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Friday, March 11, 2005

Pac-10 Semifinals 

Yesterday's quarterfinal action was, in case you have a job or something and weren't able to watch basketball all day, intense. With the exception of the opening Arizona-Cal game (Arizona by a lot), the games all went down to the last few possessions. Arizona State took the Huskies to overtime but eventually ran into too much Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo, AKA Nate Robinson, and the UW won 95-90. I was right in thinking that UCLA was due for a let-down game, but I chickened out before going as far as picking the Beavs to win. My bad: OSU 79, UCLA 72. UCLA should still make the NCAAs, but I can't say that they're a lock any more. In the nightcap and by far the most heartbreaking game of the day, the mighty Cougs fell to Stanford 60-58. WSU's first All-Conference player since 1998, Thomas Kelati, went down swinging, dropping 20 on 7-11 shooting. Kelati's easily the best player I've seen in Pullman since I've been here, and he and fellow senior Jeff Varem leave a major hole for the team to fill next season.

Before I go on with the semifinals preview, I think it's time to tell my Jeff Varem Most Ridiculous Dunk Ever story, in honor of Dr. Dunkenstein's final college game yesterday. The Cougs were at home taking on Cal last season, and beating them handily. It was one of those games where the losing team is mailing it in for the last few minutes, and the winning team is just trying to get dunks and not piss off the coach too much by doing anything stupid. Varem received the ball on the right wing guarded by somebody that had no business doing so. One dribble later, and Varem had a full step on his man with nothing standing between him and a rim-shaking dunk. Nothing, that is, except for a 6'2", 185 pound Englishman named Richard Midgley. Limey was going to try to step in and draw the offensive foul. Varem, who at 6'6", 240, is easily a good enough athlete to play defensive end for a mid-major program, was having none of that. Varem leaped from about the hash line, knocked Midgley, who was just a split-second too late to draw the charge, underneath the basket support, and finished with a left-handed flush. Two or three minutes later, when Midgley's teammates were finally able to scrape Midgley's beaten frame off the first row of seats, the fans were still unable to speak coherently. It was just a bunch of laughter and shaking heads in disbelief.

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Midgley and Varem. Poor Brit never stood a chance.

Here's the preview, brought to you by Franzia White Zinfandel. Five Liters of Frugal Fun!


(1) Arizona v. (5) Oregon State
Arizona 79, OSU 70

Oregon State lost every conference road game that they played this year. At home, their only loss was to the Wildcats. So what does this mean on a neutral court? Beats me. It'll be close, but Arizona has too much Salim for OSU to handle.

(2) Washington v. (3) Stanford
Washington 80, Stanford 78

This game boils down to tempo. Will it be an up-and-down, open-gym-style ratball match favoring the Huskies, or a methodical, disciplined, get away with illegal picks game favoring Stanford? I'm thinking the Huskies can keep the pace up long enough to escape with a victory. Look for a big game from Bobby Jones. Also look for Mike Jensen to at some point tell a Stanford player, "I must break you."

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Jensen and Ivan Drago. I've never seen both in the same place, most likely because Drago is a fictional character.

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