Isaiah Joe’s Ole Miss Masterpiece

-Tommy Foltz

Let’s not mince words.  Few things in life give me more satisfaction than waking up on Sunday morning after a Hog victory — especially when it comes at the expense of the University of Mississippi.

RICH MAHOGANY:

“I don’t know how to put this, but……..I’m kind of a big deal.  People know me.” — Ron Burgundy (The Anchorman)

 There are a few sure things in this life. Iowans love corn, for instance. And the corn-loving betters among them crave Iowa online sports betting. Here’s something you can rest assured of: Isaiah Joe will be the best shooter in almost every gym he walks into. He is most certainly a big deal, to which we bore witness on Saturday night in Mississippi.

In a riveting 76-72 win over Ole Miss, Joe delivered a total game and played like a first team All-American.  We’ve all heard that “great players make great plays.”  With 18 seconds to go, Joe stole the the ball from a guy who just got an offensive rebound.  To add insult to injury, he stepped up and made two free throws.  

Oh yeah, and he scored 34 points.  In a word, he was……brilliant.  You can’t ask much more from a basketball player.

BUT, LET’S NOT FORGET:

As great as he was, he didn’t do it completely on his own.  There were others who came through at critical times.

Mason Jones may not have reached his average, but he had a career high 9 assists, 13 points, 6 boards and went 6 for 6 on free throws.

Adrio Bailey hit 2 free throws to tie it at 64, and Jimmy Whitt (with his patented chest shot) iced the game with 2 free throws to make it 76-72 with 8 seconds to go and that was all she wrote.

11 MINUTES OF HELL: 

During the last two games, Reggie Chaney has played 11 minutes.  During that glorious stretch he received a technical for swatting the ball into the crowd.  That little incident brings him to 5 fouls.  He’s had one turnover, grabbed exactly 0 rebounds and scored a whopping 0 points.

In all fairness, he did make 1 assist.  Can you say “Transfer Portal?”

BELIEVE TO RECEIVE:

“…we don’t really fear anything…if we’re down we still think we’re going to win,” Coach Muss.

Belief is a critical intangible in all sports because it leads to confidence.  Whether it’s golf, basketball or any other sport, if you don’t play with confidence you can rest assured that you probably won’t play your best.

But to believe you can come back from an 11 point deficit on the road with 16 minutes to go requires the confidence, and ultimately trust — that the guys playing around you are not gonna quit.  This team has trust in spades.

IN MY BOOK:

Beyond the belief factor and besides Isaiah Joe’s monster performance, two things stick out as to why we’re not crying in our beer today.

—One:  We hit our last 18 out of 18 free throw attempts

Made free throws don’t just give you points.  They’re momentum builders.  Missed free throws don’t just deny you points.  They’re momentum crushers.  They create doubt.  They get in your head because you get to the line, but you don’t have anything (other than a foul on the other team) to show for it.  

—Two:  Basketball IQ 

I’m always interested in the player quotes after the game and Jimmy Whitt nailed it when he said,

”…if you can’t get stops coming at critical times, you can’t win.  That’s the most impressive thing we did. We couldn’t just keep trading baskets.” 

This is one of those thoughts that’s so fundamental that sometimes it’s possible to lose focus on it.

It’s a simple equation.  One team tries to score points one end while they try to deny points on the other end.  It’s not enough to hope the other team misses. 

This team seems to get that simple concept better than any team we’ve had since Nolan’s best years.