I know I started out with a title that intimates that Jimmy Buffet, and tequila, may be in order after the Los Peroxide road trip. But it is worse than that. Much worse. As John Wayne and Lee Marvin once so poetically did, chuck the cork and just tip back until you fall down singing about blackbirds. This isn't hand grenades. Where to go from here has to be the question of the week for the coaching staff. Do Moose Martin or Levine Toilolo wanna play too?
The bright spot for me anyway: Don MacLean as much as admitted Thursday night that Andrew Vlahov, the fat bastard, scared the crap out of him. I loved that. Because any of us that witnessed it back in the day know damn good and well that Don literally peed himself at the sight of Drew. Oh, and Landry Fields continues to run away with conference player of the year honors. If Landry isn't a third team All-American or better this season, then the basketball experts should all be subjected to a 24-hour sensory deprivation torture-a constant loop of Glenn Beck on a dank cell wall and stale beer.
Point Guard play. Jarrett Mann was good sometimes. Sure, he had some steals, a few blocks, and some good defensive sequences. But, when crunch time hit his decision-making was almost non-existent, and his intensity on the defensive end did not appropriately elevate. I don't need him to show me any real emotion, that isn't his game, much like it wasn't Law Hill's game. But, get up in someone kitchen and make them handle some pressure in crunch time. It's not like Mike Gerrity or Malcolm Lee is really cooking with gas.
But more importantly, this is now the second half of the conference season and it is time for Jarrett to show that he has learned his opponents strengths and weaknesses and how to force some play to the weaknesses. Like how his opponents have backed off to 13 ft. and said, "Shoot it. We don't think you can." Against the 'Ruins he comes out, sticks a three and instead of using that as a confidence builder, he then goes into a shell. There were 12 good shots to take in that game. No one was going to yell at you for taking wide open 16-footers. His teammates want him to take those and stick some. Time to stop abdicating to Drew and Jeremy and Landry, particularly on the road. If Jarrett doesn't shoot those, he isn't going to start making them. And worse, no one else can make them. We don't have the players.
Now, that was the good part. With good point guard play down the stretch we should have won the usc game. Just solid would have gotten it done. Two quick examples. First, with about 6:35 left in the game up four, we have about eight seconds left on the clock and Jarrett starts to drift across the top of the key to his left, takes one earnest dribble and kicks to Elliot Bullock in the corner behind the three line with Vucevic closing. Bullock has nothing to do, tries anyway, and dribbles out of bounds. He should have take another dribble or two and tries to turn the corner to force Vucevic to commit to help leaving Bullock open for a shot or he has to force the issue himself toward the rim and try to make a play. K-Y-P. Know your personnel, your circumstances, and make a meaningful decision and try to make your teammate better instead of asking your teammate to bail you out. If it's Landry, cool, because he has been bailing you out all year, but not Elliott Bullock.
But wait, there is another example. With 26 seconds left, down one
after Vucevic gets an easy put back after a great defensive sequence, and
Jarrett comes up the court too slowly and doesn't have a play to call. Coach
calls time out to set up a play, but we wasted at least 3-4 seconds with our
lack of sense of urgency and utter lack of game control. The point guard
has to have a play to call, has to call the
play. Maybe Coach still calls timeout, but what if he doesn't. Every second counts. Run the team, please.
Jeremy Green played all 40 minutes at the 'Ruins and dropped 18 and five. The shooting was a bit off by his lofty standard, but offensively a good outing. Some very gutsy jumpers down the stretch. I just didn't like the defense down the stretch, but I credit that to fatigue as much as anything else. Toejams were the first time I thought the defense from Jeremy cost his offense. We aren't going to win a lot of games with Jeremy getting three points. The fouls were sloppy and the defense was tired. Fatigue and frustration did seem to me to be factors, particularly because a few of the shots that missed were very short and a couple seemed desperate. Of course, usc also realized that they had a better chance to shut Jeremy down than Landry, and when he was on the floor, the Kardashians skewed their defense to take away his movement coming off screens.
Drew Shiller played his guts out this trip. He came out looking to shoot. He had to and he did. They just didn't all go down. But he showed a willingness to step up and take them and he badly skewed the 'Ruins' zone with his willingness to take shots and step into position to shoot out at the front of our zone offense. We used Drew to help isolate Landry on Dragovic because it was hard for them to leave Drew to help out. 76 minutes this weekend, 5-16 from the field, nine rebounds. We all wish the three near the end of the Furry game had gone down or a damn Conundrum had just slipped or had a hernia or something at a key point so Drew could have gotten open, but...he went down swinging.
Da'Veed Dildy played well. He took some shots, now he has to believe they are going in when they come off his hand. Great defensive effort in both games, and he got to the rim against Socal a couple of time. In particular, I thought his passing was tight against usc.
Emmanuel Ignibosa. Only at Stanford does a dude miss a game at Pauley Pavilion, his one chance to play under the banners in front of Coach Wooden, because he has a lab or something so he stays on course to graduate and run off to graduate school. Happens all the time at ASU. I love a guy that comes in and shoots and makes his first shot without hardly even touching the ball. Something very sensuous about that.
Final Thoughts: I don't mean to be too harsh in this article. I
almost didn't write it. If this team is going to get over the hump on the
road, which we should have done this weekend damn it, we have to have point
guard play that is focused for 40 minutes and willing to grab the challenge by
the balls and utter some sensitive encouragement. Perhaps more
importantly, we have the representatives from the Pound coming in this week so
please remember to spay and neuter your pets before they get Pac-10
scholarships. We have to defend our house.
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