The Thanks For The Turnovers Edition

Our favorite former combo guard checks in with his second 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 Stanford's efforts down in Disneyland over Thanksgiving, including what may be ailing Jarrett Mann at the charity stripe.

This missive needs a theme song, so all you Social Distortion fans cue your iPod or your Droid or, if you are really old, put in a cd, and lets get in the mosh pit, because Anaheim is the home of the seminal punk rock band Social D.  Personally, when I think of Anaheim, I think of the song "Prison Bound."  I know, not exactly Thanksgiving festive, but it pretty much ruins my holiday when we lose.  Maybe instead of Prison Bound, I should cue up "Bad Luck."  As you can tell, I am struggling to get into this thing.  How do you find anything nice to say after a turnover fest of a roadie to Magic Mountain?  Mr. Greenwood, where is your corkscrew, sir?

So, any questions kiddies about how important point guard play is to winning basketball games?  18 turnovers a game this holiday weekend.  13 assists and 16 turnovers from our point guards in three games is not getting the job done.  How Coach Dawkins didn't have an aneurysm or some type of spastic Montgomery-esque kick the scorers table and stomp your loafers until you have a stress fracture fit, I don't know.  What was particularly irksome, at least in the first two games, was how totally outclassed we were when it came to ball handling and decisionmaking by guards that were not exceptional.  Or that was how it felt watching the games, but then when you look at the stats you see that Tulsa had seven assists and 18 turnovers and Murray State had seven assists and 15 turnovers.  Jedi mind tricks or too much Merlot, perhaps, but I still think we were totally outclassed out front.

A late barrage of 3's by Green made the Murray State game look better than it was.  Their guards were in complete control.  Tulsa was brutal.  Blue Bayou over and over and over like another holiday season of the von Trapp family singers from hell.  Just a thought, is there anything stranger than Blue Demons as a mascot?  Why don't we see any Green Demons or Red Demons as mascots when we have Demon Deacons?  Why are they blue?  Were the demons that hard up in Chicago 120 years ago?

Thank goodness we managed to pull out the DePaul game, a game we should have won several times.  We took good shots, we moved the ball well, we crushed the glass.  But giving up 25 points on 19 turnovers is a great way to counter beating them to death on the glass.  With that said, the point guards played their best basketball of the year from a ball handling perspective in the second half and overtime of the Blue Demons game.  The big guys kicked the can a bit, but Mann in particular was good.

So, the silver lining is that Jarrett Mann, who had a rough two-and-a-half games in the OC, turned a corner, I thought, against DePaul.  I hope he turned a corner.  His penetration and kicks were crisper, his butt and handle in the paint lower, the timing was better.  He showed more command.  Yes, he yanked another bad free throw miss late in the game in this his pre-season of our discontent with his free jacks, but he ran the club in the second half and overtime.  He can go into Dead Week with a solid 25 minutes in his belt and sometimes with athletes the last few minutes you played are far more important psychologically than the overall picture.  Insert your "athletes are so shallow" joke here.

This time around Bright and Harris get lumped in together.  Outclassed, outplayed, and of little to no help at all for the most part.  Let's try getting in front of someone and staying there, please.  Harris was the more solid of them during the Racer and Tulsa games, but Bright bounced back nicely against the Blue Demons offensively, showing his opportunistic nature against pressure.  

Jeremy Green was clearly suffering symptoms of something, illness and bad point guard play, or both.  His defense was not up to his standards and his decisions were poor.  Still, overall a warrior effort for a guy looking for a puke bucket and the drip IV most of the time.  Who wants to get in a defensive stance when you are borderline incontinent? Murray State was fantastic at chasing him around screens and getting hands in the passing lanes and making our point guards make tough "pass throughs".  The offense needs to do more to help Jeremy get open.  The timing is not there yet, but the point guard decisions need to be better as well.  At least 15 times in these three games, and I stopped counting, the point guards or small forwards simply didn't seem to know or anticipate which way Green was going to come off of a screen.  And a number of times the passes to him were off line just enough to make a catch and shoot awkward. 

I saw Anthony Brown play some two guard, so get that in traffic hammer down against DePaul and holy mackerel.  Clearly, if you want to press us, Brown is going to score some points.  He has excellent pre-shot footwork and butt coil, particularly for a freshman.  He turned it over, but he also finished, seemed pretty poised, and took some very smart shots.  He continues to defend pretty solidly because of his length and he has a good feel for passing lanes.  If he could have just dropped that hammer...

Preliminary Final Thought:  On the "Leg," I invited opinions as to what Jarrett Mann is doing wrong on his free throws.  Here is what I think and this is for all you moms and dads out there with aspiring bricklayers out in your driveways (you know who you are): balance,balance, balance - Jarrett is not staying centered over the balls of his feet when he shoots.  His weight is out over his right big toe one time on release, the next time his weight is back off his left heel to differing degrees (this happens a lot).  His stance may be too narrow for him to maintain his balance properly, but it isn't a real narrow stance.  I am assuming his core is relatively fit, and his butt coil seems fine, too.  This balance issue is usually something you see more in big tall dorky players...but if your balance isn't consistently centered, then it doesn't matter if you aim straight because you must moved your release point from where it is supposed to be and from where it was last time, which aren't one in the same because your balance is going all different ways each time, which means every time your balance is off you are making minute aiming adjustments subconsciously at release.   

Final Final:  Tall cans in the air for Chris Polk, running back for the Washington Huskies.  They don't call it Memorial Stadium for nothing.  In the long and painful history of Weenie football, an epic slog through the misty marshes of mediocrity, nothing is more appropriate than closing the book on that cracked piece of concrete than a last second touchdown by an opponent to steal a loss from the jaws of victory one last time.  Vaya con dios, weenies, would you like a Tostito?  Salsa?  Psyche.

Do you have a "premium" subscription to The Bootleg? If not, then you are seriously missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest, broadest, and best in Stanford sports coverage with (sign-up)!

The Bootleg Top Stories