Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rose Bowl Maps for the Pac-10

Sorry it's been awhile since our last post. Been way too hard at work. It's a shame there's no documentation or representation from us here at The Beardown for this momentous Arizona season we're in the middle of. But I've decided to give those around the Pac-10 a look at what's left and how your team can make it to the Grand Daddy of them all on New Years.

After Oregon's decimation of the Trojans at Autzen there are only two teams left writing their own tickets to Pasadena and remarkably, USC is not one of them. So let's take a look at the whole conference break down.

Oregon - With a 5-0 Pac record, if the Ducks win out they're in. Simple as that. But if the Ducks win out, the Hawkeyes drop a late game, Texas slips up in the latter half of the Big XII race Oregon will actually have a shot at the National Title game this year seeing as how Florida and Alabama will have to play each other in the Conference Championship game down the road. The Ducks are still in the driver's seat if they go 3-1 as long as that one loss isn't to Arizona. If the Ducks do lose to Arizona they will need the Cats to drop another conference game (@ USC most likely) to regain the lead in the Conference of Champions. The bottom line is all signs point to Oregon's appearance in the Rose Bowl this season. The Ducks are the only team remaining in the conference that can still lose 2 games (of their remaining 4) and still have a chance to smell the Roses. But at that point there are a lot of ifs being thrown in.

Arizona - The Cats are the only other team that can write up their own ticket to the Big Game. While the National Championship is out of their grasp, the Rose Bowl certainly is not. If not for a terrible call bad bounce in the Washington game Arizona would be much more comfortable going forward. But either way if the Cats win out it would give them a 8-1 record in Pac Play with the tie-breaker over Oregon to send them, and legions of UA Faithful to Southern California for New Years. The Cats are the only team left in the Conference that still have 5 games left of the schedule so winning out is a slightly more difficult task. Also adding difficulty is the fact that Arizona still has Cal, Oregon, USC, and a nothing to lose ASU team left on their schedule. If the Cats don't win out they will still have Roses in their grasp but it will take wins over Cal, Oregon, and USC and it will take Oregon dropping at least 2 of their remaining 4. In which case Arizona and Oregon will each have 2 losses and Arizona will hold the tiebreaker. There's always the chance that if Arizona does go 4-1 and their lone loss is to Oregon that they will play in the Rose Bowl while Oregon plays for the National Championship.

USC - For the first time in a long time USC has a lot of ground to make up to play at home on January 1st. USC has to win out, but even if they win out Oregon will still have the tie breaker. With 2 losses already in Conference Play, in order for USC to go to the Rose Bowl Oregon will need to nosedive and lose 3 of their remaining 4 games AND Arizona will have to drop an additional game beyond the USC game. While I wouldn't say it safe to count them out, they've got a long way to go. They too could benefit if Oregon wins out and Arizona drops 2 of their remaining 5 (as long as one of those losses is at the hands of USC). But that's only if Oregon does manage to make it to the National Championship Game. Something I'm sure Boise State fans would be unhappy about.

Stanford - While currently unranked the Cardinals are not completely out of the Rose Bowl picture. They've still got USC and Oregon on their schedule heading forward. If Stanford wins out they'll have a 7-2 Conference Record and the tie breakers over Oregon and USC. But they too would need Oregon to drop 2 of their remaining 4 (including their need to beat the Ducks at home this week) and they would need Arizona to lose 3 of their remaining 5. Not likely.

California - Cal currently has 2 conference losses so winning out is pretty much their only option at this point. Winning out would include giving Arizona their 2nd conference loss and possession of a Tiebreaker there and it would also give Stanford its 3rd loss effectively eliminating them from contention. But too many things are out of their hands since they already have losses to USC and Oregon. If Cal can win out they would still need USC to drop 1 game and Oregon to drop 3 of their remaining 4. Somehow I don't see that happening.

Oregon State - The Beavers are on the outside looking in right now. They already have 2 losses in the Pac at the hands of Arizona and USC. So winning out is only half of the puzzle. Similarly to Cal and Stanford, for Oregon State to go to the Rose Bowl they will need USC to drop another game and Oregon to drop 3 of 4. In their case unlike Cal and Stanford, they still have Oregon on the schedule and could give the Ducks 1 of 3 losses they need to advance.

For Arizona State and Washington there are way too many ifs for them to need in order to go to the Rose Bowl and I wouldn't be surprised if Arizona State doesn't get another win this season and Washington limps to the finish with their lone remaining win over Washington State. Washington's only chance is for a lot of things to go their way since they have Tiebreakers over Arizona AND USC.

UCLA and Washington State have both been mathematically eliminated from the Rose Bowl. UCLA would need to win out to get to ANY bowl and WAZZU has been mathematically eliminated from ALL Bowls already.

Don't be surprised if Kirk and Corso are hanging around Dirtbags or Trident in a couple weeks as that Arizona vs. Oregon Game on the 21st could very well be a major determining factor in the Pac-10 Champion. And we all remember what happened last time a highly ranked (#2) Oregon played at Arizona Stadium with the ESPN Cameras on the field.


More after the jump...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eff It Dude, Let's Go Bowling.....Again - Arizona Preview


Over the last two days ESPN's The Sports Guy a.k.a. Bill Simmons has been using quotes from one of his, and my, all-time favorite movies Almost Famous to describe the NBA offseason. I thought this was a great idea. In fact I almost did it last year when breaking down the Arizona Football season Preview, but due to time constraints held back and simply titled the post "Eff it Dude, Let's Go Bowling". Well I decided to pick up where I, and Simmons left off, and give you Arizona's offseason wrap-up/Arizona Season Preview for the 2009 season.

"You must be here to fix the cable.
Lord. You can imagine where it goes from here.
He fixes the cable?
Don't be fatuous, Jeffrey"


This goes to the U of A and IMG Academies for kicking Fox Sports Arizona out of Arizona Stadium for the upcoming seasons. Let's face it, FSN-Arizona has pretty much been FSN-Phoenix for awhile. And there were more than a few Arizona Football games I listened to on the radio with CBS Sports.com open to review the play by play. While it will definitely get a bit confusing, at lease the cable has been fixed and we should get more Arizona games here in town.

"Are they gonna hurt us, Walter?
No, Donny. These men are cowards."


This one goes out to the Arizona State Sun Devils. The punchless scummies up in Tempe are cowards. And unlike in 2006 and 2007 when they beat us to keep us out of a bowl game, 2008 was the opposite. They can't hurt us anymore, and they won't this year.

"Dude, this is a league game, this determines who enters the next round robin. Am I wrong? Am I wrong?"

December 5, 2009 your Arizona Wildcats will travel to Hollywood to play the Trojans in the Colosseum. The Stoops era has been marked by close losses and huge upsets. Both of which apply to the recent past while facing USC. Arizona has a habit of showing up big and playing the Men of Troy close. There are many pundits out there expecting a down year for the Cats due to the losses of Money Mike T and Tui. The Cats though have a taste of success and a Bowl Game. The Cats aren't winning the Pac this year and aren't heading to the Rose Bowl unless a lot of lucky bounces come their way. But they very easily could be coming into the final game of the season needing a win to clinch a Bowl Berth as has been the case the last three years. This is a league game, this could make or break the Cats season.

"I f--k you in the ass next Wednesday instead. Wooo! You got a date Wednesday, baby!"

This goes out to the #3 or #4 Big12 team. The Cats played in the Las Vegas Bowl last year, but I don't think I'm alone in wishing that they had played in a slightly more prestigious bowl. How about gunning for the Holiday Bowl this year. The Holiday Bowl is the place for the #2 Pac-10 Team, or the #3 Pac-10 team if the #1 Pac-10 team is in the National Championship. The Holiday Bowl takes place on Wednesday, December 30th this year.

