Monday, March 10, 2008

CSUN snags Big West Awards

Cal State Northridge basketball has been an afterthought in the grand scheme of Los Angeles sports. This season, the Matadors won their first ever share of the Big West title, going 12-4 to finish tied with Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara.

So, Northridge is now...well still an afterthought.

But at least the Big West awards committe (the coaches) took notice.

Bobby Braswell won the Big West Coach of the Year and senior forward Jonathan Heard was named to the All Big West first team.

Tremaine Townsend and Deon Tresvant were named to the second team and Josh Jenkins and Calvin Chitwood were honorable mentions.

I do have beef with one of the selections. As one of the few people who have followed Northridge basketball throughout the season, I know that no one has been more instrumental in the Matadors' success than Josh Jenkins.

When asked what the biggest difference was between last season's struggles and this season, Braswell didn't hesitate to cite Jenkins. He may not be a top scorer, but he's eighth in the nation in assists and does a great job of playing on ball defense, the main factor in CSUN's league lead in turnovers forced and steals.

As for the Lakers, defense has been the afterthought. They gave up 71 points in the first half to the Sacramento Kings, while playing Matador defense (pun intended). After a missed jumper at the buzzer by Kobe, the Lakers lost 114-113, missing an opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the West.

In both games against the Kings this year, they have struggled on defense, giving up open layups and too many easy jump shots. In the first game, Kobe bailed the Lakers out with his huge fourth quarter. Remember all that jersey strutting and primal yelling. Yeah, that didn't hapen this time. Kobe scored one point and took just two shots in the final quarter, including his last second miss.
Which brings me to a theory I've had.
The offense has to go through Kobe in the last five minutes. That means he must touch the ball on every possession in the last five minutes or Phil subs the other four players out. The Lakers are deep enough to make that work and Phil could send a message.

Barring a fastbreak, the Lakers offense will get a considerably better shot if Kobe touches the ball. Almost every opposing team brings the double against Kobe and he can either split the double team or find an open shot for someone else. When he doesn't touch it, the ball moves but nobody gets open, especially because teams tighten up their defense at the end of a game. The result is usually a forced Derek Fisher drive or an unncessary Lamar Odom jumper. So go to Kobe or be subbed out.

Pain in the Ass:
The Dodgers are already down two third basemen in spring training and now, the guy who would be starting for the moment, Tony Abreu, is out indefinitely because of a pulled muscle in his right buttocks. He was playing in his first game on Friday after coming back from an abdominal injury and hurt his ass running out a ground ball.

As always, an updated Lakers +/- (through 63 games) Lakers: 44-19 T-1st in West

Fisher +287
Kobe +516
Turiaf +74
Odom +371
Gasol +224
Mihm -16
Walton +183
Bynum +236
Farmar +203
Radmanovic +239
Brown -44
Vujacic +110
Crittenton -40
Karl 0
Ariza +5
Mbenga +3

Up next: vs. Toronto Tuesday 7:30 p.m. PST FSN

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