Ray Ratto

Ray's Top 25: Stanford continues to climb

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Ray's Top 25: Stanford continues to climb

Every week, our Senior Decider votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, which of course makes all other opinions both superfluous and valueless.

RATTO: Stanford win creates a beautiful mess

1 NOTRE DAME Ahh, for the days when Brian Kelly was considered insufficiently Irish. Up next, at USC 2 OHIO STATE The stealth champion, if Notre Dame goes down. Up next, Michigan. Winner gets tattoos 3 ALABAMA They were dead. Now they're not. Nothing means anything anymore. Up next, crummy old Auburn 4 OREGON Jackson Rice is their punter, and you know that now. Up next, at Oregon State 5 KANSAS STATE Half a hundred to Baylor? Half a hundred to Baylor. Up next, Texas in two weeks 6 STANFORD David Shaw is Jim Harbaugh with a slightly softer edge. Up next, at UCLA 7 GEORGIA Taught Georgia Southern a lesson for only 475K. Up next, Georgia Tech 8 FLORIDA STATE Maybe just spirited Maryland to the B1G. Up next, Florida 9 CLEMSON Either North Carolina State is better than we thought, or this was a bad win. Up next, South Carolina 10 OREGON STATE May have sent Jeff Tedford into retirement. Up next, Oregon 11 LOUISIANA STATE Scared to death by Ole Miss is no way to go through life, son. Up next, at Arkansas 12 FLORIDA They've pretty much hit the wall, it seems. Up next, at Florida State 13 TEXAS A&M Johhny Football's two losses were to . . . LSU and Florida at home. Up next, fellow freshman Missouri 14 LOUISVILLE Did nothing. Up next, Connecticut 15 SOUTH CAROLINA Wofford? Wofford. Yeah, Wofford. Up next, Clemson 16 NORTHERN ILLINOIS Toledo is good, but yesterday's news. Up next, at Eastern Michigan, then Kent State 17 KENT STATE Bowling Green is good too, but same thing. Up next, Ohio 18 OKLAHOMA Needing a late score to beat West Virginia is not going to make the cover of the media guide. Up next, Oklahoma State 19 UCLA Jim Mora just squeezed Lane Kiffin's head. David Shaw's won't be nearly so easy. Up next, Stanford 20 TEXAS Excellent bye. Up next, TCU 21 RUTGERS Draws the team that nearly killed Notre Dame. Well, one of the teams who nearly killed Notre Dame. Up next, at Pittsburgh 22 NEBRASKA Yes, the team that got crushed by UCLA a hundred years ago. Up next, at Iowa 23 UTAH STATE Just a hair better than Louisiana Tech, as it turns out. Which was good enough. Up next, Idaho 24 OKLAHOMA STATE Three quality losses. God, I hate that sentence. Up next, at Oklahoma 25 MICHIGAN This could be a brief stay because . . . Up next, at Ohio State

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

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AP

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?”