1. How the heck is South Alabama/Arkansas Little Rock on ESPN2 right now (7:55 PT)? It's like a real-life punch line: you know it's one of the slowest sports days in the year when… Guess I shouldn't be talking too much though given that the Pac-10 is practically a mid-major. Speaking of which…
2. Sagarin has the Pac-10 as eighth, behind the Atlantic 10, Mountain West and all the power conferences. I wasn't exaggerating when I said mid-major. I don't think just two teams get bids though – despite how bad the league may be, sheer probability dictates somebody (or, more precisely, a few somebodies) will step up. I'm guessing Cal, Washington and ASU?
Pregame: Ugh, I hate Barry Tompkins and "the Grand" Marquees. Barry seems to pick at random a phrase ever other sentence to emphasize in his nasally voice and is creepily smiling at all times. Both guys were happily laughing when they said the Pac-10 was down, though I think that has to do with Tompkins' irrational happiness more than anything. … Looks like I'm not the only once that hasn't seen Stanford this year, FSN is using Landry Fields highlights from '09, or maybe '08. … Speaking of '08, Andrew Stein and Punit Governji, what are you guys still doing in Sixth Man?... I'm counting the number of times it's referenced that Stanford was picked to finish last in the Pac-10 or that this team is "overachieving," a polite way of saying we thought they'd stink and am at four already. … Ooh, I actually kind of like these gray uniforms. Nine times out of ten a crazy new uni combo makes you look like Oregon football, but hey, I think these are understated, fashionable and classy. … Good to see the upper bowl and parts of the lower bowl are as empty as they've always been for out-of-conference games. … Like the Stanford commercial, but Mr. Engineering Dean, breathe in between your sentences! It's okay. Also, I know we're supposed to be cognizant of racial sensitivities, but every single class of mine at Stanford didn't consist of exactly one white kid, one black kid, an Asian, a Hispanic and a racially ambiguous Tiger Woods-type. Why must all of these commercials sound like the setup to "guys walks into a bar" jokes? ("Okay, so an Asian, white guy, black guy, rabbi and ambiguous Tiger Woods-type walk to Full Moon…")
8:08 p.m.: 2-2. Anyone's game! So I remember writing for the Daily a few years ago, as Jarrett Mann passes it into the second row and OK State responds by missing uncontested from three feet out, a 1-50 ranking of all the Pac-10's starters. We did this, as OK State throws it out of bounds again, in a year in which the Pac-10 was legitimately good, not some 2.5-bid conference. Anyways, the Lopez twins were both Top 10 and Mitch, Anthony and Law were all in the 11-30 range… (6-4 Stanford)… and that team needed a last-second prayer to make the Sweet 16, where they got summarily blown out. This year, put Landry in the Top 10, fine, but who else on Stanford right now is in the top half of the league? We'll reserve judgment, as Jarrett Mann turns it over in the backcourt for an easy two, 9-6 OK State at the first media timeout, until season's end, but heading into the year, the answer was no one and based on resumes, you'd have to think Trotter and Zimmerman would end up in the bottom 10 in an average Pac-10. We'll see how it all ends up, but either our players are better than all the recruiting services thought, which means Dawkins is a darn good talent evaluator, or Dawkins is holding it together with tacks and yarn and crazy glue or whatever the saying is that I butchered, as Fields makes a 20-foot fade away, which means that he's one heck of a gameday coach. I'm sky-high on our long-term basketball prospects.
8:17 p.m.: It's one thing to get outrebounded, but it's another to allow your opponent to crash the boards for uncontested three foot tip-ins. OK State's now up 11-8 after Mann's fourth turnover and Zimmerman and Trotter's third revolving door act on the D boards. Enter Drew Shiller for Mann, as Trotter gets blown by for another two. Frontcourt points must be 11-2.
