Tag Archives: Wildcats

Thoughts on the Chico State Wildcat Men from 35 thousand feet

*Here are some thoughts on the plight of the Chico State Wildcat men’s basketball team from 35 thousand feet as I fly to Houston with the Chico State baseball team to Houston*

The news emerging from the Division West Region NCAA Men’s Basketball committee on Wednesday afternoon had to send a jolt of energy to the Chico State men’s basketball team.

The first regional ranking has the Wildcats sitting at number five in the West Region with the top eight teams going to the NCAA Tournament in three weeks.

The news had to be thrilling for a Wildcats team that has dropped three in a row and four of their last six. With losses over the last 11 days to Sonoma, San Francisco State and Cal State San Marcos the Wildcats were left to wonder whether their early season success would be over-looked, but as we like to emphasize, your post-season fate rests on your body of work and not entirely on “what have you done lately?”

For a team that was averaging nearly 78 points a game, the Wildcat offense has come to a stand-still during their skid. During the recent downturn it’s not as if the Cats are playing a bunch of also-rans. Sonoma State has the best Division II defense in the country and their match-up zone that put the clamps on Chico is “hell on wheels.” The Seawolves held Chico to a season-low 50 points in a 16-point win.

San Francisco State has interior size, perimeter athleticism and followed their game-plan perfectly in holding Chico to 51 points 10 days ago. The biggest surprise in the down-turn was Chico’s sub-par performance against the Cougars of San Marcos. At Acker Gym and after a great week of practice the Wildcats were held to 58 points in a heart-breaking loss against a team they put 80 points on in early December. It was Chico’s first loss at home in 13 games this year.

It is no surprise what is giving Chico State trouble right now. The match-up zone. The offense was cruising until Greg Kamanksy’s Cal Poly Pomona Broncos put the clamps on Chico’s offense in late January at Kellogg Gym. After the game Kamansky told me, “that’s best our zone has been all year.” Well, the rest of the CCAA has taken notice and employed their different versions of a defense that has suddenly put the skids on the free-flowing, ball is a blur Chico State offense.

The Wildcats have been known to carve up the zone, but inexplicably their flow has come to a stand-still against the zone over the last several weeks. Chico State head coach detests when the ball “sticks” in a players hands. By “sticking” he means when the ball is held by the offensive player, player just holds it as movement and cohesive play stops. There has been too much sticking. Too many times yours truly says, (Chico State player) is “surveying the scene.” When Chico attacks the teeth of the zone, they are either driving right into the heart of a double or triple team, make an ill-advised pass or take a bad shot. The synchronicity of the Wildcat offense is dis-jointed and has frustrated them as a group.

Clink was at wit’s end after last Saturday’s loss calling his teams’ offense “putrid.”

There is a silver lining to this slide. Last year the Wildcats lost steam after a 22-3 start and capturing their second straight CCAA title and could not recapture the magic dropping their final three games of the season including their NCAA Tournament opener against UC San Diego. Almost the entire squad that saw their season end so unceremoniously last year is on this squad and they will do whatever they need to do to prevent a repeat of last year.

Coming into the season the professed goal of many of the Wildcats I spoke with was not winning a 3rd straight CCAA title, but it was to go into the post-season playing their best basketball. With two weeks left in the regular season the regular season CCAA title may have come and gone, but the hopes of playing their best basketball still sits there like the ultimate carrot on a rope.

This team is too good and too veteran to let this little down-turn define their season. It will take more than talking about how good they are though. This team has to come together, maybe have some tough internal conversations, look themselves in the mirror and figure out what kind of team they want to be. I know they can do it, their rabid supporters know they can do it. Now we wait for them to figure it out.

Photo courtesy of Chico State Wildcats at http://www.chicowildcats.com

An Ode to the 2014 Chico State Wildcats

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They were four of the most thrilling days of baseball in the history of the Chico State program. The Wildcats are advancing to the Division II College World Series for the 9th time in school history and for the second time in three years.

