Drama

April 23, 2007

(UA 3, at WSU 1)
(at WSU 4, UA 3)
(at WSU 5, UA 3)


With this I depart, that as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.
(Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2)

If they were lovers, no wonder Lute had to get rid of Roz. Oh wait, that’s not the point I was going to make.

In a move that shocked no Wildcat fan with an ear to the ground or a computer plugged into the wall, the Arizona Men’s Basketball program announced a change in the coaching staff. The assistant who was asked to step aside is what did the surprising.

What’s interesting is that Lute is both Caesar and Brutus in this athletic tragedy. He is the one driven by ambition. He is the emperor. And he is also the one with the dagger.

First he slew Gearius, and now Rozbero has felt his blade. The motivation behind both moves was to win, and win at the highest level. Isn’t that why we plebs of the Old Pueblo have been so quick to pay tribute for 24 years and counting?

It’s worth mentioning that the key thrust of the above passage is not that a man stabbed his good friend, but that he did so for the greater good and – most importantly – that he was willing to threat himself likewise for the same greater good. If this bold move does not have the desired effect, will our hoops Caesar feel the same way?

But lend me your eyes. I come to praise Lute, not to bury him. Something had to change, and it had to be big. I knew it. Anyone who has been watching Arizona Basketball for more than four years knew it. Well, when you sever ties with a guy you’ve worked with for just under three decades, it certainly qualifies as a big change. Now we just have to hope it works.

Et tu, Luté?

--

The UA baseball team took a major step back by losing two out of three games at Washington State. Before this weekend the Cats had lost only one series all year and that was against perennial national power Cal State Fullerton. Dropping two games to the next-to-last team in the league is hard to explain.

The disappointing part is we lost the type of games we’ve been winning all year. The Cats’ recipe for success has been pitching, defense, aggressive base running and timely hitting. The pitching was fine. Giving up just eight earned runs in 27 innings will win you a lot of games. But we only got four hits in each of the first two games, we only stole two bases all weekend (getting caught three times), and the Sunday game was lost in large part because of two errors in the eighth inning.

Of course, right when I say Brad Mills can’t complain about run support his offense only gives him a single run in his seven innings of work. All told the Cat bats only produced three runs in each game. If it weren’t for Preston Guilmet’s continued dominance the cold, damp trip to Pullman would have been a cold, damp sweep.

Remember that 11-run inning last week? Since then the Cats have scored just 13 runs in 40 innings. Is it too late to ask Stanford if we can get some of those runs back?

So the Cougars and Cardinal have a combined five conference wins and three of them have come against us. That’s bad news. The good news is we still have a series with each of the two teams above us in the standings. Both are road series, but we control our own destiny.

Here are the remaining schedules for each of the three teams in the race for the 2007 Pac-10 baseball championship:

ARIZONA
@ UCLA
(Liberty)
USC
Wash
@ ASU

ASU
@ Cal
bye
UCLA
@ OSU
ARIZ

UCLA
ARIZ
Cal
@ ASU
@ WSU
OSU

I like the fact that we’re done with the midweek non-league games so our guys can recharge during the week and our pitchers can rest. UCLA has three more midweek games in addition to five straight weeks of Pac-10 series, and all three games are away from home. ASU has a couple midweek games left, but they’re both at home, and the Devils are taking 11 days completely off after the Cal series.

All three teams are done with last place Stanford. UCLA still has eighth place WSU, but it’s in Pullman so maybe they can get stung like we did. We have 4-8 USC at home, and both the other guys still have their series with 5-7 Cal.

The Wildcats have the toughest remaining schedule in that both series with the other two contenders are on the road, but if you assume the games among the Big 3 will be tough no matter where they’re played, you have to like the UA’s final non-contender games in that they’re all at home. In fact, once you get past this next weekend, Arizona’s schedule goes from the toughest of the three to the easiest.

The wildcard in Arizona’s pocket is Oregon State. We have our sweep of the defending champs in the bag and they will be playing the two other contenders on back-to-back weekends to end the season. OSU is 8-2 since leaving Tucson so a hot set of Beavers would be great news for Arizona the rest of the way.

A 9-3 record at the halfway point of the Pac-10 season isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Since the league went to a single division in 1999, 18-6 would’ve been good to win the conference every year except two, and 19-5 was the champion’s record in those years. We’ve only had fewer than 11 conference losses once in the past eight years. Our guys have still had a great first half. It’s not our fault the Pac-10 is so top-heavy this year, with a three-game gap between third and fourth place.

So we’re at halftime in the Pac-10 season and the team picked to finish fifth is just a game out of first. Are we the team that won 16-straight games and catapulted into the national top ten, the team that lost three out of four games to the two worst teams in the conference, or somewhere in between? We have five weeks left to find out, with a bunch of lofty goals still within reach.

That’s the kind of drama we can all enjoy.



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