Sunday, December 30, 2007

Men's Basketball vs Fresno State 12/29/2007

Stanford 55 Fresno State 48 Today was the last of our non-conference games and also the 10th last home game of my college career. It's really scary to think that there will only be 9 more games at Maples this year. With the expected reduced attendance due to the break, they wisely filled up much of the 6th Man Section with seats. I wonder whether that will be the case for the LA schools next week. There were many Fresno State fans in attendance. It was probably the best away showing we've had all year at Maples.

While we got the win today, it wasn't the best tune up for Pac-10 play. The optimistic side of me wants to say that we won't struggle as badly on offense as we did today (even against better defenses) and this game will motivate the players during practice over the next few days before UCLA. The pessimistic side of me is worried that we won't be able to get a split against the LA schools. While we played pretty good man defense for the most part, Mitch's guy blew by him with ease for several easy layups and dishes. I was surprised they didn't keep on giving him the ball. That being said, Mitch proved his worth as our point guard with many nice entry passes to Brook. He also had some nice steals and was able to bring the ball up and initiate the offense - something that both Drew and Kenny struggled with in their limited court time. I suspect we're going to see a lot of zone next week.

With Goods and Law struggling in the first half, thank goodness that Brook is back (and starting). He single-handedly kept us in the game in the first. I was surprised we didn't post him up more in the second half. If Fresno St was playing him differently, I didn't pick it up at all. In the first, Goods was cold and settled mainly for 3 pointers. It was nice to see him catch fire in the second and take the ball to the hoop. That step back shot of his is perfect for setting up a defender for the drive and I hope he takes it to the rack more. Law had lots of open looks but just couldn't convert. I'm sure everyone hopes he gets out of his funk soon. His stellar play in the post against UCLA last year was one of the main reasons we won.

Coming in as 20 point favourites, cold-shooting aside, we also struggled with turnovers and rebounding. The first half was turnover after turnover, many of the travelling variety. That's been a feature of the past two games. It doesn't lead to fast break points but definitely affects our offensive flow. We also didn't dominate the offensive boards as we are accustomed to (credit must go to Fresno St for doing a good job). Those are two key aspects for our success. Robin also needs to keep himself in the game by not picking up cheap fouls. Even though we have a deep bench and it's going to be interesting to see how Trent manages minutes, it's always nice to have at least one 7 footer in the game.

Today wasn't our finest game. In fact, it was probably one of our worst offensive performances at home this year. Hopefully, it'll only go up from here even when we face much better defenses. As I've said before, I wish we weren't playing the LA schools to kick off Pac-10 play. The students won't be back and it doesn't leave much room for error. But we are a veteran team and we definitely have the capability to beat both USC and UCLA, and for that matter every single Pac-10 team. Whatever happens these next 18 conference games, there will no longer be any ugly wins. It's going to be a fun ride and I can't wait.
~ Zhihao

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