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The Final Horne: Austin Peay Govs not hitting free throws, Lady Govs trying to come together and NFL picks

Clarksville Sports NetworkClarksville, TN – More than you think went right for Austin Peay in its 77-67 loss to Belmont at the Dunn Center Wednesday night. The Govs shot well enough, making 45.6 percent of their shots to Belmont’s 46.9 percent.

Austin Peay actually made more baskets over all, 26 to Belmont’s 23 and just one less 3-pointer, five for the Govs to the Bruins’ six. APSU even won the rebounded battle 36-35, had one less than Belmont’s 18 turnovers, was outscored in the paint just 26-24 and actually won second-chance points 14-6.

But the deficiency that really stands out  is the Govs only made 45,5 percent or 10-0f-22 from the free-throw line compared to Belmont’s 78.1 percent or 25-of-32. So had the Govs made just 5 more free throws they cut the deficit to five, while only improving to 68.1 percent. And had they made seven, the game would have been much different because APSU was only down nine points three times in the second half, the last being a 68-59 deficit made when Belmont’s Scott Saunders hit two free throws ironically enough with 3:50 left. The Govs went 8-of-17 from the line in the second half.

Dave Loos
Dave Loos

Coach Dave Loos and everyone in the profession will tell you that you’ve got to make free throws to win. The Govs didn’t against Belmont and it’s something that plagued them last season and has reared its head a few times this year.

First, it’s not good the Govs are shooting 64.2 percent as a team. I’m not here to bury APSU, but in the last NCAA rankings they were shooting 66.8 percent and ranked 210th. The Govs have shot than less than 70 percent seven times this season , including three games below 53 percent. The Govs did lose all those games, it came during the nine-game losing streak, although not having John Fraley was a bigger factor in those losses. They did shoot above 70 percent at the stripe in three of the defeats.

Why it’s mind-boggling is because the Govs have really only faced one team, California, that is truly out of their class. Middle Tennessee, Oral Roberts, Lipscomb and on and on aren’t head-over-heals better than Austin Peay and dare I said this collection of talent is probably better than every opponent they’ve faced saved the Golden Bears. When these Govs play at all cylinders, they are an exciting and fun group to watch. They can be high-flying and when they put their minds to it play shut-down defense.

But when they don’t do the little things, like hitting free throws, they develop a chink in the armor that teams exploit. While nationally-ranked Murray State, who comes to the Dunn Center on January 7th, is deservedly getting all the headlines in the Ohio Valley Conference, I still think the Govs should win the league. They just can’t let things like not hitting free throws get in their way.

Lady Govs trying to find themselves

There’s no question the Austin Peay Lady Govs are still trying to find their identity. Coach Carrie Daniels has used seven different line ups and started nine of the 12 on the roster.

The non-conference hasn’t been the friendliest to the Lady Govs under Daniels in her six years, but that’s been tempered by the two banners from OVC Tournament championship wins  in 2008-09 and 2009-10 hanging in the Dunn  Center and a team that she guided to the semifinals last year.

Lady Govs head coach Carrie Daniels. (Courtesy: Austin Peay Sports Information)
Lady Govs head coach Carrie Daniels. (Courtesy: Austin Peay Sports Information)

And she is mixing five newcomers, including four freshmen into the mix, which is no small task. But I think she feels things would have come together by now and especially when the OVC season starts for them On December 29th at Tennessee State, a tough place for any APSU team to play.

This team still has the makings of one that could compete for a OVC title. Every year you can see the  mindset change and the switch flip on when conference play hits and it will for this team, too. The hardest part is learning to carry the weight of an APSU program that is disliked by every OVC foe, because of the past success.

But they will. Daniels won’t accept any less.

Undefeated Falls, Winless Wins

What happened last Sunday in the NFL was unique. Not only did the then-undefeated Packers go down to the Chiefs — and honestly, who saw that one coming — but the then-winless Indianapolis Colts get their first victory of the season over the Titans. That one had to hurt for Titans fans.

For the Packers, in all actuality the Chiefs tilt was a look-ahead game for them, because Green Bays closes the season with the archrival Bears Sunday night and the upstart Lions in two weeks. I figured one of those two teams would have been the ones to hand the Packer their first loss. But definitely not to the hapless Chiefs. Plus, they found out just how important receiver Greg Jennings is to them, because no other Green Bay pass catcher stood out last week. Neither Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver or Randall Cobb got the job done. Honestly, losing to the Chiefs is probably the best thing to happen to the Packers, because as we all know it’s good to lose early. Just ask those 18-1 Patriots from a few years ago.

Titans fans could always handle losing to the Colts, because at least former Tennessee Vols quarterback and beloved son Peyton Manning — who hails from New Orleans by the way — was on the other side. But for the Titans to lose to the great Dan Orlovsky, a week after playing Drew Brees and the Saints so well, has to be the biggest disappointment of their season. Yes divisional games are tough and the Colts are an AFC South rival. But until the 27 points they laid on Tennessee, the Colts had only scored 24 points twice and one of those was in their 31-24 loss to New England. The worst part of the loss for the Titans was in hurt their playoff chances.

Had the Titans won, they’d be tied right now with the Jets and Bengals at 8-6 and the Titans own the tiebreaker over the Bengals thanks to Tennessee’s 24-17 home win on November 6th. But now the Titans at 7-7 have to hope for a few things to happen to get in.

NFL Picks

So as said above, I’m not surprised the Packers lost. I’m just surprised the Packers lost to the Chiefs and certainly surprised the Titans lost to the Colts. Because of that I went 5-10 last week and will redeem myself with this picks: Bengals over Cardinals, Giants over Jets, Titans over Jags, Patriots over Dolphins, Ravens over Browns, Raiders over Chiefs, Redskins over Vikings, Bucs over Panthers, Broncos over Bills, Steelers over Rams, Lions over Chargers, Eagles over Cowboys, 49ers over Seahawks, Packers over Bears, Saints over Falcons.

Even though I picked the Broncos to beat the Patriots last week, but I’m also not surprised Tom Brady and his boys took all the publicity Tim Tebow and the Broncos had been rightfully receiving and used it as extra motivation. We all know what Tom Brady has done in this game and sometimes you have to remind the young guy what the pecking order is. With that said, I’m still on the Tebow bandwagon and you should be too.

If you missed it, here’s the Saturday Night Live skit done on Tebow:

James D. Horne
James D. Hornehttp://www.clarksvillesportsnetwork.com/
James D. Horne began his writing career at the Carrollton Missouri Democrat in 1995, and was the assistant sports editor/writer for the Hammond Louisiana Daily Star for two years.  In 1998, Horne became the Missouri Basketball beat writer for the Columbia Daily Tribune. He joined The Leaf-Chronicle in Oct. 2003 as the lead prep writer and became the Austin Peay beat writer in March of 2005. During his career he won a state association sports writing award at the Daily Star and two while at the Leaf-Chronicle. Originally from Tampa, Florida, Horne earned his B.A in communications from Central Methodist University in Fayette Missouri.
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