Note: This is part of an article written by Benjamin Dull. To read the full post at his blog, First Rate Wait, click here.
How close was it? It was terrifying. Take a look above. That’s where USD’s Duda Sanadze caught the ball off the inbound, before he launched a pretty clean look that was just short, bouncing off the front iron and out, then tipped around as time expired. As you can see, Sanadze’s man is a good 6 feet away as he makes the catch. To be fair, most people in the gym probably expected the ball to somehow find Johnny Dee, but he was on the opposite side of the floor, and never really made himself available.
Point is: The Aztecs survived. It still is a win. Similar to what Xavier Thames said afterwards, there’s a better chance this win looks good in March than anything else. The Toreros have a good bunch this year.
Johnny Dee worked himself free coming from the baseline to the left corner twice for two easy threes down the stretch. Dee is able to work more off the ball because point guard Christopher Anderson has improved once again. USD’s back court duo may be small, but they are pesky and know their strengths and weaknesses by this point.
Seeing the kind of play you should expect to see work (twice) that late in a close game is a worthy cause for concern. We saw multiple defenders (including J.J. O’Brien and Winston Shepard) on Dee, but a player like Dee doesn’t need much time to plant, catch, and fire. And it doesn’t matter how big his defender is; that guy still has to fight through a screen and close out. With the big for USD setting that screen, it’s hard to call for a switch. I’d like to hear somebody ask Coach Fisher what he would have preferred his defense to do in a situation like that. Dee flying corner to corner working those screens is a deadly weapon for the Toreros. The next time the Aztecs see a shooter like that, we’ve got to hope he doesn’t get looks like those late in the game.
J.J. O’Brien and Winston Shepard struggled last night, but the effort by Josh Davis and Skylar Spencer to clean up the glass and 12 points from Dwayne Polee off the bench was enough to pick up the slack. There’s no reason to fret over O’Brien’s performance, even though he missed all 10 of his field goal attempts. Heavily wrapping your shooting hand is a big deal for any player – whether you’re finishing at the rim, putting it on the deck, or thinking about taking that open jump shot. He’ll take some time to adjust to playing with that hand wrapped, and once he gets it off, he will be just fine if it is back to full strength.
Full post – click here