On Thursday evening, I witnessed an effort approaching superhuman categorization. Norchad Omier, a sterling credit to the nation of Nicaragua and champion for Arkansas State, battled the entire Louisiana Ragin Cajun’s roster by himself.
Or nearly so. Maybe it just seemed like Omier was the only effective Red Wolf in an 83-77 OT loss to the Cajuns. After all, the man was an incredible 11-14 (78.5%) from the field, recording 29 points, 17 boards and three blocked shots before finally fouling out with a couple minutes left in overtime. It was like going to Silver Dollar City and watching a master craftsman at work. But instead of forging a horseshoe or weaving a wicker basket, Omier was pounding slams and robbing boards.
With the effort of Omier, the Red Wolves as a team shot 35.2% from the field. But remove Omier from the boxscore, and the Red Wolves were an astonishingly dismal 24.5% (14-57) from the floor. The starting guards contributed six buckets on 36 attempts – many of those attempts rolled tantalizingly off the rim. Of the six buckets made, only two were worth three points (a very special thanks to Caleb Fields, who drilled an incredible three-pointer to send the game to extra minutes).
Happily for our collective blood pressure, supernaturally good free-throw shooting continues to keep the Red Wolves afloat (22 points, 81.5%). But has the recently revived skill at the charity stripe become a kind of crutch? Frustrated from the lack of success on the floor, it appeared that by game’s end, Marquis Eaton and Desi Sills were reduced to driving to the lane for the express purpose to be fouled – a one dimensional strategy that just can’t be sustained through the season.
Give these Red Wolves credit: despite the woes from the floor, Arkansas State made their presence known in a hostile building for which visitors rarely leave with a victory. Markise Davis continues to be an astonishing weapon off the bench, and Caleb Fields is a merciless machine that churns out assists. But Norchad Omier needs some help – and not just from his colleagues on the hardwood. Would it hurt to call a time out when the opposition goes on a 8 point run? Just one time?
I’m not backing down from my assertion that this is a special team. It is, man. Desi. Caleb. Marquis. Norchad. I love these guys. Even when somebody launches a betwen-the-legs-behind-the-back pass into the stands, I love this team. Hell, there was a moment on Thursday night when one Red Wolf set up a screen that funneled the ball carrier right into a double team, and my love only grew. I must be insane.
Love does that to a man.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mine!