Never thought I would ever see two teams work harder to give away a game than the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Boy was I wrong. Both Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State each had chances to close out Thursday's Big West game at Titan Gym, but neither seemed to have wanted it.
The 49ers won the game 97-96, but only because obscure Big West bylaws state that both teams cannot be tagged with a loss.
Consider Shawn Hawkins game-winning shot. A banked three-pointer. From the side. The shot was so far off the mark it was hard to determine which basket he was shooting at. It also figures that only Larry Reynolds would manage to call a time out that he didn't have in overtime and his team leading 97-95 with less than two seconds remaining. It was the Jerome Bettis fumble moment of the night. It was the kind of moment that could cost a team a victory. Had they not of course been playing the Titans.
It's hard to speak ill of Cal State Fullerton. But the Titans handle pressure the same way that Mama Cass handles a ham sandwich.
Team-leader Bobby Brown stepped up to the line and made like Mike Vanderjagt, badly missing the front-end of two technical shots that would have pushed the game into a second overtime. But to those basket fans who had to witness the erratic play on both sides, it may have been a blessing.
Brown, to his credit, did acknowledge after the game, "I had to step up and didn't." The sentiment is appreciated, but we are now living in a sports society where a player is willing to pound himself on the chest and say, "My bad."
The 1,200 people in attendance, and those watching on streaming video, all saw you miss that shot. No need to acknowledge it. Instead go out and make that shot. Especially with NBA Scouts in attendance. (And speaking of that, Jabril Hodges sure seemed to want to prove something to NBA scouts and he did—he can't make an NBA three-pointer. Hodges was perfect from the college arch, but when he stepped back to wow the scouts, he missed horribly. Yeah, that showed them.)
And what in the name of Pete Morelli was going on with the officials? It is not why either team lost this game. But why is it that Mike Scyphers seems to officiate games like he has a betting interest? It is hard to imagine anybody being that incompetent. The officials were so bad, Fullerton would not even list them on the official box score—obviously to protect their identity. With the play on both sides as poor as it was, maybe the officiating is commiserate with the talent on the floor.
The bottom line is it was a poorly played basketball game, poorly officiated, and poorly coached. As the old cliché goes, it was a shame that one of these teams had to win. But the wife made a good point on the drive home. It's fruitless to be upset when the Titans lose games like this. It's what they have proven to do best this season. To expect otherwise is not prudent. As that other cliché goes, you can't teach a choking dog new tricks.
Oops, that last line was harsh. My bad.
Adam Rank is a syndicated free-lance journalist based in Sunset Beach, Calif. His work has appeared in NFL.com, NFL Insider Magazine and various newspapers across the country. He is also the founder of the award-winning website, http://thehaternation.com.