The Wildcats stellar pitching and defense led the way, but it doesn’t happen without some timely hits as well. We look back at some of the heart-stopping moments from regional championship that will live in Wildcat lore….with help from Frank Sinatra, The Game of Thrones theme and Luciano Pavarotti

Live long and CARY on.

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Rivalry Week: Chico and Sonoma

There is no doubt the Chico State and Sonoma State baseball rivalry is the best in the CCAA. These two old NCAC rivals have always been the barometer in which the other is judged.

This week is no exception.  Sonoma State is playing for their West Region playoff lives, and Chico State is playing for a CCAA Conference Championship.

Four games this week that etch another chapter in the long, storied Chico/Sonoma rivalry…..

Photo courtesy of ChicoWildcats.com

Regional Redux: Last 2:39 of wild regional final with post-game

 

COVER PHOTO….courtesy of Chico State Athletics at ChicoWildcats.com and Luke Reid

Listen to the FINAL 2:39 of Chico’s amazing comeback as well as the post-game interviews as heard on KPAY

Gio Estrada with knifing drive thru the against Pomona in the CCAA Tourney. Photo courtesy of ChicoWildcats.com
Gio Estrada with knifing drive thru the against Pomona in the CCAA Tourney.
Photo courtesy of ChicoWildcats.com

 

Sean Park and Amir Carraway defend Cal State Stanislaus' Chris Read in Chico's amazing West Region title win Photo courtesy of ChicoWildcats.com
Sean Park and Amir Carraway defend Cal State Stanislaus’ Chris Read in Chico’s amazing West Region title win
Photo courtesy of ChicoWildcats.com

 

 

Chico State Notes: From 30 thousand feet, I believe in OMENS !!!

 

First Class with the Chico State Wildcats from 30 thousand feet....
First Class with the Chico State Wildcats from 30 thousand feet….

Imagine my surprise as I was handed my ticket for flight to Evansville seeing First Class Priority on my voucher. While initially surprised, is it really that stunning ? The Chico State men’s basketball team has been nothing but first class during this magical 2013-2014 season.

The Wildcats are making their first ever trip to the Division II Men’s Basketball Elite Eight in Evansville, Indiana where they hope to add to this record-setting run.

Chico State has had a week to let the magnificence of last Monday’s comeback win over Cal State Stanislaus marinate in their minds. To be honest, it never gets old, it will never get old and for as long as I have cognitive thought, it will be one of the greatest sports memories I will ever have.

Now, as this group embarks on “the next biggest game” in the history of Chico State University, we are reminded during the Madness of this month why we love sport, and why we love competition. The Wildcats will play South Carolina-Aiken Pacers on Wednesday night. The Pacers are 32-3 and figure to be a tough challenge for the Wildcats. We will have time to break down the Pacers, but at this rate, unless “these” Pacers are running out Paul George and Roy Hibbert, the Wildcats will fear no one. Why the heck should they ? They are playing basketball deeper into any season than any other club in school history. They have advanced deeper into the NCAA Tournament than any other hoops team in school history. They came back from 15 and 18 point deficits in the second half in the NCAA West Regional just so they could hop on this flight to the Elite Eight. What ? These Wildcats worry ?

So, as I sit in a First Class seat, with a First Class team covering a First rate program, flying at 30 thousand feet, why should I not believe they can continue to make history ? They have believed all along, it’s just taken the rest of us a little longer to hop on board. I have……FIRST CLASS, all the way !

A comeback for the ages sends Chico State to Evansville…

They believed despite near perfection from Cal State Stanislaus.

They believed even as the clock ticked against them.

They believed even when common sense told you they had no chance.

The Chico State Wildcats are heading to the Elite Eight  Photo Courtesy ChicoWildcats.com
The Chico State Wildcats are heading to the Elite Eight
Photo Courtesy ChicoWildcats.com

The Chico State men’s basketball team is advancing to the Elite Eight after an improbable, unconscionable and utterly breath-taking 81-80 win over Stanislaus at Coussoulis Arena in San Bernardino on Monday night.

