Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Afterthoughts: Tops vs. Shockers

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Wakey wakey, WKU fans! It was a late night, yes, and hopefully everyone has recovered from staying up, and, in some aspects, disappointing. But not all of it is bad. So step away from the edge, after all, we are only one game into the season, and lets rethink things.

I don’t know if it’s a product of being deeply involved in the school itself or what, but it seems that no matter the sport nor the opponent, WKU never backs down from a challenge. Last season, the football team, and some fans, felt that they could head into T-Town and defeat Alabama. If you take out the 21 point first quarter, it’s a 14-0 final. Even this past year, coming off the back-to-back UK wins, fans and players thought that they could roll into Knoxville and beat Big Orange. Turnovers would crush that dream.

Last March, WKU headed into the NCAA tournament as back-to-back SBC tourney champs, and back-to-back 16 seeds, yet somehow, people in and around the fan base & team didn’t think beating Kansas was crazy. And it nearly happened.

Monday night, against all odds that Vegas put out, what experts believed…the fans wouldn’t listen. There was still that hope in the air that the Tops would come away with the win. While that wasn’t the case, there was plenty of good that came out of the morning.

Let’s start with the tangibles. The numbers:
WKU shot 29% from the field. Not good. Not even a little bit. The Tops also shot 50% from the free-throw line. Okay, more positive. But still…not good. Especially when you find yourself at the line only 12 times with these new foul rules. George Fant didn’t have himself a very nice night, totaling only 4 points, but was a presence off the boards with 7 rebounds. T.J. Price, on the other hand, played to T.J. standards, tying the team lead in points with 12 (Rostov also had 12, but more on him in a bit), however an injury plagued him a bit, but he was able to power through for 29 minutes.
While most of the numbers weren’t good, there were a few positives. WKU out rebounded Wichita St. 42-40, and won the offensive boards by 10. But in all honesty, out of the tangible numbers, that’s the only absurdly positive thing from Monday.

Now, let’s talk about the actual on court play:
Alex Rostov and Brandon Price are for real.
Rostov is what WKU has been missing over the past couple of seasons (no offense to Teeng, and a lot to Vinny) down low. He is a big and physical, and is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor. Not since the 2011 North Texas SBC Championship game has the 5 spot for the Tops been a legitimate scoring threat from anywhere and everywhere on the floor. With Rostov playing the way he is, and Ben Lawson coming up, the WKU big men are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
I said this in my live-tweeting, and I will say it all season, and most likely for 3 years after that – Brandon Price, while not the biggest player on the court, certainly plays like it. Price went toe to toe with Wichita State’s veterans, and didn’t back down for a moment. He looked like he belonged and he knew his role. And that’s all you can ask for from a freshman’s first game.

Don’t worry, Tops fans. WKU played a good game. Yes, it was sloppy. Yes, the calls seemed to always be against them. Yes, foul trouble played a factor again. And yes, Harris and Akamune’s absences hurt. But don’t worry; the final score wasn’t indicative of how close the Tops hung in there (much like last night’s Duke vs. Kansas game).

If all else fails, things will be okay because of one thing – the Tops host East Tennessee State Saturday.

Stand up and cheers.

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