The Friday Fizz

This Thanksgiving Weekend, we have so many sports to be thankful for. Today's already been an incredible day of football and basketball with so many tilts still on the schedule. The usual sarcasm and low-blows are gone but great commercials and the Fizz's unique insight into the week that was and the weekend that is are still here. So, enjoy the leftovers and I'll see you on the other side.

Is there a better three seconds on television than watching Jack-in-the-Box's Breakfast dance with two smoking-hot girls in the hip new, hard to get into dance club? I said, "boom, boom, boom."

Speaking of good commercials, I think it's time Beyonce gave the Fizz an "Upgrade."

Basketball season is underway and so far so good. I love the way Arizona is playing defense, but I think their all out effort on the defensive end is affecting their offense. This Wildcat team is extremely young so some fundamental mistakes are hampering their overall performance. That said, once they get more familiar playing in live action with one another, they're going to be extremely dangerous. Chase Budinger looks smoother than ever, Jordan Hill looks strong inside and Jerryd Bayless is living up to the hype of being a McDonald's All-American. I love the lineup of Bayless, Budinger, Hill, Jawann McClellan and Daniel Dillon. They provide Arizona with four great defenders, which has truly made them a defensive-minded team and for that I'm so thankful. I hated watching teams torch the Wildcats the last three seasons. Those days seem long over as Arizona now plays with great intensity on that end of the floor, diving for loose balls, flying out of bounds and moving their feet while picking up high on the perimeter. They're prone to defensive lapses but I again attribute that to their youth. Despite the breakdowns, the guys are flat out playing hard and that's something you can't teach. Their willingness to get after it will benefit them in the long run as the things that can be taught are being taught in each practice. Hence, it's easy to deduce that come mid-season Arizona is going to be one difficult team to score on if they stay focused.

Improved Defense Part II: Arizona's bench players are equally committed to playing defense. Laval Lucas-Perry is quickly turning into my favorite player on this team as he appears to me to be a true leader. Nic Wise is playing very well, although I think he's moving too quickly. Once he settles down, he could be a great asset to this team as he can run the offense, play solid defense and knock down the three-pointer. Jamelle Horne is playing hard, but like Wise seems to be playing too fast right now. He's relying way too much on his athletic ability and is not doing the little things like boxing out opponents. Instead, he's trying to out-jump everyone and once he figures out that if he can put a body on someone before leaping for the rebound, he could easily dominate the boards on both ends. I also like Bret Brielmaier as well. This guy just never quits. He's the perfect role player for Arizona. If the Wildcats can somehow figure out a way to get Kirk Walters, Fendi Onobun and Mohamed Tangara playing spotted minutes, they will be one tough team to beat.

This is interesting. Arizona currently has three McDonald's All-Americans on their roster (Budinger, Bayless and Horne). Duke this season has eight! Think about that for a second.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made some big news the other day, signing Tori Hunter away from the Minnesota Twins. The five year deal is worth $80 million on paper. On the field, it could be worth a World Series in 2008. This provides the Angels with a powerful bat and perhaps the best fielding center fielder in the game. More importantly, the Angels also decided to retain Gary Matthews, Jr., who is also a defensive guru and a capable hitter. The move will put Matthews in the DH role and will allow him to spell any position in the outfield throughout the season. This is huge because the Angels will now be able to rest key players while experiencing little to no drop off in production.

My buddies Troy and Barry were out for the Oregon game. Prior to kick off, they spent an hour talking with Arte Moreno with Troy lobbying for him to pay for our fraternity to get put back on campus. You've gotta' love Troy's commitment to all things important. To cap off a near perfect day, Troy and Barry joined several hundreds of the Arizona fans gathering on the Oregon sideline at game's end in chanting, "Holiday Bowl." Like I said last week, those two get to have all the fun. Meanwhile, back at home, my heart was pounding against my chest for three and a half hours even though I knew we were going to win all week. That's the last time I watch an Arizona football game sober.

Last night, Arizona State got pounded by USC. My prediction was just a little off. My gut told me that USC might roll because so many of their key players were back and John David Booty was primed for a big game, but I really did think that somehow, someway the Sun Devils would make this a true defensive battle. Man was I wrong as USC looked stronger and faster at every position. So, the big question is what does ASU's humbling loss due to next week's Territorial Cup between the Sun Devils and the Wildcats. Will ASU be angry and try to prove to the nation that last night was a fluke? Or do they fall apart, play lousy, and wind up in the Sun Bowl for the umpteenth time? It's hard to say. For Arizona, the key is to again start strong. If they can go up early on ASU then maybe the Sun Devils do cave in. If they don't, then maybe ASU rolls. In last year's game, Arizona had all the momentum entering the day and they squandered it early by playing an absolutely miserable first half. Again, Arizona has all the momentum, entering the game on a three-game winning streak. Unlike last year, though, this season the Wildcats get nearly 16 days to settle their emotions and truly focus on the rivalry game. How that extra preparation affects their play will be very interesting. Arizona is now in the hunt for many top national recruits and with one more win, along with the bowl birth and extra practice time that comes with it, could pay huge dividends for an emerging Arizona football program.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is always a great day for watching college football. So far, Colorado and Nebraska turned a traditional defensive slugfest into a wild offensive ride that saw the Buffaloes score 34-straight points in the second half to beat the Cornhuskers 65-51. Just a ridiculous score. Arkansas is in the process of upsetting LSU in Baton Rouge. If this upset holds up, what happens to the BCS? Can Arizona somehow make their way to the top? Just kidding, but the thought of Arizona ending their season by beating the then No. 2 BCS team (Oregon) and perhaps beating another BCS ranked team (Arizona State) next week is really cool.

