The Van Derveer Era defines "The tedious monotony of victory"

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The Van Derveer Era defines "The tedious monotony of victory"

Tara Van Derveer has been here so many times, with so many teams, and done it the same way every time, that she has actually and without realizing it created the phrase the tedious monotony of victory.That sounds daft, and it is, but it is no less true for being absurd. A Stanford womens basketball season makes make the table of the tides seem madcap and unpredictable by comparison.Or you can stop me when we veer of course.Start season with high hopes, and a relatively equal sprinkling of senior leaders and precocious underclassmen. Schedule every tough game available, lose one, maybe even two. Run through Pacific 10 or 12 season with either zero, one or two losses, and crush the conference tournament. Advance through NCAAs, reach Final Four, lose to one of the game other three or four power schools.Repeat annually.Oh, within the team, which is where Van Derveer wisely keeps her focus, winning never gets old, or less enjoyable. The Ogwumike sisters smile just as broadly and with as much satisfaction as Jennifer Azzi did in the Pleistocene era of womens college basketball.But outside that group, there is a crushing one-note symphony that tends to diminish the yearly accomplishment, and it is there where we stand again tonight, as the Cardinals prepares to face Duke in the regional final at Fresno.Part of the problem, of course is that womens basketball remains stubbornly top-heavy. This year, not untypically, the four one-seeds face the four two-seeds. The same names are there all the time, and the best program has transferred from Tennessee to Connecticut with what was once a healthy dislike of each other but has matured into something less contentious as Pat Summitt has approached the end of her career and Geno Auriemma has stopped tilting at whatever windmill happens to wander by.Stanford is the logical third wheel then, with Baylor fourth and closing fast, and Duke, North Carolina and Notre Dame not far behind. And so it has been, and so seemingly it shall remain.Questions? Okay. Here are the last 25 seasons, and you tell us where theyve become zany and unpredictable.1988: Sweet 16.
1989: Elite 8.
1990: Champion.
1991: Final Four.
1992: Champion.
1993: Sweet 16.
1994: Elite 8.
1995: Final Four.
1996: Final Four.
1997: Final Four.
1998: Harvard (first round; dont ask).
1999: Maine (first round).
2000: Georgia (second round).
2001: George Washington (first round).
2002: Sweet 16.
2003: Elite 8.
2004: Elite 8.
2005: Elite 8.
2006: Elite 8.
2007: Florida State (second round).
2008: Title Game.
2009: Final Four.
2010: Title Game.
2011: Final Four.
With the exception of that Florida State loss, the Van Derveer Era is a nearly perfect upside-down bell curve, with no more surprises than the reading of the minutes at next months city council meeting.And over the years its become increasingly fashionable to ignore this success as, well, success. Yes, they had their version of the Mike Singletary era (see Harvard), but they havent gone eight years without a postseason (49ers), or nine (Raiders), or 18 of 19 (Warriors).They are the metronome on Van Derveers piano, and because the culture demands that we have constant change to keep from getting bored, we have ignored, sometimes willfully, what the Stanfords have done, and are trying to do yet again tonight.We have certainly lost the curiosity to understand how difficult it is, to the point where a loss to Duke would be regarded as failure except that nobody gives the program enough mental energy to determine if it is failure or not. Harvard and Maine were failures, and so was GW. This is not.Except that it would be, if only by a snobby few, and success wont be properly appreciated either. A win over Duke would get a nod, a win next week over Baylor in the semifinals would get a vigorous nod, and beating UConn would get as close to paroxysms of joy as the sport can manage. Auriemma is, if anything, more predictable.On the B-side, though, beating Baylor and then beating Tennessee would rob Summitt of perhaps her final best chance at a title, which would make it kind of a downer.But were getting ahead of the curve, which is as close to actual piefight-quality fun as it gets with this team. Its Duke tonight, in Fresno one more remake of the same movie. A skillfully done remake like most of the others, but a remake nonetheless.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Rahon's season-high paces Saint Mary's rout of Pepperdine

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AP

Rahon's season-high paces Saint Mary's rout of Pepperdine

BOX SCORE

MORAGA -- Saint Mary's guard Joe Rahon shook his head in disbelief and shrugged his shoulders while running back on defense after getting blocked by Pepperdine's Chris Reyes midway through the second half.

It was one of the few things that didn't go Rahon's way in the Gaels' second straight blowout win.

Rahon scored 17 of his season-high 22 points in the first half and No. 23 Saint Mary's beat Pepperdine 85-65 on Saturday night.

"Our team's all about the open guy takes the shot and tonight I was able to get in the lane and make a few layups to get a rhythm going," Rahon said after shooting 9 of 13 with three 3-pointers. "That's kind of what makes us good offensively. We're unselfish and we don't really care who gets all the credit."

Rahon had plenty of support while helping Gaels coach Randy Bennett to his 350th career win.

Calvin Hermanson added 19 points and Jock Landale had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Gaels (17-2, 7-1 West Coast Conference) led by double figures nearly the entire second half.

It was also a nice bounceback for Saint Mary's, which lost to Pepperdine twice during the regular season in 2016 before knocking the Waves out of the postseason conference tournament.

"Our guys definitely knew that," Bennett said. "We respected them because they'd gotten us three times in the last three years. Not many teams have. They have."

It wasn't as close this time around despite another big night from Pepperdine's Lamond Murray Jr., who scored 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting. It's the fifth consecutive game in which Murray has had at least 23.

The Waves (5-15, 1-7) couldn't keep pace with the Gaels' big three of Rahon, Hermanson and Landale. The trio accounted for 66 percent of Saint Mary's points and teamed for 18 rebounds and 11 assists.

