Expert Analysis: State of WA Sucks Edition

The Bootleg's "Expert Analyst - Guards," former lights-out shooting guard "roscoemaynard" (1984-89) offers up to the Stanford Hoops faithful his review and comments on an agonizing road sweep at the hands of the Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars at this past weekend. Also see some of his thoughts on the Cardinal's upcoming game with Cal.

I'd love to have a clever title for this edition, but this trip just hurts too much, doesn't it? There is a fine line between clever and stupid, between making it across the road and the purgatory of getting hit by 200 cars, between winning and losing, between being 3-1 and being 1-3. It seems trite to say it, but I have to, close games are typically won by the home team for a reason. And it isn't questionable calls, like when Bryan-Amaning (what the hell are his initials doing in the side of dome? That is so British.) charges with seven seconds left and the officials ignore it. It is because the home teams seem to me to always execute with a bit more confidence than the road team. Not that we didn't play with confidence down the stretch of either game, we did for the most part. Just perhaps not confidently enough.

Hey, let's talk a bit about guard play. If anyone would like to question whether Mitch Johnson is actually a better player in an open court game versus a half court game, the answer to the question is an open court game. I thought Mitch played pretty well against UW. He shot the ball confidently, he was aggressive pushing the ball, and he played with foul trouble. Several of his turnovers against UW were not his fault, they were the fault of the post guys coming up high to get an entry pass and failing to properly seal their defender. Learning experiences for everyone and our bigs made the adjustment, but not after a couple of senseless turnovers. I really like the attacking intensity of the UW guards, and it was that relentlessness that got Mitch into foul trouble and our back up guards are not nearly Mitch's equal in an open court game. But let's not get all gloomy on UW's renewed defensive intensity. It was really mediocre perimeter defense-in a game with 129 shots, they forced 12 turnovers, with just four steals and gave up almost 50% shooting and 44% three-point shooting. That is pretty mediocre.

Against Wazzou, I thought Mitch got outplayed by Rochestie. But Mitch got us into offense, got his turnovers down and had five assists. The shots were not there in the half court for him, but I thought it was a case of his not being aggressive enough looking for the shots. He isn't a high volume shooter, but 0-3 is not enough volume. It may be easy to sit and say that Rochestie always goes left and that you have to take that away. But a lot of what Wazzou runs is high screen and roll for Rochestie, with Rochestie being very well trained in how to set up the screen and use it, and with most of those screens set by Baynes. Aron Baynes is about as good a screener as I have seen in this league-ever. He is right there with Reveno, Sam Clancy, and Kevin Love on the technique and ability to physically punish. He pummeled Mitch in the second half. But our big guys were, for the most part, poor on the hedges of those screens. One exception was a high screen-and-roll late in the game, last two minutes, where Rochestie was aggressively doubled by Mitch, and I believe Fields, and forced to pass, and Lodwick ended up taking a bad three pointer too early in their shot clock. Maybe this is what we should have done on the last play of the game, aggressively double Rochestie with Mitch and Owens, instead of Owens doing a marginal job on the hedge of the screen which allowed Rochestie to turn the corner and hit what was, frankly, a very tough shot that ultimately won the game. Again, the Wazzou late clock high screen-and-roll, which is as NBA as it gets, has been killing guys in our conference for years: Lowe and Weaver were brilliant, remember.

I didn't think we got great production from Drew or Mann in either game. Stepping up on the road is hard to do and that is what is next for Drew. Not just playing hard, but being productive: playing with the requisite confidence on both ends. Find a way to make one shot, make one steal, dig out one loose ball.

Anthony Goods, and I hope you are sitting down on this one, played better against Wazzou than he did against UW. 6-18 at UW for 19 points in a game where we get 83 is nice. But he missed some shots in that game that were easy shots. Gotta stroke those as he easily could have had high 20's in that game. I thought it was a game where he should have carried us to the win. Should have. It was "Be The Man" time. Against Wazzou, they locked him up in typical Wazzou fashion, with disciplined, attentive low possession defense. Sure Weaver is gone, but CoupleofPizzas and Thompson were longer, bigger guys than Goods and there was plenty of help and awareness. I liked that he was aggressive going to the basket, getting nine free throws. He had to! I also thought his defense was very good, but he just missed on a couple of steals that could have made a big difference. And I loved that late in the game he looked to take his guy off the dribble and get to the rim. He did it successfully, and then with six seconds left he just got blocked on a great play by two young defenders in Casto and Thompson (those guys will be hell to play soon enough). But he was going hard, it just didn't work out. It's easy to say you have to get that up on the glass somehow for the weakside rebounder, or find a dump off pass to the same guy, but I thought it was a great play by the defenders to close late and get there by Casto. So close guys.

Final Thoughts: Its too easy to start getting desperate this early in the conference season. We played well in Washington, our guards could have been better, but there is a lot of work to be done on the glass by our bigs as well. We need better production out of Owens and Paul…period! And Landry is as good as Klay Thompson, and needed to exact more pain from Thompson in Pullman. We showed we can compete on the road, which makes us better than UA and the Oregons, but now we have to get wins, not just compete. Next in are the weenies, with their new weenie ring leader. Patrick Christopher is right behind Brockman and Harden for conference player of the year at this point, and the weenies are 4-0. They are good. They are beatable, but they have won the close games so far by simply not making mistakes, which is Mike Montgomery basketball. I am not going to go into why they are winning, because that will make me chuck biscuits like I did at the surprise 8:30 a.m. sprint conditioning test Coach Montgomery dropped on us in late October 1987 instead of the standard three-mile run (how many 3/4 court sprints can you do in 30 seconds, with two minutes rest, and do it again). Oh my god was that sadistic. It was like he knew that half the team (okay two of us) had closed the Stanford Pub that morning and rolled back to the Theta Delt house for additional libation, planning on being able to jog three miles in 24 minutes in a stupor. Nothing better that rolling to the garbage can in front of your teammates while your hamstrings cramp up (but only after successfully completing the challenge). Its those little things that I see Coach Dawkins doing a good job of, too. If we had been blasted out of Washington, I'd be really concerned. But we competed like badgers, we fought hard. Now we have to find the guys to do what the Lopezes did last year, make the game winning shots. No better time for such a natural growth progression than against our beeyatches from Berzerkeley this weekend.

Final Final Thought: You all can do what you all want to do with Coach Montgomery on Saturday. Too much has been said on the subject already. We need a win.

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 award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!

The Bootleg Top Stories