"I like my wins like I like my women: pretty. But I'll take an ugly one or two."
(Silence.) Thank you.
I think an ugly one this afternoon would be great, because it means we'd slow down one of the most proficient offenses in the league. The Ducks are a matchup problem for us especially, because they'll do exactly what they did last year - pull out Marty Leunen to the perimeter. That forces a slower Lopez twin to leave the paint, largely negating his rebounding and blocking presence, and turns his size into a liability, as he has to try to stay in front of the smaller, faster Leunen without giving him an open look - he shoots 40 percent deep. We couldn't do it at Mac Court this time last year, as the Ducks found driving against us that much easier with a twin out of the paint and rode that advantage (and a huge foul discrepancy) to a 66-59 win. On the other end of the court, we have to make the Ducks pay for going small - pound the ball down low time and again and get offensive rebounds in batches. Oregon's bigs are their weakness, so if we can force them to substitute their bangers in there to compensate on D, we're likely leaving the Evergreen State with a road sweep.
1:41pm: Stanford leads 10-8 as CBS chooses to bring us into the game four minutes in after the Chargers' win. At least we have Bill Raftery, my favorite announcer ever. I think the guy watched too many of those cartoons where kids have Tourettes and start spewing out random words - I swear to God I've heard him scream out "onions" multiple times.
1:44pm: My mother works for GM and those "this is our country" commercials still annoy me to death.
1:47pm: After a Leunen tech and Goods conversion, it's now 11-8 Stanford. Oregon keeps Leunen up high and Stanford (Hill, then Goods) keeps forcing passes into Oregon defenders in the paint for turnovers.
1:52pm: Leunen gets Brook to bite on an up-fake and has an easy layup to put the Ducks up 13-11. Raftery: "Gotta get the puppies in a row."
1:54pm: Kenny Brown hits a fadeaway NBA-three, but gives up an "and-one" at the other end, after trying too hard for a steal in the backcourt. Stanford 16-15 eight minutes in.
Notables: 1. Oregon looks to be playing a 2-3 and it's giving us fits. We really can't penetrate against it, so thank goodness Brown is hitting. 2. Brown's in really early. My guess it's a function of Johnson's decision to go small, and Brown is higher on Johnson's "nice" list than Fields.
1:58pm: Mitch with another turnover on an entry pass to no one, and Malik Hairston flushes down a dunk on the ensuing fast break, as Anthony Goods decides not to contest. Goods looked tentative there, why would you not contest a wide-open dunk?
2:04pm: After missing two free throws, Fred picks up foul number two and heads to the bench for Landry. And Oregon's already in the one-and-one. Things could get really ugly in the remaining 8:30 in this half with the Ducks in the bonus and at a huge speed edge at every position - and the one Stanford guy who could keep up is on the bench.
2:08pm: Yup, Oregon's on a 14-4 run and we keep settling for fadeaway threes. We miss one from the corner and Malik Hairston - think he's a little faster than Finger? - draws a foul on Mr. Mt. Kisco.
2:11pm: We catch a little run here - two straight Oregon turnovers at one end and three straight Brook Lopez buckets down low. Stanford's cut the lead to four before Oregon counters with a three. Now the Lopez twins are starting to take over. All right.
2:14pm: Yup, Brook's 6-of-7, singlehandedly saving our bacon right now, as we go through an impressive little spurt with both teams hitting every jumper. For Stanford, it's Hill on a catch-and-shoot fadeaway in the high elbow, Robin Lopez wide open from just inside the three-point line. Guess my concerns in Thursday's piece about our offense were unfounded - it's 37-34 Ducks with three minutes left in the first.
2:16pm: Commercial watch: Tracy Morgan for Digornio's! Yes! We're playing insanely well, except for the whole inability to penetrate thing. We're 16-of-27 overall. Take away the 1-of-8 deep and that makes us 15-of-19 from two-point land. That's Tom Brady-like. We've scored on six possessions in a row, cutting the lead to 37-36 before Hill forces a contested fadeaway from the corner and Platt hits a pair of free throws for the Ducks.
2:21pm: Brook hits again - this time a 10-foot hook from the low block - and it's now 41-38 Oregon. Brook is 8-of-9 for 18 points. Make that 20 after he hits a pair from the line. This is far-and-away his best half ever in a Stanford uniform. Oregon's too small to defend him, and Lopez is finally dominating a game like we wished he would last year.
2:25pm: 41-40 Oregon at the half. If you're Oregon, double Brook. If you were doubling Brook, triple him, because I wouldn't worry about anyone else in a Stanford uniform shooting straight right now - but more on that in a minute. I think the Ducks have to switch out of their zone. It gives Brook too much room to operate down low. Oh, and on offense, go at Brook. Get him in foul trouble (which he has been known to do) and we're sunk. If you're Stanford, keep pounding it to Brook and go small otherwise - maybe Mitch, Fred, Anthony and Taj for most of the second. Let's face it, Brook is our only reliable offense right now, so everyone else out there should be in for their ability to stay in front of their guy on defense. Porter is Oregon's leading scorer with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, most of those coming off drives. Leunen also has nine, many of those when a twin is too late closing out on his jumper. We better figure out the D (after the most points we've allowed in a half this season), but there is no way we can afford to lose a game where our best player goes 8-of-9 for 20 points - by halftime. How are we trailing in light of Brook's performance? Well, Stanford players not named Brook Lopez are 1-of-8 from the line. (Fred: 0-4, Kenny: 0-2, Anthony: 1-2.) We're 1-of-8 deep, which is not bad luck, but about we should be shooting given that those were fadeaways we settled for after being unable to penetrate. The worst offender is Anthony, who's 0-of-5 overall and 0-of-4 deep for one point. Other than him, we're 17-of-24. I guess our hope is Oregon's defense comes out of zone to react to Brook, and that opens things up for the other guys.
