1. What a great start to conference play -- 3 road wins. I was worried about this part of the schedule because I think it takes a bit of experience and maturity to handle the road and we are a rather young and somewhat inexperienced team. My fear was that we'd give ground early in the year only to make it up later. Having the sc and Oregon road games in the win column is huge. And, I think it good to have the Az schools come to us now so that by the time we play them at their homes, we will be more seasoned.
2. DC will be one of my all time favorite Bruins not just for how he plays but for who he is. Character counts. Class shows. He is all that. For all of you who didn't want him to return after we were knocked out of the tournament last year -- aren't you glad no one listened.
3. JH -- I finally understand why there is so much talk about him being a one and done. Until last night, I didn't fully appreciate how good he is and how complete a game he plays. I kept thinking that he wasn't KL caliber -- but he is. It's just that he doesn't get the attention KL got. He is so unselfish that his game is not "visible" -- but it is there. I will never endorse the concept of the one and done, but I'll no longer quibble that JH isn't ready to go; having been convinced by the brighter minds here that the NBA drafts "potential" and then coaches it to a finished product, there is no question about JH's potential. Accepting that, I will still argue that the best coach in all of basketball is in Westwood and that it would behoove any player to stay a couple of years to take advantage of CBH.
4. We are still playing like house cats, not barn cats and it will burn us if we don't get the killer instinct and put games away. We could have ended this game in the first half. Instead, we let it get away from us and started the second half slowly. Kill the damn mouse!
5. As I said before, it's odd to think that we play better against the zone, but I think we do. I think we've prepared for the zone so hard that our man O is a bit rusty. When DC and JH (and JA) start to slash and shoot or dish, there will be no way to defend us.
6. We won last night because we could play deeper down the bench. People ask how we could be outshot and out rebounded and still win? I think the answer is to look at when we were out shot and out rebounded. sc went on a 10-0 run in the middle of the game. That was a time when we were playing a lot of combinations and resting a lot of people. With the game on the line, we had our starters in, stronger and ready to play all out. They could not stay with us at the end of the game, we took over, and we won. That simple.
7. The three most important factors in last night's game? Coaching. Coaching. And Coaching. CBH was brilliant and Timmeh was not. It was CBH who avoided the temptation to leave the starters in too long so as to stay ahead throughout the game. It was CBH who kept our players focused and calm -- especially at times when sc was getting chippy. Keeping AA2 on the bench so long as Gibson was on the bench was the right move; having AA2 on the floor at the end of the game was critical. And, finally, people are beginning to understand CBH's use of time outs. Brilliant control over the tone of the game and re-focusing our players attention to details.
8. The SPTR's got one right. The no call on DG was absolutely the right call. They made many bad calls in the game -- but fortunately they did the right thing with DG. We've now got both sc teams -- football and basketball -- whining about our hard play. Notice I say "hard" play, not "dirty" play. We don't punch people in the nuts or hit them when they are out of bounds. Our toughness is in your face, flow of the game toughness. I love to hear them whine after the game about how we were meanies.
9. DG gets way to little credit. He was the spark that united the take over of the game. I love this kid's game. He is a warrior and I'd like to see more of him. I trust that when JM is ready to back up AA2 we will see more of DG because he will no longer have to be held back to be AA2's back up.
10. I really don't know what to say about ND -- other than he is playing with intensity and I believe to the best of his abilities. And, what more can we ask? He's playing his best D of his career -- even though he gets beat some, he's hitting the boards hard -- even though he drops the ball some (so is AA2 lately), and he's driving inside and scoring. I can see why he is starting -- although I think his real challenge for minutes, later in the season, will be ML or DG. About the shooting: I'm not impressed with the career high 14 points, he got them on OJ2 type numbers, lots of shots, low shooting percentage. But, he had a couple of shots that should not count against him -- no time left on the clock he had to heave one up. And, has anyone ever missed more rim out 3's than ND, lately? Clearly, the strategy is to get him open shots and he got them. Thank MR and DC's success from outside. They are being closely covered on the perimeter leaving a more open ND. I'm sure CBH's plan is to get him those shots and yesterday he made 3 of them. He is zeroing in. I think we'll see more success later.
11. I finally have come to grips with the fact that we are slower than last year and it shows in our D. We are, and will continue to give us some drive by baskets. ND and JK are just not substitutes for LRMM. And, at this stage, RW is probably a little better than JH although JH will get there.
12. What I miss most is AA's attitude that every time someone scores on him he takes it personally. That is special and I don't see that on this team -- although JH is clearly the closest to being there.
13. AA2's importance to this team cannot be overrated. We simply play a lot better with him in the game. And, since JM is our leading rebounder when one counts rebounds divided by time played, I cannot wait for JM to be ready for more game time.
This was a very good win, on the "road" (one might say we own the place but I'd rather not own it), against a tough, talented team. They played us hard and we won.
Just what we have to do to win the Pac 10.