RECAP I like Reid Gettys. I enjoyed watching him manage the game as a point guard for arguably the best team in college basketball history. Yes, they fell victim to the one and done format of the Big Dance, but I would pay to watch a best of seven series between Phi Slama Jamma and some of the other great teams in college basketball history (includeing UCLA of either Alcindor or Walton vintage, Indiana ’81—yes, over ’76—and UNLV ’90).
And any friend of a certain judge in Houston (whose name Reid drops every time he does a KU game the way Dickie V pays homage to Coach K and Self’s predecessor in any game involving any team anywhere) is a friend of mine.
That said, there were a couple of comments by Mr. Gettys Saturday that gave me, for one, pause. One, in fact, was Reid-iculous: that Mizzou is playing defense as well as anyone on the country.
Uh, Reid: have you watched Mizzou play? Did you see the 96 points dropped on them by Oklahoma St Wednesday night, or the 86 put up by Tech Saturday?
Yes, those numbers are attributable in part to the number of possessions in a game played by teams that both want to run and shoot and shoot and run, a la Mizzou, Okie St, and Tech.
But some of it also due to god-awful defense. Mizzou’s game in Stillwater was such a fine exhibition of two teams waving the other through to the basket, a video of it should be shown in defensive driving classes as an example of courtesy behind the wheel.
If you are not paying close attention—say you’re doing your taxes with the game on in the background--Mizzou creates the appearance of playing good defense by generating turnovers. When a team gets a steal, it gives the impression that it is playing tough on the ball defense.
However, the type of defense that focuses on creating turnovers, especially in the backcourt, is also susceptible to allowing easy scoring opportunities in the form of uncontested jump shots and layups when the turnover doesn’t come.
The question for any team that tries to create a frenzied pace by playing to what is effectively a 12 second shot clock and forcing the action from end line to end line with a frenetic defense is: What is the bottom line?
The bottom line is that, on balance, this tactic can be quite effective against teams with lesser athletes or with teams that are comparable in talent but who lack the will-power to play their own game, but, rather, get sucked into a pace outside its comfort zone.
Against teams with strong ball handlers who refuse to let Mizzou dictate the action, the “forty minutes of hell” concept is exposed the same way the Big 12’s spread offenses in football were exposed by teams capable of putting pressure on the quarterback—as in Illinois 75, Mizzou 59 and Nebraska 56, Mizzou 51.
Which is not to say that Mizzou is not a reasonably good team. They may well make a run at being the Big 12’s fifth or sixth entrant in the Big Dance. They will have a shot in every game they play in front of the Home crowd, where opponents will feel even more pressure to play at Mizzou’s pace in a misguided attempt to shut the crowd up fast. Mizzou, however, still has some proving to do before they should be classified as a strong team—or as one that plays defense as well as anyone in the country.
Still, I understand that Reid’s job is to say good things about the Big 12. But certainly he can find some good things to say about Mizzou without resorting to touting imaginary traits.
His other questionable statement Saturday was that OU is a team built to be in the Final Four.
Not Reid-iculous, but questionable. OU has Blake Griffin and Willie Warren. Nice. Perhaps nice enough to win the Big 12, as projected by the current edition of the REAL Standings. And if they get the right match-ups and a little bit of luck in March, they could, indeed, be playing into April. But as for being a team made for the Final Four, they are not particularly strong at point guard and center. Reid credits Austin Johnson as doing an excellent job at the point guard position, but he does not create opportunities. He is, instead, a game manager, a serviceable, if not spectacular, player: more Reid Gettys than Isiah Thomas. And Reid did make the Final Four. But, than again, I expect Johnson would do so if he were playing alongside Akeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Larry Micheaux, and Michael Young. And as good as Griffin and Warren are, they are not Olajuwon and Drexler.
As for Saturday’s games, as opposed to Saturday’s comments, only two had any effect on the REAL Standings: Okie St, projected to lose its Road game against fellow Tier Two Team Nebraska, downed the Huskers in Lincoln in overtime. (Here’s hoping the country’s No. 1 three point shooter prior to Saturday, Nebraska’s Paul Velander, is 1-8 from behind the arc when the Jayhawks invade the Devaney center.)
The other four games in which a projection was made went according to Hoyle: KU over ISU in Ames; OU over Baylor in Norman; UT over A&M in Austin; and Mizzou over Tech in Columbia.
Projected Winners are now 19-2 (90%) for the season.
In the only at-risk (or toss-up) game, k-state claimed its first victory of the conference season in Boulder. Road teams are now 4-2 in at-risk games (i.e., those in which Home teams play host to teams one level higher in the REAL Standings).
