In the biggest game of the season thus far for the top ranked Bruins, we get a mixed bag as far as positives/concerns for this team, but the biggest positive of course, is the 65-62 victory.
As fans, we get frustrated a lot, especially with the high standard we hold our own team to. The Bruins certainly have areas to work on, and I'm going to point to the free throw shooting again as the biggest flaw in this year's team. Even Afflalo, our 82% FT shooter, went 1-3 on a trip in which he got fouled behind the 3 point line. So this is apparently contagious. Also contagious was our shotmaking abilities in the first half, or lack thereof. There are a lot of reasons why this game was closer than necessary, but at least the wide open jumpers started to fall in the second half, giving us the offense we needed to win.
I hate to include this in our postgame thread, because there's nothing we can really do about it, but I thought the refs were absolutely atrocious today. That was a disgusting performance, littered with phantom fouls (Mike Roll 1st half no-touch-foul), inconsistency between halfs (Mata fouled out on this), discrepancy in the allowance of perimeter contact (Aboya gets smacked in the face: no call, Law runs into a recovering Aboya: instacall). The only thing consistent was their incompetence. These guys need to get the memo: the people do not come to the arena to watch you interject yourselves into the outcome of the game, they come to watch the teams play.
Credit must go out to A&M, and if there was a team that could really give the Bruins fits, this is a good way to build it. They have a couple of highly skilled guards, and Law vs. Collison really lived up to the billing. I'm going to give a slight edge to Collison because the turnovers he caused led directly to fastbreak points, but otherwise, Law went neck and neck with DC. We all knew going in that their bigs not only had the height advantage on us, but also liked to play physical. A&M was denied their interior presence until the very late stages of the game, and even then their offense came more on cuts and rolling to the basket rather than posting up. Nevertheless, their impact was felt as they were the reason why they could outrebound our front line. They are certainly a legitimate team. I hesitate to say contender, but they will do plenty of damage in their conference, and with a little luck, have Elite 8/Final 4 caliber talent.
Player of the game: Josh Shipp
It was the same old story for the Bruins, which isn't to knock them because we are 8-0. The flipside is that while it was closer than we are comfortable with, A&M is a legit team, and we should feel very good about beating them. I personally feel that the refs kept this much closer in score than the difference in the level of play would suggest, but that's another credit to the Bruins, overcoming foul trouble on half of our starting lineup and the refs to beat a legitimate team. It isn't as pretty as we would all like, but Howland's teams are rugged. We are never going to win a beauty contest with our brand of basketball, but we will rack up the W's.
All in all, a solid, if not frustrating and ugly, win over a very good opponent. Contrast this to our Memphis game in the preseason NIT from last year, which was last year's preseason test, and you'll find plenty of reasons for optimism among our concerns for this team.
I'd like to wish some good luck to all my fellow students for this upcoming week.
Comments on the officiating, A&M, our woeful FT shooting, disagreements? This is the post game thread.