Urban: No bite in Giants' bark

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Urban: No bite in Giants' bark

Aug. 12, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

You see it all the time in sports. A team loses a superstar, and the healthy remainders collectively raise their level of play for the short-term, responding to the challenge of the perception that they can't quite get it done without the alpha dog.That's essentially what happened when the Giants lost not one, but two of their alpha dogs.OK, nice guys that they are, it's probably not quite fitting to call Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez "alpha dogs." They're more golden retriever. Sweet disposition, all-around solid in every way. But they were absolutely crucial to the Giants' success, just as the more prototypical alpha dogs -- think Michael Jordan -- were to their respective teams. Posey and Sanchez as Jordan? It's not as crazy as you might think. Don't let the sport or the glitz or the Gatorade commercials fool you.
RECAP: Giants' bats absent, fall to Marlins 2-1
When Jordan would go down with, say, a sprained ankle, the Bulls generally raised their level of play for a short time. They responded to that challenge. But if Jordan missed, say, five or eight or 10 games, eventually the team came back to earth as the reality of the situation set in.Holy crap. He's not coming back anytime soon, is he?That's what you're seeing with the Giants these days.When Posey and then Sanchez went down, the Giants played inspired baseball, insistent on showing the world that they'd be fine without their two most pure hitters. And just when the reality set in, as mentioned above, there came a psychological boost in the form of the Carlos Beltran trade. Beltran was the bridge. The new alpha dog.But as we've all seen, the alpha dog didn't exactly come in barking or biting. And now, in the worst possible development for the team's overall psyche, Beltran's wrist is now barking, and if you aren't thinking disabled list at this point, congrats for being the biggest optimist in the world. It's a mental game now. The Giants are without Posey, Sanchez and Beltran, and there's no more alpha dogs in the kennel.And that's what makes this road trip, which started Friday with an unbelievably uninspiring outing and another loss to a previously struggling club, so crucial.Are the Giants going to lay down like dogs, or will they come out flashing fangs?

A's slugger Khris Davis bows out of World Baseball Classic

A's slugger Khris Davis bows out of World Baseball Classic

MESA, Ariz. -- A's left fielder Khris Davis confirmed that he won't play for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

Davis said he felt "terrible" about the decision, but that he wanted his undivided attention to be on preparing for his second season with Oakland.

"I kind of feel over-extended," he said shortly before the A's hit the field for their first full-squad workout of the season.

Coming off a season where he clubbed a career-best 42 home runs with 102 RBI, Davis said he wouldn't dwell on the incredibly slow start he had in 2016 or the monster numbers he proceeded to put up after that. But he's ready to help the A's try to rebound from back-to-back last place finishes.

"There's a lot of excitement, I can feel it."

Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57

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USATSI

Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57

PROVO, Utah — Saint Mary's knows all about the raucous atmosphere at BYU. The Gaels hadn't won in Provo since 2013 and had only come out on top in three of their previous 12 trips.

Make it four out of 13.

Calvin Hermanson scored 17 points and No. 22 Saint Mary's cruised to a 70-57 victory over BYU on Saturday night, snapping a three-game road losing streak to its West Coast Conference rival.

"It's definitely one of the tougher places to play for us," Hermanson said. "Coming in here we know it's a huge crowd and we know they can get riled up on any 3-point shot or any run they make. We wanted to try to limit their runs and their big plays.

"The second half was pretty unbelievable how quiet the crowd was. It felt great for us."

With two games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Gaels (24-3, 14-2) clinched a second-place finish in the conference standings behind top-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga.

Saint Mary's controlled the game most of the night, riding its staunch defense on one end and running efficient offense on the other. The Gaels were able to get to the rim consistently, but also knocked down 10 3-pointers.

BYU (19-10, 10-6) shot 39.7 percent from the field and connected on four 3s.

Evan Fitzner had 15 points for Saint Mary's, including 11 in the second half.

"We didn't turn the ball over and we shot the ball well," Gaels coach Randy Bennett said, "and were able to get some separation and then it made it tough on them. We kind of just wore them out after that.

"We're a little different team with Fitzner out there. He spaces the floor," Bennett added. "We just play a little different with Fitzner out there versus Jock (Landale). It's nice to have a Plan A and Plan B."

Saint Mary's took a 41-30 lead into halftime thanks to Hermanson's hot shooting and plenty of that trademark defense. The Gaels began the day ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, then held the Cougars to 37.9 percent shooting from the field in the first 20 minutes.

Saint Mary's shot 57.1 percent at the other end, including a 3-for-4 effort from Hermanson from behind the arc.

"I feel like we're better than we showed tonight," BYU guard TJ Haws said. "That team made a lot of runs on us. Tough defensive and offensive team. Very poised and disciplined.

"I want our team to just fight. When they punch us in the face, I want us to punch them right back."

BYU kept Landale under control in the half — and in foul trouble throughout — but Saint Mary's scored 22 of its 41 first-half points in the paint.

Eric Mika had 18 points for BYU, and Yoeli Childs added 13.

"The key to the game was that they were comfortable the entire time in our gym," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "That's on us. We need to be ahead. We need to get them to speed up a little bit because they're a little bit uncomfortable.

"But the game went pretty much exactly how they wanted it to go and we couldn't flip it. We couldn't get on top."

BIG PICTURE

Saint Mary's: The Gaels will be the No. 2 seed in the WCC tournament. No. 1 Gonzaga secured the regular-season title Saturday with a win over Pacific. An early December defeat to UT-Arlington is the Gaels' only bad loss this season, with the other two coming against Gonzaga.

BYU: The Cougars likely needed a win against the No. 22 team in the country to make an argument for the NCAA Tournament off their regular-season credentials. BYU has lost all three games against ranked opponents by double digits, including to Saint Mary's twice, and doesn't have a signature win. The Cougars get one last chance against Gonzaga next Saturday.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

No. 22 Saint Mary's might find itself moving up a bit after No. 17 Florida State and No. 21 South Carolina lost on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Saint Mary's: Travel to face Pepperdine on Thursday.

BYU: Play at Portland on Thursday.