Sunday, March 21, 2010

End Of The Dream

You can only go so far with a dream, and for the remarkable group of seniors who played their last basketball game for Cal in an NCAA second-round loss to Duke, it's really, really over.

Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson, Jerome Randle, Jamal Boykin, and even lesser light Nikola Knezevic brought great honor and excitement to the Cal hoops program. Before anyone forgets it (and the CBS-TV announcers repeatedly did), this group won the first conference basketball title for the Bears in fifty years. The fact that they lost the Pac-10 Tournament title to Washington doesn't erase what everyone in the conference knows: Cal earned the title this year.

Any hopes the seniors had of a magical, improbable finish at the Final Four probably vanished when the selection committee set Cal up on a path to collide with Duke. The bigger, brawnier Dookies simply overwhelmed a Cal squad that wasn't very muscular to begin with, and got less so with the suspension of Omondi Amoke before the start of March Madness.

The Duke game must have been nightmarish for Cal coach Mike Montgomery, who watched an opponent play the way his old Stanford squads often played: hit 'em hard, hit 'em often, and assume most of it won't get called. Montgomery is honest in admitting that he prefers that style of basketball, but had to do something few coaches are really able to do: let the team dictate the style of play.

Montgomery allowed Randle and Company to play their way. It wasn't enough, in the end, to win it all. But these young men left their mark in Berkeley. They'll be missed, but they won't be forgotten.

No comments: