It wasn't exactly work but it was the holiday weekend. Some thoughts here -- a number of them as the P posters would say -- "OT" -- as we finish up Week 4 of spring football and with college basketball coming to an end.
Heading into the home stretch here, as they say back home in Kentucky where folks' thoughts have turned to the Derby on a day Big Blue fans thought they'd be celebrating another national title. So what the heck happened?
We'll get to that in a minute but first for some Trojan football.
*** Really liking it that Sark is able to say, when asked about the impact of early entry freshman Cameron Smith, that he's not the only early impact rookie with Sark going on to hit the highlights of the other four Saturday -- and he's not making this up . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Don't forget, Sark says, offensive tackles Roy Hemsley and Chuma Edoga, both running second team. We knew Chuma was ahead of his time, a smart, fundamentally sound technician beyond his years. But the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Hemsley would not be out of place getting off the bus with any NFL team. The former basketball player's progress has been almost shocking . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And then there's JC transfer Isaac Whitney, getting better every week it seems, and catching up with the playbook so he can make plays with the physicality that's for real for a 6-foot-3 receiver with some decent top-end speed . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But we'd be remiss if we didn't hit the defense hard here. That's been the story of this spring. Two words matter the most when we evaluate what's happening compared to where this team was last fall. And Sark keeps saying them: "confidence" and "consistency" -- or is it the other way around. Play aggressively with consistency and the confidence -- from the coaches as well as players -- will come. No better development in the second spring for Sark's team . . . Just Sayin'.
*** The more Sark says it, the more he's clearly saying how maybe he'd wished he'd been able to take the chance and turn this team loose last fall and trust them to play aggressively and make a play. We thought they could have. The coaches didn't. We'll never know but we like the way this is going now . . . Just Sayin'.
*** We think if there was one lesson from the Pete Carroll Era, it was how you had to have playmakers on defense who are encouraged to do just that: make plays. Think of all the Trojans starting with Troy Polamalu and a whole host who came along with and after Troy who came up big when games were on the line. That attitude of defensive playmaking has to return for USC football to fully return . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Leonard Williams may be gone but there are a whole host of playmakers back starting with Su'a Cravens and Adoree Jackson. Who joins them is up for grabs. But having guys fly around, not just waiting and reacting, gives you a chance to make it happen. One we're thinking of is Scott Felix. He's so much better moving than standing around. Sure that seems obvious but it didn't seem so last fall . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And that gets us to this week when thanks to a change of venue Tuesday, fans get to see USC all three sessions -- Tuesday and Thursday at Cromwell Field on campus at 3:30 and Saturday in the Spring Game at the Coliseum at 3. If you've got the time, we suggest you come on by . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But enough about football. How about USC's Top 10 teams in baseball, men's volleyball, tennis, men's and women's track and field, women's rowing and top-ranked women's teams in golf and tennis. The next time they flash one of those Learfield All-Sports Cup standings, we're expecting to see USC's name on both the men's and women's . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But for the weekend's top story: Bye Bye Kentucky. A team with one McDonald's All-American beat a Kentucky team with a double-digit supply of them -- and a now-Hall of Fame coach in John Calipari . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And they did it, the Wisconsin kids said proudly, with seven Wisconsin all-staters against a Kentucky team without a homestate player -- not one who plays. Seems about right to us, even those of us from the Bluegrass State. On Wisconsin . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Now the Badgers have to complete the weekend with a win over Duke, a team that despite how hard it tries to portray how different it is from UK, it's not really. It's now the "other" one-and-done program. Coach K didn't win all those games by not getting up to speed with Coach Cal here. Stop kidding yourself. And root for the Badgers and Bo Ryan, a Philly guy who is in our Hall of Fame for college coaches . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Still loving it that the Badgers did it with three in-state starters from Sheboygan, LaCrosse and Port Washington, not exactly the places you'll find on your summer/AAU basketball map . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And loving it that they did it with "Player K" -- Frank Kaminsky -- ranked no better than the No. 5 center in the state of Illinois coming out of high school and the No. 22 center in the nation and not among the top 150 prospects. Now you know why many kids -- as all the Wisconsin players have -- should stay in school past their freshman year, when Frank the Tank averaged 1.8 ppg . . . Just Sayin'.
*** One other point. For so many years, Kentucky fans, as we were growing up, took pride in the Wildcats' abiity to play offense -- to run, score and more than anything, shoot the basketball. Wisconsin can. Kentucky's kids, like so many playing the game today, can run and jump and play big and dunk it. But . . . Just Sayin'.
*** We were thinking of this watching the college basketball shootout from Indy this weekend when both three-point winners were from Canada -- and we were wondering maybe they don't get ESPN up there . . . Just Sayin'.
*** For the connection to USC here, it's this: USC will have six Top 150 players next season with five -- Katin Reinhardt, Chimezie Metu, Jordan McLaughlin, Elijah Stewart and Malik Martin -- ranked higher than every Wisconsin player coming out of high school except for Sam Dekker . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And the good news for USC here: None of these Trojans are candidates to leave early for the NBA . . . Just Sayin'.
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