Welcome to the Bulldawg Illustrated Hoops Report. It’s like taking Ambien on Elm St and twice as disturbing. We’ve now lost our first two games of SEC play. While we should’ve won the first one against a solid Arkansas team, we just flat out gave away the game in LSU with with turnovers and missed free throws at the end of the first OT.
We ended up losing 87-84 in double OT. We had an eight point lead with 1:16 to go in the first overtime and created several ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It wasn’t quite at the level of Reggie Miller versus the Knicks nor were the stakes as high, but it was a crushing defeat. I just hope the guys in uniform can bounce back better than I have. Also, to make matters even worse, our primary freshman contributor Yante Maten was punted by a car crossing the street Monday night and is out indefinitely with concussion like symptoms. While he’s not been a major contributor so far, right now it’s all hands on deck. We need everyone to step up. We’re at VandyWednesday night at 9 p.m. and this is as close to a must win as you’ll ever find in game three of the conference schedule. But before we talk about Wednesday, let’s try to talk about last Saturday without getting nauseous.
We played a solid game Saturday night for approximately 44 minutes. Unfortunately the last six we lost Kenny Gaines to fouls as well as ran out of gas. Even if we were well rested, when Gaines left the game, so did the ability to score. We scored four points in the second OT. We had five players in double digits led by Gaines with 19. Marcus Thornton had a double-double with 16 and 16. But when you commit 20 turnovers, miss crucial FTs in the last seconds, and shoot 2-12 from the three point line, you won’t win many road games. I remember around 1995 we went up to Chapel Hill with a really good team. UNC was obviously loaded. We blew a 10 point lead up there in less than a minute if memory serves in much the same fashion. I felt just as uneasy with the lead this past Saturday as I did against the Heels. The erudite Jeff Dantzler told me the UNC game is listed in their gameday program as one of their greatest comebacks in school history. We may be footnotes in two gameday programs now.
Up next is a team that I don’t think we’ve beat in Nashville since 2006. That’s the last time I remember us winning up there anyway. They have one of the most underrated coaches in the league as well as the most dysfunctional gyms to play in. I think it doubles as a grade school cafeteria. Sometimes you have to avoid the hair nets on the floor. Our odds of making the tournament have gone from 57% to 30% with the 0-2 start. I’m surprised they are that high. If we lose Wednesday, then our only real chance to get an at-large bid is to beat Florida at home on Saturday because I think we’re eliminated if we start 0-4. If not eliminated, hanging by a thread at the very best.
Ok, we sit at 0-2. The BIHR said we had a bad schedule setup. We needed to be 2-2 after the first four to have a good shot at the Big Dance. Well, that’s still doable. All you have to do is beat a team at home you’ve not beat there in eight years and then knock off your arch rival that’s made the last three Elite Eights, if memory serves. I’ve not given up hope. I’ll see every game we play this year either in person or on TV. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll be happy. We’ve got to start making plays down the stretch. We have the players to do it. This season so far is polar opposite of last year when we struggled out of conference and then righted the ship. Well, times about run out. We have to shake things up. While I’m not a coach, let’s play Cameron Forte a little more and sit Juwan Parker a while. Forte had 10 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes. Maybe he’s the spark we need. I don’t know but Coach Fox better figure it out. Go Dawgs!