Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Men's Basketball vs Sacramento St. 11/27/2007

Stanford 84 Sacramento State 58 Even though the 6th Man Committee was giving out pizza at the door, I decided to have my pre-game dinner at the Alumni Cafe where they are serving hot meals 2 hours before tip off of selected home basketball games. Dinner was great and I was able to catch the second half of the Indiana-Georgia Tech basketball game. Not having a TV this year, I've definitely missed watching college basketball. It's probably a good thing though, since there's no way I could cope with everything I have going on if I could watch basketball on TV every night. Indiana went on a run as I finished up my meal and one thing that I noticed was that the refs allowed quite a bit of contact and didn't call cheap fouls (just like our game against Colorado State). How ironic that we got our favourite, whistle happy Pac-10 ref, Libby, for this game.

The 6th Man Section had a decent turnout for the game tonight. It wasn't fantastic but I guess my expectations have been tempered by previous games. As I mentioned in my last post, Sacramento State isn't that good. We were favoured to win by 30 and quickly showed why. Even though we weren't hitting our long range shots and missing some easy close range shots, we cleaned up on the offensive boards and got lots of put backs. We were also able to break their press with reasonable success and scored on some easy layups. That being said and it might be me being overly critical, but somehow, I never quite feel comfortable when we have numbers and are attacking the basket. Our rate of success seems lower than one would expect.

In any case, I liked our defense today. Mitch who I've definitely picked on in the past, stayed with his man and played scrappy, bothering defense. The Sac State ball handlers were really sloppy too and we recorded what I believe should be a season high 9 steals (5 by Fred). We had some great rejections too. Robin and Fred (who redeemed himself after a turnover) had two especially vicious swats that were rightfully named as "Plays of the Half". The 6'8 guy Robin was matched up against (#40) seemed intent on posting up and trying to take it to the hole. He got Robin to bite on a pump fake once for an easy bucket but Robin quickly learned and didn't leave his feet when challenging him. That led to about 4 more blocks. Who needs to jump went you're that much taller and longer? It kind of reminded me of the USC game last year when they were taking it to Brook over and over again.

Offensively, we definitely had some sloppy passes and could have ended up with several more turnovers if the ball hadn't bounced our way, but on the whole, I thought we dealt pretty reasonably with Sac State's aggressive trapping defense. We improved in the second half/they didn't press as much. Mitch made some nice dishes throughout the game. He did have one pass straight to the defender but I can live with that. We didn't shoot a great percentage from the 3 in the first but when they started zoning in the second, we showed that we could make hard passes, get people open and hit 3s. That was somewhat comforting after seeing us lob the ball around and struggle with the zone in previous games.

Robin had another solid outing. There was a play when he figured out that he had several inches over the next tallest Sac State player and made a nice hook leaning towards the basket. Yay for not fading away. Josh Owens got some minutes and had a nice fast break dunk. He's definitely a fan favourite among the 6th Man Section and everyone is excited about his potential. Goods also found his stroke tonight and was draining 3s. Let's hope it carries over to Colorado. Finally, Taj was scrappy as usual. He got boards, made put backs and ran the floor well for a nice catch and finish off a sweet Goods pass.

It's sometimes hard to tell how well we're performing when playing against an over-matched opponent. Nevertheless, I was pretty happy with the game tonight (just need to work on the free throw shooting). Let's hope we don't lose our baggage like last time against Sienna and bring our A-game against Colorado this Sunday. I'm not looking forward to the cold and potential snow, but excited about the game. We need the Pac-10 to have a good showing against the Big 12 in the Pac-10 Big 12 challenge. All these out of conference losses (even to good teams) aren't helping the Pac-10's RPI.
~ Zhihao

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