NCAA

The Van Derveer Era defines "The tedious monotony of victory"

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The Van Derveer Era defines "The tedious monotony of victory"

Tara Van Derveer has been here so many times, with so many teams, and done it the same way every time, that she has actually and without realizing it created the phrase the tedious monotony of victory.That sounds daft, and it is, but it is no less true for being absurd. A Stanford womens basketball season makes make the table of the tides seem madcap and unpredictable by comparison.Or you can stop me when we veer of course.Start season with high hopes, and a relatively equal sprinkling of senior leaders and precocious underclassmen. Schedule every tough game available, lose one, maybe even two. Run through Pacific 10 or 12 season with either zero, one or two losses, and crush the conference tournament. Advance through NCAAs, reach Final Four, lose to one of the game other three or four power schools.Repeat annually.Oh, within the team, which is where Van Derveer wisely keeps her focus, winning never gets old, or less enjoyable. The Ogwumike sisters smile just as broadly and with as much satisfaction as Jennifer Azzi did in the Pleistocene era of womens college basketball.But outside that group, there is a crushing one-note symphony that tends to diminish the yearly accomplishment, and it is there where we stand again tonight, as the Cardinals prepares to face Duke in the regional final at Fresno.Part of the problem, of course is that womens basketball remains stubbornly top-heavy. This year, not untypically, the four one-seeds face the four two-seeds. The same names are there all the time, and the best program has transferred from Tennessee to Connecticut with what was once a healthy dislike of each other but has matured into something less contentious as Pat Summitt has approached the end of her career and Geno Auriemma has stopped tilting at whatever windmill happens to wander by.Stanford is the logical third wheel then, with Baylor fourth and closing fast, and Duke, North Carolina and Notre Dame not far behind. And so it has been, and so seemingly it shall remain.Questions? Okay. Here are the last 25 seasons, and you tell us where theyve become zany and unpredictable.1988: Sweet 16.
1989: Elite 8.
1990: Champion.
1991: Final Four.
1992: Champion.
1993: Sweet 16.
1994: Elite 8.
1995: Final Four.
1996: Final Four.
1997: Final Four.
1998: Harvard (first round; dont ask).
1999: Maine (first round).
2000: Georgia (second round).
2001: George Washington (first round).
2002: Sweet 16.
2003: Elite 8.
2004: Elite 8.
2005: Elite 8.
2006: Elite 8.
2007: Florida State (second round).
2008: Title Game.
2009: Final Four.
2010: Title Game.
2011: Final Four.
With the exception of that Florida State loss, the Van Derveer Era is a nearly perfect upside-down bell curve, with no more surprises than the reading of the minutes at next months city council meeting.And over the years its become increasingly fashionable to ignore this success as, well, success. Yes, they had their version of the Mike Singletary era (see Harvard), but they havent gone eight years without a postseason (49ers), or nine (Raiders), or 18 of 19 (Warriors).They are the metronome on Van Derveers piano, and because the culture demands that we have constant change to keep from getting bored, we have ignored, sometimes willfully, what the Stanfords have done, and are trying to do yet again tonight.We have certainly lost the curiosity to understand how difficult it is, to the point where a loss to Duke would be regarded as failure except that nobody gives the program enough mental energy to determine if it is failure or not. Harvard and Maine were failures, and so was GW. This is not.Except that it would be, if only by a snobby few, and success wont be properly appreciated either. A win over Duke would get a nod, a win next week over Baylor in the semifinals would get a vigorous nod, and beating UConn would get as close to paroxysms of joy as the sport can manage. Auriemma is, if anything, more predictable.On the B-side, though, beating Baylor and then beating Tennessee would rob Summitt of perhaps her final best chance at a title, which would make it kind of a downer.But were getting ahead of the curve, which is as close to actual piefight-quality fun as it gets with this team. Its Duke tonight, in Fresno one more remake of the same movie. A skillfully done remake like most of the others, but a remake nonetheless.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

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AP

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

BOX SCORE

PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.

THE TAKEAWAY

California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.

UP NEXT

California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

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AP

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New Orleans Saints say running back Daniel Lasco has feelings in his extremities after suffering a spinal injury making a tackle on a kickoff return during today's game at Buffalo.

Lasco was loaded into an ambulance on the field and taken to a hospital.

He was hurt six minutes into the second quarter when he appeared to lower his head while tackling Bills returner Brandon Tate. 

Lasco played four seasons at the University of California, Berkeley. He gained 1,471 yards from scrimmage with 14 touchdowns his junior year. In 2015 as a senior, Lasco was limited to nine games and only totaled 355 yards. 

The Saints selected Lasco in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report