Enough football! Let's talk hoops!
I don't have a lot of time to compose flowery prose, but I did want to pass along some of my initial thoughts after last night. Here you go, bullet style:
- Like most of you, last night was the first time I've gotten a chance to watch this team. My initial impression brought to mind a certain former coach of the Arizona Cardinals. We're athletic in the backcourt. We're small up front. We have a new coach, so the offense looks awkward at times. We're young, so the effort is inconsistent. These are all things we expected, and all things we saw last night.
- Klay Thompson is a different player than he was last year -- and that is a fantastic thing. You might think I'm talking about that improved free throw rate. I'm not. While that is all well and good, I'm just talking about his attitude. He's got a completely different demeanor than he did last year, when there were times where he had to be begged to shoot instead of deferring to Taylor Rochestie and Aron Baynes. He's carrying himself like a guy who not only knows he's the team's best scorer, but as a guy who knows he's one of the premier scorers in the conference, if not the country. He looks like a guy who knows he's the best player on the floor. Tremendous confidence. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: This team will go as far as Klay can carry it.
The downside to that, of course, is that there were times last night where I felt like he was taking some rushed shots and forcing things a bit. I'm guessing that's part of Ken Bone's strategy to get Thompson to see himself as a scorer. Once that transformation is complete, expect some of that to get reigned in. Personally, I'd rather have my best scorer shooting too much than too little, and Thompson is far too smart of a player to continue to have such poor shot selection.
But then ... youth kicked in. The Eags, full of veterans and trying to make a name for themselves, kept chopping wood. The Cougs, full of freshmen and sophomores, started to coast. And it nearly cost them. The great news is that it didn't cost them -- they still won -- but Bone will have plenty of teaching points as ammunition for practice this week. That's really the best of both worlds when you've got a young team.