Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thoughts on the Tennessee Game

I purposely decided to wait until the day after before I posted an article about this game. I knew if I did it late last night last night, I might overreact and say something inaccurate or short-sighted. One of my favorite sports writers, Bill Simmons at ESPN, has what he calls the "Levels of Losing". Basically, it details all the different emotions a sports fan can go through when losing a game, which mostly depends on how the game was lost. If you click on the above link, I think you will agree that last night was a combination of two things: the "Monkey Wrench Game" (which means the outcome was swayed either by a bad coaching decision OR BAD CALLS FROM THE REFEREES) and the "Stomach Punch Game" (basically losing a game in the final seconds).

I've watched the replay multiple times; yes Tobias Harris's shot was a horrible air-ball and Tennessee was still rewarded, yes Williams was over Barnes's back, yes Williams then got Barnes in a head-lock, and yes his final shot was probably his longest non-free throw attempt all year. But..let's be objective for a moment -- we have won a TON of close games this year so we were long overdue to lose one. And Tennessee is no slouch. They have beaten the likes of Pittsburgh (a top ten team), Villanova (another top ten team), Memphis (top 20 team), and Vandy (should be ranked). Plus, Tennessee has mostly been on the losing side of close games. The point is, we got hosed but it happens. Now...let's highlight some of the good and the bad from last night:

THE BAD:
  • In addition to all the stuff above, Josh Bone's floater with about two minutes left should NOT have counted. They showed it on Sportscenter last night and he clearly had the ball in his hand with zero on the shot clock.
  • Price only played 9 minutes because of inconsistency and foul trouble. Good game. Bad game. That is how he plays. (Though I would still argue he should have been in at the end because he's longer and a better rebounder than Barnes.)
  • Thompkins really sucked it up in my opinion. Tennessee did a good job of shutting him down and denying him the ball but if he's a BIG-TIME player, he should have found a way to get points. His defense stunk in my opinion as well as he exhibited his early season laziness last night.
  • Robinson's missed dunk was a huge play in my opinion. It was selfish when you consider the nation's best dunker was frothing at the mouth beside the basket. I just thought it would have been a big momentum shifter if we convert that.
  • Leslie's third foul was a really dumb play on his part. It was after he got his shot blocked (which happened about three times last night) and he bumped a player out of frustration. Thus, he was forced to come out with 15:00 minutes left and only ended up playing 25 minutes total.
  • Barnes played great (by his standards) but should never play 28 minutes. I know a lot of this was Price's fault but...damn he's limited on offense.
  • Thornton should be playing the 4 in my opinion. I know he had to spell Leslie, but he doesn't look comfortable on the wing to me.
  • Scotty Hopson's hair
  • You can BARELY hear our shot clock buzzer. And I don't think it was because of the crowd either.
  • We ate at the Varsity after the game...it was like 9:30 by that point. "Holy Maalox Batman!"
THE GOOD:
  • As I mentioned above, Barnes player pretty well by his standards. And it was the most had played in a long time (It would have been nice if he got that last rebound but...)
  • Leslie did a really good job guarding Hopson in the second half. If he doesn't commit that third foul, I think it changes the game.
  • Donte Williams is at least playing with confidence. He's not really contributing much yet but his body language looks good.
  • Ware continues to hit big shots this year (e.g., the big three with about a minute left)
  • Robinson definitely belongs on the court. He's been a real difference maker. Too bad about that missed dunk. (He also had another goofed up play where he drove in the lane and just threw it up)
  • How would the NBA JAM announcer describe Sherrard Brantley? "HEEE'S HEATING UP!"
  • We played below average and still only lost by 2 to a quality team.
This season has only just begun. Tennessee, Kentucky, and UGA are all 2-2 in conference play. We have a good opportunity to start 4-2 heading into the rematch with UK. Oh, and the "evil ESPN guys" opened Sportscenter with Scott Van Pelt pointing out Williams' over-the-back no-call. So, at least we're getting some national recognition.


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