Back to Being Bruins
1. Kitchen Karma Controls -- I am a strong believer in Karma and Mojo and it's pretty clear that we play a lot hotter when something's in the oven. Last night both Bruinhoo and BruinGirl83 were baking. Need I say more?
2. I think the simplest way to say it is that we played the way we are capable of playing and we did it for an entire game. We did a lot of things we've done in bursts this year but not consistently.
3. We win with our D. Most of us have commented that in our losses we had defensive letdowns. Yes, we also had dry scoring spells, but last night we were reminded how D turns into points for us. We score more points when we are out on the run. To get there, we need turnovers, steals and rebounds. We got all last night. I particularly like some of the mini-KL outlet passes, some from DG and IIRC ML and JH got into the act.
We really shut down the best shooting team in the PAC 10 with tough, in your face D. Yes, we picked up some fouls, but I will trade the early fouls for all of the turnovers the tough D created.
4. I think the key to the game was two words that start with C. Consistency and Cats (barn variety). We played he entire game hard, with passion, intensity and skill. No real let downs. I think Tele's created the Barn Cat karma with his pictures. We did what DG wanted us to do (and I'm sure the entire team wanted us to do) we played with heart and like we wanted it.
5. Another C -- Coaching: In a battle of 2 great coaches, CBH showed why he is The Caretaker. After taking responsibility for some things he said he did wrong in our close games and losses, he made the adjustments that led to last night's big win.
First, he went to the bench earlier and played deeper throughout the game. We did not run out of gas last night and were able to keep the throttle down throughout the game.Our starters got some much needed rest that kept them strong. JS played a game high 31 minutes, DC 30. The first round of substitutions came early and lasted a bit longer than usual. But, I think the biggest difference came in the second half when he broke a pattern of leaving the starters in longer stretches, gave them rest, and they had the strength to finish hard.
One reason he can rest the starters is that the kids are playing extremely well. DG, ML, JA --coming off the bench, are playing poise to match their intensity. JA is fearless and continues to make great decisions. DG is a warrior. Can you imagine how he will play with another 15 lbs of muscle? The bench guys got a lot of minutes and there was no drop off.
Second, somehow he convinced our players that they had to drive to the basket that good things happen when we go inside. And, they did. Finally, we are seeing what JH, DC and JS can do. And, JA and the other kids showed no fear about going in.
We are starting to see the break out and emergence of the complete JH. I really hope he falls in love with college and stays. I love the way he plays the game. He does it all quietly but he does it all. I'm always surprised, when I look in the stat's, to see how many rebounds he has. He has sweet moves to the hoop. Why doesn't he do it more? In the thread, someone pointed out that we don't set the screens for him that open up the drive. We should.
3. We played like a team but had great individual efforts. This week, in a post, I threw in a comment that I thought Drago played a little soft some times, that there were two crucial plays in two different games where he didn't go hard after a loose ball. So, last night he made me look dumb. He went to the floor a few times -- as did most of his mates.
AA2 is the prototype Ben Ball warrior. No one is playing with more fire and consistency. Game after game he give us the best that he has. And, it is a lot.
I think the competition between JK and ND is giving us the best of both. JK played very well when he was in.
MR did what MR does. Great minutes. But, I'm a bit worried. He seemed to limp off the floor last night. Anyone know if he is OK?
4. We made our FT's they didn't. And, that makes a difference. Early in the game, the same pattern emerged -- we were getting called for fouls twice as many times as they were. But, they did not make there shots -- allowing us to maintain our margin.
5. We had a huge game on the boards. We out rebounded them 33-20. And, we did it with very even efforts. AA2, ND, and JS had 6 rebounds. JH had 5 (another one of those "quiet stats") and DG 4. I'm sure that when you factor in rebounds per minute played DG leads the team; I love his game.
Randall had 11 points on 4-11 shooting. Talk about D on a shooting star? Thank you Marques for screwing with his karma by saying that Randle, not DC was the PG to watch in this game.
6. SPTR's are what they are. But, I feel like we are adjusting to them. And, I think it was Silver who pointed out, last night, that without Libbey on the floor, the game is a bit more consistently called. All that said, somewhere toward the middle of the second half, they started to assert themselves and my immediate reaction was that they would make the game about them not the players, but they backed off some.
Bottom line: we are in a league with very bad officials and we need to play around them, when possible -- and there will be times when it will not be possible.
Final Thought: We are where we need to be. As best we can we have to win at home and hold our own on the road. Yes, we've lost a game at home, but I think our strong road performances have kept us in the fight.
Last night, in the pre-game commentary, the bozo who calls the game with Marques, said something stupid like "Everyone predicted an easy walk to the Pac 10 title for UCLA but it isn't happening." Who is he talking about? We remain a team that returned two experienced players -- a team that lost 3 underclassmen all of whom have been NBA starters.
Considering where we started, I really like where we are. We will make our statements at the right time.