Monday, March 2, 2009

It Was What It Was

There is hope, expectation, and reality.  We all hope for a great sports weekend every Friday, but sometimes it's just not that great.  My personal sports weekend was a consistent mild disappointment.  The Lakers lost twice, SDSU's men's basketball team coughed up another big 2nd half lead and needed OT to beat lowly TCU, and the baseball team dropped two out of three, including a tough 5-4 loss in 10 innings to Kansas State yesterday.  The big positives were UCSD earning first-round home games in both men's and women's basketball, and SDSU's women's hoopsters beating TCU at Cox Arena.  All this while we were blessed in the city of San Diego with the type of beautiful weather that can make you forget all about sports results.  Add it up, and it was what it was.  The weekend in review:

  • As a fan and follower (and former host) of Aztecs' basketball, I can't tell you how disappointing the last few games have been.  The brutal loss in New Mexico, coupled with the injury to Billy White, crippling the team.  Coming back with a strong effort at home against BYU, only to blow a 14-point lead in the 2nd half and completely collapse, losing by 10.  Then, the TCU game on Saturday, where SDSU was juuuust about to put together a nice, solid effort against a weak Horned Frogs team, and then hit the stop button on offense once again.  Winning in OT is certainly much better than the alternative, but it's the way the Aztecs played that bothers me.  SDSU just...can't...shoot.  In just about every game they will go ice cold for a 5-8 minute stretch and allow the other team to find their legs and get in the game.  When the cold stretch comes in the second half, the Aztecs are prone to giving up leads.  And when it's time to run a clutch offensive possession and deliver a big basket, this team-this senior-laden, veteran team-will deliver disjointed, sketchy, one-on-one performances, turnovers, and low-percentage looks.  I keep waiting, and I keep hoping...and maybe these guys will finally put it all together and make a run in the tournament, but I'm starting to feel like our hopes and expectations for this to be a special team are going to be left at the altar.  
  • Watching Tony Gwynn's SDSU baseball team start 4-4 in their first two weeks of play, it's easy to see how much of a challenge it is to win with a young team.  The Aztecs have the advantage of starting each weekend with Strasburg, and once Nate Solow gets in place they should have a good 1-2-3 in the rotation.  But on offense, there is so much youth and so little proven talent in the lineup, it's tough to consistently manufacture runs.  Brandon Meredith is gonna get there, you can see it, but right now in RBI spots he's falling behind 0-2 in the count just about every time and is lacking confidence.  Ryan O'Sullivan has the moxie beyond his age and stature, but even so the true freshman will make mistakes.  Yesterday he had a key ground ball eat him up for the go-ahead single in the 10th inning, a play I know he can make.  And while there are some kids who will give you good at-bats there's just no one player yet who you can hang your hat on for a big at-bat.  Cory Vaughn might be that guy soon, but he's still not quite there.  The end result is a bunch of runners left on base, no power, and a team struggling to score.  
  • SDSU Baseball continued: yesterday Tyler Lavigne was not The Machine, or perhaps was a machine needing a tune-up.  He hit his first batter and was in trouble in each of the 6 innings he started.  Kansas State presented a much more balanced lineup than USD, with 5 switch-hitters or lefty bats.  Lavigne was getting the ball up early and finally got some rhythm late, but then had issues with defense behind him.  Still I left the start encouraged that he has the stuff to be a solid sinker-baller and against certain teams dominant.  Matt Skipper was a real find in relief yesterday.  The 6'9" right-hander made his mound debut and pitched two perfect innings.  He came back out for the 10th after Brandon Decker's clutch two-out single in the 9th tied the game, and I thought that might be a mistake.  Well, Skipper still pitched well in the inning, he gave up a ground-ball base hit and then the ball under O'Sullivan's glove for the game-winning run, but still threw well.  I would start to use Skipper more out of the 'pen, someone that tall with good mechanics and command, a solid fastball and good curve, he can be a real weapon.  
  • It was a big weekend for UCSD basketball, as the men's team went 1-1 and then won a coin flip to finish 4th in the CCAA regular-season standings.  The women's team went 2-0 to finish the year 26-3, 19-1 in conference.  Both teams will host first-round CCAA tournament playoff games on Tuesday at RIMAC.  The women will play 10-16 Cal State San Bernadino, a chance to avenge their only conference loss.  The men will host Humboldt State, who lost the coin-flip to the Tritons and split the season series with them 1-1.  It should be a big night of basketball and I would suggest that if you live on the coast or in the region you should come on over to La Jolla and check out the action.  Ted Mendenhall will call the games on as well.  I am torn as to what I will attend tomorrow the host of Triton Talk I want to be at the hoops game, but there will also be an opportunity to be on the webcast for the SDSU/Cal State Fullerton game and I love calling games more than anything else.  Maybe I'll flip a coin.
  • When your NBA team has the best record in the league, losing two in a row on the road probably isn't a big deal.  And, even though picking up their 12th loss of the season narrows the gap in the race for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, this is probably just one of those mini-lulls that happens to every team.  The Lakers haven't lost three games in a row this season, and they probably won't lose to Memphis on Tuesday.  But to this particular Lakers fan, for whom anything short of the Larry O'Brien trophy will be a massive gut-eating disappointment, there is tension here.  For the first time you could see the effects of Andrew Bynum being out of the lineup.  His youth and energy inside allowed veterans like Pau and Lamar to exert less.  When Bynum fell both Gasol and Odom stepped up their games.  Now, they are both a little tired and their defensive work is cracking.  Shaq predictably pawed Pau around the paint yesterday, and Odom fouled out.  What does it matter?  If Game One of the NBA Finals is anywhere but Staples Center, it will have mattered.  
  • I will leave the SDSU women's basketball writeup to Chris, but congrats to Beth Burns' team for a big win over TCU this weekend.  THAT'S the type of statement win that SDSU fans have waited for (in other sports) for years and years, always coming away with "same old Aztecs".  This season the women's basketball team has delivered two such statement wins, beating Texas and TCU.  
  • I think all the football moves deserve their own seperate post, but suffice it to say that I wish it had been the Chargers and not the Broncos announcing the signing of two hard-hitting safeties to shore up the defense.  However, now Jay Cutler's pissed at the new Broncos' coaching staff and front office, so maybe he won't be around to "not" fumble against the Chargers in future seasons.  Signing Drayton Florence back doesn't do that much for me.  What did you draft Cason for if you're bringing Florence back?  Oh, unless you're getting rid of Cromartie next year...and seeing Scott Pioli build a new Patriots Midwest, complete with Cassel and Vrabel, does not make me feel that great as a Bolts fan.  Only the Raiders are left as punching bags, the rest of the AFC West is getting pretty serious now.
  • A last bit...I'm not sure what to do with my poker tales.  Is this the right place for them, should I build an adjunct website, I don't know...this weekend I played in the PCC monthly and was bitterly disappointed with the outcome.  It was a deep stack tournament, with 30-minute levels and 5000 in starting chips.  What that means for those who don't play poker is that there was more room than usual in a tournament to avoid risk, wait for good situations and exploit mistakes.  In other words, a little less luck and a little more skill.  That's the theory anyway.  Then, after nearly four hours of playing and avoiding such risk, I get my chips in very good, with AA against KQ on a K-high board, only to see my opponent suck a Q out of the deck on the river to take the pot and knock me almost to the felt.  I was out two hands later.  Very disappointing.  I came home and tried to qualify for an online tournament in a satellite (a tourney where the prize is an entry to a bigger tourney).  Just one more player had to go broke for me to qualify, and instead it was ME who went broke...with AA...against A9.  My opponent makes a flush-on the river-to beat me.  Sometimes you feel like you just can't win in the ugly, mean, nasty game known as no-limit Hold'em.  Other times you just win every time you sit down, thousands upon thousands, sit down for 20 minutes and win $240 and then get up, play a tournament and win that too, etc.* I'd like to feel like that sometime.  Maybe next weekend.  This weekend, well, it just was what it was.
* only applies if your name is DVD Schultz

