Monday, January 08, 2007

Over the Weekend

Illinois

Umm, these guys aren't really going to be very interesting to write about this season. They're pretty bad so far. I still think they have the talent to turn it around, but as Mark Tupper has pointed out, they have yet to find someone who want to be a leader, and it doesn't help that their senior backcourt senior isn't very good. I'll admit, I thought Weber was going to turn McBride into a very good player, but he's been a disappointment for most of his career at Illinois, at least in my opinion. So who will it be? Well, my guess is no one, but if anyone can do it, it's Brian Randle. He has the ability, but so far he just doesn't have the fire.

As for Saturday's debacle, I didn't really see it. It was on at the same time as the UCLA - Oregon game, and once I saw what the score was after about 10 minutes, I decided it would be a waste of time. Sorry.

UCLA

Had to happen sometime. Give credit to Oregon. They played extremely well, especially without Malik Hairston (speaking of that, maybe I just changed the channel every time it came up, but I didn't hear his injury mentioned once by the broadcasters - more on them later). Aaron Brooks played the game of his life, while the Bruins played without a doubt their worst game of the season (only including games against actually decent teams), and still had a chance to win or tie at the end. I've only seen one team in the last 20 years or so that I really thought could go undefeated, and this team wasn't it. Better to get this one out of the way on the road.

And while I'm on the subject, it should be interesting to see what kind of record U$C ends up with in the conference season. So far, thanks to the way the Pac 10 schedule works, it looks like they're either going to get teams that are looking ahead to UCLA (like Oregon and Washington), or teams that are drained from having just played UCLA (like Washington) (like Oregon State - see update at bottom). Of course, if they keep winning, that might change. And they'll get to test themselves against UCLA this weekend.

As for Barry Tompkins and Dan Belluomini, interesting exchange in the second half when LRMAM picked up his third foul. Howland sat him down, and brought him back on shortly thereafter, prompting Barry and Dan to comment that Howland was taking a chance bringing him back in with three fouls. A minute or two later, UCLA brought the ball down the floor, and a cross-court pass was knocked out of bounds by Oregon. Howland took LRMAM back out of the game. Somehow, Tompkins or Belluomini got convinced that there was a foul, and it was on LRMAM (his fourth). One proceeded to convince the other, and as a result, they were very shocked when Howland brought LRMAM back out a minute or two later with, in their view, four fouls. Finally, after figuring it out, they blamed it on a scoring mistake. Sure, guys. Whatever you say.

Angels

Nothing, really.

Kings

Nice 3-2 win over Detroit on Saturday after a dreadful first period. Before the season started, I said that the Kings would need more goal scoring from the blue line. Last year they had about 40 goals from defensemen, and about a third of those were from Joe Corvo, who's obviously gone. I said they'd need closer to 55 this year to be competitive. About halfway through the season, they've got 26, so they're ahead of last year's pace, but behind the pace I said they'd need to be at. Of course, a few more goals from the defense wouldn't make this team much better considering they have a hard time keeping it our of their own net.

Regardless, the Kings used two goals from defensemen to come back from a two goal deficit to tie the game before Michael Cammalleri got a good bounce on a power play for the decisive margin late in the third period. Lubo Visnovsky got his 13th of the season on a rush up the right wing, and Rob Blake tied the game on a fortuitous bounce from a Brian Willsie pass through the crease (though it still required a nice finish from Blake).

As for that power play goal that won the game, the man advantage was created by another jaw-dropping move from Anze Freaking Kopitar. He beat a man coming out of the Kings zone, pulled an incredibly timed pull and drag move at the blue line, smartly getting the puck into the zone before dragging it around a poke-check and splitting the defensemen for a great chance that probably should have been a penalty shot (he was a step behind the defense with a clear scoring chance - nothing in the rules says it has to be a clear break from the blue line). The kid is 19, folks. He's worth the price of admission.

*UPDATE - Nestor links to a Trojan Times article where Oregon State coach Jay John agrees.

5 comments:

Moses Taylor said...

Senior (as in a singular senior)?

Warren Carter is offended. But my bigger problem with your post is that you were way too nice to McBride. A mere disappointment would be an improvement, IMO. I can not tell you how upset I am whenever I see him in the game (which thankfully is happening less and less).

Seitz said...

Good call. I'll need to edit that.

We were talking about McBride at lunch today, and what a disappointment he's been. Even his first couple of years. He didn't need to be anything other than Sean Harrington for those seasons, and he couldn't even do that. There was always that hope that he'd bust out, but nope. Just a bust.

Bob Timmermann said...

But Washington played USC before UCLA. Washington lost to UCLA because they played no defense.

I don't think the Pac-10 schedule is quirky. It's the same as it's always been. And for decades teams have had to gear up for playing both a loaded UCLA team and a usually not all that bad USC team.

Seitz said...

Dammit, you're right. I don't know why I thought that Washington game was a Thursday night game.

My point wasn't that it's quirky or different than last year. It's just different than pretty much every other conference. And I think it would be natural for Washington, Arizona, and Oregon to look past SC, at least in the early season, in preparation for UCLA (or be on a letdown after having played what's really the more important matchup of the set). But if SC keeps winning, that may not be the case.

Seitz said...

I see where that came from. Quirky is Nestor's word, not necessarily mine.