Daniels was well aware that he was onstage, and he used it to his advantage. If the referee made a dubious call against one of his players, Daniels didn't yell at him; he turned, raised his hands to the crowd and shouted, "Did you see that?" When his cheering section expressed the proper level of outrage, he turned back to the game and, after getting the referee's attention, pointed to the crowd, as if to say, See? Even they think you made a mistake. This was another difference between West Coast and East Coast basketball: Keller worked the refs; Daniels worked the crowd.
As a basketball tactician, Daniels was superior to Keller in every way. "Look at all the coaches I've had—Tark [Jerry Tarkanian], Larry Brown, John Calipari. Some of what they know had to rub off," he said. Daniels made that remark while at dinner with Keller the night before the game, after Keller predicted that Team Cal would win by 50 and Demetrius and center Aaron Moore would combine for at least 10 dunks. Daniels said his boys would lose by less than 20. He had scouted Team Cal the day before. He told Keller, "I know how to play you."
"It doesn't matter," Keller scoffed, and although they didn't wager any money, their reputations were on the line.
Daniels put four good three-point shooters on the floor to start the game. This prevented Keller from sitting back in a zone, and it also made the bigger lineup he favored a defensive liability. In the opening minutes the Rebels made open three-pointers because the Team Cal players were too slow to get out and contest the shots. By the time Keller recognized the problem, the Rebels led 16--12.
Team Cal didn't have trouble scoring—the Rebels had no player over 6'1"—but Daniels kept finding mismatches, and he slowed the game down. Team Cal led 35--26 at halftime, but given the talent Daniels had to work with, he had gotten the best of Keller. He bounded off toward the locker room waving his towel in the air.
Demetrius made three consecutive pull-up jumpers, all from around 16 feet, to open the second half. On each shot he was well guarded, but his ability to elevate and get a clear look at the basket made the difference. Team Cal's lead moved comfortably into double digits, but Daniels didn't stop coaching and kept switching defenses, preventing Keller from blowing the game open. Instead of the 50-point victory and 10 dunks Keller had predicted, Team Cal won 75--60, and the closest Demetrius or Aaron came to a dunk was in the final minute when a tired Demetrius tried one and missed.
"Joe, Joe, Joe, come on, you got to admit it. You got to admit it," Daniels said as he trailed Keller out the gym doors. Keller would admit nothing—not that he'd been outcoached, not even that Daniels knew the game. "Joe, Joe, Joe. Come on, man. Joe, Joe, Joe...."
Daniels joined Keller, Mats and others for dinner that night, and he again tried to get Keller to acknowledge that at the least Daniels coached his team well. Daniels's nervous energy made it seem as if he pounded seven espressos an hour. As he pushed Keller for a concession, he stood with a foot propped on a chair. "You got to admit, Joe, you got to admit it," Daniels said, "my team, they gave you a run."
"Those refs were terrible," Keller said. He looked up at Daniels. "You don't have a single kid I would want on my team."
Lloyd drew back, incredulous. "Come on, dawg."