Home > Uncategorized > Day 2 At The Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Tournament: Four Games, Eight Teams, Twelve Hours, Zero Counting

Day 2 At The Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Tournament: Four Games, Eight Teams, Twelve Hours, Zero Counting

This is how Staples Center looked as we entered on Thursday. It looked the same when we exited, just darker. And somewhat blurry

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t just be watching this Pac-10 tournament, I would be covering it for some kind of media outlet.

In a perfect world, I would have posted this sooner than now. But you have to understand that watching basketball for an entire half of a day is tough. My dad and I left our apartment at 10 a.m. Thursday for college basketball, eager to experience four games in one day. We returned safely at midnight after this exchange began our car ride home:

“You OK to drive,” I asked.

“Sure,” my dad assured me.

“You sure? I’m scared for my life.”

“Oh, me too.”

Again, we made it home fine. But I couldn’t spend the time I needed updating this blog. So I got a few hours of sleep instead. Excuse the lack of timeliness on this post, but here is what I saw on Thursday.

  • The first game of the day was No. 4 Arizona vs. No. 5 UCLA. There were some U of A fans wearing shirts with “The Streak Matters” printed on, a reference to Arizona’s 25 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament. I should have gotten a photo of that. But it was obvious that streak was going to end Thursday. UCLA took control of the game early and played extremely well in terms of strong defense and steady offense. UCLA shot 64 percent in the first half. It was close throughout, but I never felt as if the Bruins were in jeopardy of losing their lead. I think they will give Cal a much better game today than Arizona.
  • No John Wooden. No Lute Olsen. But Bill Murray was there in an absolutely hideous hat. I should have gotten a picture of THAT. It was one of those visor caps with fake blonde spikes sticking out the top. For a man who will be 60 this year, hideous.
  • But, as I continue to sound like a curmudgeon,  that hat wasn’t nearly as bad as some dancing fool in row two on the other side of the court. Dressed in Viking horns, foam fingers, long yellow sleeves and red checkered pants, this guy spent every clock stoppage dancing with less rhythm than someone experiencing a grand mal seizure. And he did it for ALL of the first two games. I’m not sure how much, but you need an awful lot of substances in your system to look like such an idiot for four hours.

Sir, please sit down. You are annoying the fans and embarrassing the family you don't have

  • I give credit to Arizona fans: They showed up before noon in more numbers than UCLA a good number of them stayed for the entire day of games. More Wildcats fans stayed after the loss than the number of Oregon fans who watched their team on Wednesday and Thursday combined. But really, Oregon fans should be glad they didn’t waste their money to watch the Ducks play Thursday.
  • Ernie Kent’s run is over in Oregon. But it was pretty much expected. The eighth-seeded Ducks aren’t talented and didn’t impress at all the previous night against Washington State. They depend on Tajuan Porter to carry them and he was only 8-for-22 shooting against No. 1 Cal.
  • California made five 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the game, opened up a 21-9 lead and that was about it. Jerome Randle made a sweet play on which he stole the ball at midcourt, drove between two Ducks, went behind the back to himself and scored on a reverse lay-up, all in one very fluid motion. That description doesn’t do it any justice. Oregon closed the gap six soon after, but Cal led by double digits for all of the second half and won, 90-74. Cal is truly the only “good” team I’ve seen so far at this tourney. They can make those 3s and have a couple of good senior guards. Those are a couple of attributes you see on many teams who win in the NCAA Tournament. Depending on their seeding and matchup, I could see the Golden Bears making it to the first weekend.
  • Yeah, that’s about as much optimism as you are going to get out of the Pac-10 this year.
  • I must admit that I didn’t see much of this game’s second half. I was too busy trying to guide my friend to the stadium so he could join us for the night session. But I know I didn’t miss anything.

