Effort. The Mocs had the effort tonight. They didn't have shots falling.
The Mocs only shot 2 of 15 from three point range and 9 of 16 from the free throw line. They also turned the ball over 22 times compared to Kennesaw State turning it over 15. The Owls had been turning the ball over a lot heading into the game and the Mocs had not been struggling with that. The fact that their fortunes turned in this one was one of the main reasons the Mocs lost tonight.
The Mocs play so fast and with so much energy on defense, sometimes it is hard to get slowed down on the offensive end. It can cause a player to play slightly out of control on offense. That's what it looked like tonight. The energy was there, but sometimes I just wanted to say, "Calm down!" when they were on offense.
The Mocs undersized and undermanned in the paint. Kennesaw State is big in the paint. Yet, the Mocs outrebounded the Owls by 18. That was amazing. I did not expect that at all heading into this contest. That was pat of the energy. They dove for the ball and fought for every loose ball. You have to love watching this team show the effort that they showed tonight.
The Mocs fought back from eight down to tie the game and had the ball with thirty seconds left. They turned the ball over twice and gave up two offensive rebounds while not getting a shot off until the buzzer after the game was decided during the final thirty seconds. Hard to win games like that. Ouch.
Look- the Mocs are not a great team at this point. But it really looks like they are going to eventually do something good this year. The effort is there. If the Mocs bring that kind of effort each and every night, eventually good things will start happening to this team.
As we look at the Owls, it's important to remember that the Owls have played everyone close this year, including Eastern Kentucky and Mississippi State. Yes, Kennesaw State was 0-4 against D1 competition heading into the year. But the Owls were better than a lot of 0-4 teams, just like the Mocs are a better than a lot of teams that are 0-2 against D1 teams.
Casey Jones had his best game as a Moc, I think. He scored 17 points with 9 rebounds and three blocks. He shot 8 of 13 from the floor. Gee McGhee was the leading scorer and rebounder with 18 points and ten rebounds. Greg Pryor had four turnovers, after having just one in the first three games. He still scored ten points. Z Mason had two early fouls in the first half, and only played four minutes. He still scored 14 points with six rebounds and three blocks. TJ Williams continued to impress, with four points and four rebounds. He looks like a player that is going to develop as the year goes along and be a solid contributor. Eric Robertson played 29 minutes. I think he played a lot as the Mocs were trying to find someone who could make a few shots. He is a solid shooter normally, though he was off tonight, shooting just 1 of 5 from the floor and 0 for 3 from three. He did collect seven rebounds. lex Bran also made a very nice drive to the hoop and scored two points.
When Rico White comes back, this team will be better.
Right now, the Mocs are not a perfect team, but they are actually fun to watch, as they bring the effort night in and night out.
Now it is out to the West Coast to play four games in eight days. They may be underdogs in each game. But I wouldn't count this bunch out. They have an upset or two in them this year, and also have several games they could play and beat teams that they are even with. I don't know what will happen out there, but I am excited to go watch them play again.