While I worked in software, I saw every game I wanted to see, because there was money and paid time off and a schedule. Working in chess, I have to take every gig I can get, so I miss games. By a typical mid-December, I've seen 15 games, more than that if the Thanksgiving tournaments are four-a-day.
I haven't seen Pacific yet. I wanted to watch Coach Bradley Davis' Tigers beat San Jose St., but I worked at a tournament during the game.
Friday night I taught class at Weibel, then drove to Berkeley for chess club. The drive was wretched: two hours for 37 miles. Saturday I reviewed games at Weibel, then drive to Berkeley for Nebraska. 1:15 because the traffic was better.
I missed the first quarter — Nebraska led 22-18 — and scrambling to my seat, I apologize for bothering my rowmates, a woman and her little daughter. The woman is AP sportswriter Janie McCauley.
Janie McCauley is legend who doesn't know it. Around here, every sportswriter has Janie McCauley stories, and they're all favorable. I squeezed past her in row DD, while she's all nice and friendly despite the inconvenience, while not recognizing me as someone she's met. She was the only person all day to mention my ugly Christmas shirt, which includes a Mini Cooper silhouette with a tree on top.
I should've asked her what she thinks of next year's National League.
The data I chose to track was Nebraska's second chances. I watched Cal's practice team get offensive rebounds on three straight possessions, and I wonder if this might be a season-long problem for the Golden Bears.
Cal led 27-24 at 7:58 in the 2nd quarter. Until 3:35, there were four rebounds at the Nebraska end. Two of those were put back by the Huskers, with a 3-point play possible. Ouch, but Cal was hot offensively, and even increased their lead to 39-34. Until halftime, the Bears grabbed each possible defensive rebound, and extended again: 44-38 at half.
Cal locked the defensive boards in the 3rd; Nebraska got their first off-the-rim offensive rebound at 1:30, but there were few offensive rebounds to be had because Nebraska shot 58% in the second half (better in the third quarter, I think, but there's no play-by-play accompanying the boxscore).
I wondered if Coach Gottlieb said anything like: "Keep playing defense like this, and we'll win this game, because they can't shoot like this all night."
Nebraska was held to one second chance in the 4th quarter — two in the half! — but made so many first chances that it was tied at the end of regulation.
Nebraska had the last possession with 3+ seconds left, but their speedy senior guard Kyndal Clark couldn't get in range. (Clark was the shortest Cornhusker on the floor, but led them in rebounds.)
Four seconds was enough for my teammate Jeff Carter one night. I remember Coach Mohatt in the huddle: "We've got four seconds. Don't worry; that's a lot of time. I want our three sophomores to run this. Rod, you take the ball out. Grimes, you set a pick for Carter here. Jeff, take your man to the basket."
The Ohlone Renegades ran it just as diagrammed. Jeff made a 15-footer at the buzzer, and we carried him off the floor. Added bonus: Jeff's defender was a kid that Coach Mohatt didn't want to sign, so he was hungry to make Coach eat that. He fouled Jeff while shooting, but Carter beat him without a whistle.
Nebraska ran something like that for Clark, but Cal's defender at the end of regulation was better than our opponent 30+ years ago.
Nebraska's shooting finally faltered in overtime — 2-for-9 — while Cal made free throws.
Nebraska senior guard Rachel Theriot, I thought I remembered her from their 2013 Sweet Sixteen team. 17 points, 15 assists. She made several winning decisions as the middleman on Cornhusker fastbreaks.
Cal freshman Kristine Anigwe had 29 points, 10 rebounds in the Bears' first game since her 43 points, 12 rebounds vs. Sacramento State. The Sacramento State team gives the opposing forward lots of room; last year, Pacific's Kendall Kenyon also had a career night against the Hornets.
Anigwe can power through more defenders than Kenyon; Kenyon can slip past more defenders than Anigwe. A matchup between Kenyon — unabashedly, I am still Kendall's fan and publicist — and Anigwe might go like this: There is gambling pool for how fast the twiggy Kenyon will get into foul trouble — because opponents who are as fast as she, and also bigger — are a problem for her. I could also imagine Anigwe getting into foul trouble. Maybe Kenyon blocks a few shots — with long arms and agility — and Anigwe backs up in order to get clear for a face-up jumper. Say Anigwe's just far enough out of her effective range, and she's missing shots — she might pursue those offensive rebounds too zealously, making fouls.
Kristine Anigwe will have many big games for Cal, which has two freshman starters: the other is guard Asha Thomas, who had 17 points, 5 assists against Nebraska. Cal's starting point guard last year was graduate Brittany Boyd, who made triple-doubles for the Golden Bears before making the WNBA All-Rookie team as a member of the Eastern Conference finalist New York Liberty.
Cal's other starters are two sophomores and one junior. (I wonder if junior forward Courtney Range feels some additional pressure for become the team's veteran one year ahead of schedule.) Coach Gottlieb said they're a young group, but they listen. (Folks who work with kids might've shared my immediate thought: "I wish I could get mine to do that.")
The new scoreboard in Haas Pavilion is shiny.