I was tempted to say that if you can’t say anything nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all and leave a very brief recap of the game. But the reality is, that although the game was horrible on many levels (we shot 36% from the floor, 14% from 3 and 44% from the line, were out rebounded, neither team scored in the last 4 minutes of the game, neither team scored more than 40 pts, neither team had a player to score in double digits and we completely almost blew the game at the end during a routine exchange between our two best players), I actually wasn’t sitting there thinking that GU was playing that bad. Shots just weren’t falling (for either team) and it just felt like “one of those games.” When things like this happen, you want to have a strong defense to fall back on and we played very well. Meanwhile, our offense moved much better than we did against Indiana, we just missed a lot of shots that we normally make. Even when Hopkins kept blowing open layups, I was giving him a mulligan instead of simply assuming he was finally playing back down to his potential. At the end of the day, it isn’t necessarily fun watching games like this, but its great to say that we can win games like this.
Otto Porter (8 pts, 4-11 fgs, 0-1 3pts, 7 rebs, 4 asts, 3 stls) – Couldn’t find his shot, but as usual, he was able to fill the stat sheet. The 7 rebounds weren’t all that impressive given how poorly everyone shot, there were plenty of rebounds to go around, but 4 assists when we only had 16 baskets was quite eye-popping.
Greg Whittington (8pts, 4-11fgs, 0-2 3pts, 7 rebs, 1 asts, 3 stls, 1blk) – Same as Porter (which isn’t surprising since I see him as the middle class man’s version of Porter – something better than a poor man’s version of Porter). Couldn’t find his shot but active everywhere else, ran the floor when we could – considering the backdrop of a horrible game, he played relatively well.
Markel Starks (4pts, 2-6fgs, 0-1 3pts, 2 rebs, 2 asts)– Ironically, I feel more comfortable with him on the floor every game, even with bad games like this one. His 2 asts is a little misleading, since they both came within a minute of each other, so for the other 26 minutes he didn’t really pass much, but I found myself asking why Starks wasn’t more aggressive going to the basket. Although that was a bit of a criticism that he should have been more aggressive, it shows how far he’s changed my perception of him since 5 games ago – back then I would have been happy that he wasn’t trying to shoot.
Nate Lubick (0pts, 0-0 fgs, 1 rebs, 2 asts) – Got injured 8 minutes in, so hard to penalize him for the lack of scoring – but it only makes the 2 asts stand out more. Clearly our best passer, but should look to score more (yes, I copied and pasted this line from 20 of my last 22 GU Reviews).
Mikael Hopkins (8pts, 2-9fgs, 4-8 FT, 6rebs, 2 stls, 3blks)– My goodness. As I said before, the multiple misses at the basket were the type of play that I expected from Hopkins all season long, so I sat there wondering if his play in recent games, that was starting to resemble an actual basketball player, was lulling me into a false sense of security. At this point, the game was so horrible that I’m giving him a mulligan. But I still need to see more rebounds from him – 2 of his 6 were off of his own misses (which he proceeded to miss again on the put back). Heck, I had 4 rebounds that game, and I watched the game from my living room 2 days after the game was played. We need more from our starting center. That’s the difference between a Porter and Whittington and a Hopkins – even when their offense isn’t there, they bring something to the table. I did, however, appreciate his 3 blocks – but he really should have had 6.
Jabril Trawick (7pts, 3-5 fgs, 1-3, 3pts, 4 rebs, 1 asts) – The one person with an actually good game. This stat line looks remarkably similar to his stat line against Indiana. He was aggressive going to the basket and was the only person on GU to hit a 3. Still not really comfortable with him, but starting to think we might actually have a decent back-up back court.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (2 pts, 1-2fgs, 0 asts, 0 stls, 0 rebs) – Had a sweet move with the shot clock winding down, but generally wasn’t aggressive. Its really hard to tell, but I think he has the tools and just needs to stop deferring. He is almost the anti-Starks. For the first two years, Starks carried himself like a basketball player, but didn’t do much on the court. Smith-Rivera, doesn’t jump out as having that swagger, but usually when he does something its positive. Not a big fan though of the goose-eggs in the other stat categories.
Stephen Domingo (0 pts, 0-0fg) – I wasn’t going to mention him, until I looked at the box score and noticed he played 5 minutes. Is it a good sign that I didn’t realize he played 5 minutes? I’m going to say “no”.
Moses Ayegba (0pts, 0-0fg, 1 ast, 1 turnover) – Remember my comment about having a decent back up backcourt? Well, ladies and gentlemen, here is our back up front court. My first look at him and for the full three minutes he was out there, I was asking myself, “how long is JT3 going to risk having him out there?” He seemed completely uncomfortable on the court and his 1 ast was a “Lubick special” of having the ball deep underneath and yet passing it out to the perimeter. Meanwhile, his turnover was horrible and he received a pass at the high post with his back to the basket and he never turned around to see that there was a wide open lane to the rim. Its tempting to say that he is another GU stiff center who will round into shape over time, but he is a junior now, so I don’t have high hopes. The scary thing is that he is our tallest bench player an in a game where Lubick was injured and Hopkins had 4 fouls, he only got 3 minutes of play. I guess that JT3 shares my assessment of the quality of our front court bench.
JT3 – Not a whole lot to complain about regarding him. Maybe we can start faulting him for not recruiting better young big men, because I can see that being an issue for us some time down the line if Lubick or Hopkins are hurt or in foul trouble – right now we patch it together because Porter and Whittington are so long and athletic, but they can’t defend a real big man for long stretches.