...first of all, here are Gabe's thoughts. Proof that whatever my tone, his is the exact opposite. I'm using that as a point of contrast.
Whereas I really couldn't find much encouraging about us losing at home to OSU and blowing a career night from Leo Lyons, I couldn't find too much discouraging from today's game. Yes, it sucks to hold a 14-point lead in the second half and lose. That always sucks, but here's the deal--Baylor, for better or worse, dictates the flow of the game. You can say they've got a strong personality. I called them the Golden State Warriors of the Big 12, and that reminded me of something JA Adande wrote about the Warriors a couple months ago...
There's nothing you can do to stop their style. You know how you don't want to fight a crazy guy, because you don't know what he is going to do? The same thought applies here. If the Warriors are going to shoot the first 25-footer they see, is there really any way to defend against it?
We got ahead 14 points because Baylor stopped rebounding and was missing shots. We dominated the glass, we stayed (more or less) in front of their crazy guards, their shots weren't falling, and we were up 14. Seemingly about 90 seconds later, they'd made a couple 3's, benefited from a couple ticky-tack inside foul calls, gotten the crowd behind them, and it was a 2-point game. And as the game crept under the 4-minute mark, they started yanking up reasonably-covered 3's, and they kept going in. That's how they pulled away. We played fluid throughout, but we're just not good enough to play that well for 40 minutes (yet). We'll obviously benefit from both an influx of new blood and a new ankle for Demarre Carroll next year, and it's certainly possible to create for yourself a glimmer of hope in the way we played (and lost) games this past week.
- For about 65 minutes of basketball, there was no Good Leo or Bad Leo to be found, only Super Leo. And then he pulled a Keyser Soze...like that, he was gone. The droopy shoulders returned, and he was missing even the chippiest of chip shots. We'll see how long it takes Good Leo to make a comeback.
- Matt Lawrence is obviously too slow to guard Curtis Jerrells at the top of the key, but in all I thought we saw a lot of what Matt could do. He only made a couple 3's, but as I posted below, that first half (with only 1 3-pointer) he was all over the place, stepping in passing lanes, making great passes, grabbing every board in sight. He had an extra level of intensity, and if he brings that to the table more often, it will counteract the slow feet and the shooting slump.
- Keon really could be an amazing player in two more years.
- Demarre Carroll still can't really leave the floor, but he showed heart and craftiness in the second half--he was the other reason we suddenly found ourselves up 14.
- Officiating was, as always, consistently inconsistent. They allowed us to go over the back for a while, then cut that off. And while we were blocking shots left and right in the first half, suddenly we couldn't touch anybody on a drive without the whistle blowing. Let 'em play, don't let 'em play...just decide. And I did think they were bailing out Baylor's guards on those out-of-control drives in the second half.
- I don't know how much better Baylor's going to get (Golden State's got a clearly-defined ceiling as well), but as long as Scott Drew gets guards with this mindset and this level of talent, they're going to always be a team that can beat--or lose to--any team in the country by 20 points. Seriously, they continued to yank up stupid 3's late in the game, and they almost all went in. They didn't play smart, down the stretch, but they played dangerous, and we didn't know how to handle it.