After Pepperdine pulled within 72-63 on Murray's basket with 4:48 remaining, Rahon made one of two free throws, Emmet Naar had a 3-pointer and Rahon scored on a driving layup to help the Gaels to the win before a packed house at McKeon Pavilion.

"That's where playing together all last year helps," Rahon said. "You've been in the situation so many times that you look around and no one's rattled, no one's losing their confidence. We just have a lot of composed guys on our team."

Rahon, whose previous season high was 14 points, made seven of his first nine shots to eclipse that mark before halftime. Hermanson added 15 points, including an emphatic dunk on a baseline drive while Landale scored 11 points to give Saint Mary's a 47-33 lead.

MURRAY'S GROWTH:
Bennett has never coached Murray, only against him, but the Gaels coach sounded like a proud father after watching the Waves' leading scorer repeatedly torch his team's defense. "He's a really good player now," Bennett said. "He's as good a scorer as there is in our league. I think he's the best scorer in the league. It's just fun to see guys improve like that. He's made a big jump."

BIG PICTURE:
Pepperdine: The Waves have lost five straight and 14 of 15. ... Nolan Taylor's 3-pointer in the first half was the first of the season for the 6-foot-7, 250-pound freshman forward. ... Two days after becoming the school's career assists leader, Major was held without one for the first 14 1/2 minutes against Saint Mary's.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels responded to last week's loss to No. 4 Gonzaga with a pair of blowout wins at home, exactly the way Bennett expected. They have one more home game before playing four straight on the road. ... The 85 points are the Gaels' second-most this season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS:
Saint Mary's is likely to move up a few spots after three of the eight teams in front of the Gaels lost at least once this week.

UP NEXT:
Pepperdine: Returns home to host Portland on Thursday night.

Saint Mary's: Closes out its three-game homestand against San Francisco on Jan. 26. The Gaels won the first matchup between the two teams earlier this season 63-52 at Memorial Gym.

Rabb bounces back, leads Cal past Oregon State

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AP

Rabb bounces back, leads Cal past Oregon State

BOX SCORE

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- California sophomore Ivan Rabb rebounded from a disappointing game against Oregon with 18 points against Oregon State.

Rabb added eight rebounds and the Golden Bears handed the Beavers their seventh straight loss with a 69-58 victory Saturday night.

Rabb, who had been averaging 15.4 points in conference play, was held to an uncharacteristic four points in Cal's 86-63 loss to the No. 11 Ducks.

"Shots weren't dropping and I wasn't getting to the free-throw line," Rabb said. "But tonight I made an effort to get to the line, knock down shots, and just be more patient on the block. Overall, my teammates played better, I played better and we were way better as a team."

Charlie Moore added 15 for Cal, (14-6, 5-3 Pac-12), which led the Beavers by as many as 14 points after a close first half. Jabari Bird and Grant Mullins each added 12 for the Bears, who were coming off the loss to the Ducks but have won four of their last five games.

Drew Eubanks had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Oregon State (4-16, 0-7). Stephen Thompson Jr. added 19 points for his 13th straight game in double figures.

The Beavers have struggled without top scorer Tres Tinkle, who was averaging 20.2 points a game before he broke his right wrist on Nov. 25 against Fresno State. Tinkle has missed 14 games.

"I just think we have more bodies with more experience," Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. "Not that they didn't play hard - they have a lot of talent, they have young talent. Of course they're missing key players - probably one of the best players in our league in Tres - but we knew they'd make plays. We knew Stevie as well as Drew were good enough to carry those guys. We just had to utilize our experience, our older guys and also our bodies, try to run in transition and ultimately get to Ivan Rabb to make plays."

Cal led most of the first half but the Beavers kept up. Thompson's layup and free throw pulled Oregon State within 15-14 before Moore answered with a layup for the Bears on the other end.

Mullins' 3-pointer and Kingsley Okoroh's dunk put the Bears up 20-16. Bird's 3 extended the lead to 34-25 but Oregon State closed the gap late in the half and trailed 34-29 at halftime. Eubanks led all scorers at the break with 12.

The Beavers got within 38-34 on JaQuori McLaughlin's layup and free throw. It was as close as Oregon State would come and Bird made a 3-pointer that pushed California's lead to 48-36 with 12:42 to go.

"It's tough to say we're making strides, but we did some positive things," Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. "I'm proud of the guys for their effort but I've got to do some searching here because I'm having a hard time getting these guys to focus for 40 minutes. That's on me. I've got to do a better job, because we're still continuing to shoot ourselves in the foot, and we're a ways in the season."

The two teams split the regular season series last year, and Cal beat Oregon State 76-68 in the Pac-12 tournament last season. Cal had won eight of the last 12 meetings going into Saturday's game.

BIG PICTURE:
California: With his first 3-pointer early in the opening half, Bird upped his career total to 154, surpassing Randy Duck (1994-97) for 10th place on Cal's all-time list.

Oregon State: Oregon State players have missed 42 games due to injuries this season. In addition to Tinkle, center Cheikh N'diaye is out indefinitely with a left shoulder injury. Eubanks has a sore thigh that's bothering him. ... Oregon State was coming off a 62-46 loss at home to Stanford on Thursday.

BREAK TIME:
Cal has eight days off before they host rival Stanford. While the break is nice, Rabb was already eager to play the Cardinal.

"Yeah, we're looking forward to it," Rabb said. "It's a rivalry game. It's going to be a high energy game. It's going to be a great atmosphere at Hass Pavilion."

UP NEXT:
California: The Golden Bears return home to face rival Stanford next Sunday. The Cardinal fell 69-52 to Oregon earlier on Saturday.

Oregon State: The Beavers visit Colorado on Thursday.