Here's my latest stream of consciousness following last weekend's big win over Saint Mary's.
The win over Saint Mary's on Friday was a better one than the win over North Carolina because the Broncos blew out the Tar Heels. The last three minutes on Saturday was high drama that was unmatched by the events at the Oakland Arena in November.
In order to reach the NCAA tournament, the Broncos will probably have to beat Saint Mary's three times in the same season and knock-off Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament championship game.
Three wins in the final four games would lock up a spot among the top four seeds in the WCC Tournament and a first round bye. That's crucial because, under normal circumstances, winning four games in four nights is challenging. This year, in this conference, it's essentially impossible.
In 10 years with the program, I don't recall any instances of the coaching staff using movies like "Hoosiers" or "Remember the Titans" as a motivational tool. But Dick Davey's crew showed the team tapes of Santa Clara vs. Saint Mary's over the past decade. During the first few sluggish minutes, a call to Tony Robbins seemed like a better idea. By the end of the night the film drew stronger reviews than "Million Dollar Baby."
Brody Angley says he learned upon arriving on campus the importance of beating Saint Mary's. In his first year, he has the memory of a lifetime. Fortunately, it was also witnessed by his father, who's drive back to Redding couldn't have been any smoother on a rainy night. Assistant coach Lloyd Pierce told Brody to make a play if the Bailey and Rohde options were choked off. I wish my 10-year-old would listen to me half as well.
Perkins is the best athlete at Santa Clara since Lloyd Pierce and maybe the best all-around guard in the conference. Only Alex Acker of Pepperdine can be mentioned in the same breath. Those two will tangle Thursday in an elimination game for the Waves. A loss would practically guarantee a spot in fifth-place or lower.
Dan Coonan made a great move by giving the students the center seats in the Leavey Center. The Ruff Riders have done a good job in holding their end of the bargain. But, the job isn't done yet for the season.
As far as the conference tournament, second seed is as good as first. That means SCU needs to make up one more game on Saint Mary's in the next four to avoid playing until Sunday night.
I've grown into liking the tournament format that rewards regular season success. But there was something magical with all eight teams playing the first day and the real chance of anyone moving on to the semifinals.
If San Diego can get out of the Northwest with a split (most likely at Portland), I like the Toreros as the fourth seed in the tourney. That would mean a date with Gonzaga in the semis if they get that far. In the first meeting at the JCP, San Diego made just 2 of 20 shots in the second half.
If USD is swept this week then I like Portland to get into the top four because they get their final three games at home. The regular season finale against Gonzaga could be worth a first round bye.
By the way, the Pilots haven't won a conference tournament game since winning it in '95-'96. That's eight straight losses in the first round and serves as the main reason Pilot radio announcer Darryl Aune normally packs for just one day.
So much for USF's at-large bid. No one in the business could figure out the Dons RPI when they started 4-2. However, their wins over the Zags and at Pacific are nothing to sneeze at. At best, it's an NIT game with Cal unless they can win four games in four nights in the Leavey Center. For that likelihood, see paragraph three.
It took awhile to get going, but Kyle Bailey is going out in a blaze of glory. He simply wouldn't let his team lose Friday and matched Kickert and Rowland with huge plays down the stretch.
No one has ever played more minutes than Bailey at Santa Clara. Kyle is fourth in assists and steals. His next three will match Garnett for number two all-time at 210. Nash is out of sight at 263.
Ethan Rhode: From walk-on to number four all-time in threes. His second half trey against Carolina will always be a career highlight but the 25-foot dagger in the second half against the Gaels was pure poetry. Long live the high socks.
The standings show Santa Clara is hosting teams at the bottom of the standings. But, Pepperdine has too much talent to sleepwalk to a bottom tier finish and LMU took the Zags down to the final possession last week despite being annihilated on the boards.
There won't be too many bad habits to break from incoming freshman Cliff Sammet. He's coached at Santa Cruz High by Pete Newell, Jr.
Calvin Johnson is a Michael Vick-type quarterback in Morton, Texas, who will be a big-time guard in the WCC. The hope is he'll have a similar immediate impact as Brian Jones.