So it wasn't a beautiful win. Who cares? Siena is a solid team, especially offensively, and we beat them. With a young group of guys coming off an emotionally charged win Saturday and about to embark on a trip to East Lansing later this week, I'll take it. Admittedly, any time you lead a team 30-10, the game probably shouldn't be in single digits over the last few minutes. But at least they held on. Had they played this same game on December 13th, that might not have been the case.
I truly believe everything I wrote in that paragraph. And yet I can't get over the fact that as soon as it was 30-10, everyone in the building (fans maybe even earlier) effectively boarded a plane to Michigan. Fortunately, Cole forgot his bags and bailed us out the entire second half. And because he kept us ahead, Sherron was able to hit some shots, all the fans even stood up at the 5:59 mark, and ultimately the team focused in, made their free throws and exited with a nice win. But that doesn't excuse the complete lack of effort or anything resembling defense.
When last year's team got way ahead, sometimes they would relax and let teams back in the game. It was frustrating at the time, but when the game was over you didn't really care, because we had a known quantity in them. We don't have that this year. Whether or not we get their best performance, we know Sherron and Cole are coming to play everyday. We don't know that with everyone else. So why, if you're a new guy fighting for minutes, trying to get better every time on the court to become the best team you can be, are you checking out halfway through the first half?!
I'm not going to bother grading anyone out, because only Cole played a full game anyway. I will make some quick notes though…
Tyshawn – no more heat checks. By all means, shoot when you're open. But that quick three attempt in the first half was one of the worst shots anyone on this team has taken all year. Coming from a PG who is supposed to get others involved, it probably was the worst. While we're here, those were some of the laziest passes I've ever seen.
Sherron – I don't expect you to play every game like you did against Tennessee. It's unfair and unrealistic. But if you're really the leader, you should always have your head on straight. For a long while last night, it wasn't.
Bill – Please, please, please teach this team a few in bounds plays. I'd love to see a couple screens against the press, but for now I'd at least settle for a couple when we're under our basket. I know it's not priority one, but I also know that as a 10 year old my team had a handful of them that all worked and everyone could remember just fine. On level of difficulty, this is near the bottom.
That's plenty for now. We all know exactly what happened last night and all we can do is hope it doesn't resurface again. Siena is a tournament team that played @ #1 Pittsburgh and only lost by 13 - with DeJuan Blair playing the role of Cole Aldrich. So we shouldn't apologize for beating them. But when you hold a 20-point lead and it ends up that the singular difference between a win and a loss is your center, that's ridiculous. I truly can't say enough about Cole after last night. Ever since his no-show in Tucson, he's been nothing short of phenomenal and we'll need it to continue against Suton if we have a prayer this Saturday.
Beak 'Em, Hawks!