December 11th 2010, nearly seven years ago. The Hurt Locker won the award for Best Picture that year. Katy Perry released California Girls that year, I didn’t know the song by name, but when I looked it up I sure as shit remembered the video. Tony Bennett was on the verge of making his first tournament as the UVA head coach, and Frank Gallagher had yet to grace us with his drunken presence on the US version of Shameless.
It was also the last time that Grambling State won a game against a team not from the SWAC or the MEAC. To add fuel to my own personal hell’s fire there is this tweet from Jeff Borzello:
I may temporarily become Frank Gallagher today after work. Just drink until I can’t feel feelings.
With Josh Okogie still sidelined with a bum finger (though the hard cast is gone), the Yellow Jackets welcomed Grambling State in for a buy game in between Power 5 games against Northwestern, who the Jackets defeated at the buzzer on Tuesday night, and Tennessee who they will host on Sunday evening. Grambling came into the evening looking to close their season opening 7 game road trip out with a bang, and they did just that, defeating the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta on a basket that was tipped in off Curtis Haywood after Ben Lammers couldn’t secure a rebound.
Now, obviously there is more to the story. Why was Grambling close enough to win on a fluke basket? I could blame it on the previously mentioned injured Josh Okogie finger. But I won’t. I would love to tell you it was because Ben Lammers has been hampered by a bum ankle for a couple weeks now, which has prohibited him from practicing and was unable to operate from his typical office at the high post position last night. But, I won’t put it on that either.
I am just a guy who watched the game and it looked like one thing to me, lack of desire. The Jackets looked dis-interested and not ready to play. A team that only beat Bethune-Cookman by three looked like they thought they just had to show up to beat a Division 1 basketball team and in front of a sparse crowd was embarrassed on their home floor. Good teams don’t lose to Grambling at home. Bad teams don’t lose to Grambling at home.
This is a resume’ killer for the Jackets as Grambling has finished 327th or worse in KenPom each of the last three years. It may cause them to come out with a fire in their belly on Sunday against a very good Tennessee team, but even before this demoralizing loss the Jackets looked pretty shaky without Okogie.
Coming into the game Josh Pastner had a record of 21-4 inside McCamish Pavilion. Those four losses were to Ohio, a pretty steady MAC program, arch rival Georgia, Louisville, and Dennis Smith Jr’s NC State squad. Grambling is the fifth.
At one point falling behind by 16, GT did make a nice run behind freshmen Curtis Haywood II and Jose Alvarado who combined for 17 points from 7:18-2:56 marks in the second half, hitting a combined 5 three pointers. Another three pointer by Alvarado (assisted by Haywood) gave the Jackets a 1 point lead with just over a minute to go. Alvarado then made two more free throws after a Grambling turnover to put the Jackets up 3 with 43 ticks left.
Then it all went to shit….again.
Brandon Alston got a little bit too aggressive and breathed on a Grambling player who obviously went to the Lebron James school of flopping, and naturally the ref bought it. Ivy Smith sinks two free throws to cut the lead to one.
The next sequence is what really winds my clock.
Curtis Haywood turns the ball over, he’s a freshman, that’s a teaching moment. Grambling misses and Tadric Jackson gets the rebound and is almost immediately fouled with 34 seconds left. Jackson is as senior guard, who just beat the buzzer against Northwestern for the win. He is also a 59% career free throw shooter. How that is possible with this young mans stroke I have absolutely no idea. Either way, you’re a senior, you have to make at least one. Especially after how dis-interested you looked most of the game.
He misses both.
Grambling comes down the floor, misses a layup because they suck… then my world melts…
Lammers gets a mit on it, but it somehow goes off his hand, off Haywood’s hand, and into the hoop with 6 seconds left. Jackets get a garbage attempt that doesn’t go and lose the game.
I am a lover of bourbon. I was sipping on a generous amount of Woodsford Reserve throughout the game and it was delicious.
You ever chug about four fingers of WR? It’s unpleasant. But it is also what was needed in order to dull the fury that was running through me after this game. Hopefully this wakes the Jackets up. Hopefully they come into McCamish on Sunday and take the Vols behind the woodshed. One thing is for certain, Josh Okogie can’t get back soon enough.