Thursday, March 19, 2009

One and done...again

If only they all wanted it as bad as you Jorge.

Ugh. Where to begin? Ugly first half but the Bears managed to keep it close. No shame in that, though some early airballs and bad bricks showed some definite jitters. (When will Cal show up at a first round game ready to take someone's heart?) Good start to second half, which was a good sign (and typical of this team). Good rebounding and good half court defense up to that point.

Then we heard the poop splash.

Cal starting forcing up ugly shots, making bad passes, getting whipped in transition, and missing every loose ball. And Maryland seized the opportunity and shovel-faced Generalissimo Vasquez and the rest of the motley crew Terps started making shots. It was UCLA and Mizzou all over again.

And the refs of course didn't help. They called the game fairly consistently up to that point. But then they started calling everything on the Bears. Randle must have come down half a dozen times down the stretch, cocked for a shot and the MD guy would bump him or run into him - no call. On the other end of the court, every little reach or tap was a foul on the Bears. Not the reason they lost, but it got into their heads a bit.

But the worst part about this loss was watching the Cal players forget what got them there in the second half and just start making bad plays. They got rattled and careless in the face of aggressive defense, started throwing the ball away, dribbling with their heads down, and heaving prayer shots. Those turnovers and missed rebounds turned into quick points the other way. It just had the look of a team totally unraveling after holding it together decently well. Against a pretty mediocre opponent to boot.

Yes this season exceeded expectations. And yes with Anderson and Hardin gone, this team really had to reinvent itself, which was no small feat. And yes they had some fantastic wins this year. But the fact is they were better than this game. And that is why it sucks so much to see them lose this game. Good season that ended on a bit of a low note, but nice that everyone but Wilkes is back, as they should be much improved.

One final note. I am sure all the kids wanted to win. But if they all despised, and were deathly afraid of, losing the way Jorge Gutierrez clearly is, they'd win more games. The kid was in tears before he hit the bench after fouling out. He was throwing his body around with abandon, clearly exhausted but he never let up. He contested every move, every dribble, every shot, and he went for every loose ball and every rebound. That is the kind of heart this whole team needs.

Playing hard to win is one thing. Refusing to lose is something different. Hopefully this early exit will motivate them for next year.


DJ Safe said...

Usually hustle plays are contagious, but w/ our team it seems that it isn't. Hopefully that will change next year. I'm looking forward to seeing Gutierrez playing for the good guys (Cal) for three more years.

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