Chasson Randle saved us again by dribbling the length of the court, and then fumbling the ball out of bounds, but that was just one play in a series of odd plays to end last night's game at Stanford. Nevertheless, the Bruins are now in a tie for third and still alive in their bid for an NCAA invitation (check the odds of getting a bid from teamrankings.com). Not to mention, they got their first road win, and they own Stanford.
Randle had a pretty bad night. That was the main story to me. In the end, Stanford led most statistical categories except offensive rebounds and the key one -- 3FG%. The Bruins had a nice run early to mid -second half led by Norman Powell's dribble penetration at will, but other than that, Stanford played a bad game except for the last eight minutes.
This would have been an epic fail -- a disaster for the ages to lose a 22 point game. It was so easy for the Bruins up until the last 8-10 minutes that they stopped playing on both offense and defense. Stanford started to bully the Bruins, the refs obliged them by calling fouls on us, and they got hot from the outside. Steve Alford couldn't turn the ship around at all. At that point, when you go cold from the perimeter, the thing to do was to go back to a deliberate inside-outside game plus allowing Norman to penetrate where he could. Calling plays for your son, who is not the best player on the team, is not the right thing to do.
Everything went wrong in the end -- forced and unforced. Bryce took a 35-footer and Bryce and Norman missed free throws in the last minute. Then there was Stanford's last play. The set up was horrendous, but I disagree with Bill Walton on the specifics. I've seen the timeout called, and I've seen the inbound pass go uncovered. I say 50/50 on both those decisions, but I you don't playing behind them in a prevent defense at half-court. The Bruins actually allowed a floater to Randle, the person everyone knew would get the ball. I would have one guy play centerfield, and the other cover their men such that the pass is around the foul line and Stanford man is running towards the inbounds.
In a game of dramatic runs, limiting Randle to 13 points just barely got the job done. The Bruins won this one in an unexpected way - without dominant games from Parker (Walton said he had the flu) and Looney -- and that scares me.
Will be a trap game after that important road win, and will the guards go back to their selfish perimeter game?
Berkeley beat Southern Cal 70-69 at Berkeley, so you wouldn't suspect there'd be much to worry about given that we crushed them at Pauley 73-54. Here are the box score from Berkeley-Southern Cal and UCLA-Berkeley. Of note:
1) Jabari Bird is playing.
2) Jordan Matthews scored 23 against UCLA and 12 last night.
3) Tyrone Wallace was held in check by Isaac Hamilton only scoring 4 against UCLA, but he led all Berkeley last night with 18 including the winning last shot of the game. He did do an excellent defensive job on both Isaac and Bryce on a generally difficult bow-out night.
Berkeley has been on a bit of an upswing having won three games in a row including on the road at the Washington schools. They seem to be in a better place again -- plus the game is at home for them. The preview, post-game and later analysis had the same themes: Berkeley was bad, Wallace is really good, Bird wasn't ready and the Bruins were playing the inside-outside game in earnest.
The difference this time is that Bird is back, and Jordan Matthews is better than we thought back then. However, if we thought the Bruin bigs owned Stanford, then this is a case of our bigs having a free pass. Last time out the scoring was spread pretty evenly and Welsh/Golomon/Allen got a lot of minutes, so Parker and Looney's stats weren't eye-popping but they were solid on the boards and defense.
The stat comparison is a mixed bag. What stands out is the UCLA grabs a lot of offensive rebounds and goes to the line. Like Stanford, with the same type of center, Berkeley fouls a lot. Surprise, surprise, UCLA is a better offensive team and Berkeley is a better defensive team.
Despite my misgivings about last night's ending, I can't see the Bruins losing this one. Just play two points better than Southern Cal just did.