Friday, November 11, 2016

Long Beach State Defeats Cal State Los Angeles in Season Opener

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The Long Beach State 49ers raced past the California State University, Los Angeles Golden Eagles for a 95-59 victory in their season opener Friday night in Long Beach. The 49ers are the favorites to win the Big West Conference and their display against the Eagles confirms the preseason selection.

Leading the way for The Beach was point guard Justin Bibbins, who filled the score sheet with 12 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and four steals. Bibbins was a Second Team All-Conference selection a season ago.

"Justin is an elite player in this league," said Coach Dan Monson. "He can play with anybody in this country. We're going to give him an opportunity to go prove it."

Over the past seven seasons, Long Beach State has ranked no lower than sixth in the nation in non-conference strength of schedule, according to Ken Pomeroy's ratings. The 49ers will immediately go on the road to play four teams who played in the NCAA tournament last year; they have Wichita State, No. 6 North Carolina, No. 14 Louisville, and No. 20 UCLA.

"We needed some confidence to buy into what works," said Monson. "Now we're going to get tested. They need to know what it's like to be at that level. That's the level we want to be, at the end of the season. No matter what happens, we're going to come back a better basketball team at the end of this week and that's why we play this schedule."

Friday night was the first time the two schools played each other since the 1992 season. Cal State L.A. was essentially a tune up for Long Beach State. The up-tempo style employed by Monson's team made it hard for the Eagles to keep up with. The 49ers continued to pound the ball inside and attack the rim; Long Beach State dominated the Points in Paint category 52-18. 

Defensively, the 49ers applied pressure via the full-court press after made free throws and perimeter traps, which forced turnovers and resulted in easy transition points. Long Beach State led 51-38 at halftime and came out of the break turning up the pressure. One two-minute run of play featured Loyola Marymount transfer Evan Payne break away for three dunks to stretch the lead to 64-45 to put the game away. Payne was the game's high scorer with 15 points.

"I think [Payne] showed a level of comfort," said Monson. "He's been so locked-in to try to do what we ask of him defensively, he hasn't been comfortable on offense. Today he got out in the open court. He's as good as any player I have had in the open court."

The contributions from the visitors were minimal, aside from a crowd-pleasing dunk from Desean Scott in the first quarter of the game that provided the crowd in arena with much-needed energy, and ironically fueled a 49er's run to close out the first half.

The 49ers had two other players score in double figures, forwards Yussuf Temidayo and Gabe Levin, with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Overall, Monson utilized 14 players in this game, with 10 of them playing at least 10 minutes. Long Beach State is going to need all hands on deck to come back from this road trip with positive results.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

USC Trojans 45, Oregon Ducks 20

LOS ANGELES -- A day before clocks are to be turned back by an hour in the fall, USC Trojans turned back the clock in the Los Angeles Coliseum and plucked the Oregon Ducks' feathers. The Trojans, behind a strong defensive effort and a running game defeated the Ducks 45-20 on homecoming night. USC's defense set the tone for the game as it thwarted the Oregon attack and forced three consecutive three-and-outs to begin the contest.

That enabled the Trojans to jump out to a 17-0 lead, which was never in danger. The Ducks, known for having an explosive offense, were held under 300 total yards by the Trojans, including only 85 on the ground. Oregon entered the game averaging 248 rushing yards per game.
"That is a really good rushing team," said USC's Head Coach Clay Helton. "One of the things [defensive coordinator] Coach [Clancy] Pendergast does is focus on taking the strength away from the team. The other thing we talked about was getting off the field on third down. We thought that was critical."

Read the rest of the story here

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

D'Angelo is Getting There

I am a Lakers fan but, up until the other day, I was not a fan of D’Angelo Russell. In the 2015 draft, I felt there were more pressing needs than the point guard position; Jordan Clarkson made the all-rookie team as a point guard. And because I always like to think I’m right, the draft pick didn’t sit right with me. I saw this video and liked the enjoyment he showed for the game.

Once the season began, Byron Scott thought it was best to make Russell earn his minutes and I agreed with him. I was probably the only person who did agree with the decision. Today’s athletes have a sense of entitlement, work for it first. Russell sulked, I thought that wasn’t cool. Eventually, Russell got his time to shine and basked in the “I Got Ice in My Vein” game. Lakernation was quick to point out how wrong Scott was to hold him back. Would he have been so cold if his hand wasn’t forced by Scott to work on his game? Hmm.

