Welp. After a roadtrip to McPherson, Kan., the high is over. The Lancers are no longer undefeated.
East fell to the hometown McPherson Bullpups 53-40 in the championship of the 2013 McPherson Invitational. After defeating Maize and Blue Valley West, East fell victim to the Bullpups. They fell victim to their quick guard play. They fell victim to hometown officiating. But most of all, the Lancers fell victim to themselves.
Sorry, that was pretty cliched. But I mean it: Shawnee Mission East is a better team than McPherson, regardless of what all the McPherson kids have been telling me on Twitter since the game. The Lancers have size, speed and scoring to rival most teams in the state. The Bullpups are good, but they aren’t the caliber of East.
And yet they won, and by 13 points at that. When I signed up to commentate the McPherson Invitational, I expected nothing short of gold for the Lancers. But East fell to the hometown team, revealing a few weaknesses in the process that need to be addressed before the postseason begins. Or, more importantly in the eyes of most students, before they play SM South on Feb. 22. Here are the holes in the ship that I believe need to be plugged before then:
- Perimeter defense – East has played really solid defense all year long, but there have been moments when they looked vulnerable. Most of those moments happened when quick, shifty guards decided they wanted to get to the rim. Whether it was Kyler Kinnamon from McPherson or Olathe North’s Jack Todd, East has let quick ball handlers penetrate their defense all year, and it finally caught up to them in this game. And if the Lancers struggle against guards like Kinnamon, they’re gonna have a hell of a time defending South and their explosively quick backcourt.
- Turnovers – Oh, don’t do this to me, guys. I thought you were done with this turnover stuff. I thought you were different this year. But then you went out and had a sloppy tournament including an 18-turnover performance against MAIZE. C’mon, guys. I know you don’t want to be that team again. You know, the team that could have been great, if you had just held on to the ball.
- Getting the ball inside – Or rather, not doing so. I think perhaps the number one reason East lost to McPherson on Saturday was because they didn’t get the ball inside. They tried a few times and McPherson’s guards swatted away a few passes. So they stopped getting it inside. And that’d be OK, except for three things: ZACH SCHNEIDER, LUCAS JONES and CHRIS TUTTLE! Once again: c’mon, guys! What’s the point of having such a great and offensively potent frontcourt if you don’t use it? I know the backcourt is capable of scoring, but they can’t do all of the scoring. This team isn’t going to win many more games if it falls in love with jump shots and forgets to get the ball inside.
I believe in this team. I think we could see something special this year. One loss doesn’t change that. It just reveals some areas that need work. I just hope the guys get it all together in time for Rockhurst this Friday.