The "Hey Tony, Fire Up The Bus!" Edition

Our favorite former combo guard checks in with his first column of the 2010-2011 Stanford Men's Basketball season. It is a new world for the mad minions of Maples Pavilion as talent and numbers have converged to replenish the Cardinal coffers. Read on for Scott's take on the week that was and the frequent wins that will be forthcoming for Johnny Dawkins & Co.

The "Hey Tony, Fire Up The Bus Already!" Edition

Editor's Note: The following commentary offers the author's unique thoughts of the on-court performances of some of Stanford University's basketball playersNothing the author writes should be construed as a lack of respect for anyone or anything, unless it is obviously so intendedThe author understands that each player is busting his butt for the Cardinal, but the reader should understand that the critiques by the author are at least somewhat informed and the players participate in a public forum. In fact, read this at your own risk of being offended, confused, or even nauseous. The candid views expressed below sure as heck do not reflect those of The Bootleg's executive editorial management, Major Upset Productions, the Scout Network, Fox Sports, News Corp, the Buck/Cardinal Club, Stanford University, or any of its employees, liberal professors, students or volunteers.     

College basketball is ostensibly an amateur sport.  Nothing says "amateur" like the officially sanctioned radio broadcast of Stanford Men's Basketball not being streamed on the internet.  My fellow booties, envision me, my wife, my mother and my dog "Rex" cramming into the car in the garage with the laptop on the dashboard trying to get the radio broadcast of the home opener against U-Diego because its not streaming on the internet. But alas, its not coming in over airwaves either because XTRA Sports 860 isn't blowing at a full 50,000 megapixels. Ten bazillion dollar endowment, the hotbed of technology since its invention, and yours truly can't get the law firm of Platz and Shiller on the radio for their first broadcast as a starting backcourt.  And worse, "Rex" and "Mom" in the backseat were steaming up the windows.  Sing it with me booties, "M-I-C-K-E-Y...B-A-N-K-R-U-P-T-C-Y". So I made sure we went to the UVA game in person last night.

Excuse me (Or not), but Jarrett Mann is our starting point guard.  Although he has also played some "2" guard.  In the first two games, terrific defense and his handle, particularly with the left hand, looks much improved. He is not a natural scorer, let's face it. But, his defense has been tough, and at one point early in the second half against the Cavaliers, we had to make a switch and bring in Bright to run the point and moved Mann over onto a "poker hot" Joe Harris to shut him off.  And Mann hosed him down.  "Defensive stopper" is a good role for him.  It will be good for his confidence.  And that is what he is missing at the free-throw line.  Who cares where the confidence comes from, but he has to find some to take with him to the stripe, because 2-9 is bad manners.

True freshman Aaron Bright has played the bulk of the back-up point guard minutes so far and he looks very solid with his handle and vision. After the U-Diego game I was going to say he needs to tighten up his footwork pre-shot and not drift in the air, but he tightened that up in three days, and absolutely locked and loaded, with no drift, on poor helpless UVA.  4-4 on the bombage against UVA, with 4 assists and only 1 turnover (albeit a bad one) in 17 minutes, is outstanding.  For those not at the game, Bright knocked in the last bomb of his and showed some strut.  And the next thing you know fellow first-year Anthony Brown was showing some strut. Freshmen backing up the 'Tude with a bit-o-game is nice.

Speaking of point guard, lost in the glow of Bright's barrage against UVA was the glow of the barrage of U-Diego by our back-up combo guard Gabe Harris, who went 5-6 for 12 in 15 minutes.  Taking full advantage of Jeremy Green's off-night, Harris was opportunistic, mistake free, and played with great confidence.  He played the same way against UVA, it's just that Bright was playing so well and Green was back in business. Coach Dawkins did a great job bringing Harris back in late against UVA to finish the game at the point guard spot, letting him get some time running the club, instead of wasting those minutes elsewhere.

Jeremy Green is was in foul trouble early against U-Diego, and they were bad fouls.  But the effort during his minutes (20 of them) was unrelenting.  His team bailed him out against the Torreros, which had to feel good for the guy everyone assumed couldn't afford to have a bad night and still have us win.  Green was back against UVA with great effort, fire, and leadership, but he also brought the revolvers.  21 points, 8-13 shooting, in 30 minutes and a number of late-in-the-shot-clock bombs, including the 27- footer with two minutes left that persuaded former WSU coach Tony Bennett to fire up the bus.

Speaking of shooting guards, if you haven't seen Anthony Brown yet, the kid doesn't lack confidence.  He shoots 1-7 against U-Diego and without any discernible change in attitude, turns around and bombs away for 5-8 against UVA for 13 points.  6 rebounds against U-Diego too.  And he will grab the rebound and lead the break and he already shows great vision
and decision-making. He has a serious problem of the "smooths" as well.

2 & 0, winning ugly once, and "winning sexy" against UVA.  Everyone is more handsome when they shoot well. But, defensively we are better, more guys, more minutes, more internal competition.  Mann is terrific, Green (for lack of a better word....) is good, Bright improved a lot from game to game and was more opportunistic, Harris is good, and Brown is good, but adds length and
great athleticism to the equation.  Defensively, Coach Dawkins has some nice pieces to mix and match and he has already seen that on any given night, someone or two can get you 12 off the bench.

Play of the week:  Ain't no Powell monster dunk, folks.  Aaron Bright in the second half, going all Chris Hernandez, and diving across the floor in a flash to get on a loose ball before the UVA player that was standing over it could, with Green quickly calling a timeout and converting the possession to us.  Attitude, tattoos, hustle, and it infuriated Tony Bennett because his program is built on making those types of hustle plays.  So is ours!

Final Thoughts:  Zimmerman looks terrific, like a new man.  He clearly worked his butt off this off-season.  We thought Powell would be a beast, but what he is a beast of base-line slasher.  Last year we gave up four million bunnies, and already we are about 200% better defensively around the rim.  Powell, Huestis, Brown, Trott, Zimm and Owens are defending in there with position and athleticism, but the real key is that they are edgy - they will foul you!  Methinks that practice must be much more physical and competitive. No free minutes this year.

Final Final:  Let's put them out of their misery.  I hate cal.  Woodshed 'em.


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