"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

This one goes out to the folks who call themselves Football prognosticators. Ted Miller at ESPN.com, the folks in the Pac-10 Media Poll, Jon Wilner, and everyone else out there who pick Arizona to finish low and have a down year. While they all have arguments that hold some water, namely missing Tui, Thomas, Britton, and Palmer, I don't think the Cats are taking a step back this year. They might not be in the Rose Bowl, but they aren't missing the Bowl season this year either.

"I'm throwing rocks tonight. Mark it, Dude."

Matt Scott, Nick Foles, or Bryson Beirne. Time will only tell which one will be under center against Central Michigan. I for one hope whoever takes the reigns performs because nothing destroys a football team and football season like a revolving door at the Quarterback position. When I was a Freshman I got to see 4 different QBs start for the 2 win football team. From my understanding Beirne has the best understanding of the system, Foles has the best accuracy and arm strength, Scott has a the most game experience and the most options. All three are neck and neck and neck heading into fall practices. My pick is Scott. He's got a decent arm and some wheels, and with some question marks on the line, specifically with a new guy guarding his blind side replacing Eben Britton, a QB with some ability to run and create might just be the best option for the Cats this season.

"Lebowski: Not a man, a way of life.

This one needs to be tweaked a little bit. Gronkowski: Not a man, a way of life. Big Freak, and to a lesser extent Chris Gronkowskit a.k.a. TOG (The Other Gronkowski) are Arizona's best chances for this season. The Cats will go only so far as the Gronkowski Brothers will take them. Chris gives them plenty of options from 2nd TE, to FB, and H-Back, he led the team in YPC last season and had 3 TDs on 8 catches. And Rob, we all know Rob's numbers 10 TDs on 47 catches, oh and he missed the first 3 games where the Cats put up ridiculous numbers.

Well that's about it for right now. We're less than 40 days from kick off against Central Michigan and their top dog Dan LeFevour. It should be a fun season, and I'm sure you'll see and hear more form us regarding the Cats and College Football in general over the next few weeks.

Eff it Dude. Let's go Bowling.

More after the jump...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Floyd Out: Arizona Consequences

Tim Floyd is resigning from USC, and I for one couldn't be happier. I hated him while losing as the Bulls coach, hated him more when he was winning at USC, and was about to blow a gasket when he was hired by U of A. One problem, he was never hired by U of A, and the fact that Tim Pink Floyd thought he was too good for Arizona made it even worse. It was my lowest moment as a fan of the U. Lower than the Mackovic error of the early century. So....

What do the numbers 92, 88, 95, 89 mean?

They are the ESPN/Scouts Inc. grades of the 2009 and 2010 USC Basketball Recruits, in order, PF Derrick Williams, PG LaMont Jones (2009) and PG Gary Franklin Jr., SF Dwayne Polee (2010).

With the news that Coach Pink is out at USC, there is no doubt in my mind that at least 2 if not all 4 of these players will be back on the market. Williams and Jones have both signed Official Letters of Intent, but even before news came that Floyd was resigning both were pondering their options as Summer classes have gotten underway. Franklin and Polee are only verbal commits so I'm pretty sure that they will probably open their recruitment up as well.

What does this mean for the U of A?

Well, Jones was on Coach Sean Miller's radar from the second he stepped foot in Tucson, but it seemed too little too late as Jones had pretty much made up his mind. But now with the coaching change is there a chance that LaMont a.k.a MoMo will open his recruiting back up? We'll have to wait and see but I'm sure Coach Miller and his staff are already circling. I'm sure that playing at Point Guard U, for a Point Guard Coach, and getting to get his feet wet under, most likely, the best Point Guard in the Pac-10 might all be nice little recruiting tools to get MoMo interested in Tucson once again.

Williams on the other hand was weighing a couple of other Pac-10 schools, but was settled on the Trojans very early on. Will he land in Washington or Tempe? We'll probably have to wait and see. One only wonders just how much contact Williams and Jones have had. If those two have formed any kind of bond, there's always a chance they could defect together. Most schools have formally wrapped up their 2009 recruiting, but Coach Miller has yet to announce his official recruiting class. Some suspect he was waiting on word from Lance Stephenson and his pending court trial. We all know that With Chase and Jordan leaving, Zane transferring, and a handful of non existent recruiting classes, there are more than a few scholarships sitting on Miller's desk at the McKale Center.

If the Cats can manage to get one or both of these recruits away from USC, assuming they are let out of their Letters of Intent, then U of A is not only looking at staying afloat in the Pac-10, but will have skipped the rebuilding stage we all feared and gone straight into Reload Mode. Now don't get me wrong, we'll be lucky to get a 26th straight NCAA tourney berth this year, but with USC no doubt slipping, Cal and Washington being the only two real class programs in the Pac-10, Arizona is looking at a solid opportunity to be a top 4 team this year and have a talented crop of guys going into the following year.

Arizona's already gotten one USC defect (Soloman Hill) since Miller took over and maybe with a couple lucky bounces 2010-2011 could go from being year 2 of the Miller rebuild, to year 1 of the New Wildcat Dynasty with a young core of Sophomores Krylla K, Kevin Parrom, Hill, Jones?, Williams?, Juniors Fogg, Jacobson, and Lavendar, and Senior Jamelle Horne. And I'm sure Coach Miller is eyeing Franklin and Polee already.

More after the jump...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

NBA MVP Curse

Everything can be explained with a curse these days, so here's the first in a "However-Many-I-Decide-To-Do" Series, of current (real or imagined) sports curses. Check back for more over the coming days and weeks as time permits.

LeBron got bounced from the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday and it got me thinking, shouldn't the team with the best player and coach be in the NBA Finals? Absolutely they should, but that's a different article for another time/probably has already been written about on countless Cleveland, Orlando, Los Angeles, et. al. blogs around the 'sphere. Anyway I was sitting with my Pops on Monday and I started to run down the list of recent NBA MVP's who failed to win the Finals. Lebron in '09, Kobe in '08, Dirk in '07, Nash in '05 and '06. So we're 0-fer the last 5 at least.

Pops said the last was probably Duncan, but I thought it was Shaq. Note to self, Pops is usually right. Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs was the last NBA MVP to win the NBA Finals back in 2003, Shaq was a close second having done it in 2000. So I decided to do some research, the quick numbers.

In The Last....

5 Years: The NBA MVP has not won the Finals and only Kobe last year was a losing participant in the series.

10 Years: Only 2 of the NBA MVPs have gone on to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Of the 10 winners only 4 have even been in the finals. That's a 20% chance of the MVP winning and a 40% chance of being in the Finals.

25 Years: 9 NBA MVPs have become World Champions and 14 have made it to the Finals. The list of MVPs to win is:

2003 - Tim Duncan - San Antonio Spurs
2000 - Shaquille O'Neal - LA Lakers
1998 - Michael Jordan - Chicago Bulls
1996 - Michael Jordan - Chicago Bulls
1994 - Hakeem Olajuwon - Houston Rockets
1992 - Michael Jordan - Chicago Bulls
1991 - Michael Jordan - Chicago Bulls
1987 - Magic Johnson - LA Lakers
1986 - Larry Bird - Boston Celtics

The 5 MVPs to make it to the finals but fall were:

2001 - Allen Iverson - Philadelphia 76ers (lost to LA)
1997 - Karl Malone - Utah Jazz (lost to Chicago)
1993 - Charles Barkley - Phoenix Suns (lost to Chicago)
1989 - Magic Johnson - LA Lakers (lost to Detroit)
1985 - Larry Bird - Boston Celtics (lost to LA)

It's interesting to note that Jordan is the only one in the last 25 years with multiple Finals appearances as the MVP never to lose in the Finals, but he was the MVP in 1988 when Chicago failed to reach the Finals, and yes there is a bit of homerism in bringing up that unnecessary statistic.

In The First....

