Tiger Who?

Archive for February, 2009

Zot Zot Not

Zot Zot Zzzz

Zot Zot Zzzz

It’s been a whirlwind lately, and a wee bit of neglect is showing. After all, wins on the road at San Jose State and at home to Cal State Fullerton have transpired with no predictions or commentary. Perhaps we’ll double back soon.  Tonight, however, we have the present.

Heading out to watch the Highlanders on the road at UC Irvine — a treat for me to have them playing so close to the beach. The Eaters were opportunistic on their trip out to the IE, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. If they get hot, say good night.

The Highlander team the Anteaters will face has matured and done its fair share of winning since the last meeting. Perhaps I’m letting the fact that I’m juiced to be going to the game color my normally icy judgement, but Pub Wisdom thinks tonight will be what’s called a statement game. Riverside takes this one on the road, gets one step closer to a first-round bye in the Big West tournament.

Remember this time last season, when the Highlanders were fighting for their post-season lives? Didn’t think so, but I do.

Pub Wisdom Predicts: UCR 68, UCI 64


First Look at Highlander Hardballers

While the Highlanders hoopsmen have our attention — can they actually peak in Anaheim and become this year’s NCAA sacrificial lamb? — let’s not forget that Spring is around the corner, which means baseball. This year’s team is playing the 11th toughest schedule in the land, according to Baseball America. No surprise there, expect perhaps why it’s slipped to 11th.

Here is the Press Enterprise’s Allan Steele’s sneak peek at the Highlander hardballers. His take? Not quite as green as last season.

Highlanders Sweep Homestand, Hit Road for Northridge Test

Time to take over the Matadome.

Great Scott: Time to take over the Matadome.

Pub Wisdom will go ahead and claim it: as predicted, the Highlanders denied all visitors to the Echo Chamber during their recent three-game homestand to move into a tie for third place in the Big West. Wednesday’s win was the biggest of the three, a 2OT barnburner with then-first place Long Beach State. Kyle Austin and Aaron Scott both bounced back from subpar games in the UC Davis win with 20+ points each against the Niners.

Any doubters left who still think Rivi’s not for real? I can think of one particular group of individuals who have their doubts. Namely, the CSUN Matadors, sole owners of first place in the Big West (thanks, in part, to the Highlanders handling Long Beach on Wednesday). The Matadors were picked to finish first in the Big West prior to the season and, despite some serious off-court drama, have lived up to the hype.

Riverside invades CSUN’s home court,  the Matadome, tonight in its biggest conference test yet. Can the Highlanders vaunted defense foil Northridge’s potent attack? The bigger question is whether or not UCR’s D will be accompanied by some offensive production. If there was ever a game for Kyle Austin and/or Aaron Scott to gwoff, this is it.  If one or two others, like Javon Borum, Jalonni Diggs, Jessie LoBue, Brandon Dowdy, or Christian Soto, can contribute, an upset is highly possible. 

All that said, Pub Wisdom reckons it’s a tall order, perhaps too tall. With all the takin’ Rivi’s been doing lately, it’s likely time for the Highlanders to do some givin’.

Tune into the audio stream here. (Look for the link down the right-hand side).

Pub Wisdom Predicts: CSUN 71, UCR 57

Ready Rangers Storm Parkhead

Bring on the Bhoys.

Bring on the Bhoys.

Old Firm No. 3 kicks off on Sunday at Parkhead, site of Rangers’ victorious four-goal effort at the beginning of the season. Celtic returned the favor at Ibrox over the holidays, one-nil.

Every Old Firm match is huge. But as we eye the tail end of the title race, with Rangers trailing a flagging Celtic side by two points, this is a huge as it gets.

I’m partisan, no doubt, but I do feel Rangers have more momentum at the moment, more cohesion. Once leading by seven poiuts, Celtic’s left the door open for Rangers by stumbling its way through December and January. Celtic feels the pressure, no doubt, and Kris Boyd and Co. need to capitalize.

I feel a 1-1 draw in the cards for some reason, but I’m predicting a narrow Rangers away victory,  just to keep it sporting. If I’m right, Rangers will take over the top of the table by a single point.

Novo’s out, which is bad news since he seems to rise up in Old Firm ties. On the other hand, Kenny Miller’s fit. Can he recreate his double from his last effort at Parkhead? Who will step up? Let’s hope it’s not Scott MacDonald, Aiden McGeady or any of the other dangerous hoops hitmen.

Come on you Rangers.

Pub Wisdom Predicts: Celtic 1 – 2 Rangers

How Sweet is Home for Highlanders?

UC Riverside puts its 9-2 home record on the line tonight against LBSU in what is a huge game for both squads.  Are the Niners truly the class of the Big West, as their current position at the top of the table implies? If so, they’ve gotta win road games like this. They’ve proven they can do it — their win at Pacific is emblematic. For the Highlanders, a win tonight would mean sweeping a tough homestand and a 6-5 record — 6 and flippin 5, yo. That’s just freaky.

Riverside closed out UC Davis in front of a SELL OUT crowd of 2725 at the Echodome (can I still cap on it if it sells out? It will be interesting to see how many heads show up when it’s not homecoming).  UCR tried to give the game away to the Aggies a few times in the closing seconds with mental errors but managed to pull it out, despite off nights by team leaders Aaron Scott and Kyle Austin.

