Game #9-245: Creighton Bluejays at California Golden BearsDecember 15, 2012 11:00 pm
"Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it." - Cesare Pavese
Driving from Palo Alto to Berkeley was not that bad after passing through the Christmas shoppers in East Palo Alto and the occasional lane reduction on the freeway. Once I got into Berkeley, then things became tricky. As I didn't remember from my San Francisco trip back last January, downtown traffic is often busy. Not having open parking garages did not help matters either.
Once I got into Haas after passing Pac-12 Network protesters and a youth team, I enjoyed the building until I got into my seat. Even though the building was put into its current format in 2000, it is not the most acoustically sound building. I had to remind myself that the large football stadium next door was proof of a school above the Red Line even though they had to bring in speakers so they could play the warmup music.
Almost every time I seemed to get mad at the Cal game staff I was humbled by something involving kids. After getting annoyed by the annoying choice of warm up music, I saw this lad getting his chance to shoot on an NCAA hoop (obscured by an employee):
As fun as it is to get out of the local bubble every so often and examine life above the Red Line, a recurring concern looms. Even for a high ranking opponent, the upper sections, benches, looked more populated than the pricier seats with backs. The prices even skyrockets two rows below me from $65. A few minutes before the start, kids were able to use the baseline seats on the visitor side:
Within the first few minutes it became clear why Creighton was ranked. The Golden Bear fans around me grumbled loudly after each of the first eight missed Cal shots and Creighton, allowing Creighton to take an 8-0 lead. The Jays' points came from crisp passing and teamwork; Cal was trying too hard.
Once the player introductions started, the lights above the upper sections went dark. The same happened earlier that day at Stanford, so I wasn't bothered. However, when they did not turn back on at the Media Timeouts, I was a little concerned. Maybe they remained off for TV purposes, but the environment did not seem safe for those heading for concessions. The PA announcer was difficult to hear throughout the game, justifying the standing speakers during warm-ups.
My section was lucky to have mostly Cal fans but also a smattering of Creighton fans. The visitors did not hesitate to preen over their school's current prestige. Golden Bear fans, especially the people to my left sounded like they were more frustrated over the bowl chances than their school's 6-0 November including victories over Pacific, Drake and Pepperdine. At times, fans of both were contentious enough I was expecting to witness a scuffle during a timeout or after the final horn.
Doug McDermott had a solid game, but the player who caught my eye was 10 Grant Gibbs. The senior transfer from Gonzaga looked like he controlled quite a bit of the flow and served as a good decoy so McDermott and others could attempt open shots. If he played like he believed less in the team, Gibbs could have put up 20 points instead of his ten.
I was disappointed earlier in the day by the Stanford student section because of their limited creativity. Cal possessed a man in a tie that served as a stadium cheerleader, encouraging the crowd at the end of each timeout. Even though he said the same chant of "Go! Bears!", pointing to opposite sides the passion more than made up for the lack of creativity.
As Creighton maintained their lead, a guy to my right kept trying to start a "defense" chant. A few times, others in the section joined him but the students maintained their jumping and chanting "Ohhhhhhhhh." From experience, I know it's hard to hear anything from more than 20 rows behind a courtside student section. However, like a pep band, a student section should be capable of offensive chants and more than a jumping and monotonous chant on defense. Chant variety should be harder to tune out by opponents.
If your student section does the same thing hundreds of schools do, the relationship between their efforts and a missed basket or turnover is correlative, not causal. The Cal band was more of a marching band; regardless, playing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Journey's "Separate Ways" at a low tempo was far from inspiring.
My neighbors were not pleased, noting the style of play featuring plenty of whistles was "hard to watch" as the first half ended. Leg room opened up as Creighton pushed their lead to as high as 24. However, the whistles turned against the Jays putting the Bears into the Bonus with ten minutes remaining. Every time the lead was down to 3, Gibbs, McDermott or senior Gregory Echenique would hit a timely shot or force a turnover. The high fouls forced both teams to loosen the defense, which allowed Cal to move within 4 with 30 seconds left. An awkward silence fell over the crowd as Justin Cobbs of Cal's head hit the base of the basket in his attempt to defend the ensuing inbound play. After a pair of free throws put Creighton up six, Austin Crabbe tried to be a hero for the home team. He missed both three attempts, making him 0-8 from behind the arc for the game. The Cal fans ended how they started, displeased, as Richard Solomon received a technical for arguing a foul call. Boos rained out after McDermott scored his last four points from the free throw line, providing the final margin of ten points.
Though I was happy to witness one of the many red line upsets during the day, I was more pleased to see the organization of simultaneous bump/knockout games for kids on the floor after the game. Before having my holiday moment, I left Haas with a modified understanding of life above the Red Line. Some parts (prices, haughtiness, parking accommodations) were frustrating but preserving the classic tenet of hospitality justified the experiences.
CREIGHTON 74, at CALIFORNIA 64
CREIGHTON 10-1 (0-0) -- G. Gibbs 4-9 0-0 10; D. McDermott 10-17 10-10 34; A. Chatman 3-13 1-2 7; J. Manigat 4-7 1-3 11; G. Echenique 4-6 2-4 10; E. Wragge 0-6 2-2 2; A. Dingman 0-3 0-0 0; W. Artino 0-0 0-0 0; A. Yates 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-61 16-21 74.
CALIFORNIA 6-3 (0-0) -- J. Cobbs 8-17 1-1 18; A. Crabbe 6-26 2-2 14; D. Kravish 3-7 1-1 7; T. Wallace 3-10 2-3 8; R. Solomon 4-7 0-2 9; R. Thurman 2-5 0-2 4; R. Kreklow 1-3 1-2 4; B. Smith 0-3 0-0 0; C. Behrens 0-0 0-0 0; J. Powers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-78 7-13 64.
Three-point goals: CREI 8-22 (G. Gibbs 2-2; E. Wragge 0-6; D. McDermott 4-7; J. Manigat 2-4; A. Dingman 0-3), CAL 3-17 (J. Cobbs 1-3; B. Smith 0-1; R. Kreklow 1-2; A. Crabbe 0-8; R. Solomon 1-1; T. Wallace 0-2); Rebounds: CREI 36 (G. Echenique 11), CAL 47 (D. Kravish 13); Assists: CREI 13 (J. Manigat 6), CAL 12 (J. Cobbs 7); Total Fouls -- CREI 15, CAL 22; Fouled Out: CREI-None; CAL-R. Solomon.
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