So, we lied. We’re back for another Wide World of Cal Sports. A lot has happened, especially in the last few weeks. We never thought it’d get this busy during the lazy, dog days of summer.
*Leading Off…Braun Gets His Extension*
Yes, we get to suffer through two more years of Ben Braun. That means two more years of stagnant offenses, so-so defenses and more mediocrity.
Braun’s original contract was slated to go to the 2008-09 season, but the university agreed to a contract extension in June, which was pending approval from the UC Regents.
Well, at least Braun will have his hands full if his players don’t stop acting up.
*More Coaching News*
Cal has found replacements for its women’s tennis and lacrosse teams.
Jan Brogan left the Bears after 29 years and a semifinal appearance in the NCAA tournament. We thought it was dumb to leave, but one of Brogan’s pupils is going to take the helm.
Amanda Augustus, who won two NCAA doubles-titles with Cal in the mid-1990s is going to be the new head coach.
On the lacrosse front, assistant coach Theresa Sherry has been elevated to head coach. She was a three-time All-American at Princeton.
Let’s hope she can bring that east coast flair to the Bears and help Cal crack that east coast bias.
*Tyson Ross: Silver Medalist*
We know Tyson Ross is awesome. He’s going to be Esquer’s only hope of keeping his job after next year (we keep saying that, but it might be true).
Add to Ross’ list of accomplishments a silver medal from the Pan American games. He was on the mound for Team USA in the tourney-opener, defeating the Dominican Republic 5-1. He also pitched two innings of relief for Team America in the gold medal game.
Can Cal have Ross pitch every game, please?
*More Pan-Am Athletes*
Our Cal Athlete of the Year, Alysia Johnson, began representing Team USA today with a second place finish in the 800 meter at the Pan-Am games in Brazil.
That finish gets her into the final. Maybe she can add “world champ” to this impressive list of accomplishments: NCAA indoor champ, NCAA outdoor champ and United States champ.
We’re sure she’s going to be in Beijing next summer of the Olympics. Just you wait and see.
Image source: Salgu Wissmath, Daily Cal
*Leading Off…No Postseason For Cal, Again*
The Cal baseball team was the ultimate bubble team for a berth to the NCAA tournament. Heading up to Seattle for the last series of the regular season, the Bears probably needed to win two of three games to possibly nab a postseason berth.
They didn’t. Instead Esquer’s Bears’ miracle run at the end of the season ended in dismay, with Cal losing two of three to Washington. Even worse is that our friends at UCLA were probably the last Pac-10 team selected to the tournament, with a 30-26 record.
What’s our Bears’ record you ask? 29-26. Ouch. Let’s make that six straight seasons that Cal hasn’t made the postseason.
*Slow Start Dooms Bears*
We’re going to try to explain to you why the women’s crew team failed to three-peat as NCAA champions this year.
1) There are three boats at the NCAA regatta.
2) The varsity eight boat is considered the best boat and its grand final race is given three-times as many points as any of the other grand finals.
3) Cal’s varsity eight boat failed to even reach the semifinals of the event.
4) The second varsity eight boat and the varsity four boat both did pretty well in their respective events.
5) No varsity eight boat in the final means you’re not going to win the NCAA title, no matter how well the other boats did.
*Tennis Players Fall at Individual NCAAs*
Susie Babos was the defending NCAA singles champ. Keyword in that sentence is WAS. Babos was ousted in the second-round in her bid as a repeat champion. The other Bears in the singles draw lost in the round of 16.
Babos’s second round troubles didn’t end there, losing in the second round of the doubles bracket with teammate Zsuzsanna Fodor.
Wow, for a team that made the NCAA semis last weekend, all that most of these ladies could muster was a berth to the round of 16? What happened? Maybe their lone male counterpart can do better?
On the men’s side Pierre Mouillon was also given an early exit in the second round.
Well, at least we don’t have to talk about tennis for awhile.
1) Alysia Johnson – Track and Field
This sounds like a broken record, but Johnson just broke another record at the NCAA West Regional. Cal -female- athlete of the year? We’d say so.
2) Ed Wright – Track and Field
Along with Johnson, won Cal’s only two individual titles at the NCAA West Regional.
3) The other 11 track and field athletes who qualified for the NCAAs over the weekend. At least one team fared well.
*Leading Off…Seriously, Who Is This Cal Baseball Team?*
We’ve been thoroughly amazed at what has transpired the last month or so for Esquer’s Bears. The last few years, Cal baseball has either started fast and finished terribly slow or just began terribly and finished terribly-er.
But this year seems different. After taking the first two games from USC on the weekend, putting the Bears in prime shape to sweep a perennial Pac-10 power today at Evans Diamond, Cal may be making a case for a postseason berth.
If that happens, then maybe the “team-bonding” was a good thing. Ehh, actually, we change our minds. Maybe Esquer just learned how to coach.
*Women’s Tennis Elite*
It’s not everyday when your best player doesn’t play well, gets beat and you still move on to the semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
That’s what the women’s tennis team did over the weekend, upsetting No. 2 Georgia –let’s repeat NO. 2 GEORGIA–on the road, in Georgia, to advance to the final four.
The semifinals against the Ramblin’ Wreck of Georgia Tech is today. Wow, one step away from the finals and a potential match with No. 1 Stanfurd.
