So much for my hopes and dreams of a top ten ranking.
Yes, we lost at the buzzer on a miraculous shot. But the only reason we were in that situation was 40 minutes of lackadaisical and disinterested defense from our two centers, terrible first half and late-game rebounding, and Jonny Flynn’s increasingly distressing habit of not entirely paying attention or engaging with games against small-name opponents.
I realize the box score will show that Flynn shot a fantastic percentage and was second on the team in scoring. But anyone who watched the game saw a guy who mostly sleepwalked through this game and only came alive towards the end when a loss became a real possibility. This guy is an NBA player matching up against college kids, and he shows it when the bright lights are on. But against lesser known programs he isn’t bringing it. He could have dominated this team. He could have shown up in full force and made sure this game was not close. But he didn’t choose to assert his will until it was too late. Cornell is the only small time opponent against whom Flynn has put up an impressive, dominant performance. This situation sufficed as long as his teammates dominated in his absence — which they had been doing — allowing us to remain secure in our faith that he would step up to the plate if needed. But tonight he did not rise to the occasion when his team needed its 5 star player to deliver a win. Very disappointing.
On the other hand, Devendorf will show a poor shooting percentage, but his determination and intensity for 40 minutes was the only reason we didn’t lose this game by double digits. He hit big shot after big shot to stanch Cleveland St runs and keep SU in the game. We lost this game anyway, so it’s hardly a testament to how necessary he is — but without him on the court it would have been a truly cringeworthy embarrassment, instead of a miracle win by Cleveland St that will hopefully garner sympathy from the voters.
Turnovers, missed free throws, blah blah blah — people will talk about that but that wasn’t the problem. Play defense and hit the boards, and this game isn’t close. We shot 54% from the field, clearly our play with the ball in our hands was not the problem. SU only scored 69 because Cleveland St walked the ball up every possession and spent 20 seconds winding down the clock. The problem is that whenever Cleveland needed a wide open jump shot or took the ball into the lane in a key moment, we let them have it. And if they missed, they got the offensive rebound.
Terrible, just terrible.