5 Years: The NBA MVP was in the Finals twice (Bob Cousy in '57 and Bill Russell in '58). Cousy was the only won to win the MVP and the NBA Finals.

10 Years: The NBA MVP was in the Finals 6 Times (Cousy - '57, Russell in '58, '61, '62, '63, and '65) and won 5 of the 6 times (Russell in '58 was the only loss).

25 Years: There were 11 times that the NBA MVP was in the Finals and 9 times he came away victorious. Those 9 were:

1957 - Bob Cousy - Boston Celtics
1961 - Bill Russell - Boston Celtics
1962 - Bill Russell - Boston Celtics
1963 - Bill Russell - Boston Celtics
1965 - Bill Russell - Boston Celtics
1967 - Wilt Chamberlain - Philadelphia 76ers
1970 - Willis Reed - New York Knicks
1971 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Milwaukee Bucks
1980 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - LA Lakers

The 2 NBA MVPs to make it to the Finals and lose were:

1958 - Bill Russell - Boston Celtics (lost to St. Louis)
1974 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Milwaukee Bucks (lost to Baltimore)



    Of the remaining 4 MVPs not listed above, only two went to the Finals won. They were:

    1983 - Moses Malone - Philadelphia 76ers
    1984 - Larry Bird - Boston Celtics

    More Stats:
    Of the 54 MVP Trophies to be handed out, 37 of them belong to 11 players, they are:

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 6
    Michael Jordan - 5
    Bill Russell - 5
    Wilt Chamberlain - 5
    Larry Bird - 3
    Magic Johnson - 3
    Moses Malone - 3
    Tim Duncan - 2
    Karl Malone - 2
    Bob Petit - 2
    Steve Nash - 2

    Only 3 players have won 3 in a row (Russell - '61-'63, Chamberlain - '66-'68, and Bird - '84-'86) and only 6 players have won 2 in a row (Kareem - '71-'72 and '76-'77, Moses - '82-'83, Magic - '89-'90, Jordan - '91-'92, Duncan '02-'03, and Nash '05-'06) with Kareem being the only player in NBA History to win 2 in a row, twice.

    From 1982-1992 (11 seasons) the Trophy was shared between 4 multiple winners (Moses Malone, Bird, Magic, and Jordan.

    So relax, Lebron, take a few days to recover from your dental surgery, ignore the ringing phone, you'll most likely get another shot at the Finals and you can make it to the list of other greats who have won the MVP, won the Finals, and failed to make it in separate seasons. They are:

    Wilt Chamberlain (missed Finals in '66 and '68 as MVP, won Finals in '67 as MVP)
    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (won Finals in '71 and '80 as MVP, missed Finals in '72, '76, and '77 as MVP)
    Moses Malone (missed Finals in '79 and '82 as MVP, won Finals in '83 as MVP)
    Magic Johnson (won Finals in '87 as MVP, missed Finals in '90 as MVP)
    Michael Jordan (missed Finals in '88 as MVP, won Finals in '91, '92, '96, and '98 as MVP)
    Tim Duncan (missed Finals in '02 as MVP, won Finals in '03 as MVP)

    More after the jump...

    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    Manny Being Mommy?

    I guess we all owe Manny an apology. He didn't test positive for steroids or it's cousin HGH, it was hCG, or Human Choloronic Gonadatropin. He is not trying to get an edge on the rest of the baseball world he just wants to be a mommy. Newest reports are that he tested positive for the woman's fertility drug. Either he wants to become pregnant or he's using the substance to jump start his testosterone production after the end of a steroid cycle. After the cycle has finished the body isn't able to regulate the normal testosterone levels pre-cycle and the hCG is used to jump start the bodies natural test production. It's nice to know that the best right handed batter of our time goes to the same OBGYN as Kate Gosselin when he needs a fix.
    More after the jump...

    Move Over A-Roid


    So much for that hot LA Dodgers 2009 start. Go ahead and slap a big fat asterisk on that record breaking streak. A-Roid has a new friend in the steroid spotlight. Meet Man-Roid, or Manny Roidmirez, or Manny being Positive. Either way you write it the Dodgers Outfielder and prolific hitter has apparently popped positive for PEDs and will be suspended 50 games. Five Oh. We'll keep you posted.

    More after the jump...

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009

    Busy Day in Wildcat Country

    It has been a busy day in the world of Wildcat athletics. Today was marked by one subtraction and one addition from our Wildcat family.

    We'll start with the subtraction. Junior SF Zane Johnson has decided to transfer from the U of A. Indications out of the AD's office are that his request will be granted. Zane seems to be reacting to the writing on the wall with regards to his playing time. The Basket Cats signed Solomon Hill and are heavily recruiting Kevin Parrom both SF prospects from the class of 2009. Combined with the future recruiting outlook and Johnson could clearly see that his opportunities for playing time were quickly disappearing. While any loss is a bad thing for our teams depth next year this particular development is not very detrimental overall.

    In more positive news the Football team landed a commitment from class of 2010 QB Matt
    Brown out of Allen, TX. Brown is considered one of the top dual threat QB's in Texas. Brown has been high on the Cats for a while and decided to pull the trigger last night while watching the NBA Playoffs. According to an interview with goazcats.com (rivals) Brown said, "I knew it was the place all along, I was holding out because I wanted to see what else happened and then I was watching a basketball game last night and just figured, 'why not?'" On behalf of the Wildcat fans all over the world, we here at TheBearDown welcome Matt and look forward to seeing him lighting up the opposition defense some day under the lights of Arizona stadium.

    More after the jump...

    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Arizona: In The Wake of The NFL Draft

    Many thoughts spring to the top of my head on the heels of this weekends NFL Draft. This was supposed to be one of the best drafts in recent Arizona history. There were 6 legitimate Arizona Alums poised to hear their name called, with the majority of the 6 hoping for Day 2 call-ups PLUS the possibility of Arizona Power Forward, Fendi Onobun a.k.a Fen-Diesel making it a total of 7 possible Arizona draft picks.

    But alas Junior Tackle Eben Britton actually slipped to the second round to the Jaguars due to footwork issues despite his size and "tremendous upside", I hate the phrase as much as you do. Eben was the only name called on day one and swore to avenge the slip against every team that passed on him. Atta boy EB.

    All-Time Pac-10 WR record holder Mike Thomas slipped a bit to the 4th round despite many thinking he was a sure thing 3rd rounder. But the 4th round pick landed him in Florida alongside Eben for a reunion. Interesting side note this was the 7th time that two Arizona players were drafted by the same pro team since 1990. See Box at Right

    But that was it for ringing phones on Sunday and there were more than a few Cats sitting on the sideline with questions remaining. So we'll try to keep you up to date. Updates will come so check back often. Remember each team will usually wind up signing between 5-15 Undrafted Free Agents to take roster spots going into training camps and practice squads. Among the possibilities:

    QB: Willie Tuitma - NFL size and arm strength, sometimes labeled as a system Quarterback Tui rewrote the Arizona record books in his 3.5 years here as a starter. A DUI arrest in the weeks leading up to the draft almost assuredly knocked his name off a few possible draft boards but don't be surprised to see him show up on someones off season roster. Possible candidates include Denver, Chicago, Detroit, and anyone else looking for a back-up QB.

    LB: Ronnie Palmer - Sources say that Palmer has already inked a 3 year deal with the Washington Redskins. Congratulations are in order for Ronnie following in the footsteps of other UA alums to head to the Nations capital.

    DB: Nate Ness - There have been some rumblings that Nasty Nate is vying for a roster spot somewhere out there but nothing has been finalized yet. Don't be surprised to see Nate lining up somewhere in the preseason, there are more than a few teams with secondary issues. UPDATED: Ness signed a deal with the Cleveland Browns.

    DB: Marquis Hundley - Hundley enjoyed his first season as a Starter in 2008 and grabbed 4 picks. Decent size and great athleticism should find him a spot in offseason workouts. UPDATED: Hundley signed on with the St. Louis Rams.

