Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blackbird Screeching: 'Cats Down LIU, 81-65

Another day, another home win for our beloved men's basketball team. After a 13-day layoff that included most of reading week and finals, the 'Cats went out and handled an undersized but athletic squad in Long Island. The game was really never in doubt, as the worst part probably consisted of hearing the nagging voices of native LI-ers about how their team needs to be more physical. To be quite honest, these games are turning into quite the ho-hum affairs -- something we really couldn't say five years ago. It's heartening to see this team refuse to drag its heels after taking such a long break away from the game. Perhaps it's a sign that they might get off the bus swinging for their road tilts in conference play.

With the win today, the 'Cats move up to 77th place in today's RPI rankings, due in large part to the boost in strength of schedule. The same cannot be said for KenPom, however, as the 'Cats pretty much stay in place at 52nd. For the Four Factors breakdown of the game, I suggest hitting up Sippin' on Purple for the juicy details.

Wildcat High-Fives go to...

John Shurna: 26 points, 10-11 FG, 7 Reb, 7 Ast
The Big Ten's leading scorer has continued his torrid pace, knocking down a pair of treys to go along with his 8 other FG makes. But he isn't selfish, as both the FGA total and assist total strongly suggest. His highlights of the game include a pair of open dunks, particularly one coming off of a backdoor feed. The only real blemish of the day was his work from the charity stripe: 4-10 on the night.

JerShon Cobb: 12 points, 3 Ast
The starting freshman played another up-and-down game, but this one ended up swinging more on the upside. He posted 4-9 from the field last night, including a very nice 3-4 from behind the arc to record his second straight of double-digits. Carmody's still giving him the quick hook after bad plays (particularly bad passes and fouls), but he's growing into a decent role player for this team. I'm excited to see how much he improves over the course of the season, but am a little reserved after watching Drew Crawford hit a slump midway through last season.

Getting up to play:
A lot of teams have a hard time getting the lead out after a long time off from games. Ohio State nearly coughed one up to IUPUI on their home court after nine days off. Temple couldn't get the lead out after an 11-day break, losing a game to California back in November. There wasn't much of that to be seen, here. The game was controlled by and large by the Wildcats, from wire to wire. Give Coach Carmody credit for getting everyone re-focused after the toll of finals.

Wildcat Scratches go to...

Drew Crawford's shot selection: 8 points, 4-16 FG
If there was one real problem from the game, let it be this one. Crawford came out of the finals break shooting, and perhaps he was a little too trigger-happy. More often than not, he settled for contested jump shots with plenty of time left on the shot clock. The result was a 25% completion rate for the night. Hopefully he'll calm down and take only the looks that he's given. Another telling sign of this malady: 0 FT attempts.

Early foul trouble: Mirkovic & Curletti - 4 fouls each
Long Island's style of play is to attack the basket quickly and draw a lot of fouls. Their FT Rate according to KenPom is 52.1, good for 8th in the nation right now. That said, LIU's offense never really got into an offensive rhythm, so the post men have to take some heat here. We need Luka to give us 24-26 minutes a game, so playing only 17 minutes due to foul trouble is a downer. Meanwhile, Curletti continues to be a fouling maching, having committed 18 fouls in 76 minutes of play so far this year.

Free Throw Shooting: 13-25 from the field (52.0%)
It's a good thing we haven't been in any close games, because rest assured, this statistic could cost us one or two down the road. Back-to-back games of mediocre free-throw shooting is worrisome, but hopefully today was just a sign of getting back into rhythm.

Congrats to the 'Cats for a solid performance last night to put themselves to 6-0 on the year. The next game is on Thursday against American University, and I certainly hope they come out on the other end with another double-digit win on their way to New York next week. Go 'Cats! 

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