Friday, February 5, 2010

Hoops: Gutting out another close one with Jekyl & Hyde

Washington 81 - Arizona 75
Well, last night's game was an emotional roller coaster. The Huskies came out on fire, went to sleep, woke back up for a little while to keep it close, shot horribly from the foul line in the first half (8-19, 42%), shot very well from the foul line in the second half (21-24, 87.5%), went into the locker room at half time down by 6, came out on fire in the second half, slacked off enough to allow a young and talented Wildcats team to stay close and then finally finished it off up by 6 for a 12 point swing in the second half.

Quincy Pondexter has proved himself to be the heart and soul of this team. It's obvious that he worked his ass off during the off season to develop a reliable 12-18' jumper. When he goes up with that shot, it is going down. Although he was one of the most Jekyl&Hydey players for his first three years (alternately brilliant and disappointing(when he didn't show up for the game mentally)), he has manned up and become the most consistent thing about the team. You can depend on him to drop 20 points a night, work the boards hard, stop his man on defense and in general be everything you could want for a team leader. Good job, Q. Last night he dropped 30; 20 from the field and 10 from the free throw line. He struggled at the line in the first half, shooting just 50%, but brought his average up in the second half finishing 10-16, 62.5% (well below his normal shooting average).

Isaiah Thomas seems to be in a sophomore slump. He could be the second half of a reliable 1-2 punch and he was that last year with Johnnie B. This year, not so much. He spent most of the second half on the bench after displaying amazing stupidity in his drives to the basket in the first half (drive in against 4 defenders, get up in the air, try to force up a shot or (rarely) look for someone to pass to). He did play excellent defense on Kevin Parrom, helping to hold him to 5 points while giving away 10 inches (5'8" vs 6'6"). He ended the game with 7 points. Zeke, you are wasting Q's senior year! He's not going to get another chance and he deserves better, smarter, more complete play than this. Get it together and be the man Q needs.

Justin Holiday and Tyrese Breshears showed some awesome two-man game action in the first half. Very entertaining stuff, but they were not on the floor together long enough to do it more than twice. If Tyrese B can learn to keep himself out of foul trouble (how about staying on your feet and not jumping for every shot that goes up?), he is the John Brockman replacement. He is very tough inside, works the boards hard and doesn't get moved around by many guys. He had two great blocks in the first half on Nic Wise on two consecutive possessions. Both of them on the same side of the court, both of them sent into the stands. If he can learn the Bill Russell, tip-it-to-a-teammate trick, that will be great. As it was, I wouldn't have wanted to face him again if I was Nic.

Scott Suggs posted 13 points; 3 3s and 4-4 from the free throw line. Good stuff, and the sort of contribution we need from the younger guys.

At the beginning of the season lots of ink got spilled on Isaiah Thomas and Abdul Gaddy. Venoy Overton got overlooked by everyone (except for Sports Illustrated) but has proved to be another reliable presence for us. He makes life hell for opposing guards and usually drops 10 points. Last night he ended up with 12, one 3-pointer and 9-10 from the foul line. He was the man who kept the game out of reach for the Wildcats at the end. Every time they fouled him (and then seemed to foul him most at the end of the game (well, he did have the ball most of the time as IT and Gaddy were on the bench)), he stepped up and sank his shots. He missed one in the first half, but that was the only one he missed all night. Good Job, V.

MBA, where are you? We need you to have a monster season and support Q. It's not happening, but it could. Get it together. 3 points and four fouls isn't cutting it.

In the second half after a particularly egregious call by one of the officials, some misguided soul up high in Section 12 (kitty corner from my seats in 6) launched a water bottle at the court. It landed at the end of the Huskies bench about 6-8' in on the court and had enough force to skid way past half court. Play stopped, the miscreant was identified and hustled out of the arena in short order. There is just no room in an arena the size of Hec Ed for the start of hooliganism. I'm glad they dealt with that guy as quickly as they did. Dude, yes, the call was particularly bad in a game littered with bad calls at both ends. Yes, it was quite frustrating to see guys get paid to do such a lousy job (Pac-10 officiating supervisors, do you look at the tapes? Do you do anything to help these guys develop their skills? It appears not), but remember, this is just a game. There is no point in getting tossed out for something stupid like that (and besides, if you had hit someone with that half full water bottle from that high up, it would definitely have done some damage). When they suggest anger management classes, take them. It can only help.

The Wildcats are a talented, young team. They had pretty balanced scoring, getting double figure performances out of 5 of the 10 guys that scored. Derrick Williams got alot of press before the game, but he did horribly last night and played like a petulant child. You are probably good, Derrick, but last night will never make your highlight reel and you handled it with no class at all. Nic Wise, the only senior on the Arizona team, played well, providing some needed leadership to all those talented youngster. If Sean Miller can keep this group together, they are going to be trouble for everyone in the Pac-10 for the next few years. Good luck to him.

Well, let's see what we do with Arizona State on Saturday night. Should be interesting.

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.