Sunday Conversation: 12/8

One can easily imagine this as Myles making his case to start against UC, but it probably isn't. - Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

We look back at an ugly win and dissect the week ahead, with special attention being paid to the Crosstown Shootout on the horizon.

Joel: So we had Semaj on the line down two with six seconds left yesterday. How much of a nightmare scenario was that in terms of what you didn't want to see before tip-off? Still, he jarred them both and took over down the stretch. That's the biggest thing I'm taking away from this game: he had no turnovers and only left four points at the line. This was not a good win by any stretch, but it was better than any loss. Next up: Evansville.

Brad: I'll disagree a bit. I think this was a good win in some ways. We did what we needed to do down the stretch to win the game. It was ugly to blow two double digit leads, but we did ultimately win with a dominating overtime. I'll take an ugly win over an well-executed loss. We get right. And we get ready for the Big East

Joel: Are we getting ready for the Big East? It has been a couple of weeks since we looked good, and we're getting beaten on the boards by teams that shouldn't. Combine that with out turnover and free throw problems and suddenly we're looking like a fairly easy team to beat. What is with us and first halves? We had 11 or 12 of our 14 turnovers and our worst free throw showing of the game in the first half yesterday. Then we really cleaned it up in the second and in OT without making really big strategic changes. If Mack is to blame/credit, how does he go from not preparing the team for the first half to getting them in gear for the second?

Brad: Well, obviously, we looked like garbage in the first half. Second half was a little bit of an improvement, overtime was good. We may not be getting ready for the big East but at least we won that game. It would seem to me to indicate that Mack had them ready to play from the opening tip. Or at least the game plan was solid all game through. It's really hard to say exactly what the problem was when foul trouble played such a big role in it. When Justin Martin is handling the ball for any length of time longer than it takes him to shoot it we have a problem. You're right though, we just keep coming out flat. It cost us in the Bahamas and it will cost us in conference play as well.

Joel: When I'm most concerned about it costing us is Saturday during the Shootout. Cincy wins by throwing bodies at the offensive glass and forcing turnovers. Do you feel good about our ability to combat that? I don't think I do.

Brad: No, not at all. I didn't feel great going into last year's game, but this might be worse. I don't think Cincinnati is that good of a team, and normally I would say that our team should beat them. However, with the way we played for the last 4 games we're barely good enough to beat bottom level MAC teams. We know Cincinnati will come to compete. If we can't get it together, they will blow us out in the first half.

Joel: How do you fix that? It is a personnel thing? I would like to see Farr and/or Reynolds get a start. Those guys come to play every time they hit the court; maybe one of them can offer some early energy. Also, unless something ridiculous happens against Evansville, I'm guessing Dee gets the start against UC. I'd be stunned if Coach Mack started a freshman guard in that one.

Jeff Goodman asked on Twitter who some of the most improved players in the nation this year are. I hit him with Farr without gaining much traction, but I can't imagine anyone in the nation has made a bigger jump than he has. If we can beat Cincy, it's going to be about him and Reynolds being able to outplay UC's athleticism up front on both ends of the floor and forcing them to play honest D on the backcourt.

Brad: I would like to see Reynolds start. I think Farr is a great option off the bench. Let him and Philmore come in after Reynolds picks up his second foul three minutes in. Do you really go with Dee against Cincinnati? Randolph can't shoot but he took really good care of the ball yesterday; that has been Davis's downfall. He turns the thing over constantly. Maybe against that defense you let Randolph start and see how he does.

Joel: I'm not sure I want Dee, I'm just saying it seems like what Mack would do. Dee has come up big in adverse situations as a matter of course, though, so I wouldn't count him out. He played 37 minutes yesterday; I'd like to see him doing less than that against UC. Randolph is an awful shooter who doesn't seem to realize it. That's not as bad as turning it over, but it's darn close.

Brad: Very good point. He was 0-4 yesterday and clearly has no sort of shooting rhythm right now. I would trust him on the ball more than I would Dee though, if this game gets like last year's. That said, we are being like Buckeyes fans here, and overlooking the team right in front of us while we just arrogantly assume we'll win the game. Of course, our game is Evansville. We could see our boy Tim Whelan.

Joel: We should have seen Whelan yesterday, but instead we went into OT. Hopefully we learned something that we can apply in blowing out the Aces. Staying out of foul trouble would be huge, but there doesn't seem to be any correlation between calls from one game to the next. I'm all for calling the game tighter, but the inconsistency in applying the rules has to be hugely frustrating to the players and is undermining what the NCAA is trying to do.

Brad: I'm on record anywhere that I've been while watching a game as absolutely hating the new interpretation of the rules. You can't play defense now. If the refs are going to call a foul every time a hand goes up, we're going to keep getting these 60 free throw processionals and absurd calls like Philmore's fifth yesterday. It's just deplorable. Clean up the under the bucket street fighting? Sure, but this ticky tack garbage 30 feet from the rim is just stupidity.

Joel: I'd also like to see handchecking on the ball curtailed. You should have to move your feet to play defense. It's a contact sport, though, and you should be able to brush into the other guy without getting called every time. I think the refs will be a big part of the Shootout. If UC's guards can maul ours, it will be a long day. If it's called straight up, we're going to need to execute from the line. No matter what happens, I it's going to be a game we're looking back to in a couple of months as a litmus test.

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