*Falling Flat on Their Faces*
We know our boy Michael Silver over at SI.com loves his alma mater. That’s why on his weekly column he showcases why “The University of California is the Center of the Universe.”
We love the guy. He’s great. But he’s also a softball homer. Which isn’t bad, except for the embarrassing 13-1 beat down the Bears received at the hands of Alabama, which eliminated Cal from the NCAA tournament.
Note to Mike: Don’t mention that this week.
*Golf is Still Hard to Understand*
Despite having one of the best team scores of the year, the men’s golf team still failed to advance out of the West Regional and into the NCAA championships.
Golf is probably the only sport in which this happens. No wonder no one likes it.
_1) Cristina Visico – women’s tennis_
One quick overhand form Visico and the Bears were in the NCAA semis.
_2) Michael Brady – baseball_
Walk-off homer against the Trojans on Saturday and another big fly yesterday. Where’d al this Bears power come from?
_3) Michael Jensen – men’s golf_
Too bad the kid doesn’t get to go to the NCAAs.
*Leading Off…How Sweet It Is*
The Cal women’s tennis team is through to the round of 16 after knocking of Southeastern Louisiana and Arizona State over the weekend at the Hellman Tennis Center.
It should have been that way. Who are the Lions anyway? They’re from No-where, Louisiana. Oh, and the Sun Devils? The Bears knocked them off twice during the regular season.
Easy rolling to the sweet 16 if you ask us.
*Not So Sweet*
The men’s tennis team didn’t fare as well as their female counterparts, losing in the first round to Oklahoma. It was a pretty close one, with the Bears losing 4-3.
It was also Cal’s first first-round loss since 2000, and it was a bitter way to end the season after roaring back at the end there.
Still, most of the season was ho-hum anyway.
*No Pac-10 Crowns This Time*
After the men’s and women’s crew teams won Pac-10 championships last year, both fell to rivals in this year’s edition.
The women’s crew lost its conference crown (for the first time in four years) to USuC. When you don’t advance to the grand final in two of the four events, you’re going to be pretty hard pressed to win a meet.
On the men’s side, all they needed to do was beat Washington in the final race to capture their third straight Pac-10 crown. They lost and were knocked off their pedestal.
*fUCLA Wins 100th Team Championship*
The Baby Bears won the women’s water polo national championship over the weekend, giving fUCLA 100 NCAA team titles.
Last week, we asked a simple question: Can the W’s use their athleticism to beat the Utah Jazz the same way they did against Dallas?
For one game, Golden State in fact was able to do that. But for the rest of the series for the Warriors, the team misses free throws, has horrible shot attempts and just runs out of gas near the end of the games.
Game 5 is going to be tough in the SLC.
_1) Alysia Johnson – track & field_
Racking up the hardware won the Pac-10 crown in the 800-meter
_2) Ed Wright – track & field_
Took home the Pac-10 crown in the high jump
_3) Jill Malko – lacrosse coach_
Truly one of the better coaches on campus and one of the better people at Cal. She put in a lot of effort her nine years at the helm.
Leading Off… Ayala-Hil’s Golden Touch
The Cal men’s soccer team is finally rolling. The Bears have won four straight since their debacle against SDSU two weeks ago after Javier Ayala-Hil’s golden goal to beat Washington on Sunday. The streak has them soaring in the latest coaches poll, up to No. 7!
We don’t think Kevin Grimes is that great of a coach, but what he’s done with this young team is amazing.
Southern California Kind of Ownage
It’s great that the Cal men’s polo team got to the final of the SoCal Open on Sunday. But of course, the Bears had to play ‘SC in the final. Uh-Oh…that meant an automatic 6-5 loss for Cal.
We said it before, if the Bears want a title, they’ll have to burst the Trojans at some point…in the next millennia.
SoCal Ownage Part Deux
Speaking of ownage, the Cal volleyball team had the same amount of success in Los Angeles that the water polo team did – none. The Bears have lost three straight, including dropping both games at UCLA and at ‘SC.
Cal has never defeated the Southern Branch (UCLA) in Westwood and the team just couldn’t close out the Trojans. You can’t win NCAA titles unless you beat teams in your conference, and the Bears can’t do that yet.
On Your Marks…GO!
Both the men’s and women’s swimming teams got off to a great start. The Cal men downed Pacific in Stockton while the women got their groove on in the Midwest, downing both N’Western and Minnesota. Yay for swimming!
Gripe of the Weekend
We guess being preseason ranked in the top 10 doesn’t matter, at least for the Cal women’s soccer team.
The Bears finished one point – ONE POINT – away from the conference title last year, but they’re stumbling this year in Pac-10 play. Cal hasn’t won a conference game yet, and with only three weeks before the playoffs, this team doesn’t look like it’s gelled either. That’s a huge problem.
1) Javier Ayala-Hil – men’s soccer
Two goals against U-Dub and the game-winner. Yeah, they’re rolling.
2) Marshawn Lynch – football
Finally, Marshawn gets hyphy! Season-high 152 yards on the ground and two scores as the Bears rolled onto their sixth straight win.
3) Daron Moore and Nina Henkel – women’s tennis
The lone bright spot for Cal at the St. Mary’s Invite over the weekend. The pair won the doubles title.