NCAA Silver Lining for Cal

NCAA Silver Lining for Cal

March 15, 2010CAL PAGE
SIGN UP FOR BRACKETBALL 2010!If youre among the Cal die-hards who think the Golden Bears actually have a shot at winning the NCAA mens basketball title, feel free to stop reading now and move on with your day.If youre a college hoops fan who seeks entertainment and entertainment alone from March Madness, or a Berkeley fan who cares about future recruits, proceed. Cals draw simply couldnt be better under the circumstances.The most significant circumstance, of course, is the loss to Washington in the Pac-10 tourney final. That changed everything. It did nothing short of dramatically altering the Golden Bears national identity.Beat the Huskies and youre the undisputed king of one of the countrys traditional power conferences. Granted, the Pac-10 was a conference in decline this season, but any team that wins the regular-season and tournament title curries favor with the selection committee.Win that game against Washington, and all of a sudden Mike Montgomery is twice the coach -- in the eyes of CBS -- as he is today. Jerome Randle and Jamal Boykin are better players. Cals campus is a little bit prettier.The loss, though, somehow made the Golden Bears tourney run more appealing to the casual Bay Area basketball fan. In beating the Huskies, Cal might have earned the No. 5 seed in the South and a first-round game against Siena. You know, the Metro Atlantic champs. Alex Franklin? Edwin Ubiles?Bueller .. Bueller? Anyone?Exactly. Instead, with the loss, the Golden Bears get Louisville in the South Regional first round. And with a win over the Cardinals, Cal likely gets a date with top-seeded Duke.How is that good?
Well, again, were talking about the casual fan here. And every casual college hoops fan knows that the college game has long been defined by -- increasingly so, since the one-and-done era was ushered in by the myopic NBA -- its coaches.Rick Pitino is a huge name. He coaches Louisville.Mike Krzyzewski is a huge name. He coaches Duke.Instant interest. And with a couple of wins, instant cachet for Cal.It probably wont happen, as noted above. Louisville can flat ball -- employing Pitinos signature pressure defense -- and Randle is going to be swarmed from the opening tip Thursday night in Jacksonville, Fla.Getting past Duke, which has an All-America forward in Kyle Singler, a 7-footer inside and Krzyzewski, will be even more difficult.But you cant tell me youre not more interested in Cal vs. Louisville than Cal vs.Siena.The nations prep stars surely will be, and thats where the Golden Bears really come out ahead. --Mychael Urban
What's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.

Cubs' Epstein: 'History doesn't really weigh on this club'


Cubs' Epstein: 'History doesn't really weigh on this club'

The Cubs are going to the World Series.

Yes, you read that right.

The Cubs are going to the World Series.

The Curse of the Billy Goat is broken. 

The 71-year drought is over. 

The truly once-in-a-lifetime moment has finally come to Chicago.

Holy cow.

The Cubs punched their ticket to the promised land with a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Best Pitcher on the Planet in front of 42,386 fans in the most euphoric moment in Wrigley Field's history.

Theo Epstein's vision is one step closer to coming to fruition.

"History doesn't really weigh on this club," Epstein said before Saturday's Game 6. "Just trying to win tonight's game. 

"These guys - a lot of them are in their early 20s and they're not burdened by that stuff. The organization isn't. It's just about trying to win and keeping it simple."


Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

DETROIT – The Sharks had just one scheduled practice on their 10-day road trip, set to take place on Friday in Detroit prior to the fifth and final game against the Red Wings. It was canceled, though, as the coaching staff opted for rest rather than work.

The result was a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings in which the Sharks were sloppy in their own zone, were smoked in the faceoff circle, surrendered a plethora of odd-man rushes, and took eight minor penalties. They just couldn’t keep pace with a Detroit team that was playing its second game in as many nights. 

San Jose looked like a club that has held just a single solitary practice since the season began on Oct. 12.

“Some breakdowns, guys not being above [the puck], some giveaways in our own end, we’re kind of leaving [the defensive zone] early,” Logan Couture said. “We just don’t seem like we’re dedicated to defense like we were at the end [of] last year.”

[KURZ: Instant Replay: Sharks blanked by Wings, end road trip with thud]

“It wasn’t very good tonight,” added Martin Jones, who lost his third in a row in goal. “Too many penalties, too many turnovers. Just wasn’t very good tonight.”

The start was actually a decent one, as the Sharks were attempting to put Thursday’s third period collapse in Pittsburgh behind them, but Detroit eventually took over. Gustav Nyquist broke the scoreless tie four minutes into the second period, and added to the Red Wings’ lead with a second marker about 11 minutes later.

On the first, Paul Martin was caught flat-footed in the offensive zone, leading to a two-on-one rush by Detroit. Nyquist abruptly stopped on the faceoff dot in front of Justin Braun, and rifled a shot though. On the second, Matt Nieto had control of the puck and was headed up the ice before he stumbled and turned it over to Ryan Sproul, who found Nyquist in the slot. 

A bad line change resulted in Andreas Athanasiou powering a slap shot to Jones’ far side six minutes into the third period, giving Detroit a commanding three-goal lead. 

“We were late everywhere tonight,” Pete DeBoer said. “When you’re a step behind a good team they expose you, and I think that was the story. We’ll have to go back and figure out why, and get our game back in a better place.”

“We played into their hands. They’re a transition team, a speed team, and if you’re going to play east-west and turn the puck over they’re going to make you pay for it. We talked about it, but we still fell into that trap. Obviously the penalties didn’t help, and we’re playing catch up all night.”

Among those penalties was a double minor to Joe Pavelski for spearing Steve Ott, just a few seconds after Athanasiou’s goal. The captain seemed agitated for much of the night.

Pavelski said he didn’t think he got a whole lot of Ott with his stick, but “it’s a play you don’t want to make.”

DeBoer didn’t take issue with the play which nullified what would have been a Sharks power play after a Drew Miller interference.

“Pav is a competitor. He was probably our best player tonight. He’s competing right until the final buzzer,” DeBoer said. “I don’t have a problem with that. It doesn’t bother me.”

The power play, though, is one area that the coach may need to focus on when the Sharks finally get a practice in on Monday at home. Despite being together for so many years, the top unit seems tentative with the puck and is misfiring on passes that are typically routine.

On one power play in the second period when the game was still scoreless, Pavelski was open in front of the net, but Patrick Marleau missed him on what would have been a tap-in goal. The Sharks finished 0-for-4 with a man advantage and have just one goal in a manned net this season during five-on-four play.

What has to change?

“Quite a few things,” Couture said. “We’re breaking in fine, [but] we’re too stationary, I think. I don’t know if we’re moving the puck well enough. Not attacking holes, not shooting the puck and getting it back.”

The Sharks will open up a three-game homestand on Tuesday with the Ducks. There is work to do before that.

“We’re 3-3. That’s the good news,” DeBoer said. “I think we’ve played some good hockey, but we have a lot of things we’ve got to clean up, too.”

Jones said: “Obviously it wasn’t the way we wanted to end the road trip. We’ll bounce back, and we’ve got a lot of games left.”