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Frisco Del Rosario writes about chess960, women's basketball, minor league baseball, unsupported collectible card games, lettering in comic books, and Golden Age movies

Pacific shares first place, but doesn’t yet instill great confidence 01/15/2017

Tommy Full Color on whiteMy fear about the three teams I’m watching this season — Cal, Pacific, Utah — is that they’re good enough to be disappointing.

As the Golden Bears visit the Utes in Salt Lake City Sunday, the Bears are 2-3 in Pac-12 play, one game ahead of the Utes and the bottom of the Pac.

Unfortunately, either Gottlieb’s or Roberts’ bunch has to lose tomorrow, but as displeasing that is, I plan to bicycle downtown in the morning, and ask the place with many TVs to put on Pac-12 women’s basketball.

Cal and Utah have one thing in common: a lone senior — Cal’s Range and Utah’s Crozon — who can sometimes shoot the hell out of it. Both teams both suffer for a lack of seniors.

Pacific was wretched last week in a 55-68 home loss to BYU, though the week before that, the Tigers beat Gonzaga in Spokane. It’s hard to tell with this team — when they’re bad, they’re over-reliant on one player; when everyone’s involved, they’re good. (It’s junior guard GeAnna Luaulu-Summers on whom Pacific depends — against USF, she broke the school record for free throws in a game — but it was Desire Finnie’s steal of an inbounds pass plus layup that stretched the Pacific run to 11-0 and the lead.) When they’re bad, it’s sometimes because they’re too short for some critical rebounds; but especially when the Tiger forwards scrap for offensive rebounds, they’re good. When one Tiger is seen trying to do too much, the whole team can follow suit and fall apart.

Pacific came back late against San Francisco Saturday, winning 63-60 despite trailing 59-50 with 3:30 remaining. It rivaled a 2011 win at Nevada, when the Tigers made up 12 points in the last three minutes, and won in overtime. The thing about the 2011 game was that the Tigers were clearly driven as a team to win the overtime, to make up missing the last shot in regulation. The win today against San Francisco carried no such suggestion — though the Tigers ran off 13 straight points to lead 63-59 with 1:12 to go, their last possession at Pepperdine Thursday mean four points was quite unsafe.

A steal by sophomore guard Ameela Li gave Pacific a chance Thursday in Malibu, down 58-59 with 0:37 left, but their last possession never took form. That loss, coupled with the BYU disaster, made me think Pacific would get to March in 6th place.

Then again, if you consider the win at Gonzaga plus today’s reassuring comeback against San Francisco — and the fact that no one’s running off with the West Coast Conference this season; Pacific, and three others are tied at 4-2 — maybe they’ll be OK come tournament time. Especially if Pepperdine is actually a good team — I mean, if the Waves’ final defensive stop at 0:37 was by design, it makes the whole win appear stronger (and Pacific less clunky at the same time).

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