I may not have had much of a dog in that Super Bowl fight but I do live in San Francisco and some of my closest friends are die hards. So when that ball dropped just outside the fingertips of Michael Crabtree I was struck with a very surprising sorrow. I wanted him to secure that touchdown and for the San Francisco to erupt. I wanted to see my friends celebrate with unbridled joy amongst the other strangers in the bars and the streets and the interwebs. But that was not to be the case and I was overwhelmed with the understanding of just how complex a season is. How it begins – when exactly is dependent upon your competitive ball of choice – with promise and excitement. The hours upon hours of work and preparation, sacrifice and all of the other words that we toss around to indicate the lengths a person or collection thereof will go to achieve their goal. And in this world of sport that goal is to win your last game, a championship for a ring or a banner or a cup that will forever let the masses know that you, for one season or tournament were the best. And when it comes to that moment, the final match to seal yourself that champion, to lose is nothing short of devastation. Gone. All out the window. So incredibly close yet painfully, sorrowfully, far.
We’re marching ever closer to those moments and while they hurt and conjure inexplicable feelings in us because we literally had no effect on that game’s outcome, it’s the beauty of fandom. Because when the ball does bounce in your favor, if Crabtree does make that catch or when Isaiah hits that stepback or Derrick makes that block, it’s all so suddenly validated and right.
It was good weekend.
Leader in the Clubhouse: The Arizona Wildcats jump back into the top spot and while they don’t necessarily hold a tiebreaker against fellow first placers Oregon, they didn’t get swept by the Bay schools. They did, however, grind out a couple of wins in Washington which is never an easy place to sweep. It was in fact Sean Miller’s first ever sweep up there and as we head towards the midway point, the Wildcats are positioning themselves for a successful home stretch.
GotW: I usually reserve this spot for the best game, competitively speaking, of the week. To that effect I give a shout out to USC-UCLA, Washington-Arizona, Washington-ASU, and Cal-Oregon. But I’m going to award this to Stanford and their performance Wednesday night. Sure I’m biased as I was there, but what they did offensively and defensively to Oregon was very impressive. Truly one of the best collective efforts I’ve seen this year and while I get that it was unsustainably good, they showed their ceiling and it’s a high one. Josh Huestis is a beast and a defensive nightmare and holy smokes is Aaron Bright quick.
Biggest Loser: Quarter by quarter, who are the Colorado Buffaloes? Through discussions with trusted Buffs they’re capable of everything from a Sweet 16 run (agree) to a swift NIT exit (still agreeing). This weekend they proved themselves the latter and that’s tremendously perplexing after the performance they put on in Utah. Or should I say the lack of performance and a further alarming fact considering Tad Boyles’ teams’ history on the road now. As Pac-12ers they’ve performed to the tune of 6-13 on the road (conference and non-conference). This isn’t very good and for a program that seemed poised to turn the corner, they really cannot afford to be doing things like lose to the Utah’s of the conference. There’s still time left and this is really the only major blemish on their resume (only non-top-100 loss). Interested to see if this game pisses them off or defeats them.
What We Learned: Oregon needs Dominic Artis. He’s not the sole proprietor of their success prior to his injury but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Ducks need their freshman point guard. In his absence they’ve turned the ball over 65 times. That’s an entire game’s worth of possessions they’ve handed away across the last three contests sans the little guy from Oakland. It’s been unclear just how long he’ll miss but I do imagine they’d love to get him back for this week’s hosting of Colorado. I asked the same about Colorado – whether they’re pissed or defeated following their tough loss – and I’m curious the same of these Ducks. My guess is that even without Artis this veteran group is reeling over getting swept and not all too pleased about it. My hope is that we have two teams that are really upset with their most recent performances and we’re treated to delight of a Thursday nighter.
The YouTuber: Loved it.