Last night the Bulls entered the MAC Center and took down the Kent State Golden Flashes for the seventh consecutive time. It was a night that involved huge highs and terrible lows, but I’ll get in to those in a little bit. Overall this game once again showed me the team that I still believe can win the MAC, but only if they start to play with consistency. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Young Guys Came to Play
Raise your hand if you had James Jones playing quality minutes against Kent State. That’s what I thought. When the upper class man got in to foul trouble and other trouble, the young players stepped it up for the Bulls. Lead by CJ Massinburg’s offense, Dontay Caruthers defense, and the overall effort by Nikola Rakicevic, the Bulls never gave up in this game.
When going down 5 points in the second half with your seniors unable to be on the court, it could have been easy to give up. Especially with how the seasons been. But that didn’t happen. The young Bulls played with energy and a passion to win. They locked in on defense and willed the Bulls to a strong road win.
Kent State is a very strong rebounding team. In fact they’re number 2 in the nation on the offensive glass behind UNC. However, the Bulls still managed to pull down 40+ boards. They attacked the loose balls and used their bodies to box out. Something that was missing in the Ball State loss. If the Bulls continue to want the ball more when it’s bouncing loose, then we will continue to see the Bulls win the rebound game.
The team has been doing much better about staying out of foul trouble since the beginning of the season. That being said, Blake Hamilton, David Kadiri, and Ikenna Smart all had four fouls early in the second half. With Raheem Johnson seemingly off the team for now, Smart and Kadiri have to stay out of foul trouble. Kadiri picked up two illegal screens early in the second half which need to be avoided. He’s been playing lights out recently and we need him on the court.
Nick Perkins’ Three Point Shooting
Let me start this off by saying Nick Perkins might be one of my favorite players on this team. He’s gained enough muscle that he should stay inside and dominate the paint. Last night he was 0 for 4 from beyond the arc while 7 for 11 from two. I still believe he is learning to dominate inside but he should really cut back from the long ball. Maybe it just hasn’t clicked yet like it did this season, but I’d prefer to see him drawing fouls and finishing at the rim. He’s too good to be away from the paint.
The moment we’ve all been waiting to discuss. I’m going to start this out by saying in no way do I think Willie Conner is a dirty player. I’ve seen him around campus, interacting with fans and overall he is one of the nicest people I have met. That is why it was shocking to me that he threw punches towards Kent State’s Jimmy Hall. Conner was ejected after also suffering a technical against Ohio.
So what is going on with Willie. I think some of the frustrations from his game may be getting in to his head. Conner has played well but I think he knows he could be better. The three ball hasn’t been falling like it did against Coppin State and that could be frustrating for an outside shooter. Whatever it is I hope that Conner figures it out and bounces back. This is a moment where he can become a leader. Own up to your mistakes, work hard, and show you’re all in for the team.