Chico trailed virtually the entire game. But for one glorious two-minute stretch the Wildcats were nearly-perfect and Stanislaus wasn’t. In all great unrealistic comebacks two things must happen. The winning team must keep playing and convert nearly every time down the floor. The team that loses has to cooperate. Stanislaus did.

We re-live the greatest win in Chico State basketball history. A win that sends the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in Evansville, Indiana.

Chico State will play South Carolina-Aiken at the NCAA Division II Elite Eight on Wednesday night at 6:30pm. You can hear the game on Newstalk 1290 KPAY, ChicoWildcats.com, KPAY.com and on the TuneInRadio app.

 

 

Once a Cat Always a Cat

 

The news was shocking, stunning and Chico State head baseball coach Dave Taylor was left speechless. The  passing two weeks ago of former Wildcat outfielder Christian Franco sent the Wildcat baseball program reeling, just as they were about to open up conference play in San Diego.

As I approached Taylor in the dugout for our customary pregame interview I could see the lightness in his step, the sorrow in his shoulders. “It’s a tough day Bac, tough day.”  His voice cracking as he told me how he heard the devastating news. Franco, who was a successful business man in San Diego, had died overnight after hitting a guard-rail on a highway. The accident scene was violent with car parts strewn all over the road. Franco was thrown from the car. Other vehicles were involved in the accident scene, but it was Franco who perished.

Franco

As I finished my pregame chat with Taylor I asked him about Franco, his voice trailed off, it cracked, for Coach T the words just weren’t there. He told me how much the program would miss the guy who was affectionately called “Nutz.” It was the toughest of interviews as we prepared for this child’s game.

As the Chico State Wildcats were packing up their gear after a 9-1 loss to San Diego on that Friday night a wonderful scene was taking place near the Wildcats dugout. Former Wildcats Jesus Moreno, David Arroyo, Carlos Fletes, Steve Gotawala, and former trainer Ernesto Vega were in conversation with Taylor. I approached the group. I was greeted with hugs all around. The sadness was palpable. Taylor and the boys were talking about Franco and the plans his former mates’ were putting in motion for Franco and his loved ones.

At that moment, I realized ONCE AGAIN, how special it is to be part of this Wildcat family. A good friend, a teammate was gone and now his buddies, his mates, his comrades were going to be there for Franco. There would be time to reminisce, instead this was time to comfort and console. These former teammates of Franco’s would spend the next several weeks organizing taco feeds in his memory, raising money for his loved ones and lending a shoulder to cry on for Christian’s family. The Chico State Way was on full display. During these very moments, Franco’s former teammates were “taking the dose” for their fallen friend.

Taylor said it best the day after the accident, “once you enter the Chico State program you are in it for life.”  The Chico State baseball brotherhood is a life-long deal. This tightest of fraternities considers themselves brothers. They never deviate from this theme. Whether you played in the 60’s, were stand-out player in the late 80’s, a red-shirt in 1991 (me), a National Champion in 97, a back-up infielder in 2008, you are part of the family. Once a Cat Always a Cat.

There is a core group of players and friends that really leads this Chico State brotherhood and its the core group of the 1999 national championship team. To this day they remain the closest of friends. I am not just talking about 4-to-5 guys being close. We are talking about 20 former players from the same team being best of friends 15 years after the fact. The bonds that were forged by this group has grown throughout the years. In fact Wildcat baseball alums from different generations are  now welcomed into the circle making it one of the closest knit groups I have ever experienced.

Whenever the Wildcats travel to southern California there is ALWAYS a former Wildcat in the stands. Most of the time there is more than one, they come to the games together. They wear their Chico State gear, hanging behind the back-stop cheering on their brethren. These alums know, every single season the Wildcat baseball team represents them. That script on the front of the uniforms “Cats” is cherished. Sometimes new players in the program don’t understand the responsibility that comes with being a Chico State Wildcat baseball player. They are not only playing for themselves and their current mates, they are playing for every guy who has worn that uniform, tugged on that cap and been part of this program.  Being a Chico State Wildcat baseball player has always been bigger than the individual, this is best exemplified by the always supportive alums.

