Friday, February 25, 2011
UCLA v ASU - balanced offense
A common pattern of our play this season is the slow start, the mid game comeback, the double digit lead and the near collapse at the end to just eek out a win. Fortunately, last night we skipped the last part and won 71-53.
ASU started the game with a 21-9 lead about 10 minutes into the game. Infuriatingly, they scored their first 8 baskets on layups or dunks. Clearly, we were not focused defensively, which is amazing considering that we had just lost our last game vs Cal. While some of our guys were just getting beat to the basket 1 on 1, I noticed that we were also not rotating quickly enough after hedging on pick and rolls. Their bigs were getting open layups. Anyway, if we start this way against Zona or any of the better teams in the tourney, we're done.
After only scoring 9 points in over 10 minutes of play, we scored 30 in the next 10 min to lead 39-29 at half, and though we are prone to giving away leads, I felt secure that the game was effectively over.
Again, we were extremely impressive in our balanced attack. 5 guys in double figures is quite a rare sight. Though Nelson had a 12 and 12 double double, Zeek's 10 and 10 assists stands out to me the most. I also think he's probably the best 3 point shooter on the team. Even with a bad wrist and injured finger, he shot 2-2 on threes last night.
It dawned on me that Saturday's game will be the last game in Pauley Pavilion for much of our playing rotation - Malcolm, Zeek, Jerime and Honeycutt for sure. I think there's a good chance Smith will leave after next year and there's disturbing rumors that Reeves won't stay around for his senior year, which is confounding since a 6-7 1/2 white PF who doesn't have outstanding hops doesn't have much of a chance in the NBA. (besides Kevin Love. haha.) Brendan Lane should probably transfer after this year since the Wear twins may completely kill off his playing time. So that leaves Tyler Lamb and Anthony Stover as the 2 players in our rotation who I can comfortably say will definitely be back for the opening of new Pauley in fall of 2012.
I brought my family to this game, even though it was a late 8pm start, because after this game and next, we won't have many chances to see UCLA bball for the next 20 months or so. I'm pretty sure I'm not taking my boys to the Sports Arena, ugh. (Do they make kevlar in toddler sizes?) Maybe we'll try for a family outing to a Saturday game at the Honda Ponda here or there if things work out. Pretty sad.
Zona's loss to u$c means that we again control our destiny. If we beat them and win out, assuming they sweep the easy Oregon teams at home next week, we'll tie for the Pac-10 crown. Considering we have to visit Washington schools, I'll take that tie right now.
Its pretty unlikely we can win out, but I'm holding out hope that we can win the championship for the first time since 2008 in the last true pac10 conference race there will ever be. Next year we will expand to the Pac 12 (ugh!) and conference standings can never be used to crown a true champion again since teams don't play each other the same number of times anymore. And you all know how I feel about conference tournaments. Oh you don't? They idiotic. Why play a regular season if a conference champ is determined in a 1 and done format after that?
The NCAA tourney is also not the truest way to determine a champion since the sport of basketball requires a series of games to determine the best teams. That said, this tourney is the only way in reality to crown a college basketball champ.
And this year, with 20 wins already, we're back! I knew we'd only miss 1 year (which by the way is the fault of Jrue's selfish early defection, Gordon's selfish innate being, and Dragovic's pathetic basketball ability and lazy effort). If we can win out and grab a 5 or 6 seed, we'll avoid a 1st or 2nd seed in the 2nd round. Lets go Bruins!