Killion: Bay's biggest football star? Kid Luck

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Killion: Bay's biggest football star? Kid Luck

Aug. 4, 2011KILLION ARCHIVE
STANFORD FOOTBALL PAGE
Ann KillionCSNBayArea.comWhos the most famous active football player in the Bay Area?

Its not even close. And its not a member of one of our professional football teams.

The most famous active football player in the Bay Area is a 21-year old architectural engineering major from Stanford.

Andrew Luck.

Luck doesnt come off as the most famous football player in the land. He doesnt act like the hottest collegiate athlete on the globe. He doesnt carry himself like a guy that has the most powerful sports league in the country swooning over him.

He looks at himself as just a college kid, said his coach David Shaw.

And he is just a college kid. Speaking to the Bay Area this week, Luck was just a regular guy, albeit a nervous one. His knee jiggled spasmodically the entire time he was answering questions at a Bay Area football media day. He pulled on his fingers. He seemed like hed rather be just about anywhere else.

Hes the rare player that doesnt like all the attention, Shaw said. He just loves playing football.

Football will be different this season at Stanford. There are changes and there are ridiculous expectations. Improve on a 12-1 season? Compete for a national championship? Even a year ago, no one would have dreamed up such stuff. But last year and Lucks performance changed Stanfords world.

NEWS: Stanford sixth in Top 25 poll, Sooners No. 1

One expectation is that Luck the Heisman runner-up last year will win the trophy awarded to the most outstanding player in the land.

I try to take that in stride, he said. I understand, playing this position and being there last year, its natural for my name to be brought up. Im more focused on our team goal of winning a Pac-12 championship.

Another change is that there will be even more of the focus on Luck, without Jim Harbaughs larger-than-life presence distracting the spotlight.

Hes full of energy, he had a lot of attention on himself, Luck said of his former coach. He would walk in and command a room. Coach Shaw is a little more laid back, quiet.

That seems more in line with Lucks personality. Hes pretty laid back and doesnt seem to fully embrace the spotlight. At Pac-12 media day, he got a lot of attention for growing an Amish style, no-mustache beard. There was even a split screen image circulated comparing Luck and Brian Wilson.

But Luck showed up last week clean-shaven.

It was impulsive, he said of his decision It had to go.

He paid appropriate homage to the King of Facial Hair.

I do fear his beard, Luck said of Wilson.

Luck will get his degree next spring, shortly after he becomes the top draft pick in the 2012 draft, barring some unforeseen development. Hell get a year free of being badgered about whether or not hell turn pro. But that wont change the pressure that surrounds him, both this year and in the draft.

Luck is not a Twitter guy so he hasnt seen the hashtags circulating among Twitter-users who follow lousy NFL teams, particularly 49er followers. Those users have started to tag their tweets Suck4Luck. Translation: be lousy enough to get the top draft pick and win the Luck sweepstakes.

That seems a little stupid to me, Luck said.

Luck came back to Stanford to enjoy his final year as a college student and one more year in the Stanford jersey, though he notes that he wont be getting melodramatic, about his final Cardinal days.
REWIND: Stanford's Luck NFL-bound after this season

This will be a high stress year. Already the all-time Stanford leader in winning percentage, completion percentage and passing efficiency, Luck is closing in on other school records. And with both Oregon and USC reeling with NCAA issues, Stanford has a chance to do something special in the conference and in a bowl game.

Luck said he just wants to get better: at footwork, at reading defenses, at being a leader. He said he still gets nervous before games.

I dont throw up, he said. Im a little turned off by that. I try to stay cool and collected. I used to get a little more excited, but Ive mellowed out a little bit.

While he talked, his knee jiggled non-stop.

The most famous active football player in the Bay Area is still just a kid.

Rewind: Warriors' dominance over Clippers in 'rivalry' continues

Rewind: Warriors' dominance over Clippers in 'rivalry' continues

LOS ANGELES – Once robust, the fabled Warriors-Clippers rivalry is rapidly going the way of the typewriter.

When the Warriors strolled walked into Staples Center Wednesday night and laid a 115-98 mashing on LA, prompting much of the sellout crowd streaming toward the exits in the fourth quarter, it was seventh consecutive time they have throttled the Clippers.

More deflating for the Clippers and perhaps the rest of the NBA is that this much-hyped game, with LA’s new and improved defense ranking No. 1 in the league, was supposed to be more competitive than the previous six losses.

It was, instead, a 17-point victory, the biggest Warriors rout yet.

Though the Warriors shot a respectable 47.7 percent (but only 23.3 percent beyond the arc) and also lost a tight rebounding battle, 46-45, they did most everything else so well the Clippers were done before the first quarter was over.

They had 32 assists and only 11 turnovers. They held LA to 39.6-percent shooting, while forcing 14 turnovers, leading to 16 Warriors points.

“Defensively, that’s where we won the game,” Kevin Durant said.

“If we defend like that and take care of the ball, even on a night when shots aren’t going in, we have a chance to win anywhere,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Even on the road against a great team.”

The Warriors (19-3) locked up star forward Blake Griffin, holding him to 12 points on 5-of-20 shooting – and an unsightly seven turnovers – mostly under the unyielding defense of Draymond Green.

In a game circled on their calendar, the Clippers’ starting five finished with 41 points – less than the combined totals of Klay Thompson (24) and Green (22).

The Clippers (16-7) lost this game on merit, perhaps more than the Warriors won it. Committing nine first-quarter turnovers, which the Warriors turned into 8 points, LA looked like a team that was not prepared to play an NBA game, certainly not under the microscope of national TV.

