Saturday night will be the real heart-test for Idaho State basketball. Can the Bengals bounce back from that awful second-half and overtime performance vs. Weber State on Thursday night when ISU takes on the Wildcats in the rematch in Dee Events Center?
All of the Bengals, even Matt Stucki and Felix Caspari who played so valiently on Thursday, have a lot to prove -- specifically, they need to come out and COMPETE Saturday night, in an attempt to overcome the half-hearted effort that cost them a critical overtime loss on Thursday night. David Busma and Chron Tatum have to try to extricate themselves from Coach Joe O'Brien's doghouse -- the Bengals two big men saw a combined total of 8 minutes of PT Thursday night and, while Coach OB wasn't using names on our post-game show, he was obviously irritated with a lack of effort on the parts of the two Bengal bigs. So irritated he didn't put either in late in the game, when the Bengals were desperate for offense from someone other than Stucki, who took 13 of ISU's 19 second-half shots from the field.
Demetrious Monroe, who started out on fire in the first five minutes of the game Thursday night, and then completely disappeared over the final 35 minutes he played also needs to redeem himself; especially after little Kellen McCoy made the play of the game when he swiped what should have been an offensive rebound out of Monroe's hands in overtime. Instead of Monroe getting a putback to keep the Bengals tied, McCoy sprinted off for a fast break bucket on the other end of the floor that led to the end for ISU.
Another Bengal who needs to make a statement on Saturday is Amorrow Morgan (above). Weber State has his number. In his last three outings against the Wildcats, Morgan has scored only 21 points and committed 16 turnovers. The quickness and athleticism of the Weber guards seem to really bother Amorrow, and the Wildcats really turned up the defensive intensity in the second half. The Bengals were initiating their offense out by the half-court line, and, unlike in the first half, were unable to get any kind of looks inside the lane. Morgan is going to have to come out with intensity and purpose on Saturday if the Bengals are going to have a shot at stealing a road win.
Even Stucki has something to prove -- he's averaged only 7 points a game in the Bengal road losses in the Big Sky. He needs to show he can take his act out of Holt Arena and still make an impact.
Yes, Saturday night will tell us alot about the competitive will of an upper-class dominated ISU team that allowed two WSU freshmen, Damian Lillard and Kyle Bullinger, to dominate the second half and overtime of Thursday night's game. Here's hoping you join the Bengal caravan to Ogden and provide the same kind of spirited support for ISU that the Weber fans brought to Pocatello Thursday night. The Bengals are going to need all the support they can get. See you all in Ogden.
And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's (almost) always fun.