On entering conference play

So remember when I said I'd post my thoughts after every home basketball game? Well, that clearly didn't work out as planned, as studies/trips to peoples' houses afterwards/nights out on Ninth Street got in the way, as did my own admitted laziness. But as we're going into Big XII play on Saturday at Nebraska (a team that lost, at home I might add, to the Fighting Duff Goldmans of UMBC), here's some of my thoughts and things to look out for this year in conference play.

On the game against Coppin State:

  • Attendance was good...for the first 20 minutes. 7,000 people came, they saw Bowers tomahawk a ball, they actually saw the Grey Goose hit threes with regularity, and they left. And in all honesty if I wasn't obligated to stay the entire game, I'd have left god was the second half boring. People will come to conference games, yes, but it'll take a lot of convincing (wins over the Squawks and Illini, a tourney bid) to fill the arena on a regular basis.
  • Kimmie English? At this point I don't understand why he's having to sit behind MLaw for so long on the bench. He's clearly much more of a inside threat (did you SEE Lawrence try to play inside early last night? He looked like...I'll try and think of a better metaphor later, but something just wasn't right) and his shot, when it's on, is silky-smooth. I see good things from him.
  • Apparently the band has begun to sing this ad during crucial moments in the game, which some of you all here should like (although the commercial deals mostly with sausage, not their fine bacon offerings). Plus those pesky Antlers are back, with #23 for Coppin taking the court with his jersey tucked into his underpants providing a lot of material.

But back to more important things: starting the conference season. I see no way we can't take the first three: Nebraska has a good couple of players (Cookie Miller being the one that comes to mind first) but noted Tiger-killer Aleks Maric is gone (thank God). Colorado has the two hyphenated big men who could cause some trouble as well as their Princeton offense, but not unlike Nebraska their best player and another person who always seemed to come out of a long slumber against Mizzou, Richard Roby, has finally used up his 3,503rd year of eligibility. And the less said about Iowa State (especially on the road), the better.

Another thing I think a fair number of people I've talked to are forgetting is that our schedule actually is a bit easier than many of us thought: yes Mizzou has to travel to Austin and I don't see them getting a win at the Erwin Center, but at the same time they play the consensus top team (Oklahoma) and the consensus sleeper (Baylor) in Columbia. But, there is a game that I'm really nervous about on the schedule: the 'Pokes in Stillwater, a team that despite not having a credible inside threat, shoots well and is really coalescing around their new coach. Plus, if you've ever been to Gallagher-Iba you'd have to agree with me that it's a VERY hard place to play in.

So the outlook? A winning record in the conference is feasible: an easy six wins against the bottom-feeders, beating Texas Tech at home, and one each over the Kansas teams will get you that without that much trouble. But to really break through Mike Anderson's team needs to get double-digit wins in conference--get that and this team's dancing.

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