And 1: Washington 78, Stanford 61

Men's Basketball Writer Kevin "Kevo" Danna provides the Bootleg faithful a look at the game flow, stats, facts, and his keen observations after Stanford's consecutive comeback came up short in the second half in a 78-61 loss against the Washington Huskies on Saturday night at Maples Pavilion.

On Saturday night, the Farm Boys fell at the hands of the Washington Huskies 78-61 in what was the most herky-jerk game that this columnist has ever seen.  A couple of streaks broke - with the Huskies win in Palo Alto, Washington got their first road victory of the season and the Cardinal dropped their first conference decision at Maples.  So, what do we make of this game?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist or basketball expert to tell you why Stanford lost this game: free throws and missed lay-ups.  Missing free throws are contagious - if one guy starts off with an 0-2 at the line, and the next guy isn't able to connect on both of his attempts, the hoop begins to look smaller for everyone, and that's what happened Saturday.  After Jeremy Green finished off an and-1, the Farm Boys missed their next six free throw attempts and finished the half 6-14 from the charity stripe.  Even Landry Fields, who is usually Mr. Clutch from the free throw line, had a rough go of it from 15.  People can talk all they want about needing to get up hundreds of attempts from the line in practice or outside of practice - of course these guys are getting up a lot of freebies outside of the game.  The bottom line is that shooting free throws in a practice or on your own is completely different from taking them in a game situation when you have already spent ten times the amount of energy you would in a practice or otherwise.  In the case of free throws, practice doesn't make perfect- in-game experience does.  Shooting thousands of free throws can only take one so far.

Another thing to consider is that Washington provides more on-ball pressure than anyone in the conference and they do a fantastic job of forcing the opponent to use up a lot of energy on the offensive end.  Thus, when teams get to the line on Washington, they are that much more exhausted.  The result?  More missed free throws.  Check this out: in Pac-10 games that have been played at Washington's pace (Washington scores in the mid-70s or higher), opponents are shooting 162-258 from the charity stripe - 66-109 in the first half, 96-149 in the 2nd.  That's 62.7% overall; 60.5% in the first half, 64.4% in the second.  This number is even inflated because of the Cal game in Berkeley, since Cal's pace is the same as Washington's.  When you take that game out (Cal went 25-27 from the line), UW opponents are 137-231 from the line - 59.3%, 58-101 (57.4%) in the first half, 79-130 (60.3%) in the second.  I'm not making excuses, but Stanford isn't the first team that has had troubles from the free throw line against the Dawgs.

Missed lay-ups can also be attributed to the same factor, but still Stanford needed to connect on a higher percentage of the chippies.  What was good to see was that Stanford did a much job of penetrating to the hoop this time against the Huskies than they did one month ago in Seattle.  Bigs Trotter and Zimmermann did a good job of cutting to the hoop, and they were rewarded with nice passes from Landry and Jarrett and company.  Emmanuel Igbinosa was great at attacking off the dribble.   Also, Stanford got a lot of great looks from cleaning up other chippies, free throws, or other missed shots.  The offensive rebounding work was very solid from the Cardinal.  But when it came down to it, Stanford just could not cash in on their hard work.  A lot of these shots would hang on the rim for a second before falling off the hoop - it really had the feeling of a "we can't get any love" game.

Speaking of not getting any breaks from the rim, the officials sure didn't make matters any easier for the Cardinal on Saturday night.  I'm not going to bash officials, because their job is extremely tough and they have to be respected for the line of fire that they put themselves in.  There is no way I could officiate as well as any of them, but it needs to be addressed at some level.  It's not that the officiating was one-sided in either team's favor, it's just that there were a lot of whistles on calls that would not normally warrant a stoppage of play.  So whenever one of those calls went against the Cardinal, it seemed that much worse.  Plus, when it feels like the first 50-50 call goes against you, then you almost expect at some level for every other questionable one to go the other way.  The negative energy in the air from the booing perpetuates itself in more calls that seem to be wrong, even if they aren't.  The zebras were not the reason Stanford lost by any stretch of the imagination, but plenty of calls were puzzling. 

In the final analysis, Washington also deserves a lot of credit for playing the game to their liking and being very physical.  Quincy Pondexter had a huge game for the Huskies, as he and Isaiah Thomas propelled UW to their first road win of the season.  Now that they have the monkey off their backs, they should be able to get more wins away from Bank of America.  They have the Oregon schools and Washington State for their final three road games, and they will take at least two of those. 

Now it's the Card's turn to get a tally in the win column on the road.  They're off to Oregon to take on the Ducks on Thursday and Oregon State on Saturday, so the cheer on the Card this weekend and check back on for more insightful articles from Boom Boom Salloom!

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