Daniel's Fast Breaks™ - Sacramento State

The Bootleg's Daniel Novinson, campus radio station KZSU 90.1's men's basketball play-by-play announcer, worked Tuesday night's predictably comfortable victory over the Hornets of Sacramento State University. Daniel offers his thoughts and provides a few postgame quotes from coach Trent Johnson and senior forward Taj Finger.

Daniel's Fast Breaks™  - Sacramento State

Rounding It Out: 

Okay, some of us have critiqued certain players' weaknesses quite a bit on this website and its message boards over the past few seasons, and rightfully so. But several shored up their weak spots against Sacramento State on Tuesday night. How about Anthony Goods' defense, his biggest liability last year? He looked good against Colorado State's Walker, one of their most dangerous scorers, and he shut down 18 point-per-game guard Loren Leath on Tuesday, especially when the game mattered most (Leath: 14 total, but only four first-half points on one of seven shooting). How about our offensively limited man from Mt. Kisco, Taj Finger ? A six-inch, 50-pound edge doesn't hurt, but he was ruthlessly efficient down low, scoring nine points in 10 first half minutes, and finishing with 11.

Stealing Signs: 

I'm sure other folks notice our assistant coaches holding up signs to denote our plays. And I'm sure other folks are noticing that, what sign denotes what play/assignment doesn't change from game to game. I know virtually every school calls the same plays game after game and that they all have to have a way to relay the play to the players, but I haven't seen any other schools use a laminated stack of signs as the preferred method. Commentary from former players/cognoscenti is appreciated, but I'd be worried about getting Bill Belichik-ed. Then again, there's no need for any stealthy photography operation: the "1-3-1" in size 72 font isn't going to catch anyone by surprise.

A Passing Fancy: 

Mitch Johnson, as expected, did a phenomenal job passing the ball, especially in the first half when the game was close. Fred Washington, meanwhile, was on the opposite side of the spectrum, hitting a teammate in the shins and a Hornet in the breadbasket off an in-bounds pass on separate plays. Several turnovers also came against the full-court press, but not when you would expect. Our superior athletes beat the press pretty easily, but then would rush in the resultant 5-on-4 or 5-on-3 situation and force up a hot potato. It's great to try to take advantage after breaking a press and make an opponent pay, but no need, pun intended, to press.

No more wholesale substitution: 

Thanksgiving came a week too early! Trent Johnson, thank you very much for substituting one or two at a time instead of five. I thought it was the tryptophan at first - couldn't believe my eyes.

A Yawner, Let's Not Lie: 

By my money (and Vegas' too, judging by the 30-point spread, widest of the season), this is easily the worst team we've played all season, and probably will play. (Although I reserve judgment until I see Oregon State.) The stadium was half-full, it was a Tuesday night, the margin was never close enough to be interesting and never wide enough to be laughably ridiculous, and it wasn't even as if a player or two had a breakout game. Instead, everyone just kind of did what they were supposed to do. I'm sure Trent Johnson will sleep as well as  he has since Brook snoozed through "Sleep and Dreams", but at least his sleep came after the game. Any dozers in the crowd missed only an emphatic block or two from Fred and Robin.

Overheard in Sixth Man: 

"Hey Loren [Leath], don't tip your barber. He messed up your hair line." 

Double Trouble: 

Robin Lopez, you have, count 'em, two hands. Use them both when you rebound. One sequence in the early second really irked. He tipped a Hornet free throw miss with one hand (to be fair, maybe just a reaction time issue, but I didn't see him reach with two hands), Sacramento State recovers and misses another shot, which Robin again gifts to the visitors by attempting to pull down with one hand.

Boilerplate post-game, I suppose, but worth mentioning: 

Trent Johnson: "[Sarcastic, in response to a question about where Brook will play when he returns] Brook's going to play the five, he's going to play the four, he's going to play the three, he's going to play the two, he's going to play the one. I'm not worrying about the rotation when Brook comes back. He's going to have to play his way back into the rotation and he's fully aware of that. I'm more worried about Colorado than two or three weeks from now." Guess the best news is the implicit "two or three weeks" which means that as far as Trent knows, Brook Lopez has improved his grades enough and will indeed be back for winter quarter.

Johnson: "I thought Sacramento State was a lot better than shown on tape. We put these guys in different combinations, trying to get the first seven or eight guys in different situations. From here moving forward, our honeymoon so to speak is over. This is a veteran team and we knew what to expect. They know how to win and for us to be 7-1 with one hiccup so to speak is impressive considering we've played seven or eight guys. We're taking better shots. That's what you'd expect out of this group." 

Taj Finger: "I think everyone knows that we need to clean some things up. Some guys got out of rhythm because we played some different groups.

Chance to look really stupid: To-date, I'm 8-0 straight-up, 5-3 against the spread to date, after calling 82-55 on this one, as our Cardinal bloggers can confirm. I like Stanford 76, Colorado 65 in Boulder. They're better than advertised, we've been anything but on the road, and seeing as we won ugly ones against Northwestern and Yale by 11, why mess with a streak? Wish I could stay an evening in Boulder. Never been there before and its reputation as a party school is second-to-none nationally. Speaking of which, think I could convince some CU girls I'm a football recruit?

When he's not rescuing women off of tall buildings, Daniel Novinson writes men's basketball for the Stanford Daily (www.stanforddaily.com) and broadcasts it on KZSU (90.1 FM, kzsu.stanford.edu) with the incomparable Ben Spielberg.

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