Sunday, November 11, 2007

Men's Basketball vs UCSB 11/11/2007

Stanford 67 UCSB 48

Many people felt that UCSB would be our first real challenge of the season. Picked to win their conference and coming off a tournament berth, their pressuring defense would test, in Trent Johnson's own words, our Achilles heel. With this possibly being our biggest non-conference home game of the season, I hoped for a good turn out, especially with the game being televised.

I got to Maples early and managed to make the tip off of the Harvard-Northwestern State game which wasn't very well attended save the Jeremy Lin fan club. Northwestern State was absolutely terrible, turning over the ball 6 times in the first 5 minutes and letting Harvard make lay up after lay up. Harvard won by 30 and Jeremy had a good game with something like 17 points, 5 assists and 2 steals. He also made some nice dishes running the fast break.

Students started trickling in with about half and hour till tip off. It wasn't a great turnout for a Sunday 3pm game and I really wonder what will happen after the Class of 08, which took up most of the front row, graduates. Hopefully the freshmen will get into it, or people will start jumping on the bandwagon, but I'm not very optimistic at the moment for the "Greatest Students Fan Section in the Country". Hopefully I'll be proven wrong.

Thankfully, those of us who did show up realised that it wouldn't be another cupcake victory and really got into the game. It was nice playing a decent team and having to watch us fight on both defense and offense. Goods went off in the first half, hitting 3s and driving aggressively to the hole as the Gauchos overplayed us on the perimeter. At one point, it was Goods 20, UCSB 20. I also thought we did a great job defensively and forced UCSB into many tough shots and reasonably containined their star player Alex Harris. Our main weakness was free throw shooting. We just can't afford to leave points at the charity stripe like that.

The half time show was pretty entertaining with a karate performance that involved one kid doing a back-flip kick of an apple off the edge of a sword. Phil Helmuth also dropped by to chat with the TV commentators. Some students with a dry erase board (brilliant idea) asked him for one of his bracelets and whether he wanted to play poker after the game.

We started the second half slow especially with the refs swallowing their whistles when there was contact but still played solid defense. Mitch promptly hit a 3 (now whenever he shoots an open 3, I expect it to go in) and connected with Robin for a sweet alley-oop that got the crowd pumped up. He did have a couple of bad passes when he got too excited and tried to hit Fred on the far end, but I love how he's worked on his shot.

In response to the pressure that UCSB brought, Fred handled the ball quite a bit when Mitch was out and Shiller was on the floor, and did a pretty good job. Drew did ok too, except for that one pass that sailed over Prowitt's head. On defense, Fred did a great job on Alex Harris. He made him work hard for his points and it seemed that most of Alex's points were scored when other players switched on him. Hopefully, Fred can be our defensive stopper.

Turnovers were still a problem and as mentioned above, free throws were horrendous. One other thing that Albert pointed out was that we never call a 30 second time-out whenever we are double teamed and absolutely trapped. It happened a couple of times during the game and nothing good usually came out of it.

In the end, it was a solid win over a good team. Sure there's still stuff to work on but we met the challenge and this bodes well for the season. I guess our next blog entries will be from Chicago and Albany. Come say hi if you see us there! Also, I'm still looking for somewhere to store my luggage during the Siena game since our room is only booked for Friday night.

~ Zhihao

That we were going for three consecutive wins (exhibition excluded) for the first time since 03-04, and were riding the wave of 104 points a game into the final, and hardly ANYONE showed up in the student section was rather depressing. Do students really have better things to do on Sunday afternoons? Absolutely not. It was easy to forget about the crowd, however, when the game got off to something other than a 10 point lead. My heart started racing a little faster when they pulled it to 3, and then 1, and then suddenly we actually had a game to play.

The play of the tournament in my mind will forever be Mitch's pass to Robin for the alley-oop... he was flying through the air for the dunk. It was gorgeous.

Watching Mitch at half-court had me thinking that he really is a point-guard. Of course we have pac-10 PGs to worry about, but in the meantime his ball handling vs. Shiller's or Fred's shows a marked difference. He had one absolutely beautiful three, as well, as did Landry. Our free throw shooting was horrendous tonight- it amazes me that we're still over 50%. Thanks to Shiller for hitting all six of his (his only points of the game after two big nights out). Fred looked so exhausted at the end as he missed the first, made the second, missed the third, made the fourth, made three in a row and then missed the last.

I love the depth on our team. While Brook coming back will make a difference, I feel like I've started to invest in the guys who've been on the court all weekend, and in what they can do. I'm glad I'll be around for the games on the 20th and 24th, although I'm missing the trip to Chicago and Albany. The question is how can I get big ten network tv to my house in Palo Alto... :-)

Til the 20th,

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