Christmas gifts, Wildcat style

The holiday is over. The presents are open, the meals have been devoured and already family members are heading home. Like many of you, I too hit the highway to spend time with relatives. Now I am back and it is time for the annual, and a bit cliched, "Christmas Gifts" column.

There's nothing overly original about a "Gifts for Athletes" column, heck I've written a few myself, but I have to admit that I enjoy writing and reading them. I think this year there are some much deserving athletes at the UofA.

Carlos Williams. The senior defensive tackle gets a nap. A defensive tackle is not supposed to take 90% of the snaps, but that is exactly what Williams had to do. At the end of games Williams could barely walk, but he was out there, battling in the trenches without a lot of help.

Mike Bell. For Mike Bell I give him 1,000 yards. The junior has been so close the last two seasons and he only has one chance left to cross the century mark. Bell had 920 yards his sophomore season and 950 yards last year. He'll be a senior in 2005 and he has one last crack at getting 1,000. With just the 1,000 yards Bell would move into fourth on the school's all-time rushing list. He's at 2211 yards right now and the current No. 4, Hubie Oliver, is at 3,096.

Richard Kovalcheck. Sure handed receivers. The Wildcats did not have the most reliable receivers a year ago. Other than Syndric Steptoe, the Wildcat receivers were inconsistent. Here's hoping that the current group can improve over the summer, or that B.J. Vickers, Michael Thomas or Jermichael Finley can come in and make an instant impact.

Brandon Phillips. Improved health. Phillips was dinged up for most of his career, but possesses pro size and athleticism. If he can stay healthy he has a chance at an NFL career. Here's hoping his body gives him an opportunity to show what he can really do.

Sheldon Watts. A full recovery. The freshman was shot earlier in the year and here is hoping that he comes away from the incident fully healthy.

Hassan Adams. A bounce and a roll. Adams has had the worst luck this season. Shots that fell last year are rolling out. The shots look good, but just won't fall. The athletic Adams has had a rough start to the season, but if he starts getting a few kind rolls, the stats would look a lot better.

Channing Frye. Respect. No matter what he does, Wildcat fans never seem to give Frye their full respect. Because he is not a physical player, they feel he is lacking. Never mind that he is a great scorer and a terrific rebounder, because he isn't comfortable banging in the post some fans get down on him. Frye is a face-up center. He relies on his athleticism and quickness, not strength and aggression. Sure, we'd like to see him succeed against bangers, but that just isn't going to happen. Frye will leave Arizona as one of the best big men in school history, but for some that isn't enough.

Salim Stoudamire. A shot at the NBA. With his lack of height and his iffy attitude, Stoudamire may not get a good look by NBA teams. There is no doubt that he has an NBA shot and great athleticism, but are teams going to take a chance on a 6-1 shooting guard who has been suspended three times for his attitude? If he were 6-6, heck even 6-4, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Mohamed Tangara. A healthy back. The freshman big man may have to sit out the rest of the season because of his back injury. The Cats could use the bruising big man in March but they don't want to rush back Tangara and risk further damage.

Kirk Walters. A big jar of protein powder. Walters is redshirting, in part, to add more muscle. What could be better than a big jar of protein to gulp down after a heavy weightlifting workout.

Andy Lopez. Just a few more consistent arms. Lopez guided the Wildcats to the College World Series last year, but he's a few more solid pitchers away from having a chance to win it.

Mike Stoops. A stellar recruiting class. Oh, wait, he already got that. How about instant replay instead. The Cats could really have used a few NFL-style challenges this season.

Joan Bonvicini. Home cooking on the road. The Cats are incredible at home, but struggle on the road. This team cannot make the jump from good to great until they start winning in other people's gyms.

Dan Tobias. Nothing. After the women's soccer team's run to the post season it is pretty obvious that Santa came early this year.

The Athletic Department. A sold out football stadium. Want to fund the "non-revenue" sports? But a ticket to a football game. Football is the athletic department cash cow and when it makes money, everyone makes money.

John Abramo, Danny Baugher, Mike Bell, Tanner Bell, Brad Brittain, Darrell Brooks, Copeland Bryan, Biren Ealy, Gilbert Harris, Sean Jones, Kili Lefotu, Pedro Limon, Lamon Means and Marcus Smith. A bowl game. All of those guys are seniors and they have one last chance at playing in a bowl game.

The Pac-10. A little respect from the BCS. Once again the Pac-10 gets a snub from the BCS. There is no excuse for Cal to play in the Holiday Bowl and not on New Years Day. While we're at it can we get the conference a better bowl slate? I mean the Conference's third best team has to play in El Paso? Is there a better bowl destination than El Paso? Boise, maybe. I mean I can't think of many places worse than El Paso. While were at it let's get the Pac-10 a better TV deal.

Dick Vitale and ESPN. A video of the Wildcats and other Pac-10 schools. Maybe then they'd realize that they play some good ball west of Durham, NC.

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