Monday, December 3, 2007

Men's Basketball @ Colorado 12/2/2007

Stanford 67 Colorado 43 This trip had special significance to me because it was the very first one that we booked back when we decided to embark on this journey. The timing wasn't great with finals approaching and it being the day after Big Game, but how could one possibly turn down a Sunday one-day trip to Colorado. As mentioned in my previous post, post Big Game celebrations which included an impromptu but shortened band run with the axe that Albert and I sadly did not partake in, were crazy. Neither of us got any sleep before we left for Oakland airport for our 6am flight to Denver. We didn't really want to sleep either for fear of not being able to get up. Both of us were exhausted and slept through the entire 2 hour flight.

Before the trip, I was terrified that it would be freezing cold in Colorado, especially since it had snowed the previous day. My fears were allayed when we were greeted by clear blue skies. It was a beautiful day - not cold at all and definitely nicer than it's been at Stanford this past week. We took a bus from the airport to CU's campus. A friend from Boulder had kindly lent me his bus pass and so I rode for free. I definitely owe him a meal or beer. I suspect he'll take the latter. We got to Boulder in about 75 minutes, tired and hungry. We found a nice breakfast/lunch place ala Stacks or Hobees, except more reasonably priced. The service was great and the servers friendly. After a hearty breakfast, we wandered around the campus. CU has a pretty campus with the Rockies as the backdrop. It was very serene and quiet. There was hardly anyone around. With its reputation as a huge party school, I wondered whether everyone was still hung over from Saturday night.

We stumbled upon the basketball arena and got the tickets that the basketball office had obtained for us. The team was warming up as we arrived. I noticed Peter hadn't travelled with the team and was amused to see Kenny Brown and Robin doing the dribbling drill against each other during warm ups. Since the game was televised on ESPN U, they had some mini TV monitors. I was able to catch the second half of the USC-Kansas game. It was fast paced but sloppy. There was a stretch when USC was unable to get a single defensive rebound and Kansas pulled away. It would have been a nice win for USC and the Pac-10.

We met up with an alum who read our blog and e-mailed us a couple of days back. It was great chatting about Big Game (especially since he used to play on the football team). We also talked about the general decline in student interest at football games which he seemed disappointed by, since things were much better in his days. I recounted how I knew of people who left during half time of Big Game when we were winning! Hopefully a football program on the rise will turn things around. We also noticed a lot of Stanford alums at the game decked out in cardinal. It was great to see.

As for the game, we played good defense throughout although we didn't force a steal or block a shot. Offensively, we weren't that inspired in the first half and missed some easy shots. But at the same time, I was ecstatic that we weren't sloppy with our ball handling (we did travel and charge quite a bit but at least that doesn't result in a fast break opportunity). Taj played well and seemed to be the only one crashing the boards with success. We tried to establish Robin earlier on but he struggled with a couple of turnovers and missed shots. He also got into foul trouble after a charge (which I thought might have been questionable). Fred did a great job against Colorado's best player Richard Roby who was also plagued with foul trouble after Law stepped in to take a charge.

Colorado was pretty sloppy with the ball and turned it over quite a bit. Their 3 point shooting wasn't stellar either. Still, we weren't able to fully capitalise, clinging to a 3 point lead after a sloppy end to the half where we bumbled a defensive rebound off a missed free throw out of bounds and allowed Colorado to nail a 3. Nonetheless, it was good to see Anthony hitting 3s and Law making his patented jumpers. We were also able to break the press pretty easily and as mentioned earlier, took care of the ball.

The half time show featured dogs catching frisbees. It was pretty entertaining.

In the second half, we took control - making shots, penetrating, dishing and hitting our free throws. Fred shut down Roby for stretches and seemed to anticipate his moves, always having a hand in his face as he shot. Kenny was a spark off the bench and seems to be earning playing time with his play. Goods and Law were solid and got their points. Colorado tried an aggressive trap off the inbounds, double teaming along the baseline. We didn't look very comfortable dealing with it, but didn't turn it over either.

I wouldn't say that Colorado is a great team, but definitely not a terrible team either. We looked far more composed on the road this time, compared to Northwestern and Siena. Hopefully dead week and finals week won't throw the guys out of sync and we won't repeat the embarrassing loss to Santa Clara. We'll also hopefully have Brook Lopez back and ready to raise his draft stock.
~ Zhihao

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