Watching the New Mexico State - Boise State men's basketball game on Saturday night was maddening. And Mark Johnson wasn't even involved!
The Broncos put together what I can only imagine was one of their best games of the season, losing in the final seconds to the Aggies by a score of 95-92 after coming back from a 20-point deficit in the second half. BSU's Robert Arnold had 35 points on 12-of-14 shooting. Daequon Montreal had 22. Boise State almost made half of its shots. For a rare televised game, the Bronco men chose a good time to put on quite an entertaining performance.
That's the good news. Now for the bad news.
What struck me while watching the game was how infuriatingly undisciplined, turnover-prone, and just plain not smart the Broncos were, especially in big situations. BSU finished with 21 turnovers, several of which were lazy, ill-advised, or inexcusable. Take away even one-quarter of those TOs, and the Broncos might win.
But the sequence that really got to me happened at the end of the game. The Broncos had overcome a 20-point deficit to cut the Aggie lead to two points with under a minute left to play. NMSU had the ball, and there was enough time left that the Broncos could get a stop on the Aggies and come back on offense for a chance at a final shot to win or tie. Boise State did just that. LaShard Anderson stole the ball from an Aggie player with about 15 seconds to go. In a mad rush to the basket, Anderson took to the rim and forced a last-second dish to Montreal that resulted in a turnover. Boise State fouled, and NMSU went to the line to put the game away.
That was bad enough. It got worse.
The Aggies gave the Broncos new life by going one-for-two at the line. Boise State brought the ball back down court, needing a three to force overtime. The ball was passed inside to Anderson who was standing in the key. Rather than pass it back out, Anderson chose to go for the easy lay-in with about three seconds left. He missed the lay-in. Montreal stuffed the follow in the crook of the backboard and rim, resulting in a jump ball with possession going to the Broncos.
With 1.3 seconds left, Boise State inbounded from the baseline - a chaotic inbound play that resulted in a contested heave from Anthony Thomas a good three feet behind the three-point line that missed badly.
Where to begin? The Broncos could have - and probably should have - done so many things differently.
- How about Anderson driving to the basket and shooting after his last-second steal instead of forcing a play that wasn't there?
- How about Anderson getting the steal, Graham calling a timeout, and the Broncos setting up a play to win or tie?
- How about not passing the ball inside for a two-pointer when you need three?
- How about not attempting the two-pointer when you know you need three and when there's not enough time left to foul and get the ball back?
- How about at least making the two-pointer if you're going to attempt it?
- How about drawing up an inbounds play that works? Or at least one that gets an open shot? Or at least one that results in a player getting the ball who has actually scored points in the game? Or at least one that gives your hottest player, Robert Arnold, a chance?
After the game, NMSU coach Marvin Menzies said that the Broncos were the best 3-11 team in the country. At what point does that stop being a compliment and start being a problem?
Note: Thanks for letting me vent. This game was probably not as bad as it seemed, and I don't mean to take away from the great heart and determination that the Broncos showed. I just hate to see a great performance like this wasted.