Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Regrettable Decision

Looking back now, doing a running account of the Texas at Texas A&M game was a horrible idea. We got run out of the gym in a game that was an absolute disaster. But hey, I have pages of material written, so I suppose I should post it. If any part of the account seems slanted or irrational, well by the end of that game I was slanted and irrational.

Tonight, arguably four of the best teams in the Big XII are in action against each other. Also known as Kansas and teams that think they have a chance. What a perfect opportunity to keep a running account of the festivities. Of course there’s only one problem. Kansas at Kansas State is on ESPNPlus, so I can’t see it. So I’ll watch the Texas at Texas A&M game and keep tabs on the Kansas game.

8:45 pm - Texas doesn’t start for another 15 minutes, so let’s turn our attention to the Kansas game. Oh my Kansas State is up 28-26, so the young Wildcats have come to play. Kansas State has lost many many many in a row against Kansas, so this would be a huge win for the program, especially since they’ll be terrible next year when Michael Beasley and Bill Walker have gone pro. Bill Walker is leading the Wildcats with 12 points, while Beasley only has 2 points. Of course Bill Walker is stepping up. He’s big game. He eats, sleeps, and pisses basketball. If Kansas State can stay close until the beast that is Michael Beasley awakens, the Wildcats could actually win this thing. Because when everything is said and done, Beasley will have at least 20 points.

8:52 pm - Not surprising that Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers are the two leading scorers for the Jayhawks with 10 and 7 respectively. Both seniors, they will be the players that the Jayhawks rely on in big games this season. It’s almost like Arthur and Jackson are their younger brothers. They’ll let them get the pub and put up the stats, but when push comes to shove, Rush and Chalmers are going to step forward and take care of business.

8:55 pm – It will be interesting to see how Texas responds to the atmosphere in College Station. I know we’ve played in some tough places. But the Aggies live for these days. The day where they have a chance to best the Longhorns. They play harder, they want it more, and the fans get scary loud. And it makes for an extremely hostile environment and it is because of this that the game will be close throughout, unless the Aggies run away with the thing. But I don’t foresee a blowout for either squad.

8:57 pm – Georgetown 62, St. John’s 28. Really? Come on, it’s conference play. Did someone give the St. John’s basketball program the death penalty when I wasn’t looking? Or did Isaiah Thomas start running them too?

9:00 pm – Kansas State leads Kansas by 2 at halftime. K-State had a chance to jump out to a bigger lead but Kansas kept it close. I’d keep an eye on the first 5 minutes of the second half. If Kansas State can survive the Kansas intensity and run to start the second half they might have a chance to pull the upset. If Kansas State does pull the upset, it will be on the back of Michael Beasley, but I’m still not feeling it. Bill Walker has 3 fouls. That could be a problem. Unless of course there’s popcorn on the bench, then it’s a party!

9:05 pm – ESPN 2 studio show. Jimmy says if Memphis can raise their free throw percentage by 4% they will be your 2008 NCAA Champions. Good to know Jimmy. I’m sure Calipari has them in the gym right now. Where the hell is Digger? I can’t listen to basketball analysis without matching ties and highlighters and shameless Notre Dame plugs.

9:10 pm – Nope, I thought Aggies wouldn’t look as ridiculous whooping in all white. I was wrong. Dominique Kirk is the star for Texas A&M? Yeah, safe to say they’re missing Acie Law. I can’t say I am. DeAndre Jordan is still on the bench. Needless to say he has been underwhelming so far this season.

9:12 pm – A wide open 3 pointer and a traveling violation for Texas. This is about the typical start for a Texas game. We look a little tight, and the Aggies are absolutely fired up.

9:16 pm – 2 fouls on Atchley in the first 3 minutes. Alright, already to our bench big players. Thanks for joining us tonight Conner. We’ll see you in the second half. We are completely rattled and A&M is pounding the ball inside with great success. Jones, Jordan, it doesn’t matter who is in the post, they’re scoring with ease. 11-2 Aggies.