How long can I keep calling it the Echo Chamber?

How long can I keep calling it the Echo Chamber?

UCR is  now 5-5 in conference and tied for 4th place. This is the team unanimously tagged to finish last. Let’s not get too excited, but this has been a watershed season just based on what’s gone down so far. A record 13 wins in the D1 era.

Now, back to Long Beach tonight. The Niners will want revenge for being humiliated at home, but will they be looking past Riverside just a bit at their showdown with Fullerton? Let’s hope so.

Here’s my read. Riverside sees this as a huge game and will come out focused. They will outboard LBSU and will be tough on defense. Look for a 20+ performance from Kyle Austin and big nights from Christian Soto, Aaron Scott, and Brandon Dowdy.

Pub Wisdom Predicts: UCR 76, LBSU 66

Historic Home Win for Highlanders

Rivi's go-to guy

Kyle Austin: Rivi's go-to guy

It’s only happened once  before and, remarkably, it took place at the nadir of the UC Riverside D1 era. A few seasons back, when you could count UCR’s season win tally on one hand, the lowly Highlanders rolled into Stockton and beat Pacific for the first time — a huge upset — on the back of 40 points by Ricky Porter. I remember hoping it was the start of something, but the Highlanders slipped back into the depths, having shot their wad.

On Thursday night, UC Riverside proved that the win at Long Beach wasn’t a fluke by outlasting a tough visiting Pacific team, 66-33, at the Echo Chamber. It was a pivotal game for Rivi, helping to staunch the bleeding caused by dropping 5 of  its last 6 Big West matchups. And it completes the trip from nadir to zenith as the Highlanders’ 12th win of the year sets the new school record for total wins in the D1 era. We’ll see how many they manage to add to that record. At the end of last season, I set .500 as Wooldridge’s bogey. I think the Highlanders have a relatively good shot at surpassing that.

Kyle Austin led the Highlanders, natch, and there was talk of him “taking over” the game a bit more than he has in the past, canning 13 of his game-high 20 points in the second half . Wooldridge runs a team-first program, but even he conceded that, within the confines of the team system, there is flexibility for Kyle to spread his wings a bit more. There’s your green light, kid. Show this country what you’ve got.

Aaron Scott , the veteran Highlander who has been instrumental for continuity over the past couple seasons and who has unselfishly made room for Austin to flourish, was solid with 14 points, and Brandon Dowdy stepped up with 11 on 3-for-4 from behind the arc, including a pair of crucial threes deep in the second half that were momentum killers for the Tigers.

I have to admit that it’s a bit freaky seeing the Highlanders compete like this. They’ve beat of the top teams in the conference and have been “in” every single Big West game. They now face two more huge home games, with Davis in town tonight for Homecoming and Long Beach State looking for revenge next week. Look for the Highlanders to blow some minds by sweeping the homestand.

But I can’t help but thinking that no matter what happens over the next couple weeks, the Highlanders have to keep patiently focusing on developing as a unit while Austin emerges as a conference standout.

Their goal has to be to peak at the right time, over a four-game stretch next month at the Anaheim Convention Center. It’s a long shot, yes,  but it’s well within the realm of reality for this to be the year that Riverside punches its first ticket to the Big Dance. Put that in your pipe and schmoke it.

Pub Wisdom Predicts: UC Riverside 71, UC Davis 59

Hospitable Hoops Leave the Door Open for Rangers

Sweatin' It.

Strachan: Sweatin' It.

There was a  time at the end of November, with the Rangers’ early victory at Parkhead a distant memory, when it appeared that Celtic FC may never lose or draw another league game. Celtic went on a scorching streak, winning 12 straight SPL ties.

Many people — many pundits — began to sketch out the framework of the Rangers’ obit right about then, and sharpened their pencils once more after Celtic’s one-goal win at Ibrox over the holidays extended its lead at the top of the table to seven points.

But a new trend was being established, even as Celtic was galloping out to that seven-point lead. Over the course of December and January, Celtic went just 3-2-3 in league play and has allowed Rangers to creep back within two points of first place. It seems that Celtic is just as vulnerable of late as it was unbeatable earlier. No matter what face they put on — and three straight league titles gives them considerable confidence — you can bet the bhoys are sweating bhullets.  They couldn’t even muster a goal against Caley-Thistle’s listing side. It’s not like Terry Butcher’s mere presence changes the fact that this side is in relegation position at the bottom of the table.

Meanwhile, RFC’s team chemistry is well in balance even if its books are not as Rangers reached the end of the transfer window without giving up any of the key players from the core nucleus.

So the race for the SPL title is as close as you’d like as we begin to round the final corner and line up the home stretch, thanks to the gracious gift Celtic has given Rangers — new life. The Old Firm match on February 15 — the next SPL tie for both clubs — will be huge. But it will not ultimately determine the champion. Pub Wisdom sees plenty of dicey fixtures yet unplayed for both clubs, as the SPL’s second-tier is fiercer, hungrier, and more confident than it has been in recent memory with the gap between the Old Firm and the likes of Aberdeen, DUFC, Hearts, Hibs, and others is not as great as it once was.  Much drama is yet to unfold before a king is crowned.