Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cocks Screw Bama, Carolina 78 Alabama 64

Officiating basketball is a very difficult job.  I officiate at the high school level myself, and I'm hesitant to criticize the officials because I generally believe they are doing the best they can.  In this game, however, there were several obviously bullshit calls that went against us. In fact, I can't recall a single questionable or controversial call going in our favor today.  South Carolina shot an absurd 46 free throws to our 25.  Many of the horrible calls that went against us were key fouls like Retin's 3rd that effected our substitution patterns.  To be clear,  the officiating did not cost us the game.  We lost by 14 points, South Carolina was the better team playing at home and they had guys who stepped up and made the plays needed to win.

I'm normally not an advocate of a coach intentionally drawing a technical foul, but I was a little disappointed Coach Johnson didn't do so tonight.  Our chances of winning were slim anyway, and it was obvious that we were getting the screw job.  It would have been a good opportunity to show the players that you've got their back.

I thought the team actually played very well despite the foul trouble.  We were fortunate that USC only made 28 of their 46 free throws which allowed us to stay in the game.  I thought we out-worked them for a lot of 50/50 balls on the floor, but we were often caught not blocking out which allowed them too many offensive rebounds.

Unlike the game in Tuscaloosa, we were only 6 of 24 from 3 point range. We cut the lead to 6 or 7 a couple of different times in the second half, but couldn't get any closer.  Retin, Jimmy, Mike, and Donta all fouled out.  I kind of  regret not making the trip, I probably could have gotten some playing time.

We played basically the same defense as we did in Tuscaloosa, switching from a zone to a soft man and taking our chances with their jump shots. We did not rebound quite as well, but it was generally effective.  USC was only 6 of 19 from three point range.  The Cocks extended their defense and were committed to not allowing us to shoot 3s like we did in the first meeting.  It worked, as our half court offense really struggled to get anything going.  We really need more of a post presence.

Retin had a great game despite being limited by foul trouble.  He scored 23 points, including 16 straight with 4 fouls that effectively kept us in the game in the second half.  Riley and Shannon both had good games, and I thought Shannon especially stepped up with Retin in foul trouble.  He scored 16 points, but he really needs to find his shot from beyond the arc.  I thought Donta Hall played fairly well despite fouling out with only 4 points.  He had 6 rebounds and was a force defensively.  He really ran the floor well.  Jimmie didn't score and fouled out.  The inconsistent at best production we are getting from him is frustrating, especially considering the promise he showed at the end of last year.  Coleman also struggled again.  I understand he's playing through an injury right now, but his lack of size and strength with the ball at the point is an obvious weakness.  He really needs to find his shot if he's going to help us going forward, and we desperately need him to do so.

Up next, we take the short trip to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State bulldogs at 8 pm Tuesday night.  This is probably the most winnable road game we have left, but State is playing better now and they've at least been competitive in all of their games.  If you are making the trip to Starkville, please be weather aware, as the current forecast indicates a high risk of severe storms for that area Tuesday night.  For those of us who aren't battling the elements ant the late tip, the game will be televised on SEC Network.



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