Everyone loves a good bit of bounce back. Is there a better way to bounce back from losing to the weenies then to beat the ToeJams and the La'weanies? There are ways actually, but this is a family website. It sure is fun to have everyone think we stink, then go out and hold serve in the first conference homestand of year.
First place always sounds good and there is no cheap way to get to first place. All first places in the Pac-10 are better than the alternative. Ask the weenies how first place felt last week? Now ask them how the cellar feels. See, you feel better already. Me, too.
Guard play analysis, let's get straight to butt coil. Our butt coil was better than theirs.
Jeremy Green. 70 minutes, only three rebounds. He really did have only three rebounds, but if you go for 47 points on 18-28 shooting, and 8-13 from the parking lot, screw rebounding. In fact, to hell with passing too - shoot like that and I will argue that Jeremy probably over-passed. Let 'em all rebound your stuff and pick up your sweaty socks while they are at it.
The USC effort, against stifling defense, was fantastic, 17 points on 7-10 shooting, including a couple of bombs. But, the UCLA effort - not many people go get 30 against Ben Howland coached teams. But the 30 was more impressive than that because about 15 of that 30 was late in the shot clock, including the end of the first half momentum theft. He got big buckets off the bounce and he hit 27-foot stand still cannons. Sick. Filthy. Jacobsen-seque, Hernandez-esque. Stone cold vicious!
What you saw was a guy becoming a professional shooter. Standing threes from hell and gone. One and two dribble pull ups and step backs, all with great arc. Coming off screens to the three line, fading to the corner off those screens, and the piece of resistance (say it French). He wrapped screens tightly and lifted without getting completely square moving to his right, meaning he had to get square on the way up with the shoulders and release at the top of his jump. This is a Ray Allen thing and it is the art form at its finest. That folks takes reading the defense so he knows he can wrap and lift without the big guy stepping up or his own man slipping inside him or beneath the screen. He has to be on balance and pretty neutral with his body language, like a wide receiver off the line of scrimmage, so he doesn't tip his move to wrap. He has to catch and lift simultaneously and get the ball high in the shooting pocket quickly or he won't have time to get turned and get off a clean release with any rhythm. And he has to actually have the confidence and body control to know he is only going to be square for a second and release the ball at that moment with no hint of ambiguity in the wrist or elbow. It might be at the top of the jump, it might be a bit earlier than that. Wrapping going left, pretty easy to get square. Wrapping the screen to the right and catch and shoot, very difficult.
In fact, in the modern era, since Todd Lichti strapped it up (and believe it or not if you go to Emeritus' house, he has a Lichti jockstrap, unwashed to this day, in his Stanford Sports museum), Jeremy's prowess this weekend wrapping screens and shooting from 16 or 18 feet going hard right has only been matched Dion Cross and Casey Jakes-lofty company in my book. If he keeps wrapping screens that well, Landry is going to score more points because Jeremy can outshoot Landry and defending such a move requires team's best defender.
Jeremy was so on his game that late Wednesday night against USC he wrapped and stuck a 16-footer with 2:00 left and no one even got a hand up. He read the screening situation so well - the defender thought he was going to the three-point line and the U.S.Clueless post defender was, well, clueless. He'd set it up earlier with a great fade to the corner off the same screen. Zip, bang, beautiful arc, twine, six-point lead and our last good look of the game.
By Saturday, Jeremy's confidence level must have been peaking because he came out looking for his shot early, but he wasn't forcing anything. The game was coming to him. A significant part of the battle for shooters is recognizing when they are going to be open. It is pretty easy to know you are open when you feed the post and your defender doubles the post and leaves you wide open. That is all right in front of your face. But, running off of screens with the defender on your butt and the play rapidly unfolding is trickier. It's almost "feeling" the opportunity, and it's a lot of confidence in yourself to trust your read. In other words, you have to be willing to make a complete moron out of yourself, but trust that you won't.
I don't want to say he was feeling it because I don't think that I was it. What I saw was a guy that now knows that if he can get his shoulders square and get any space at all, it's a pretty good shot. At the NBA level, they call it the six-inch window and it is as kinky as it sounds. He only needs six inches to get a good shot off. Defender's hand is up, defender is in good position, but he can't get there to block the shot, so that is a good shot because Jeremy is that good a shooter out to 25 feet. Also, remember that he is 6'4" with a high release and good lift on his jumper.
Lift on the jumper. Jeremy learned last year that he didn't need to over jump on the jumper. It's getting the shot off that is dictating how high he is jumping. Against the Ruins on Saturday you saw him side dribble and hit a fading 18-footer over Dragovic in which he lifted as high as he could to get the power and height needed to stroke the jumper of the 6'8" defender. A couple of minutes later he was wide open, uncovered (I did say Ruins) three point line right of the key and Landry hit him with a pass in the shooting pocket and Jeremy didn't get six inches off the ground. He is reading situations so well right now, and his fundamentals are so consistent - feet square and butt down and hands out away from body on the catch - that the shooting is taking care of itself. As an old teammate of mine used to say, "Green light? That's for you mortals to worry about."
Now, the good news. He has been inching toward this type of prowess. Now it's here. It's is really hard to maintain the shooting percentages, but the shooting itself, the game, can be maintained. Guys that maintain it, do it on the road, are called All-Americans. Ask Casey. Ask Todd.
And now a word about other people that play for Stanford Men's Basketball.
Jarrett Mann, much better dude. Way to get back to playing hard, seeing the floor, running your team. He was very solid in timing his passing and locating receivers in traffic against the Ruins. Very clean game, with purpose the whole way. And that sucker felt good against the Spoiled Children, didn't it? Here is the Truth. You don't want to be the point guard that gets removed with 2:29 left to go in a close game because of your free throw shooting. That may not happen again.
Drew Shiller. Not a lot of points, not a lot of stats. Great
effort, good help defense. Huevos Rancheros, instantaneous dive on the
floor after the loose ball with 52 seconds left against the Spoiled
Children. He got called for the foul, but things had started to slip a bit
and his teammates and the fans saw the kamikaze effort. A little kamikaze
in the last minute of a game sets the right tone. Also, kudos to
Dawkins for handing the reigns to Drew with 2:29 to go and greater kudus to Drew for running the team well against intense pressure for almost two minutes down the stretch. Shiller hit Green on the wrapping right jimmy I discussed above. It seemed to me anyway that the Spoiled Children didn't want to touch Drew out of respect for his free throw shooting.
Final thought on this longwinded sucker (sock drawer): you can dribble too
much. Ask Lorenzo Romar about it. And my goodness, Malcolm Lee. Dude, massage something else. And when did Mike Roll become Mr.
Crossover? That ain't working out. All other things considered in
our taking out the LA LA's, better ball movement, which is a byproduct of
teamwork, was a huge factor. Time to take the dogs for walk. Anyone
got a poop bag?
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