Monday, December 7, 2009

Rock chalked by KU, not by Drew

Leading into the game vs KU, we had lost all three of our Chevron 76 tourney games, the last of which was most embarrassingly to Long Beach St. in the 7th place game.  It was of some sort of moral victory to almost beat #10 Butler the previous game, but losing to a So Cal peon meant that we likely hit rock bottom.  It wasn't.

Drew Gordon was my favorite player on the squad.  In my view, he was the only real inside presence that we had and he would anchor our team for at least another 2 years, maybe 3.  His raw athleticism would keep us viable in the Pac 10 as we get ready for next season.  I had no idea that he was who he was revealed to be.  Seriously, this was more disappointing than the Tiger Woods saga.  I literally lost all taste in my mouth when I heard.

Reports are that he openly defied Howland and other coaches in practices and games.  He apparently also got into altercations with teammates up to 3 times.  Over the course of weeks, the coaching staff apparently had been trying to work with him but eventually Howland decided to suspend him for 2 practices.  Its unclear to me what happened next but it seems that either he quit the team or he was kicked off the team immediately.

I don't understand what Gordon was thinking.  You're a starter at UCLA and would be through 2012.  You are playing for what is clearly a top tier college coach in all the land who has recently gone to 3 consecutive Final Fours.  This premier coach has also sent 7 players to the first round of the NBA draft in just 6 years.  Are you telling me you know more than this coach?  He could not have been in a better situation and will not find a better situation after this.  Sure, we're not winning right now, but guess what?  Do something about it on the court.

I partially blame his parents who clearly didn't instill any respect in their son.  He doesn't know how to respect or obey authority at all.  Even now, they were defending him, covering for him, enabling him and actually dooming him to a lifetime of failure.  Goodbye.  You won't be missed.

vs #1 KU

We probably had the most productive week of practice after Gordon's departure this season since he wasn't around to take up the coaches time.  As a result, we played a very promising game.

Sure, this is UCLA, so moral victories don't mean much but #1 KU had blown out a team by almost 70 points earlier last week.  That man child freshman Xavier Henry has a NBA ready body right now and has the skills to leave in June.  While it is funny and a little sad that the entire stadium was bubbling with excitement that we were only down by 7 at half, I believe it is progress.


Reeves Nelson would have outplayed lottery pick Cole Aldrich had he not been poked in the eye early in the 2nd half.  Even so, his numbers are comparable.  Though he's undersized at 6-8 trying to handle the 7 footer, he more than held his own, especially in rebounding.  He was skilled in positioning himself and courageous in throwing his body around against KU's trees.  Six of his nine rebounds were on the offensive end.  And again, he essentially didn't play the last 15 minutes of the game.

I liked our energy and enthusiasm on the defensive end.  Had we been more efficient on the offensive end, we would've been in the game.  We closed to a 4 point deficit early in the 2nd half and the stadium was rocking with excitement.  True, it was a classic case of peaking way to early, but it was nice that we were excited in the 2nd half against these Jayhawks.

Tyler Honeycutt made his debut and I like his energy and athleticism.  Hopefully he comes every game with the proper attitude and buys into Howland's coaching and system.  Even this season, he can emerge as a major contributor to our success, whatever that may be this year.

Roll and Lee were solid once again.  Perhaps Lee should start from now on.

The team proved to the fans that they didn't need Drew Gordon.  We showed as good of an effort vs KU as we have all season, if not better.  Cohesion and chemistry are vital to success in a college program.  Hopefully we have that now.


If we could've limited our turnovers, especially the 10 or so in the first 10 minutes and hit a better FT percentage, we might've been within striking distance at the end.  At any rate, if those two issues can be limited, we can be very competitive in the Pac 10 this year.

Bobo Morgan needs to be strapped to a chair while basketballs are hurled at him.  How else can he learn to have better hands?  I still contend that once he gets the ball in proper position, it will be very difficult for any defender to stop his hook shot.  That is a skill nobody else on our roster has.  The problem is getting him the ball in the position that he needs without turning it over.  There are rumors that he may transfer as well but I bet it depends on his involvement in this season's games.

Jerime Anderson doesn't even have the confidence to finish layups.  Since we have no other options at PG, he needs to realize that he can play without the fear of making mistakes.  I still believe that he can be a solid contributor for us this season.  The fans have been spoiled by the excellence of Farmar and Collison but it is difficult to run the point in Howland's offense.  Give him some time.

Dragovic needs to disciplined in his shot selection and he needs to try harder to play defense.  The fact remains that we haven't won a single game this year when Drago has played.  I personally wouldn't mind ceding his time to the underclassmen to develop them for the future.  But I realize that he is probably going to be one of our leading scorers this year, which we will clearly need.

James Keefe only got 10 minutes of run, surprisingly.  He didn't score and only grabbed 1 board.  Howland has probably given up on this senior.

I also didn't like how many KU fans were able to get their hands on tickets.  Sure, it was kinda cool to hear some of their traditional chants including the victory chant that belonged in some monastery, I would prefer not to hear it in Pauley Pavilion.  At least it was Kansas and not Florida or some other program with fans that I don't have any respect for.

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