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Diary of a Loss: West Virginia

Tired of analytics and defensive analysis? How about a game thread diary from Sean’s couch?

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Well, I think we’re all tired of hearing about how bad our offense is or how our defense doesn’t get any help. Instead of an analytics-heavy article with GIFs and videos and me pretending to know more that I actually do, I figured a change was in order. What follows is a running diary of my thoughts watching Iowa State play West Virginia on Tuesday night.

Pregame: While rushing back from a work happy hour, I was able to listen to John and Eric via the Varsity sports app for a bit. Did you know Jameel McKay was Iowa State’s last defensive player of the year? Good trivia from the guys before we start.

First Half

Under 16 TO: 11-5 feels like an insurmountable lead after the last few games. Pack it in. OK fine, I’m not there yet.

15:11: Iowa State goes Conditt, Kunc, Grill, Brockington, and Hunter out of the TO. As far as offense goes, this is probably the most “potent” which does not bode well. Right on cue, Tyrese clanks a wide open three and Jones throws it away. Meanwhile, Wilson knocks down a three and WVU leads 16-5.

12:51: Wilson knocks down a long two with his heels on the line and Iowa State is down 18-5. Here I am thinking 11-5 was insurmountable. WVU is on a 10-0 run and somewhere, Evan Miyakawa is smiling.

12:40: Is that Jaden Walker???!!!

11:55 (under 12 TO): Announcers mention Iowa State is 1 for their last 10. Here’s a new game: Drink every time Iowa State goes on a major scoring drought. That way, you’ll at least forget when the announcers tell us how bad our offense is.

11:22: Otz going away from Tyrese or Tre. Only Kalscheur and Walker as primary ball handlers. Right on cue, a turnover. “Iowa State is totally out of kilter”.

11:07: Oh look, Roy Williams is here to laugh at us!

10:25: Brockington. Left Hand. Rinse. Repeat. 10-20 WVU - still feels like a lost cause at this point.

9:02: Brockington is fouled on a jump shot and my Cyclone Bingo card is filling up.

8:00: Iowa State has scored back to back baskets twice so far as Hunter gets a layup after an Enaruna post jumper. Grill quickly gets a three the following possession. Is this what Warriors fans always feel like?

6:12: Hunter puts up a brick that would make Russell Westbrook proud and barely avoids a shot clock violation. This is not what Warriors fans feel like.

Under 8 TO: First glance at Twitter since the game started.

@WideRtNattyLt: Well this is going super.

Ya don’t say!

Hines: Jaden Walker getting his first meaningful run maybe all season. Coaching staff trying anything to break this offense loose.

I need a drink.

5:40: Hunter misses another three. He has taken a few too many tonight, though I don’t think any of his shots have been bad decisions. Definitely a piece of his game that can improve over the offseason. Easily fixable. Hunter shoots 21% from behind the arc on the year. Yikes.

5:15: Refs definitely spent too much time out last night. Also, Jaden Walker is in, again???

4:45: FIRE UP THE GRILL BABYYYYY 21-27 Clones within striking distance after Kunc draws a charge and Grill hits from deep.

4:02: Can’t blame Grill for the heat check. Oftentimes it feels like Caleb can “unlock” the offense, so to speak. Having a legit three point threat is key to keeping defenses honest. Also, why haven’t we seen Kalscheur for a while?

3:33: Jaden Walker meaningful points!!!

2:47 (under 4 TO) 23-30: Good scramble by Iowa State to force McNeil into a long two. Kunc is fouled on the other end. TV timeout. My ESPN+ stream buffers again and I contemplate sending my remote through the tv and into the wall behind it. Is there a worse streaming platform that we HAVE to have? I can bounce around Netflix in 2 seconds but if I breathe on the remote while on the ESPN app my tv thinks it’s on the island from Lost and spazzes out.

The T Mobile Center just doesn’t sound right and it makes me sad. (Side note: I’m 9-0 in person down there. May have to make a trip up this year.)

2:10: Taz Sherman has a career high 6 rebounds tonight after being questionable all day. Death. Taxes. Guys having career days against Iowa State after being injured.

1:20: Jaden Walker gets fouled. Where is Gabe Kalscheur?? Announcers: I think that was the right call. Walker misses both: Ball don’t lie?

