Some Monday musings

My weekend was spent talking sports. From Thursday to Sunday I did 11 hours of radio, a spot on television and hashed things out over dinner with friends. Here are just some of the things I was thinking/speaking about.

*Negative recruiting: By now everyone has seen or heard Mikes Stoops' jabs at the Tucson media's "negative coverage". Realistically the Tucson media has been positive the majority of the time. Frankly, the media has no anti-Stoops or anti-Wildcats agendas. In fact the better the program does, the more newspapers people buy and the more broadcasts they watch.

Stoops' real frustration does not stem from what is being said or written, but what is being done with it. A lot of negative comments, or even perceived negative comments, have "found" their way into the hands of recruits. Even worse in many cases only the portions of an article or column were used. If a story was 90% positive, only the negative 10% portion was being used to sway potential recruits.

Stoops is taking a lot of heat for his public comments, but privately a lot of coaches are echoing them. By all accounts this recruiting season was similar to this political season. There were a lot of negative comments and mudslinging. There seem to be two camps in Pac-10 recruiting, those who try to sell their program and those who sell their program, while bashing others.

*Shakur's struggles Mustafa Shakur had a bad day against Oregon. He was 1-10, had four turnovers and took some very bad shots. He was also scrambling around on defense, trying to help teammates, but leaving his man open far too much.

Despite the bad game, he still had six assists and made the big play of the game. He learned his lesson from the game in Tucson. Last time out he let Brooks drive to his right, get deep and make the game winner. This time he got between Brooks and where the Duck guard wanted to go and when Brooks dipped the shoulder he was called for the offensive foul.

There are many Shakur detractors out there, but before you kill the kid over the Oregon game it must be noted that his ankle was in bad shape. It was so bad that early in the week he was considered doubtful by the training staff and had a boot on for the entire week.

*Early football commitments: One thing that was overlooked this recruiting season was the verbal commitments that they accepted over the summer. The Cats extended numerous offers to players they deemed "Arizona good" and accepted the verbal commitments from five of them before June was over. Of the five, none were higher than three stars, and only Hans Philipp is currently ranked among the top-100 at his position. If these kids were not good enough the Cats either would not have offered a scholarship or they would have been "encouraged" to reconsider their options. The fact is, despite what recruiting analysts say, the Cats saw enough from these kids to want them in the program.

*I-Rad: As big as Chase Budinger was on Saturday, it was Ivan Radenovic who really propelled the Wildcats. The power forward has been slumping of late, and did not look very good over the first 30 minutes, but over the last 10 minutes he exploited a mismatch with Maarty Leunen. He score 10 points in the final 10:00, including one stretch where he scored on three straight possessions during a key run. Even after getting an iffy charge called on him one possession earlier, the Cats went back to the senior who hit the game winner on a nifty jump hook.

*Duke: Most Arizona fans are not sad to see Duke lose four straight games. The fact is that Duke is just not athletic enough. They lack overall athleticism, especially at the wing. Point guard play has also been inconsistent with Greg Paulus averaging just 3.7 assists to 2.9 turnovers a game.

They are a very young team. Of the nine players who see any significant action, there are no seniors and just one, DeMarcus Nelson, is a junior.

*Coaches: An underrated move on signing day was the fact that special teams coach Joe Robinson announced that he was returning. He was being courted by a few programs, but turned them down to remain with the Wildcats. Although special teams get overlooked by many fans, Robinson has done a great job with the unit. He's also done a very nice job with the defensive ends.


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