Stanford at Cal - A Live Blog

Now we at The Bootleg love all of our 35 varsity sports teams and follow each and every one of their contests like proud parents. However, with men's basketball no longer facing San Houston State, but the heart of the Pac-12 slate, we're just that much more excited. In that spirit then, here's a live blog from Daniel Novinson of Stanford's 69-59 loss Sunday night to Cal.

We come in late with the Oregon/Oregon State game running over, so let's set the scene. First, the broadcast is Tecmo-quality. Larry Scott expands the conference, exponentially increases media revenue and helps build our own TV network, and we still can't win. You can lead a horse to water...

Hmm, maybe the Pac-12 is going to China so we can use their technology. [Edit: My roommate shows up in the second half. "Why is the broadcast all blurry? What's wrong with my glasses?" (Rubs glasses.)

It's an inflection point for Stanford. We're looking good at 5-3 in the Pac-12, but we've lost two straight and have to turn that around quickly if we're making the tourney out of a watered-down conference.

Also, Gus Johnson rules. Needless to say.

11-11 early, as both teams miss fadeaways inside, indicative of some solid defense from both squads. (Also, bad shooting.) Twelve minutes left, first half. 14-11 California.

We come back from a break and see some cute Cal fans. One of my pet peeves is fans calling college girls at school X or Y unattractive. There are 20,000 people on the campus, surely someone at said institution of higher learning is attractive. More importantly, you are 50 pounds overweight and 25 years older, and you're saying a 20-year old cheerleader in incredible shape is unattractive? Well, not you, Booties, but you get my point. Back to the game...

Cal goes on a 7-1 run with several buckets in transition. Gus fired up for the first time on the day: Justin Cobbs extends the run by converting "a traditional THREE-POINT PLAY."

Stanford, meanwhile, is sans field goals in the last 4:25. Fine, that'll happen with this squad, and we knew that coming into the season. At least we're getting to line a lot, though it would really helpful if we could make a free throw. Anyway, it's the defense that needs to be our bread and butter. We can win game if it ends in the 60s, not the 80s.

Weenies: I am all about a profane chant, but "bulls---" after every single whistle, c'mon now.

Back to defense, Cal's been stuck on 27 for awhile as Stanford's D has stalled out the Bears' run. Four minutes to go in the half. 27-21 Cal.

We're shooting 30 percent to their 37 percent. Okay, that stinks, but we're still in it. Two buckets and yet some more good D later, and we're within 27-25 after a 7-0 run. We forced an offensive foul and a travel in that sequence. Now it's a 9-0 run after a Josh Huestis jumper. Tied at 27 with 1:25 left in the half. Our pace.

Stefan Nastic hits two buckets as we reach the half, the latter off a great find from Jarrett Mann. He has nine at the midway mark, and Gus calls it a "career half when Stanford needed it most." Dang.

Halftime. 33-32, Stanford.

Alongside Nastic, Dwight Powell leads Stanford with nine points in nine minutes, while Crabbe has 12 for Cal. Hopefully we see more of Powell in the second half.

You know what halftime means, right? Commercials! Here's my Ebert and Roeper take:

TLC Lasik Eye Centers has Tiger as its spokesman. He's 20/15 now, very impressive. Better yet, after his surgery, a guy who could have most any woman in the world is no longer choosing fours on the 10-scale.

Signs that you're getting older: Gus Johnson is getting up there. He's shaved his head and looks 15 years older than I remember him growing up. Which, come to think of it, makes perfect mathematical sense.

Oh wow, comedy goldmine! It's Michelle Obama in the cheesiest commercial of all time. Let's Move! Campaign, aka get fat kids off their butts. A cause we can all get behind, but this commercial, seriously? We've got the token black guy and white girl, naturally. Black guy has made 30 straight free throws. Except in the first five seconds of the spot we see him 1) shoot a fadeaway from said free-throw line, and 2) said line is maybe four feet from the hoop. We can't shoot a ball 15 feet anyone? Our fat kids are in worse shape than I thought.

