Good Enough

February 26, 2007

(UA 61, at ASU 58)


Good enough.

Actually, that should probably be “not-bad enough” since we sure tried hard to lose that one.

ASU gift-wraps the game with the turnover and flagrant foul with three minutes to play but we respond with Shakur committing a junior-high-like up-and-down traveling violation, Radenovic missing the front end of a one-and-one, and Williams fouling a three-point shooter with two seconds left while up by four.

HE FOULED A THREE-POINT SHOOTER WITH TWO SECONDS LEFT WHILE UP BY FOUR.

I would say that sums up the entire season but it blows every other boneheaded play out of the boney water. It’s worse than walking the ball up with eight seconds left in a tie game at Washington State. Worse than turning the ball over with 25 seconds left at home against Oregon. Worse than throwing the ball to USC 16 times.

We took a four-point lead with seven seconds left. I know my degree isn’t in advanced mathematics but I do believe four is more than three. At that point you should be running away from the ball like it has a lit fuse coming out of it.

But our stupidity was not justly punished. The shot went off the back of the rim. The heart of everybody in red starting beating again. Good enough.

It was a never-ending battle of Good vs. Stink for the Cats. We led 12-2 after the first four minutes, but were outscored 8-2 in the next four minutes. A 22-12 lead was turned into a 28-28 tie. To do so we gave up 16 points in three minutes and 42 seconds to a team that scored 13 points in a half against UCLA.

After Mustafa took one too many dribbles and Marcus couldn’t get the lay-up off in time, we were one half way from disaster.

The second half was more of the same. Eight-point lead with four and a half to play? One-point game with ten to play. We couldn’t even build a lead bigger than that until the previously-mentioned gift-wrapping that we almost refused.

We knew coming into the game that ASU’s strategy would be to take the air out of the ball and set fire to the pump. It only seemed like the yellow-clad fans spent the entire game counting down the shot clock for their players.

Sadly, the ugliness was contagious. The game featured almost four full minutes in the later stages of the second half with nobody scoring. Surprisingly our massive 2-0 run over a five-minute span wasn’t enough to put the game away.

As painful as a 61-58 game is to Pac-10 fans, ASU would look like the Phoenix Suns if they played in the Big Ten. The weekend’s marquee college hoops game was #1 Wisconsin visiting #2 Ohio State, and that contest crawled its way to a 49-48 finish. And somehow they still forced the word “thriller” into the headline.

On a more positive note, our win put ASU into a first place tie for most losses to Lute during his Arizona career. Coach O has now beaten Arizona State and Washington State 43 times each. It’s pretty good when the teams you beat most are your in-state rival and a top ten program. (Just go with me on the top ten program part.)

Did you notice that after Jordan Hill skillfully picked up his third and fourth fouls in 80 seconds he didn’t return for the rest of the second half? Bret Brielmaier logged 27 minutes and was the team’s third leading scorer and second leading rebounder. I told you he’s the team MVP.

More positive? We didn’t lose on Thursday either.

You know things are bad when Arizona Basketball takes a full calendar week off and you don’t really miss it. Around New Year’s I was so fired up I started hoping we’d adopt an NBA schedule and play four games in five days. But this past week Friday quietly rolled around and I suddenly remembered, “Oh yeah, there were Pac-10 games last night.”

I certainly didn’t forget about the baseball team and the Arizona DiamondCats didn’t disappoint. We came from behind to win an extra-inning game against UNLV Friday night, and came from ahead to lose the Sunday game, but in between was a tidy 9-3 victory to give Andy Lopez’s squad its first road series win of the young season. The UA’s record now stands at 11-3, which is significant because last year’s team didn’t get win #11 until March 25.

Next up for the Wildcat Nine is this season’s lone Tucson appearance of Arizona State University. Tuesday at 4 p.m. is the only time local fans will get to heckle Sun Devils without spending half a paycheck on gasoline. If you can’t make it there’s another afternoon home game on Friday followed by two weekend day games against the mighty Eagles of Eastern Michigan.

Now that ASU’s conference-season-long basketball winning streak is over, our hoops team needs to get one more win. Win once more and even if we lose our first round Pac-10 tournament game we finish with a winning record (10-9) against conference foes and with our high strength of schedule numbers and computer rankings that should be enough to put us in the NCAA tournament.

It would make a lot of sense to win Thursday’s game against 6-10 Cal rather than rely on beating 9-7 Stanford or hoping to beat anybody at Staples Center, but the reality is we have three more games to try and get a single victory. One more win to get into the Big Dance for the 23rd consecutive time.

That would be good enough.



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