The game was advertised never materialized, partly because the Clippers were so bad and partly because the Warriors were appropriately ruthless in taking it.

“It happens,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “You go into a game that you really want to do well, things don’t go well for you, and you lose it sometimes.”

Largely thanks to Clippers turnovers, the Warriors smoked LA in paint points, 58-38, as well as fast-break points, 27-11. The Warriors had 12 steals, including a career-high-tying seven by Stephen Curry.

“When we get a steal, especially live-ball turnovers, it’s three-on-one and you’ve got to pick your poison,” Durant said. “We were getting layups, we were getting wide-open 3s – although we missed a lot. But for the most part, when we get out and run that kind of ignites us, no matter if we miss or make the shot.”

So it didn’t matter than Curry failed to make a 3-pointers for only the second time this season, or that Durant endured his worst shooting night as a Warrior, going 5-of-17 from the field.

With Curry, Durant and Thompson all shooting under 50 percent, it was left to Green to operate the efficiency department. He mastered it, going 8-of-10 from the field, including 3-of-5 beyond the arc.

“It was great to get some shots to fall,” Green said. “(My shot has) been feeling good the last couple days, so I said if I got a shot that I would come in aggressive. But still focus in on the defensive end. That’s always my No. 1 focus, especially against a team like this.”

To locate the genesis of the Warriors recent domination of the Clippers, look no further than Green. He suffocates Griffin, who tends to come apart. The Warriors have faced the Clippers nine times since Green was installed as the starting power forward. They’ve won eight of them.

“If you want to take a positive away from this experience, it’s that this isn’t the playoffs,” Griffin said. “So we have some work to do, obviously. It’s a good lesson for us and I think we’ll be better off because of it. We have to allow ourselves to learn from it.”

It’s a theme very similar to that which was expressed the last time the Clippers lost to the Warriors, as well as the time before that, and so on and so on and so on, going back to the days when this was a real rivalry.

The Warriors simply take the W and keep quiet. No gloating. Maybe that will come in the playoffs.

Rewind: Sharks show no rust from layoff, fall to Sens anyway

Rewind: Sharks show no rust from layoff, fall to Sens anyway

SAN JOSE – Against Ottawa on Wednesday night, the Sharks showed no ill effects from their recent respite. They controlled play in the offensive end for long stretches, earned six power plays, and outshot and out-chanced the Senators for the majority of the three periods. 

There was no rust to speak of despite no games since Friday and no practices or meetings on Saturday or Sunday. From the opening puck drop, the Sharks were the better team.

It didn’t earn them a win, though, or even a single point in the standings. Justin Braun couldn’t prevent a bouncing puck from getting past him with about one minute left in regulation of a tie game, and Chris Kelly squeezed a shot through Martin Jones while holding off Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The Sens added an empty netter, beating San Jose for the fifth straight time, 4-2.

Braun offered his perspective of the game-winner.

"It was just bouncing in the neutral zone,” he said. “I feel [Kelly] coming on me, and I'm trying to whack it over to [Joe Thornton and] miss. Miss with my feet. … You want to have that one back. Other than that, I think the boys played pretty well."

While Braun could have played that one differently, the Sharks probably deserved better than to be tied at 2-2 at that stage. They outshot Ottawa, 37-17, and out-attempted the Senators a whopping 78-36.

Despite a strong first period, they fell behind 2-0.

On an early power play, Mark Stone was the beneficiary of a deflected puck in front of the net, when Mike Hoffman’s shot hit both Paul Martin and Brent Burns before squirting to Stone. Erik Karlsson increased the lead to 2-0 with a wrist shot through a screen a few minutes later.

“Take a penalty, they get a lucky bounce, they score a goal, [then] they go up two on a shot through traffic,” Logan Couture said. “I thought we had most of the chances in that first.”

No one had better chances throughout the night than Joe Pavelski, who was the best player on the ice. The Sharks captain was robbed in front of the net twice late in the first period, rang a shot off the crossbar in the second on a breakaway, and in the third his desperation attempt on a loose puck just outside of the blue paint was snared by Ottawa goalie Mike Condon.

Pavelski finished with a game-high seven shots, and 10 shot attempts altogether.

“That’s the way it goes,” he said. “We’ve won games 2-1, 3-2. Tonight we didn’t find that extra one, and some of the chances we had, we have to get it.”

The power play got one in the second period, courtesy of Couture, but could have had more on its six opportunities. That 1-for-6 stood out on the scoresheet to coach Pete DeBoer.

“I thought the power play maybe could have won us the game,” he said.

Even with wins in six of their last seven entering Wednesday night, though, the Sharks are still struggling to score. They have two or fewer scores in eight of their last 11 games, although they’ve managed to go a respectable 6-4-1 over that span.

They continue to get goals from the usual suspects like Couture (seven goals in 10 games) and Brent Burns, who had the game-tying goal in the third period (his fifth in eight games), but the depth scoring just hasn’t shown up nearly one-third into the season. It’s clearly becoming an issue as evidenced by DeBoer’s constantly shuffling his lines, which he did again late Wednesday.

The coach downplayed a suggestion that the depth scorers aren’t holding their water, though.

“We've been managing to find ways to win games and get enough goals to win,” DeBoer said. “Just didn't happen tonight, even though the shots and most of the play was in our favor. We just didn't win."

While the shot and scoring chance discrepancy was encouraging, the last minute loss meant it was all for naught.

“You’re never happy when you lose, especially [when] you give up a late goal, you want to at least get a point out of that game,” Couture said. “I thought we were the better team, start to finish. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t find a way to get the third one.”