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Cougs end Cowboys season, 74-64

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The Story

The end of the season was as inconspicuous as you would expect from a team that never really found a true identity. That’s not to say they didn’t play hard and have some lights out moments this year (namely against KU), only that as a whole there was never anything about this team that made you say “yes, they get it, they’re going to be ON for the next few weeks.”

This is where I would talk about how fouls owned Marshall Moses and the Cowboys once again but I was too busy getting Heidi’d by the Kentucky and North Carolina women’s game. While we’re here, congratulations to all those women’s teams that advanced, I really am impressed by the girl from Gonzaga who has 2,000 career points and 1,000 career assists. But for the love of everything that is pure about the game of basketball, your team is not winning a game in which it trails by more than 10 points with 30 seconds left. Your players struggle to heave the ball to the rim from the NBA 3-point line and they’re supposed to orchestrate a double-digit comeback in half a minute? Take your medicine and bow out gracefully. @Pokelahoma had the tweet of the night on this.

When Trey Wingo and Kara Lawson finally did wrap things up on the women’s side OSU was already in a 9-2 hole. This team is not built to recover from a 9-2 hole on the road with its best player in foul trouble (Moses already had 2 at this point). It’s just not. Then a funny thing happened though, Matt Pilgrim strapped the Cowboys on his massive back for a stretch and essentially said “hey, I’m here, I’m playing for more Euros so don’t be afraid to ride me for a while.”

And they did as long as they could. Keiton wasn’t hitting shots (2-11 from three) and for that matter neither was anyone else (4-19 from three overall), Dowell wasn’t playing, JPO was playing but not really, and Markel is generally limited by the fact that his range is about 8 ft. The Cowboys trailed 38-29 at the half behind Klay Thompson’s 14 and you could tell it wasn’t going to get better from there. In the pregamer yesterday I likened Thompson to a thicker Tayshaun but that was an awful comparison. He’s more like a poor man’s Kevin Martin, with a gangly (but sweet) shot and size to boot. He’s going to be a good 7th-9th bench guy for an NBA team someday.

In the second half OSU needed to play perfect and shoot close to 70% to have a chance at the end. Instead they shot 44%, Moses picked up foul #4 in under 90 seconds, and they never really recovered. The closest they would get was 55-47 with 9:43 left on a layup by Dowell but it was all Cougs after that.

When it was over

Right after the Cowboys had cut it to 8 in the second half and were showing signs of life, Pilgrim grabbed a rebound and tried to throw it the length of the court to a streaking Dowell but it went out of bounds. Klay Thompson drilled a three, Markel airballed one, and DeAngelo Castro drove the dagger in just before the 8-minute mark.

Player of the game

After Pilgrim scored on like three straight possessions in the first half, displaying a variety of athletic aerial moves, strong post rebounding, and a subtle knowledge of the game I tweeted “as the Pilgrim turns…” He really did turn in his best effort of the year last night, and I’m proud of him for always bringing it. I hope he does well in Europe, makes some cash, and has a good life. Oh, and if he’s reading and ever wants help with that book my email address is over there to the right.

Stat that explains it

The 3-point shooting was (obviously) horrific but it was really lack of FT that killed the Cowboys. They only got to the line 15 times, mostly because they lacked assertiveness in getting to the rim. This is a team that needs to get Keiton to the line at least 8-10 times a game (he only went 5) and same for JPO (he didn’t shoot a FT).

The rest of my notes

  • What’s with the massive logo at midcourt trend? And how abrasive was Washington State’s logo? I’m all for the flag they take to College Gameday but it hurt my eyes to look at their court. They need to take a class on court design along with A&M, Oregon, and Texas Tech
  • Roxy Bernstein sounds like the name of a reporter in a homemade movie entered in the Toronto Film Festival about a double homicide, not the name of a college basketball analyst.
  • Why does WSU have a better crowd than us?
  • Did anyone else see the possession when Moses just started running to the other end while an offensive rebound zipped past his ear? That was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen.
  • Markel’s left hand is nasty.
  • Dowell’s dipsy-do layup is so hard to defend.
  • Miles Simon might have literally had on the worst suit I’ve ever seen last night.
  • At one point (with the game in hand) Roxy said “in what could be Moses’ last college game…” Is there another tournament OSU is playing in I’m unaware of?
  • Great tweet here about Klay Thompson’s cavemanish-ness. He makes Blake Griffin look like Brooklyn Decker.
  • Travis Ford has to have the shortest postgame handshakes ever. Can somebody get Elias to track this?
  • When’s the last time Keiton missed two straight FT? 5th grade?
  • Speaking of Keiton, a guy I was watching with said he looks like an extra from the Wizard of Oz.

What it means

It means this season is finally over. It means we can finally start looking forward to and speculating on next year. This squad played hard to the bitter end which says a lot about them, but more about Ford. Nobody EVER quit on him, that’s telling and in this age of Bruce Pearls and Billy Gillespies (wait, he’s back?!) I’ll take Travis Ford and his hustling, hard-working, in-shape, seemingly character-filled (minus Darrell and the jury being out on LeBryan) teams any day of the week.

I feel bad Moses had to go out like he did. As FreeMason10 pointed out the other day, we’re going to look back on his career a lot more fondly than we do right now. He grew up a Cowboy and I’m proud to have been able to write about him in his final season in Stillwater. Also, thanks for this…

Next game: November 2011

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