PUB WISDOM

Tiger Who?

Archive for Sports

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.

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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.

Done Deal

larrysswansong.jpg

The 2007-08 basketball season is a done deal for UC Riverside with an 81-69 loss to Cal State Fullerton last night. Ultimately, they hung tough in this game. The Titans were on — raining threes.

The Highlanders finished 9-21. 7th in conference. First-round survivors of the Big West Tourney. A team with much of which it can be proud. A team with lots of “upside potential,” too.

Hat’s off to the only departing senior, Larry Cunningham, who walked tall through darker seasons than this. A winner despite it all.