Monday, December 18, 2006
Dogs Down Creighton-Stanford Next
The Bulldogs were able to get things back to where they are expected to be in the friendly confines of the Save Mart Center on Saturday night versus the Creighton Blue Jays of the competitive Missouri Valley Conference. All three of Measured Buildups bloggers were in attendance on Sat. and were finally joined by more than 6,000 fans which has been about the average seated attendance for home dates this year. My guess was that somewhere between 10-11K turned out for the biggest nonconference game to date for the Dogs whose schedule has been uninspiring at best thus far. The game Saturday comes at the right time after the Dogs dropped an embarrasing game at UCSB and then had to eek out an OT victory at lowly Montana State thanks mainly to Quinton Hosleys 30 point effort. The importance of this game and the Stanford and Cal Poly home dates following mark the most important stretch of the season for Coach Steve Cleveland's Bulldogs because the table needs to be set before entering WAC play. The defense must be ramped up, roles need to be defined and the team must be a unit heading into conference play.
I was interested to see how the Dogs would respond against the Blue Jays, and they were able to shake off both the suspect outside shooting and defensive lapses that have plagued them most of the season thus far. The Dogs were able to jump on Coach Dana Altman's Blue Jays from the opening tip forcing Altman to use two timeouts in the games first 8 minutes. The Dogs came out firing from 3 per the usual, but fortunately they were connecting with regularity. The Dogs were able to attack the Jays in a very balanced manner with everyone getting into the mix offensively, lead by junior F/C Hector Hernandez early. The largest lead of the game came at the 6 minute mark of the first half where the Dogs lead by 17. They also finished a blistering 8 for 19 from three in that first half. Score at half:35-26 Dogs
Dominic McGuire was the story of the game with his huge defensive efforts. The Junior Forward(Transfer from CAL) finished with 9 points, 14 rebounds, and a career high 7 blocked shots. He dominated the paint and even though the defense was penetrated on at times, McGuire held back the Jays basket attacks by blocking their attempts away with his left hand. By the midway point of the first half, McGuire had taken on the role of the stopper and was changing shots with regularity. A couple of the blocks were awe-inspiring, one on center Anthony Tolliver and another on a breakaway layup attempt by guard Nick Porter. Porter thought he had the easy deuce, but McGuire timed his steps from behind and came up with a huge stop, getting a sometimes lethargic crowd to raise its decibal level. Kudos to the students who finally made their way to the conveniently placed on-campus arena and decided to assimalate under a basket assembly in large numbers, I hadnt been able to see them in the home games prior but im sure they were just bogged down with loads of schoolwork and couldnt make it.
Creightons second half efforts were hampered by their poor 3 point shooting. Although they were finding themselves open, they shot 0-13 from three in the second half. They came out and quickly drew to within 35-30 in the opening minutes of the 2nd half due to the Dogs poor shot selection and suspect perimeter defense. Coach Cleve called a timeout and got things settled down. The Jays played within 5 to 7 points for the first 10 minutes in the 2nd half. They were a shot or two away from really putting a scare into the Dogs, but the iron was truly unkind to the Jays on Saturday. The Dogs answered the charge each time the lead was cut to 5. First a McGuire 3 in transition to put it back to 8. Lead down to 5 again Hosley rebounds and a quick outlet and pass to Shawn Taylor for a dunk lead back to 7. Ten minutes to go, lead down to 6 and Javance Coleman finally buries a three and that would be as close as the Jays would get.
All in all, a good and very important win at home. I still do have my worries and there are things I still have questions about. The defensive intensity must remain as it was on Sat, but the perimeter defense must pick up because leaving McGuire in the paint to block shots isnt a good game plan normally. He will pick up fouls early and he cannot be on the bench with foul issues against Stanford. The amount of open shots Creighton had was unacceptable also, if they shoot 33% from three on Sat. we have a whole different game. Can the Dogs play on the road is a question that will constanly plague me. Will PG Kevin Bell limit his outside shots to around 4-6 from outside the paint? Will SG Javance Coleman find his touch or is the injured hand that no one seems to talk about a much larger issue than anyone lets on? Will the team look to Hosley more? He drops 30 one night and leads the team, next game he doesnt see the ball much and takes a role as 5th option on the court. If Bell and Coleman cut out the forced and defended shot attempts and make the extra passes, maybe Hosley gets more into the flow offensively. This team is an extra pass away from being lethal offensively. They settle too much and do not value their possesions when things are going well.
Big game Tuesday against Stanford at the Save Mart Center, the crowd should be a larger turnout than Saturday and should be louder since Dogfans always love to show up against teams from the PAC-10. Since the California schools of the PAC-10 look down on the backwards, white-trash, 4th rate University, and uneducated Central Valley, it always makes for a good time when they finally meet on the court or on the field. Lastly, lets look for the former San Joaqun Memorial stars the 7 ft. Lopez twins to have a disheartening homecomeing to Fresno!