Ray Ratto

Saint Mary's vs. Cal -- The pairing that wasn't

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Saint Mary's vs. Cal -- The pairing that wasn't

Randy Bennett said all the right things about Purdue, about the NCAA Tournament, about whatever he had to say about whomever he had to say them. So did Matthew Dellavedova and Rob Jones and Mark Orr.

But what they WANTED to say was this:

We wanted Cal. Were happy with what we got, we know Purdue blah-blah-blah, but we wanted Cal.

Cal, as in California, not Calipari. Nobody in Moraga is that goofball wacky.

Cal drew South Florida Wednesday in Dayton in one of the four play-in games, and whatever resentments the Golden Bear community expressed at being so close to missing the tournament entirely remain its own. As unlikely as a full omission seemed, having to wait until the 57th name to learn that it was in the tournament at all caused the atmosphere around Berkeley to be filled with whew!

RELATED: Saint Mary's to open up tournament vs. Purdue

But as the bracket picked up passengers through the hour and neither Cal nor St. Marys (which was named 63rd) was mentioned, the more the people inside McKeon Pavilion dared to dream of the one bit of recognition they still crave.

Beating the big brother.

It is a statement of faith that Cal has wanted nothing to do with St. Marys for a long time now, and definitely since the Gallopers escaped the iron lung eight years ago. And whether or not that is fact, it is fact-ish enough for them.

So as the bracket narrowed, you could hear people inside the pavilion dare to hope that the NCAA Tournament Committee had a sense of humor independent of WCC commissioner Jamie Zaninovich, who was outside the room when any of his clients were discussed.

Indeed, the most interesting part of the bracket as it relates to St. Marys was not the Purdue matchup, or the potential third-round game with Kansas, but the other hidden fact that the committee couldnt separate the Gaels and Gonzaga, which was the seven-seed slotted RIGHT BEFORE St. Marys in the East.

That seems odd given Saint Marys beating the Zags in the conference and the conference tournament, but Gonzaga got its own punishment by drawing West Virginia in Pittsburgh, and then getting Ohio State in the next round if the Mountaineers get beaten. In short, the Zags play two road games against teams that will bring more fans.
RELATED: Cal receives a No. 12 seed in NCAA Tournament

As for Cal, dealing two days early with the ugly-it-up Bulls is a tangible punishment of its own, with a hard-to-play Temple team on Friday and, if that is solved, Michigan on Sunday.

In short, the Gaels got the best setup, which is just given that it is better than Gonzaga by deed and better than Cal by performance. Kansas is no bargain, and is capable of making any team look profoundly bad, but the Moraganoids have no complaint. If they never play Cal, well, some things are just not meant to be.

MLS respects timing more than dominance, so Quakes have a counterpuncher's chance

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MLS respects timing more than dominance, so Quakes have a counterpuncher's chance

The San Jose Earthquakes cheated the reaper Sunday, which is news in and of itself. I mean, they’re a playoff team so rarely that getting to a 35th game is quite the achievement, and they should not begin the arduous process of sobering up until Tuesday morning.

I mean, their playoff game with Vancouver is Wednesday night, so slapping themselves back into form is probably a priority.

They got an improbable stoppage time goal from Marco Urena Sunday against Minnesota to sneak through the back door into the final Western Conference playoff spot Sunday, their first appearance in the postseason in five years. It was as electrifying a moment as Avaya Stadium has seen since it opened, and one of the best goals in franchise history if only for its importance.

That said, the Quakes also enter the postseason with a losing record (13-14-7) and the worst goal difference (minus-21) for any playoff team in league history. They are the most cinder-based of the league’s Cinderella stories, and are dismissed with prejudice by most observers as being as one-and-done as one-and-done can be without being none-and-done.

This is a league, though, that has respected timing more than dominance. In 2016, the Montreal Impact finished last in the East and got to the conference final; in 2012, Houston (which was a relocated Quakes team) just snuck in to the postseason and reached the final; in 2005 and 2009, the worst (Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake) ended up first.

In other words, the Quakes’ pedigree, modest though it is, still allows it a counterpuncher’s chance. Its attack, which is third-worst in the league, playoffs or no, is matched by its defense, which is fourth-worst in the league. Their years as a de facto vehicle for Chris Wondolowski are coming to a close, sooner rather than later. They are in no way an elegant team. They are working on their second coach of the year (Chris Leitch).

But therein lies their mutating charm. Their postseason pedigree stinks, but there is a no compelling reason why they cannot cheat a result or two. After all, the lower scoring a sport is, the greater chance for an upset, and the Quakes’ history screams that no franchise could use one more.

So they head for Vancouver, a raucous crowd and a difficult side, carrying with them only their humble resume and the indomitable cheek demanded of the upstart. I mean, anybody in their right mind would much prefer the Whitecaps’ chances, but you gotta be who you gotta be.

Plus, the Quakes are getting a 35th game, which is more than they had a right to expect, all things considered.

NBA fines Curry and Iguodala for incident in Memphis

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NBA fines Curry and Iguodala for incident in Memphis

Programming note: Warriors-Mavs coverage starts today at 4:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area.

Steph Curry owes the NBA some money.

The two-time MVP was fined $50,000 for throwing his mouthpiece near the end of Saturday night's game in Memphis, the league announced.

He won't be suspended.

Andre Iguodala was fined $15,000 for verbally abusing a game official.

"I want to play tonight. Don't think a suspension is necessary," Curry said following shootaround on Monday. "I'm pretty sure based on the precedent that was set last time I threw my mouthpiece, there'll be a fine.

"The timing is getting a little tight thinking about preparing for tonight, but just gotta wait and see."

Curry was fined $25,000 for throwing his mouthpiece during Game 6 of the 2016 Finals.

He did not need to rewatch the incident from Saturday to know he was in the wrong.

"In the grand scheme of things, it's Game 3, we were playing terrible," Curry explained on Monday. "I was frustrated because I was fouling, I thought I got fouled on the last play and the reaction was definitely a little over the top.

"Stuff happens. Try to continue to be myself, show some fire, but do it in a way that doesn't take away from the team and misrepresent who I am."

Kevin Durant -- who was also ejected from the game -- apparently won't receive any additional punishment.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller