Saturday, December 22, 2007

Men's Basketball vs Texas Tech 12/22/07

Stanford 62 Texas Tech 61 I got into Dallas on Thursday night and stayed with a friend while Albert drove down from Houston on game day. On Friday night, we were watching the Mavs-Clippers game which featured former Stanford point guard Brevin Knight. The commentators mentioned that they had met some of the Stanford players during the day. I wonder whether our team met up with Brevin at some point.

We met up with Albert at will call and picked up our 3 tickets. They were right behind the bench and probably the best seats we've had so far. There were quite a few Stanford fans in attendance and we saw a bunch of students from the Texas area. Kenny Brown apparently had a huge guest list for all his friends and family. I think one of our commits was present too. The Texas Tech band was right next to us. There was a fair amount of trash talking between our section and the band who played the same song over and over again. My favourite comment from them was "Way to be ranked" at the end of the game as the clock was running out. I'm not quite sure what they were going for. One of their cheerleaders also taunted us with her pom pom in the first half. It was all pretty entertaining.

It was good to see Fred back but slightly worrying when he played minimally in the first before coming out. I suspect it was because we wanted shooters on the floor since he played substantial minutes in the second and made a couple of his patented drives to the hole. He also grabbed some crucial offensive boards and was part of the great second half zone defense. We definitely need a healthy Fred for the Pac-10 season.

We started off the game well - moving the ball and getting some easy buckets. But then turnovers began to set in and Texas Tech got into the bonus as we picked up fouls. Brook wasn't able to get the ball in good position and struggled with his shot. He was visibly frustrated and committed an over the back foul which was his second of the half. When Robin picked up his second and had to sit, Texas Tech went on a run as our offense stagnated, Tech hit free throws and we didn't have a big man in the paint. Goods finally took it upon himself to drive to the hole to stem our offensive drought. Hopefully he'll do that more.

It was a pretty bad first half after a promising start. With Brook out of sorts, no one stepped up. We turned over the ball too much and didn't defend very well either. With our 3 point shot not falling, it was beginning to feel a lot like Siena. The only difference this time was that we had Brook and fortunately he stepped it up in the second. We started the second half with a Lopez, Lopez, Fred, Goods and Mitch lineup and played zone. Even though we gave up a bunch of offensive rebounds, our defense was excellent. We were also able to get the ball to Brook (who played all 20 minutes in the 2nd) in good position and he made some nifty moves on the baseline to either score or get fouled. It seemed like the few times we didn't get Brook a touch or at least swing the ball in his direction, we would miss. It was a complete role reversal of the first as we stayed out of foul trouble while playing solid defense and got into the bonus early.

We finally got back into the lead as Mitch hit a big 3 pointer (our only of the game) off a Fred offensive rebound and we managed to get some nice stops and hit key free throws - 2 by Robin when we were down two and 2 by Brook to put us up two. After Texas Tech missed a 3 that would have tied the game, we managed to put the game away. While the first half wasn't something to write home about, I liked the adjustments we made at half time and the zone that really stifled Tech in the second. I'm pretty confident that we'll see a lot of that in the future. With Fred back, our team is finally at full health (minus Prowitt who doesn't seem like he'll get much playing time anyway) and hopefully everyone can stay healthy and we'll have some time to gel on the court.

While our out of conference schedule hasn't been spectacular, it's given us a chance to work out some kinks. Texas Tech was a solid victory, as was UCSB at home. I'll take 11-1 (assuming we beat Fresno State) going into the UCLA and USC games. While the Pac-10 season is going to be competitive, if we can stay healthy, keep up the defensive intensity and take care of the ball, we can definitely do some damage. Go Card!
~ Zhihao
Since it's been so long since I've posted, I decided to add some of my thoughts on the game. I was unfortunately not in Dallas, as I will be heading to Texas on the 30th (after Fresno State but back morning of the 3rd for UCLA), but watched the game at the Old Pro with maybe 10 other Stanford fans (although 6 of them were not watching the game as much as chatting but would cheer every once in a while). It was frustrating to listen to the tip-off in my car and then get to the bar and have the football game on ESPN2 not over yet. It finally got started about three minutes later with the score already at 10-9. Despite only having two points in the half, Brook's presence on the floor was clearly essential to our team's 7 point lead in the first ten minutes. Most notable was our final field goal before going on a nearly 6 minute drought, when we got the ball to Brook in the paint, drawing not two but three defenders and leaving Taj open under the net for the easy layup. I hope we see some more of that in conference play, especially once Law returns to his usual playmaking-self. We have a lot of guys who should be able to take advantage of the double-team, and I think with Brook back there is a lot more potential, because he has shown that he is really capable of taking care of the ball under pressure.

Without the Lopi on the court, how were we possibly going to keep the game going? It says something about the improvement of our offense over last year- we are actually using the post in order to make plays, instead of swinging the ball eleven times until Fred or Anthony drives in or someone finds an open jumper. However, with Brook not scoring and the threes just not falling, followed by Brook sitting on the bench, the 21-8 run was not at all surprising, and really disappointing heading into halftime. All credit goes to Anthony for ALL SIX of our points in the last eight minutes of the game.

This was our chance to prove that we can be clutch... and I knew at halftime that this would be that game. We were not going to let them run us over, but at that point there was certainly no-way we were going to run away with it. Could we fight tooth and nail? It's certainly been a trademark of Stanford Basketball for three years running, and I was waiting to be shown that this year's big games have as much potential for amazing basketball as ever.

My thoughts on the second half are scattered... Brook stepped up on offense, obviously. The zone looked great. I kept expecting them to break through it and it just never happened. They got a few nice jump shots in... but never got into a rhythm and the Lopi in the post were clearly not to be challenged- Brook's enormous block on Voskuil at the end of the game was great evidence of that. Unsung hero of the game was indisputably Mitch Johnson (ok, you're welcome to dispute). However, Mitch not only keyed the offense, he completely stepped up his D in the second half, after letting shots fall uncontested in the first, he left no shot unchallenged. The only moments at which I felt we had a defensive weakness in the 2nd half were when Mitch was out and Kenny was in. I am pretty sure it was their second-to-last missed three (because I remember the last one was a prayer- they said he got a good look but he certainly wasn't open), with us up by 1, when Kenny was MIA and Singletary got a wide open look which he really really fortunately missed.

But back to Mitch, in ADDITION to keying the offense and great defense, he also scored four of his six points in absolutely clutch situations. The three to take the lead and the free throw to put it out of reach. Those were both absolutely huge... who knew six points could be huge? (The answer- KB's 3 points vs. UCLA in January...). So I'm singing Mitch's praises for getting us back in the game and scoring where it really mattered.

Everyone came up big in the last few minutes- Fred had a couple big plays (assist on Mitch's 3 and a layup) before sitting for the last five, Brook with a jumper and three of four free throws, Robin with a pair of free throws, and Kenny and Taj both with big defensive rebounds (Taj's clinching the game). We played really smart in crunch time, and I was really excited to see that. It was an exciting win! Bring on UCLA! (Right, let's take care of business with Fresno State first).

I bought my dad and brother lower section tickets for $30 a piece for the Fresno State game- whoever is selling them for so cheap is wonderful!!

1 comment:

Troy said...

Great read. I watched the game on ESPN and I could hear the Stanford fans louder than the TT fans. In fact, they showed a crew of people wearing Sixth Man shirts (of various years, but fun nonetheless) and doing cheers.

Anyone at the women's game last night?

"Way to be ranked"
--Troy, '07