Thursday, February 12, 2009

We can say with complete assurance they can beat Arkansas

The standard line following Auburn's come outright overwhelm-from-behind victory over Arkansas seems to be "Hey! Almost up to .500 in the SEC!" Most of me wants to respond to that by saying "Terrific! Just two more wins, and we'll have a winning record in what might be the worst single-season BCS conference in history. It won't even get us within rock-throwing distance of the NCAAs and there's still plenty of work to be done just to get on the good side of the NIT bubble, but let's break out the kazoos anyway!"

I'm so tired of lugging that kind of attitude around in regards to this team, though--there are times when "most of me" should really stop being so damned rational--that I think it's time to focus on the positives. And there are some positives. To wit:

--After a high school career spent firing away and each and every opportunity, there was some question (from this blog included) whether Frankie Sullivan would be able to work within the offense alongside his teammates. He still has plenty of room to progress, obviously, but four assists-to-zero turnovers in 18 minutes of play is an excellent sign.

--Dude, what on earth are the odds of Barber and Barrett combining for only 21 points on 9-of-22 shooting, Tay Waller going 2-for-8 from outside, and DeWayne Reed likewise going 3-for-9 from the field ... and Auburn winning by 13? Those are offensive options 1 through 4, and Auburn didn't get optimal production of any of them. That it didn't matter is another good sign for the team going forward.

--Why didn't it? Brendan Knox (!), Waller, and Lucas Hargrove combined to shoot 10-of-13 on their twos. That's pretty good. Though I didn't see the game (obviously), it's a fair bet that some of those were open looks set up by good ball movement on the offensive end--six different Auburn players recorded two or more assists. The Tigers finished with a 1.3 assists-to-turnover ratio and assisted on 64 percent of their made baskets. Contrast this with the Hogs, whose A/TO ratio was .6 and whose assisted-baskets percentage was 41.7.

--In addition to playing smarter, Auburn also played harder. Their defense was a little better than the Hogs--they held the visitors to a lower shooting percentage, forced more turnovers, and had more blocks. On the glass, Auburn rebounded an impressive 42 percent of their own misses; the Hogs, just 33 percent.

Of course, the news can never be all good with this team. This time, we got Lebo's curious treatment of Quantez Robertson, whose reward for sweating out 113 career starts for some of Lebo's worst teams was ... to ride the bench virtually the entire game, until getting a charity minute at the end of the blowout like some common scrub. I know Robertson showed up late for the Tennessee game after DeWayne Reed's whole Showuplategate, so he hasn't been a model citizen. But is public humiliation really the best way to get through to him?

But oh well, for a day at least, Auburn's within a game of .500 in the SEC. And if it doesn't mean as much as it should, doesn't mean as much as we'd like it to, it does mean something. Keep it going, guys.


jd said...

Jerry -

If you haven't seen it yet, Charlie Creme has updated his women's BB bracketology.

Jerry Hinnen said...

I did see it. I'll cover it next time the women have a game to review.