Introducing the EMAW Online Fast Break, right after each basketball game I will give my key takeaways from the ball game. You can also find the Video Fast Break with myself and Alec here as well.
Keyontae Johnson is the real deal
I will preface a lot of what is going to be said after tonight’s game that it was Washburn and an exhibition game, but Keyontae Johnson got off to a hot start and looked really good. Johnson flashed offensively in the early going and was able to use his size at the appropriate times, but was also able to showcase the athleticism and touch that goes with his game. Johnson showed why he was picked to be Preseason SEC Player of the Year at one point. He finished with eight points and six boards in just 18 minutes of action.
Baybe Iyiola and Nae’Qwan Tomlin showed flashes as well
Baybe Iyiola and Nae’Qwan Tomlin can be thrown in a similar category to Johnson who showed serious flashes of what they could be. Iyiola fits the bill of what Jerome Tang wants his bigs to be, “rim runners.” Iyiola got the start and was able to run the floor early on and was a nice surprise, only because his name wasn’t as hot as some of the other players.
As for Tomlin, his athleticism is the real deal and it looks like he computed things in his head right for the most part, which is always a question mark for JUCO players. Tomlin has some elements of his game to refine like his three-point shot and all the things that come with stepping up to playing in the Big 12, but it isn’t a stretch to say he could be the Wildcats’ best player by the time they head to the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City.
The Play Hard Chart is a thing of the past in Manhattan, but guys playing hard is not. The energy and willingness to get on the floor for loose balls and play good defense shined in the first half. I think one thing that benefits this team is that they all come from backgrounds of perceived basketball defects or feeling slighted in their basketball careers. It leads to a team that wants to play hard with one another and with the coaching staff they have, I don’t expect it to let up at any point.
The downside to that aggression and overplaying at times, paired with a lot of players that can be raw, is turnovers. Tang mentioned turnovers a lot in his preseason press conference and we now see why after the game with Washburn. The Wildcats came close to turning the ball over 20 times against their MIAA foe. This is another early season thing a lot of teams struggle with, but the Wildcats might have to work harder than some to get it out of their game. For a few players, it will be about slowing down and not getting so out of control, and at other points knowing which passes to avoid. Another benefit will be learning how to play in a game together, as only
were on the floor for K-State last season.
All in all, I think it was a solid exhibition performance. Got the early lead, everyone got in the game and you cruised to an easy win. The real deal comes on Monday against UTRGV.