1:15: Walker fouls Johnson. I’m tired of this experiment. 23-34

1:06: Osabuohien clearly fouls Conditt 40 feel from the basket and the WVU faithful boo. I think I know what Hilton’s reputation feels like now.

00:45.3: Johnson gets an and-one over Grill and all of a sudden it’s a 14 point game. Mercy.

00:35: GRILL. SPLASH.

00:20: Brockington 1-5 from the field in the first half. Kunc with a nice spinning jumper to end the half. Taz Sherman with 10 points for WVU. “This is as good a half as WVU has had in a while.” Oh joy.

End of Half: Iowa State 28, West Virginia: 39.

One of the poorer defensive halves of basketball this team has played all year. Part of me thinks the Big 12 grind is getting to them, part of me thinks the talent just isn’t there.

Hines: “Four triples from Grill and going into the half down double digits… not great.”

Uhhh, yeah. The offense is finally getting production from someone other than Brockington and we’re down 11. This team feels… Off. Broken isn’t the right word, but this stretch the last few games has been concerning. Iowa State just can’t get games where their offense and defense fire in unison. It just feels like every night something is missing.

Let’s look at halftime stats, shall we?

  • Brockington with 3 points on 1-5 shooting. Not enough shots for our leading scorer.
  • Tyrese is 1-5 from three by himself. For a [Tyrese 3 point percentage], this is a lot.
  • Grill is 4-5 from 3. Keep shooting and being decisive and purposeful with shot selection. Grill in rhythm with his feet set and his body square to the basket is a viable threat from deep.
  • 6 turnovers isn’t the end of the world. I’d sign up for 12 total turnovers most games.
  • West Virginia is shooting 56% from the field and 54% from three. I predict a plummet back to reality in the second half, assuming Iowa State can get back to their old ways. As a side note, Kansas shot 56% from the field against Iowa State the entire game last week, so yeah, there’s that.
  • Iowa State getting out rebounded by 5, which isn’t terrible, but WVU has 11 points off turnovers vs. Iowa State’s 3. Eerily similar to what Texas did to the Clones the other day.

As another halftime thought, I think I’m just confused that this team has seemingly gotten worse every game this year (to a point). The undefeated non-conference start was a joy and a shock. This is a shock for the opposite reason. These guys don’t appear to be getting better.

The same Big 12 commercial has played 65 times during this broadcast. In lieu of the statistics they continue to show over and over again (2020-21 National Champtionships: Baylor. 69%* of Teams have made the Final Four, etc.) Here are mine we should use until the end of the year:

  • Days since Bob Bowlsby’s last media failure: 6
  • Number of teams leaving in the next few years: 2
  • Number of fan bases pissed off having to watch ESPN+: 10

Second Half

20:00: Brockington hits both technical free throws and it’s a 9 point game to start the second half.

19:23: Fantastic defensive possession to open. WVU with a shot clock violation.

18:27: On the inbounds pass, Enaruna gets beat off a back court pass from Hunter and Jalen Bridges gets fouled on a dunk. I miss Fred’s BLOB plays… No team makes easy offensive tasks like inbounding the ball look more difficult than Iowa State.

18:03. Hunter turns it over and WVU is fouled on the other end. 30-41. If you would’ve told me Brockington has 5 points after half and we are down double digits, I would’ve agreed with you… Vehemently.

17:40: WVU dunk off an Iowa State turnover. Kalscheur then turns it over and is benched.

16:55: WVU turns it over. Iowa State hasn’t won in Morgantown since 2015. I’m not surprised.

16:15: Kunc air balls a wide open corner three. Remember when he was one of the top 50 most efficient offensive players in non conference play? I do. He clearly doesn’t.

Kunc in wins this year: 7.5 PPG on 57% shooting. Losses: 1.3 PPG on 19% shooting.

Under 16 TO: No, I am not watching “Our Time, Baylor Basketball”, ESPN+. Get me off this God-foresaken joke of a “channel”.

Iowa State did not score in the first 4 minutes of the second half beside the two Brockington free throws. Oh, and they have 4 turnovers in the first 4 minutes. Is that good?

