Dribbles & Bits™ - Northwestern State

Back by undocumented popular demand, here is another installment of Dribbles & Bits™, offering some random thoughts and observations that won't always make the stat sheet. Hope this little addition to the blogosphere (admittedly a glorified post) adds some welcome flavor, especially for our valued hoops-prioritizing premium subscribers who aren't local and couldn't take in last night's NWSU game.

Dribbles & Bits™ - Northwestern State

With my family's rather inexplicable continuing primacy of Stanford football, we watched the WSU game to the bitter end (OK, WSU's game-icing "pick-six", before heading down to Maples in the rain for another romp of the roundball to make us feel a little better. Stanford Basketball has often served as comfort food for depressed Bootleggers™ (as opposed to Booties) during the past few football seasons.


  • Ok, was it me or did the two scruffy little guards, the McConathy brothers - sons of the Demons' ninth-year head coach Mike (Sr.) - remind you just a little of that rat-like Rogues gang leader "Luther" in the 1979 film The Warriors? I was standing on the floor as the NWSU (they prefer the initialism "NSU") team exited and trust me, those guys were tiny, as in would be tiny on a highs school team. Sophomore Mike "Icy" McConathy is listed at 5'9", 147. I'll lay off the other brother because he is a "Logan", like my new son! Dude's nickname in "Lou-Lo". Kinda cool. Their grandfather Johnny McConathy was an All-American back in 1952. Wait, now I am starting to feel guilty for ripping these guys!
  • Northwestern State is located in Natchitoches, LA (the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase for you history buffs) and home to the famous Natchitoches"Meat Pie Festival! (Count me in!) It is the town where the acclaimed film Steel Magnolias was filmed. Bet you didn't know that - a good example of why media guides are a lot of fun 
  • The one-time Louisiana State Normal School, features their own poor man's version of former LSU star Glen "Big Baby" Davis. Kalem Porterie charts at 6'6", 237, but that is being very kind. They have a 280-poinder as well, but he apparently didn't make the traveling team. Probably in training for the annual "Meat Pie-Eating Contest."
  • Some of the Demon players (L. McConathy, Jones) are wearing the wrong jersey numbers, not a very good omen. The three-time defending Southland Conference champions could be a little more organized. After all, this is the same 14th-seeded Northwestern State squad that knocked out 15th-ranked Big Ten power Iowa in a buzzer-beater in the 2006 NCAA Tournament! 
  • Something should really be done about the Demons' neon-tangerine shoes. A distracting eyesore if you ask me, which you didn't.
  • Stanford's famed "Sixth Man Club" numbered about 90 at the start of the game. There is no way that many of those kids had dates that conflicted with last night's game.
  • Slightly OT: I am still fired up after randomly running into 6'9" Mike Mann in the press box at the UW football game last weekend. Mann played center for Stanford during the 1971-72 season, the year before 7'0" Rich Kelley arrived on the varsity. Mann, who then switched to forward for the 1972-73 season one of my very first Stanford hoops heroes as a kid! 

The Game:

