The Blizzard of Bricks Edition

Our favorite former combo guard "roscoemaynard" checks in with his thought-provoking takes on the Cardinal's disappointing sweep at the hands of the Cougars and Huskies.

Everyone cue up the Alice in Chains classic "Man In The Box" and let's grunge this sucker up.  You knew we were in trouble Saturday afternoon against the Malamutes (let's all be honest here, their mascot looks more like a malamute than husky) when the TV cameras panned over to our bench and Coach Dawkins and his staff had all put on OSHA compliant construction hard hats as a self-defense mechanism against suffering further cranial damage from bricks being flung by our "shooters," and I use that word only so you, the handful of readers on The Bootleg, can identify who I am discussing.  For instance, there were several players that did not shoot at all in Washington (thank you?), and then there is Josh Owens (who didn't shoot nearly enough), and then there were a bunch of guys wearing Stanford uniforms being victimized by a spell by Valdemort that turned the basketball to a brick every time they took a shot.  I thought one of the reasons that we hired assistant coach Dick Davey was that he was secretly a wizard and that he knew how to counter such evil spells.  Alas apparently not.

If, because this is a guard oriented column, you politely subtract the non-guard taken threes by Josh Huestis, Dwight Powell, and John Gage (a combined 2-14 from the Tri-Cities), our guards, including Anthony Brown went 9-38; and then consider that we shot 24.2% from Wenatchee on Thursday night in Pullman, and then it got worse in Seattle when we only shot 15.8% from Bremerton.  It is difficult to shoot really badly and then shoot worse without hurting a coach, a fan, a cheerleader, or even Kevin Brill.  You would assume someone would get hurt in that brickyard. 

But enough construction defect analysis and math, let's move on to something less painful, the rest of the guard play analysis, starting with Aaron Bright.  I'd like to hammer away on shot selection and execution on offense, but I can't because those really weren't issues.  It is not Aaron's fault that the cougs packed it back in on Owens and forced our wings and guards to take shots.  The shots in both games were there to be made, and for the most part they were good shots.  It is hard to pass the ball effectively when everyone you hit misses the shot.  Aaron fights his little butt off on defense and is a smart defender most of the time.  But he had no impact on Reggie Moore at all, giving him way too much room to operate without pressure.  Reggie Moore ain't that good, don't make him better.  He played a much better game against Abdul Gaddy, smarter defense and better pressure, which contributed to Gaddy having a five turnover game on Saturday.  Unfortunately, none of our bigs wanted to touch Darnell Gant.

Chasson Randle was officially welcomed to the conference by cats and dogs.  It is possible that he is starting to run into some overall fatigue due to his heavy minutes as a freshman so far this season.  On the other hand, Aiden woke up from his boredom induced Pullman hangover this past weekend and tooled up on the weenies vaunted backcourt as well.  But, mostly Aiden worked his teammates.  Chasson's issue against the cougs was that he just wasn't enough of a defensive factor, while fighting some foul trouble.  His offense was nails though, and he took care of the ball, but he wasn't able to penetrate effectively as he has shown the ability to do to every other conference opponent.  Without Chasson shooting the three-pointer well (5-11), our perimeter shooting would have been horridererer, something like 3-22.  Now, should he have been heavily shading Tony Wroten to his left, given that Tony is left-handed?  Hell yes.  But, Wroten is an NBA first round draft pick, and if you watched the game, you noted that Wroten attacked his defender often after a switch on a screen, meaning he was attacking a bigger defender that he had out-quicked and apparently out-smarted.  Wroten also made a stupid number of very high degree of difficulty layins over two and three guys and many times we were shading him and he just went that way anyway.  Wroten reminds me of Harold Miner in that regard, and he would remind of Todd Lichti, too, but he doesn't finish with his right hand.  Wroten is getting 17 a game in conference right now and everyone knows he is going left and he has no jimmy.  What I really liked about Chasson on Saturday was how he kept attacking offensively right up to the buzzer.  Almost none of it worked, it was not his day, but he and Aaron really kept fighting hard.  In fact, the whole team fought hard to the finish in both games, which is what have to see in the face of such brutally cold shooting. 

Jarrett Mann earned another start on Saturday, principally to try and hold down Terrence Ross, which he did well in the first half.  Mann's offense was exposed against wazzou again, but seven rebounds and three assists off the bench is solid.  However, in the second half against UW and against Aiden in Pullman, we needed some lockdown defense and Jarrett couldn't conjure it.  The on-ball pressure was too benign (this was a problem for our entire backcourt—too much respect for their quickness is a killer), which allowed Aiden to see too well and dictate.  Of course, Aiden lit the weenies up as well and on a couple of occasions he blue bayooed Senor Guttierez.  The second half against Ross was mostly the result of an extremely talented player simply making shots, but also again, because Mann and his teammates helped too far off on fishing trips into the paint to get back to Ross who is 6'7" and jumps like a helicopter. 

Anthony Brown, I am going to include as guard from here on out just because.  Huge incite here, I think needs to shoot better and make better decisions on the road.  I love his aggressive attitude with the three-ball, but his shoulders continue to tilt too far back on too many of his threes.  It continues to feel like his corner will get turned at any minute, but please dude, turn the damned thing.  Anthony was victimized by Aiden as well, but I actually liked his on-ball defense better than Mann's.  Aiden is just damned quick and he made at least three very difficult pull up jumpers over Anthony when Anthony's defense was very good.  To be honest, and this may be my fault, but probably not entirely, I didn't even notice Anthony's defense against the Puppies…Use your allusion… 

Final Thoughts:  I expect both teams to play at a real high energy level when we hit the East Bay, given the extra rest they will get.  Both teams' guards have been playing heavy minutes.

Final Final:  cal is defending the rim well, but not the three-point line.  Cobb and Crabbe are not great defenders, so they play classic Monty defense, better safe than sorry.  They take care of the ball, leading the conference in assist to turnover ratio at 1.66 and assists at 18 a game, and have an excellent turnover margin of 4.67.  They are not great on the glass though,they are not long, they are not athletic, this is where we have a significant advantage.

Final Final Final:  We are a young team, but this has been a mentally tough group this season.  I'll stand this on its head and say that given epically poor shooting in Wazzou, we should have been blown out, instead of in both games most of the way.  We will shoot better in weenieland.  Let's go occupy Berkeley, riot a bit, protest their relatively inexpensive education and steal a win!  Damn it!

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