Something

April 9, 2007

(at UA 1, Cal 0 Ė 11 innings)
(at UA 15, Cal 12)
(at UA 5, Cal 3)


This is why Iím hot. This is why Iím hot. This is why, this is why, this is why Iím hot. Iím hot cuz Iím fly. You ainít cuz you not. This is why, this is why, this is why Iím hot.

Thus spake the great philosopher Mims, and truer words were never spoken, especially in regards to the University of Arizona baseball team.

But first, I have to talk about Marcus Williams declaring for the NBA draft, mainly because no one seems to care.

How strange is it that a guy projected as a first-round pick is leaving with so little resistance? There were no ďOne more year!Ē chants at McKale. Nobody was pacing around wondering how we would ever survive. And yet some NBA team is supposed to have him as the best player available when their turn comes around? Maybe the question should be: How strange is it that a guy leaving with so little resistance is projected as a first-round pick?

But forget for a moment the fact that Chase Budinger can now play as the lone small forward and take more shots. Ignore for a minute that Williams missed 10 of his final 12 three-point attempts and was second on the team with 80 turnovers.

Shouldnít a player stick around until he actually does something?

Whereís the sense of accomplishment, the drive to be the best? Doesnít anyone care about taking care of unfinished business before making basketball a business? When Williams arrived on campus he talked about becoming one of the best players in Arizona history and getting his number retired. Does he really think 15 points per game and one NCAA tournament win is going to cut it?

I understand that with the current NBA draft rules most great players arenít going to stay in school for four years. But I donít understand the lack of desire to do something worthwhile in college before jumping to the pros.

Marcus Williams became the fourth Wildcat to leave after his sophomore season. The first was Mike Bibby who won a national championship in year one and 30 games in year two. The second was Gilbert Arenas who bolted after finishing second at the 2001 Final Four. Itís really hard to argue with the departure of either guy.

Then you had Andre Iguodala exiting after the forgettable 2004 campaign, but at least he was part of the í03 team that went 17-1 in the Pac-10 and played in an NCAA regional final.

I have no problem with Carmelo Anthony going one-and-done after the 2003 national championship, or Jordan Farmar going two-and-adieu as the 2006 runner-up. They came, they saw, they conquered, and quickly. Thanks for the memories and enjoy the fat checks.

Thatís not to say the driven college athlete has entirely up and vanished. We have to look no further than our own football team for a star player who turned down big money because he didnít think his amateur work was done. Antoine Cason, who plays a sport with a high risk of career-altering injury, specifically mentioned his personal need to finish the rebuilding process at Arizona when he announced his intention to return for his senior season.

In college basketball I realize the days of Sean Elliot and Damon Stoudamire are gone. I comprehend that the main point of college is to get a good job and itís hard to turn down becoming an instant millionaire. But if youíre only going to be here two years, bust your butt for two years, make your teammates better, and leave a long-lasting, positive mark on the program that helped print your lottery ticket.

So, to Jerryd Bayless and the next wave of NBA hopefuls: Donít just stand here. Do something.

--

I took a look at the Pac-10 baseball standings and noticed something strange:

1. ARIZONA 6-0
2. UCLA 5-1
3. ASU 7-2
4. Wash 5-4
5. OSU 2-4
5. USC 2-4
5. Cal 2-4
8. WSU 1-5
9. Stan 0-6

Thatís right, your Arizona Wildcats are all alone in first place. Yeah, weíve only played one-fourth of the conference schedule and two-thirds of the remaining games are on the road. But Ė and I double-checked the math on this Ė itís impossible to do any better than the Cats did in their first two Pac series of the year.

Game one of the Cal series was one of those ďItís a shame somebody has to loseĒ games, which are always easier to take when you arenít the team that lost. After 10 Ĺ innings of scoreless baseball, the Cats finally pushed across a run for the rare 1-0 victory.

So, naturally, the next nightís game was a slugfest with the Cats watching a 12-run lead shrink to three before applying the tourniquet. Game three was a tidy two-run victory for the home team to keep the 14-game winning streak intact.

But itís the 6-0 thatís the really big deal. We only had one conference sweep last year. The 2005 team that finished second in the league only did it twice all season, and our 2004 College World Series team didnít do it at all. Beating a Pac-10 foe three consecutive times is very hard to do, and we just did it on back-to-back weekends.

As a reward the Cats will play the next three weeks on the road. The good news is this weekís series is against last place Stanford, and the following weekís games are against next-to-last Washington State. But the Cardinal swept Cal in a non-conference series earlier this year, and WSU is the only league team to have beaten UCLA thus far. Like in every other sport, youíve got to earn all your wins in the Pac-10.

Itís way too early to talk conference championship, but if the Cats can win on the road theyíll get to speak as loud as they want when they get home.

This is why, this is why, this is why you play the game.



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