Spring has arrived and D’Lo mania is on, but then came the snitch incident to kill the vibes later that month. It is funny how we can clown and slander on social media but when it comes to one of our own players, all types of defenses are created, knowing good and damn well if this happened on rival team, we would be in full-attack mode. I come from a place where what he did in this incident is unforgiveable but I guess this is a different era. After being froze out for a game and facing the music, I was happy to see him finish the season strong because being scrutinized and having your character questioned can break a young man but Russell stood up under it.

Over the summer, Russell worked hard on his skills and now there are expectations for a Most-Improved-Player type of season from him. One quarter into the season, the “This is my shit” moment happened, my first thought was that it was to early. The following quote from an ESPN Mag article began making waves: 
Kobe deserved every bit of attention he got in his last year, but there's freedom in Kobe not being around... There's no one leader, no face of the Lakers.
As strange as it may seem, that made me become more accepting of the kid. It showed a willingness to be accountable for his actions. He also knew it would draw more criticism from pundits and he was prepared for it. I'm hoping that Russel continues to make strides and help usher the team back into winning times.

Friday, October 28, 2016

NBA Diary October 27, 2016

These are just my free flowing thoughts of things that occurred, related to the league, on the date of which the article is titled. Some may be my reactions of different news articles, tweets, but mainly non-statistical, organic, lukewarm takes of game play. All games won’t be discussed. If you have anything you want my take on. Email me or drop a comment below.

Not much game action on my birthday. What do you think about the rumors of Lebron wanting to ban the Kardashians from being near the team?

Here's my quick take on the mini slate: 

There have been grumblings about my dude Johnny Wall and Bradley Beal not liking each other even though both try to dispel the narrative. However, their play on the court last night said different as they fell to the Hawks. You can’t scream you’re the best back court in the league if Dennis Schroder, some guy named Malcom Delaney and Kyle Korver outplays you. I may have ranked Atlanta too low, Dwight Howard is going to have his way in the East. Tim Easy Way dropped 21 off the bench.

In Chicago, all the talk was about having a team of ball dominant guards who couldn’t shoot. Although that may be true. Wade, Butler, Rondo, and MCW were a combined 10 of 15 from downtown as they beat Boston.

Sacramento hosted the first regular season game in its new home and gave The Machine a run for their money until Kawhi shut everything down with four steals in the third quarter. Kawhi is the MVP after two games. Boogie dropped 36 points and 17 boards in a losing effort.

The Clippers second unit looked impressive against Portland, that’s how they got the win, it’s probably the best in the league with the addition of Felton and Mo Buckets to J-Crossover. Dame did all he could for the Blazers. Coach Stotts need to start running out better lineup combinations.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

NBA Diary October 26, 2016

These are just my free flowing thoughts of things that occurred, related to the league, on the date of which the article is titled. Some may be my reactions of different news articles, tweets, but mainly non-statistical, organic, lukewarm takes of game play. All games won’t be discussed. If you have anything you want my take on. Email me or drop a comment below.

It was my son’s second birthday. Therefore I didn’t know how much hoops I would be taking in but I bore witness to some pretty fascinating stuff. Like the photo above, for example. That's an example of Trump's America folks. What bothers me most are the two clowns laughing at that idiot. Don't condone disrespectful behavior.

Westbrook looked like we all expected him to. I did not watch the entire game but from the little I did see, I noticed something I had not before. On a few occasions, Westy operated from the post against smaller guards, featuring this part of his game more will make him a more efficient scorer. Before I started writing this piece, I ran across the photo below and it all made sense. 

The Lakers vs Rockets games was interesting for many reasons:

First, I love that Mike D'Antoni continues to throw conventional wisdom to the wayside. MDA has Harden playing full-time point guard. You remember when people were saying Oklahoma City should move Westy to the two and let Harden run point? The Beard had 14 dimes at halftime. I love it. Next, NASA eventually caught the L and it was because Luke Walton pressed the right buttons. He transformed my favorite Laker, Julius Randle, into Draymond Green. I'll make it clear and state he's not on Green's level but he is a better low post scorer. Julius brought the ball up many times and initiated the offense with great success, he finished with an 18 points, seven boards, and six dimes stat line. Finally, Luke showed us why he kept Metta World Peace on the roster, to be a goon. Metta was inserted into the game and immediately paid dividends. He played two minutes and got called for three fouls but those fouls changed the game, he showed the kids they can't just let the Beard punk them. LAKERS WIN! LAKERS WIN!

Anthony Davis acted a fool with his 50 points, 16 boards, seven rips, five dimes, and four swats. A completely unheard-of stat sheet. I think he might have been disrespected by the GM survey. But that boy needs some help. Fa real fa real.

I hope you enjoyed the read.