Normalcy is returning to Pac-10 basketball. For one, the league next season will rival the ACC as the best in the nation. Second, UCLA has returned to its winning ways while beginning to land the top-level recruits that are synonymous with Final Four programs. Third, and most importantly, Arizona is finding ways to remind all that it'll take more than two straight sub-par seasons to slow down the Wildcats.
In March, things could not have been worse at the McKale Center. Sans Coach Olson announcing his retirement (a day I can't even fathom), Arizona's basketball team seemed to be in disarray. Now, with Brandon Jennings' verbal commitment to the Wildcats for the 2008 season to go along with the already committed Brendan Lavendar and Emanuel Negedu, Arizona looks to have the firepower they'll need to contend not only in the Pac-10 but at the elite national level for years to come. Add to our recruits the shake up to the coaching staff and a level of toughness not seen since the late 1980s to mid-1990s appears to be returning to Tucson.
Both Bayless and Jennings are physical point guards who love to play defense as much as run the show on offense. For that matter, so is Lucas-Perry. Setting the tone from the point position is what has always set the good Arizona teams apart from the great ones. In my humble opinion, these three young men, with the support of our two guards such as JMac, Dillon and maybe even Budinger, will not only help Arizona get back over the hump but will help them once again contend for a title.
If you've been reading along for the past month, you'll know two things. One, I'm a Celtics fan. Two, I'm not the least surprised to see the Celtics get hosed in the NBA Lottery. However, not being able to participate in the Oden/Durant sweepstakes is not the end all be all for Boston. Here's why. There are two gems in this draft and they both should be available to Boston when their fifth pick rolls around. The first is Ohio State's Michael Conley, Jr. This guy fits the mold of a Chris Paul and in my opinion the Celtics haven't had a great point guard since Dennis Johnson. So, if Conley's there at five then they should consider this a lucky break and take him without hesitation. The other gem is Washington's Spencer Hawes. I would have no problem with the Celtics taking Hawes over Conley if both were available at five. Let's not forget that Hawes lost nearly 30 pounds off his playing weight last season while still scoring 13 points a game and nailing that hook-jumper of his from the baseline like he was shooting into a hoop the size of Rosie O'Donnell's mouth. Hawes is healthy, motivated and an extreme talent. If he played at his usual 255 lbs. last year in the Pac-10, he probably would've been player of the year and be considered a sure fire top three pick. Instead, he's now projected between 8 and 10.
DraftExpress has the Celtics taking Joakim Noah. For the love of God, the last thing the Celtics need is a hustle guy who couldn't hit water if he fell off a boat and shoots free throws like my niece. Take Conley or Hawes. That's my advice Mr. Ainge.
I saw an article that suggested that Minnesota will be donning all gold uniforms for their home game against Ohio State this Autumn. I honestly can't even imagine what that is going to look like.
What's with these NFL Players making questionable comments in the media? Clinton Portis was the latest to be publicly chastised by the Commissioner. Let me tell you something. Goodell is like Dean Elias from Necessary Roughness. Don't think for a second this guy won't start throwing players out of the league and replacing them with high character guys. I can just see it. Jason Bateman at tailback. Sinbad going both ways on the O and D-lines. The guy from Quantum Leap at the helm. You think I'm kidding. I'm not. Goodell isn't fooling around and I say this assuming that the next on the Commish's chopping block could very well be Michael Vick.
Congratulations to ABC News for blowing the lid on a planned United States covert operation in Iran. Why don't they just e-mail Ahmadinejad a list of all our CIA Operatives while they're at it? Better yet, perhaps Arizona Athletic Director Jim Livengood could work out a deal with ABC that during the broadcasts of our games they could somehow wiretap the opponents QB and then relay the plays to Mike Stoops on the sidelines. That would be awesome. Actually, I'm being ridiculous and should apologize. There's no way ABC would ever help out Arizona. After all, last I checked "The Grand Canyon State" was still predominately Republican.
I've shared with many my struggles with coming to grips that the Expos are officially history and with their passing came my passing interest in the game. The glass is half full side of me awoke this week and I've done everything I possibly could to infuse self interest back into baseball. I've watched Baseball Tonight every night this week, watched the Yankees/Red Sox battle it out, watched the Phillies/Marlins nearly duke it out and watched guys like Magglio Ordonez hit it out. I even took in a Dodgers/Brewers game up at Chavez Ravine on Wednesday night. Let me tell you, watching Baseball Tonight definitely stirred something inside but after sitting in front row box seats right next to the Dodgers dugout the other night I can honestly echo the words of Fast Eddie at the end of The Color of Money, "I'm back, baby!"
Danica Patrick will take her traveling road show to the famed Brickyard for this weekend's Indy 500. This isn't a knock but recent photos of her with the sunglasses and the slicked back dark hair and racing suit makes her look like a character in one of the Terminator or Matrix movies. Pretty cool stuff. What would be even cooler is if she won this weekend. Good luck, DP.
Whoever said steroids were bad? I caved to temptation the other day and bought one of those new Reese's Crispy Crunch Bars. Let me tell you, this thing was like a Butterfinger on steroids. I don't know any other way to describe it.
Speaking of steroids, the house of cards that is major league baseball as it relates to steroids may officially come crashing down in the upcoming weeks. Remember this name – Kirk Radomski. He's the ex-New York Mets Clubhouse Attendant who's been apparently talking to the feds about steroid use in baseball. He was busted sometime back for shipping illicit drugs (steroids) to an undercover officer who was posing as an acquaintance of an ex-client of Radomski's. After his arrest, the police seized his home and found telephone numbers and receipts among numerous types of anabolic steroids that could link many professional ballplayers to his misdoings. Rumors are that jaws will drop when the list of athletes is made public. We also heard this prior to the release of Conseco's book on the subject so we'll have to take this warning with a grain of salt, but still.
The Cavs' LeBron James can't catch a break. He does the un-Kobe, I mean unselfish thing, and dishes to a wide open teammate for a game winning three and gets railed in the media. Nice. It's worth noting that in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, James took the final shot and missed but not after a few seconds prior when he made a similar drive and dish only to watch his teammate travel with the ball. You know who James needs in those situations. He needs Steve Kerr or John Paxson. Everyone always says that Jordan would've never passed up a game winner but the truth is two of his greatest assists of all time came on Series Deciding Jumpers from Kerr and Paxson. Again, this is what Kobe doesn't get and why King James truly is a uniquely-gifted player. He is a team guy. Jordan was a team guy. Kobe, well…
While on the subject of Los Angeles, I finally figured out why L.A. sports radio is so awful and why so many shows are off the air within months. They don't talk sports! On my commute the other day, I sat through two full segments of a show where the radio jocks talked about music, one of their buddies' girlfriends, and how they can't understand why someone like "beat box boy" could make it into the finals of American Idol. I'm not even kidding right now. How hard is it to recap what's going on around the country, throw in a few interviews and run down the scores from time to time?
For those in Tucson this weekend, support our softball team in their Super Regional showdown with Cal State Fullerton.
For others like me who are away from The Center, keep dreaming of your next visit to Tucson. Mine's in September.
Have a great Memorial Day Weekend and don't forget to Bear Down!