While the final score of Skyline’s first loss of the season (a 58-39 defeat at Ballard) wasn’t pretty, it also wasn’t as disastrous as it appears on paper. The Spartans (2-1) were done in by a pitiful performance at the free throw line (13-for-30). It’s going to be hard to win a game at any level with a performance like that at the charity stripe.
Aside from that ugly mark on the stat sheet, the Spartans showed a weakness in its press. Skyline implemented a full-court press throughout the game, which is a usual style. Ballard, for the most part, had no trouble breaking the press. The Beavers did have 14 turnovers and allowed the game to speed up on them at times. But a few of those turnovers came after Skyline switched to an active half-court zone and the press never was a key issue for Ballard.
“We got a couple young guys and so that was probably the toughest varsity game some of the guys have played in, in terms of the intensity and just the shear physicality of it,” head coach Maui Borden said. “It was good for us. I don’t think we were mentally prepared to take on something like that and I take responsibility for that. We got to make sure these guys are ready to go.”
Ballard coach Billy Rodgers sees Skyline as a team that will come together as the season progresses.
“I tell you what, I saw them play a couple times,” he said. “They’re improved from a year ago. I think they’re a better team, more cohesive team. I like their team.”
Player to watch
Senior forward Blake O’Brien can certainly create matchup problems in the paint at 6 foot 8, but he also shoots from the outside without hesitation. Although the 3-point line may be a bit too far outside, O’Brien’s got a good midrange game. He also went to a baby hook on multiple occasions on Tuesday, although it came up quite short on most occasions (that appears to be a direct correlation to him regaining his strength, see below).
O’Brien is still working his way back from an ankle injury, so his cardiovascular fitness is slowly being upped. He is also regaining confidence in his ankle and finding his aggressiveness, Borden said. When O’Brien regains those things, he’ll be a tough matchup.