And Done

April 7, 2008

(at Wash 1, UA 0)
(UA 5, at Wash 0)
(at Wash 5, UA 1)


At least the baseball team is undefeated in May.

But we interrupt that bad news to talk about other bad news as Arizona Basketball just lost its first one-and-done player with freshman Jerryd Bayless declaring for the NBA draft. We talked at length last year about how disappointing it is that todayís early-entry Wildcats donít seem all that disappointed that their teams are so disappointing.

How is it that we canít get a freshman to come back after finishing in 7th place and the 2006 national champion Florida Gators were able to get a lineup full of sophomores to return to do it again? Is Billy Donovan some sort of hypnotist?

(And donít try to point to Floridaís NIT berth this year as some sort of failure. After back-to-back titles you get a lot of slack. I would trade anything short of NCAA violations for two championships. Trip to the NIT? Sign me up. Losing season? No big deal. 0-30? Man, those two trophies sure are pretty.)

((Speaking of the NIT, congrats to A Ohio State University for finally winning a championship game. Yes, they beat someone from the A-10 instead of the SEC, but youíve got to start somewhere.))

(((Note to ASU: Thatís how to state your case that you belonged in the NCAA tournament, not by losing at home in the Common 8, or whatever they call it in the JV tourney.)))

Back to the revolving door that is UA hoops. You know who else was good at bringing in top recruits and turning them over without winning anything? Steve Lavin. Jerryd Bayless is our Baron Davis. Marcus Williams, you can be JaRon Rush. Or would you prefer Jerome Moiso?

Itís an interesting comparison. Lavin coached seven years at UCLA. Letís see how his tenure looks compared to our last seven years:

Pac-10 titles? Lute 2, Lav 1
Sweet 16s? Lav 5, Lute 3
Elite 8s? Lute 2, Lav 1
Final 4s? 0-0
Losing season and getting fired? Uh-oh.

One last thing before weíre leaviní Lavin: Did you know his record in the opening round of the Big Dance is 10-1? 10-1 in first and second round games! He could make a living as a consultant working only three days a year.

I know we were supposed to root for the Pac-10 in this yearís Final Four but Iím glad UCLA fell short. I had no desire to see Ben Howland basically matching Coach Olsonís career March accomplishments in just five years. I was also glad to see Cryiní Roy Williams will not be passing Lute on the career championships list this year. Iím rooting for Memphis to cut down the nets because A) I have no love for Billís Self from his Thugging Illini days, and B) Elvis.

That said, to any UCLA fan complaining about Ben Howland: Give me a break. Youíre dominating a very good league. You land big recruits that actually live up to the hype. Your lesser recruits develop into solid contributing players. You can only win the championship if you make the Final Four and youíve been there three straight years. I would take Ben Howland and his ďboringĒ and ďdisappointingĒ teams in about 1/57th of a second.

OK, fine, Iíll talk about Arizona. How is it this program continues to end up with a humongous void in its roster? Weíve been playing without a center since Channing Frye left. In 2006 we tried to play with two guards and three small forwards. Now weíre going to unveil a team with no shooting guards? Isnít that the easiest position to fill? Isnít the world filled with not-tall guys who like to shoot?

Bayless and Dillon are gone. Do you take the nationís best high school point guard and ask him to play off the ball? Do you start 5-10 (wink-wink) Nic Wise and tell him itís his job to guard O.J. Mayo? Do you start Brendon Lavender, a true freshman who is the fourth-highest rated player in this four-player class?

I know this is a lot more doom-and-gloom than youíre used to seeing in this space, but I didnít write this weather report. I just stuck my head out the window.

--

The sun hasnít set on the baseball season, but itís getting a little dusky in here.

After dropping two of three to Washington the Cats are now 0-3 in Pac-10 series and all alone in last place. Friday nightís game was the season in a nutshell. The UA pitching was great, allowing only a single run all night, but that run was the only one scored by either team.

As batter after batter went down swinging, Seattle fans must have thought Randy Johnson was back in town. The UW lefty pitcher went the distance, striking out 15. All that was missing was the mullet.

The weekendís woes shouldnít take away from David Coulonís performance in the second game. DC pitched a complete game shutout and scattered seven hits in the truest sense of the term. They were all singles and there was only one inning where he allowed more than one. The other team canít score if you donít let them touch third base.

Saturday was also significant in that it was the first time all season we were better than ASU for a day. At least weíll always have April 5th!

Weíve only got five Pac-10 series left and, if you look at the standings and rankings, we havenít played the top three teams yet. If you want to argue that Oregon State is the best of the three teams tied for fourth, we havenít played a single game against the top half of the league. Oh my.

The good news is we wonít lose any more Pac-10 games for the next 11 days.

Is a midweek trip to San Diego what the doctor ordered? Tony Gwynnís Aztecs beat USC by one, lost to Cal by two, lost to OSU by (ahem) 19, and split two games with UCLA by a combined score of 9-8. In other words, they donít stink, and weíre on the road which has often made us not smell so good.

After that is a weekend series with Larry Birdís Indiana State (no, he doesnít coach them, but it would be a lot cooler if he did). The Sycamores are 8-16, but they did win a game earlier this year by a score of 26-20, so we may want to try and hit a little bit.

As you might not know, college baseball also makes use of an RPI. Hereís a look at a ďpseudoĒ version from this fine site (through Saturdayís games):

2 ASU
4 Cal
8 Stanford
12 Cal State Fullerton
14 Washington State (!)
18 Georgia
19 Oklahoma State
23 Oregon State
25 ARIZONA
53 USC
(59 San Diego State)
62 UCLA
85 South Alabama
114 UNLV
127 Washington
128 Sacramento State
149 Notre Dame
205 TAMCC

Thatís not bad at all considering we were hovering around 50 last week. Big thanks to Fullerton and Georgia for winning games after losing to us. Itís a reminder we can still get into a position to do some good things, but we have to start doing some good things right now.

Itís too early to be done.



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