    K: Jason Bondzio - Arizona's most accurate kicker of all time held out hope for a late round selection yesterday, but alas no call was made. Kickers are a commodity in the NFL and they can almost always find a tryout. There are only 32 openings for a kicker in the NFL so even if Bondzio can't ink a deal by the start of the season, there will always be an opening after a kicker starts slow. Bet on it.

    OG: Joe Longacre - Longacre was a rock on the Arizona Offensive Line during the Mike Stoops tenure even though players were missing time left and right. He's a mammoth of a man, but lacks many of the needs to play at the next level. Might wind up on a practice squad somewhere.

    DB: Adrian McCovy - Coming off his best season McCovy can only hope for the best. He's got the athleticism and came up with 4 picks this year, but if he sees action, it will probably come on a practice squad this year.

    OT: James Thretheway - With only one year of starting on the line under his belt, it would be a bit of a reach for most NFL teams. He's got the size, but don't expect to see him on Sundays.

    PF: Fendi Onobun - Could he possibly be the next Antonio Gates? At least 3 teams think so as they were able to bring him in for some workouts. Fen-Diesel was told by former Coach Kevin O-Neil NOT to hit the weights, he was already too big. He's got the athleticism and size of a good blocking TE and could develop the hands to match. It's too bad the former forward on the hardwood won't get a chance to take the field as a Kitty Kat because of a lack of scholarships. But who knows, maybe one of the incoming scholarship players won't make the grades and there will be a letter with his name on it from Mike Stoops.

    More after the jump...

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Leaping Lions: A New Logo in Detroit

    In response to their 0-16 season the Detroit Lions have decided to have a new look for the franchise. After seeing how the Arizona Cardinals were able to turn things around with a new logo, the Lions have decided to follow suit. The 2009 Detroit Lions will take the field with this as their new logo:But this wasn't the first choice of the head honchos in Motor City. Other logos were presented at Lion HQ that were ultimately turned down for one reason or another. I have been given access to these images.
    Your 2009 Detroit Lions?
    More after the jump...

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Staff is set

    As previously discussed in the recruiting prospectus Coach Miller will something you hear shouted a lot this season at the Wildcat practices. It seems as though the entire coaching staff has now been set.

    Archie Miller, Ohio State assistant coach and brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller, is
    expected to leave Ohio St. to take the same position on his brother Sean's staff at according to a source. Sean Miller, who left Xavier for the head coaching job at Arizona last week and took two assistants with him, had been keeping a job open for a third former Xavier assistant, Chris Mack, if Mack was not hired as his successor. But Mack will be announced today as Xavier's new head coach, according to reports. Archie Miller was coach Thad Matta's top assistant this past season at Ohio St.

    This is big news for Arizona as Archie Miller is viewed as one of the top recruiters in the nation. It also seems to be be the death knell for TheBearDown favorite and all-time great Reggie Geary. Here's hoping that recently promoted Josh Pastner has Reggie Geary's phone number on speed dial.

    We will continue to keep you posted on the developments in and around McKale as they happen.


    More after the jump...

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Recruiting Round Up

    Well in just a few short days Coach Miller seems to have us headed in the right direction. As I previously stated in my recruiting prospective last week Coach Miller and his reputation were going to put us in hunt for a number of recruits previously out of reach.After an amazing weekend of recruiting news it seems that things may be even better then we could have imagined.

    Coach Miller was recruiting the Kyryl Natyazhko the 9th rated center and 75th overall rated player in the country by Rivals.com. Natyazhko narrowed his choices down to Pitt, Xavier and Arizona State prior to Coach Miller accepting the position at Arizona. This past weekend at the AAU Derby Classic Natyazhko announced that he would become the 1st member of our Arizona Wildcat recruiting class of 2009.This young man instantly gives us a viable C/PF option next season and was quoted by Rivals.com as stating the proposition of early playing time for a coach he trusted was a huge attraction to him.

    If that was all the news we had it would still have been a successful weekend by anyone's standards. However it would seem that Coach Miller answers to a much higher standard then we do and secured the re-commitment of Solomon Hill this weekend. Hill is the #3 rated SF in the nation and a previous Wildcat commit, he de-committed from Arizona after Coach O retired and there was no permanent coach in place. He stated many times that Arizona was his dream school and when Tim Floyd flirted with the idea of leaving USC for Arizona Hill felt that he sent a clear message. Hill is expected to formally announce his re-commitment to the Cats some time this week after speaking with the Floyd and informing him of his decision.

    Coach Miller is surely not done with this class and many are speculating that we could have a top 25 recruiting class before everything is said and done. In fact it may not be far off at all, the expectation within the program is that one of the nations top juco centers, Jarrid Famous will be here visiting very soon. Famous is 6'10" 240lbs and is said to be favoring Missouri, South Florida and Arizona. Famous told Rivals.com that he would visit Arizona and then make his decision. Jarrid's coach at Valhalla (N.Y.) Westchester Community College was also quoted as saying that Jarrid is looking forward to playing in a much warmer climate then he currently does.

    There are a number of prospective recruits currently on the radar and it figures to be an interesting ride in the next few weeks. We here at TheBearDown will keep you informed as any new stories develop.

    Untill the next committment - Randle El

    More after the jump...

    Thursday, April 9, 2009

    Pennell Signs a New Deal

    Congratulations all around for Grand Canyon University's new Head Basketball Coach, Russ Pennell. Many thought that Pennell would have a shot at a higher position, but I personally couldn't think of a better outcome for Coach Pennell. He will have the chance to take over a successful Division II program that is attempting to rebuild and petitioning for Division I status. Not only is this great for Pennell who needs a little more experience before he gets considered for other Division I jobs out there, but he gets to stay in Arizona and his wife and kids don't have to worry about being transplanted.

    Pennell will have a great opportunity to leave his mark on a young program and deal with a lot of young talent. He will hope to build on GCU's 13 win season last year and will most likely have an immediate impact on recruits. I'm sure the other coaches in the Pac West Conference are less than happy about the addition of a Coach with some Sweet 16 Coaching Experience.

    Congrats again Coach Pennell, and The Beardown will make sure to keep up with Grand Canyon's success next season. Good luck to you and the 'Lopes next season on the court as well as your attempts to join a Division I conference in the near future. Grand Canyon really lucked out on this hire.

    More after the jump...

    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    Coach Miller's Introductory Press Conference

    The entire introductory press conference in raw unedited format.....This guy is gonna be good and he bails Livengood out and wins the press conference.

    Full Press Conference
    More after the jump...

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Sean Miller: Videos From the Past

    Question: What does new UA Coach Sean Miller have in common with this kid dribbling the ball?

    Answer: In case you watched it on mute or weren't paying attention, that little guy is the new face of the Arizona Men's Basketball Program.

    It's nice to have such a quality ball handler coaching Poing Guard U, plus listen to his work ethic as a 12 year old. He goes home and practices after practice.

    Congrats on the new job coach, we're really looking forward to seeing what you can do for the future of Arizona Basketball.

    More after the jump...

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    It is "Miller Time" for the '09 Basket-Cats recruiting class and beyond

    With the signing of a new coach finally accomplished and the severe turnover of coaches all over the NCAA BB landscape we here at TheBearDown thought you, the loyal reader would like to know just what possibilities exist for the still barren 2009 recruiting class....

    First things first, we should dispel the notion that we don't have anyone committed in this class. Unbeknown to many Reggie Geary has been hard at work recruiting uncommitted kids to come play for the Cats despite the lack of a permanent coaching staff. Coach Geary was successful in securing the commitment of relative unknown Tremayne Johnson a 6'7" PF for Southwest Community College in Los Angeles. it remains to be seen whether or not Sean Miller will honor the scholarship offers of the previous staff.

