The Maui Invitational: The Final 3 Minutes of a 4th Place Team

I didn’t follow this game as closely as I should’ve.  The first half:  the Dawgs were ballin’, taking a 10-point lead into halftime after struggling a bit early.

This game came down to the final three minutes, which I felt the need to document because it reinforces my point earlier today.  The Huskies don’t have that Go-To guy to take over a game late.

Here’s where we stood with 3 minutes left:  tie game, 66-66, with the ball.  After a missed shot, MBA grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled.  He made both free throws for a 68-66 lead.

Michigan State came right down, missed their first shot, got the rebound, and hit a 3-pointer after a time out.  69-68.

Isaiah Thomas then got the ball in the lane and drove for a 14-foot jumper that rimmed out.

Michigan State came right down and nailed another 3-pointer.  72-68.

Isaiah Thomas took the ball at the top of the key and drove left for a lay-in and a 72-70 deficit.

Michigan State worked most of the clock off, then turned the ball over by stepping out of bounds on the end-line thanks to great defense by Darnell Gant.

At this point, the shot clock was turned off.  The Huskies took it across the half-court line and called time out.  Following that, we inbounded and passed it around to MBA at the top of the key.  To my utter repulsion, MBA drove into the lane, threw up a wild shot and was fouled with about 15 seconds remaining.  He made the first and missed the second, 72-71.

It took until the 8-second mark before the Huskies fouled.  Michigan State made both free throws; 74-71.

The Huskies threw it down court without a time out and someone (either Holiday or Wilcox) jacked up a three that was a total air-ball.  Michigan State made their free throws and that was it.

The Husky offense really fell to shit for most of those last few minutes, not just in the three I transcribed.  Nobody could get open, people were jacking up wild shots left and right, and I’m sorry, but if you’re going to be the leader of this team Isaiah Thomas, you’ve got to be considerably better than 4 for 7 from the charity stripe.  You’re 15 for 26 for a 58% free throw percentage on the season.

Now, let me be clear, I can’t stand IT haters who call him out for shooting too much.  Let’s face it, you WANT him to be the guy who shoots the most shots on this team; he’s the most consistent offensive threat we have.  That being said, 58% is fucking pathetic man!  You and Overton are the only two guys driving to the hoop and getting fouled on a consistent basis; you HAVE to make your fucking free throws if we’re going to pull out these close games!  There’s just no excuse!  I know they’re not all that much fun to practice – and certainly not as flashy as hitting a transition three – but free throws will single-handedly either win your or lose you more games than I can stand.

I’m tired of looking good in the eyes of the ESPN media while losing these close games to ranked opponents!  You wanna know what sucks?  This was the last game we play against a ranked opponent for the rest of the year (unless some Pac-10 team gets off to a really hot start).  So, pretty much, yesterday and today were our chances to really boost the ol’ RPI for March and we blew it.  Great.

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