Stanford's standing improves in BCS chaos

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Stanford's standing improves in BCS chaos

BOX SCORE

David Shaw called Stanfords 27-23 win over Oregon State Shakespearean, and in doing so laughed and said, Just trying to hide my Stanford education.

RECAP: Stanford tops OSU 27-23

But to be fair, at the time he said that, he was (a) focused on his own teams harrowing escape over the Beavers, (b) the redemptive efforts of running back, Stepfan Taylor, tight end Zach Ertz and quarterback Kevin Hogan, and (c) unaware that Deshazor Everett had actually thrown the BCS picture in a much less lyrical direction.

Hogan is the first-time starter at quarterback who became a veteran in four easy steps. Ertz is the senior tight end who fumbled early and scored late to put the Cardinals on their heels and then back on their toes. Taylor is the top-five running back who got stripped in the second quarter and then left Oregon State naked at the end of the third.

And Everett is the Texas A&M cornerback who intercepted the last pass of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron to preserve the Aggiess stunning 29-24 upset of the top-ranked Crimson Tide, and turn the entire BCSRose Bowl picture into a delicious and messy soup.

RECAP: No. 15 Texas A&M stun No. 1 Bama

And therein lies the true beauty of Stanfords resurgence into a national player. What they do is not merely a matter of entertaining the locals and warming the hearts of the parents. Their games create ripples that touch other teams, and other teams create ripples that touch them.

In this case, the Cardinal beat Oregon State, which moves them further toward the BCS conversation, which for them means a Rose Bowl berth. And Alabamas loss enhances Oregons chances of playing in the BCS title game. And if Notre Dame wins out, that makes it easier for Stanford to go to the Rose Bowl, even if it loses in Eugene next week.

Got it? Of course you dont. Nobody does. Stepfan Taylor, the hyper-elite Stanford running back, didnt even know that if the Cardinal beat Oregon next week and UCLA in two weeks that it could host the Pac-12 title game. He thought his 154 total yards and two touchdowns -- including his electrifying 40-yard catchrunevadestraight-armevade some morerun some more touchdown at the end of the third quarter -- were his last stand at Stanford Stadium.

Shakespeare? Shakespeare never got drunk enough to write this synopsis.

Shaw didnt even try to sort out the national ramifications. He was exchanging pleasantries with former coach Ted Tollner, now working for the Holiday Bowl, while hoping all along not to have to talk to him again until next year at the earliest.

That was when he wasnt praising Hogan, the sophomore quarterback who has in no time flat earned enough confidence that Shaw said he changed about 40 percent of the plays at the line, which is a remarkable number, against Oregon State.

Hes earned our trust, Shaw said of Hogan. When you start a new guy at quarterback early in the week, we knew he could handle quite a bit, but we didnt know how much. But by the end of the week, we knew we could give him the ability to change protections, change runs to passes, passes to runs.

He changed the play call on the Ertz touchdown at the line, and improvised the flip to Taylor. He looked like he should have been honored as a senior on their final regular season home game.

But it was also a game that showed Stanford at its worst, turning the ball over four times and taking eight penalties. In some ways, they were lucky to win the game at all, and had OSU quarterback Cody Vaz not actually stripped himself with 8:34 to play, Stanford might not have had the chance to win the game on Hogans 13-yard pass to Ertz.

In other words, the Cardinal were lucky to overcome themselves and the Beavers to escape a fate they had set for themselves by blowing an early two-touchdown lead.

But luck works in all directions, as the Giants can attest, and Stanford didnt let their misfortunes trump their ability to take advantage of Oregon States misfortunes, and in the narrow window the squeeze through to become a national college football factor, thats as good as being out-and-out lucky.

So it goes. Stanford is in better position to make the Rose Bowl than they were a week ago, much better position. They benefit from their own work and Texas A&Ms, and actually can only be helped by the continued successes of Oregon and Notre Dame, whereas a week ago, they needed just the opposite.

So Billy Don Shakespeare may be able to explain Ertz and Hogan and Taylor and the Cardinal giving up 23 unanswered points in the middle of a game they otherwise won, 27-0. But Shakespeare ends up having less to do with the big picture than J.K. Rowling.

