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Pac 10 Notebook

January 8, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Pac-10 Notebook

by Joaquin Mesa

The beginning of Pac-10 play usually forces me to rethink my perceptions of the rational world. After all, if Arizona State could beat Oregon last year, then am I really a sentient being, or merely a pawn in a much larger, much more ordered reality? Does time shift or tick? Why is death not a derivative function, where we approach our final day, but never really get there? Or maybe it is. Will California beat Stanford?

Now, the last question caused me great angst because of its natural difficulty. Stanford is the tested team, with big victories against ranked opponents. California is the young, energetic team with seven freshmen. I was much closer to rounding up Pi then I was to predicting California the victor in this match up of Bay Area ballers. Before the game I was pacing, contemplating the worth of Barnes to Diggs. Who had the more consistent front-court? Do Stanford athletes really perform better off the court, or are there easy classes provided for them just like at every other division one school.

Immediately before tip off, I threw my athletic theory books down having had enough. I rose to enthusiastically proclaim, “It is indeed Stanford that shall prevail in this match-up.” Why might I say this, having understood Stanford to have lost to two unranked opponents before conference play began? This, amongst many other question, I will address in my new book, Why not to Listen to Mexicans about Basketball.

Fortunately, despite my lack of clairvoyance, I was given some great games over the weekend.

California versus Stanford

California handled Stanford in both the first and second halves, something that people weren’t too sure California could do. The guard play hurt Stanford, who thought they had found a stable point guard in Senior Julius Barnes. Stanford faithful are hoping it was a fluke that he couldn’t hit his shots, and handed out two assists to three turnovers. On the other hand, California got good all around games from the entire team. Not bad for a team that was unproven against quality opponents, with losses to Georgia and Kansas.

Arizona’s romp through Oregon

Everybody is talking about how Arizona stopped the run and gun offense of Oregon without Luke Walton. I contend that Arizona is more evenly matched against Oregon without Walton, giving more opportunities to players with more athletic gifts. After all, You, I and Doritos all know that Bill Walton didn’t give Luke any jumping genes. The lack of Walton allowed for bursts of energy that came with the faster tempo of the comeback effort of Arizona. Arizona has existed without Walton in big games before, with a big win against Texas earlier in the year. Walton perhaps exists in a parallel dimension as the definitive MVP of the Pac-10, because as of today he has not lived up to the hype in this reality.

Washington good, Washington State bad

USC and UCLA started off last year relatively similar, with two games on the road against the Washington schools, and two games at home. I first believed in Feng Shui when there were carved two different paths; one less traveled for the L.A. schools, and one into the annals of college basketball banality for the Washington schools. This year, Washington was determined not to let the same thing happen. After losing to UCLA by 11, Washington was thoroughly outplayed in the first half against USC, with loose balls, rebounds and jumps shots all favoring Troy. Doug Wrenn took it upon himself to take over the offense and create opportunities for his teammates in the second half, and Washington pulled off a comeback from twenty plus points. When sitting afterward in the mock up of the Elysian Fields that the Washington philosophy department built for just this occasion, Doug Wrenn and Lorenzo Romar jested as to the odd fortunes of Washington State. Earlier in the evening, UCLA crushed the in-state rival of the pair. Jason Kapono had a new career high of forty-four points. He was nine out of ten from the three point line. When mimicking Marcus Moore with a small plastic army soldier whose fellow soldiers had all fled for higher ground, Romar turned to see that Doug Wrenn was crying. Maybe he shouldn’t jest about this as it hit so close to home.

Wednesday

USC versus UCLA – I tried to get tickets, but my Karma was not having it. After all, I did predict angry alumni and a USC loss. Steve Lavin must admit, if he doesn’t go at least 16-2 in league play he is going to lose his job. He started off on the right foot, but USC is a lot tougher then the Pacific Northwest. They prefer Machiavelli to Socrates. Patterson and Bozeman have to elevate their minds and bodies to another level of consciousness if UCLA is to make a serious run at mediocrity, and the rest of the team is going to have to follow suit if they want to represent the Pac-10 in the tournament. Look for Kapono to be stifled in Bibby’s defensive-minded defense that likes to run at shooters. Errick Craven was passed over by UCLA because they wouldn’t give his brother a scholarship. Is this enough motivation to get him out of his sophomore funk? All good questions my mind is telling me, but the answers not so clear…

Perhaps I should consult my better judgment or Madam Sasha again. Forget it, I’m going to escape into a mindless state of nirvana and just watch some good college basketball.

     

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