As the Pac-10 basketball season winds down, each game takes on increased importance for those teams in the middle of the pack. Which, with the parity in this conference, means just about everyone. Seven of the 10 conference teams have records ranging from 6-4 to 4-6. So none of the teams in the middle muddle can afford a loss today. And there is one game where two of them match up: in Berkeley, with Cal (6-4) hosting WSU (4-6). Read on for links and thoughts.
• Before we get back to basketball, a quick personal aside. In 1968, my dad took me to the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, held among the pines at Lake Tahoe because the Olympics that year were to be in mile-high Mexico City. Those trials were nothing like they are today, with little TV coverage and even less security (you can see what I mean on this video of the 1500 meter race). I can remember dad taking me down to the edge of the track, where he introduced me to the Olympic coach, then-Stanford track coach Payton Jordan. The two were buddies from the "old days" in Pasadena, Calif., where they competed against each other in a bunch of sports growing up. While the two men caught up over a short fence near the track, this 11-year-old watched as people like Willie Davenport, Lee Evans, Jim Ryun, Bill Toomey, Dick Fosbury and Al Oerter walked or jogged by. Every once in a while the coach would interrupt his laughter at the memories he was sharing to point out one of those athletes to the 11-year-old kid whose eyes must have been as big as half-dollars. After what seemed like a long conversation, the two "old" men (they were in their 40s at the time) said goodbye and the moment passed. But the memories have remained. Now, if you're wondering why I brought this up, it's because Jordan passed away this week, and the obituaries have passed on tidbits about his life as a coach. All I remember is the nice man with the wide smile who spoke just as easily with Tommie Smith as he did with my dad.
• Sorry if I bored you. Now back to hoop. We had our advance in today's S-R and on the web, with the latter having a few more notes. Freelancer Howie Stalwick had his advance in the P-I and other papers. And the San Francisco Chronicle explains guard Patrick Christopher's recent scoring slump.
• That's it for this morning. We'll return before the game with our thoughts, news of the most recent lineup change and other items. Till then …