Thursday, February 14, 2008

Miring in Mediocrity

Arizona's NCAA tournament chances were never in jeopardy. To some that may be stating the obvious. To others, aka the misinformed, that may come as a shock. Arizona's "resume" with its No. 1 strength of schedule and high RPI makes sure the Wildcats will be dancing.

Jerryd Bayless, aka Arizona's offense, beat California 83-72 Thursday night at McKale Center
leaving seven games on the schedule and the Wildcats at 16-8 and 6-5 in the Pac-10. Realistically, Arizona could win just three of their next seven and still easily get in. A 19-13 record (considering Arizona loses its first Pac-10 tournament game) and 9-9 in the Pac-10 is grounds for a No. 8 or 9 seed. Even if the Cats win just two more regular season games, they'd get in. Georgia made it at 16-14 one season with credentials similar to Arizona's.

So the tournament streak, the longest current in the country at 23 seasons, will continue.

However, the resume doesn't make Arizona a good team. The Wildcats, similar to the last two seasons are once again...gasp, MEDIOCRE.

There's a lot more doom to that statement with that word in all caps. I'm sure that just sent a shiver through Wildcat fans all over. Arizona doesn't scare anyone, anymore. The players except for Bayless and Chase Budinger are average. The rest of the Pac-10 has either caught up or overtaken the Cats, who are now just hanging on for dear life. Usually a game like Thursday's against Cal would have been a gimme. But I actually heard some describe it as a must win game. The Arizona athletics website's headline read "Cats win huge game." How far the might have fallen. Just be thankful Arizona doesn't have Kelvin Sampson, once rumored to be a candidate to replace Lute Olson.

How do you make the obvious sound thoughtful?

You come up with a catchy nickname and insert it at the beginning of a basketball broadcast. Arizona announcers Dave Sitton and Bob Elliott are horrible, to be nice. I've long discussed how much more enjoyable it would be to watch an Arizona game with no volume on.

"Bob's Game Plan" two of the three points were

1.Shoot well from the field (Duh)
2. Avoid frustration (Duh X2)

He could have added make shots and play good defense as well.

For all you midwest folk and those in the national media: There's no question about it, Bayless is better than Eric Gordon. Gordon has the slight edge in points at 21.4 to 20.6 but Bayless has a better shooting percentage 50% to 46.5%, 3-point percentage 45% to 40%, and is the better passer (assists, 4.4 to 2.5). Bayless' jumper with the high release point is more NBA ready than Gordon's and he can create his own shot, especially with his step back move, much easier than Gordon. Most mock drafts have Gordon rated ahead of Bayless, but I suspect workouts may change that thinking come June.

Plus Bayless never quits: I bet he's better at windsurfing than Gordon.

"He couldn't get up on that board," Bayless' dad said. "He spent three days and didn't do anything else. But by the fourth day, Jerryd was out on the ocean by himself. He was the youngest windsurfer they've ever had there."

He was six.

Apparently the NBA is the real No Fun League:
Dwight Howard's request to heighten the rim to 12 feet for the dunk contest was denied. The NBA's reasoning, according to Marc Stein is that it "clashes with their intent to apply as many standard NBA rules to All-Star Weekend contests as possible."
It's almost like the NBA wants the dunk contest to be boring. There's maybe one entertaining dunk contest every five years, if that. Of course the Vince Carter one comes to mind, and I also enjoyed watching some of Jason Richardson's unique dunks. This could have been the next one.
The other participants wanted to challenge Howard too.

"Before I go, I have a message for Dwight: You have that idea about moving the goal to 12 feet? If you want to do it, go ahead and do it. I'm pretty confident in my jumping ability. If you go before me, I'll leave it up there and do my dunk.," Rudy Gay wrote in his blog.

"12 feet might be a little too short for me," said Gerald Green who wanted the rim raised to 13 feet.

You wouldn't watch to see who can go the highest? You wouldn't be taking bets with your friends on whether someone can dunk on 13 feet? Now that would be a fun dunk contest. Too bad the league isn't about fun anymore.

Scary situation: Apparently, Kobe's pinkie is in worse shape than originally thought. Kobe opted not to have surgery that could have kept him out for six weeks. It was probably a good decision since he's had little trouble playing with the injury thus far. Plus with the West being as tight as it is, not having Kobe may have dropped the Lakers to the playoff bubble. Kobe said he would hold off on surgery until after the 2008 Olympics. But he won't participate in the 3-point shootout. Dirk Nowitzki will replace him.

Make it fair:
There were a few times in the steroid era when neither the pitcher nor the batter held an unfair advantage. You know, like when Barry Bonds faced Roger Clemens.

"That’s going to be the coolest jersey ever though … that David West jersey for being a Western Conference All-Star … West on the front, West on the back. That’s going to be the bomb jersey."

-- Gilbert Arenas on his blog

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