Thursday, February 28, 2008

Men's Basketball vs Washington 2/28/2008

Stanford 82 Washington 79With only 2 more home games left, we decided that it was finally time to bring out the tent. As I type this entry from said tent, I feel that it's a pity that we haven't camped out more this year since camping out has been a major part of our Stanford basketball experience. But with Albert managing softball and me on the road so much on top of being a Teaching Assistant, it's been hard to make schedules work. For our last senior home stand, however, I was determined to camp out. Hoping to be first in line for both games, Alex, Michael (a basketball enthusiast who I recruited) and I decided to set up on Tuesday.

In some ways, camping out at Stanford is more about pride and a show of dedication since showing up an hour before doors open easily gets you in the front row and maybe 2 spots down from us if you're one of the first non camper-outers to show up. At the same time, it's fun to be outside Maples, especially when there weather is beautiful, as it has been this week and talk hoops with fellow diehards. Sure you sacrifice some time and could be nice and cosy indoors, but it's a lot less dedication and hard work compared to what the team puts forth, and it can make the victories all that much sweeter. In any case, operating on a skeleton crew of 3 people, we secured our place at the front of the line.

After much ridicule about how everyone who had attended at least one previous game got into the "priority" line for Cal, the 6th Man committee decided to make an extra line for the more dedicated fans. The cut-off was 130 priority points and with Pac-10 games worth 10 points, non-conference games worth 20, and holiday and exhibitions games worth 30, it was a reasonable cut-off (in case you were wondering, I have 370 points). It only really mattered if you intended to show up before doors opened because once they did, it was first come first serve. And the majority of Stanford students don't have a habit of showing up early anyway. As one fellow senior and diehard commented, "Stanford students (nowadays) don't deserve a good basketball team." With the lack of noise from large portions of the 6th Man Section during basketball games, I find it hard to completely dispute that statement, which will be even more true after our class graduates. A Daily reporter was doing a rough head count by class of people who were outside Maples more than 20 min before doors opened and it appeared that seniors made up about 2/3 of the people. I'd be interested to find out the percentage of 6th Man who are seniors and grad students. In any case, watch out for his report in the Daily next week.

It's been a while since we've been front row and center - standing room that used to be our designated space during sophomore and junior year. It was nice to be back. Unsurprisingly, Tim Morris was heckled mercilessly by the 6th Man Section with shouts of traitor and references to humbio that he failed and caused him to be academically ineligible for a quarter. Tim, however, did smile when an old friend lamented how Tim's absence from their intramural baseball team cost them a championship this year. Brockman apparently friended a girl from the 6th Man Committee on facebook and so we had a picture of him wearing a girl's sweatshirt which we taunted him about. Still doesn't beat the Ryan Anderson and Jamaal Wilkes makeup photo.

As for the game, the positives are that our offense is looking much better (I guess it helps when your outside shots are falling) and even though we were unable to break the game open (mainly because of our defense), we managed to score timely buckets and make enough free throws to maintain that lead. Anthony had his second consecutive solid shooting night. As did Mitch. Let's hope they can keep it going. Lawrence, on the other hand, had a forgettable game. I don't think he registered a shot in the first half and then that airball open 3 was pretty bad. He did redeem himself with a move in the post for the foul and 1 but then missed 2 free throws after Brockman's intentional foul which in all honesty, wasn't that malicious (even though we started the dirty bastard chant). He's big and clumsily ran straight into Lawrence who he was trying to send to the free throw line. Brook was a turnover waiting to happen in the first but greatly improved his passing out of the double in the second - finding a cutting Taj for easy baskets. He made some nifty moves on the baseline in the first but then threw up some bad shots in the second. I wish everyone on our team could shoot free throws like Brook though. If we can cut down on turnovers and either make better decisions during fast breaks (Mitch especially) or always slow the ball down, we should be fine.

Our defense and rebounding intensity was another story. For the second straight game, we were out-rebounded by our opponent. These were opponents that we completely destroyed on the boards during our first meetings. This is definitely not a good trend (rebounding against Arizona State wasn't too hot either) and hopefully we can snap out of this funk and box out. Washington also did a great job against us inside, which is surprising since interior defense is usually our strengths. But full credit to Brockman and Pondextor who had great games in the post. They were a handful and we were lucky that Washington struggles from the line.

All in all, it wasn't the prettiest of victories. Nonetheless, I'm glad that we showed the ability to win a close game and hit enough free throws down the stretch. I like how Trent made the shift to bring in Drew for Robin. Even though he didn't time it very well and had Drew on defense when he could have had someone else play defense, take a timeout if they scored and put Drew in, at least it shows that he's comfortable putting Drew in at the end of games. Maybe something good came out of that ASU loss (and I'm not being sarcastic since crunch time in the tournament is truly what matters).

One more home game to go. It should be a good one with Washington State coming to town. So far, I'm 1-2 in senior day games with the only victory coming freshman year. Let's get that record to o.500. Boy is it going to be sad to see Taj, Fred, Kenny and Peter play their last games in Maples. Let's hope it's a memorable one.
~ Zhihao

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