Out of Options

March 4, 2008

(USC 70, at UA 58)
(UCLA 68, at UA 66)


Now that’s a disaster.

You have to admit, as snakebitten/unlucky/just-plan-bad as this team has been all year it's surprising it took this long to lose both games in a weekend. We had always found a way to get an unexpected one: at Houston, at USC, at WSU. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that we gave UCLA a fight.

Well, except for the part about them being UCLA and us being Arizona Of The Past 5 Years.

Couldn’t we have just gotten blown out again? That’s what we were all expecting. Why the need for the false hopes and heartbreak? Do we really need another hideous memory?

People want to complain about the lack of timeouts at the end against the Bruins but it’s a moot point since the ball was under the basket. Everyone has out-of-bounds plays designed to get immediate scores. You just need your coach to pick the right one and your team to execute it. Here was our play:

Jawann took the ball out to the right of the backboard as you look in from half court. Jordan is in front of him on the right block. Kirk is behind Jordan about midway up the lane. Make a 90-degree turn and Chase is in the middle of the lane and Jerryd is to his left, completing a big L.

At the slap of the ball Chase sets a screen for Jerryd, Kirk sets a second screen for Jerryd, and Jordan tries to screen Kirk’s man away from the right side of the floor. Kirk’s man switches on the screen and denies Jerryd the ball. Jordan moves to the left block. Kirk flashes down the right side of the lane and is wide open as he receives the ball.

Everyone is talking about Kirk and the shoot/don’t shoot dilemma (I heard it again today in the dairy aisle) but the real problem is, why are you calling a play where the 5th best guy on the floor is your 2nd option? After setting his screen Chase drifted out toward midcourt as the escape valve. No one screened for Jordan so his man wasn’t going anywhere. If UCLA jumps the guy coming off the double pick (which they did) plan B is the second screener rolling down the lane.

When Jerryd got the ball Kirk’s man was still on him, Jawann’s man came over to double, and Jerryd’s original man made it back to complete a triple-team. Inside the 3-point line you had Love on Hill, and McClellan and Walters all by themselves. Alas.

It keeps a depressing chain of events in motion. We’re short on talent, which means injuries leave us short on starters, which means we’re always in danger of being short on fouls, which leaves other key players short on energy, which leaves crunch-time shots coming up…short.

We have now had the final possession in eight games this year with a chance to win or tie. You want to guess how many times we’ve converted?

1. Down 3 vs. Virginia with 20 seconds left, can’t get a shot off.
2. Tied at Kansas with 21 seconds left, Brielmaier misses an open 15-footer.
3. Down 2 at Illinois with 21 seconds left, Wise misses a wild layup but Hill makes the put-back.
4. Down 3 at ASU with 13 seconds left, Budinger misses a 3-pointer.
5. Down 2 at Stanford with 11 seconds left, Bayless misses a 16-footer.
6. Down 3 vs. ASU with 8 seconds left, Bayless misses a forced 3.
7. Down 1 vs. Stanford with 15 seconds left, Budinger gets a floater blocked.
8. Down 2 vs. UCLA with 6 seconds left, Bayless misses a forced 3.

That’s one time out of eight we actually made the shot. And even then we had to miss before we made it. That’s a great way to give yourself an unsightly record.

So we lost the USC game too. I guess Thursday night ESPN games only work for football.

The game with the Trojans was disappointing but at least we had Jerryd’s highlight reel juke-and-monster-dunk in transition. Wouldn't it be fun to watch Bayless on a deeper, more talented team so he could get out and run a little bit? If only the country's best high school point guard was available to join him should he stay in school another year. Oh wait, he is. Please stick around, Jerryd. Have one year of insane fun before you start your job.

Dream break over. Back to the ugly reality. I really hope that wasn’t our last game on CBS.

Since USC apparently flew back to L.A. two days early last week, if we don’t win at Oregon we’re going to be playing in the 7/10 game that Wednesday night at Staples Center.

Seventh place!

You know who’s fired up right now? Oregon State. They can’t wait to play Arizona. They’ve been out-talented all year long and they finally get somebody that gives them some sort of advantage. They have more players than we do, and they’re at home. This is their best chance to avoid becoming the first team to lose all 18 Pac-10 games, and they know it.

For the Cats, Thursday’s game is as must-win as they come. You’re just not getting into the tournament with a Pac-10 record worse than 8-10. There’s no chance. And you don’t want to count on beating Oregon on their senior day for the eighth win.

You got room for another hideous memory?

--

Baseball isn’t hideous. The home season started and the Cats swept three from Sacramento State.

I walked up to Sancet Stadium a couple minutes before game time Friday night expecting to stand behind a couple people before getting my ticket as usual. Instead there was a line out to the curb and extending down the street a bit. The line for the other window was poking out into the crosswalk on National Champion Drive. The two ticket office people were so overwhelmed they sent a bunch of us over to the McKale ticket office to speed things up. It was a beautiful thing.

You know what else? Wilbur was there! In a baseball jersey! Somebody pass me a tissue.

But it wasn’t all good news at the ballpark. Something awful happened. I walked into the men’s room to relieve myself and…nobody watched.

That’s right, they remodeled the bathroom! Gone is the ancient trough into which generations of Wildcats have tinkled. I was horrified. I don’t need a privacy wall. I don’t need to aim at a picture of a bumble bee. It’s like we’ve lost a piece of urinary history.

Doesn’t it just piss you off?



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