Saturday, January 5, 2008

Men's Basketball vs USC 1/5/2008

Stanford 52 USC 46 We weren't too happy with our place in line on Thursday for the UCLA game and made an effort to arrive earlier today. We ended up behind two other people. It should get better once school starts and we can actually camp out. While waiting to get in, I found out that Oregon beat Arizona in Tuscon. That was a surprise but then again, Arizona was playing without Bayless. It looks like the middle of the Pac-10 is wide open. It could also be that everyone is mediocre. I'm not quite sure yet.

With USC in town, there was great potential for good signs in the 6th Man section. There were references to Hackett's jaw getting broken by Mayo and Jefferson being academically challenged. Speaking of Jefferson, we were surprised that he didn't start or get much playing timetonight. My favourite signs were "Orange Juice + Mayonnaise = Vomit" & "OJ + 32 + USC = Murder". The latter was flashed in the background while the FSN announcers were taping their pre-game intro. One of the camera guys caught it and they had to retape the whole segment. When alerted, the head of the red-coats wasn't amused and gave the culprit a talking to.

Some time ago, I wrote that there are no ugly wins in Pac-10 play. I take that back. This was probably the ugliest games I've ever seen at Maples. It reminded me of the drought-fest we played at Wazzu 2 years ago that we won on a Goods put-back. This time, however, there were a lot more turnovers and it was sloppy as hell. The positives I can take out of this are our defense, free throw shooting, offensive rebounding and Fields and Brown showing that they can contribute when given playing team. We did a great job of blanketing Mayo. Goods, Washington and Brown (for a few minutes) fought through screens, kept him in front of them, and funnelled him towards the Lopez twins who forced him to alter his shots. The weakside defenders did a good job of keeping USC off the boards in the second half. I also liked how we kept our hands active on defense and got many deflections and tips. Today, most of these loose balls fell in our favour. USC failing to hit the handful of open shots they got helped too. One last positive was the play of the half:

video

Other than that, it was pretty ugly. Mitch plummeted back to earth from his UCLA performance. While he's still our best at bringing the ball up the court and feeding the posts, I don't know why he abandoned the controlled pull up jumper he scored with against UCLA for a rushed, leaning, let's-pray-it-goes-in shot. When we had that 3 on 1 break against Hackett who already had 4 fouls, Mitch could have a) taken it himself since Hackett wasn't going to challenge him or b) dished to Law who Hackett wasn't going to challenge. Instead, he had to bust out a behind the back pass that Anthony clearly wasn't expecting (who would blame him). We still look like a team that doesn't know how to run a fast break.

In addition, Robin needs to have it drummed into him that whenever other teams make the mistake of doubling him, unless he is deep in the paint, he needs to pass the ball to the open man, who should then make the extra pass to the next open man until one of our shooters gets an open look. Under no circumstances is he allowed to put the ball on the floor. None. How many times does it take for him to put the ball on the floor and get stripped before he learns? I wish Reveno was still here. In fact, Robin should be yanked the next time he does that, unless of course Brook is sitting on the bench with foul trouble. (Note to Trent: No Lopez twin on the floor against USC = bad)

Of the 4 fouls Brook committed today, 3 were cheap, dumb fouls. One was a handcheck on Mayo off a pick and roll, one was a clumsy over the back type foul on the offensive end and one was a debatable elbow he left sticking out as someone was running past him. Brook not being on the floor hurts us so much and frustrates him even more. He needs to play smart. As does OJ who should have taken it at Brook (when Brook had 4 fouls) when he was one on one with him. Instead, OJ settled for a deep 2 pointer that he missed with Brook in his face.

Our end of game clock management was also terrible. In fact, it's been pretty terrible for the past few years. When you are up 7 or 8 points with just over 2 minutes left to play, there should be a rule (just like how Robin should never put the ball on the floor when double teamed) that no shots or drives to the hole are permissible with more than 15 seconds left on the shot clock unless you are getting an open lay-up or dunk. I've noticed that Law likes to get trigger happy in situations like this (not just today). In fact, I'd be much happier with a shot clock violation than an out of control drive with more than 20 seconds left, since it burns precious time and allows us to play our half court defense. We shouldn't even be initiating our offense until there are about 15 seconds left. If all else fails, just give it to Anthony and let him create with the shot clock winding down. Speaking of Anthony, even though he didn't have a great shooting day, he abused OJ whenever OJ tried to guard him. It was beautiful to watch.

It wasn't pretty but at least we got the split that we needed. The Oregon road trip is probably one of the better ones to start the season. On paper, it's the easiest and hopefully will give us time to get our act together. I'll be up in Corvallis and Eugene from Thursday to Sunday. If anyone has any tips or suggestions for things to do, I'm all ears.
~ Zhihao

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