I had to twist around pretty far find some high ground my friends because we lost in Jerkeley again, for the fourth year in a row. This one hurts a lot because we were in and for significant stretches we were actually the better team. But moral victories don't count for crap when it comes to Stanford v. Cal in anything. Ever.
As a general comment about guard play in this game, it makes me puke to see us get beat for breakaway layins by Gutierrez and Cobbs because our guards didn't get back on defense. One of the first things you learn in basketball, before you learn a left-handed layin or how to line up along the free throw line, is that when a shot goes up you sprint your butt coil back all the way into the paint. We did not, and it cost us most of the ten points we gave up on fast breaks. It's inexcusable and it is not on the coaches—unless you want to tip your Block S Cap to the opposing coaching staff for picking up on film that we had a weakness in this area—and I really don't want to tip my Block S Cap to them.
Aaron Bright didn't get the start in this one as Coach Dawkins started Jarrett Mann and Josh Huestis in a bit of defense first shakeup. I liked the shake up because at half time we were ahead by one. But, Aaron didn't play well, taking only four shots and committing three turnovers. Now, I thought his defense was actually excellent, and he ended up with 5 rebounds. The Bear guards really didn't attack him with their size advantage like I am sure our coaches thought they would. However, the Bear guards did defend him very well, bumping him hard on his cuts and theirs, and constantly keeping a hand on him. As the final result indicates, we really can't afford to have Aaron Bright shooting 1-4. He has to show the resiliency he has shown so far in this season and bounce back at home on Thursday against Sparky.
Chasson Randle, welcome to the rivalry. Foul trouble killed him. In fact, Coach Dawkins looked as frustrated as I have seen him look (body language from the second to last row was that obvious) when Chasson picked up his 3rd foul on a charge 18 seconds into the second half. Now, Chasson still went and got eight on 3-5 shooting in 10 minutes in the second half, but our offense is not at its best when we don't have Aaron and Chasson on the floor together. Dude still fought all the way to the final buzzer, admirably putting his head down and penetrating to the rim against quality defenders. Chasson also struggled on defense in this game, primarily getting through the typical Montgomery program big man screens that Gutierrez and Cobbs ran him through. If it wasn't a game against Cal, I'd chalk this up as a quality learning opportunity.
Jarrett Mann played pretty solidly, but again, without making the impact on the game that we need to win in his 27 minutes. He missed two wide open threes, and I respect that he wanted to win so bad he took those shots. He was Blue Bayoo'd by lummox Harper Kamp in the second half for an inexcusable layin. In a rivalry game with some pretty significant mental lapses, it is inconceivable that a senior point guard would have by far the worst.
Anthony Brown played 19 minutes, some of them at the "2." Candidly, his legs don't look right. His lift on his pull up jumpers was awkward and those shots came up very short. He is playing hurt and his toughness is impressive. That his defense was so good in this game, and I thought it was excellent, with his knees (or one of them anyway) clearly hurting is even more impressive. Now, if Anthony could just get some shots to go down….
But getting some shots to go down is a whole ‘nother kettle of horse fish (to quote Ernest Goes to Camp). We shot horribly in Washington and in my last article I said the good news was that we couldn't possible shoot any worse in Berkeley. I stand corrected. We went 2-15 from three-point land, which is 13%, which is worse than we shot in either game in Washington. Holy Mackerel!
Home cooking needs to start behind the three-point line. We remain second in the conference with 7.11 three's made per game, but that number is slipping with every road game we chuck bricks. Everyone needs to pull out their socks, hook up the lucky friend with benefits, watch some film of shots going in over and over again, borrow someone's lucky rabbit's foot, whatever it takes and get off the schneid (how do you spell that anyway, i before e or e before i?).
Final Point: Here we are at the turn and burn mark and maybe what we can learn from the first half of conference play is that we have to find a way to get Josh Owens 15 shots. Double teams, shubble teams, no excuses. Coach Dawkins, please read this and invoke the Ralph Miller-A.C. Green rule, or call it the Trent Johnson-Brook Lopez rule, and park butts on the bench if Josh doesn't touch the ball at least once every possession before anyone else shoots.
Final Final: Really glad we have Sparky coming in on Thursday.
Final Final Final: I am getting sick of Jorge Gutierrez, not that he cares. There are an awful lot of players that simply can't get every single loose ball and every rebound in the last few minutes of ball games. But, those guys that can do exist and Jorge is one of them, and he did it to us on Sunday. I have fond memories of Chris Hernandez and Josh Childress being that way, and I sure hope that Josh Huestis and Chasson Randle get there, because they seem like they could.
Final Final Final Final: It was not pleasant to see Haas Pavilion full and rocking at 11 (Spinal Tap reference). Zona is in our house on Saturday, dinged up, and that is rivalry game. It would be great to see Roscoe Maples tuned up and rocking at 11.
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