Expert Analysis: Guards vs. Colorado State
Just a question or too many to start off this column. Why do lard-assed spastic honkies sign up for the half court shooting contest? Are they trying to scar their children for life? Do they see this as another opportunity to relive those precious 10 minutes in the gym before sixth grade CYO basketball practice when every kid in the building that can't play is launching half court shots? Are they trying to impress their second wives? On Saturday, a new low was achieved in the well-chronicled and weak history of the half court shot contest at Stanford. To the rocking background of AC/DC's classic "Shoot to Thrill", donut man steps up and tries the one-handed Palumbis toss and comes up 20 feet short and follows it up by listening to the 6th Man Club (a bunch of studs worth listening to for sure - if you need help with your algorithms or posting your recent photos of your disastrous half court shooting on your MySpace page) and going to the two-handed toss that makes it maybe four feet farther than the first feeble attempt. Teejers, you are now off the hook, you can put "the sweater" back on, someone else has set the bar so low as a half-court bowler that Coach McGrath might be able to jump over it. Stop yourselves, people! A modicum of restraint, please.
Oh yea, Mrs. Roscoe and I watched the Yale game on the tube and caught the Colorado State game from the Campbell family (Clan Campbell?) seats on Saturday night, sitting next to not only the Big Lebowski himself, but also Mr. Ahlstrom, who would not stop talking about the underwhelming performance of the Stanford football team's offense against Notre Dame. Later in the column, Lars and Roscoe agreed on something…stay tuned for their mind meld.
Mitch Johnson: Although the competition certainly didn't resemble a trip to L.A. during conference, Eric Flato and Holmes (Nick or Caleb, or whatever) for Yale could lock and load and they received a ton of quality screens. Willis Gardner for the Rams was their best player and consistently showed solid creativity with the ball. I thought Mitch busted his butt on defense in these two games, but needed to show more "savvy." Neither Yale guard ever had to go to his left to get any points, and Mitch was caught too often getting screened going to the Yale player's right hand. At some point you have to read their offense and take something away. As for Gardner, occasionally back off a couple of feet and see if he actually is a threat from 17-20 feet out. Bait him into thinking about shooting. He took only one shot in that range, yet Mitch stayed up tight on him and allowed himself to get beat off of penetration a couple too many times. Again, great effort, let's get cagey out there though and use that Stanford brain. Offensively, Mitch was outstanding against mediocre pressure at best. He didn't need to produce points, he needed to get the ball to his shooters and the Dinosaur. Mission accomplished. 10 assists to two turnovers, 11 rebounds in the two games. Mitch is scaring me with his rebounding a little bit. More to the point, Mitch was really doing a solid job of making the over the top pass on the fastbreak or making a solid up the court sideline pass and letting Fred or Anthony attack. All of those passes were completed in these two games, none were even close to questionable. Solid, workmanlike stewardship, which we needed to get back to after Siena.
Anthony Goods: Let's get down to it, offensively against Yale, he flat out stunk. Defensively, nice effort really, but same thing as with Mitch, for crying out loud they are going right every time, no matter what. They can't go left, if they could, they would play for Princeton. I remember way back in the day when my teammate Andy Fischer pulled Todd Lichti aside during a Pac-10 game early in the conference season, Todd's freshman year, and Andy yells at Todd something like, "You have to take a lot more shots, it doesn't matter who is guarding you, you have to shoot! You are the only guy that gets us 20! You don't get to be unselfish!" Some guys aren't out there for their good looks, and shooting guards are called that for a reason. 0-4 against Yale is O.K., after 15 minutes. Lock and load, son! Anthony had an athletic and skill advantage on anyone in front of him in the Yale game and was frequently facing a mediocre zone. He should have had 20 points. At least put your head down, drive the middle of the key and elevate and see what happens while you are up there in the air. If he gets 10+ against Yale, he is reason we slip away and pound them by 20, instead of Yale hanging around. And so Anthony moves to the Rams and a return to the lock and load principle. 6-13 from the floor, three assists, 15 points and some very good defense. Anthony's defense is much improved, but big yippy, he plays shooting guard. His stroke was a lot more confident in this game and when he is shooting effectively, the game gets easier for his interior players. Its sort of one of those weird yoga, yin and yang, beer and peanuts things. Once again, his defense was outstanding!
The combination of Kenny Brown and Drew Shiller shot 4-6 from three in these two games. That is exactly what we want out of them. Shiller needs to continue to improve his ballhandling, which I thought was our lone dull spot against the Rams. And he gave up a few shots against Yale that I thought were just too easy. But, you come in and go 1-1 from behind the arc and I am going to be happy with you. But for the awesome display of offensive variety from Robin Lopez against the Rams, Kenny Brown had the play of the game when he hustled down sideline in front of the scoreboard and drilled a Ram, keeping a loose ball alive and somehow tipping it or Zidaning it to Landry for an easy dunk. Seriously great hustle, great heads up reaction.
Sort of a Guard Thought: Fred and Landry had excellent efforts in these two games. Excellent defense, great physical play, particularly Fred, and they combined to average around 13 points a game on 60% shooting. The change of pace from Fred to Landry was very effective and I think it gets Landry a couple of wide open shots a game as defenses do not instantly adjust to the change in personnel.
At the end of the first half against the Rams, we come down and have deliberate Drew Shiller dribble down to about 10 seconds and then attack Willis Gardner one-on-one, which resulted in a charge or travel or some sort of unproductive barfola. There is absolutely no excuse for this type of strategic stupidity. No one is buying that Shiller is an effective draw & kick player or likely to get off an effective shot against a far better athlete like Gardner. We had Anthony Goods on the floor at that time. If the coaches aren't going to get it right, Anthony has to have the huevos rancheros, as he did against UCSB several times late in shot clock situations, to go get the ball and switch roles with Drew. Lars and I agreed completely on this, and at least this time Lars was absolutely right. No matter what the score, this type of situation needs to be executed properly. And Anthony needs to get comfortable assuming the designated gunner role in these situations.
Final Thoughts: A poor defensive effort against a solid Yale team, followed by a suffocating defensive effort against the Rams. Nice adjustments by our players from one game to the next to improve in that aspect. Very good bench shooting in both games, something we almost didn't see at all last year. John Platz with the outstanding "interim break" post-game comment on Saturday followed up by the use of the word "efficacious." Mike Montgomery taking Robin Lopez to school with every question post-game after Yale was also touching. And if Robin only had three blocks against the Rams, then why were the other three not counted? Come on scorekeeper, he's only going to break his own record anyway. Robbery! Can't wait to get a quality big guy analysis on this Board to tell us that Robin looked scary good the last couple games. [Editor: It's coming, it's coming!]
About the Author: "Roscoemaynard" was a shooting guard at Stanford from 1984-1989. A member of the 1988-89 Cardinal team that finished 26-7 (15-3) and made the NCAA tournament for the first time in 47 years, gaining a No. 3 seed. "Roscoe" was named Most Improved Player on that outstanding '89 team, which finished the year ranked #13 in the final AP poll. He still holds the single-season three-point shooting percentage mark at a ridiculous .583 (1988-89). During his excellent hoops career on the Farm, he dropped 188 dimes and shot .483 from the floor (slightly higher than Casey Jacobsen's .470) and .750 from the stripe (slightly below Marcus Lollie's .759) More importantly, he was primarily responsible for a short-lived surge in the popularity of the pioneering punk band Social Distortion on the Stanford campus in the mid-1980s. He is now, go figure, a lawyer.
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