You know. Someone with a much bigger imagination, and the ability to make serious bank on it.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

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Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title

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AP

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's OK, Carolina, you can open your eyes.

An unwatchable game turned into a beautiful night for the Tar Heels, who turned a free-throw contest into a championship they've been waiting an entire year to celebrate.

Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left Monday and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year's worth of heartache.

It was, in North Carolina's words, a redemption tour - filled with extra time on the practice court and the weight room, all fueled by a devastating loss in last year's title game on Kris Jenkins' 3-point dagger at the buzzer for Villanova.

"Just unreal that we get a second chance at this," junior Theo Pinson said, recounting a pre-game conversation with teammate Joel Berry II. "Not a lot of people can say they can do that. I told him, `We're about to take this thing. I'm about to give everything I got.' I knew he would, too, We just didn't want to come up short again."

But to say everything went right for Roy Williams' team at this Final Four would be less than the truth.

The Tar Heels (33-7) followed a terrible-shooting night in the semifinal with an equally ice-cold performance in the final - going 4 for 27 from 3-point land and 26 for 73 overall.

Gonzaga, helped by 8 straight points from Nigel Williams-Goss, took a 2-point lead with 1:52 left, but the next possession was the game-changer.

Jackson took a zinger of a pass under the basket from Pinson and converted the shot, then the ensuing free throw to take the lead for good. Moments later, Williams-Goss twisted an ankle and could not elevate for a jumper that would've given the Bulldogs the lead.

Isaiah Hicks made a basket to push the lead to 3, then Kennedy Meeks, in foul trouble all night (who wasn't?), blocked Williams-Goss' shot and Jackson got a slam on the other end to put some icing on title No. 6 for the Tar Heels.

Williams got his third championship, putting him one ahead of his mentor, Dean Smith, and now behind only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp.

"I think of Coach Smith, there's no question," Williams said. "I don't think I should be mentioned in the same sentence with him. But we got three because I've got these guys with me and that's all I care about right now - my guys."

Berry recovered from ankle injuries to lead the Tar Heels, but needed 19 shots for his 22 points. Jackson had 16 but went 0 for 9 from 3. Overall, the Tar Heels actually shot a percentage point worse than they did in Saturday night's win over Oregon.

Thank goodness for free throws.

They went 15 for 26 from the line and, in many corners, this game will be remembered for these three men: Michael Stephens, Verne Harris and Mike Eades, the referees who called 27 fouls in the second half, completely busted up the flow of the game and sent Meeks, Gonzaga's 7-footers Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, and a host of others to the bench in foul trouble.

The game "featured" 52 free throws. Both teams were in the bonus with 13 minutes left. Somehow, Collins was the only player to foul out.

Most bizarre sequence: With 8:02 left, Berry got called for a foul for (maybe) making contact with Karnowski and stripping the ball from the big man's hands. But as Karnowski was flailing after the ball, he inadvertently grabbed Berry around the neck. After a long delay, the refs called Karnowski for a flagrant foul of his own.

"I'm not going to talk about refs," Karnowski said. "It was just a physical game."

Zags coach Mark Few handled it with class, calling the refs "three of the best officials in the entire country," and insisting they did a fine job.

He might have wanted further review on the scrum with 50 seconds left. The refs were taking heat on social media for calling a held ball, which gave possession to the Tar Heels, on a pile-up underneath the Carolina basket. It set up the Hicks layup to put Carolina ahead by 3. One problem: Meeks' right hand looks to be very much touching out of bounds while he's trying to rip away the ball.

"That was probably on me," Few said. "From my angle, it didn't look like an out of bounds situation or I would have called a review. That's tough to hear."

The Bulldogs (37-2), the Cinderella-turned-Godzilla team from the small school in the West Coast Conference, tried to keep the big picture in mind. Twenty years ago, this sort of run at that sort of place looked virtually impossible. With less than 2 minutes left, they had the lead in the national title game.

"We broke the glass ceiling everyone said we couldn't break," junior forward Johnathan Williams said.

And North Carolina got over a hump that, at times this season, felt like a mountain.

"They wanted redemption," Williams said. "I put it on the locker room up on the board - one of the things we had to be tonight was tough enough. I think this group was tough enough tonight."