2:40pm: We start the second half with the five guys I called for - good job Trent, and Mitch is too slow defending a drive, so it's Oregon 43-40 two minutes in. Mitch redeems himself with a floater in the lane, and it's 43-42 Ducks now.
2:44pm: Hill and Goods both miss shots badly, and Hill, I think, was way out of position on D, though. Games to forget for those two right now. Oregon's fronting the post, which is keeping us from finding Brook. But the new man defense is allowing us to spring more guys open off screens and Anthony converts on a huge three to give us our first lead since 18-16. It's still Oregon by one. 48-47, heading into the first media break. Goods is now 1-of-9, eek.
2:51pm: Goods rushes - and misses - another catch-and-shoot off-balance three. Stop shooting those Anthony! Leunen with another layup down low to keep Oregon ahead 50-49 - his quickness is giving us all sorts of problems down low.
2:54pm: The women in the audience at Roble lounge like Trent's pink tie with purple stripes. Trent likes that Finger, in to give Brook a breather, hits two free throws to put us up 51-50. Two more free throws and now it's 53-50. I'd love some feedback on this from the peanut gallery, but I think the rest of the offense mentally takes off when Brook's in, and so the other guys are doing a much better job without him on the court today. 6-0 run for us sans Brook, and we lead 53-50 with 12 minutes left. Mitch, it bears mentioning, had an absolutely beautiful sequence where he picked up a loose ball and fired a no-look pass to Taj in the deep paint that sent Finger to the line.
3:02pm: No Stanford turnovers for the last 20 minutes, CBS says. Brook's back in and is fouled on a dunk that he misses. He hits both free throws - he's now 6-of-6 there - and we lead 55-52 with 11 minutes left. On defense, we show a 2-3 zone, which I'm about to type might be a good idea to slow down the penetration, until Hairston hits an open three from the left corner to tie it at 55. Brook and Mitch with blocks on consecutive possessions.
3:06pm: Brook sits after he doth protest foul number three too much, and on offense we're back to throwing up Hail Marys. Goods misses a good look, Johnson misses a bad look from the corner and Hairston, after hitting another three to put the Quackers ahead 58-55, gets whistled on a real ticky-tack foul on the offensive rebound. That's a huge break for us, because it's his fourth and he's the Ducks' hot hand. I hope Brook comes back after this break, because we're not going to keep getting bailed out on phantom whistles. We're now 2-of-17 deep and 1-of-8 on this half. On the game, Anthony's 1-of-8, with no one else putting up more than three.
3:12pm: Landry draws a bump on Kamyron Brown, the fourth foul on Oregon's point guard, but misses the front end of the one-and-one to keep the margin 60-57 Oregon. We need to retake the lead here with Hairston on the bench. Brown helps us by missing a wide-open three at the other end. Taj splits a pair from the line, and our players-not-named-Brook are now 6-of-14 from the line.
3:16pm: Brook hits a three-foot scoop from the baseline - nice footwork not to step out - and we're knotted at 60.
3:17pm: I think it's written into Raftery's contract that every five minutes of game time, he needs to drop his voice an octave for no more than four words. If he were a bigger name, I'd love the SNL skit where he uses that voice as he goes through his daily life.
3:19pm: Oregon goes small and Porter hits a driving bucket to put the Ducks up 62-60. Fred misses two free throws - he's 0-of-6 today - and it's 62-60 at the under-four timeout. If we lose this one, we have no one to blame but ourselves. I hope we come out more aggressive on offense and try to go at Hairston and Brown, both of whom have four fouls.
3:25pm: Robin Lopez with a beautiful baseline spin move and finger roll to tie the game at 62. The freshman Brown, the top point guard recruit in his class, is too quick at the other end, and splits a pair after Goods sends him to the line.
3:28pm: Robin Lopez with a muscular rebound over two Ducks, and then Brown reaches in trying for the board and fouls out. Robin, who is stepping up while Brook has quieted, splits the pair, but it's Law Hill with the O-board. Our size is coming in handy when it matters most.
3:29pm: Brook misses from five feet out, and Porter breaks Mitch's ankles on the other end for a driving layup. 65-63 with under two to go. We lob to Robin, but Porter (who else?) is there for the takeaway with 90 seconds left.
3:32pm: Oregon just runs clock on their next possession (too conservative for my taste) and Porter misses after a desperation drive. Brook can't get the ball down low, so he comes up high and eventually has the ball in the corner with a man in his face and 10 on the shot clock. He puts it up awkwardly and airballs, and Johnson quickly fouls Porter.
3:36pm: After a timeout, Porter hits both his freebies - the front end of the one-and-one just trickling in. Mitch dribbles quickly upcourt and tries to hand off to Hill. He ends up nutmegging his forward, between his legs out-of-bounds, and any shot at victory just moved into the miraculous category.
3:38pm: We tip their first in-bound out, but Anthony's too lax defending Bryce Taylor, so he catches the in-bounds and hits both his free throws.
3:39pm: Anthony Goods hits the meaningless last-second three and the final is 71-66. Both teams adjusted well in the second half - our defense allowed them only 25 points in the second period before desperation foul time and they fronted Brook Lopez incredibly effectively. He finishes just 10-of-16 after a 9-of-10 start, and scores only six in the second half. Goods was a brutal 2-of-13, including 2-of-9 deep, Washington's 0-of-6 from the line and Oregon's quickness off the dribble were too much even for a career half from Brook Lopez (8-of-9 for 20 points in the first half, 26 points total) to overcome. Hopefully this Thursday will bring us better luck against Zona. Go Stanford!
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