The Unfortunage Euphamism 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 commentary on the Cardinal's guards following their home split versus the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans last weekend at Maples Pavilion.

The temptation is to explain the title, but instead we shall move quickly along to how pleasant it is to get a win on Senior Day. Okay, it's particularly meaningful when you see a guy smart enough to figure out how to get two of them. And then go out and display not only his intelligence, but some swinging huevos rancheros, thereby earning a third senior day next year. Kenny Brown, my man, my brother, we have decided to open up the Arrillaga Family Dental School this coming fall and you are our first admit! And we are going to get you a whole bunch of Brazilian Mardi Gras dancers in need of serious dental work to practice on. Lock and load Kenny!

A question popped into my head during the trojan game, "Where the hell was Kenny at the Oregons?" Obviously, I don't have the answer, but the question is a good one isn't it? Anyway, the question got me thinking about our lack of success on the road, and how we lost so many games while being so close. There may be a lot of reasons for it, from the make more shots reason to the make more free throws reason, to the will someone please get a defensive rebound reason, to the will we ever get a meaningful stop reason, to the we need more contribution from the bench reason. That last one is a big one folks. It's not about one guy contributing on the road, it's about every guy off the bench playing like they would play at home. The extra rebound, the dive on the floor, the shooting and passing with confidence, the "in your face" attitude. Two or three or five extra plays a game on the road, the dive on the floor by someone on the road, like we saw Jeremy Green make at a critical juncture in the second half against the trojans on Saturday to force a jump ball (that we got) instead of the trojans sprinting away on a 3-2 fastbreak. A hustle play that keeps the momentum of the game in our favor. Sometimes on the road it is as simple as keeping the home team's fans on their butts for another possession. Those two or three hustle plays are what I think I have been missing on the road and it is isn't just the guys off the bench. Let alone how odd it is that when your butt is flying around the floor, the ball seems to go in more. (See Kenny Brown analysis below.)

Another thought for you: We played better on Thursday night and lost than we played on Saturday and won. That was my impression anyway.

The temptation is to start talking guard play with Kenny Brown, but to be honest, Anthony Goods was the man this long weekend. Against UCLA, he was a rock on both ends. He took good shots, he took tough shots and he defended. Same thing against the Li'l Romeos on Saturday. All weekend he drove hard while being held, hacked, bumped, shoved, and clobbered and somehow he only shot eight free throws. Another good weekend in the Zonas and shouldn't Anthony be All-Conference? He sure looked All-Conference this weekend.

And now, Downtown Kenny Brown. Where you been all season, Kemo Sabe? Is it me or does Kenny just really seem to prefer the last homestand of a season for his big lock and load festivals? While Anthony Goods was our rock this weekend, Kenny was our roll. Ten points against UCLA, perfect from the floor. Against the Li'l Romeos, he was 4-10, but after the first 30 seconds of the game, he was 4-8 and in the second half his relentless hustle and bravado lit the gym on fire. His chasing the ball down in the corner, saving it, popping back in bounds in the deep corner, and launching a backsnapper. Kenny flies from the middle of the key to the coffin corner to save basketball, Kenny flies out of bounds and actually saves basketball, and he hustles back onto the floor and the backsnapper splashes down and the lid lifts off the gym. Coincidence? Absolutely not. Big shots happen after tremendous effort more often than not because the adrenaline is flowing, the confidence is sky high, and perhaps most importantly, the mind is quiet because you are just playing with complete focus on the next second. That is a good thing.

Mitch Johnson. Wonderful gesture on Saturday during the senior celebration by Mitch. Spotty game against Collison on Thursday night, but then Collison is and has been a lousy matchup for Mitch. I actually thought Mitch was okay, and that it could have been worse if Mitch and Shiller hadn't been solid and strong with the ball. No turnovers by Mitch. But, no shots went down either and that would have really helped. Against the O.J.'s on Saturday, I thought Mitch played well. I thought he got the better of the matchup with Hackett by knocking down big threes in the first half when we really needed them and then knocking down free throws in the second half when we really needed him. He was physical with Hackett and didn't let Hackett push him around. Perhaps more importantly, as a team our confidence stayed high, we stayed together as a unit. Hackett's team disintegrated when it mattered most.

A quick Drew Shiller mention is warranted. Nice minutes and big shots against UCLA on Thursday. Scrappy effort in both games. Good minutes. Take it on the road please and knock down some shots on Thursday. It seems to me that when Drew comes out feisty on defense like he did on Thursday, he is more aggressive and looking for his shot. Whatever it takes, but if you are shooter you have to be looking to shoot…every damn time. I thought Drew passed up, or didn't recognize (more likely), the opportunities on Saturday. Just a quick technical point here on Drew for those that saw the UCLA game: Drew's third shot was a three in the second half where we were late in the shot clock and Drew was moving quickly to his left to shoot. He drifted a good three feet to his left on the jumper and it missed badly. Gotta get the butt coil lower, more flex in the knees, and a harder plant and push off the left foot. The passing wasn't good either, which hurt him, but those instances are where technique simply has to be better. Coach Tom Davis was great at footwork on perimeter jumpers. He worked a lot with Terry Taylor, Novian Whitsett, and I on the little things like what I just described. He harped on taking an outside in angle and getting to a two-point plant instead of a one-point plant on shots going to your left to prevent the drift. Doesn't always work, but I thought Drew had time and room to be more precise there. Plus, good technique keeps you confident on the release, and confidence on the release...well, see Kenny Brown analysis above.

An overall thought on guard play from this weekend. We were badly out-athleted at the one, two, and three spots this weekend, and yet on Saturday, our lineup of Mitch/Drew, Kenny, and Goods flat outplayed the trojans, who pretty much ran a 6'4" Hackett, 6'5' Lewis, and 6'7" DeHelicopter out there. You tell me that Kenny is gonna lock up and whip Dwight Lewis before that game and I am going take away your crack pipe. That is why you play 'em!

Some closing thoughts: Can someone please point out to Josh Owens that you don't go for a steal on every entry pass to Taj Gibson? Where is the feel for the game? An astute mind for the game mentioned Saturday night that Josh desperately needs to play hundreds of hours of basketball this spring and summer to get a feel for the game that seems to be missing a lot of the time. That is spot on. Can we crap can the concept the Tree festival on Senior Day? I am as irreverent as anyone that walks this Earth, but every year this annual idiot-fest denigrates an important moment for the program and the fans. A new Tree is better celebrated by peeing in the creek out back of Zots. Jrue Holiday may leave early and a lot of folks are going to wonder why if he does. But, he threw a pass on Thursday that was as difficult a pass to throw as there is possible; flying out of bounds going to his left under the basket late in the shot clock in the second half with two guys between him and the basket and he throws a no-look left handed hook pass on a rope around those two guys to Shipp out at the three point line, hitting Shipp right in the shooting pocket for the killer. That was as good a pass, as difficult a pass, as has ever been thrown in our gym and he made it seem so easy that no one noticed. Great job by Law Hill of attacking Gibson relentlessly late in the game Saturday, seeing the frustration, going after him eventually getting him so mad and frustrated that he makes a dumb charge on the other end to foul out. The Li'l Romeos were useless without Gibson. Was that coaching, point guarding, or Law just doing his thing? It really doesn't matter, does it? This is going to be a tough trip to Zona, but after this weekend, the guys should feel like we can go down there and finish strong!
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