O.K. boys and girls, this is going to be pretty down and dirty, mostly because it's the day after the day after Christmas and all through the office--well, I'm in the office so that's why? That and in terms of guard play, there isn't a whole lot to talk about. So, in the spirit of too many spirits-which is what Christmas is all about for a guy more inclined to listen to Agnostic Front than Bing Crosby--and by the way, what is it with the lyrics to Christmas songs anyway? Insipid or just plain horrible? Are there no standards whatsoever? Who decides what is a "classic" - really old dudes beset with dementia and that other thing they get? Yeesh! If it was written before Beethoven, can we all agree to just round file it now and stop doing endless remakes of it? I mean I think I heard a Glen Campbell remake of The Twelve Days of Christmas? Speaking of which, is "Angstrom" related to Glen Campbell? Not a Christmas thought, but it puts an end to this little rant, thank goodness.
So lets talk about Mitch Johnson against these two fairly mediocre point guards he faced against Santa Clara and Texas Tech. Brody Angley--he sucks. The freshman dude for Tech--does not suck and let's get them off the schedule before he figures out how to shred a zone - because he can shred a man-to-man. Last season Mitch was lit up by Brody Angley, this time while the game was contested, Mitch held his own. In fact, I thought he was the better point guard. But, I think that is damning with faint praise. Mitch was effective, got us into offense and only got in trouble when he tried to force tempo a couple of times. Against Tech, all of us had trouble in the man-to-man against Tech's intuitive, free-form, screen-and-screen-away and screen-for-the-shooter-until-someone-falls-to-the-ground-exhausted offense. Mitch was no worse than anyone else in this debacle of a first half of man-to-man defense. What I like about this Tech team versus last year is that the ball isn't dominated by one guy, which makes their motion more effective, their ball movement better and consequently they were getting better looks and more room to put the ball on the deck and attack the seams. Mitch overall, 11 assists is great in two games, seven turnovers is not. And I thought he passed up a couple of looks against Tech, particularly in the first half, that he needs to take--particularly when our best offense is getting the ball on the rim.
Anthony Goods, I thought he saved our bacon against Tech late in the first half. He had a tough couple of ball games shooting the rock and still came away with 21 points. He got a lot of good looks, just never found a rhythm. It will come. He seemed almost "bored" against Santa Clara. And his defense in both games was very good. In fact, against Tech I thought he was only starter that looked to have a clue in the first half. O.K., Taj did too. Another thing, one thing about Tech - they are very good defending the three-point line and they clearly didn't want to give Anthony or Law any good looks out there. Anthony had a few more opportunities to pump fake and look to the deck than he took. He needs to concentrate on that aspect of his game, because with the twin dinosaurs in on the block there will be some room to get to 8-10 feet for floaters that, if the don't go down, will give us good offensive rebound opportunities.I saw a significant improvement from Anthony Goods on his entry passing in the second half. On several occasions he pump faked, drew his defender closer to him, one dribbled in a direction, pass faked on direction and came back the other way after moving his defender with a bounce entry pass to Brook's strong hand. But for the mustache, I thought it was Matt Lottich out there doing a little clinic on entry passing. Kenny Brown played well against Tech and played like a grizzled veteran against Santa Clara. Against Santa Clara I saw an older, wiser Kenny. He passed up shots to get other guys looks, perhaps realizing that it was out of reach and his shots were therefore meaningless. As someone who reached that point in my own middling career, it becomes not about ringing the bell, but getting other guys to grow as players. Against Tech, Kenny got us a bucket in the first half when we needed it and Tech had him scouted so he wasn't getting three-point looks. His defense in the first half was good, but he was a pinball caught in the bumpers. I thought he rattled Voskuil a bit, and clearly relished the pushing and shoving. Great attitude! Mrs. Roscoe called that "Fredding-up".
Landry needs to pay attention to what is going in the game. He seemed discombobulated against Tech. That first-half officiating was the drizzling goat knuckleheads. We lose that game by 10, even with Brook going off, if Taj Finger and Fred Washington don't bring outstanding intensity on the glass and defense--in particular I thought their efforts in the first eight minutes of the second half were superb. I had Robin with three blocks in the second half alone, four for the game. The official box score had him with one block. Why bother with a statistician at the game at all? Why not a couple of dyslexic marmots or a foul-tempered rabbit with big nasty teeth instead.
Finally, Mitch Burley of Santa Clara split my eyebrow open in 1987, left a nice bit of character on my face and the concussion was disconcerting. Consequently, I dislike Santa Clara a lot, but it is that type of dislike that comes with some disinterest to it. More like the annoying kid two houses down that you have to play with occasionally, but never talk to at school. Its good to put Santa Clara back where they belong.
With one game left until the Bruins, time to actually tighten the drawstrings on our shorts, lace the shoes a bit more tightly and identify the lucky socks. Our guards need to increase their offensive focus, get back to getting their butts down, their dribbles lower and eliminate the casualness that I think I saw the last several games. I expect we will see that improve now that Fred is back. Watch for some two-guard offense with Fred and Anthony at the guards against Fresno State. Fresno State's point guard is solid and quick, he will get after us. The rest of the Bulldogs are more like Bichon Frisés this year. With conference play right around the corner--I want 15 from Law in this next one and four guys overall in double figures. Based on a two-game sampling, the best player in the Pac-10 may be Brook Lopez.
Merry New Year.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!