Ray Ratto

Ratto: Cal's Upset Dream Sails Wide Right


Ratto: Cal's Upset Dream Sails Wide Right

Nov. 13, 2010RATTO ARCHIVECALPAGERay RattoCSNBayArea.com

GiorgioTavecchio couldnt wipe his face hard enough; the memory wasnt on hisface, after all, but burned in his brain. He had looked history in theface, and blinked.Twice, in fact. The field goal he made to give Cal a 16-15 lead overOregon on the first play of the fourth quarter was wiped out because hestutter-stepped his approach, and he then yanked the 29-yard make-goodattempt, leaving the top-ranked Ducks a 15-13 winner and the GoldenBears senior kicker seeking out the parallel universe in which the24-yarder and the lead it would have produced holds up.This was in many ways Cals finest moment in a difficult season --resisting the irresistible force that is the Oregon offense for all butone play, and coming as close as the distance between hairs to throwingthe Pac-10, the BCS and college football into a rich and deliciouschaos.Plus, making themselves bowl eligible as a bonus, and sparking (if youwant to call it that) the Brock Mansion Era with the upset of theseason.Instead, there was Tavecchio, trying to wipe his face completely off the front of his head on a night that will never ever end.As a kicker, you have to have a pretty short memory, he saidafterward, not quite morose but close to it. But Ill have this onefor awhile. I needed to be there for my teammates.The initial problem was that Tavecchio couldnt hear the snap count,which caused him to anticipate the ball arriving before it did. Thatcaused the illegal motion penalty that took his 24-yard kill shot andmade it a 29-yard kill shot.Except . . .
The second one, I could feel my heartbeat racing a little bit, he said, but I took some deep breaths and got my focus back.And pulled the kick right. He threw his arms up to signal that the kickwas good trying to give it the old Carlton Fisk, as it were -- but theball stayed stubbornly right. And the game stayed stubbornly Oregons,with the concomitant taste of bile lodged in the throats of the GoldenBears.Were frustrated, angry, disappointed, senior safety Chris Contesaid. All of the Pac-10 can take notes off this (the way the Bearsdefended).Yes, and the team the Ducks will face in the BCS game they have all butguaranteed themselves. Everyone in the college football world will getfat off the way Cal starved Saturday night.
Coach Jeff Tedford offered little solace there, either. Not for himself, not for the players, and not for Tavecchio.The defense played its hearts out, he said, no question about it. Its a shame, its shame. I feel sick for the kids.His queasiness was a bit different when it came to the kicker, though.There was no excuse for it, he said, We kick field goals every day,and theres no excuse for jumping the gun like that. Its poise underpressure, and we didnt have it right there.Tedford is not normally one to leave a harsh player assessment hangingwithout a qualifier of some sort, but he had seen his defense do whatnobody else has done to the Ducks all year, and he was close enough tofinishing the deal. He not only wanted this game, he knew (as fewothers did) that it was there to be had.You can try to find something to come out of this, he said when askedthe traditional moral victory question, but it hurts even worse toplay like this and come away with a loss. When you put your hearts andsouls into something and perform as well as we did and not win . . .theres really no consolation.It wasnt all Tavecchios doing, of course. He kept thinking that theremight be a chance for redemption, given that his miss still left 14:52on the clock. But Cal only got the ball for another 2:06 and never gotcloser than their own 46. Oregon may not have scored , but it held theball for the final 9:25, which was just enough to get just enough.Now Cal preps for Stanford and the Almost Big Game this comingSaturday. This would have been the Big Game right here, the toppling ofthe iron colossus, but a half-step here, a pulled place-kick there . .. and you end up with a mouth full of soot that resists all attempts atrinsing.Especially for Giorgio Tavecchio, and the moment that was, and then wasnt.
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Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”