Welcome to angry middle-age man day.
Or, as it's more commonly known, the Southern Section basketball championships. There's moaning and complaining and scowling.
And that was from the winner.
Compton Dominguez Coach Russ Otis walked away with Mr. Congeniality at this love-to-hate fest. Not his fault. He was stinging from the agony of victory.
"We've played through adversity. We got no respect. I just want to go on the record about that."
Duly noted. But coach, you just won the Division II-A title by routing top-seeded Tustin, 77-59. How do you feel about that?
"We should have been the top-seeded team. Who did they play? Sonora, Mater Dei. So what. So what. People talk about the powerhouses in Orange County. (Compton) Centennial kicked Sonora's . . .
(We interrupt this press conference to allow censors to do their job.)
" . . . Powerhouses in Orange County, right?"
And so it went.
"That's right, we played with a chip on our shoulder."
Russ, can you give it a rest?
The winning was OK. The whining was a bit boring.
But righting wrongs--real or imagined--is a divine mission these days. What better way to fire up your kids than to play us-against-the-world? Seem to remember the good old days, when playing for a title was incentive enough?
Still there was some class out there.
Tustin's Doug Gottlieb didn't have the best game, but he had the best postgame. Let others complain about the lack of water in the glass, Gottlieb was happy to float above it.
The Dominguez fans chanted "Rudy, Rudy, Rudy," when he touched the ball. Gottlieb shrugged.
"I've dealt with that stuff all year," said Gottlieb, who, like Rudy, will play for Notre Dame. Unlike Rudy, he will play a great deal.
"People have thrown pennies on the court because I'm Jewish. That just shows they're small people."
On the Tillers getting run off the court:
"The better team won today," he said. "We lost by 35 points last year and 20 this year? That's a big improvement. Now we have to make another one."
You've got five more days.
The State playoffs begin tonight. The Tillers and Dons could clash again Saturday in the semifinals. That's an awful lot of improving to do in an awfully short time.
Now, it was quite apparent that Tustin Coach Andy Ground was right.
This is not the same Tustin team that was walloped by Dominguez last season. Unfortunately for Ground, it wasn't the same Dominguez team either.
The Tillers made strides since last season's 70-35 pounding administered by Dominguez. But the Dons took quantum leaps.
For starters, James Brown is a Dominguez starter. He played at Long Beach Poly a year ago and was part of a Division I-AA title team. Brown scored 19 Saturday.
There was Jason Thomas, another newcomer, at the other forward. Thomas, a freshman, scored 10, all in that runaway second half. He wasn't very timid about tossing down a couple vicious dunks.
"They were too big, too strong, too fast," Ground said.
A bad trifecta.
Yup, the Tillers took a step this season. The Dons found a higher level.
Then they dropped a few pegs.
Said Otis: "We don't have to prove anything to ourselves. Maybe we have to prove something to you guys."
Guess there are champions and then there are guys who get plaques.