Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Busman's Holiday to RIMAC

I was torn over what to do with myself on Tuesday night.  UCSD was playing a basketball playoff doubleheader at RIMAC, and the Aztecs were taking on Cal State Fullerton at Tony Gwynn Stadium.  The chance to help call the game on had me leading toward SDSU...but then Ted Mendenhall dropped a note and invited me to work with him on the game broadcasts.  This would be a literal full circle to my first ever PBP work, calling UCSD basketball on student radio KSDT.  Although I greatly feared being a jinx, I agreed and drove out to La Jolla for last night's twin bill. 

Bill Center was there from the U-T and it was great to see him.  He was energized to be sitting there at the card table taking notes on two Division II playoff games, even though he'll surely be out at spring training before too long, or a NASCAR race, or the next America's Cup.  Bill said that for him, it was "a perfect busman's holiday".  

Game one featured the 26-3 women's team taking on 10-16 Cal State University San Bernadino.  The Coyotes were the only conference team to come into RIMAC and win a game this year, as the Tritons posted a 19-1 record in the CCAA.  Surely, revenge would be on their mind and an easy victory would ensue. 

No, it wouldn't and my name's not Shirley.  UCSD muddled around for the first ten minutes and held a slim lead.  Ted gave me the PBP chores at the 10:00 mark of the first half and CSUSB immediately went on a 7-0 run.  Uh oh.  But the Tritons rallied as their star forward, 6'1" senior Michelle Osier, started bulling her way to the basket.  She scored 11 straight for the Tritons and they went to the half tied at 29.  

Despite some turnover problems, it looked like UC San Diego would pull away in the second half.  They built a six-point lead by the time I gave the play-by-play back to Ted, and an Osier layup made it 50-42.  Then, the team simply fell apart.  CSUSB started swinging the ball from side to side in the half-court, setting up their shooter Krystal Urzua, who was burying three pointers.  The Tritons went several trips down the court failing to get the ball to their star.  UCSD's other senior, center Alexis Gaskin, was out of sorts offensively all night, getting called for travels in the post and missing the rhythm on her hook shot.  Urzua hit 6 three-pointers and her last one was a dagger that put CSUSB up by three, 56-53.  You could see the UCSD team tense up and pinch.  The Coyotes closed out a 62-57 upset at the line, as the Tritons' lack of outside game was exposed in the final two minutes when they really needed a three.  

A real bummer to start the night.  Here's the #1 team in the conference upset on their home floor by a 10-16 team.  But, the women's team will still make the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid by all accounts.  Their loss was painful, but there will be tomorrow.  For the men, a loss would end their season without question.  They took the floor against Humboldt State with a 16-10 record, 13-7 in conference.  Last year, Chris Carlson's team emerged from the #8 seed to win the CCAA tournament and reach the NCAA's.  Could they make the same run from the #4 seed this year?

In the layup lines a familiar pattern emerged.  The "Jacks" (or Lumberjacks) of Humboldt State were unquestionably bigger and faster.  At least half of their roster was bigger than UCSD's biggest player.  But you knew once the game started, the Tritons would be the tougher-minded team, the more physical team despite their size disadvantage, and the more disciplined team.  And so it was, as UCSD jumped out to a 12-7 lead behind the energy of Shane Poppen.  The 6'5" forward was crashing the boards and slashing to the hoop for six early points and four early rebounds.  

Humboldt State started to settle in behind a San Diego product.  David Howard, who played at Army-Navy high school last year, came off the bench and hit a pair of threes along with a natural three-point play underneath.  It was 29-28 Jacks when a critical karmic moment ensued.  UCSD's Alan Husted lofted a three-pointer which bounced up and rested on top of the backboard, up against the shot clock.  With the ball so lodged, Humboldt State's Howard decided to knock it loose by grabbing the nearest long prod available: the UCSD Tritons' Trident that somebody was carrying in the student section.  As he used the giant golden pitchfork to knock the ball loose, I said immediately on the air: 

"Oh, that's definitely bad karma, grabbing the opponent's symbol in their home gym.  Watch, the Jacks are going to shoot sideways for the next five minutes."


An 11-0 UCSD run later, The Tritons took a 39-29 lead into the half.  You don't mess with the trident karma.

In the second half, UC San Diego's shooters took control, as Alan Husted and Jordan Lawley started nailing outside shots.  The Tritons defend and rebound with a tenacity that is really fun to watch.  Just imagine watching UCLA, with just a little darker blue, and a lot less athleticism.  But the effort, the intensity of each defensive possession, and the methodical offensive style which knows when to push and when to pull back, it's all there.  Squint while Chris Carlson is clapping and dropping into a defensive squat on the sidelines, and you can see Ben Howland's widow's peak.  

The final was 79-67 UCSD, with Husted scoring 18 and Poppen adding 16 points and 12 rebounds.  The crowd was too small, but the pep band was loud, and it was a fun atmosphere.  For UCSD to really get the attention they desire, they simply will have to be a Division I school, but at this level, the Tritons men's team is a delight.  I wish them the very best in the 2nd round of the CCAA tournament, taking place Friday in San Bernadino.  Later today, I'll be heading back to UCSD to talk to the coaches for this week's Triton Talk, which should be available by Thursday.  

In Other News:

  • 619 Sports incorporated yesterday.  The official paperwork is still a few business days away but an important second step has taken place.  I am very much hoping to accelerate things in the next week or two, to add multimedia content to this site WAY above and beyond the humble High Fidelity music videos.  Think daily podcasts, both from myself and Chris as well as us together.  Plus, other shows and projects.  And it's just the start!  
  • I will be calling all four games of the SDSU-USD series this weekend, starting with tomorrow afternoon's 2pm tilt at Cunningham Stadium.  Strasburg starts tomorrow, not Friday.  Saturday and Sunday's games will be carried on XTRA.  Chris will join me for Sunday's game, he'll be in Vegas on Saturday for SDSU women's hoops.  Yes, it will be weird to be back on those airwaves in a semi-separated capacity.  SDSU lost to Cal State Fullerton last night 7-2 and is now 4-5 on the season, 2-5 sans Strasburg.  No offense again last night, just four hits.  
  • OK, so I'm starting to understand this financial depression much better.  I highly recommend you check out this doc by Frontline, which carefully and clearly details the timeline and the steps taken last year, and how one thing led to another.  Hearing how AIG needs another bailout is no surprise at all.  Basically, AIG was handing out insurance on these "toxic assets" (upside-down mortgages, bundled up and sold as securities), without having any collateral money set aside to back up their policies.  As the housing market went south, some of those insurance policies started getting claimed, and there was no there there.  But AIG is somehow intricately woven into the entire Wall Street fabric, to the point where if they were allowed to go bankrupt, it would take the whole financial system down with them.  Whee!  Meanwhile the rest of the economy continues to shrink and recede due to fear and the lack of available credit or funding.  And each company shrinks in their own way, contracting by letting employees go, which leads back to me writing this morning instead of wrapping up the second segment of my show right about now.
  • All I really know is that plenty of people want me to do work for them, but nobody wants to pay me more than $50.  Demand: yes.  Money: no.  We must find the money.  And looking back to old terrestrial outposts and corporations going under is no place to look at all.  

1 comment:

  1. " Meanwhile the rest of the economy continues to shrink and recede due to fear and the lack of available credit or funding. "

    The Keynesian downward spiral is in full effect.