Thursday, January 10, 2008

Men's Basketball @ Oregon State 1/10/2008

Stanford 66 Oregon State 46 With an 8am class, the only direct flight I could take to Portland left at noon. This left me with a tight connection since I had to catch a shuttle from Portland to Corvallis which ran only once every one and a half hours. Thankfully, Southwest (ranked #3 in terms of flights leaving on time) came through and I got into Portland airport with time to spare. One of the first restaurants I saw was called Stanford Restaurant. A good omen, perhaps?

I arrived on OSU's campus with about one and half hours till tip-off. The weather in Corvallis was surprisingly nice. The sun was out and it wasn't raining! I stopped by the bookstore to purchase a Beaver souvenir and while waiting in line, heard the guy in front of me predict an OSU win. I also overheard two girls talking about watching Family Guy and getting drunk this weekend. I decided to check into the Days Inn that I was staying at before the game. It was a nice 20 minute walk past frat row. It didn't seem like too much was happening this Thursday night.

I arrived at Gill Coliseum about 40 minutes before tip-off and picked up my tickets which seem to be getting better and better. Today, I was seated right behind the Stanford bench. Seeing as there are no courtside seats at Gill, I was as close to the floor as one could get and was able to overhear the bench talk/encouragement:

Unsurprisingly, there weren't that many Stanford fans in attendance (25 at most). In fact, the overall turnout was dismal. Even though attendance was listed at 4017, I'd say it was more like 1500 tops. I sat next to the parents of one of the managers of the basketball team and had a nice chat with them. His mum graduated from OSU and they decided to make the trip up from the Bay Area.

We looked great during warmups and everyone (Goods, Hill, Fields) was draining 3s. It translated to a quick start to the game. It was especially nice to see Law get back on track and I liked the starting lineup of Brook, Law, Fred, Goods and Mitch. Our defense was solid too and when OSU tried to zone us, Goods calmly drained a 3 pointer. One things of note was that OSU played a full court press off makes and dead ball situations the whole game. A couple of times we inbounded the ball into the corner - usually not a good thing, especially when the double team comes. Goods was trapped once and turned the ball over. Fields also got caught in a 10 seconds back court violation, and was subsequently pulled. We looked great in the first half but started the second somewhat slowly, turning the ball over in repeated possessions. Our defense held strong for the most part and kept OSU at bay till our offense picked up again. It's nice that we can rely on our defense. I also noticed that unlike the USC game, the referees were calling lots of hand checks and touch fouls. If anything, they were pretty consistent.

On the whole, it was a decent showing against an overmatched team. Mitch had some nice plays intermingled with bad entry passes that sailed out of Brook's reach. Law ran off screens and defensive breakdowns to hit 3 3's in the first half. Fields had one nice defensive play where he drew an offensive foul and was extremely pumped up. Fred played great defense, made some nice drives and was also poked in the eye during one exchange. Taj and Kenny hustled on the defensive end. Kenny was especially disruptive. I'm liking him more and more as our back up point guard. Robin brought the ball down yet again in traffic, but managed to make the basket and draw a foul. Someone near me overheard Trent emphasizing not bringing the ball down during the next time-out. Brook and Robin also picked up silly reach in fouls while going for offensive rebounds. Brook's foul was his 4th with about 6 min left. Even though the game was clearly out of reach for OSU, I was annoyed at his lack of discipline and might have shouted my displeasure at Brook a bit too loudly. It was embarrassing since I was so close to the bench.

As the game came to an end and OSU fans cleared out, one gentlemen came our way and wished us luck in Eugene. We thanked him and he mentioned that U of O fans probably wouldn't be that nice. I'm sure he's right. It should be a good game in Oregon. I wish we were playing them on Saturday since we're more rested and they have a short rotation. In any case, we'll need to play a complete game - offensively and defensively.

In other Pac-10 action, I watched the USC-Wash St game at a sports bar just off the OSU campus after our game. What impressed me most about WSU is their passing and how they took care of the ball. After a slow first half, they came out and executed very well on offense in the second. WSU-UCLA on Sat should be ugly but fun. I'm heading to Eugene tomorrow where I'll soak in the sporting action this weekend. I can't wait.
~ Zhihao

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