Generally, I have trouble switching from football to basketball and it was no different this year. Last night, I hit full basketball mode this season, along with really becoming attached to this basketball team. Unfortunately the Cougs could not finish the game in the final seconds defensively. DaVonte Lacy was obviously the difference maker for Washington State and Brock Motum was his all-conference self all night long. But the Cougs missed the opportunities to win this game.
My first question is, why was freshman Junior Longrus on the floor for D.J. Shelton during the final 5 minutes or so? If you look at the box score, Longrus outplayed Shelton, but he wasn’t strong in the paint defensively like the big starter is and it really cost the Cougs in the final moments. In fact, during the final 3 minutes or so, Longrus was manhandled by Olynyk as Motum drew the Elias Harris assignment.
Olynyk scored 2 plus-one put backs on fouls by Longrus, both of which should have been rebounded by the young freshman to begin with. And then in the closing moments Longrus failed again to box out Mike Hart on the back end of an Olynyk free throw and then the O-man drained his first 3 of the season to give the Zags a four point advantage. In my mind this was the play of the game and would have been avoided with Shelton in the game.
My second question is, how does Lacy get so unlucky as to have both of his game tying 3’s upstaged by better plays in the final minute? Are you kidding me? I mean, yeah I saw Pangos game winner coming at about the half court line, but in no form or fashion did I see the big flowing locks of Olynyk in a 4 point play. Of course, after the year Motum has had shooting the 3, I didn’t really see a 5-7 performance from the ark coming either. What a game from Brock.
Third question, what happened to the touch of Dexter Kernich-Drew? As good as Motum was shooting it, the oncoming Kernich-Drew killed the Cougs with an 0-5 showing and honestly he had MUCH better looks all night than Brock. It was especially noticeable when the Cougars went on a cold stretch mid-way through the second half and K-D was reluctant to fire.
And the final question: How many times do our hearts have to be ripped this year. Three 2 point losses in the first 9 games is unbelievably unlucky. An incredible basketball game last night and I hope this raises the team confidence level overall. Gonzaga has a really, really good team.