Expert Analysis: The MinderBinder 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 of the Cardinal's guards following their road split versus the Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats. After reading his prose on the guards, see his general game thoughts and hopes for the postseason.

The Arizona road trip is a strange beast and it is not just the half cooked egg sun on the edge of the horizon. No one in Tempe/Phoenix really cares about Sun Devil basketball and all anyone in Tucson cares about is Wildcat basketball. The worst crowds in the conference are in Tempe. The best crowds west of Kansas are in the McKale Center, and if you don't think so then you must have missed the fear of God look on the faces of the officials on Saturday night as they called fouls on Jamelle Horne, Lute Olsen, and Sean Elliott instead of Jordan Hill. The comedy of them looking around to find a guy in an Arizona uniform to call a foul on instead of Jordan Hill was painful. We will, someday soon, see a Will Farrell comedy with that scene in it. The real travesty of course wasn't the officiating, it was our defense, because the refs could have fouled Jordan Hill out with 10 minutes to go (as they should have) and Fendi Onobun would have gone for 10 on 4-5 shooting in his stead.

Horrible defense being pretty self-evident, let's cover the subject comprehensively through statistical analysis. The Wildcats (and you have to call them by their real names out of respect for this) shot 35-50 Saturday night against our "fense." Wilt Chamberlain numbers. Anyone see Zoolander, where Ben Stiller saves the day by making his most amazing modeling face "look" at the right time? That was sort of our "fense" on Saturday— looking at them intently while posing in a good looking defensive stance. It takes a lot of tequila to wash away that pain, muchachos. Was anyone even calling "HELP!"?

So, with that rancid bovine flatulence hanging in the Tucson air like a cloud of Agent Orange, let's talk guard play. Cue Jay-Z, the one about having million problems but a "defense" ain't one of them. As many of these whatevertheyares this year, the weekend was some Jim Carrey "I can find my mask, can't find my mask" dichotomy. Mitch Johnson was very solid against ASU, controlling tempo and pushing the pace opportunely. He distributed the ball well, but most importantly for me, he did his best job in a while of keeping the ball moving with purpose on offense against the ASU zone. Our spacing and ball movement were pretty good against ASU—we have seen that zone a few times this year and we should be that good against it (OSU on Wednesday, folks). Mitch really attacked the ball off the rim as well, running down a number of long rebounds for his team high six boards. When point guards that aren't quick and can't jump get six boards, they are playing requisitely hard. He also had two key strips of Pendergraph in the paint—digging down by the guards was a key to this victory. As for Zona, the stats aren't that bad for Mitch, four turnovers hurt, but five assists and nine points is good. But, when the effort on the defense isn't there, when the tempo is out of control that falls on two heads: the point guard and the head coach. Conversely, Nic Wise played as well as he ever will. He was spectacular, which bothers me because he is a good player that we made great for one day.

Anthony Goods played a huge stretch offensively against ASU, getting two tough buckets on jumpers and taking a couple more tough shots, which we seemed to tip in or get the o-rebound and convert into bigger shots. He had a weird spat in the first half with three strange turnovers, but overall, I thought he was rock solid. He was not rock solid against UA. The ball didn't want to go down and unlike the last time at Maples, he let Kyle Fogg be the aggressor against him. And let's face it, Fogg is the only guy playing D for the Wildcats. Funny thing, but if we hadn't been giving up 101 points to UA, we wouldn't have needed Goods to be better than he was because Green was doing that voodoo that he do. But we did and we did.

Thankfully, on Saturday Jeremy Green decided to bring the A game on offense. His "fense" was bad, too. Shooting guards, you can leave Kyle Fogg and maybe help out on Wise or Budinger—seriously, you can! He isn't James Harden. Anyway, I thought Green hit a big three and was aggressive against ASU and it carried over into a lights out performance against UA. Bench production was a key for us coming into this weekend, and Jeremy brought it. He has the best spot up shooting fundies on this team as a freshman. The future is bright, more so because he has shown the ability as a freshman to step up when the team is sucking gas on the road and make some shots (UA and OSU).

Downtown Kenny Brown contributed hugely off the bench as well in both games, getting 12 against ASU and nine against the Cats. I like that Coach Dawkins revisited Kenny after the Oregon road trip, and decided that this season matters, too. Kenny's increased confidence and productivity off the bench has been important, if not downright fun. I only wish he was 6'10" and could run, jump, rebound, block shots, and have the attitude of an abcessed badger.

A special point must be made about Drew Shiller—who got three minutes against ASU and nailed the three-point play from deep—thereby producing points on the road in limited minutes. Three free throws that is. He came in aggressive, and went back to the bench aggressive. My point being, the bench was great against ASU, from Shiller to Brown to Trotter to Daian. Great! Against UA, again the bench did its job, and then some, offensively. Did Jack Trotter take a three-pointer?? I am starting to like that kid—no one ever retired saying they took too many shots, not even George Gervin.

Special Basketball in General Comments: The Devils took 30 threes this time around—that is about 15 too many. We forced them into it by rotating, collapsing at the wings in on Harden and Pendergraph. This also kept Kuksiks off the glass, parked on the line too much. They drank the cool aide like we did against them the first time—the three-point line is a sexy, kinky thing, but if you use it too often, it can impair your vision. I make the following comment with this caveat: I played on the 1984-1985 Stanford team that went 3-15 in conference, although I didn't play a lot or we would have gone 1-17. I know horrible defense when I see it. Effort is effort. Hustle is hustle. Guys can each play hard and bust their butts and put in a good effort and still get squat flopping done. What we saw on Thursday was solid, winning team defense, and what we saw on Saturday was a complete breakdown of team defensive principles. Bad game plan, who knows? But the game plan doesn't matter a whole lot when …well, that's enough.

Final Thoughts: It may be axiomatic that it's hard to beat a team three times in one season, but let's face it, the Beavers haven't done that to anyone but themselves since Ralph Miller and Gary Payton were wearing the convict orange. Maybe this time we will respect the opponent, match their initial intensity, and actually guard that big goofy Dutchman. The last four games, we have gone 2-2 against very good opponents. We shot 50% on the road this past weekend. Let's bring the defensive effort, keep shooting the ball, and get a couple of wins to set us up for a deep run in something.

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