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This post's matchups: Mike Pawlawski vs Sean Dawkins, Leon Powe vs Lorenzo Alexander
We conclude the bottom half of the Pappy Waldorf bracket! Top two matchups were posted this morning, and we move onto the bottom two. Polls for these matchups close next Friday at midnight. The athlete matchups are above, the athlete descriptions and polls are after the jump.
#7 Mike Pawlawski vs #10 Sean Dawkins
The old-timers remember him and the team he led quite fondly, perhaps in the same way the younger minds remember Rodgers and 2004.
LeonPowe: Quarterback for the 1991 Citrus Bowl Championship teams. Coming out of high school he had no arm strength, no accuracy and was rated by one recruiting service as "the worst recruit in the Pac-10"
Damned if he didn’t will and win his way to becoming the Pac-10 offensive player of the year in 1991. And this was with a UW team that won the National Championship. I really dislike attributing stuff like "intangibles" and "leadership" – because good players usually prove themselves in some measurable way. Mike really didn’t – he had okay stats and won a lot. But it was the little things. Like when he scored on a keeper and knocked out the opposing linebacker. Like when he played special teams to get on the field. Like when he took an offense full of talent (Russ, Brian Treggs, Mike Caldwell, Greg Zomalt, Lindsay Chapman) and molded them in his image – they became a cocky, loud-mouthed, trashtalking offense that WON. Back-to-back Bowl Games (huge for Cal at the time).
In my freshman year after Pawlawski had graduated a lot of fans and students said (not jokingly either) that they should bring Pawlawski back . . .to coach the linebackers.
Ohio Bear: Until the 2004 team came along, the 1991 team was the best of my Cal fandom. And I think the 1991 team was better overall than the 2006 team.
California Pete: I think the 1991 team would have a great chance against the 2004 team, although the 91ers’ penchant for personal fouls probably would do them in. Both teams were Rose Bowl worthy—far better than the teams sent most recently by the likes of WSU and Stanford—but both unfortunately shared the conference with two of the all-time greats: UW 1991 and USC 2004.
He is dealing with neck issues in retirement, but many of us have seen him broadcast a Cal game, several this past season, and he seems to be in generally good spirits.
And let's put ourselves in good spirits with some highlights of that 1990 team!
Speaking of that team...
Ohio Bear: WR 1990-1992. He didn’t have as good an NFL career as I thought he would, but he had 2 very special seasons for Cal (91 and 92). Seemed like all he did was catch TDs. Tough catches, too.
LeonPowe: Along with Mike Caldwell probably the best hands of Cal receiver that I’ve seen since 1991. Had the sweetest catch I’d ever seen (the replay made everyone at Kips go "woooaaah" – when he and Dave Barr worked a pump-and-go route where Dawk used a basketball spin move to escape the corner. Also used to catch these great sideline tip-toe catches. Not great speed but was somehow always open.
Ohio Bear: Indded, Dawk and Caldwell had great hands. I would add G-Mac and Desean to the "best hands" argument. As much as I loved Dawk, I think I’d give that title to G-Mac.
#2 Leon Powe vs #15 Lorenzo Alexander
Not many Cal fans can find a bad word to say about Leon. ragnarok has this classic story from the old blogsome of Powe's greatest performance in gold & blue:
Already demanding notice after setting a tournament record with 20 rebounds in avictory over USC the previous night, Leon Powe had what is probably his signature game at Cal during the semifinals of the Pac-10 tournament. Seventh-seeded Oregon was fighting for its season; with a 15-17 record, the Ducks knew there would be no postseason for them if they didn’t win the Tournament. Still, they had managed to beat hapless Washington State and then upset second-seeded Washington the next night, and early on, it looked like they might pull off their improbable run to the title game, sprinting out to a 32-16 lead in the first half. Then they ran into Leon Powe.
Of course, it took a team effort from the Bears to battle back from a 16-point deficit, including trailing by 7 with less than 3 minutes to go, but it often seemed that most of that team effort involved feeding Powe in the low post over and over and over again. And why wouldn’t they? The man was virtually unstoppable that night, shooting 14 of 17 from the floor and 13 of 18 from the line. You don’t really need an offense when you have Leon Powe, but the Bears did need every one of his tournament-record 41 points (and two overtimes) to hold off the Ducks in a game that had me (alone at home) screaming at my television and nearly convinced me to drive down to LA for the final. These Bears should have been upset, but Powe put them up on his back and barreled them into the final virtually singlehandedly.
As great as that performance is, we love Leon for a lot more than his put back dunks or even being the Show in the NBA Finals. His story from rags to riches would have left Jamal Malik reeling and Latika swooning. Leon Powe is where amazing happens.
Alexander might not be known to most of you, but he was our defensive anchor during the early Tedford years.
To say Lorenzo Alexander has always been big for his age is kind of like saying Stevie Wonder started early in music. When he was seven years old, his mother tried to register him for youth football in their hometown of Oakland. But the program organizers, after taking a glimpse at Lorenzo's oversized frame and 100-pound plus weight, informed his mom that Lorenzo would have to play in the 12-year-old division.
Alexander's mother, Stephanie Moore, refused to let her young son play in a higher league.
To this day, Lorenzo still remembers how tears flowed from his eyes on the drive home.
Ironically, Alexander - a former Parade magazine high school All-American and the veteran leader of Cal's 2003 defense - did not play organized football until he entered Berkeley's St. Mary's High School in 1997. This, despite weighing in at 140 pounds at eight years old and displaying a remarkable combination of size and speed throughout his formative years.
Now measuring 6-3, 295 pounds as a tenacious junior defensive tackle for the Golden Bears, some day soon, Lorenzo may again be directed to a higher league - the National Football League. Only this time, his mother probably won't stand in the way.
Good stuff. He's in the NFL right now with the Redskins, although I hope he doesn't do anything as crazy as this ever again.