I wrote about Marcus Smart – who else? – for today, anticipating his return from a three-game suspension.
The story wasn’t about his impact on the Cowboys going forward, although there’s much to be seen in that regard. It was about what may be behind the different Smart we’ve seen this season, his seemingly agitated state and the possible outside influences that may be affecting him.
You can read that story here.
As for the game against Texas Tech itself, here’s a few storylines to consider as we near the 12:45 p.m. tip at Gallagher-Iba Arena:
The Smart Effect. We’ve heard a lot of good things about how the time away served Smart well, allowed him to refresh and refocus. Now, can it translate to the floor, keying a turnaround, not only today but down the stretch in the Big 12? That remains to be seen, however, the Cowboys are saying all the right things.
Smart: “We’ve got to finish out games. We’re in those close games. We’re in them, we’re just not finishing the game out. That’s our biggest problem right now, finishing games. We’ve been in a little slump. A lot of guys are struggling and we’ve had distractions. The distractions are over with, so we can get back on track.”
Markel Brown: “He’s just ready to get back on the court. He’s ready to put all that behind him. He’s ready to help this team win. He’s been encouraging us the whole way, he’s been behind us 100 percent. Now he’s ready to come back out there and help contribute with the team. He’s liked the way we’ve been playing the last couple of games and he’s ready to join that.”
Travis Ford: “I think we have played decently over the past couple of games. We don’t talk about the Texas game, because we had zero time to prepare, and they played great, but the last two games we played decent. And now we add a good basketball player who hasn’t been out there. And the guys have been playing better, so hopefully that makes us a better basketball team.”
Hammonds Over The Hump? The buzz about the true freshman has been consistent. Great in practice, afraid to make mistakes in games. Coaches and teammates have talked about him just needing something good to happen for him, to get him over the hump.
Might his buzzer-beating 3-pointer to force overtime at Baylor do the trick?
That’s the hope among the team.
“I hope he’s carrying himself pretty well, Brown said. “I think he needed that. He hadn’t made a 3-point shot since the opening game of the year. Hopefully, that sparks his mind, gets a little of the jitters out of him a little bit.
“He’s a great player in practice. He’s like one of the top players in practice every day. He gets in a game and gets a little nervous. Hopefully, that will take away from a lot of that.”
Hammonds had actually done some good things earlier in the game, but foul trouble – three in four minutes – limited his impact. Ford has vowed to use him more.
Where’s The Rowdy? GIA crowds have been less than stellar all season, even before this seven-game losing streak started and even when the Cowboys were in the top 10.
What should we expect today? Hard to tell.
The players need a lift, and their hard play should deserve such a lift. But the season has spiraled, the weather is nice and the opponent isn’t all that sexy.