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It was a sad weekend as we saw another great performer taken before their time. Whitney Houston died in Los Angeles Saturday afternoon, the cause of death not yet known. What is known is that she could sing the hell out of a song.
On to basketball, as the weekend turns into a Monday, we’re left with no clearer picture of the title race. Washington managed a split but looked disappointing in accomplishing such. It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay that the Huskies got smacked as they still sit atop the conference. Then of course there was that Saturday hiccup in which Arizona – who I Will Always Love – nearly lost to Utah, Heartbreak Hotel if you’re a Ute fan. It was an abomination of a game but the completion of a home sweep for the Wildcats nonetheless. And speaking of Colorado, if they can’t win a game of significance on the road, well then How Will [We] Know? Stanford’s ship is quickly sinking (another reference later), following a similar pattern to the previous three seasons of Dawkins ball, leading us to believe that perhaps this is just the Same Script, Different Cast in Palo Alto. In Howland-land, wherever that is, it’s been a steadily disruptive tale of average and a harsh reminder to Bruin Nation: Didn’t We Almost Have it All? Oregon’s season has been a surprising one, a collective effort in which Coach Dana Altman has managed to get the best of a lesser group. They seem to be making some late noise and for a shot to dance, they’ll have to do it All At Once. And if we’re discussing doing things in bunches, USC just keeps losing in bunches and KO is left to wonder, “Why Does it Hurt So Bad?” This deep into the season, with a conference record of 5-8 and an out of conference record of 10-2, Craig Robinson has discovered that the great Jared Cunningham is not All the Man [He] Needs and If I Told You That ASU was the only BCS conference team to not win back-to-back games this season, would you believe me? Up in Pullman, in the wake of losing Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto, Ken Bone and crew are still improving, Step By Step short Faisal Aden but with a hustling Brock Motum.
So while everyone else either beats up on each other or demonstrates gross mediocrity, Cal is left alone moderately comfortable about their spot in the tournament, a group that just Wants to Dance With Somebody.
The weekend that was.
Game of the Weekend: I guess it was Washington edging out the Beavers in Corvallis. I’d predicted, last week, that the GotW would be the Ducks and Dawgs and in its own right, that was a great game, especially if Oregon leverages that W into some sort of seven game mind-blowing tear or the converse happens to the Huskies. But both teams have played and won since so, like I’d previously said, it was just a game where the green team scored a helluva lot more points than the purple team. So back to the GotW debate. I don’t want to call what happened in Tucson Saturday morning the best of anything. Kudos to the Coach K of the West and his Utes for packing it in the arc and forcing Arizona to shoot their way to a win. But how can you call a game that was described as pathetic, a disaster, and disappointing the GotW? USC participation eliminates any game from GotW consideration, UCLA didn’t have a first-half assist against Cal who ho-hummed through the weekend as they should. The Utah-ASU game was on foxsportsarizona.com and I know you didn’t watch it, I didn’t watch it, so did it really happen? Colorado was matter-of-factly beat in Tucson and returned the favor in Tempe. The North Face Backpedalling and Wait for Next Year Bowl (WSU @ OSU) had two huge games from Brock Motum and Jared Cunningham (24/9 and 33/6/2, respectively) but was over in the first half and that same WSU team couldn’t muster up much against Dana’s Ducks a day later. So, if you were paying attention, I’ve talked all eleven of the twelve games out of GotW contention leaving us where we begrudgingly left off anointing Washington’s 75-72 victory over the Oregon State Beavers the Week 7 GotW. Congrats?
The Big Loser: Sure Stanford split in LA but I think the smoke and mirrors have vanished and we’re seeing what a Johnny Dawkins team looks like: defensively capable, offensively inept, mediocre. There’s been nominal progress in his four years at the helm and this season is beginning to look a lot like an Italian leisure liner: 2-5 in their last seven with their only wins coming against USC and ASU. They were The Biggest Loser in Week 5 and haven’t done much since. A week ago I was at Maples for the Arizona game and, for the second year in a row, left disappointed in the atmosphere. There’s no excitement surrounding the program and I’m curious as to what it’s going to take. Dawkins is about as no BS as they get and seems to fit the bill of a Stanford man – whatever that might be. But I can tell you Monty wasn’t and ain’t that exciting either. You know what is pretty cool though? Winning. Ask Harbaugh.
What We Learned: It’s practically March. You know, the month that hosts that big tournament where you win or go home? That one? The point here is the “win or go home” part. Arizona won this weekend, a trip to Washington is up next. The Huskies got smoked and then won in Corvallis, hosting the Zonies is next. Oregon won, Cal won, Colorado split. Those are the tangibles. It’s too deep into the season to worry pretty little heads about whether a team is too dependent on this, passive at that, or really good at those. Win or go home. I can’t get this off my mind because after Thursday night I was so disappointed in Romar’s Huskies. I thought they were poised to roll and then they did that? And when Arizona came out and nearly took the loss of losses – yeah I’m looking at you ASU and WSU – on their home court, I was immediately appalled. But if you’ll recall, life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you respond. When the Wildcats lost to UW and lost Kevin Parrom for the season, they responded with four straight wins. When the Huskies got drubbed by Oregon, they responded by – as unimpressive as it was – beating Oregon State. Hell, the Huskies have responded to a home smack down at the hands of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits with a 10-3 conference mark. I’m most intrigued at how Sean Miller’s Wildcats respond to his public tongue lashing following that collective egg his team laid on Saturday. Will they get their first Washington sweep in seven years? A split? Get swept? How will Oregon respond to their recent successes? With three road games remaining each, how will the homer Buffs and Huskies fair? I could go on and on with questions – my mom just asked via text “Bon Iver won an award, do we like him?” – but the burning one is who’s going to win this thing? Who’s got enough in the tank to take this inaugural Pac-12 by the horns? It doesn’t have to be pretty, it’s just got to be a win.
Early Week YouTuber: No words.