On just 36 hours rest, our valiant heros attempted to lock in their bid to the Big Dance. The quick turnaround, however, appeared to be just too much to overcome as the Lions ran out of gas in the second overtime period and dropped a tough one, 75-67.
I don’t understand the logic behind our defense. We switch every ball screen which tends to leave Battle and Pringle guarding 6’9″ post men. We’ve done this pretty much all year. It really boggles my mind. We don’t even attempt to make an adjustment. We didn’t see any zone yesterday. Yeah, Iowa’s strength is the 3 but they were absolutely demolishing us in the paint. We didn’t attempt to switch anything up to stop Iowa’s constant pick n rolls and ball screens to get mismatches. Cole’s open game-tying layup in regulation? A simple pick-n-roll that we completely failed to guard.
But once again, this team just has heart. Down 9 with 2:05 to go. David Jackson started the rally by taking a charge. Then Talor Battle took over and scored 11 straight points.
It was pretty incredible. As I said in my brief preview:
So all of these reasons have made me doubtful, but I know better. I’m now convinced that this team can do anything. But I’m not going into this game with any expectations. I simply think this is way too tough a task. So if I had to pick, I’ll take Iowa to cover the 2 point spread. But with this PSU team, anything is possible.
Anything’s possible indeed. It was quite a lot of fun to watch. Especially since I just wanted to doubt them. I mean, I’ve never played college basketball but just try to envision yourself as Talor Battle Thursday night. The emotional high of hitting a game-winning shot doesn’t just wear off in a few hours, especially one of that magnitude. The game ended around 11 PM, when Battle got mauled by me in the post-game celebration, and then he fought his way through the mob to find his family who made the trip (including his bro, Taran, who was there). Who knows how long he was able to talk to them, but then I would have to guess he did a postgame interview for the PSU radio broadcast, and then he had his press conference with the media. After all that he was probably given his first chance to clean himself up and leave the BJC. I’d have to say he didn’t leave until 12:30 am. But if you’re one of the lead stories on sportscenter after hitting a gamewinner, would you be able to go to sleep right away? I know I wouldn’t. He responded to my f-book apology at 1:47 am. Who knows how long it was before he finally got to sleep. However, one thing’s for sure. He had to get up early. The team flew out for Iowa City at 10 AM, Friday. Imagine trying to be in a mental state to prepare for an away game (packing, game plans, etc.) on just 4 hours of sleep after playing 38 minutes the night before, on top of having the 13th highest minutes-played rating out of any player in the country. Ridiculous.
Jamelle played as well despite having a left shoulder that’s barely hanging in its socket. He hit a big 3 at the end of the 1st OT to send it into a 2nd one. If it was anyone besides Jamelle, I think we would have all expected the player to sit out.
Unfortunately, the heroic was equally matched by Iowa’s Jake Kelly. Kelly pulled a Jamelle Cornley and played his ass off despite fighting off sinus infections and a stomach bug. Pretty sure it was reported he yakked a few times during the game. You had to feel for Iowa. Lickliter’s done a fabulous job suffering through injuries, suspensions, and overall youth and has kept his team fighting hard. If they played in the SEC, we could be talking about Iowa as a bubbleteam. Peterson’s injury has been a blessing in disguise, as Jake Kelly has absolutely dominated these last 6 games. I’d have to bet he’s put up numbers that are better or at least would rival Evan Turner’s.
So even though Jake Kelly put up 3 shots that were nowhere even close to the rim, he made two of them (banks). The killer was the off-balance at the shot clock buzzer bank from the wing that I think touched every part of the rim. It gave Iowa a 4 point lead in the 2nd OT with 45 seconds to go. PSU ran out of gas after that and lost.
In BubbleLand, everyone thinks this loss negates our win on Thursday night. I say that’s complete bullshit. Eugene Smith, OSU’s AD, is on the selection committee. You’d have to think he would be the most respected opinion in the room on the Big Ten. He had to have seen his Buckeyes, just 4 days earlier, scratch and claw their way to a 60-58 win in Carver. He has to know that his school was one missed open 3 from losing that ball game. So I feel comfortable that the knowledge of Iowa’s season (and how much better they’ve played these last 6 games) will be shared with the rest of the committee and this loss will get thrown out the window. Iowa’s a fringe 100+ RPI school, but their worst loss in the last 6 games? An 8 point deficit in the Breslin Center. No way in hell should losing in Carver on 36 hour turn-around be considered a ‘bad-loss’ that keeps us out of the tournament. The question should be, have we done enough or do we need to do more in the BTT?