Yesterday's 66-65 overtime loss at Central Connecticut is full of frustration. Better than 24 hours and I'm still trying to figure out what to think.
The facts are the Mount lost a pair of games on the road to start the NEC season. It certainly doesn't mean the season is lost, but it certainly makes it seem like all the glorious reviews and thoughts I had after the American win on Monday may have been a bit premature.
Now, CCSU was the team that I thought would be the Mount's biggest competitor in the league. And Sacred Heart the other loss on the trip was the coaches choice to finish right behind the Mount. So a pair of road losses might not have been that unpredictable. However, the fact that they come early in the season, and they don't get to play a conference game again until January 5th makes it all magnified.
Certainly, the Mount didn't play its best and it could have come away with a pair of wins on the road against top notch league competition. That is positive. But the fact that it didn't play its best is extremely disheartening.
But the frustration after the CCSU loss came from a variety of sources.
First and foremost the foul shooting. In a one-point overtime loss, its easy to say that one more foul shot make might have been the difference in the game. When you make just 4-of-13 from the line, its easy to say that a reasonable performance from the line 8-of-13 (which could still spell frustration) should have been enough. There was a similar performance at George Mason (6-of-19) if I recall, that we termed an anomoly. But now this is becoming a habit. One of the key factors in the Mount's great run last year was quality foul shooting. It needs to get back to that level.
CCSU won the game on a third-chance bucket. Allowing them one rebound in that situation was frustrating enough, the fact that got two made it all the more difficult to digest. Central ended up with 14 offensive rebounds and scored 15 points off of those caroms. Just one more defensive rebound, particularly one in the final 20 seconds, might have been enough to preserve the win.
Half court execution. The Mount has had some trouble of late in their half court sets. Some of it could be some poor shooting, some could be good defense, but they had a 17 point half at American, and a 20 point half at CCSU. Also, they didn't score in the final 3 minutes of regulation, when one score might have been enough to preserve the victory. Noticeable in the boxscore was the Mount only had 11 assists on 27 field goals. I'd like to see that ratio a little bit higher. I was very impressed early in the season with ball movement and the willingness to make the extra pass. Some of that seems to be lacking at the moment.
This isn't all doom and gloom. This is still the same team, the same group that we all felt so highly about a week ago. The same unit that had won 3 of its first five, against quality opposition while playing only one at home. None of the aspirations and goals that we had for this team are eliminated with this ugly trip to Connecticut. But it does bring some reason for concern, and it makes the margin of error much smaller the rest of the way.
Certainly it brought the frustration with it.