SATURDAY'S LESSONSWe've always figured ourselves to be smack dab in the middle of the never-ending Ben Braun debate. We haven't written him off as many Bear fans have done; on the other hand, we're unsatisfied with the results of his tenure at Berkeley - 11 years with no conference championships and a single Sweet 16 berth is not acceptable.
We think we've been fair to him this year, crediting his ability to improve the Bears' offense with eight-nine healthy scholarship players and maintain the team's focus through a very rough period. For the most part, this team has played hard and smart.
But last night's effort raises a troubling question that can't simply be answered by a glance at the injury list. How could the Bears come out that flat in a home game with their hated cross-Bay rival? Stanford got off to a 20-4 lead, and the game was essentially over after eight minutes. We know that Cal made a spirited comeback, but the abysmal start reflects poorly on Braun's ability to motivate his charges for what should have been the Game of the Year.
Are we being too harsh on Coach Braun? We don't think so, but we'd invite opposing viewpoints.
In other action...
* That grease stain on the floor of Pauley Pavilion? That's the once proud Oregon State Beavers, who lost by forty-seven points to UCLA. OSU scored 35 points in the entire game. Building the Dam has all the gory details of an historic butt-kicking. It's UCLA's conference to lose at this point, as we expected.
* ASU deserves lots of credit for their defensive effort against Washington State, holding the Cougs to 12 points in the second half and almost pulling the upset.
* Ernie Kent had his first Lost Weekend - how will the Ducks respond next week against the Arizonas at home?
* We don't buy that Arizona is back because they crushed UW at home by thirty. We are intrigued by the emergence of Jordan Hill, who went for 16 points, eight boards and five big blocks. Three of their next four are at Oregon and home dates with the LA schools. If they can go 3-1 through this stretch, we'll say they're back.