Thursday, March 08, 2007

CAL "PISTOL-WHIPS" UCLA

What the hell just happened? (AP/Matt Sayles)

Not really, of course, but I just had to make light of the least accurate prediction in a long line of really bad Tightwad Hill predictions.

This game was all about Ayinde Ubaka. 29 points, 5-6 from three, and the clutch basket down the stretch. Let's be fair - Ayinde's senior year was a mild disappointment. A bad flu bug limited his effectiveness, and he sparred (justifiably) with Braun after the horrific loss at Wazzu. This amazing performance doesn't erase the frustration of a .500 campaign, but it's the perfect capper to a distinguished career. Congratulations, Ayinde.

This game was also about Arron Afflalo taking only seven shots in 38 minutes. Even the POY can have an off day, but you have to also give some credit to the Bears for playing inspired defense. A completely different performance in terms of intensity and communication on the defensive end. And, it didn't hurt that the rebound differential was only 31-29.

Bruins Nation is taking this game as they should - as a troubling development, but hardly a sign of the apocalypse. Afflalo won't play a worse game the rest of the way out. The Bruins looked a little flat on defense, and they struggled mightily from the stripe. And Cal - despite their ups and downs this season - is one of the more talented and disciplined 8 seeds in the history of this conference's tournament. When an opponent plays badly in all phases of the game, and one of Cal's two big guns goes off, then sure, the Bears can beat lots of teams. I never thought all of those conditions would be met today, against the Pac-10 champions.

Now of course we have to deal with a question that seemed unthinkable just 12 hours ago: Can Cal win the Pac-10 tournament? The answer's still probably "no," but you've got to think our Bears have at least a puncher's chance against the Ducks. After that, who knows? I'll have something up on Oregon tomorrow - until then, drink in the most surprising Cal basketball victory in, well, ever. (Or was the Duke upset in the '94 tourney more surprising? Thoughts?)

GO BEARS!!!!

4 Comments:

At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This game represented what I hate and what I love about postseason conference tournaments.

What I love: For Cal, there was nothing to lose, let's give 140% effort because our season's over if we don't win today. A terrific win for the Bears.

What I hate: For UCLA...yikes, in the first half they didn't look like they wanted to be in the Staples Center at all. Their place in the Big Dance is cemented, not the exact seeding or regional but obviously they're top shelf. They did come out motivated in the second half, but when the game went into overtime...from UCLA's perspective, there it was again. "We DON'T need to be here. If we win, tomorrow we will have to play the Ducks who are in a serious fight for seeding in the tournament. And if we win that game we would have to play on a third straight day on Saturday." I don't blame the Bruins in the least for taking the long-term view and checking out in overtime.

Eric '84

 
At 11:23 PM, Blogger Accidental Guru said...

This was more surprising than the '94 upset. We were a basketball school in '94.

 
At 8:13 AM, Anonymous beleaver said...

they looked like they were out and then they came back. that 3 poniter was clutch.

 
At 9:14 AM, Anonymous SoCal Oski said...

I have to say, yesterday's match was a complete (but very pleasant) surprise.

I think the result boiled down to three very basic points:

1) Ucla couldn't make their free throws, which isn't surprising since they really aren't a good FT shooting team.

2) Cal maintained the intensity for the entire game. You could see in the eyes of the Ucla players they expected Cal to collapse after the 2nd half started (hell, we all sort of expected it), but this time, Cal stayed strong.

3) Arrogance. There isn't any other way to put it. Ucla played as if the outcome was a fait accompli, and they were there because they had to be. Even after the first half the Ucla players and fans still behaved as if they didn't need to earn the win. They've played like that quite a bit over the season, and often got away with it. Not this time.

The end result was a very satisfying win by an undermanned, tired, and disrespected Bears team. Ucla will probably reach the final four while Cal may still not reach the NIT, but right now, none of that matters.

Go Bears!

 

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