After the basketball game on Friday against Oregon State, I wasn’t sure what to write. The game had gone so beautifully that the die-hard critic in me only had a few tiny things to complain about. And they weren’t even real complaints. So, I thought I’d wait until Sunday’s game to do a feature on both games. And believe me, the game against Iona gave me plenty to complain about.
As I mentioned before, this game was beautiful. For the first time this season, the Pack looked like a team that was in sync. They came out with great energy from the start, and the offense was hot. We had four players in double digits by the end of the game, with Cameron Oliver leading with a whopping 24 points. And Oliver made those 24 points look easy. Caroline, Fenner, and Marshall all scored in double digits too. The Pack looked amazing offensively, and they took to heart my main complaint of this season, they drove to the hole! The Pack also added 19 assists, a number that shows how in sync this team was on Friday.
Defensively, the Pack looked great too. We forced the Beavers to have twenty turn overs, and they shot only seven free throws the entire game, making only three. While the Pack had 15 turn overs, they also had 11 steals. The Pack showed that the up-tempo pace works better for them, and that they are capable of defending a very tall team. My few complaints? The first half saw some issues with free throw shots, and Lindsey Drew fouled out.
Now, the Iona game is a completely different story from the OSU one. The first half of Sunday’s game saw the Pack looking sluggish and confused. It started with Marshall missing back to back threes, and it went downhill from there. Almost everyone was hesitating to take shots, the tempo slowed way down, and tons of sloppy and stupid mistakes were made. Free throws remained an issue, terrible passes were being made, and nobody was rebounding. At one point, it looked like DJ Fenner literally gave the ball to Gaels. The only bright spot of the first half was that Elijah Foster was having another great game and holding this team together. The Pack entered the locker room at half time down by ten points.
The second half of the Iona game saw a completely different Wolf Pack team. I’m not sure what Coach Muss said to them, but whatever it was, it worked. Lindsey Drew appeared out of nowhere, finishing with 11 points, six assists, one block, and two steals. With about 13 minutes left in the game, the Pack took the lead for the first time, and they continued to play great from that point on. Both Marcus Marshall and Cameron Oliver started hitting everything they put up, and both Foster and Caroline were driving to the hole, which resulted in a basket, a foul call, or often both. In fact, Foster reached a new career high with 21 points. Suddenly, this team looked awake. And as the team woke up, so did Lawlor. Although there were only about 6,000 fans there on Sunday evening, the second half got LOUD. Once the Pack reached a considerable lead, they could’ve gotten complacent, but they continued to push hard on the defense. And thank God for that, because that Iona team wasn’t going to give up until the very end.
The Pack won 91-76 against Iona on Sunday, in what is arguably my favorite game of the season thus far. Sure, the Pack looked a lot better against OSU, and the Loyola Marymount game was great too. But the Iona game was one that the Pack really had to fight for. They had to find a way to come together and get things done. Don’t get me wrong, I love when my team is winning by a landslide just as much as the next person, but I much prefer the close games that really exhibit the talent and perseverance of this team.
The Pack plays Oakland in Anchorage tonight as part of the Great Alaska Shootout. The Pack is 3-1 and Oakland is 4-0, so this should be a good match-up. Plus, it’s always fun to watch games that are on a neutral court. Oakland is a fast-paced team, and they like to score a lot, so the Pack will need to come out with a strong defense right away. The line has Nevada favored by 5, but the Pack must come out tough from the start if they want this win. As we learned during the Iona game, things can go bad quickly if the team isn’t in sync. On Sunday, they managed to turn it around. If they dig too big of a hole in tonight’s game, they might not be able to. The game is at 10:30 Pacific Time tonight, but most of us don’t have to work tomorrow, so make sure to try to catch it. It’s on CBS, and it should be a very interesting game.
Someone pointed out to me this weekend that all the banners in Lawlor are printed on both sides so that you can see what they are, no matter where you’re seated. All of them but one that is. The new CBI banner is only printed on the front side, which doesn’t allow some of us (specifically in section 24 and that side of the arena) to see what it says. We obviously all know what the banner is for, but it’d be nice to have it match the others.
The Word on the Block:
“You’re getting tired 23!” I don’t think there’s a sandwich in there.” “These guys are a team.” “Fenner’s the only one moving.” “’Their hair is so similar.’ ‘Well you gotta look at the headband.’” “He is nothing but power.” “Basketball is on the rise.” “I’m excited! It was because of you dude!”
Tweet @hlncampbell if you hear anything great!