    With Coach Miller potentially comes some of his recruits, here is our breakdown on who could be coming with him;

    Xavier's only 2009 commitment is Kevin Parrom, a 6-6, 200-pound small forward from South Kent (Conn.), who is ranked 84th in the country by Rivals.com. Parrom still needs to receive a release from his LOI from Xavier but it is rare that this doesn't happen.

    Coach Miller is currently recruiting 2009 center Kyryl Natyazhko, who is ranked 75th in the country by Rivals.com. Natyazhko is listed as having narrowed his choices down to Pitt, Xavier and Arizona State but that was prior to Coach Miller accepting the position at Arizona so it would seem logical that he would probably consider Arizona seriously.

    Xavier also had two 2010 commitments - power forward's Jordan Latham and J.D. Weatherspoon. After Coach Miller made his desicion known this morning Weatherspoon contacted Rivals.com via text message and informed them that he was in fact re-opening his recruitment and would consider Arizona seriously. Latham is ranked 44th in 2010, Weatherspoon is 135th.

    It should be noted that Coach Miller will be bringing his main recruiter Book Richardson as an Assistant Coach. Richardson used to run the premier East Coast AAU program the New York Gauchos, and has tons of connections back East. This of course means the U of A will most likely increase recruiting on that side of the country and do it more effectively than before.

    One name that Cat fans should be familiar with is the #3 rated SF in the nation and previous Wildcat commit Solomon Hill. Hill de-committed from Arizona after Coach O retired and there was no permanent coach in place. According to an interview in today's paper Hill is more than open to re-committing to the Cats.

    Also still unsigned and available is Victor Rudd of Henderson Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, NV. Rudd is the 107th overall ranked player in the 2009 class according to Rivals.com and has serious interest in Arizona.

    The big question mark in play is PG Lance Stephenson who plays AAU ball for the NYC Gauchos. He is unsigned and the idea that he would consider following his old coach to PG-U is not out of the question. It should be noted that Stephenson(and Rudd for that matter) have not yet achieved the minimum qualifying test scores to get through the NCAA clearing house. On top of that Stephenson is a for sure one and done player and Coach Miller has not encountered this situation thus far in his coaching career.

    One last note on his potential coaching staff. Coach Miller's brother is Archie Miller the #1 recruiter for Ohio State's program. Archie Miller has landed three 5 star recruits in the last two years for the Buckeyes. Archie was an assistant with with Sean on Thad Matta's staff before Matta left to take the Ohio St job. Xavier has a policy against nepotism and prevented Sean from keeping his brother on staff. One would assume that the family dinner conversation in the Miller household would include the potential for the brothers to reunite at Arizona. Who Coach Miller does or doesn't keep on his staff remains to be seen but I hope he saves room for Coach Geary as his West Coast recruiter, Book Richardson as his East Coast recruiter and his brother in as his Consiglierie.

    This is just an initial list of the obvious possibilities at the moment. It remains to be seen how many players will be released from LOI's in the coming weeks with all the chaos of the off season coaching changes. Check back in with TheBearDown for more info in the weeks to come.

    Randle El - Feeling the recruiting flow once again


    More after the jump...

    Announcing Arizona's New Head Coach: Sean Miller



    So most would think that we may be a little late reporting this story and everyone would probably agree that we aren’t the ones bringing it to you since it is now old news. The fact of the matter is; Dom has been doing a good job keeping up to date with ALL the new information and it was changing at such an insane rate that nothing seemed true while everything seemed possible. Plus, I didn’t want to jump the gun in case Miller decided to pull an Abdul Gaddy on us.

    So….. TheBearDown is proud to announce that it is officially official Arizona’s new Head Coach is Sean Miller formerly of Xavier.

    Quick Facts:
    Sean Miller: Age: 40
    Head Coaching Experience:
    Xavier (Atlantic Ten Conference) : 2004-2009
    Overall: 120-47 (.719) : Both Rank him 3rd all time at Xavier
    Conference: 55-22 Conference
    3 Conference Championships
    4 Consecutive 20 win seasons
    4 Tournament Appearances (One Elite 8, One Sweet Sixteen)
    Contract (Reported):
    $18 Million over 7 years with a $1 million signing bonus

    What did Miller leave behind? After Xavier’s run into the elite eight last year he signed a long term contract extension that would keep him in Cincinnati until the 2017-2018 season. The extension would have worked out to around $850,000 per year for ten years.

    Those are the facts that are relevant at this point, but there will be a follow up article with quotes from Livengood and Miller with commentary so check back.


    4Real Out....
    More after the jump...

    Thursday, April 2, 2009

    Floyd's Out

    Alledgedly the Press Conference was for today at 4 and it was going to announce Tim Floyd as the next Arizona Coach. I thank God that that is apparently not happening anymore. This is getting more ridiculous by the momeny but I'm ok with pretty much anyone but Floyd.

    Is Pennell still an option?

    Did Livengood lose Pastner's number?

    How mad was Miles when he wasn't retained last year?

    At this point, just keep it in the family. This coaching seach has gone from a battle between Calipari and Pitino...allegedly...to getting turned down by Tim Floyd. It's a damn laughing stock. Save the money. Best case scenario. Go get Pastner, you know he can recruit, he's never been a head coach, what better way then to start with a learning curve. Arizona's going to be in the toilet the next 2-5 years anyway. Let him get his feet wet. He has coached with Lute and Cal, you know he has forgotten more about basketball coaching and recruiting than most of us (blog writers and readers) will ever know. There's no downside with Pastner, he deserves a shot, and at this point what other option do we have?

    I wanted Pastner over Floyd. I would have taken Pastner over Capel honestly (I mean he did play at Duke...do we want that kinda of play at McKale?). Eff it, go get Josh, he already said he would say yes before Livengood finished the sentence. Everyone else is saying no. When Tim Floyd doesn't want the job, you've hit rock bottom.
    More after the jump...

    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    Arizona Coaching Update: Pink's in Town

    Newest source of intelligence on the home front in the Tucson area is that Capel is out, Few is out, Calipari is out, Pitino is out, Pearl is out, and the newest coach of the Arizona Wildcats Men's Basketball Team is ..... USC's Tim "Pink" Floyd.  That's right the coach that tied Russ Pennell's Men's Basketball Team for 5th place in the Pac-10 is taking over for the Arizona Wildcats.  

    I was told this evening that Jim Livengood was seen at the Tucson Airport with Floyd as they got into an SUV together and drove off into the Sonoran Sunset to finalize the contract.  Apparently Calipari, Capel, and the others were using Arizona as a bargaining chip and the future of the Arizona program appears to be the newest dead man's hand.  This one hits a little close to home as my "fondest" Floyd memories, as a Bulls fan, were watching Floyd take a team that had just won three straight NBA Championships into a Lottery Team.  

    Maybe he'll land a couple recruits, maybe not, but chances are the dam was about to burst in Tucson and instead of a coach that would "win the presser" Livengood needs a coach to stop the bleeding.  Things don't appear to be getting better at McKale Center. 

    I guess everyone who said going to Arizona would be good because the Football program doesn't outweigh the Basketball program was wrong, since in the near future the Basketball Program could be one of the biggest jokes in the country.  If no one wanted to rebuild a Sweet 16 Team, I don't see a lot of candidates trying to rebuild a 16 win team a couple years from now.  

    If you can't get a top coach, why not just keep it in the family and give Pastner a shot?  At this point it's the best scenario in my opinion.

    More after the jump...

    Capel Takes the Lead

    Quick Report. As I posted earlier, http://thebeardown.blogspot.com/2009/04/final-stretch-arizonas-coaching-search.html, it appears down to Pearl, Few, and Capel. I was told that the candidate not only had a done deal but was in Tucson right now. As I mentioned in the previous article, Jim Livengood was rumored to be in El Paso recently meeting with Jeff Capel. I got a tip from an old Fraternity Brother that Capel was spotted at the Tucson Airport. I don't know if Capel is a big golfer and might be visiting for the weather, but he may have become the new leader in the rumor mill. At least for the next couple hours.