For those fans of Texas, maybe you can subscribe to one of Dennis Franchione's private e-mails to find out how in the world your team is losing 17-0 to Texas A&M right now.

Although today is football day, the college basketball schedule is equally strong. Pac-10 fans can get an early look at the Washington Huskies who are playing this afternoon in the NIT consolation game. Arizona fans can also get an early scouting report of the Aggies from Texas A&M who play Ohio State in the NIT Championship tonight at 4 p.m., PST. Tomorrow, I'm really looking forward to watching Old Dominion play North Carolina. Can the mid-major team pull off the monster upset? Why not. So many upsets have already occurred this season it already feels like March Madness. Last night, in fact, George Mason was the latest mid-major to win a big game as they beat Kansas State 87-77.

Sunday night the Arizona Wildcats will visit Lawrence, Kansas to play the Kansas Jayhawks. This will be an unbelievable test for Arizona. Right now, because of injuries and other nagging things, the Wildcats are going with a four-guard lineup with Hill in the middle and Budinger playing the four. They're backed up by freshman Horne and senior Brielmaier. If this type of lineup can indeed hold up against the bigger Jayhawks, we may see Arizona stick with this the remainder of the season. If Arizona gets exploited, then they may really try and press Walters, Onobun and Tangara into the rotation faster than they want to. While Arizona's quicker, but smaller lineup presents many challenges, they can't afford to get pounded on the boards by bigger, but equally athletic teams. At this point in the season, at least on paper, games with Kansas, Memphis, and UCLA look like certain losses. The game with Texas A&M also looks like it will be a serious challenge. Thank God teams actually get to play the games though as in a 40-minute frame, anything can happen. In order to beat Kansas with their current rotation, they'll need to play their best defense of the season while finding a way to shoot better from the perimeter. A senior like McClellan will be a key against the Jayhawks as he can lead the way in setting the tone on how to match Kansas' intensity. The atmosphere will be wild and I can't wait to see how freshmen Bayless, Horne and Lucas-Perry respond. I also can't wait to see if Budinger is really ready to step into the shoes of an All-American. It won't be easy and I'm not overly confident that Arizona can win, but this team plays with so much more passion than last year's team that who knows anymore. What I do know, is I love watching this Arizona team play so win or lose Sunday night, I can handle the result as long as they learn and evolve from the experience.

It amazes me that the New York Knicks are a professional organization. Isiah Thomas is again in the process of wrecking another business and this time around he's doing it via every media outlet possible. I agree with ESPN's Bill Simmons who once called for the creation of a game show that puts Thomas in an executive-level position with a mega-corporation and then people can place bets on when the company goes under. That would be a reality television show I would definitely TiVo.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Boston Celtics. When Danny Ainge first took over and started making wild trades, he looked like he would join the ranks of the NBA's 10 Worst GM's. Now, he's looking like he may be one of the best as his early madness is now making total sense. I was furious when, during all the trades, he somehow retained Brian Scalabrine. Now, the Big Red One is the perfect role player to the PGA Tour. Tonight, the Celtics play the Lakers for the first time in what seems like forever where both teams are better than average. This should be really fun to watch for NBA fans as the two teams who dominated the 1980's and made basketball the primetime sport for over a decade seem poised to again make headline news when they square off in the regular season. All I can say is thank goodness this game finally means something again. I was one more subpar Celtics season from abandoning the NBA entirely. Now, they're back and so am I.

The New England Patriots are crazy good. They're 20 point favorites this weekend against the Eagles and is there any doubt they won't cover. Think about this. A 20-point spread in the NFL is ludicrous, yet if I was a betting man I wouldn't think twice about taking them.

I can't imagine a Super Bowl with two teams I hate more, the Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys. This sickens me. It'll be interesting to see next weekend's Green Bay Packers/Cowboys match up. The game has so many implications, but the most important could be if it ends up determining which team hosts the NFC Championship Game. As good as Dallas is, can they win a snow-bowl game in Green Bay in December? I don't think so.

Is there any doubt that Taryne Mowatt won't win the ESPY for best in-game starting lineup introduction. She'll be challenged by South Park's Eric Cartman who introduced the Colorado Buffaloes very well this morning, but I still give Mowatt the slight advantage.

Last night my wife asked if I'd sit with her and watch some television shows after everyone left our home from the Thanksgiving feast. We watched Ugly Betty and Gray's Anatomy. I'm going to be honest here, it was painful. I love the quality time together but I think it would've been time better spent watching the replay of the Arizona versus Oregon game, or maybe the tape of Arizona's 1997 NCAA Tournament run. I did re-watch the first half of the Arizona/Oregon game earlier in the day though so I can't really complain. My sister Michelle and her husband Dave have an over/under on how many times I've watched last Thursday's game. They haven't shared with me what their magic number is but for the record, times watched currently stands at four and a half.

Have a great Thanksgiving Weekend everyone. There are sports galore for all to enjoy. For me, my big three are the Celtics/Lakers game, the Missouri/Kansas football game and the Arizona/Kansas basketball game. I'll be watching much more than just those three, though, so don't call me unless it's extremely important. And when I say important, I mean you better be calling me to turn on another game where a monumental upset is taking place. Of course, I'll probably already have the game going on the second television so let's all just plan on catching up on Monday morning. After all, that'll give us something important to do while at work.

Bear Down, Everyone! And Bear Down, Arizona!


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