Expert Analysis: Could've Been Worse 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 a decent effort from the Cardinal guards as the team lost swept by USC and UCLA this past weekend in Los Angeles.

Right about now it is time for some great humor. Does anyone know where the great Wizard Tim is? Perhaps the Black Knight? It may be easy to say this past weekend in L.A. is only a flesh wound, but after the oil barrel full of whoop ass landed on us Saturday afternoon in Westwood, I am inclined to say we are going to need a farcical aquatic ceremony to right this ship? At least in Westwood, you are a within a five minute walk of a lot of good places to get a beer.

And for those of you not feeling enough pain, try having a younger brother that emails and texts and calls all at the same time right in the middle of a 425-2 second half run by the Bruins. Reminds me of the good old days when Lavin was coaching and a team full of lottery picks were getting blasted by us by 40 and my brother wouldn't take any calls. Only this is worse, because we were "that close" against the Toejams on Thursday. Switching gears quickly, the question of the weekend isn't "What the hell was that on Saturday?", but rather, "How far down the can does the ball have to go before its coming back out of the can qualifies as defying the laws of physics or the evil act of Valdamort?" Oh yeah, guard play.

In a nutshell, pretty solid effort by our guards against USC, except for a few unfortunate turnovers. But, USC's guards had a couple of those as well, including what I thought was an inexplicable turnover by Hackett with 42 seconds left to put live back in our sails. I thought that our defensive effort on USC's guards was very solid. It just didn't result in much. Credit USC's guards for that, but also credit Gibson and DeRozan, and particularly Washington and Marcus Johnson, for really valuing the rock. USC also controlled tempo very well, never letting our pressure really force up the tempo, and then they ran when they generated the opportunities off of their defense. We just didn't generate those opportunities and we needed them. Easy to say that when you lose by one, easy not to say that and pile on accolades if Hill's fade away falls and ices 'em.

UCLA game overall comment: If Holiday and Collison are going to play defense at that level, I am not sure who is going to beat them in conference the rest of the way. Maybe UW has a shot. That on-ball defense by Collison in particular in the second half was what had him in discussions as a lottery pick the last couple of years. That type of on-ball defense, where he just relentlessly physically dominates lesser athletes, is what makes him special. He turned up the volume to 11 this weekend against us and the weenies and if that effort stays for 20-30 minutes a game for the rest of the season, good night, because this conference simply doesn't have point guards that are equipped to handle it.

Again, this one hurts a lot because our guards played very solid games, shooting the ball effectively and particularly with Goods overcoming a thorough blanketing in the second half to get to the line and create opportunities off penetration for himself and others. Can Anthony do a better job of maintaining vision when he drives? Sure, but in saying that you can't discount the plays that he did make for teammates. But, that was a great defensive effort against him by bigger and more athletic guys, including shot blockers, and he managed to be productive when we had to have it. Likewise, I liked Anthony's effort in the UCLA game. He and Fields were really playing hard, fighting on the glass. We just couldn't get Anthony the ball on offense. He had two first half shots and two free throws, and those were seriously about all the opportunities he had. Holiday may be not be showing "one-and-done" type talent, but he does remind me of Mayo in that, for a freshman, he is a very good defensive player when he takes the challenge. Both USC and UCLA decided to go all out to shut down Goods on his final trip home, and certainly Goods got his job done under very tough conditions.

Mitch was solid against USC, great in the first half. However, he didn't look 100% to me in terms of his change of pace, change of direction. And he has little margin physically with which to work. Against the two best defensive point guards in the Pac-10, and two of the best in the country, Mitch was caught going between his legs in too close a quarters a couple times too many this weekend. I thought maybe Coach Dawkins could have let someone else bring it up a bit, but bottom line was that Mitch was solid against USC, but eaten alive by Collison. Where is the Fred Washington trick when we need it?

Jarrett Mann got more minutes this road trip. Interesting. As things roll along here, defense off the bench is starting to become more important to the coaches. Given our woeful defensive statistics, I am not going to argue much about this. Against UCLA Mann showed some fearlessness attacking the rim, but he has to make free throws (2-6 is Coyote Ugly). But, I don't think those free throws were critical to the outcome. Do you? It would just be nice to see Jarrett able to say "I got 10 at UCLA" for his confidence level. Conversely, Jarrett finally got see what NBA players look like on the road under the banners. That is great experience for a freshman, and his confidence should be boosted by that.

A couple of final thoughts: It's hard not to get hysterical about that road sweep and being 3-6 in conference by a gnat's whatever, but don't. A blow out will happen. Its ugly, but we have had better teams than this one get blasted. Our guys have to get re-loaded, watch film of our next opponent and get ready to win two winnable games. Something I really looked at carefully at the end of the UCLA game was talent level off the bench, trying to get a gauge on the talent of Green and Mann in particular against their UCLA counterparts. While Mann isn't a pure point like Jerime Anderson, our guys stacked up nicely physically. In fact, I may like Green more than Lee. But, Gordon and Morgan, well, never mind. Here is what I want to see, Paul and Owens and every other big guy watching film of Aboya, Dragovic, Keefe, and even Gordon on how to hedge an on-ball screen. Maybe this is banging a dead horse, but man can UCLA coach that skill. I remember talking with Coach Johnson about the Lopez brothers and Taj's propensity to hedge those types of screens too aggressively to where they would be out of position almost to half-court hedging their butts off. Coach Johnson said that was a problem, but he didn't want them to lose that aggressiveness. Well, it appears Coach Dawkins has entirely the opposite problem. Thankfully, we have Wazzou coming in and they won't run more than 50 high post on-ball screens for Jack Benny Thursday night.

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