As the Cal men's basketball team sinks slowly in the West, we shouldn't let a pre-season built on devouring cupcake opponents followed by becoming chum for the rest of the Pac-10 overshadow the outstanding requiem for last night's game.
The Golden Bears went to Oregon and got beaten into pate by the Ducks 79-70 up in Eugene. No shame there, Oregon is routinely one of the tougher teams in the conference, and it's hard to steal a road game away from even the weaker squads in Division I play (another reason why the Goldies played twelve of their first fourteen games at Berkeley's Haas Court).
Losing a basketball game is a price that teams sometimes pay when they play basketball. It's getting whipped in the mental game that makes watching Cal perversely entertaining.
Reading the San Francisco Chronicle or the Contra Costa Times and you'll see the beat writers wrestling with only-in-Berkeley kind of themes like the team's "self-esteem" and coach Ben Braun quotes about "making the game more complicated than it needs to be," and players "struggling with decision making." Somehow I can't see Bobby Knight ruminating on body language issues or whether his player's eyes are telling him that a 30-second timeout would pull his team out of its shame spiral.
The quote of the game belonged to Cal sophomore forward Ryan Anderson who said after the loss that "the crowd really gets into it (in Oregon) and they do their research before the game to know stuff about your mama." Sorry to report that Cal has to play one more game on the big, bad road before coming back for some home cooking. For the sake of our mentally stressed ballers, let's hope the students of Oregon State University are bigger slackers when it comes to getting their research done.