9:20 pm – I think this game has started about as badly as it possibly could have for the Horns. James and Augustin both missed wide open threes. Oh, the announcers told me it was because of the suffocating Aggie defense that we missed those uncontested wide open threes. Good to know. And on the other end, we can’t cover them in the post, and if we double, they are going to find a way to get Josh Carter a wide open 3-pointer. That’s good; you usually want to let the other team’s best shooter get wide open looks. Kansas State up 6 in the second half and Beasley has 14 points now. You should have gotten them before Beasley woke up, Jayhawks.

9:24 pm – Can you let an opponent catch a ball too far under the basket? Because we’re about to find out. If they get it under the basket any deeper, they’ll be out of bounds. Well at least the Aggies can hit their fade away 18 footers too. We have seen the adjustment from Barnes though. We have upped the perimeter pressure trying to force their guards out more and not allow them easy entry passes. Will it work? Well it did that possession.

9:28 pm – And Joseph Jones has finally started acting like Joseph Jones as he picked up his second foul 30 feet from the basket. Really, we will need to get their bigs in foul trouble otherwise they will keep pounding it inside. Though I can’t say it will matter if we continue to shoot 2 of 13 from the field. The worst part of it is that five of the misses were wide open. That’s just nerves. But I would be scared too if I was in a building full of Aggies. You know you just shuddered.

9:33 pm – Who would have said that 10 minutes into the game Dexter Pittman would be outscoring DJ Augustin and AJ Abrams combined. At least Augustin is putting up shots that are pretty good looks. Abrams is just dribbling the ball off his leg. And when you do that, you get to sit next to Rick Barnes. Wow, a technical foul on Dexter Pittman. That was a pretty weak hit to the face. You know, from one 300 pounder to another. 24-7. Think any Texas football players are having nightmares of a game at Kyle Field? Okay good, 26-7, now the football team can breathe easy.

9:39 pm – Down 20, but fear not, Alexis Wangmene and Dexter Pittman shall carry us back!! Wait, what did I just say, oh shit, we’re screwed. Alright, two air balls in the last two minutes. This is getting painful to watch, especially as we turn to Gary Johnson and Clint Chapman to turn this ship around. It’s like we’re trying to scar our new freshman so we can always struggle at Texas A&M for years to come. Kansas State is up 12 with 10 minutes left. 34 points between Walker and Beasley. Yeah, you might want to guard those two guys Kansas. Just a suggestion. Not that we’re one to talk about guarding people.

9:45 pm – 13 minutes and DJ Augustin and Abrams are on the board. 5-0 run. There is hope! Maybe they realized that if they didn’t do it, Gary Johnson and Clint Chapman were offering to shoot some more. I think I know why AJ has struggled as of late. That haircut is ridiculous. Justin Mason for three? I’m not going to lie. I yelled NO!!!!!!! OH MY GOD!!?!?!?!!? I’m a firm believer in theories. One theory on A&M, they don’t have average looking females. They are either gorgeous or look like they have a future as a farm hand. Thank you ESPN2 for confirming my theory thus far.

9:49 pm – 67% for A&M and 27% for Texas? Well you figure that has to turn around a bit. Clint Chapman, Alexis Wangmene, and Dexter Pittman have as many points as DJ Augustin, AJ Abrams, and Damion James. I’m going to take a guess and say that if that keeps up, we won’t win this game.

9:53 pm – We are slowly crawling back into this game. If we can get this game down to a 5 or 7 point game by halftime, that would be a huge victory. They are still shooting lights out, and our interior defense is still a joke. But Abrams and Augustin are heating up. And by heating up I mean Abrams is starting to hit three pointers without actually catching the basketball. It’s like a 26 foot tip in. Kansas State is up 7 with 4:34 left to play. The Wildcats have drawn up elaborate plays that involve falling down, kicking the basketball, and Michael Beasley hitting wide open threes.

9:58 pm – As goofy as he looks, and as poorly as he does it, Dexter Pittman has been playing his best game of the season. It would also be nice if we weren’t shooting 6 of 13 from the free throw line. I have to say, if Augustin, Abrams, and Damo were playing half as well as Chapman, Wangemene, and Pittman, we would be winning this game. Yes, more missed free throws. Okay, I changed my mind, I’ll take a 10 point deficit at halftime.