    CBS Sports has reported that Arizona is Few's job if he wants it. Does a Capel visit to Tucson mean that Few turned down the job and Capel is the new leading candidate? From what I hear we'll find out soon.
    More after the jump...

    Final Stretch: Arizona's Coaching Search

    Welcome back to the carousel that is the Arizona Basketbal Coach Search. The newest Doc Randi intel is in, but first let's look at how we got here.

    October: Lute Olson retires, Russ Pennell is named the Interim Head Coach

    November: Michigan State's Tom Izzo, through the typical back door channels, tells friends of friends, of colleagues, who happen to be of mutual acquaintance with Jim Livengood that he might be interested in learning a little bit more about the Open Arizona Head Coaching Position.

    December: Jim Livengood begins his search, speaks with C.M. Newton at the U of A vs. Kansas game up in Phoenix. As we all know Livengood has never been a plan B guy in his coaching searches. He knows who he wants and goes after only them. Reggie Theus announces his interest in the coaching vacancy. Livengood doesn't listen.

    January: Rick Pitino's name starts coming up in small sections of possible coaching replacements. From the Doc Randi intel it is at this point that his interest begins heating up like an Arizona summer.

    February: Rick Pitino rumors spiral up to the top. It appears that he is fast becoming the top target. Despite Arizona's 7 game win streak, Russ Pennel not being considered at all for the job, and won't be.

    March: Livengood's list is two candidates long. Pitino and John Calipari. Both of whom are in the Sweet 16. Calipari's Memphis team loses it's Sweet 16 match-up and is overheard saying that Arizona gave him a blank check. Again the Doc Randi intel says that Calipari and Livengood were approaching an understanding on details.

    March 27: Kentucky fires coach Billy Gillespie. Arizona fans take a heaving gulp knowing that there was competition for top coaches, then gets taken apart by Pitino.

    March 30: My Cell Phone is dinging off the hook. First, Pitino is almost locked up, 10 minutes later I get a text saying Pitino has cooled significantly. John Calipari is the leading candidate for the new Kentucky opening for a ridiculous sum of money. With their contract offer on the table, it seems Kentucky killed Arizona's top 2 choices by chasing Cal with a truckload of money.

    March 31: I receive the following texts -
    6:30 PM - "My buddy just called and told me he thinks we'll have a coach (no specifics) in the next 24-48 hours."
    10:30 PM - "Press Conference sometime between tomorrow afternoon and Friday morning. Izzo out, Pitino less than 5% chance."
    10:35 PM - "FWIW (for what it's worth) I'm hearing it's either (Gonzaga's Mark) Few or (Oklahoma's Jeff) Capel...no strong evidence though, just general feelings....supposedly (Jim Livengood) was in El Paso meeting with Capel yesterday morning"
    At this point I turned my phone off so as not to wake the little one.

    April 1:
    "Add Bruce Pearl to the list, we are looking at a top 3 of Capel, Few, and Pearl at this moment. The deal is done and the coach is in town"

    With the announcement that Calipari will take over this afternoon in Kentucky I don't see Livengood holding his presser today. So Cats fans, in my estimation, you will go to bed tonight without knowing for sure who the next Arizona Head Coach is. There is always the possibility that a name could leak before or after the Calipari presser, but chances of a formal announcement today is unlikely.

    Capel is coming out of left field here (which for those of you who watch My Boys learned to true definition of last night) but Bruce Pearl and Mark Few were on my original list of believed candidates from October.

    Mark Few has been my top choice since day one. He won't require a huge price tag. If he can recruit to Spokane, he can recruit to Tucson, he will still have access to all of his pipelines he's been using for recruiting, he's young, he's helped maintain the Gonzaga program that came out of nowhere in the late 90s. There are a lot of questions marks with Few, but most of them surround his inability to make it past the Sweet 16 as a Head Coach. I should note that Few was the WCC Coach of the year 2001-2006, and the co-coach of the year in 2008. He has also had the conference's top player in each of the last 8 years and a few All-Americans.

    We know that there might be some interest there based on his comments (following the loss to Arizona) on December 21 about shoveling snow for 6 hours upon his return to Washington from the 60+ Degree December days he'd spent in Arizona.

    Fans who want to continue to hold out hope for Pitino can do as they please but it sounds like January and February was the time to get Pitino to sign a contract (which wasn't possible) because he was considering it then, but the Calipari signing might have done just enough to keep Pitino out of Livengood's reach. The only real chance Arizona would have at Pitino would revolve around a lot of money, and a guarantee that his son, Richard Pitino, would have right of first refusal when Pitino retires. Pitino has taken a great interest in Richard's future as a coach.

    So Tucsonites, with Doc Randi telling us that the next coach is in town, keep an eye out for Few, Pearl, Capel, or whomever else you think might be taking over the house that Lute built. Those of you working at hotels, airports, rental car agencies, and restaurants keep those cell phones at the ready.

    **UPDATE: Jeff Capel allegedly seen at the Tucson Airport. Thanks to Galvez and Boudreaux for that tidbit. We'll see.**

    More after the jump...

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Updated Arizona Coaching Search

    Word in from my usually pretty reliable source, a.k.a. Doc Randi, says that the Arizona Coaching Search should be on it's last lap. While nothing is written or signed, it sounds like the decision has been made by Athletic Director Jim Livengood and there are only a few options.

    1a. Rick Pitino

    Why: Pitino has said recently that he loves rebuilding programs, and there isn't a better rebuilding opportunity out there than in Tucson. While he has always been a moving man, he may be looking to settle down somewhere with son Richard waiting in the wings a la Bobby and Pat Knight and Sean Sutton.

    Arizona Tie: Rumors flood that Pitino's wife has already purchased a house in Tucson and that his youngest child, daughter Jacqueline Pitino, is planning on or has already enrolled in the U of A for next year. His 1997 Kentucky Wildcats team lost to Arizona in the National Championship. Confirmed reports have said that friend and former AD C.M. Newton has spoken with Arizona AD Jim Livengood. Whether or not Pitino's name came up is not certain, but Common Sense dictates it probably did.

    Why Not: Arizona probably won't be able to commit as much money to Rick as Louisville has and Louisville has been a great home for Pitino. They have embraced Pitino and his family as part of the Louisville family since day one, and host the Billy Minardi Classic each fall to honor the death of Pitino's brother in law who died in the 9/11 attacks.

    1b. John Calipari

    Why: He can't stay at Memphis forever, it's like an asterisk on his record. Though he is always the top program in his conference and racks up 30 win seasons every year, people will always say it's C-USA. A move to a top conference would be a big step for Cal and his career.

    Arizona Tie: One of Calipari's Top Assistant Coaches is pretty familiar with the Tucson area and the Arizona Basketball program, considering he spent over a decade roaming the halls of McKale. Josh Pastner will no doubt tell Calipari of the fans, tradition, and love of Arizona Basketball. We all know Pastner is one of the best recruiters out there. Also, Memphis was in Glendale for the last few days as was Jim Livengood. It's simply speculation that old friends Pastner and Livengood met up for a drink or dinner, and perhaps Pastner may have brought along Calipari.

    Why Not: Besides the price tag he is firmly entrenched in a perennial Second Weekend Tournament team. Does he really want to move into a new conference with a new team. Doe he want to do another rebuild like he did in Memphis when he is used to being a 1-3 seed in the tournament every year?

    2. Tom Izzo

    Why: Early reports put the first spotlight on Izzo, and he allegedly (whether on his own or through an intermediary) was one of the first to contact Livengood back in November. It's much easier to recruit young red blooded males to the warm climate of Tucson over dreary East Lansing. In March girls wear bikini's to class at U of A, in East Lansing it's still snowing.

