is beneficial to the team.  Hopefully he will get some more minutes against some of these teams.  Like the announcers said, this is kind of an audition for minutes before we get into the meat of things.

It was encouraging to hear that Mario Little is feeling good and thinks he is ready to play.  Let's hope the x-ray shows the same thing.  I think he is going to really strengthen our rotation if his play in Canada was any indication.  He definitely could shoot the ball, especially the mid-range jumper.

Like I said, I thought the second half got really long with all the stops in the action.  We really didn't have the opportunity to get out and run like we like to.  Shooting 36 free throws is a lot.  But I bet Coach would have liked to be able to have seen us run through the offense more often to get a better perspective of who was doing what.  But there will be games like that, I guess, and it's better us shooting all of those then them.

At least we don't have long to wait to see what happens next.  I can handle all of this action.  I don't have to suffer through withdrawal nearly as much.

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