As Brian Johnson so eloquently put it back in 1980 on AC-DC's Black Album, "It's been too long, I am glad to be back! Out of the sack!" Well, it has been to long since the Cardinal have been sitting in first place in the Pac-10 this late in the conference season. A tip of the cap to Tim Morris for skulling Alfred Aboya and the Bruins. Say what you want about the play, but it showed the Bruins and the Huskies what the attitude of the Huskies needed to be to get that victory: a little more fight out of them was what their coach was looking for and what we were looking for, too. But enough about them, what about us! What about our guards this past weekend while we were out pounding the Ducks so hard they turned into Beavers and the Beavers fought hard like we expected of the Ducks?
Our guard defense in the UO game was stellar. Just little tweaks to what we were doing defensively, forcing guys left, being more physical. Mitch's defense on Tajuan Porter in particular was very good. Obviously, the littlest ducky didn't like being made to always drive left and didn't like the much improved hedges that the Lopezes and Taj put on him on the high screen and roll. Nothing I enjoy more than a guy getting his points, stroking his ego, while down 30. Get your points while the game matters, dude. Let the other guys score when the game is over. That is called leadership.
A quick shout out to Fred Washington, who put a submission hold on Bryce Taylor. If he wasn't in the box score I could have sworn he wasn't even in uniform. Excellent minutes in this game, and in fact all weekend, from Drew Shiller. Much improved defensive effort, thinking more on defense, more staying within himself, and less all out hustle without purpose. Love it, because...
When your point guards combine to go 5-7 from the floor and 3-5 from deep, we are really tough because that means we are getting offensive efficiency from a spot folks don't expect it from. And with Fred going 1-1, and with Goods off the bench getting us seven points, well, what if Goods actually shot 5-9 instead? Yikes!
Ball movement in this game was the best it has been all season long. Regardless of what the Ducks did, we just moved the ball, anticipated the openings, and got ready to shoot. As a whole of guys tightening up on the perimeter and catching the ball as a legitimate triple threat (pass, shoot or drive), which helps ball movement, and helps get big fellas really open. It's easier to move the ball on the perimeter with aplomb when the defenders think you might shoot and the guy in each direction might also shoot.
The Beavs on the other hand, actually played some defense. No whining Bootleggers. The Beavs came out and played like they intended to win, they played desperate. We are the big boys on the block, and the Beavs didn't take theirs floating upside down in the pond like the Quack Attack did. The Beavs busted their tails for 40 minutes, we didn't play real well, and we still got them by 15.
Mitch had too many turnovers in my opinion, but he also had some beautiful passes. Drew Shiller backed him up for the most part capably and Drew found a way to get on the board while only taking one shot. In fact, I thought I saw him hold the ball late in the game to get fouled and go to the line. Taj was open down the court for an easy pass. But Drew took the foul, knowing he was going to slap two into the net. I played with a guy, Terry Taylor, who shot nearly 88% for his career and he would refuse to make the quick easy pass, just so he could go to the line and get a couple. If you nail them, no problemo muchacho.
Inveterate gunner alert! Kenny Brown and the art of the quick draw. 10 minutes, seven shots, two makes. But damn, those were meaningful makes.
I loved Anthony Goods' aggression off the bench again. He came in aggressively looking for his shot, brought great energy on defense, and was looking to attack off the dribble in both games. If the throw down had gone down, damn that would have been sweet. Way to go baseline with authority! For those who don't know, it is very hard in a Pac-10 game to take it from 20 feet out and house call it at 6'3". Not sure he didn't get fouled. Around the league guys are going to pay attention to that attempt. That will get Anthony some respect and maybe a few more open jumpers.
Overall, a very solid weekend of beating up the Oregons. Our rebound margin for the weekend was a ridiculous 37. Fred Washington and Taj Finger just well all value added on the Oregonians. Fred averaged eight rebounds. But really, every loose ball in two games seemed to have a Fred or Taj on it.
Final Thoughts: Kevin Mouton, who sat on the bench for my summer league teams in East Paly back in the day, has got his guys busting their butts and doing things to make their opponents' lives difficult. That is called competing. Good for Kevin. Hope he makes it. He was really good at sitting there in East Paly watching the real players play. Lawrence Hill played beautiful ball this weekend. The Lopezes still need to learn how to come down with an elbow ala Tim Duncan when they go up in traffic and there are bodies underneath them. Another thought, I love that the OSU pressure didn't result in diddly squat for them. I would have liked us to attack the pressure a bit more, but the Beavs were really hustling back. Fred Washington in particular, was very solid up the middle of that pressure.
Final Final Thought: Maybe next time the Beavs will actually screen someone not named Lopez out. Taj and Fred combined for 11 offensive rebounds. Now the Beavs know that those guys can beat you, too. Two seniors playing ball down the stretch run the way the game is supposed to be played. Man that was a thing of beauty for an old battle axe to watch. Now let us take that can of whoopa** on the road to the Zonas! Dare we take brooms, too?
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