10:02 pm – Gary Johnson plays so out of control I can’t stand it. A&M is getting every roll, bounce, and whatever you want to call it. They are dominating the paint and when they’re not the ball is bouncing right to their guys under the basket. All momentum has been lost and we need to really regroup at halftime. AJ Abrams is forcing his shot and A&M has successfully forced Longhorns other than DJ to make plays.

10:04 pm – Manhattan is going crazy and Beasley and Walker are dominating this game. The difference in this game? 18 points for point guard Jacob Pullen. I’ve never seen Kansas State play before, so it’s news to me that they actually played with 5 guys on the court. I thought Bill Walker played two positions and Beasley played the other three. Well, I guess Memphis is going to be the only team to go unbeaten this season. Mental note, Kansas will follow the Memphis model and sign up to play in the Sun Belt Conference next year. Ladies and Gentleman, your Big XII leaders, Kansas State, okay, sorry, I will call them the Beasley Walkers. I know they prefer that.

10:08 pm – More insight from Jimmy. Kansas is exposed. Those 20 wins? Nothing. They are eliminated from the College Basketball season. Wait, no! Steve Lavin has informed us that they are still alive. It is only in football where one loss and your season is over. I bet Ohio State wishes that were actually the case. And Les Miles would like to remind you that if it is in overtime it is not actually a loss.

10:13 pm – 9 of 31 shooting in the first half (29%). AJ Abrams is the team leader with 6 points. DJ Augustin threw up a solid 2 of 10 shooting. I think I’m just going to forget that half even happened. You can say we’re getting killed in the paint, but Carter has 11 and Kirk has 10. So we’re not getting out to their shooters either. 46% from the free throw line for us. As for A&M? 64% from the field, 75% from three, and 72.7% from the free throw line for the worst free throw shooting team in the Big XII. Why am I not surprised. It is always different when they play Texas.

10:17 pm – Even giving Russell Robinson six fouls cannot stop these Kansas State Wildcats. You can tell Frank Martin is an inexperienced coach. I would have Walker and Beasley in the locker room under lock and key before this game ends and the court gets stormed. All you need is the Beasley Walkers to be without, well the Beasley or the Walker and they will return to Big XII mediocrity. How will Bill Walker celebrate this victory? Probably stop by the concession stand for a hot dog and grab some napkins just in case he needs to use the restroom before he gets home. I predict me going to that joke at least two more times before the evening ends.

10:21 pm – Rece just informed us that the Kansas State game is over with 30 seconds left, so we’ll keep you on that game instead of going back to the Texas game. Genius. Absolute genius. Can we get some coverage of the 20 point Memphis win too? There are people on the court. That’s good. Riveting. Wonder what is happening in the Texas game. ESPN2 wonders as well. We are into 40 seconds of court storming. A full minute. Seriously, it is a mid season conference game.

10:25 pm – Well it is good to see we’re still ice cold and our second half strategy? Get Dexter Pittman the ball. Augustin cannot hit anything, so who knows, maybe that is a good strategy. Oh well, too late, 3 fouls for Pittman. A solid air ball by Abrams. We can’t even get close on the open looks. This could be a very long second half. If it doesn’t much better someone please call me in the morning to see if I haven’t jammed something into my eyes.

10:30 pm – Players shooting 50% or better for Texas: Dexter Pittman, Justin Mason. Players shooting 33% or better for Texas: Clint Chapman, Connor Atchley. I think that adequately sums things up. Oh, wait, take Atchley out of that 33% category.

10:33 pm – Great block by Connor Atchley after the basketball hit the front of the rim. Those are actually known as misses Connor, you should try and grab those. Pittman is a beast. Where has this been all season? I mean just because he struggles to remain coordinated during his stay on the court? Minor details. I never thought I would be so distraught to see Pittman pick up his fourth foul.

