What would the Fizz be if I didn't weigh in on the "foul heard round the world?" Duke's Gerald Henderson was whistled for a flagrant foul against Tyler Hansbrough. The foul left North Carolina's star player more bloodied than Ivan Drago in the second round of Rocky IV and threw a nation of Duke Apologists into Duke Spin Mode. For me, I won't comment on the suspension. One game, two games – I'm in no position to judge. What I can comment on was that in no way was this not a Code Red. Henderson intended to cause harm to Hansbrough. Did he intend to break his nose? Probably not. But he did intend to put a hurt on him. For those who argue that he was going for the ball answer me this – where was the ball? Also, what experienced basketball player attempts to block a shot with a clenched fist? Want more, I have plenty. Some have argued that he was going for the shoulder. When was square in the face a part of the shoulder? And where in the closing seconds of a game is any hard foul warranted. I've been playing organized ball my whole life and there's an unwritten rule that when the game is over, it's over. You play hard to play it out, but you don't do what Henderson did. I know, Duke never quits. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about being down 10 with 20 seconds to play stuff so spare me the counterpoint that Henderson's a competitor. He's a cheap shot artist who broke an opponent's nose because he wasn't man enough to accept the fact that North Carolina was better than Duke that day.
One more point on Henderson and Duke. Others have argued that North Carolina's key players should not have been in the game at that stage. As my buddy Jeff points out, "Duke kept fouling the Heels, which means they were still trying to win." I agree. If Duke's trying to extend the game why were the Tar Heels expected to insert their scrubs to shoot the critical free throws.
If you haven't heard, Arizona was knocked out of the Pac-10 Tournament yesterday after being rolled by Oregon 69-50. Thursday's other match ups saw Cal upset UCLA in overtime, USC beat Stanford in overtime, and Wazzu edge Washington in a close one. It's glad to see that everyone showed up to play yesterday except the Wildcats.
One thing has become evidently clear for Arizona. Whatever happens to this team from here on out won't surprise me. Whether they lose by 20 in the first round of the NCAA's to a mediocre team or they reach the Final Four, I've quit trying to figure Arizona out. For them to play the way they did against Oregon is inexcusable. Forget the score. Oregon played great offense and defense and shut down the Wildcats. The Ducks deserved to win. I'm talking about the heads hanging low, the long faces, the absolute effortless performance and the blatant lack of leadership that I would expect from some, not all, players on the team.
If you don't know what I'm talking about watch the Pac-10 semis tonight. Watch a guy like USC's Daniel Hackett. This freshman wouldn't even see the floor if Francis was still with the Trojans. Yet, he's the one who's pushing and shoving teammates during timeouts, getting in their faces, slapping them on the butt and head and just flat out barking during the games. That's leadership! Ayinde Ubaka does the same for Cal. Without someone on Arizona taking that kind of leadership role, they will lose to the first team in the Big Dance who plays well against them.
Outside of Arizona, yesterday was a great day for college basketball. Fans were treated to 53 games across the country with almost all being decided in the final minutes. My favorite was watching West Virginia mount an 18-0 run to erase a 17 point deficit to Louisville. The Cardinals still won the game, but had to do so in double overtime. My second favorite was watching USC knock off Stanford in overtime. I say this because the Cardinal loss helped Arizona.
I echo our Editor-in-Chief's thoughts that Arizona was a six seed heading into the Pac-10 and with each victory would've probably jumped up a spot. I further agree that we are now probably a seven, but could fall to as far as 10 depending on how the weekend's remaining games play out. Personally, I'll take a seven or 10 seed; anything to avoid playing one of the top four teams in the first weekend of the Big Dance. I may not know much but I do know that there is no way Arizona can beat any top seed right now.
Okay, now for the good news. Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg, one of the nation's best coaches, firmly believes that it is very difficult for any team to really improve during the conference season because of the limited practice time. Case in point, Arizona played three road games last week. They were at ASU on Sunday, and then in the Bay Area for games on Thursday and Saturday. Probably 85 percent of their practice time was geared toward opponent preparation and not basic fundamental drills or installing new offensive plays. Why am I talking about this? Because Arizona's early exit from the Pac-10 Tourney means they can go home and get after it for a few days of REAL practice in preparation for their first round match up next week.
Do you think the Chris Simon face slash last night was part of some grand conspiracy from the NHL to get prime time highlight coverage on ESPN for their floundering sport?
I was driving in my car yesterday listening to the Angels versus Diamondbacks spring training game. Say what you will about baseball, but there is no better sport to listen to on the radio than America's Pastime. In fact, I'd support an initiative to remove regular season baseball from television if it meant TBS and TNT would stop looping movies like "Pretty Woman" and "Jerry Maguire" every weekend. If you want to loop a cheesy romantic comedy, give me "Some Kind of Wonderful" when Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson were the bombs.
Speaking of movies, I'm not quite ready to reveal my movie of the month but in honor of us being on the heels of March Madness do yourself a favor and rent the movie "One on One" this week. This basketball drama delves into the life of one Henry Steele, a small-town high school phenom who struggles to adjust to big time college basketball. Threatened to have his scholarship pulled, Henry rights his ways in time to score big on and off the court in the film's Third Act. The movie is about playing with heart, pushing oneself to the brink and then rising to the occasion.
I purchased Mega March Madness yesterday about 20 minutes before Arizona tipped off against Oregon. I wonder if I would've still ordered the programming after knowing the results of the game. For my own sanity's sake I'm going to say yes.
Where will you be watching the games unfold next week? If I were in Tucson, I'd spend St. Patrick's Day at the Auld Dubliner on University Avenue. Best Guinness this side of the Guinness factory. I can attest to this because I've sipped the savory brew at both places. For me, I'll be on my couch for the better half of the weekend. On Saturday though, I'll be at the Auld Dubliner in Long Beach, California hanging out with Courtney, Stella, Carrie, Megan, Dave, Silas and others.
In the NBA, I find it utterly amazing that Dallas began their season 0-4. To be 51-9 right now is crazy. How would you like to be the Spurs right now? You've won 11 straight games but are still eight games back in your division because the Mavericks have won 16 in a row.
The Celtics are doing the unthinkable right now in going 5-5 in their last 10. Because of their carelessness, they are now in second place behind Memphis for the Oden/Durant sweepstakes in next year's NBA Draft. The Grizzlies are 2-8 in their last 10 games.
I just took a mini break and on my way back to my office I stopped to admire my framed poster photograph of the 1997 NCAA Title Game between Arizona and Kentucky. I can't believe that was 10 years ago. I just can't believe it.
In 1997, we experienced the tragic passing of Princess Diana, Tim McVeigh was found guilty for the Oklahoma City bombing, the movies "Titanic" and "As Good as it Gets" were released, there was a revolution in Zaire and Arizona won the national championship.
Will history repeat itself a decade later? If we can get rid of all the bad stuff, including the two movies, and just keep the Arizona winning it all thing I'm in favor of it.