If you didn't watch the Oregon-California game, no worries. You didn't miss much. You, the nation, the world and everyone in Staples Center

  • The day before the tournament, the Pac-10 changed its bracket to accommodate Arizona State. The Sun Devils were originally scheduled to play Thursday’s late game, tipping off at approximately 8:40 p.m. But the conference decided that ASU, as the No. 2 seed, should play in the third game, starting at 6:10 p.m., and get a couple extra hours of rest in preparation for Friday’s 8:30 p.m. semifinal contest. Well, the Sun Devils will get plenty of rest now because they were pathetic versus No. 7 Stanford and are likely out of the NCAA Tournament.
  • All I read about ASU before the tournament stated that it isn’t an athletic team, but gives the effort to out-work most opponents. While I didn’t see amazing effort, it was evident that that Arizona State doesn’t have someone who can really can stop a drought or bring them back. The Sun Devils led, 30-29, early in the second half and then went more than six minutes without a field goal. Meanwhile, the Cardinal went up by 10. ASU tried to come back, but no one could hit a shot. Stanford’s defense isn’t that good; Arizona State just couldn’t find someone to rescue it. Stanford won, 70-61.
  • For a school known for its academics, it’s hard to imagine how Stanford came up with that mascot and that band leader costume. We all know about the tree. It’s one of the best mascots in sports just because it is so different and weird. It looks like it was made by a third grader in one night and has those lovely anthropomorphic features for a tree. But that band leader looks like a Dr. Seuss character. It’s a mixture of “Cat In A Hat” and Willy Wonka. I would expect something like that at UC-Santa Cruz, not Stanford.

Nothing creepy about a tree with a buck-toothed face looking at a bunch of 20-year-old girls in short skirts. Nothing creepy about it.

  • The tournament bracket nearly imploded completely during the day’s last game: No. 3 Washington vs. No. 6 Oregon State. The Beavers were absolutely on FIYA in the first half from 3-point range, connecting on six of eight from above the arc. Meanwhile, the Huskies struggled through an eight-minute stretch during which they scored one point. The Beavers led by as much as 13 and went into the half up by nine. Washington then started pressing in the back court, Isaiah Thomas was the one now hitting 3s and Oregon State’s offense just tightened up. Everything was on the perimeter. The Beavers ignored the post game and ended most possessions in the second half ended with extremely tough shot attempts. I think the Beavers realized that they were less than 20 minutes away from the Pac-10 semis, and they froze. Washington scored 26 of the first 34 points in the second half and the Huskies prevailed, 59-52.
  • Oregon State’s cheerleader situation was interesting. At first, it seemed like the school only brought six cheerleaders, three of which were men. It was a little sad after seeing seven schools with at least six or seven girl cheerleaders. Then, with about five minutes left in the game, eight more members of the cheer team just miraculously materialized. Um, little late, kids! Where did they come from? Or were they just flexible people who were picked out of the stands to make OSU’s cheer team look more complete. On a related note, the Beavers also sported the day’s smallest and most unenthusiastic band.
  • Washington’s fans were the loudest of the day, but they did have the most time to “prepare” for the game.
  • You haven’t heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” until you’ve heard it played by the UW band. And then you want to plunge wooden stakes into your ears to get them to stop. I get it: university from Seattle, grunge music — it fits. But that doesn’t mean it sounds good. Still, the most memorable band moment so far is from the Oregon band playing its rendition of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s old ring entrance theme. Classic and hilarious.
  • It’s always cool when you can look behind a bench and see a federally assigned bodyguard. That’s what Craig Robinson has because he is Michelle Obama’s brother. The guard doesn’t do much. Just sits there, not really watching the crowd … or maybe that’s what he wants you to think! That guy probably has eyes in the back of his head. He’s 65 years old and has silver hair, but he knows more ways to kill you than anyone knows more ways about anything. That building was probably swarming with special ops forces — we just didn’t know it! It all makes sense now!!!

The brother of renaissance is safe. Repeat: The brother of renaissance is safe.

I’m wrapping up with perfect timing. I’ve got to get out of here now so I can make it to tonight’s semifinals. I’m not sure how Stanford will keep up with Washington, but I think the UCLA-California contest could be a very entertaining. Nonetheless, there are only two games tonight. Should be no problem, with an easy ride home.

I took one of these banners off a window on my way out of Staples Center on Thursday. I've got two of these now, going back to my trip to the tournament last March. But this one's bigger. Thus, more awesome

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