And…the hopes go back down.
Nothing wipes away the excitement of two home wins faster than two road losses. With the optimism going up and then coming back down we’re back where we started. In that sense we didn’t lose anything.
Unfortunately it doesn’t feel that way.
What’s frustrating about the Washington State loss is how close the Cats came against Washington on Thursday. You wonder how a team can have its entire roster in foul trouble in a very hostile environment yet almost pull out a win, and then go into a less vicious arena with a full squad and get run out of the building in the final five minutes.
And then you remember, oh yeah, we have one senior and one junior. It’s like our guys quickly built a freshman wall and collectively ran into it.
Did the Cats hit this?
After playing almost the entire second half Saturday down by eight-to-eleven points the UA finally made a run to cut it to six. Wazzu hit a couple free throws, Jamelle Horne threw away the in-bounds pass, the Cougars scored the next ten points and that was that.
DeAngelo Casto is just one of those guys who loves playing Arizona. He averaged 17.5 points (and 0.5 buzzer-beaters) in helping the Cougars sweep the Wildcats but he’s only averaging 7.1 points against the rest of the league. I will not miss the dreadlocked one.
Thursday’s four-way tie for first gave way to everyone looking up at Cal. The Bears left L.A. with sole possession of first place and they are definitely in the driver’s seat. Cal’s remaining schedule is: at home against the Washingtons, at the Oregons, home vs. the Arizonas, and at Stanford. So that’s four home games and then road games against the three worst teams in the league. Things are looking good for Cal’s quest for an elusive Championship in a Sport People Watch.
It’s not inconceivable that Cal runs the table and ends up running away with the conference crown. Even if you do find them two more losses one of the four second-place teams would have to go 6-1 down the stretch to share the title.
Washington only has two home games left so they’re not doing it. UCLA and USC still have to play at the Washingtons and Arizonas so they’re out.
That leaves the schools from the Grand Canyon State. To get to the proposed 12-6 both teams are looking to sweep the Oregon and L.A. schools at home and win at Stanford. Were that to happen the winner of the head-to-head battle on Feb. 21 in Tucson would claim a share of the Pac-10 championship.
Possible? Well, let’s get past Oregon and Oregon State at home and have Cal lose to either Washington or WSU in Berkeley and then we’ll talk.
Until then keep your hopes in neutral.
In football news, last Wednesday was National Signing Day, or “F5 Day” as it is known on message boards. If you look at the recruiting rankings Arizona didn’t do too hot, ranking 7th in the Pac-10 according to Rivals and 9th according to Scout.
This puts Wildcat fans in the “Recruiting rankings don’t mean anything!” camp. That means we watch for guys who end up exceeding their supposed potential.
Here are a few candidates:
WR Garic Wharton – He is really fast. Like Usain-Bolt-is-looking-over-his-shoulder fast. But can he catch? Can he get open? Can he run in anything other than a straight line?
DB Jonathan McKnight – He is Joe McKnight’s brother. Quick, someone get him a girlfriend who rides the bus!
No, that’s Jordan Knight.
Photo by Jim Louvau, The Arizona Republic
DL Sani Fuimaono – The Cats politely and ethically steered him away from Washington at the last minute.
LS Chase Gorham – This Scottsdale kid was rated as the best long snapper in the nation. We’re #1! We’re #1!
The guys we need to be really good really quick are JC linebackers Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo, and DT Willie Mobley, a former Ohio State redshirt who ended up at a JC. There are holes in the UA defense that need to be filled and if these transfers can do the filling the Cats will be in great shape.
Did you see our quarterback suddenly get better on Sunday? Nick Foles went from being The Guy Who Broke Drew Brees’ High School Records to The Guy Who Broke Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees’ High School Records.
Just a couple months until spring practice!