Whoís #1 on your big board?
Sadly weíre one sports milestone closer to summer. Nobody is playing college football right now but we had a weekend of talking about guys who used to play college football. The Cats werenít able to make it two straight years with a first round pick in the NFL draft but we had a good showing with a guy taken in the early part of both the 2nd and 4th rounds.
Donít overlook the significance of Eben Britton and Mike Thomas getting selected in the top half of the draft. Why is it a big deal? Neither of them plan to tackle people for a living.
Eight Wildcats were drafted in the previous two years. Five were defensive players and one was a kicker. Syndric Steptoe was a 7th round pick and Chris Henry was a freak of nature. That means 2009 is the first year guys from a Mike Stoops offense were drafted in the first four rounds based on their performance on the field.
Mike Stoops is evolving into someone who can do more than just coach defensive backs and our team is evolving into a real live team. At least weíll have optimism to keep us company over the next four months.
In basketball news, there is no real basketball news. No new recruits signed with Arizona this week and Nic Wise has a month and a half to decide if he wants to be the captain of Sean Millerís first Wildcat team.
Uh oh. You know what that means. Itís time to talk about baseball.
The BatCats are struggling mightily with a 5-13 Pac-10 record. We knew it would be a rebuilding year but no one expected this. Arizona has been swept over a weekend three times. It took six conference series before we were finally able to win one. The good news is that series win was this past weekend so maybe I got here just in time.
It was our seventh consecutive series victory against Stanford so at least we can count on those guys to lose to us. Earlier in the year we also beat up on Holy Cross, UMass and Michigan, so we have those parts of the country covered too. Hereís my proposed schedule for next year: Michigan, Holy Cross, Indiana, Maine, and then 27 games with Stanford.
The UA offense hasnít been the problem. Even though we only returned four guys from last yearís lineup, the í09 Cat batters have been statistically better than the guys who came within one game of the College World Series. They have a better team batting average and on-base percentage than their predecessors. Last yearís squad hit more homeruns but this yearís team has an equal slugging percentage. And, most importantly, weíre scoring almost a full run per game more than last year.
As for the pitching? Yikes. Weíve been relying on newcomers in the starting rotation and middle relief and there hasnít been much relief anywhere.
The schedule does ease up the rest of the way so thereís room for a few more wins. We donít have any more Pac-10 games against teams with a winning record. Weíre in 9th place but we just beat 7th place Stanford and our remaining series are against 8th place Cal, 6th place Washington and last place Oregon. We did terribly against the best but we still have a change at being the best of the rest.
Another reason to keep watching is we have a horse in the race for the Pac-10 batting title. Heading into this week Dillon Bairdís .411 batting average was leading the league with ASUís Jason Kipnis just one point behind. The man known as Debo lost the lead after Kipnis went 3-for-4 on Saturday but Baird responded with a 3-for-4 game of his own on Sunday. Right this second Debo is hitting .416 and he holds a .011 lead over his Devilish rival.
The last Cat to win the Pac batting crown was Jeff Van Houten in 2003 when he hit .413. Before that it was John Powers and his .393 average in 1996. Go, Debo, go!
The leagueís two leading hitting will meet in a single non-conference game this Wednesday in Tucson. At least ASU is rebuilding too. Oh wait.
The Devils only returned three everyday starters from their Pac-10 championship team and theyíre still running away with the conference. It kills me to say it, but thatís really impressive. I donít like this new non-underachieving Pat Murphy. He sent a bunch of players to the pros just like we did yet he instantly reloaded with new stars. Thatís a lot of online music classes.
So there wonít be any playoff games on ESPN for the UA this year, but thereís a full month left in the season with 11 more home games. I donít care what the scouts say, if the players have Arizona on the front of their jerseys, Iím going to be drafting them #1.
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