- The Cons: As usual, I’ll start with the cons. I don’t have a lot of specific complaints against Saturday’s game, just the overarching one: This team has got to learn how to keep a lead, something that the Pack has struggled with all season long. I’m not sure if they’ve let fame go to their heads, or if they’re simply nervous about holding the top spot, but whatever the reason, this is definitely an issue. After the brutal loss to Utah State on February 1st, you would have expected the Pack to come out on fire last Saturday. And they did, they just couldn’t keep that fire alive. And while the Pack did come out ahead in the end, the last part of the game saw plenty of turnovers, sloppy plays, a technical, and resulted in an eleven-point win that could have been much greater. The other con? Cameron Oliver has been getting a bit testy lately, and it’s showing. On Saturday, Oliver was called for his second technical in two games, and seemed to have some words with a different Utah player earlier in the game. If I remember correctly, that makes at least three or four technical fouls for Oliver this season. And while some of them have been a bit debatable (hanging rim anybody?), that still doesn’t look to good.
- The Pros: Now to the fun part, and we’ll start with namesake of this article. After his first slump of the season, Marcus Marshall seemed like he might be back to his normal self on Saturday. With 22 points and five made three pointers, it seems that the Marshall magic may be back. And just in time too. With games against the other first place teams (Boise St. and Colorado St.), a game in San Jose where we notoriously play poorly, and a game against our rival down in the South, the Pack is going to need Marshall to be at his best if they want to finish this season in first. Speaking of those who may have come out of a slump, Muss really ought to bench Cameron Oliver more often. After not starting in the game against Air Force, Oliver came out with absolutely monstrous game, finishing with 25 points and 15 rebounds. And although he did start against Utah State, he seemed to be in the same mind set on Saturday too, adding another double-double and being named “Mountain West Player of the Week.” It’s clear that Musselman’s message was well received. Lindsey Drew was also benched at the start of the Air Force game, and again for the start of the Utah State game. He didn’t enter the first half until there were 14 minutes left, but he clearly left an impression with three assists and one steal. Perhaps he’ll be back in the starting line-up tonight.
- An Afterthought: This week I have two. First, give me your thoughts on Charlie Tooley. He had a big game at Air Force, and was certainly an important factor in the insane win over New Mexico earlier this season. He seems to be getting more minutes, and while he’s not about to enter the starting line-up, he seems to be a fan favorite. Could Charlie Tooley be the new Curry Lynch? Secondly, where had Devearl Ramsey gone? He seemed to be getting more playing well, and not doing too shabby. The kid is fast! But lately he seems to be MIA, with coach not giving him any minutes at all.
- Next Up: Tonight! You’d be hard pressed to find a game that was important this season than the ones that are coming up in the next couple of weeks. And since we are tied with Boise for first place in the league, tonight’s game is of the utmost importance. Tip-off is at 7 tonight, and I expect Lawlor to be rocking! If you can’t make it, the game is on ESPN3, or you can listen to Ryan Radtke’s beautiful voice on 94.5 FM.
- The Word on the Block: “Follow your shot!” “The ref just looked at him and said, ‘I’m gonna call a foul on him.’” “’Do you think his hair is heavy?’ ‘Whose?’ ‘Jalen Moore’s?’ ‘No, 90% hair.’” “Scouts like that shot.” “I like him, he’s a great coach.” And these from the Air Force game ‘cause they were just too good to pass up: “Normally when I want something from Eric Musselman, I have to go through his wife, Danyelle.” “I wear the pants in my family, my wife just tells me which ones to wear.”
***Also, a special thank you to the University. After a very rude fan at the UNLV game called me some inappropriate things, the University contacted me to let me know that that was unacceptable on their campus, what to do if it happens again, and to thank me for being a Pack supporter. I really appreciate the support and backup.