By Andrew Zimmel
Pessimist and Worry-Wart
I am usually the first person to leave during a fire alarm. There is nothing wrong with me, I just run faster than the rest of the people out of the building. Whether it is a drill or the real deal I am the first person out. Gone. I have plenty of fears (which if you don’t, you are probably a psychopath). The reason I say all that is to stress how confident I was that Texas State Men’s Basketball would be able to roll into Conference play without many blemishes, but we are under a week away and I have more questions than answers.
For a quick recap: The Bobcats are 6-6 going into Friday’s game against the 3-9 Rice Owls, who at the start of the season, I would have said should be an easy victory for the Bobcats, but now I hold my tongue. The Bobcats last victory came earlier this week against Ecclesia College 85-43. Who has yet to record a win on the season and is an NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) school. The Bobcats “won”, but what should we have we expected? Ecclesia is a school of UNDER 300. For comparison, some Texas State classes have half their student body in one class. Why are we scheduling this school so close to Conference? But that goes for a majority of the schedule this season. The Bobcats have played total of zero power five teams in pre-conference, something that almost every other team in the SBC has done.
To be fair, there is something to be said for playing peer-conference opponents. The argument can be made that those games mirror what your team is going to see in conference, however, it would be nice to WIN those games. The litmus test for all sports at Texas State is how well the Bobcats face foe UTSA. For all purposes, Conference-USA is about as close as you’re going to get to the Sun Belt from top to bottom. So how did Texas State do against the Roadrunners? A nail biting loss in November that really created the mold for this season. The Bobcats lost to the Roadrunners thanks to sloppy play and the inability to make shots down the stretch. You can rise, wash and repeat this for almost all the Bobcats losses.
For every McMurry victory (100-50) the Bobcats find a way to shit the bed with an HBU (71-52) or ACU (72-68) style loss. Also, for a quick sidebar, HBU played UTSA a week later and lost 87-71 and then this week they played number two ranked team in the nation Michigan State and lost 107-62, but at least they played a big named school (even if it’s just for money). The Bobcats haven’t been able to get a consistent grove or given fans any reason to be confident going into Conference play.
I’m not saying that the season is lost, the only thing that really matters is the Sun Belt Conference tournament in March where any team can get hot in a hurry and run off a string of victories and end up in the NCAA tournament for March Madness. It would be crazy though for nobody to sit back and look at this team and be a little unsure about how this team is going to compete in conference play. Going into their last pre-conference game the Bobcats are first in defense, but in the bottom third for offense in the Sun Belt, and even those numbers might be inflated by playing DII and NCCAA schools. The Bobcats Star Guard/Forward Nijal Pearson is averaging 14 points while playing almost 30 minutes per game (for the casual fan, NCAA game is 40 minutes long). The Bobcats don’t have a top 15 rebounder or scorer and while they hold onto the ball well, I can’t imagine that will have enough of an impact to shift a game in late February.
I’m not calling for fans to collectively clutch our pearls, but these next few weeks keep an eye on how well this team adjusts to the conference play, or if they continue to play down to their opponents.
Featured image by Madison Tyson.