1 comment:

  1. Given the senior talent on this team, and the continued inability to win the big, important games on the schedule, AND the incessant inability to do anything against a zone defense (something that hasn't changed during his 10 year tenure), AND the fact that this may in fact be the best team Steve Fisher's fielded during his 10 years, AND the fact that prior to the BYU debacle last week this team pretty much controlled its own destiny with regards to a NCAA Tourney at-large bid (it was widely agreed by the "experts" that if the Aztecs had won out during the regular season and finished 12-4 in conference then they'd be awarded with an at-large berth), AND the fact that the team's Tourney hopes are now on life support due to horrendous play down the it maybe time for a change at the helm of the SDSU men's basketball program?

    Steve Fisher has literally built a basketball program from scratch. He's given us something to be proud of on The Mesa. But I fear that he's taken this team/program as far as he can. Maybe it's time for someone else to come in and take the program where Fisher hasn't been able to; namely, an NCAA Tourney win? To expand on what Fisher's already built at SDSU?

    No disrespect to Coach Fisher, and he has my eternal gratitude for what he's brought to the Aztecs, but something's gotta give. This team's gotta start winning the tough games they haven't yet (see: ASU, UofA, and St. Mary's from this year alone), and they have to start winning games in the NCAA's. Steve Fisher's had 10 years. I don't think another one will change anything.