Schu Strings: Back from Barcelona

If recent developments in basketball recruiting are any indication, I have a feeling this will be a summer of personal turmoil for Johnny Schu. Well ok, so turmoil might be a bit dramatic, but there's no question Arizona has found itself in the center of the new face of the game.

Take a little trip to Europe and one never knows what's going to change. The Spurs?

Or what's going to stay the same. Arizona softball in the College World Series again.

Then there's basketball recruiting, and the I guess not-so-surprising announcement that top Wildcat recruit Ndudi Ebi is going to give the NBA a serious look. A McDonald's All-American, Ebi signed a letter of intent to play college ball with Arizona in November, at which point sources suggested his time in Tucson would last two seasons.

Obviously, that's not the case now. Conceivably, Ebi can still play for the UA. It's all dependent on his draft position. And his addition to the program would certainly be beneficial. But it's also apparent, even in a best-case scenario, that any suggestions of Ebi staying in Tucson for more than one year are pipe dreams.

Those who know me pretty well know that recruiting is not my bread and butter. I think the whole process gets a little bit overblown as we analyze prospects who won't even don a uniform for said program until nine months after they've actually committed. That said, I find myself straddling the fence in regards to Arizona's recent recruiting developments. As columnists, we're generally expected to have hard-line, steadfast opinions. While impractical in the real world, I also find that in this instance I just don't know what to think.

My gut tells me that recruiting a kid who may only stay one season (as was originally the circumstance with Ebi) can be something that ultimately disrupts team chemistry, and puts a lot of pressure on a program to find an immediate replacement in the next class. On the other hand, Syracuse just won a national title, largely because of a kid who stayed just one year. There are those who say Ebi has similar potential.

Then there's the whole Nic Wise recruiting process. Another Houston prospect, Wise has just finished his freshman year of high school, but already he's verballed to Arizona. This seems like quite a gamble to me, to say the least. I have visions of Schea Cotton, and I don't like what I see.

But in the end, it comes down to this. If Arizona doesn't do it, someone else surely will. Texas pushed hard for Wise. Duke made a concerted effort to land Ebi. Maybe the UA is just doing what it has to do.

During the Lute Olson era, Arizona has shown the ability to succeed by adapting an attitude of change. Perhaps it's now just adapting to the changing nature of recruiting. But it's an adaptation I make with resistance.

.Moving on.

.Schu Strings has been on a bit of a hiatus lately because its author was gallivanting on the other side of the globe. So while I could attempt to come up with something related to popular happenings, like why the second Matrix movie is little more than extended action sequences connected by pseudo-academic existential psychobabble, I'll opt instead to bore you with a written slide show of Barcelona, the first leg on the two-city Johnny Schu European vacation.

Graffiti is a big deal in Southern Europe. They're apparently very proud of their ability to coat walls with their personal versions of artistic expression. And in Barcelona, apparently, there's much to express. So from an investment standpoint, I'd buy stock in a spray paint company and building cranes.

Why building cranes? Because I've never seen a city undergo more construction, and I visited Vegas often in the 90s. Cranes everywhere, constantly doing whatever it is big cranes do, never seeming to make any progress.

Like for instance, on the Sagrada Familia, one of the world's most amazing cathedrals. So amazing, it's been under construction since the 1920s. Spires that reach for the stars, it is the final project of world-renowned artist Antoni Gaudi, but it was never completed because he got struck and killed by a trolley. This square block sized project is basically a remarkable shell, with the unfinished parts on the inside. Still, the spires are unforgettable. A representation of the genius of Antoni Gaudi.

How do I know Gaudi is a genius? Because the folks in Barcelona told us so. They love their Gaudi in the Catalonian homeland. And Gaudi was one fabulously trippy architect. His imprint is all over the city, and as a result it provides a very unique visual compliment to the otherwise modern landscape. Barcelona's mascot is this Gaudi-produced salamander/dragon(hence, the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe) thing that adorns the entrance to a very nice, originally-meant-for-the-ritzy park. The salamander/dragon thingie is quite the merchandising boom. It adorns nearly every imaginable touristy trinket. But when one finally sees the salamander/dragon thingie, one can only say, "Um, that's it?"

Combine the works of Gaudi with fellow Catalonian Salvador Dali, whose museum is the focal point of the small community of Figueres, and it leaves one with a simple, single thought. Good drugs. Even so, I'm a huge fan of both, and it's their artistic endeavors, especially the Gaudi work, that led me to consider Barcelona in the first place.

Barcelona is the capitol of Catalon, which is sort of like Quebec in Canada. It's part of Spain, but it isn't, and it likes to complain about Spain at pretty much every turn, even though it still takes Spanish money, only to complain that it doesn't get enough. It was also quite a haven for anti-American war sentiment, although unlike France, its neighbor to the north, it didn't take this attitude out on Americans such as ourselves who decided to visit.

While it seems I've bagged on Barcelona, it's actually a city that grows on you. Las Ramblas, the vibrant city center, is quite the people watching extravaganza, highlighted by a seemingly endless array of performance artists, some of whom are really quite good. While Barcelona doesn't appear to be an American stopover, it certainly looks like the destination for Europe's romantic weekend getaway. And it's unquestionably modern with a subway system that runs like clockwork.

Americans might not visit in droves, but there was definitely an American sports flavor while we were there. In addition to the Dragons, the European basketball Final Four was hosted in Barcelona, and one of the gathering spots tied to that activity was the classic Gatorade Three-on-Three competition that tours the States. From what I saw, Brad Allis and I could have competed favorably. That would not be a good sign for the future of basketball in Barcelona. Best event though, the bungee jump-shooting competition. Basically, folks lined up to take a ride up the only crane in the city not building something for the sole purpose of jumping out while attempting to shoot a basketball at a hoop suspended off to the side. The percentage of success was worse than a Chris Dudley free throw.

I could expound on other interesting facets, such as how power metal music is king, or how the restaurant food was so-so but the ice cream awesome. But this brief Schu tour has rambled on far too long as it is.

From there, the slideshow stop goes to Rome, all in the next rousing edition of Schu Strings, read exclusively on

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