Last night, WKU faced off for the Conference USA Championship against the Monarchs of Old Dominion. It was a very tough game, but unfortunately we did not come out on top (losing 56-62). This means Old Dominion will move on to play in the NCAA tournament, which will be displayed this evening. As for WKU, there are some big takeaways from this game.
- Awareness & Turnovers: The tops gave up FIVE shot clock violations in the first half. To win, you need to be aware of the time and make the best of what the defense is giving you. I thought we needed to be more physical the first half and drive to the basket more. A few of the ODU players were in some foul trouble first half, so taking it to the basket could have created some more free throw opportunities for us. The shot clock violations and awareness go hand and hand with the turnover margin. Though ODU matched the turnover number to Western at 14, many of the Tops turnovers were unnecessary. There were numerous times Anderson or Bearden would throw it into Bassey and the ball was way overthrown. Another time was Bearden throwing it out of bounds due to the lack of focus when trying to pass it to Anderson.
- Effort: Though WKU was very physical, they did not seem to “want it”. Old dominion played with a chip on their shoulders and came out on top. WKU did not go all out until under the 1 minute mark in the second. They drove the ball to the basketball, expecting the foul, dove for lose balls, and played tight defense. It was too little too late for the Tops, and unfortunately, it cost us.
- Free throws: Free throws win basketball games and sadly, last night was a great example of this. Time and time again we failed to execute at the line. We went 16-24 at the line to ODU’s 9-9. We were great getting to the charity strike, but failed to execute, normally resulting in making one of the two shots. If WKU could have made 3 or 4 more free throws, we could have pulled the game out. At the very least, the momentum would have changed entirely for us and it would have been a much closer game at the end. Unfortunately, a 66% free throw percentage to ODU’s 100% was also a negative take away from the game.
Some good take aways were their ability to get Bassey the ball, their rebounds, and drawing fouls to get to the line. They did a very good job creating one on one matchup’s that forced a chance at the free throw line. They also “fed” Bassey more this game, giving him a chance at making some buckets in the paint. They doubled Bassey a lot, so it made it challenging to score in the paint, but this should have freed us up allowing for some easier buckets. All in all, I thought we looked very sloppy and did not have the heart to want this game. I am not sure if it was the big stage, over hype, or tiredness of playing 3 games in 3 days, but it showed last night. Going forward into the next season we can take these points to heart and be that much better. We have lots of talent returning, as Bearden is the only senior leaving. As for our big man down low, there is a possibility of him leaving for the draft, but time will tell. In the end, it was a decent season for the Tops, we won the big games, but struggled with what should be “easy wins”. Hopefully next year these younger guys can take this season as a stepping stone to a better 2019-2020 season.
Stats for the game:
37 total rebounds, 7 steals, and 6 blocked shots.
Bassey: 12 points | 10 rebounds (5-7 shooting)
Hollingsworth: 9 points | 4 rebounds (2-10 shooting)
Anderson: 11 points | 6 rebounds (4-13 shooting)