Sunday, February 24, 2008

Men's Basketball vs Cal 2/24/2008

Stanford 79 Cal 69 For some reason, there was a lot more hype about this game than the Oregon game. Perhaps it was the Red Zone Rally where Coach Harbaugh announced that football tickets next year would still be free, and the students, band and dollies would be moved to the shady side of the stadium. Too bad that most of the students that were in line during the rally (15 minutes before doors opened) were seniors. It might have been the $10 student tickets, a #9 ranking and body painting being allowed for the first time in 2 years. Or maybe it was the realisation that we had a good team and there weren't that many home games left. Whatever the reason, we had a season record 714 students brave the rain and file through the 6th Man entrance today. Hopefully we can get similar turnouts for the last 2 home games.
While it was probably one of our louder 6th Man performances (by virtue of so many people turning up), I thought that the whole left side of the 6th man section was relatively quiet and it was the senior laden right side that was bringing the energy. I could be wrong but it sure felt that way from where I was standing. In any case, things are slowly improving. Hopefully Washington State can be the one game where 6th Man finally pulls it all together. A pre-game observation I had was that Will Paul was on crutches. I hope he didn't re-injure himself.

Cal is one of those teams that worries me because they have guards that can penetrate and like to push the pace. We did a great job playing solid defense on Anderson (holding him scoreless), forcing turnovers and really clamping down on them early in the first half. Our shots were also falling as both Anthony and Lawrence got into a groove and it seemed that we would run away with the game. Cal, however, started getting some offensive rebounds and hitting shots off out of bounds plays when we'd lose them off a screen. Meanwhile, our offense seemed to stagnate as they did a good job doubling Brook and our half time lead was only 4 points.

During half time, it was fitting that the Axe was presented. Much better than making a big deal about leading the Director's Cup Fall standings as they did when we played in Berkeley. There was also a football players vs coaches 5 on 5 game that was pretty physical and ended up being tied 5-5. During the Red Zone Rally, Harbaugh said (with the football players in attendance) that he hoped that the players would win but "we'll see what happens". I guess a tie was respectable.

In the second half, it was back and forth all the way. A couple of bounces went our way and allowed us to maintain the lead as Cal refused to go away. The most memorable play of the night had to be Taj posterising a Cal player, which brought the crowd and bench to their feet. We also did a good job knocking down free throws after struggling in the first half. Anderson, who leads the Pac-10 in scoring, finally got on the scoreboard to the tune of 15 points. He did most of his damage from the free throw line. The 6th Man section tried to get in his head with a "You wear makeup" chant which was based on a facebook photograph of Anderson and Wilkes applying makeup to each other. I guess it didn't work too well as he was a perfect 10-10 from the stripe.

On the whole, it was a decent win. Apart from Brook's struggles on offense (he still ended up with 15 points), we had a pretty good showing and kept turnovers to a minimum. It was especially nice to see Goods find his stroke and Mitch knock down open looks with confidence. On defense, we didn't rebound very well. Cal also made some tough shots. Full credit to them even though they shouldn't have gotten that many second chance opportunities. As for 6th Man, the overall energy level was good, although whoever threw one of those small white balls at the Cal cheerleader during a time out should have been reprimanded (great aim notwithstanding).

I'm glad that we took care of Cal. Two more home games (the last 2 of senior year!) before the much anticipated showdown against UCLA in Pauley. If you're reading this and going to the Washington State game, you probably don't need to be reminded, but it's black-out day. I'm very curious to see how many people forget and wear red. It's bound to happen. Hopefully marketing does a good job getting the word out and we can have some sponsor give out black shirts at the entrances.
~ Zhihao

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