|This guy did not have a bad game.|
That's one of those, "I hate to say I called it" moments, but I think even I underestimated how good Weber State could, or would, shoot it from deep. After a respectable first couple minutes for USU, Scott Bamforth hit his second of a total of seven 3-pointers on the game to break an 11-11 tie. Weber State never trailed again. One would think that a team hitting 3's at the insane rate that the Wildcats were on Tuesday would eventually cool down, but for the most part, we're still kind of waiting on that to happen. Simply put, Bamforth was absolutely unreal tonight.
Weber State appeared like they'd won this game in the first half when they hit 8-of-12 shots from deep, building a 15-point lead at the break. For as incredible as Bamforth was in the first half, Damian Lillard wasn't too far behind, scoring 12 points of his own in the first half. The 29 points they combined to score gave them a two point lead over USU at halftime with just the two of them.
In the second half, almost everyone in an Aggie uniform showed up pretty solidly... almost. I hate to ever single out any one player, especially when he's a superstar, but Brockeith Pane singled himself out in several ways in the closing minutes of this game, seemingly forgetting he had teammates down the stretch. Now, it's tough to really fault him, seeing as how he's generally been a guy to really step up in the clutch late in games, but tonight was a rare swing-and-a-miss for him in that department. After a Preston Medlin 3-pointer to make it 66-59, Pane had two turnovers and two airballs. One of those came after he left Medlin wide open on the wing to drive into a double team. It was just bad... Which really sucks because Pane had a pretty excellent first half. I imagine between a film session of that final stretch, along with what happened with Lillard at the end of the game, Stew and Brockeith are going to have a little chat tomorrow, and my guess is that Pane responds with a great game Saturday. And regardless of everything, this loss is not on Pane, or really any one player not named Scott Bamforth.
Now, like I said in the preview for this game, this USU team is young. Their experience is way behind that of Weber State's and it showed through pretty apparent. Weber's execution was stellar all game, while USU hit some pretty rough patches offensively, especially when both Pane and Medlin were out of the game in the first half. Both of those two are the obvious floor generals of this team right now and things just run much more smoothly when they're doing the majority of the ball handling.
Wrapping up, most people who had done their homework thought Weber State was the best team in the State of Utah this season. Tonight, they proved it, and kudos to them. USU can take a lot from this game, and the potential of this team is still really intriguing. There are a lot of new guys who look like stars in the making once they put things together, especially the likes of Mitch Bruneel, Steve Thornton and Adam Thoseby. I'm hoping all three of those guys have a case of the Newbolds (can't hit a 3 early in the year, can't miss after mid-December), because once their shots start falling, that'll really open things up. It's just going to take a little time. Lucky for USU the schedule softens up quite a bit for the next month.
Some other points...
- Anybody still drinking the Morgan Grim haterade needs to step... the... hell... off!!! Dude has been awesome so far this season (second on the team in scoring so far if you need him).
- Last season USU opened the season beating Weber State at home, then lost on the road at BYU in game two. This year, open at home beating BYU, lose on the road to Weber State in game two... Last season ended as one of the best ever... History repeating itself? We'll see.
- Brockeith Pane's running floater is just plain sexy.
- Kyisean Reed's ability to get to the basket is very encouraging. His ability to finish at the basket when he gets there... well... Let's refer to that as "scoring potential."
- Ben Clifford looked respectable in the whole three minutes he was on the floor, which was his collegiate debut. Really rooting for him to progress into a regular role on this team.