Saturday, January 19, 2008

Men's Basketball vs ASU 1/19/2008

Stanford 68 Arizona State 52 With USC's upset win over UCLA earlier in the day which propelled an unlikely Arizona State to the head of the Pac-10, it also meant that the middle of the Pac-10 got a little more bunched up and we needed to protect home court to separate us from the pack. 6th Man turn-out before doors opened was pretty paltry and I heard a couple of seniors reminisce about freshman year when the line for the Ike Diogu led Arizona State game went all the way up to the swimming complex. Ah, those were the days. On a completely separate and somewhat sad note, this was Albert's last home game as an undergraduate, as his softball managing schedule takes him on the road for the next 5 home games.

I was worried that with the various dorm ski trips going on, the 6th Man section wouldn't get filled. But it did, as people started appearing minutes before tipoff. Those who did come early were treated to some relentless ASU heckling with Duke transfer Eric Boateng and bench warmer "Big Head" Steve Jones being the main targets. It was pretty funny and some of the ASU players cracked up too. Phil Helmuth, who seems to only get courtside seats for the lesser game during any given weekend (USC and Arizona State instead of UCLA and Arizona) was spotted almost tripping and falling while trying to get to his courtside seat.

It was a pretty ugly first half for Stanford as ASU's zone stymied us on offense. We turned the ball over and didn't generate good looks, Brook was a black hole and forced some tough shots instead of finding the open man, our passing wasn't crisp when we had shooters open for 3, and every single loose ball seemed to go in ASU's favour. Our defense was decent and kept us from falling even further behind, but there were a couple of breakdowns when the twins lost their man on the high screen and roll. It was pretty embarrassing to only have 20 points at half time at home.

Thank god for the adjustments made during half time where we crashed the boards, had Anthony attack the zone with some dribble penetration and got the ball to Brook when he had better position. Pendergraph's foul trouble helped as well. The key momentum shift occurred when Trent subbed in Robin, Taj and Landry, who joined Anthony and Fred on the floor. They brought energy, played some stifling defense, and overcame the 7 point deficit. I was especially pleased to see Landry's effort on the defensive end. Hopefully he's turning the corner and gaining Trent's trust. With the 6th Man section rocking and the momentum on our side, the starters came back and Brook finally got it going against a Pendergraph-less ASU. We hit our free throws, executed well with Anthony driving when they overplayed him in the zone and managed the clock rather well down the stretch. It was probably the finest half we've had in Pac-10 play this year.

The win was especially crucial as we have our next 3 games to finish up the first half of Pac-10 play on the road. It's not going to be easy but winning 2 out of 3 should be our goal. First up is Cal which is probably our most winnable game. Hopefully we'll get a sizable 6th Man contingent up in Berkeley and make ourselves heard thanks to the wonderful acoustics they have in Haas Pavilion.
~ Zhihao

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