14:57: Biggest lead of the game. Whiskey poured: TX Bourbon.

14:32: Iowa State gets their first field goal of the half.

13:25: Kalscheur air balls an open three. Still down 16.

13:00: Kalscheur picks up his 4th foul. Brockington subs for him.

12:11: That ball went off Grill’s foot but refs call it off WVU. The fans boo… Again. WVU hasn’t scored in the last 3 mins. Meanwhile Hunter converts an acrobatic and-one. THAT is the Tyrese this team needs. In an offense that struggles to create paint touches, Tyrese needs to be aggressive and get to the line.

Under 12 TO: The Big 12 commercial plays again. Let’s play another round:

10% of teams in the Big 12: Love the Longhorn Network

90% of teams in the Big 12: hate Texas (unrelated to first bullet)

Schools whose basketball coach could bench press an elephant: 1 (Iowa State)

Number of times Sean has to back out of ESPN+ in order to make his stream work: 14

11:49: Iowa State is still the most improved team in the country from last year to this season at +14 win differential. Second place is Wake Forest at +13.

11:23: Otzelberger Coaching Tree graphic. Drink. Did you know he took the Jackrabbits to the NCAA Tournament and coached Mike Daum???? Me neither.

10:30: It’s a 19 point game after a Taz Sherman three. My whiskey tastes good, at least.

10:10: Kalscheur returns to the game with 4 fouls. Brockington is 1-8.

9:44: Iowa State fouls for the 10th time. WVU is in the double bonus from here on out. So much pain.

8:46: Has Tre Jackson played at all tonight? Why is Jaden Walker getting so many minutes? (Postscript: Tre did not play)

8:20: Chance to cut the lead to 10 here. Let’s see what they draw up. Actually a really good look by Kalscheur in the corner from Walker. CLANK. 46-58 still.

7:28 (Under 8 TO): Walker layup cuts the lead to 10. Like I’ve been saying all night, play Walker more!

If I see the Big 12 commercial again we win this game.

Ya’ll see Tyrese got traded to the Pacers? Happy he’s out of basketball purgatory. The Kings are like that girl that asks you to prom who you have to say yes to because your mom thinks she’s sweet. The Pacers are more like your 3rd option date that has a great personality but isn’t quite there looks-wise. Few drinks and things will change.

6:38: The Clones give up a one pass three out of a BLOB. Hunter gets a layup, and McNeil answers with a three on the other end. 15 point game.

5:51 (Under 8 TO): Tyrese is up to 18 points now after a wide open three. Game is still just out of reach but he has been about the only bright spot this entire half. His career high is 20. Likely to break that.

Why is Roy Williams wearing a West Virginia sweatshirt? At this point he just needs to walk around with a Cy on his chest and a giant “X” through it. Geez.

5:45: Wait, Kalscheur fouled out and I missed it? That makes way too much sense. (Postscript: He did foul out and I did miss it. Huh?)

4:50: 8 point game. HERE COME THE CLONES. Points off turnovers only at a 5 point difference now. WVU turns it over again. 11 second half turnovers.

4:13: Tyrese misses a three and I really hope that isn’t the end of Iowa State’s chance at a comeback.

3:52 (Under 4 TO): WVU has never lost 8 in a row under Bob Huggins. This is not surprising. “10 points feels a lot closer due to the offense Iowa State has been able to generate tonight.” Dude, have you ever watched this team even once this year??? Come on.

2:47: Grill fouls around half court and this game feels over. Iowa State had a chance to cut to 5 but missed a three and now it’s a 12 point game. 57-69.

2:42: West Virginia has a season-high 20 turnovers. 12 in the second half. It’s a double digit game. WVU gets a dunk and Iowa State immediately turns it over.

1:51: Curry (not Steph) gets an and one and we are just about done here. 59-76 bad guys.

00:47: Kunc clanks another three. I don’t mean to pick on the guy, but he’s been very very bad in conference play (only hit double figures twice since January). Likely the physicality of the Big 12 has been the biggest adjustment, but man… I’m sure he had higher hopes for himself as an offensive contributor, same as we all did.

Final: Iowa State 63, West Virginia, 79.

They didn’t show the Big 12 commercial again.