Arizona won a big game against Cal last night. Say it with me, "Arizona will win their last three games to finish 11-7."
The final piece of the trifecta will be against Stanford tomorrow. It won't be an easy task, but nothing has come easy for Arizona in the past two months so lets just all roll with the punches.
I must say that the great thing about losing every now and again is that it makes you really appreciate the days when you're winning. Remember how fun the tournament run was in 2005. I'm starting to remember a little more of the good times from that year more and more.
Like I said last week, don't fret because Arizona will return to their winning ways. Heck, those days might be closer than you think. For the first time in a few years, we can definitively argue that Pac-10 play this season has adequately prepared all the teams for the high level of competition expected in the NCAA Tournament. The teams are much tougher as more and more physical play is not being whistled by the refs and players have been able to adjust. Assuming the NCAA doesn't pull a fast one on the nation and start calling ticky-tack fouls in the Big Dance, our conference teams should be ready to get after it.
As expected, Arizona's Budinger, Williams and Radenovic carried the Wildcats last night against Cal. The game was a game of match ups and Cal didn't have enough guys to defend these three all at once. Time and time again, one of these players was wide open near the basket or was in a position to challenge the opponent one-on-one. Cal also presented many defensive mismatches for the Wildcats as well, which is why Fire saw very little action last night. All should change against Stanford though. Arizona will need production out of their backcourt because the strong frontcourts on both teams should neutralize the other.
If there was any doubt who the Player of the Year in college basketball should be this season, Kevin Durant clarified things a bit with his 30-point performance Wednesday night against the Aggies. What I like most about Durant is that he doesn't just want the ball in the clutch, he absolutely demands it. That's very rare for a freshman. He reminds me a lot of Carmelo Anthony when Melo was at Syracuse. Only Durant might be better.
I hate the fact that when I go to the scoreboard on a web page, I have to then search by conference to get Arizona's box score because the Wildcats are no longer ranked in the Top 25. The process has such an unnatural feel to it.
Congratulations to UCLA for winning their second straight Pac-10 regular season title. Winning the conference crown this season would've been an impressive accomplishment for any team and the Bruins have made it look easy down the stretch.
Speaking of the Bruins, they look like the only legitimate one seed for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Every other team in the Top 10 suddenly looks suspect. I know some will point to Ohio State as another serious contender but I'd argue that the Buckeyes' two best players are both freshmen and you just never know how a freshman is going to react to a situation until it's too late. After all, the phrase, "he made a freshman mistake," wasn't created out of thin air. It's used by many for a reason because freshmen do make freshmen mistakes.
Talk show hosts and radio personalities have been jumping all over the Steelers ever since they won Super Bowl XL. The Steelers displayed the class that they're famous for earlier this week when they released their star linebacker Joey Porter to get under the salary cap. Instead of trading Porter to a team he may not want to go to, the Steelers released him outright so that he can entertain offers from any team he wants.
For you Arizona golf fans, Jim Furyk is leading the PGA Tour in Greens in Regulation at 74.7 percent.
For you non-golf fans my sincerest apologies for wasting your time with that piece of information.
Baseball's Spring Training is in full effect and it didn't take long for the first steroid/human growth hormone story to hit the newswires. Are we really that surprised that these athletes are being linked to this kind of stuff? ESPN's Colin Cowherd said it best this week in that people always want to preach the importance of the truth until they find out what the truth really is. I'll paint this with a very broad stroke. There's evolution and then there's sports evolution. 6'5", 245 lbs. guys should not be running 4.7 40 times with forearms the size of quadriceps. I'm not in disagreement though with athletes doing everything they can to maximize their bodies potential. People may call me crazy (or an idiot, or completely disrespectful) for saying this but if I'm going to shell out $100 for a decent seat in an area or stadium I sure as heck don't want to see a bunch of guys who look and move like me playing in the game.
Additionally, without the advances of modern medicine and some creative chemistry, players with hamstring injuries would be sidelined for months, not days. Knee injuries would mark the end of a season and heaven forbid if a bone breaks – a player might not see the field ever again. My point is do you want your team to be the Cincinnati Reds every season where your star player dives for a ball in April and then doesn't return to the lineup until September. I don't.
Back to college basketball, congratulations to Penn for winning their third straight Ivy League title. The win labels the Quakers with the distinction of being the first team to secure a berth in the Big Dance this year.
For you Wildcats in the Bay Area who are lucky enough to have tickets to tomorrow's game in Maples Pavilion enjoy yourself and represent Arizona well. The rest of us will be watching the game closely on ABC. Arizona's tournament hopes are not on the line but I sure hope the players compete like that and more is at stake.
Actually, before I go I did want to make one comment that I kept forgetting to make in the past week. Despite all that has happened to Arizona this season, has anyone else noticed that our players all have smiles on their faces during games? I don't mean Bozo the Clown smiles, I mean "This is a war out here and I'm enjoying every second of it" smiles. Against both ASU and Cal, as competitive as those games were, all our guys looked comfortable under the pressure. That's a good sign and possibly an early sign that they ARE capable of turning things around and putting together a few nice runs in the next few weeks.
On that note, let's all say it again one more time: "Arizona will win their last three games to finish 11-7."