Well, I finally lived the dream. I stalked Ben Braun. Driving into Berkeley for the Cal-UDub game today with the blogger formerly known as GoBeers, we found ourself driving behind the man formerly known as "The Cal Basketball Coach."*
I don’t know why he is driving an Avalon with no plates. Cal probably bought the car for him, so he can drive in peace without annoying fans following him and then pulling up besides him to take surreptitious photos of him. Man, did Cal fail on the follow through, because, well:
Yeah, we followed Braun as he seemingly drove aimlessly through Berkeley and then drove to his side at a red light to take photos. We even watched him almost get into a minor fender bender, but he did manage to avoid it. So, yeah, following Braun and snapping photos of him paparazzi-style, that’s not creepy. At all. I tried to later sell the photos to OK! magazine, but was roundly rebuffed. Damn.
I guess the bigger concern is why he was driving to the game about 1.5 hours ahead of time. Shouldn’t he be getting there a lot earlier? I dunno. He probably spends most of his day drawing up his offensive plays. Or, more accurately, play.
We were actually able to get ahold of his playbook when it fell out of his car. Here it is in his entirety:
That was the only sheet in the playbook. What can ya do?
We got down to campus and headed over to the pre-game Alumni party, which we, in every way, paid full price for entrance. At the event, there were 4 things of main importance. Brownies, B-Ball assistant coach Mike Roberts, Director of Football Operations Mike McHugh, and BROWNIES!!!!!
Except for professing a Pollyannaish belief that Cal was making the NCAA Tourney, Coach Roberts was very honest and straight forward. He even said that if anybody asked an inappropriate question, he just wouldn’t answer it. Because of that declaration, I ultimately decided to not ask him to take his shirt off and flex.
"No, I cannot comment on my relationship with Ben Affleck in this setting."
He basically answered some questions about the future of some of the seniors. And who the Tedford Patrick Armstrong is. He did talk some about the difficulty of the season and how it brings everybody closer together. In winning situations, people just keep doing what they are doing, even if it is fracturing the team. Nobody quite asked about how Hardin could seemingly regress so much. I guess that was an "inappropriate" question.
Up next was Director of Football Operations or Mike McHugh. A very funny speaker, he did admit who the quarterback was going to be for the 2008 season. But I’m not going to reveal that. You guys who didn’t have to suffer through the UDub b-ball game will have to find out in the fall after the "open competition."
"Actually, now that you ask, Tedford has already decided that the 2008 starting QB will be [NAME REDACTED]."
So, after we learned who the QB would be, we all congratulated each other on finding out early and swore each other to secrecy. Pinky swear!
Actually, some people did ask some kinda dick questions. One was about how Tedford always wasted timeouts?!?!? Another was a bit hard to hear, but was about how static the offense became last year. Not sure what static exactly means, but it ended with McHugh saying he would go to the film room with the questioner to show him certain things about the offense. Whatever.
We learned the following things from McHugh:
1. Tedford runs practices that are, at times, unduly harsh. This year instead of doing extra conditioning on Tu/Th, he is working with the team from a book called "Talent Isn’t Enough." Mr. McHugh didn’t elaborate on exactly what the book specifies, but you can kind of guess. I guess Tedford say some of the fissures in the lockerroom last year and wants to avoid that.
2. You get a fatty ring for getting blown out in Holiday Bowl 04.
3. The incoming WRs are going to be GOOD. Especially Mike Calvin. Here’s hoping that all works out.
Hilariously enough, CBKWit (who was also present) tried to ask a question for like 20 minutes. He had his hand up, but Mike Roberts failed to call on him at all. And then it took most of Mr. McHugh’s time for CBKWit to be called on.
"Wait wait wait, are you f’realz yo about [NAME REDACTED] being the QB next year?!?!?!"
Mr. McHugh was an engaging speaker, who was also very funny. He joked around about Coach Tedford meeting with noted adulterer Bill Belichick to learn about advanced secret video techniques. Good stuff. After he finished speaking, the band came in and played a few songs. Then, we headed over to the game about 20 minutes early.
I don’t want to get all Grandpa Simpson on you, but grass was less painful in my day. Also, people cared about basketball. Back then, 20 minutes before the game started, The Bench would be packed and rocking and rolling. And the stadium wouldn’t be 2/3rds empty. But now, it was. Eventually, it filled up to about one-half empty, but it was BRUTALLY empty even into the game itself.
It is unfortunate that Cal men’s basketball has fallen to this level. Yes, I realize that UDub isn’t exactly a world-beater opponent. Nonetheless, there’s no reason Cal can’t have a packed house every game and succeed at every level. We once had quite the home court advantage. Now, it is nothing.
Even though our tickets were technically high up, we just sat right behind the basket and watched warmups.
And then, the opening:
In Part II of my treatise on stalking Ben Braun, we’ll look at some game action. Even including the Hardin Gallery Of Shocked Faces During Play. Oh, there’s a lot.
What to say about the game? I can leave most of the reasoned analysis to CBKWit or Ragnarok. But the main culprit was D. I mean Verniesel had the game of his life and Hardin looked like what we had hoped for (perhaps a NBA Scout was in attendance). But Cal gave up about 50 points in the first half!?!?! Ugh. What more to say than that!
Until Part II, GO BEARS!
*Perchance to Sleep, Perchance To Dream, right?