10:38 pm – Augustin and Abrams continue to miss shots. A&M is playing great defense against them, but I think at this point it doesn’t really matter if they are covered or open. They are at the shooters point of no return. They’re just going to try harder and harder to make it go in and it will become further and further from going in. We’re not so much chipping away at the lead the way you’re supposed to. Down 15 with 12 minutes left. Let’s follow this and see where we are at the 8 minute mark. I’m not getting my hopes up.

10:43 pm – Augustin hits his first three pointer of the night. He relaxed and didn’t have an Aggie on him for the first time tonight. He has not been able to penetrate and when he has, he’s found large Aggies in the lane waiting for him. That and he has been playing with too much pace all night long. He still has to get to the point where he’s cool and calm in any situation before he becomes a truly great point guard. But I would still take him with the ball over Alexis Wangmene trying to score in the post.

10:49 pm – This game is getting completely out of hand. Augustin got leveled in a completely legal screen that Wangmene didn’t call out. Then Wangmene had DeAndre Jordan come down on his head and Wangmene reacted with an elbow, and now he will probably get ejected and miss a game. We are tip toeing that fine line called complete meltdown. At least Augustin is getting 20 minutes of stoppage time to get his wits about himself.

10:53 pm – Great, Wangmene is gone. Though he won’t miss Saturday’s game against Baylor. It’s probably the right call, but a crappy situation for Wangmene. The karma gods agree with me since A&M missed the technical free throw.

10:55 pm – The last two possessions Connor Atchley has hit three pointers. But it doesn’t matter if we’re allowing Texas A&M’s guards to get all kinds of penetration. No excuse for our guards to not defend on the perimeter. Our interior defenders are overmatched as it is and we’re not helping them at all.

11:00 pm – Who would have thought that Kansas State and Baylor would be at #1 and #3 heading into game 6 in the conference season? Not I, not I. And Kansas State should easily win their next six games. Wow. 11-0 Kansas State in conference? Who saw that one coming? Not I, not I. Down 15 with 5 minutes left? Who sees us winning this game? Not I, not I? Can we get our shooting percentage back under 30% for the night? I think it’s a definite possibility.

11:08 pm – Well it is safe to say that this game will only get uglier before it gets any better. Texas is packing it in and the Aggies are getting lay-up after lay-up after lay-up. Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong for the Longhorns. Which isn’t that uncommon for games at A&M. They have great fans. Fans that struggle with assimilating into the real world, but really great fans. And we get rattled in the hostile environments.

11:13 pm – Mason is done for the night, but at least he didn’t give up highlight real dunk #19 of the night. Augustin played terrible tonight. AJ Abrams played terrible tonight. And Damion James didn’t so much play terrible as much as he wasn’t in the gym after the first 10 minutes of the game. We won’t win when this happens. We kind of knew that going in. A&M caused a lot of it, but we came in and got overwhelmed by everything that was going on. Augustin needs to take over a game like this and he didn’t do that. They had a good strategy for slowing him down and he never adjusted. A disappointing game all the way around.

11:17 pm – As is always the case with basketball, down 18 with 1:40 left we’re not going to let this game end quickly. We’re going to draw this game out. I’m tempted to put this game on mute, because if I’ve learned anything tonight, announcers and studio people like to overreact. Because I learned Kansas’ season is over tonight. Kansas State is the new favorite to challenge for the NCAA tournament. Donald Sloan, after 18 disappointing games as point guard has fully replaced Acie Law. Joseph Jones, despite the fact that he has gotten in foul trouble for 92% of his games this season, is a franchise player that should have an offense run through him. And Texas has major issues and Rick Barnes better hit the panic button.

11:20 pm – Let’s be realistic. Kansas State has two phenomenal players and has solid players around them. Kansas is still ridiculously good, but they had to lose sometime. A&M is built to beat Texas, and low and behold, they beat Texas. Texas has no interior presence and lives and dies by DJ Augustin and AJ Abrams, and tonight they died.

11:21 pm – 80-63, final. I hate Texas A&M. But I hate Baylor too, so hopefully I can feel better Saturday. But for now, I’m sick to my stomach. Night.

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