One of the fun things about broadcasting is the occasional interaction we get with the officials at our table right on center court. (Despite what my partner, Jerry Miller, would have you believe, most of these officials are pretty good guys). On Saturday when the Bengals hosted Eastern Washington, official Ty Elkin came up to our table and asked if he could store his extra whistle there. Of course, we said. Well, when the Bengals' 75-70 win was complete, Elkin and his officiating partners quickly vacated the premises, as is the officials' wont, only to leave behind the spare whistle.
I brought it home with me with the idea of eventually returning it to Elkin next time he's in town. But in the mean time, I found a darn good use for it. You see, my wife and I have been dog-sitting Brutus (above), my stepdaughter's cocker puppy, and he's a persistent pest. He constantly harasses our dog, Burley, to the point where they chase each other around the house, snarling, and growling and yelping. Well, this morning it occured to me that Elkin's whistle might come in handy. Every time Brutus starts harassing Burley, I blow the whistle sharply and Brutus and Burley come to attention, bringing a momentary respite to the uproar.
So, Ty, next time you're in Pocatello, stop by the table and I'll return your whistle -- Brutus should be back home by then.
Okay, I Really Like This Offense Now
A lot of Bengal fans, myself, included, were complaining about ISU's set offense earlier this season, when it seemed like, if the Bengals weren't pushing the ball in transition, they weren't scoring. ISU went into long droughts without field goals in several games, even in the wins over Idaho and Utah (when they went nine minutes without a field goal). The coaching staff wasn't happy either, and they took action to correct the problem.
Prior to the game against Northern Colorado in Greeley, they picked a certain offensive set and decided to drill it to death, and explore as many options out of that set as they could. The result was a good offensive game in a loss to the Bears, followed by two more excellent offensive efforts in the wins over Portland State and Eastern Washington.
Bengal center Lucas Steijn was beaming on our post-game show after the EWU win, in which he finished with 15 points to complete a 25-point, 8 rebound, three-block weekend. Steijn talked about how he used to hate that particular offensive set, because it was never productive. The extra options that the Bengals have added, however, have increased his involvement and gotten him the ball a whole lot more in scoring position.
As Steijn explained it on our post-game show, the set begins with four Bengals up high, including Luc, and continues with him setting a high ball screen. He then rolls to the hoop, and the Bengal guards have been wracking up a ton of assists getting him the ball on that roll for a layup. Amorrow Morgan tied his career high with 8 dimes on Saturday vs. EWU, and several of them were dump-offs to Steijn rolling to the basket. Morgan and Matt Stucki combined for 22 assists in the two wins this past week.
I believe Bengal offensive braintrust Steve Swanson will be our guest on the coach's show Monday night, with head coach Joe O'Brien heading to Memphis for Morgan's father's funeral. If so, we'll ask Steve to give some more detail on how the offense has evolved and why it's been so effective.
Speaking of Row, what an incredibly courageous performance by the young man this week, after his father passed away on Tuesday. He accumulated 32 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds and 2 steals in the two wins, and he would get my vote for Big Sky Player of the Week. Surely, his father would be full of pride.
And thanks for being a Bengal -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.