REAL STANDINGS: 1/25/09
The only game that raised any question about a team’s placement in the REAL Standings’ hierarchy was Baylor’s non-competitive effort in Norman. Or is OU REALly as good as Mr. Gettys believes? At any rate, that game was projected as a loss for the Bears, so no harm done. Yet.
In addition, a closer look will be taken at k-state’s bona fides. Although they have not played a game yet in which they were a Projected Winner, their performance in Boulder was not their first shabby effort. They have generally looked like a poorly coached, unorganized team. Where have you gone, Michael Beasley? And, Billy, we hardly knew ye. . .
Still, for the time being, we will stay with:
Contenders (Tier 1): Baylor, KU, OU, UT.
Competitors (Tier 2): A&M, k-state, Mizzou, Nebraska, Okie St,
Bottom-feeders (Tier 3): Colorado, Iowa St, Tech
OU (5-0) Projected L’s: at Baylor, at UT Losable games: at Okie St, at Mizzou
KU (4-0) Projected L’s: at Baylor, at OU Losable games: at NU, at Mizzou, at k-state
Baylor (3-2) Projected L’s: at UT Losable games: at Mizzou, at Okie St
UT (3-1) Projected L’s: at Baylor, at KU Losable games: at NU, at A&M, at Okie St
Mizzou (4-1) Projected L’s: at k-state, at UT, at KU, at A&M Losable games: vs. Baylor, at ISU, vs. KU, at CU, vs. OU
A&M (1-4) Projected L: at OU, at Baylor, at NU Losable games: vs. UT, at Tech, at CU
OSU (2-2) Projected L’s: at A&M, at KU, at UT, at OU Losable games: vs. OU, at Tech, vs. Baylor, at CU, vs. UT
k-state (1-4) Projected L’s: at UT, at A&M, at Mizzou, at Okie St Losable games: vs. KU, at ISU
NU (2-3) Projected L’s: at Mizzou, at KU, at k-state, at Baylor Losable games: vs. KU, at Tech, at CU, vs. UT
ISU (1-3) Projected L’s: at CU, vs. OU, at k-state, at Okie St, at KU, vs. Baylor, at A&M, at NU Losable games: vs. Mizzou, vs. k-state
CU (0-4) Projected L’s: at KU, at OU, at ISU, vs. UT, at NU, at Baylor, at k-state Losable games: vs. NU, vs. Mizzou, vs. Okie St, vs. A&M
Tech (1-3) Projected L’s: at A&M, at Okie St, vs. Baylor, at k-state, at OU, at UT, vs. OU, vs. KU, at ISU Losable games: vs. NU, vs. Okie St, vs. A&M
FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE
Mid-Week Games, with IQ (Interest Quotient):
1. Oklahoma at Okie St (8:00p.m.)**** (Toss-up)
In its last three games, Okie St has played into overtime twice and lost by one point in regulation. If nothing else, they are competitive. One of the few games in which OU is vulnerable. If they win this one handily, the conference championship will be theirs to lose.
2. Texas at Baylor (8:00p.m.)**** (Projected W: Baylor)
Remind me again when Baylor last beat UT anywhere? Maybe they were looking ahead to this game Saturday while playing OU. If they don’t win this game, at Home, with comparable, if not better, talent than UT, when will they do it? Any time this century?
3. Iowa St at Colorado (8:30p.m.)*1/2 (Projected W: Colorado)
This is easily CU’s best chance at a conference victory this season. If they can’t beat a peer team at Home, they will be looking down the barrel at 0-17. Can they control Craig Brackins better than the Jayhawks did in Ames, or will Mr. Brackins be the first man in history to record a double triple?
4. KU at Nebraska (6:30p.m.)**** (Toss-up)
With the top two teams in the REAL Standings both at-risk, the Jayhawks could leapfrog the Sooners and take over the pole position in the conference race by Thursday morning. Or, dare I say, fall 1 and ½ games back. The Hawks must protect the perimeter in this one. Paul Velander is not likely to comply with my hope expressed above and go 1-8. He will, however, continue to make fine German beer.
5. Mizzou at k-state (8:00p.m.)***1/2 (Projected W: k-state)
k-state’s virgin voyage this season as a Projected Winner. If they lose, will it tell us more about them or more about Mizzou? On the other hand, if they win, will it tell us anything about either?
6. Texas Tech at A&M (8:00p.m.)** (Projected W: A&M)
Like k-state, this is A&M’s first projected W of 2009. Should be a cakewalk after consecutive games against the conference’s top four teams in the REAL Standings.