An awesome week is behind us, and RRR is ready to analyze it, but I have to begin with an update about the last poll, that elected the football player of the year. I really expected a close result, but numbers speak clearly:
Dakota Allen - 77%
Keke Coutee - 19%
Other - 4%
So, congratulations to Dakota for this prestigious award.
Let’s discuss the basketball week. After two tough losses in Austin and Ames, it was normal and legitimate for fans having some doubts about the team. After all, the team had just lost one of its best players, Zach Smith, who probably will miss the rest of the season, and there were many problems attacking the rim and getting rebounds on both sides of the court.
The Oklahoma State game was a crucial thoroughfare for the season and, despite a win, many doubts remained, because the Cowboys led for good part of the game, and only a great team effort avoided the third consecutive loss. I’m not afraid to admit the Red Raiders won that game more with their head than their play.
In that moment, coach Beard demonstrated to be a heck of a coach and, after sacrificing his knee on the aisle of the team, he delivered a Gamecocks gameplan including the usual suffocating defense and an aggressive offense that attacked the rim without fear. This forced South Carolina to commit many fouls (three players had five) and increased the trust of Texas Tech players in such a hostile environment.
I’m not saying now everything is perfect, but if we were looking for an answer, we found a good one. That said, there are still some problems that need to be addressed, starting from finding an effective big man to add to Norense Odiase. Malik Ondigo, a 6’10 freshman, saw some playing time, and he showed some flashes but is still raw.
Another problem is the regression of my fellow countryman Davide Moretti, and I’m very sad writing this. He suffered the transition from soft opponents to Big 12 schedule, and now he’s the pale shadow of the sniper we saw until mid-December. Probably he suffered the impact with players like West Virginia’s Jevon Carter, who plays in the same position but has a completely different physical structure and at the moment is of another category, but coach Beard must retrieve a player who’s expected to have a key role in 2018-19.
The upcoming week offers the home game against Texas and the first meeting with a rollercoaster team like TCU, that was able to beat West Virginia by 9 and lose to 7-13 Vanderbilt. I expect to see a very different game with the Longhorns, we have to show that problems are being solved.