Riding a Maverick's wave of momentum into Maples this past weekend, ready to surprise the entire basketball world and steal the Pac-10 crown and return it to its rightful home on the Farm, the wave bucked us and pounded us onto the rocks of despair. There is nothing, nothing like a good Stanford-UA game. But the ones we win in heartbreaking fashion sure beat the hell out of the heartbreaking losses. At this point, to put closure on this tragedy, please yell a string of expletives at the top of your lungs, or if you are in an office setting, yell a string of expletives at the top of your lungs and when someone comes by to complain, lob the Holy Expletive at them. It's cathartic. Trust me.
In fact, no one deserves this thing. Sure, the weenies may backdoor their way to it and then their fans can "demonstrate" and burn trash and throw iPods through windows and threaten the fuzz with plastic water bottles that should be put in recycle bins, adding to the expense of their paltry tuition so they can protest some more as though caught in a Kafka tome. You wanna whine about tuition? Maybe go study or help the homeless or hug a bush or parallel park instead of jacking up your own fees further with stupid crap. You lit a garbage can on fire. You threw a bottle. You little anarchist you. Do you feel you made a point? Did your facial hair grow? Did the chicks dig it? The rest of the world calls that a circle jerk. What's next over there weenies, you gonna sack up and put "I demonstrated like a mother to protest a tuition hike and vandalized my own campus" on your resume and submit it to Intel or Bechtel - as if they were hiring anyway? Excuse me, sorry about that.
If the tramp stamps and the weenies tie for the conference title, will anyone notice? Does it actually count or is it shunted to a sock drawer of irrelevance with the poor guy from Slovenia that fell in fourth place across the finish line of the men's 30K Nordic pursuit last Tuesday, and the weenie students that "demonstrate."
But, they keep records and stuff, so...This has been as strange a Pac-10 conference season as I have ever seen. And I have been watching them closely since about 1972. I think UCLA won in 1972. See, I was paying attention. USC got second. Look Ma, no hands, no Internet. The team that wins the conference this year would have finished 8th or worse two years ago, when Ryan Weenie led the weenies to 8th place. This is the first time I have ever seen a conference winning caliber team that I wouldn't be surprised if they lost by 20 on the road to the last place team in the conference. Why? Because that sort of happened when the weenies dumped a stinker at OSU two weeks ago.
How defenseless is our rim? Eric Boateng went 11 for 11 on Thursday and if he had gone 8-11, you could have called that a bad outing. Derrick Williams, the kitten, went 8-10. So, Stanford gave up 19-21 shooting in the five-hole this weekend. I sure wish I was playing low post this season in this conference. The damage someone could do if they had a jump hook...
And we aren't the worst defensive team in the league by a long stretch. Wazzou is putrid-talk about a regression-on defense. Washington, even with Overton and Pondexter and Holiday, are horrible. Oregon's defense against us was the worst I have ever witnessed for UO team. It's so bad, it isn't coaching that is the problem, its the players. To be as bad as they were against us takes a collective team lack of effort and a real focus on ignoring the obvious, like that is Jeremy Green standing at the three-point line.
But team statistics are deceptive, because it's hard to take 2003 and compare it to now. Points have to be scored, rebounds have to be collected, and everyone is playing against different competition. But, how about this? If the weenies win the conference, they will not have been beaten a team this year that finishes the season ranked. Nor will any of the rest of the conference for that matter. In fact, other than USC's wins over UNLV and Tennessee, who might scrape a Top 25, there have been a grand total of zero signature non-conference wins. In fact, as a conference, we have beaten just about nobody.
But enough about the conference, let's talk about our guards. Damn this weekend hurt, but it wasn't the guards fault. Sure, we would have liked to see more aggression out of Jarrett Mann against the Tramp Stamps, but that was a very good second half against the kitties on Saturday. Most of it done by cutting to the basket when Landry was doubled, which adds the degree of difficulty, but maybe it shortened the amount of time Jarrett had to think about things or look around. Maybe that helped. And 5-8 from the line against the kitties will get the job done. Hopefully this proved to Jarrett that going to the rim relentlessly will yield results. Defensively he was pretty good in both games. Nic Wise just made a couple of very tough shots - the type you want anyone taking.
Drew Shiller came out firing against the Tramp Stamps, who were not ready defensively to start the game. Very good game for Drew on both ends. UA was a different story, but the kitties really focused in on not letting Drew be a shooter. He got a couple of good looks, but they didn't drop. Defensively, again I thought the effort and the overall result was sound. I think I saw the effects of too many minutes the last few weeks in both Drew's knees and Jeremy's knees on their jumpers and in their off ball movement. Maybe Drew, probably someone else, but I should would have liked to have seen MoMo Jones on his ass a few more times and shooting free throws. I think we are going to dislike MoMo as much as we disliked (not a strong enough word probably) Jason Gardner and Khalid Reeves and Damon Stoudamire and Mike Bibby and Steve Kerr and Jason Terry and Salim Stoudamire and Craig McMillan and Kenny Lofton and Puke now. One point that must be made about these Torquemadas, each has been exceptional at the dig down - which is digging back down off your man on the perimeter into a help position to strip the driver on the way up or strip the big man who is dumb enough to take a dribble, and they are all dumb enough.
Jeremy Green was well defended the entire weekend. The Sun Tans in particular came in with a game plan to take him away. And they did it. My old buddy Keith Jones would have been proud of Jeremy for going 2-14 in that game. Shooters don't stop shooting is what Keith used to tell me while whipping me senseless in games of one on one. Jeremy didn't stop shooting, that's for sure. Against the kitties, Jeremy bounced back with a very tough 15 and seven in 36 minutes. Very tough. He spent most of the day being denied by Kyle Fogg or chased by MoMo Jones. He worked very hard for that 15.
A quick note on Iggy. What I look for in a guy taking a big shot down the stretch is how the ball comes off the fingers. Does it look short armed or rushed or yanked, or does it look stroked. He was wide the hell open and he stroked it. Inside of the rim and out. The stroke told me he wanted to take that shot, not that he felt he had to take that shot. You can't always play the game to choke out every second trying to get a "better" shot. Wide open, good shooter, playing a good game, a good stroke on it, you live with it.
Typically this season, UA has a huge defensive lapse somewhere in the game, but they didn't play any D in weenieville on Thursday, saving all of their D for us on Saturday in classic kitty fashion. The Stanford-UA game in our house has always been the biggest conference game of the year for UA. It has been that way since I waived a towel during the 1988 game when we kicked their No. 1 ass. Lute always got his team peaked for this one. More than any other game, year in year out, the Stanford-UA game has been a drama of exceptional quality. And Saturday was another damn good one. Tough road loss down there, utter pain and torture in our house. Typical. I think this series is not going to change any time soon. Both programs are in very good hands and the Kyle Fogg-Jeremy Green matchup will be the premier matchup in the conference for years to come.
Really Deep Final Thoughts: 6th Man Club - can we just stop calling it that now. Pull a couple hundred of those seats Mr. Bowlsby and I'll pony up some more money to sit there. Hell, I'll show or I will guaranty some other butts will coil on those seats if I can't. I have a good hat and my voice projects like 20 dorks on the Dorkometer. After all, it was trained to be heard over a full student section screaming at the top of their lungs - like the one that shows up in Tucson. So, since you didn't answer the call last weekend 6th Man, please consider showing up this time around for no other reason than it is the weenie game. And everyone gets excited about a good weenie game.
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