PUB WISDOM

Tiger Who?

Archive for March, 2009

UCR Baseball Team Knocking On the Door of the Top 25

The helpful folks in the sports information department have put together this useful little roundup of just how much the UCR baseball team is turning heads nationally.

With quality wins over UCLA, Cal, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State, among others, the Highlanders are now in the conversation on many of the polls and rankings. Take a look here.

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Akognon Dismantles the Big West’s Best Defense

Akognon: NBA bound?

Akognon: NBA bound?

The real John Akognon showed up in Anaheim for this one, and he was wearing his superman underoos, pouring in a tournament-record 37, including nine 3s. The chants of “You can’t guard him” were spot on. No one could, methinks.

At one point, with less than five minutes left and before Bob Burton subbed out his starters, the score was Josh Akognon 37, UC Riverside 35. Yikes.

Javon Borum having to serve a one-game suspension after punking someone in the Cal Poly likely made a big impact — not on Josh Akognon’s ability to score, but on the Highlanders’s own scoring. With him out, and Jalonni Diggs gimpy, Wooldridge came out with a very unordodox lineup. The Highlanders’s offense didn’t show up, save for 17 from Brandon Dowdy in the first half.

Despite the loss, this season has been one to celebrate for Rivi.  Big props to the program. Truly an impressive campaign. And the Highlanders return all but two players next season…

Learn to Dance in Four Easy Steps

Take control of the rock, Kyle.

Take control of the rock, Kyle.

Okay, so it won’t be easy. On the contrary, it will likely be the toughest potential four-game stretch of the season. And it will be even tougher with starting point guard and No. 2 scorer Javon Borum sidelined with a one-game suspension for shoving a Cal Poly player in the regular-season finale.

But the Highlanders, who have gone 8-8 in conference play, have proven they can win in this league. They took a game off their first-round opponent, Cal State Fullerton (7-9 in the Big West). However, with the NCAA bid on the line in what is essentially a home game for the Titans, UC Riverside will have to find a way to raise its game in order to compete. The Highlanders’ defense, tops in the Big West, will have to play to form and the offense needs to come alive.

Still no word as to whether senior leader Aaron Scott will play. That would be a huge lift with Borum on the bench. And Pub Wisdom reckons time is nigh for a 30+ performance from Kyle Austin and also feels potential breakout performances from Brandon Dowdy, Rudy Meo, or Jalonni Diggs (if he’s healthy).

Essentially, only one of their best games of the season will see them through to the quarterfinals. Then they’ll have to do it again. And again and again. Consistency has been elusive, despite the program’s watershed year. Now would be a serendipitous time to acquire some.

Pub Wisdom sees a game much closer than last year’s second-round rout by the Titans over the Highlanders, who will contain the Josh Akognon show to provide some first-round fireworks.

Pub Wisdom Predicts: UCR 69, CSUF 65

Tritons Not Good Sharers

Hells yeah.

Hells yeah.

What can they say, they don’t like to share. And who can blame them?

The San Clemente High girls’ soccer team brought the CIF-Southern Section hardware back to Thalassa Stadium for the third year in a row. But instead of having to share the title, as the Tritons did last year, it’s theirs alone with a decisive 2-0 win over Los Alamitos over the weekend. Shelby Chambers-Garcia and Frannie Coxe provided the goals.

Last night, San Clemente blanked Chatsworth 2-0 in the SoCal Regionals to set up a rematch with Los Al, which took down Torrey Pines. In the one-sided home game against Chatsworth, Lauren Fryer put the Tritons ahead just two minutes into the match, and Alexis Mahoney backed it with second goal later in the half.

Despite the scoring spree, the clean sheets on the other side are even more impressive.  The defense has been downright stifling.

Misery may love company, but dynasties don’t usually share the spotlight with anyone. Keep rollin’.

Locked and loaded for Los Al.

Locked and re-loaded for Los Al.

King’s Reign Begins as Wolves Topple No. 1 Monarchs

King's Tony Snell and Mater Dei spectator.

King's Tony Snell and Mater Dei spectator.

And when I say No. 1, I don’t mean in the Trinity League, the OC Register’s hinky polls, all of CIF Southern Section or even No. 1 in the Golden State. The Riverside Martin Luther King Wolves straight prowled on Mater Dei,  undefeated and No. 1 from sea to fuggin sea.

And they didn’t steal it at the buzzer or otherwise fluke into it.  Twas a straight-up double-digit mauling, the Wolf Pack leaving no questions unanswered in the 71-56 win at the Honda Center.

