Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Whither idaho?

What is it with Idaho and miscues late in games leading to losses?

After erasing a 17-point deficit against New Mexico State  a foul on a steal attempt with less than three seconds on the clock allowed Daniel Mullings to sink the game winner at the foul line.

Prior to that. the Vandals were up seven against Denver but lost as a pair of turnovers, a Pioneer offensive rebound and no shot attempts in the final minute and a half closed out the contest for Coach Don Verlin's guys.

Then there was the overtime loss in Utah State where an eight-point lead with less than four minutes remaining disappeared in an avalanche of turnovers and missed shots as Preston Medlin (who else?) tied the game in regulation with a three-pointer.

In the second game of the season, Idaho was ahead of Montana by a 15-point margin with 12+ minutes remaining. The game's outcome came down to a final shot and as Vandal athletics reported: "...Idaho stayed within two possessions for the game’s final four minutes and got back possession with 9.4 seconds left after a missed Montana free throw, but Verlin said Idaho ran the wrong play in the final seconds and the Vandals weren’t able to get off a shot before time expired..."

It's frustration on top of frustration because it's not simply a single element that has led to each of these losses.

As for the players and production:

Mike McChristian, Robert Harris Jr. and Denzel Douglas have shared time at the point with none seizing command. Sure, Landon Tatum and Deremy Geiger performed well in 2011-12 Vandal backcourt but these particular late game losses certainly are not solely due to Idaho's backcourt this season. 

McChristian stands at 42/21 in assists-to-turnover ratio with Douglas at 34/17 and these are palatable numbers.

But Idaho is deeply underwater in turnovers -- owning 201 to 123 for opponents and Stephen Madison is unfortunately tops with 34 with Kyle Barone's 31 not far behind. That HAS to change if greater success is to arrive.

Looking at another set of figures, Verlin's crew are just a +14 in points scored despite owning a 47% to 43% overall shooting advantage, 35% to 31% on three attempts.

Maybe the troubles late in games is more an issue of prime time, on-court leadership, as indefinable as such a term is.

The defeats could be simply chalked up to just bad luck but the consistency of such indicates that there are more factors at play.

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