    Arizona Tie: Coached former Arizona Guard, Jason Terry at the 2001 Goodwill Games and many other Pac-10 players in his other stints with USA Basketball.

    Why Not: Izzo is a Michigan guy, he's from the upper peninsula. He was brought up in the program under former coach Jud Heathcote and has a great amount of respect and love for Heathcote as well as the Michigan State program. He has said he doesn't plan on leaving Michigan State until at least one more National Championship.

    Now this is not saying that any of these three are guaranteed to be in Tucson in the coming weeks. I will repeat that, I am NOT saying that one of these coaches IS the next coach of the Arizona Basketball program. All three have a pretty hefty price tag. What I am saying is that I have been told that there are 3, and only 3 people in Jim Livengood's search as of right now, and if something can't be worked out there it will expand to include Mark Few, Jamie Dixon, Jay Wright, and Anthony Grant. I think it's safe to say that Reggie Theus, Tubby Smith, and Lon Kruger are out of the running.

    Some people are thinking Anthony Grant, but with the recent news of Billy Gillespie's most likely outing from University of Kentucky, Billy Donovan will most likely be their top candidate, again. Anthony Grant will be ready to step in at Florida. He was already planning on taking over the Florida job after Donovan's flirtation with the Orlando Magic a couple years ago. Grant has also reportedly been offered the job in Alabama and is waiting for the Florida decision before he moves up to a top conference. The Kentucky job might seem pretty enticing to Calipari but I don't think Pitino will consider heading back to UK after their bad breakup a few years back.

    Bottom line Pitino and Calipari are Livengood's top targets. It will take a large chunk of cash, but Livengood knows what he wants, does he have enough to lure these coaches away from their programs? From what I've been told with Memphis out conversations with Calipari should take place. If Arizona isn't able to make it through the weekend, we could have an answer to the Arizona Coaching Search before the Tournament is over. Of course there's the thought that if Arizona wins tonight, then both of their top targets will be done with their season. Next week could be an interesting week for Livengood.

    More after the jump...

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    Arizona's Chance to Continue the Dance

    While the Scum Devils went home with their forked tail between their legs, Chase, Jordan, Nic and co. are still wearing their dancing shoes. And no they're not glass slippers, because despite their seed, Arizona is not a Cinderella. This is a good thing, Cinderella isn't supposed to win, and every year there's a Cinderella, midnight eventually comes.

    That's right, the Wildcats are among the Top 16 teams in the nation, suck it Dookie V. But that's why opinions are like...well you get the idea. The Cats have a pair of double digit wins under their belts and are facing their toughest test of the season, but let's face it, each one of the next game(s?) is their toughest test of the season.

    This game will be a lot closer than some people are suggesting. As of right now the line is Louisville by 9. It's a fair line. If the Cats come ready to play like they have in most of their biggest games of the season, (Kansas, Gonzaga, UCLA, Washington, Utah, Cleveland State, etc), this will be a lot closer than 9. If that "other" Cats team comes out, the one losing to ASU, Washington State, UCLA, etc. the Cats will be out of the game with 5 minutes left.

    So how can the Cats get past the Cards from Kentucky?

    Turnovers:
    In the first weekend of the Tournament, The Cats have made both of their opponents turn the ball over to the tune of 30 times in two games. A specifically impressive 19 turnovers against Utah who was averaging less than 14 per game all season. The Cats combined to get their opponents to turnover the ball 6.5 times more than their individual opponents' averages. Very good numbers, can their defense keep that up? The Cardinals are a lot deeper than Utah and Cleveland State.

    Meanwhile through two postseason games, the Cardinals haven't been as careful with the ball as they were all season with 36 turnovers. That's up 8.2 turnovers through the first weekend. Obviously, Louisville has a little bit more time than Cleveland State did, to get ready for that Arizona Press/Trap/Zone Frankenstein Defense they've been running. The real test for the Cardinals will be protecting the ball. If they can turn the ball over less than the 18/g their averaging so far they should be in good shape, if Arizona can cause some trouble and get them off of their game, the Cats have a shot.

    "Home" Court:
    Much has been made of Arizona's struggles on the road this season. They have been a completely different team when the crowd is against them. BUT, Cleveland State started getting some fan support in Miami yesterday, and the Vikings got back in the game, but Arizona held on. A show of things to come? Perhaps, but there were still plenty of Arizona fans and chants in the building.

    Louisville, KY to Indianapolis, IN - a little over 100 miles and about an hour and a half away.
    Tucson, AZ to Indianapolis, IN - over 1700 miles and about 26 hours.

    There will be more Louisville fans in attendance, for sure. Imagine if the game was in Phoenix, you're telling me that the building wouldn't be rocking with BEAR DOWN chants? Well folks from the midwest tend to move to Arizona, not vice versa. So, while there might be some Arizona and neutral fans who start to pull for AZ, they will be outnumbered. This will be the biggest test of the game for Arizona, getting past the fans. Which leads me to...

    Tempo:
    When Arizona comes out with their asses on fire, things go well for the Wildcats. They started fast against Cleveland State and Utah. Arizona has been able to rally, Arizona has been able to hold on late, Arizona has been able to play close. But Arizona has also given away leads, Arizona has played down to opponents, Arizona has played defeated with time on the clock. Arizona needs to decide the tempo of the game. They need to play Arizona basketball. If they get the early lead, they can keep the crowd out of it. If they can keep the crowd out of it, it becomes less of a home game for Louisville.

    Bench:
    This is just as big of a factor as any other in the game. Louisville is a lot deeper than Arizona. If this becomes a track meet Arizona is going to lose their legs, and Louisville will be nice a fresh entering the later parts of the game. Arizona got scary against Cleveland State. The Big 3 struggled in the first half, and 2 of the 3 had 3 fouls entering halftime. Wise and Hill finished with 4, Chase and Fogg had 3, and there were more than a few close calls. There was a point in the game with ALL THREE of Arizona Three Headed Monster sidelined. Uh Oh, that won't be good against the top team in the country. Arizona's got to play smart both in deciding tempo and avoiding fouls.

    Bottom Line:
    Louisville is the better team. There is no doubt about that they have a better record, better numbers, better depth of talent, a better coach, and more experience. They played a tougher schedule in a tougher conference. There is no debating this. Not even Randle can tell me that Arizona is a better team than Louisville, and he's a pretty big Homer (p.s. Happy Birthday Matt!!!)

    Other Notes:
    Rumored Arizona Coaching Candidate Rick Pitino will be facing the very same Arizona Wildcats this weekend. I would love it if the Cats win and after Pitino and Pennell shake hands at mid-court Pitino turns around and ribs off his shirt to show off his brand new Red "Property of Arizona" T-shirt hiding below. I can just imagine Jerry The King Lawler and JR announcing this. It would be one of the most ridiculous moments in all of sports history.

    Bleak Future? Arizona will, most likely, be losing First Rounders Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger to the higher ranks, leaving Nic the Quick alone with a lot of youth, not to mention all 4 of Arizona top recruits have announced their departure. But, Kyle Fogg a.k.a Ducky, is getting better by the game, and could prove to be one of the better players in the Pac-10 over the next couple years. Zane Johnson is primarily a 3 point shooter, but it doesn't hurt having one of those on a team, and Jamelle Horne is mind blowing. Of course with Horne it's either good or bad. The Good being his out of the gym athleticism and intensity on the court, he dunked the ball TOO HARD to go through on Friday night. The bad being the mental errors that have plagued him since the UAB game, and his sometimes too much emotion, he dunked the ball TOO HARD to go through the net on Friday night. Yes I meant to type that twice.

