Man, that bothered me. Losing should sting and it should motivate you to do better. You don't have to throw a tantrum or even a chair; but as a fan, it is nice to know that a player, who was actually in the game, felt just as bad as I do.
Speaking of feeling bad about losing:
The Spartan's must be just kicking themselves. By all rights, they should be 3-0. But tough loses on the road against tough opponents (Pacific and Cal Poly) puts them at 1-2.
These two loses could do two things: Serve as wakeup call for the team. Or, sink them into a funk. In years past, this might have sunk a Spartan team. However, this year's team is different.
These players are new to the program and to D1 ball, so they realize that they are still learning. They fought hard enough to win, but they haven't.
They have proven that they can compete, now they have to start winning.
First up: Santa Clara.
Santa Clara is basically a two-man show: "Davies and Bailey." And it's a good show, too. Dick Davies is arguably the best bench coach in the game.
If he had the talent of say, the UCLA Bruins of the past five years, he may have won a few trophies by now. Kyle Bailey is simply an unconscious and clutch scorer. He single-handedly beat the Spartans two years ago and then almost again last year.
As a team, the Broncos got to show the world what they were made of when they played their first game against Hawaii on national TV. Man, they looked terrible. They hustled and scrambled, but they couldn't hit a shot to save their lives.
Then they came back and played tough (and lost) against Villanova, but beat Central Michigan to salvage 7th place at the Maui Invitational. Not bad. But then they stunned the bookmakers in Vegas by beating Fresno.
It seems to me that after working out some kinks, this team is starting to put it together.
Possible Match Ups:
Center: Jim Howell (6-8, 230) vs. Eric Walton (6-8, 215)
After battling some pretty big and talented players in Yango (Pacific) and Dennis (Poly), Walton gets the veteran Howell. Howell is a fundamental and crafty player. You think you have him blocked out, but he'll sneak in for an easy put-back. And, he has nice touch from around 10 feet in. He'll keep the ball alive, too. Walton is quick enough to limit Howell's effectiveness when he is on defense; and on offense, Walton should be able to post him up or take him off the dribble.
This is a key match up for game.
Forward: Travis Niesen (6-7, 220) vs. Demetrius Brown (6-6, 230)
Advantage: Broncos (slight)
Another nice match up. Both players are similar size and ability. Brown is a more creative scorer and slightly quicker. Neilsen won't fill it up, but he'll do a lot of things that will win games. He has a nice mid-range game, he goes hard to the board and he will handle the ball. He is probably the best defender on the Broncos, too.
D.J. is still learning to play the game at the D1 level, but the talent is there.
Small Forward: Scott Dougherty (6-4, 190) vs Brett Lilly (6-6, 202)
Freshman Dougherty has seen a lot of minutes at this spot, but so has Brandon Rohe (6-4, 195). I think Davies will throw the kid out there again at this virtual home game. Dougherty had a nice game against the Hawaii, but it was more impressive to see the kid out there giving it his all on national television. Lilly had a tough game against a long player at Poly (6-9, Lisinac). But still, nailed a respectable 2 of 6 from beyond the arc.
Should have an easier time getting his shot off against the shorter and more inexperienced player in Dougherty.
Off Guard: Ethan Rohde (6-5, 205) vs. Phil Calvert (6-3, 212)
Advantage: Spartans (slight)
The sophomore Rohde is a hot and cold player, but he won't be discouraged. He will jack it up anytime and anywhere on the court (to the chagrin of the coach). But Rohde is a really nice player and will be interesting to see how he develops. Good size and ability. He can put the ball on the floor and handle the point.
Calvert is coming off one of his best games against Poly. He is getting his legs back and into the rhythm of the offense.
Point Guard: Kyle Bailey (6-2, 185) v. Michael McFadden (6-5, 215)
Man, hasn't this guy graduated?
Bailey will be first team all WCC and is the heart and soul of the team. Too bad his back isn't as strong as his heart. Relentless player, cannot be stopped (at times), and a clutch performer. You give him daylight and he'll squeeze off and nail threes all day long. When the team needs a score, he will have the ball in his hand. McFadden had an off game against Poly, but has been impressive so far early in the season. He'll have to put on his track shoes to stay up with Bailey, but I think he is more than man enough to take on the challenge.
I don't expect much scoring from McFadden; because of the amount of energy he'll spend chasing Bailey. Any points he gets us will be bonus.
The main key of the game: Stop Bailey and the Spartans win.
Davie rotates so many players from game-to-game, that it really is hard to tell who are the starters and who are the bench players. Four games, four different starting lineups. Their top frontcourt player is Jordan Legge (6-8, 220). Another freshman Sean Denison (6-10, 230) has started a game at center and might again against the Spartans.
Linden Tibbets (6-8, 215) has also seen a lot of minutes. A natural wing player, who shows good inside/outside ability. Senior J.R. Patrick (6-4 205) is dependable and steady player. Their top back player is Doron Perkins (6-2 200). He can really light it up, too (15 points against C. Mich).
Get a hand in his face when he is beyond the arc.
Spartans will counter up front with Marquin Chandler (6-7, 220), Keith Everage (6-5 215) and Aaron Watson (6-6, 245). This has been a good rotation so far, but they are still learning their roles. Look for Watson to have a good game.
Bim had a great game against Poly, but Kareem did not. However, both players are beginning to pick up their game. With the return of some players, notably Kyle Wilson, playing time could be at a premium.