Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Men's Basketball vs Santa Clara 12/19/2007

Stanford 74 Santa Clara 48 Today marked the first game that Brook was back from academic ineligibility and I (along with everyone else) was excited to see how he would look. I was also able to coax a friend, who had said that she wanted to go to a basketball game since freshman year, to attend the game. That in itself was a victory. And with the luck that she had, things looked promising.

After last year's disappointing loss at the hands of the Broncos, I'm sure our team was fired up. With Fred still out, Taj started and Brook was the first off the bench. Taj brought his usual hustle and rebounding to today's game. There was one play when Santa Clara boxed out well and it looked like the ball would go out of bounds in the corner but Taj found a way to get around his man and save the ball to Mitch who unfortunately had his shot blocked. Taj also brought his shooting stroke for good measure and found nothing but the bottom of the net on some long jumpers.

Robin had the job of guarding Santa Clara's top scorer, John Bryant, a wide center who used his girth very well in establishing good position. Even though he let Bryant get great position, Robin used his length to bother his shot and did a great job on him, especially in the first half. He also had a well-timed swat where he came out of nowhere to block what appeared to be an easy dunk. Offensively, he struggled somewhat in the post, but did have one incredibly sweet spin move that left Bryant completely flat-footed. He managed to pass out of the double team with reasonable success. Even though it didn't always look pretty, he was usually able to find someone in a good position.

Brook came in to cheers after the first media timeout and if I'm not wrong, our lineup was Lopez, Lopez, Taj, Goods and Mitch. He missed his first close range shot but then made a short jumper off an assist from his brother. Brook was back! He looked pretty good out there on offense and had a couple of offensive boards that he converted for layups as well as one nice spin move in the post. He faced the usual Santa Clara double teams and like his brother, passed out of them with reasonable success. It would be nice if both of them could find the cutter or kick it back out quicker but they definitely look better than they did last year. On defense, Brook picked up cheap fouls and had some difficulty guarding Bryant. Santa Clara also wisely went to Bryant when Brook was in foul trouble and clearly trying to avoid picking up another foul. On the whole, it was great to see Brook back and ready to go.

Law and Good were solid offensively. Law had a nice one handed dunk which rattled in, and also hit some 3s. He's been struggling somewhat from the 3 point line this year and so it was nice to see him regain his long range touch. On defense, he had a couple of breakdowns, losing his man on an inbounds play (much to Trent's chagrin) and a screen or two. It clearly bothered Law but I'm not too worried about him since I'm sure he'll work on keeping his defensive focus. Mitch uncharacteristically struggled with ball handling tonight. Usually he has pretty good handles but tonight was called for palming and lost the ball while driving at the end of the first half. He did have a nice drive and pull up where he looked completely under control, something that I usually see in practice but not always during the game.

All in all, it was a good effort by the team. We started out slow offensively in the first half but played solid defense. Santa Clara turned the ball over quite a bit due to sloppiness but we pressured them and forced some steals too. The one that stands out is Anthony's steal and breakaway dunk right after Robin's imposing block that sent the ball out of bounds. In the second half, our offense was clicking and we were getting and making good shots. Hopefully, we can sustain this play against Texas Tech, a good but not great team. I'll be flying in to Dallas tomorrow. Should be fun!
~ Zhihao

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