Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Letters From Lawlor - All Hail Elijah Foster

It’s almost the weekend, and it’s the best kind of weekend - one with multiple Pack home games! Pack basketball plays tonight and Sunday evening, and football hopes to send off their seniors with a win tomorrow afternoon.

But before we get too excited about this weekend, let’s do a recap of the basketball team’s last game.

  • The Cons:

As per usual, let’s get the bad news out of the way: this team needs to find a rhythm. I know, it’s very early in the season, but this may be the most important key to a winning season. This team hasn’t gotten to play with each other a lot, and it’s apparent, especially on defense. Players are out of position, passes are being made into the wide open air, and the tempo and pace have slowed down. Players are afraid to drive to the hole, often forcing them to take awful outside shots.

Another thing that’s become apparent already is that this team is having serious trouble with fouls. After fouling out last game, Oliver only played the first three minutes of Monday’s game after receiving two fouls. He played 17 minutes in total, spending most of the game on the bench with four fouls. Foster, Caroline, and Fenner all had three fouls each, which left us with a team of players who have very little experience playing together. And, of course, the technicals from Fenner and Foster didn’t help the situation much.

Monday night’s offense looked much better than it did at Saint Mary’s, but the defense still needs a lot of work. Like in Moraga, I lost count of how many times LMU ran right past all of our defenders and straight to the basket. In the post-game interview, Coach Dupree said he, “Thought the effort was there for sure.” And the effort was. The execution? Not so much. The outside defense is improving, but the interior defense is not, which is allowing opposing teams to easily score inside. We won the game by 15 points, and held a 17 point lead at one point. But our defense let that lead dwindle down to six, which should indicate how serious the defensive issue is.

  • The Pros:

The Pack played Loyola Marymount on Monday, and they looked a lot better than they did against Saint Mary’s. Perhaps the greatest thing about Monday night was the all-star show from Elijah Foster. It’s early in the season, but he already continues to get better each game. On Monday, Foster hit a career high of 18 points, and his first double-double with 10 rebounds. Foster was on fire, adding a beautiful dunk in the first half, great jump shots in the second half, and an assist in 38 minutes of play. Foster had made improvement in the last off season, but he’s already night and day from this season to last. I really look forward to seeing what Foster will continue to bring the rest of this season.

Speaking of break out stars, my hesitation of Marcus Marshall is completely gone. That kid can hit the three ball like no other. And considering we couldn’t buy a three last year, it’s refreshing to see. I do have to wonder though, can he make shots that aren’t threes? Marshall also added 18 points to Monday’s night game. And while we’re on the subject of those that can make great shots, Oliver showed up on Monday night with 14 points in just 17 minutes. I’m still waiting to see him go above and beyond, but I can’t say I’m upset by his performances at all.

Although this team is hurting on chemistry, they are learning how to pass and assist, to that’s a definite bright spot. Monday’s game saw the Pack have 19 assists on 27 made field goals. And the leader in assists? Lindsey Drew of course. As the silent defender, Drew also added two blocks and two steals, combined with seven points. And, as per usual, DJ Fenner added a quiet 12 points to lead this team to a 79-64 victory. Unfortunately, I have yet to see anything from Ramsey, Hall, or King.

  • Next Up:

Tonight we play Oregon State, my dad’s alma mater. So, if you see me sitting next to a man in Beaver gear, it’s really not my fault. My family are Wolf Pack fans first, but the Beavers are a close second. Oregon State is 2-1 this season, but this will be their first road game thus far. The Beavers went 19-13 last season, receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, where they lost in the first round. We traveled to Corvallis last year, where we lost by a heartbreaking four points. Last night my roommate asked me if we had a chance of winning tonight’s game, and I answered, “Yeah, I really think we do.” But when I say that, I mean we really have to bring our A game if we don’t want tonight to end in more heartbreak.

  • An Afterthought:

What happened to our great half time entertainment? Long lost are the days of gymnastic and taekwondo shows, replaced by small cheer leading segments and free throw contests. And then dead air. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate our cheerleaders and dance team (although I’m not sure of the difference), and everyone enjoys watching a fellow fan try to win something during a hoops contest, but I’d enjoy the occasional variation.

Also, I’ve decided to start taking note of things I hear from the crowd. The Loyola Marymount game included things like, “If you don’t pass the towel, you ain’t playing.” “I asked if we was going out, and he said no, I have dance class.” “Can’t stop anybody inside.” If you hear something great (or really weird) at the game, tweet me @hlncampbell and I’ll be sure to include it in the next article!

              Show up tonight, it’s gonna be a great game with hopefully a great crowd. 

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