Which USI team will it be this week?

I give up. I can no longer figure out this season’s USI men’s basketball team.

The past weekend was simply more of the same. The Eagles lose in overtime at Truman State on Thursday after blowing a 17-point first-half lead. Then they win at Quincy on Saturday after building a 26-point halftime lead, let the margin slip to 11 points in the second half, then win by 27.

I give up because this keeps happening. Remember this team beating Indianapolis at home and Bellarmine on the road, back to back, then losing back-to-back games the next week on the road — in double digits each time, no less — to Lewis and Wisconsin-Parkside?

I give up trying to understand a team that can hit 37 of 44 free throws in one game (UIndy) and six of 12 free throws in another (Truman State).

I. Give. Up. Why, I’m even getting paranoid. When I talked to coach Rodney Watson after his team beat Quincy by 27 on Saturday (two days after losing in overtime at Truman State, the team that overcame the 17-point deficit), he concluded the interview by saying, “Our guys are playing hard — they are playing hard!” which I guess was a reference to my blog post on Friday accusing some of the Eagles of not playing hard all the time.

Well, I still believe that’s true, at least sometimes. And he seemed to admit as much right before he insisted his team was playing hard. “We talked for two days about it being a two-hour game,” he told me after Saturday’s win. That sounds to me like a plea for concerted, all-out, never-give-up, two-halves effort — which implies that it hasn’t always been there. “We definitely played two hours (on Saturday),” he said.

I completely and utterly agree with him on that. If USI keeps playing with that much energy the rest of the season, it will be hoisting a national championship trophy on national TV at the Ford Center by the end of March.

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