Pardon the schizophrenia, but did anyone see us laying the egg we did in Boulder and then turning around and seemingly shooting 90 percent from the floor against Utah? I know I did, so it was a rhetorical question. Maybe the mostly empty gym was just like home for us.
A quick aside, when coaches are going to wear basketball shoes with their suits, can someone please inform those coaches that their ties should coordinate with the shoes? (I thought this was what wives, team managers and assistant Athletic Directors were for.) I am not saying go all Ricky Fowler fashionista on us, but cardinal-accented basketball shoes mean red ties boys, not blue shirt, blue tie. And, by the way, if you coach for Stanford, you should never be wearing a blue tie during a game. This is not JV ball.
Seven games into conference and we don't have anyone on our team on the conference leaderboard in assists or assists-to-turnover ratio. And we don't have anyone on the leaderboard in field goal percentage. I know, duh!
Every once in a while, you see something in college basketball and you get a big vernacular version of a cheshire grin; I had one of those watching the ESPN SportsCenter highlight of the Miami Hurricanes, up about 25 on Duke, getting down in their stances as a team and slapping the floor. Poignant.
So let us get this out of the way. The Colorado game was coyote ugly, Aaron Bright was the point guard that day, and his effort on the defensive end was bad. We were steamrolled, but at the end of the day, we had nine assists and Aaron had five of them. He also had seven points, third most on the team. Not good, but it was a team suckfest, and while my eyes told me Bright played poorly, five assists really says something else. If you are going to hang a lot of the negative of the Colorado game on him, and I do, then he gets great credit for our re-invigorated offense at Utah. We came out with purpose on offense, we pushed the ball up the floor better, not outright fast-breaking, but in the secondary break and early offense phases. More importantly, Aaron seemed content to get us up the court and into offense, defend with some energy, and spend less time trying to penetrate through traffic. If having a fellow midget guarding him helped, great, we'll see what happens with another midget on Wednesday night.
Chasson Randle had a viper-strike 17 against Utah and a pretty ugly 15 against Colorado. Sure, against Colorado it was a 5-of-21 night for him, but we were down early and big, and for large stretches of the game we flogged our half court offense senseless, only to hand the ball to Chasson and ask him to create some offense late in the clock. The downside to being able to get your shot off when others can't is that you can get your shot off on a night when the lid is closed (and can have difficult attempts forced upon you).
But against Utah, Randle had two steals, two assists, a lay-in and an easy jumper in the first few minutes, and we ran one offensive set to end up ahead 10-2. Steals and tempo up the floor and good things happen, and it started with Chasson. Several times Chasson grabbed rebounds (eight in total) and pushed the ball himself up the floor. When in doubt, jump into the wayback machine, go all Fat Lever/Lester Connor, and your team will follow.
There are different ways to lead a team. Chasson and Aaron both figured out how to do a better job of it in their own way. Now, let's get it done in a close game.
A side note here is that as bad as Boulder was, it was an eight-point game with 10 minutes left after a Chasson threeball, and then Chasson got a steal, missed a break away lay-in, missed a good look at a three, got his own rebound and missed a tough shot in traffic. Then the pin flew out of the grenade and got lost in the shorts of the dude dressed up like a Coors can ("Hey Momma, look at me, I'm on the way to the Promised Land!"). We were right there ready to steal the game, but Chasson, who was playing with great effort and intent, couldn't buy a bucket.
Gabe Harris only got five minutes against Colorado, but should have played more. Against Utah he again did his job, but the re-emergence of Christian Sanders ate some of his minutes. Look for this trend to continue as the season wears on, as we have to get Christian ready and he is a more natural point guard anyway. For his part, Christian looked terrible against Colorado and great against Utah, but who didn't.
Duck Thoughts: As most of you know, foie gras has sadly been banned in northern California, so we will have to eat their innards this Wednesday in some other fashion. Please give that some thought.
Another Duck Thought: No one on El Patos averages more than 14 points in conference play, but as a team they shoot the crap out of it, shooting 46 percent from the floor, 38 percent from deep, and 75 percent from the line. But they are average on defense. Statistically, we are a good defensive team, and a lousy offensive shooting team. Prediction: First team to 70 wins.
Fowl Thought: In our losses, we have averaged 10.5 made free throws per game, and in our wins, we have averaged over 22 made freebees. When Bright, Randle and Powell get fouled a lot, we win. That's particularly true for Powell, who made all 17 of his free throw attempts against Wazzou and cal.
Final Thought: Mark Madsen's game was not exactly offense, but he seems to be able to coach the Dream Shake. First Huestis breaks it out, then Powell breaks it out, and now Gage is shakin' it too. Booties know what it takes to properly execute the Dream Shake—butt coil.
Final, Final Thought: Wednesday night sets up perfectly for an upset. [Ed: national rankings, conference standings, and the respective teams' recent performances It all imply Stanford beating Oregon would be an upset, but the host Cardinal are actually three-point favorites.] We were smoking hot on Sunday and now we have a quick turnaround for Wednesday night. Less time to cool off, less time to think, and when you are rolling, you wanna play again as soon as you can. And the Tub Toys are 7-0 in conference. Smells like Smoked Duck in here!
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