Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Letters From Lawlor - A Second Half Team

After the Pack played Buffalo in the Great Alaska Shootout last week, somebody asked Cameron Oliver if he thought the Pack was a second half team. Oliver was hesitant to say yes, but after Tuesday’s game against Pacific, it’s clear that they are quickly becoming one.

In the Pack’s last five games, they have come out lackluster in the first half, only to be energetic and strong in the second. They’ve won four of their last five games this way, although it may have been the cause for the loss against Iona in Alaska. The Wolf Pack is looking great in the second half of games, but they should be coming out of the locker room with that energy from the start, not just after a screaming halftime from Muss. The game against Pacific was no different.

  •  The Cons:

See above! But really, no team is going to be able to continue to pull off wins if they are only showing up for the second half of the game. This will especially be true when we enter into conference play. We have become a second half team, and while it’s always fun to see a nice rally out of a hole, it also puts us in that hole in the first place. The start of the Pacific game saw us looking tired and unable to score. There were a lot of stupid mistakes, such as a backcourt violation, turnovers, and a steal where I really thought Oliver simply handed the ball to the Pacific team. The Pack wasn’t in any foul trouble, which was good, but also indicative of how aggressive we were being. Nobody wanted to drive the ball to the hole, and two of our leading scorers, Oliver and Marshall, didn’t score until the very end of the half. The one bright spot of the first half? Josh Hall looked confident and ready to go.

As the game continued, things started to look up. But Jordan Caroline was still struggling with free throws, Oliver wasn’t taking open shots, and the whole team was letting Pacific take threes like crazy. Although, Muss did say that that was part of his strategy. DJ Fenner looked like he lacked confidence and wasn’t in his normal leadership role, and I firmly believe the Drew needs to be taking the ball down the court when he’s in, rather than Marshall.

  •  The Pros:

The second half started off a lot better than the first, and saw Cameron Oliver pass JaVale McGee for the fifth most blocks in school history. Back to back threes from Oliver and then Fenner got the crowd on their feet, and Marshall followed with a three closely afterward to finally get this team heated. Marshall and Oliver both finished with 17 points, and Fenner started to look like normal and finished with 11.

As I mentioned before, this was a great game for Josh Hall. While eight points and an assist might not sound like much, Hall played 23 minutes and showed that he can keep up with the big dogs and fill the role that we need of him. With conference play starting in a little under a month, and the Pack having little depth on the bench, Hall, King, and Ramsey are going to need to step up in a large way. Hall and King look like they may be ready, but we’ve seen very little of Ramsey.

  •  Next Up:

The Pack plays Bradley tonight as a part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge. The Bradley Braves are 4-3 this season so far, and they won their last game against Eastern Illinois. However, the Braves had a very rough season last year, going 5-27. The betting line has Nevada favored by 7.5, and both Marshall and Caroline have played at Bradley before, which is an advantage. However, if the Pack wants to continue to win, they’re going to have to start showing up in the first half and not just rely on the second one to save themselves.

Tip off is at 5 tonight, and the game will be on ESPN3 and 94.5 FM.

  •   An Afterthought:

This week’s afterthought is not actually an afterthought at all. Pack fans have been talking and speculating about Elijah Foster all week. In case you somehow missed it, Foster was charged with domestic battery first and contempt of court on Monday. Musselman immediately suspended Foster from all basketball related activities, and Foster’s initial court appearance was on Wednesday. Foster had three technical fouls in the first seven games, the most recent one for chucking a basketball at the leg of an Oakland player while in Alaska. Foster had been having a great season so far, averaging 12 points a game. Foster being arrested could change this entire season. Considering the police report, it seems likely that Foster will be convicted at some level, and that Muss will let him go. A selfish and terrible thing to do. This town and university are better than that, and so is this basketball team. Sayonara Foster.

  •  The Word on the Block:

I wasn’t feeling well on Tuesday, so I watched the game from home. The only things I heard was what I was yelling at the TV, so there’s not much for this section this time. Hopefully my dad will text me something cunning this evening during the game.

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