Short handed Dalton is still infinitely better than Toccoa or Carver, and is better than Thomas. Dalton is NAIA, the prior two opponents were NCCAA (much lower than NAIA). Even down 4 players and 2 starting guards, I would consider them more of a Muffin Top than a Cupcake (hope there's some Seinfeld fans out there)
I still don't think this game should have been as close as it was, but on the bright side, we might have lost this game with last year's roster playing. The talent levels of Rodgers and CY3 were very apparent, in terms of being more ready to contribute right now (especially Rodgers). They carried us today, period. Kasen Jennings was out for KSU but he was on the bench, so it wasn't COVID.
This game didn't give me a huge confidence boost as a fan, heading into a portion of the schedule where we are going to play D1 teams that are on, or near our level, at least in terms of being mid-majors. We got ahead double digits early and didn't put them away until the second half. I like that we applied more pressure to their short handed guards and made a nice cushion to work with for much of the final 15-20 minutes.
I really would have hoped for more of a killer instinct, balanced scoring, and a better A/T ratio. I also still need to see our guys contribute and execute for a good 35-40 minutes vs. actual mid-major D1 competition, and from here on out, we will have that chance.
Alex Peterson is apparently settling in as AAR's top big. For the first few games, he avoided playing him at the 5, but now is doing just that with Youngblood playing a small 4. Youngblood played 38 minutes with no fouls and was the only player in the game to get in, and not foul. Crazy, right?
I spoke highly of Cole LaRue in other game threads, and I still see the potential, but he's not as ready as I thought he might be. He needs to start hitting his shots (which I thought was his strength in high school). His contributions should be size and spreading the floor. He's only a freshman, so I'm not meaning to be hard on him, but he's got to step up if he wants to be a rare freshman big man contributor.
No Owl has had double digit rebounds this season. We've been led by guards in multiple games. We need a big to step up, play 30+ minutes, and eat glass.
Bottom line: It will be tough to take down Belmont on Wednesday. Belmont is always fundamentally strong and has given us trouble for as long as I've followed the Owls. They are a smart team that will always kill you on your mistakes. Unforced errors are things that we absolutely need to limit.