After that revenge win against the Red Wolves, neé Indians, we are 9-2 at home going into the biggest game of the season. Middle Tennessee is in the middle of a perfect campaign in the Sun Belt Conference.
It is a great time to face them.
Tony Mitchell is in excellent form (to steal a soccer description.) Partnering with Roger Franklin inside has opened up the perimeter for guys like Brandon Walton, who has shot 48% from deep in the last six games including 3 of 5 today. When Tony isn’t fouling people, he is dominant and he is making us better.
He has played in only 13 of our 23 games. In December, his first official games with the team he struggled to get in game shape, avoid fouling and find his role. Stat line for December: 22.8 minutes per game, 10.3 ppg, 6.6 rbg, 3.8 fouls per game. January*: 30.3 minutes, 20 ppg, 11.3 rbg, 3.2 fouls per game.
*Not including the Ark St. game today.
Those fouls per game don’t really illustrate his discipline as well as putting it this way: In December he fouled out twice, and had four fouls 3 other times. In January he had four fouls only once (the ULL game where he played 17 minutes.
As I’m watching him overpower the opposition, flying over dudes for monster dunks, blocking shots that no one else can block, and fly into passing lanes for easy steals I cannot help but feel fortunate for having him on the team while simultaneously thinking of how bad it would have been if we didn’t land him.
With Chris Jones and Jordan Williams out for the rest of the season because of academic ineligibility, we would probably be looking at Holmen and Hogans’ return as our hope for a return to respectability rather than the pieces that could carry us to a nice Sun Belt Tourney run.
This may be a one-and-done year for Tony. I couldn’t blame him for it if that is indeed the case. I’m just going to enjoy the ride through the Sun Belt, enjoying the carnage left in the wake of the most gifted basketball athlete the conference has ever seen.
I’m just glad he is wearing green and white right now.