The Huskies will look to win their first road game of the season tonight at the Coors Event Center in Boulder. Obviously, the players kind of rolled their eyes when we asked about winning on the road. But like my story in today's TNT begins: the only way to stop the questions is to win a game. And they know that. Really the formula is simple. But the execution can be tricky.
From my story ...
What makes it so hard to win away from home?
“When you’re away from home, you don’t have the crowd motivating you,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We go on these frenzied runs – these spurts – at home. What about when you don’t have those on the road?”
What happens is, the Huskies get tight. The ball movement stops, the quick shots start flying and the defense becomes porous.
Suddenly, that one-point lead has turned into an 11-point deficit and there is no crowd to provide a motivational and emotional bandage to stop the bleeding.
The formula to fix it is ultra-simple.
“Your defense has to carry and sustain you through those times, and you can’t fuel their offense by taking bad, quick shots,” Romar said.
Go back and look at the road losses and there are extended periods where the Huskies didn’t defend, particularly against dribble penetration, while also getting stagnant offensively and settling for long, contested jump shots.
The players say they understand what needs to be done.
“I feel like everybody knows what we have to do on the road,” said senior forward Darnell Gant. “There’s no question. We have got to defend, and certain things we do at home we can’t do on the road.”
It’s just a matter of recognizing early when things are starting to unravel and put a stop to it.
“We need to say something before the coaches do,” Gant said.
But who is the player to do that? In the past, it was guys like Jon Brockman and Isaiah Thomas. This team doesn’t have that one dominant personality, yet.
“I’m not sure that it’s one guy. I think it’s going to be a team effort,” C.J. Wilcox said. “We don’t have anybody like Isaiah, who will get up in your face or anything. We have to do it as a team effort and know when we have to buckle down and play right.”Also forgot to link to my notebook yesterday that where Romar talked about playing at the higher altitude of Boulder.
From the Boulder Daily Camera ...
The Buffaloes know that this game will be unlike their previous games this season. Head coach Tad Boyle called it "a different animal."
Elsewhere around the Pac-12
After being swept last weekend, the Beavers are ready to be back in Corvallis. But are the Beavers ready for Cal and Jorge Gutierrez, who will try and shut down Jared Cunningham, like he has done to so many good scorers. From John Crumpacker's story ...
"Cunningham's a good player; he's explosive," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said of the former San Leandro High player. "He's just really hard to guard because he's so explosive, first step. He's a guy you have to pay attention to."
As for Gutierrez's assignment tonight, Montgomery said, "He doesn't say a word. He just goes to work."
Gutierrez does whatever his team needs him to do, on either end of the court. He's averaging 13.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game and leads the team in steals with 18.Oregon will struggle to score points against a Stanford team that is solid defensively.
Former JC teammates Jesse Perry of Arizona and Lazeric Jones of UCLA will play against each other tonight. UCLA is 0-2 in Pac-12 play and could very well be 0-3. Even Ben Howland admits that the Wildcats cause all sorts of matchup problems for his big lumbering team. From Diane Pucin's story ...
Howland said he hopes as the season progresses that sophomore center Josh Smith, whose weight seems substantially heavier than the listed 305 pounds, would be able to get more minutes per game — he is averaging 18.1 — and also more shots.
"Josh is sixth on the team in shots," Howland said, "and I envisioned him as being in the top two this season." Do-everything guard Maurice Jones is feeling the pressure to, well, do-everything for USC. From the story:
This season, with Fontan sidelined by a knee injury, Jones is trying to do both simultaneously. While trying to stay the pass-first point guard he's often been, he's also attempting to be the scorer Coach Kevin O'Neill demands.
Sometimes it has worked, sometimes not, as USC has struggled to an overall record of 5-10, 0-2 in Pac-12 Conference play.
Jones, a sophomore, made seven three-point shots and scored 28 points in a nonconference win against South Carolina, but he missed 11 of 12 shots in a Pac-12 loss against Stanford .
"Sometimes he imposes his will on the other team, sometimes he doesn't," O'Neill said.Utah might have thought playing the Cougs at home would be a win at the beginning of the season, now not so much. From Bill Oram's story ..
“There’s no point in our schedule that is favorable,” coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “It’s kind of fighting for everything that we’re going to try to get.”