I file my report tonight from deep cover, hidden in Section 8, at the
invitation of a group of unwitting cadets (is there any other kind?).
Disguised in a Section 8 sweatshirt, my cover was blown by my '81 Alumni Hat, but the cadets kept their cool and protected me from the feared Yellow Jackets of the Chamber.
Hey, folks, it's loud in Section 8. We yelled the whole game and my escorts and I never sat down the whole game. Of course, it helps when Utah throws up air balls, gets 35 second calls, and Nevill just is Nevill. The only slower guy I've seen on the court was that glacial mop-head at Santa Clara. Calling three seconds on him is almost unfair because he'd need a pushing foul to cross the lane in less time.
OK, enough trash talk (it's contagious), time for some real analysis.
Pregame, I was discussing strategy with ltcpilot and a few others. I mentioned that I thought the key to the game was stopping Green more than Nevill. He agreed and I was pleased to learn that the team had practiced VERY hard on closing out 3-point shooters from great distances on the weak side. That really paid off tonight!
Defense was the name of this game--everything flowed from it. From the 19 forced turnovers to the second consecutive game with excellent rebounding, we put together a GREAT defensive effort.
Nick Welch was the clear player of the game. He played with a confidence we haven't seen in two years. That final 3 over Nevill just after Lurch had plodded into slam dunk on the other end was as 'in your face' as any play of the year. Nick passed, rebounded, defended, screened, drove, dove, and stole like a man possessed--it's so good to have back in full, big guy! Had his sliding, fouled lay-up prayer gone in we'd all be seeing it on ESPN. GREAT, GREAT game!
Staying with the big men, John Frye was outstanding. Seeing him bring the ball up court with confidence, play Nevill VERY well, then can the 3 from the top of the key was poetry.
Danny again reasserted himself and had his hottest shooting night in some time. Though he was charged with 4 turnovers, he more than made up for that with a big rebounding night, some super steals, and an exclamation point slam on one of the most tiring, satisfying, and impressive 30 second, 8-point runs I've seen us have. Not since the Wake Forest massacre have I seen us so befuddle a physically talented team.
What's with Tim Anderson? The guy simply can't touch the ball without an opponent fouling him and the ref ignoring it. I think a compound fracture MIGHT draw a shooting foul. He's really a warrior out their with his steals, assists, picks, and rebounds. Another yeoman's effort for Tim that we've come to expect every time out.
Matt just made everyone else look good again tonight, it seemed. While we harried the Utes with our press, Matt calmly executed every play. The guy just doesn't sweat.
Jake was looking sleek sporting some of his best hairs of the year. The new aerodynamic look aided him immeasurably in driving the lane, piercing the key for some big rebounds, and defending with fire. Jake's taken his rebounding to the next level and has become a force inside.
Anwar Johnson played a SUPERB game defensively and hit quite a few FTs off of impressive drives to the hoop. He's going to be brilliant next year as a full-timer with Tim A. and tonight was an outstanding preview. The guy could average 5 steals a game in 06-07 and I expect he'll be a shut-down defender comparable to anyone in the country.
My thanks again to Section 8 for having me--it was a blast, guys and gals! Congrats to the coaching staff for a tremendous game plan and to the players for displaying the kind of confidence that I might not have seen since the second half of the George Washington game in December. We were in control for all but the first 4 minutes and the dismantling was very satisfying.
Let's move on to CSU now and shear the sheep!
Next game is CSU at The Chamber (Clune Arena), Sat, 17 Feb 07 at 3:30 pm (MT). TV: the mtn.