  • Stanford gets off to another hot start Stanford had the Demons doubled over at 40-20 with 6:26 left in the first half.. There would be no sweaty palms on this night. NSU's ballhandling and passing are suspect, to say the least. Lots of "unforced" turnovers.
  • Once again Robin  Lopez made an intimidating if token appearance. Sure he picked up a couple of early fouls, but really folks, Coach Johnson's conscience wouldn't allow him to use a weapon that lethal against that team. It would have violated the Geneva Convention or something like that. 
  • For the second time in 24 hours, the Cardinal shot the lights out in the opening stanza (61% from the field, 50% from downtown), building a dominating 57-24 lead. Would be tough to determine the previous record, but averaging 60 first-half points in back-to-back games has to be a Stanford school record, doesn't it? At least on consecutive nights.
  • Have to like 12 points from Mitch Johnson in the first half. Money from the stripe too (4-4).
  • Lawrence Hill looked much more comfortable in this game than against Harvard. 
  • Stat of the first half? How about 1-13 from behind the arc for the Demons? That ain't gonna git 'er done against anyone. Honorable Mention: 8-31 from the floor for NSU. Yikes!
  • The One Thing we could have done better? Trent certainly didn't like seeing eight offensive rebounds for Northwestern State. C'mon, fellas! Box out!
  • Biggest surprise for me? Peter Prowitt may look like he just entered the Marine Corps, but hey, the big man looks pretty darn good around the basket, offensively. A spin-move and finish I didn't know he had. Then followed with a block at the other end. Is he finally getting it? He brought us back to earth with a silly foul, but I was starting to envision a very solid post reserve that could score a few buckets and really help us win some games this year.
  • Josh Owens does not play like a freshman. His shots may be high-percentage, but they do go in! Who cares if he has any range? Just keep cleaning up, "JO". We like!
  • The initial post-game pressers in the media work room have been pretty staid, uneventful affairs. Barely worth the half-sandwich, peanuts, and Hershey's kisses. Guess we need a more challenging opponent and a closer game to give us something more compelling to ask and write about. We should get one this afternoon. 
  • OK, at 81-38 I am starting to relax. Talk quickly turns to the $27.5 million the lovely philanthropy goddess Laura Arrillaga and her brilliant husband, Netscape founder Marc Andreessen just put up to significantly upgrade the ER facilities at Stanford Hospital, already the leading trauma center in the area. That ought to help Laura and Marc keep those prime courtside seats when Maples seating gets rearranged net year. Very cool move! See Marc's blog for the announcement: http://blog.pmarca.com/ Thanks guys!
  • Actually, this game was so relaxed, "BasketballKnowitall" came dressed casually, eschewing his normal suit and tie attire. Of course, this was the weekend. 
  • The Sixth Man Club, demonstrating rarely-observed mercy, focused its energy on a sequence of "Kenny Brown" chants. Seriously, KB has got to be one of the most impressive walk-ons in the history of the program. Yes, he was a "recruited walk-on", but the staff obviously knew what they had in this high energy youngster. We have to help the PA announcer come up with something better than "Kenny Brown...from downtown" (that coming from a guy who has probably employed more lane alliteration, rhymes, wordplays and pedestrian nicknames than any writer in the history of mankind!) But how many guys named "Brown" that shoot from outside have managed to avoid the "downtown" reference.  
  • With my wife Cindi''s permission, I am bringing a hot friend to the game this afternoon. She is a UCSB alum. Any smart, interesting, gentlemanly, under-45, single and available callers interested in one of the all-time wonderful and beautiful gals can stop by and act like you want to know when your special Bill Walsh Commemorative Issue of The Bootleg Magazine is coming out. (answer- this week -some of you have apparently already received yours).

UC-Santa Barbara Preview:

  • By all accounts, the Gouchos of UCSB will be a worthy opponent.
  • They are led by Bob Williams, a two-time Big West Coach of the Year in his 10th season. Led the Gouchos to 18 wins last year. Picked to win their conference this year by the Big West coaches.
  • #12 6'6" senior wing Alex "Al" Harris (not to be confused with the great Stanford alumnus Al Harris) played PG his first couple of seasons. He was First-Team All-Big West last year and could end up playing in The Association. He was the Big West conference's leading scorer at 21.1 ppg. Harris's favorite rap artist is Mos Def, who if you ask me was solid in the otherwise excessive 2006 Bruce Willis urban action film 16 Blocks.  Over the final six games last year, Harris scored 26.0 ppg including an incredible 23-36 (63.9%) from three-point range. Wow! Let's not leave his shots uncontested!
  • Harris is complimented by a young due of promising sophomores in the backcourt, Justin Joyner (asst. & steals leader) and James Powell, each of whom made the conference all-freshman team last year. Those two will represent a more formidable challenge at managing fullcourt pressure than say, Harvard's guards did the other night. Leading rebounder Chris Devine is back for a sixth year. The veteran is a two-time All-Big West selection and will be the first true test for our frontcourt players this year. He started every game for the Gauchos the past two seasons. Tough guy, a warrior. Not to be underestimated. Very capable of a double-double. Senior Ivan "I.C.E" Elliott won't take over a game, but is a decent player. Sixth Man Club - Please chant his middle name "Cornelious" if you want to get him off his game!
  • Redshirting junior forward Jesse Byrd was a teammate of our own Drew Shiller at USF during the 2005-06 season before transferring to UCSB. 
  • They can play on the road. Last year, UCSB handed UNLV their only home loss.
  • OT: Your Bootleg editor actually attended a summer quarter at UCSB, located on what they like to call "the American Riviera", prior to his senior year in high school - quite possibly the most enjoyable summer of his life to date. 
  • OK, gotta motor if I am going to make it to the game today. My advice - bully Chris Devine with our array of big bodies, pressure Harris at the perimeter and make him drive, and take care of the ball against their quick guards and we win. Brilliant analysis! You can only get it here!

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