Personally I have never played ball with any of these guys. I was a simple red-shirt in the program in 1991. But, with every trip to southern California, every dinner, every meet and greet, every outing I am made to feel part of the group. THIS is the Chico State way.   I enter my 17th year of broadcasting Chico State baseball. I have seen almost every game that most of these guys have played in the Wildcat uniform. When they experienced joy, I translated this to the Wildcat listeners. When they suffered disappointment and loss I felt that as well. My descriptions allowing the fan base a small peek into the emotional pull of each win or loss. I am totally appreciative for being part of this Wildcat family. Whether I considered myself part of it or not didn’t matter to the group. THEY consider me part of it and for that I am honored.

This week the Chico State Wildcat family buried their teammate, Christian Franco. He was an outfielder on the 1999-2000 teams.  But, to this close-knit group he wasn’t just a teammate. He was a friend, a brother, and part of the greatest fraternity of them all.

Once a Cat Always a Cat

Final home weekend for Chico State basketball

 

The Chico State Wildcat men’s basketball team is riding a five-game win streak as they head into their final two games of the regular season. In today’s edition of Clink’s Corner, Chico State men’s head basketball coach Greg Clink talks about the impacts of his seniors Amir Carraway, Rashad Parker, Sean Park, Giordano Estrada and Nate Appel. All five hope to wrap up their Wildcat careers with a trip to NCAA Tournament.

CLINK’S CORNER

Highlights from Chico State’s Saturday night against the Cal State East Bay Pioneers…

 

NCAA Tournament berths in sight for Chico State

 

The Chico State men’s and women’s basketball teams both learned today that they are very much in the mix to get into the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

With the release of today’s regional rankings the men (ranked 6th) and women (ranked 5th) both know if they hold serve and take care of  business they will be dancing at a yet to be determined site for March Madness.

The top eight teams in the West Region will garner invites to the Division-II version of March Madness.

After getting off to a slow start this year the Chico State women have found their stride winning 10-of-12 since mid-January. How have they done it ? Defense. The Wildcats were allowing opponents to shoot an other-worldly 40 percent from three-point range several games into their conference season. The Wildcats now holding opponents to 34 percent shooting from beyond-the-arc. The perimeter defense has improved vastly. The other big difference is the women are now winning close games. During this 12-game stretch the Wildcats have won 4 games by 3 points or less. The senior leadership has proven to be invaluable as the Cats are now making plays down the stretch that they weren’t making in November and December. Chico will be a dangerous team in March when its tourney time.

Court Ham

NCAA WOMEN’S WEST REGION D-II RANKINGS

1) Montana State-Billings

2) Simon Fraser

3) Cal Poly Pomona

4) Seattle-Pacific

5) Chico State

6) Dominguez Hills

7) Cal State Los Angeles

8) UC San Diego

9) Western Washington

10) Academy of Art

     The Chico State men have been a picture of consistency all year-long. The Wildcats have been one of the best defensive teams in country while averaging 76 points a game in the always tough CCAA. The team’s strength is their defense. Much of their offensive prowess can be attributed to their ability to defend. Chico will get out and run after holding opponents to a one-and-done offensive sequence.

     The Wildcats discipline is over-looked by many but I believe it is their greatest strength. They are a well-oiled machine that rarely beats themselves. They sit at 17-5 on the year, with their five losses by a combined 11 points. They have four players who average double-figures and the Cats’ can beat you in the paint and from the perimeter. They take care of the ball only turning it over 11 times a game. Chico has had some huge wins this year knocking off perennial west region powers Seattle-Pacific and Cal State San Bernardino.

     Chico is poised to make their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time in more than 20 years.

NCAA MEN’S WEST REGION D-II RANKINGS

1) Cal State San Bernardino

2) Cal Baptist

3) Cal Poly Pomona

4) Seattle Pacific

5) Dixie State

6) Chico State

7) Western Washington

8) Chaminade

9) Dominican

10) Cal State Stanislaus

PHOTOS COURTESY OF ChicoWildcats.com