I don't know enough to describe this in technical terms, but the spot is pure ‘80s videography – they rolled out this camera off the Ghostbusters set. Okay, now the First Lady shows up on the scene and our two budding Michael Jordans are grinning from ear to ear and just oh so happy to see her. Michelle, who in all seriousness is the best actor(ess) in the piece, hands down, tells us that "she knows excellent teamwork when she sees it." She proceeds to drain an awesome Kareem hook shot, except sixty percent of the screen in this sequence is of our First Lady's posterior. Fin. Just a great commercial all around.

A legitimately solid commercial comes on next, and what would you know, it's the Stanford spot. We've got three athletes, one apiece in water polo, crew and gymnasts, and each speak concisely and intelligently about how Stanford helps them connect athletic and academic excellence and teaches them lessons in both arenas. We see "101 national titles and counting", we have good shots of campus and then it's fade out. Just professional.

Alright, enough of all that, time for the…

Second half

Cal has led much of first half, but now it's tightened with buckets hard to find. Bright is screwed out of a would-be strip and breakaway dunk on a phantom foul. Shortly after, Huestis is blocked, and Jorge Gutierrez draws a third on Dwight Powell. It's 35 apiece after the free throw. Cal's posts are getting away with a lot of marginal blocks in the back as we try to O board.

I see Harper Kamp run by as - wait, Harper Kamp? He feels like that guy who's been in the conference for seven years.

Owens is literally triple-teamed and finds Huestis, with the mini J-Chill hairdo, who hits a three. Nastic has a dirty block at the other end, and Gus compares Heustis to a young Landry Fields as play stops. 38-37, Stanford.

Now it's 40-40 as the Ds have upped the intensity even more. The half-court defense is better yet - we're getting a lot of points from the line, and Cal has hit a few fast breaks. The Pro Bowl is 45-38 in the third quarter. Which game will end with a higher total?

We're playing close, at their house, a preseason conference favorite who looks to be living up to the billing. What more could you ask for?

Steve Kerr makes the good point that Aaron Bright isn't getting back to prevent breakouts. Ugh.

Gutierrez beats his man off a screen to put Cal back ahead, 43-41. I don't remember anyone leading by more than a score this half. 44-41 with 10 to go, and Cal would be at 37 without the transition buckets right now.

Trotter hits a long two to answer Cal's mini-run, but then it's a Kamp jumper to answer back.

Time for that Michelle Obama commercial!

Bench scoring is 17-2 us, fast-break scoring is 8-0 them. Powell draws foul number four, so the bench will have to step up again as Nastic checks in. Our next possession ends with a beautiful backdoor-cut layup, and then Nastic draws a charge on Cobbs. 48-45, bad guys.

Nastic then makes a heady play, pumping to get Kravich in the air and leaning in to draw a foul. However, he proceeds to miss four in a row — both free throws and two subsequent jumpers — and so Stanford may need another rally to pull this one out in the final seven minutes.

Cal's Gutierrez has a steal and another fast-break layup and the Bears are in the bonus at 52-45. Rally time, guys.

We can overanalyze any game, but really, we're just missing good shots. 2-of-13 deep on mostly good looks, and we're not shining on the line either. 56-46 Cal.

Steve Kerr: Cal's a near-lock. We're a bubble team and need every victory we can get. Sounds about right.

Powell fouls out, but Cal misses the resulting pair. 14-of-22 (64%) for us, 10-of-18 (56%) for them, ugly for both squads on the line.

And that's all she wrote as Cal muscles two buckets in down low. 60-49 them, with four to go.

Stanford tries to make it interesting, forcing a 35-second call on Cal and scoring four straight to pull within 60-53 at the 2:30 mark. But Cal keeps on rebounding, with two offensive rebounds particularly frustrating, and closes it out in a relatively uneventful finish.

A tough loss but a good showing. Cal stays undefeated at home while it's our fourth-straight loss at Haas, a first in forty years.

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