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A Win for Pete Newell: Cal Completes Undefeated Season at Home

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Cal Beats USC to Post First Undefeated Home Season Since 1960

Tyrone Wallace ended his senior year perfect at home.
Tyrone Wallace ended his senior year perfect at home.
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

One of the special things about heading toward the Older side of Blue is the number of memories I take with me. When you live and die with a program for decades, the memories become a part of you -- your identity, your personal mythology. They become the heartbeat, the foundation, of a life well lived.

I have such memories of Cal basketball.

  • January 26, 1986 -- Lou Campanelli and David Butler end UCLA's 25-year winning streak and deliver the first victory over UCLA in my lifetime.

  • January 3, 1993 -- The first time I saw Jason Kidd in a Cal uniform. (I was studying abroad in the fall.)

  • March 20, 1993 -- Cal 82 - Duke 77

  • March 15, 1997 -- I was in Winston-Salem to watch the best Cal team of my lifetime go to the Sweet 16 without Ed Gray.

  • March 20, 2003 -- Midgley for three!!!!

  • February 27, 2010 -- First conference championship in my lifetime.

And now tonight. In a season of transition and inconsistency -- perfection. 18-0 at Haas Pavilion, a feat not achieved since Cal last reached a Final Four in 1960, and a marker thrown down for generations to come. This is Bear Territory. Defend this Haas.

Yes, my own personal relationship to Cal basketball is defined by the big, program moving moments I listed above, but it is also defined by a thousand little memories within that building on the south side of campus. My uncle taking me to my first game when I was 11-years-old. Falling in love with the heat, the noise, the smell of Harmon Gym. As a student, lining up outside to get into the student section and take my customary seat, squared to the north basket. Keith Smith high fiving me after a three at the halftime buzzer. The electricity whenever the Cal band entered the arena. Learning every chant, every song. The first purchase when I got my first real paycheck: a Bear Backer donation and a deposit on season tickets. Driving from Sacramento to Oakland for every game while Harmon was being renovated. Walking into Haas for the first time. Bill Glass, Eddy, and now Spencer. Senior nights: Al, Randy, Joe, Brian, Ayinde, Theo, Jerome, Jorge. Twist appearing then disappearing for hours at a time. Seeing Jaylen and Ivan for the first time. Jumping on atoms' back after the Arizona win.

If you are reading this -- if you are a fan of Cal basketball -- you have your own memories. You love this place as much as I do. It is a part of you. Your soul lights up a little brighter when you first see the floor. It is your house. It is our house.

This is why I was so angry when Arizona yelled over our alma mater in January. Because this is our house. Because this is where our family lives. Because this place, this temple of Cal basketball, and Cal spirit, and Cal greatness, is our home. And we entrust our warriors, our Sturdy Golden Bears, to defend that home, and our spirit, and our greatness, game in and game out.

This year they took the floor to do that 18 times. And 18 times they were successful. That is a monumental accomplishment, and one that will mark this as one of the great seasons in Cal basketball history.

I opened the conference season with a plea to appreciate the moment. To glory in the journey of a team that was learning, and building, and growing together. I hope you did that, and I hope you appreciated what you just saw. Perfection. At home. In our Haas.

Much of this story is still unwritten. We may only have four more games. We may have 11. We all look forward to finding out. But no matter what happens, we have the best home season in Cal history. They can never take that away from us.

Oh, and we beat USC

Cal 87 - USC 65

Here's a chart.

Josh Scott

55% FG, held to 4-16 shooting at Haas

Jakob Poeltl

67% FG, held to 6-14 shooting at Haas

Tra Holder

14.5 PPG, held to 9 points on 2-11 shooting at Haas

Ryan Anderson

16 PPG, held to 14 points at Haas

Rosco Allen

16 PPG, got his 16 points on 4-12 shooting at Haas

Dillon Brooks

17 PPG, scored 17 points along with 4 turnovers at Haas

Gary Payton II

16 PPG, 5 APG, held to 10 points, 2 assists at Haas

Isaac Hamilton

17 PPG, held to 12 points at Haas

You hear Cuonzo and the players talk a lot about defensive game plans. They talk in particular about shutting down the team's biggest offensive threat. A fundamental tenet of Cuonzo Martin's defensive philosophy is that we will not let the opponent's best scorer go off. And they never do.

Tonight Jordan McLaughlin came into the game as USC's leading scorer with 13 PPG, and he left with 7 points on 3-8 shooting. You don't come into our house and go off. You just don't.

Thank you, Ty

At a long forgotten football game during the 1-11 season (they all blended together), I was standing behind Ty Wallace in a concessions line. Unable to resist talking basketball (ever), I started a conversation about our tournament game against Syracuse the prior season. As I did so, a couple kids came up to him for autographs. He politely said excuse me, signed the autographs, then turned back to me and apologized for interrupting my thought. It was such a simple, unassuming moment, that also captured for me in a nutshell the type of person I want representing my alma mater.

Ty has been through so much at Berkeley. The gem in the middle of what was a disaster of a recruiting class, he ended up single-handedly salvaging what would have been Monty's worst class ever. If he had been born two years earlier, he could have played in his prime with Jorge and Allen and Justin, and been a terrific complimentary piece to those great talents -- the slasher, taking advantage of their gravity to attack gaps in the defense. Instead, he became the bridge to a new era. Too often, and perhaps unfairly, asked to play a role that did not suit his natural style, Ty unflinchingly, without complaint, took on the role of point guard and team leader. I don't remember him ever pouting. I don't remember him ever putting his head down. Instead, I remember him coming back for his senior year to keep a promise to his grandfather, I remember him turning into a vocal, on-court presence who picks up other players when they get down, and I remember him working right through a broken hand to come back and doggedly attempt to run a club full of mismatched parts.

I remember him as a Golden Bear and as a symbol of the greatness of this university.

Miscellaneous

  • Everyone played well. I'm obviously not in the mood for statistical analysis, or Xs and Os, right now, but I probably will be in the comments. For now I leave you with this thought: We have the potential to be a very good March basketball team.

  • Beat Arizona.