Titans Leave Victory in San Francisco

Titans fans are searching for answers today — and probably well into next week — as the Titans blew one of its biggest leads in team history on Saturday night. (Photo by Bryan Crowe)

Fans will point to the players, coaches, officials, or the bartender at Fiddler's Green down in Fisherman's Warf. Hey, maybe it was Brian Quinn's red sweater, which surely drew the ire of one Texas-bred fan.

But have to look no further than yours truly.

Yep. The Titans do not win on my birthday, which it was on Saturday night. It has become a tradition that rivals the elephant races on Dumbo Downs. Outside of one fluke victory during the Mark Richardson era, the Titans have always found a way to leave me disappointed on my birthday weekend, almost a precursor to Santa Claus leaving that inevitable lump of coal in my Christmas stocking.

The Titans gave us all a preview of coming events on Friday night when they allowed an undermanned Chicago State team to cut an 18-poin lead down to six points before they eventually rallied for the victory. The Titans have become the basketball equivalent of a baseball team that does not have a bullpen. They cannot close games. South Dakota State, Chicago State, and Frisco all came back on the Titans. You can even look back to last year's NIT run when Oregon State staged a furious comeback on the Titans but the Beavers fell just short in overtime.

Maybe Ralphy Holmes was a little more valuable than we all thought.

The Titans were up 74-55 with 7:28 remaining in the second half. Have you ever fallen down and have it feel like you were tumbling in slow motion? That is what it was like to watch the Dons hit three-pointer after three-point basket. You knew the Titans were going to blow the lead. And it all unfolded like a bad movie.

So who were the culprits?

Coach Burton: The veteran coach looked like Phil Jackson as he refused to call a timeout during the Dons 14-0 run. But Jackson would never be caught in a sweater vest. The slow-down offense with a lead is the kind of thing that Marty Schottenheimer would do if he were a basketball coach. It should come as no surprise that the Chargers also lost on Sunday.

The referees: Frisco was pushing off for offensive rebounds when it fell behind by 19 points. They were not to blame. Referees are human and they get caught up in the emotion of a comeback. They are not about to bail out a team by enforcing the rules they had ignored for the first 30 minutes. If the Titans stop Luis Guzman from converting on one of his 20 second-half three-point baskets, this game is over.

The players: It ultimately falls here at the player's feet. The players hold up as well with a lead as Steve Bisheff's toupee during the Santa Ana winds. Jermaine Harper rushed a shot with five seconds left in regulation. Bobby Brown tends to get a little careless when he has a huge lead missed the front-end of a crucial free throw. That is where the Titans lost the game. The Titans were 4-12 from the line. Inexcusable.

They say winning pushes all of the bad stuff under the rug. Blowing big leads and missed free throws are taken with a smile when the team wins. But this was no laughing matter. The players should be sick about this. Have they learned their lesson? You would like to think so. But this could be a preview of things to come if somebody outside of the two Browns does not join the party.

Notes:

• Got a chance to visit Alcatraz on Friday morning. Figured we would have run into Scott Stow on the Rock. But it was good to get out to visit my granddad's old cell.

• Number of Sean Connery impersonations done by yours truly: 118. "Your best. Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and (expletive) the prom queen."

• Number of Sean Connery impersonations that were funny: 0.

• It is a shame that New Mexico State did not advance to the tournament finals. Not because the Titans might have won. But because of the endless "Hang Time" jokes you could have run at Reggie Theus. "Where is Anthony Anderson to bail you out now?"

• FYI: If you look up Connery's name on imdb.com, he is listed by his most famous movie, "The Rock." Seriously. This guy was the original James Bond and the link him most prominently with the Rock? Oh well, at least it was not Find Forester.

• "You're the man now, dog."

• Some will say the Titans showed some swagger. Too bad that did not matter on the scoreboard.

• Luis Guzman's (I know that is not his name, but he looks just like the actor) performance, to me, will always be overshadowed by the cheap-shot he threw at Bobby Brown. You had the extra foul to give, but that kind of garbage belongs in the WWF. Too bad that no referees outside of Billy Vinovich has a pair.

• You can honestly say that the Titans tried their best.