8:19 p.m.: OK State's on an 11-2 run as Zimmerman takes a charge outside the "halo" region, good for him, as "the Grand" Marquees refers to our opponent's superior "quickness and athleticism," which, whoa, flashback time. Doesn't Trent Johnson have a copyright on that phrase? It is what it is, I guess.
8:21 p.m.: Trotter gets absolutely stuffed and replaced by Matei Daian, I believe, while Zimmermann steps to the line for a one-and-one already! 13:11 left in the first. Of course the refs will artificially balance out the fouls (recent studies have shown that officials, human as us all, do tend to try to make things even) but wow are we going to benefit from ticky tacky Pac-10 whistles this year. Otherwise we would get absolutely pushed around.
8:23 p.m.: Green has been really quiet thus far, as he steps to the line for a one-and-one. Misses the front end, ugh. Fields just threw up another sick baseline J. Our offense looks like an NBA O: we have four guys isolate and watch Fields go one-on-four. As long as he keeps pulling the Kobe act, it might just work though. Who's the last guy who's improved this much before his senior season?
8:29 p.m.: OK State sees Jeremy Green's crazy turnaround three and raises him two crazy threes, with a Stanford turnover sandwiched in between.
8:30 p.m.: Mann misses another two free throws, the first one failing to hit rim entirely. Think he's seeing ghosts from the Kentucky game?
8:31 p.m.: It's a frustrating combination of mental and physical deficiencies that are killing us. Maybe the two go hand in hand: when you're weaker or slower, you're forced to take risks that make you look stupid if they don't work, and when you're young, as we are, you're likely to be both physically and mentally wanting. But we keep getting pushed around underneath – even successful rebounds are ones where one of our guys is getting cleared out but manages to get a hand on the ball and tip it to a teammate. Understandable. What's way more frustrating, as OK State leads 28-18 with eight minutes left in the half, despite playing very sloppily, is that we have forgot to box out on defense half a dozen times and have turned it over maybe a dozen times already.
8:35 p.m.: Tompkins, grr. [Back from commercial:] "…and OKLAHOMA STATE is getting it done early." Does he have a sand timer that whenever it drains, he emphasizes the next thing out of his mouth? Does he roll a die? More importantly, do we have an offensive rebound yet? … Only nine turnovers, sorry for the excessive pessimism. But add in the two ugly, ugly blocks I've seen and that's 11, pretty close to my guess of 12. … Does anyone draw more touch fouls than Zimmermann? Plus he actually made both his free throws! 28-20 OK State, though it would be us winning by eight if we consistently boxed out, made free throws and turned it over at just a normal rate.
8:39 p.m.: Zimmermann draws ANOTHER foul. How much did he bribe this ref? Wow.
8:43 p.m.: Mann airballs from six feet, uncontested, as Stanford's missed eight in a row. I don't think there's a better microcosm for the team's pressing right now, and it's painful to watch. Meanwhile, our defenders are flopping like JJ Reddick, and it's obvious to see that Dawkins has brought that in from Duke. If the winning comes too, I'll take it, angelic eyes and all. … OK State can't push the margin north of ten though; I don't think they are a Tourney team, 9-1 record notwithstanding. Fields with 10 on 5-of-7 shooting, 33-23 OK State. … When you're facing a team you physically dominate inside, there is NO reason to shoot 15 threes in a game, let alone 17 minutes, as OK State has done. Make that 16 threes. … Marquees, stop telling me "what we can live with." What exactly does that phrase mean, and what's the alternative? Mann misses another two free throws, both long. A lot of these fouls we're drawing are going to become and-ones as we get stronger.
8:50 p.m.: Zimmermann right now is the anti-Mann: physically limited but playing to the absolute maximum of his talents, at least on the offensive end. Can you say the next Taj Finger? Stanford's within five with under a minute left in the half. Last minute plays out uneventfully and it's 35-30 OK State at the half. … This is the fourth commercial for the anti-hangover pill Chaser that I've seen. Ugh.
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