I like the LA Times coverage better than the Press Enterprise story. You be the judge. And if you were there, chime in on the comments with a first-hand account.

The Wolves went on a 15-0 run deep in the third — 15-0 against the best team in the nation? — and never looked back. Tony Snell and Taylor Cunningham led the Wolves with 16 points each, and Kawhi Leonard had a solid overall game with 11 points, 20 boards (yes, 20), and six blocks.

Much RESPECT to the Wolves, who are following up last’s years fairytale run with a filthy sequel.  May the run continue…

Congrats, Dietzer!

Talk of Rangers Demise A Wee Bit Premature

It wasn’t long ago that Caley Thistle had lost eight straight matches and was destined to relagation. More recently, the Highlanders have lost only one in their last seven. Their latest coup, a one-nil victory over Rangers at Ibrox on Wednesday is a potentially mortal blow to Rangers’ title hopes that also sees Inverness off the bottom of the table, pushing Falkirk into the relegation spot. Whatever new gaffer and former Ranger Terry Butcher is doing — it’s working, mate.

Crying now, laughing later.

Crying now, laughing later.

And none are happier than the Hoops, once again alone at the top of the table after Rangers’ stumble put  them three points clear. After getting their asses handed to them more often than not

over the past several weeks, the Bhoys were no doubt stressed to see Rangers pull even on points and ahead on goal differential recently.

Pub Wisdom urges patience in these exciting times, lest anyone gets too hasty in writing off the Light Blues. A quick check of the remaining fixtures before the split reveals stern tests for Celtic against Dundee United, Hamilton, Hearts and Aberdeen along with only one walk-over against Falkirk. Rangers’ road over that stretch is decidedly friendlier with the hardest test against Hearts, with Hibs, ‘Well, and bottom-feeders Falkirk rounding out the fixtures. Much football to be played, ya?

Pub Wisdom wagers there are a few plot twists yet to unfurl this season. Only time will tell if the sloppy play against Butcher’s born-again Highlanders will prove to be the point at which this season’s valiant campaign crashed on the rocks.

Zot Got Hot

I had predicted a statement game, and the UC Riverside Highlanders were one rim-out away from just that — a heart-breaking defeat of UC Irvine on the Anteaters’s homecoming night. Instead, the raucous crowd of 3,600+ at the Bren Events Center went home happy when the Anteaters were able to tie it up, 62-62, with less than 30 seconds left in the game with a clutch 3 by Michael Hunter in the corner. Riverside played for — and missed — the last shot in regulation. There’s your rim out.

Patrick Rembert then caught fire, scoring eight of his 11 points in the extra period. And the Zots, who kept turning up the heat throughout the game — shooting about 40% from the floor in the first period and 50% in the second half –stoked the furnace one more time and converted 60% in overtime. It was just too much for Riverside to contend with. So instead of statement game,  we got another tough road loss.

The second half was nip and tuck, featuring really exciting basketball that got the crowd wound up. The “Westside” marketing clown who always shows up at the Bren was geeking extra hard.

Kyle Austin quietly racked up a game-high 24 points for UCR.

UCI’s freshman big-man Eric Wise, who obviously absorbed much under the tutelage of post guru Jeff Dietz, assistant coach at Riverside King High (he learned some stuff from the  rest of the staff too, natch). He was shakin’ and bakin’, unpredictable and just on the edge of control at times, generally creating defensive headaches for Rivi.  He led five Eaters in double figures with 20.

Two conference games remain for UCR. Two roadies against UCSB and Cal Poly. If the Highlanders can break through for wins in both games, no one can take fourth place, and the attendent first-round bye, from them. It will be a tough challenge for the Highlanders, especially in Isla Vista. Unlike mathmatically hopeless Cal Poly, the Gauchos have much left to play for. If they manage to run their last two games, they could swing from as low as 8th up to 4th with help from others, so they will be hungry for the home win.

Pub Wisdom reckons the Highlanders may win one of two, still giving them a shot at the first-round  bye in certain scenarios. All the parity in the league provides the makings for a fascinating Big West tournament. The bid to the big dance is literally up for grabs for the team who can put  a couple-three — hopefully four — wins together. It’s on like Tron.

The 63-60 home win against Fullerton was sweet, by the way. I hooked up with Q-Tip for some SubStation action before tip-off and watched the Highlanders grit out a home win without the injured senior Aaron Scott. 

Josh Akognon, top ten nationally in scoring, drained the equalizing 3 right in front of his bench with 4 ticks remaining, but had stepped out of bounds just prior to launching it, negating the basket and sealing the win for Rivi. Schwing.