PUB WISDOM

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Archive for College Sports

The Beach’s New Riverside Reality

Last-second Larry puts the Niners on ice.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, UC Riverside served as punching bag for the rest of the Big West conference, a walkover, a laughing stock. And Long Beach State, the program with arguably the best historical pedigree among Big West squads, was laughing right along with the rest. Honestly, who could blame them?

That was then. Now? Not so much.

Three up, three down — that’s Long Beach State’s new Riverside reality. The 49ers are Oh! for their last three against UCR, including  a Highlander home-and-away sweep last season and Riverside’s home squeaker on Saturday, a 69-67 overtime win.

Yeah, yeah, if the Niners had managed to shoot more than 60% from the charity stripe, they would’ve won easily. But guess what? They didn’t. Long Beach coach Dan Monson, no slouch when it comes to basketball insights, seems to think that the Wooldridge brand of hard-nosed play was so frustrating for his team that they had trouble settling down enough to convert at the free-throw line.

So it seems the Niners  — and the rest of the league — better adjust to the new Riverside reality, lest they suffer more frustration.

Larry Gurganious, the one-time Gonzaga reserve whose long and winding road landed him in Riverside with one year of eligibility, nailed his second buzzer-beating game-winner of the season when his spinning reverse lay-up went in with 1.2 seconds remaining in overtime.

I’m still not sure what to make of Larry. I’ve seen some flashes of brilliance from him in the games I’ve see live, but I’ve also seen a sometimes spacey player prone to mental mistakes. He’s proven that he’s capable of rising up to finish when given the opportunity. Pub Wisdom advises LG to get more aggressive in order to unleash his obvious athleticism even more. One exception: on the fast break, let someone else push the ball while you get in position for the finish. I think I might have better handles, and that’s saying something.

Pub Wisdom is savoring the start of the conference schedule, eager to see just how well the Highlanders size up against the rest of the Big West.  Next up at the  Student Rec Center, where the Highlanders boast an 11-game winning streak? The always-tough UCSB Gauchos. Pub Wisdom’s take? Bring that Isla Vista junk.

Pub Wisdom Predicts: UCR 73, UCSB 66

Big West MVP = Kyle Austin? Axe somebody

MVP? Make it so.

MVP? Make it so.

I know that most folks are just sinking their teeth into the college football season, but college hoops is right around the corner. And it looks like the editors over at Athlon noticed Kyle Austin’s junior effort last season. I know that pre-season hype is basically worthless, but any longtime Highlander fans have got to enjoy this nonetheless. Athlon is projecting Austin as the Big West MVP. Nice. Bring on the double and triple teams. Drive and dish.

Also cool, Athlon picked the Highlanders to finish fourth in the Big West. Fourth place cool? Considering that the Highlanders have been picked dead last in just about every preseason poll going in the past few seasons, this is a nice bit of well earned respect.

Is this the year UCR punches its ticket to the Big Dance?

Highlander Hoops Release Schedule

 

"Where the hell is Berry College?!?"

"Where the hell is Berry College?!?"

Click here for a look at the 09-10 UC Riverside mens’ basketball schedule.

While it looks like the pendulum has swung back slightly, which will hopefully get the Highlanders’ SOS rating below 300, it appears Jim Wooldridge is still easing his squad into the nation’s top tier based on the competition he’s booked. There’s USC, which is legit on anyone’s schedule. But no other PAC10 teams? Really?

I, for one, am in the camp that believes that Wooldridge’s marked softening of UCR’s schedule last year was genius, letting the players get used to what it feels like to win. I figure we’re seeing a continuation of that strategy, which I find hard to fault.

Still, Pub Wisdom reckons there are others who are chomping for UCR to test it’s new-found success on some proven competition. Would’ve been nice to see a surprise or two on the schedule, especially since the USC date was pre-announced.  Well, there was one surprise. Where is Berry College and how did they end up on the Highlanders’ schedule? Now that was a surprise, though without researching it at all, it wouldn’t be a surprise if I learned that Berry College is in the midwest somewhere and coached by one of Wooldridge’s buddies.

In the end, it all comes down to conference play, the goal being to reduce the number of games you need to win in the conference tourney to get that auto-bid to the dance. 

See you at the Echo Chamber…

Austin Graham Sacks Up, Knocks it Down to Capture SCGA Title

Pride of the SC Muni.

Pride of the Pacific Golf Club, er, I mean, Bella Collina Towne & Golf Club.

You may remember a few years back when former San Clemente Triton golfer Austin Graham made mince meat of the South Coast League and was a serious CIF threat. Let’s just say he didn’t peak in high school.

Coming off a highly successful sophomore campaign at UC Davis, Graham is continuing his winning ways this summer, nabbing the Long Beach City Championship — including a career-best round of 62 — and on Sunday the prestigious 110th SCGA title. Yeah, the same trophy won by a certain young Mr. Woods several years ago.

After bogeying 16 in final round, he rolled in a clutch 30-foot birdie on 17 at the Wilshire Country Club to give him a one-shot lead. He finished with a 6-under 278, going 69-69-70-70.

Read more here.

Brenda Martinez Works the Europ-a-dopa

Ali-inspired?

Ali-inspired?

After finishing 8th in the NCAAs, UC Riverside’s half-mile miracle, junior Brenda Martinez, took her act to Europe for a six-meet tour of the continent. However, Pub Wisdom reckons Martinez got a hold of some footage shot on a different continent, of the Ali-Foreman fight in Zaire, for inspiration prior to her first 800 meter event in Belgium.

Fresh off the plane in the final of her first meet, Martinez employed Ali’s classic rope-a-dope, hanging well back and letting others think they might have a shot, but with perhaps 300 meters left, she straight blew past the field, briefly settled into third, then put on the afterburners for a precisely timed move at the last second that gave her the win and a personal record. The field included the two runners that have claimed the last three NCAA 800 titles. Yep, she’s the real deal.

Watch the race it here. It’s worth the click. She’s got the white singlet on.

The Nation’s Hottest Runner?

UC Riverside phenom Brenda Martinez won her semifinal 1500 heat in the NCAA outdoor championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas to earn her spot in Saturday’s final. Impressive.  Did I mention she was hot?
Poetry in motion, coconut lotion...

Poetry in motion, coconut lotion...

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.