    Arizona is the lone Pac-10 team still allowed to play organized Basketball right now. But I don't want to hear people saying that the Pac was a weak conference. They may not have been as successful as years past but they were able to go 5-1 in the first round (thanks Cal). Of course the second round saw 4 of the remaining 5 drop their games, but 2 of those games were good, close games (USC by 5 to Michigan St. and Washington by 2 to Purdue). Meanwhile the ACC which is constantly touted by ACC honks, homers, and Greivis Vasquez as the top conference saw 3 of their 7 teams lose on day one, two more dropped on day two, and saw Duke celebrate a Sweet 16 berth like they won the whole thing.

    The master of bias and hypocrisy, Dookie V, still thinks Arizona doesn't belong in the Tournament despite being one of the final 16, yet says they've got a good chance to beat Louisville, and says there's no surprise that they beat Utah and Cleveland State....What? How can there be no surprise that they have won 2 games and has a "good chance" to beat the top ranked team in the country, but they shouldn't be in the Tournament.

    Oh yeah...ASU Still sucks. And just because we can:

    More after the jump...

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    What is a Ute?

    A little Humor for the Cats fans out there. What exactly is a Ute anyways?




    Beardown and Beat the Utes.

    Which according to Vinny is a synonym for a defendant.


    More after the jump...

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Off The Bubble and In The Tourney

    Shocking as it was to hear yesterday, our beloved Arizona Wildcats Basketball team had the Tourney Selection Gods looking down on them yesterday afternoon and they took into account the Cats big wins, and whatever other criteria they look at and announced to the world, that the streak is alive for another year. The Quest for 25 is complete.

    25 years ago The Wildcats made their first appearance since the 1977 Dance. Lute Olson had begun his transformation of the Wildcat Basketball Program. Over the next 23 years he and the Cats went to 4 Sweet Sixteens, 3 Elite Eights, 2 Final Fours, a National Championship Loss, and a National Championship win. That's 11 out of 23 where Olson's Cats made it to the field of 16 or past.

    Will the streak go on past 25? Not likely as the Cats are most likely losing Lottery Pick Jordan Hill and a Top 20 pick in Chase Budinger. Plus there isn't a whole lot of incoming Freshman to step in for them, no matter who the coach may be. So what does that mean for these Cats? It's time to put an exclamation point on the Streak.

    The Wildcats got a pretty decent draw in the first round. Of the Four 12 seeds the opponents were Purdue, Illinois, Florida State, and Utah. Utah is by far the best draw for the Cats this week. Could the Cats have won against the other 3? Absolutely, when they are playing well, they proved they could win the big game, but when they are playing poorly they can't even beat Washington State.

    So what will it take for the Cats to make it past the first round?

    Big Game Budinger vs. Choke City Chase -
    Which will we see this week? Will we see the Big Game Budinger who put up 25 points on 50% shooting and 43% from the Arc and snagged 8 boards against Washington or the Choke City Chase that was a ghost against Arizona State last week? More importantly, will it matter? In some the biggest games this year Chase has been less than amazing. In those big wins against Gonzaga and Kansas, Chase combined for 19 pts, 10 boards, 6 Assists, and 5 steals. The Cats were able to get big performances from other players and great defense.

    If we see a solid Chase shooting. I'm not saying he needs to be on fire, but he can't keep jacking up shots if they aren't falling. But if he's shooting between 34-47% from the field, I'll be happy, if he's doing the other things. If he's not making the shot, then he needs to feed Wise and Hill, keep defenders from doubling up on Jordan, and make hustle plays. Chase was near nonexistent in that Kansas game, but he did have a huge ally-oop when a defender was asleep that got the crowd into the game. We need to see the Chase that does other things, grabs boards, blocks shots, and gets the loose ball.

    Big Game from a Little Guy -
    Nic Wise was on fire during the Cats 7 game win streak, with the exception of the Washington State game where he was double covered every time he stepped inside of the Arc. Wise has had 2 separate seasons. In the first 16 games he went over 20 twice. In the last 16 games he went for 20 5 times. When Wise is on it, the Cats are a much better team. He draws defenders and can beat 70% of the league off of the dribble not to mention his ridiculous acrobatic layups in the paint. In order for the Cats to advance Nic needs to do 2 things.

    Stay in control. Yeah it's fun to watch Nic the Quick drive the paint, drop one of his spin moves and throw that layup off the glass. It's gets me off the couch or stool every single time. But teams are watching film, they know Nic. They know to stay home and not fall for the dribble drop step. What that means is Nic getting blocked a lot more which leaves the Cats struggling to set up an offense with less than 14 seconds on the Shot Clock if they get the ball. The other issue is his increased fouls. Wise fouled out once in the first half of the season and was in foul trouble in the second half only twice. In the second half of the season he has been in foul trouble with 2 or 3 fouls in the first half a few times, has fouled out twice and has been in foul trouble late in games 4 or 5 times. Most of those are charges. That's a turnover and a foul.

    Control the ball. Nic needs to keep the ball in his possession as much as possible. He needs to control the tempo. Wait for things to develop. If Chase is hitting his shots get the ball to Chase for good looks. If Chase is cold, make sure to draw defenders away from Hill in the lane. The Cats can't afford to be looking settling for getting the ball to Jordan at the top of the key. That's not the best way for the Cats offense to run. Zane and Chase on the wings and Jordan on the Block, that's the best way for the Cats offense to run. And if Nic can catch the Utes cheating towards Jordan. He needs to attack and make them respect him.

    Defense -
    Defense will be key against the Utes. Borha and Green can shoot the 3, their both shooting over 40% from the arc, and the Cats 3 point defense has not been great of recent. Size is against the Cats again. Jordan needs to use his big body against the 7'2" Nevill, but he will need help. Hill can not afford to get into Foul Trouble. He's giving up 4 inches and 30 lbs to the Australian big man.

    The Press. It has worked amazing in some games getting the Cats back into a game after being down or helping to extend a lead in an uptempo environment. But it can be broken, and can be broken very effectively. The Cats can not rely on the press, it needs to come randomly. Sometimes after makes, sometimes after misses. Sometime they need to delay it and throw it on at half court to catch Utah sleeping. If they get into the habit of running the press after every make, Utah will make them pay with quality passing.

    Russ Pennell's Stage -
    It's clear that Pennell will not be in Tucson next year. There are teams out there looking for new head coaches and Pennell is on a grand old stage to make an impact. This needs to be his staff's best game. Use the press effectively and control tempo and emotion. Pennell often waits far too long to call a timeout. Sometimes a well called Time Out is all that is needed to give your guys a breather, let them clear their heads. A 4 point deficit can turn into a 12 point deficit in less than 2 minutes if the guys start playing over their heads. They jack up threes to try to get back in it, miss and don't get the long rebound and the opposing team makes an easy layup to take a 6 point lead to an 8 point lead in the span of 10 seconds. Pennell can't be afraid to call the Time Out BEFORE it gets out of hand.

    In Game Adjustments. Arizona has blown a lot of first half leads. They have come out slow and confused in many of the second halves of this season. Look at the ASU game for a prime example. Herb Sendek made great adjustments and came back from a small deficit to have the game firmly in hand with 4 minutes left. Pennell hasn't shown a lot of great adjustments. I feel like he goes into the half and tells his players that he loves them, and their playing well, and just need to keep doing what their doing and it's all going to work out. Pennell's nice guy routine is great, and I love him for it, but what the Cats are going to need to make any kind of run is a Red Faced angry Pennell coming in at half and making the Cats play better. That same emotion we've seen at countless terrible Pac-10 official ls needs to come out in the locker room and the team huddle.

    Bottom Line
    There are a lot of things that the Cats need to do to win. They've proven they can beat top teams. They are by far the scariest 12 seed in the Tournament and have already been picked by Vegas to win the first round. And a Second Round Match-up against Wake Forest (or Cleveland State) is also a very possible win. Arizona very possibly could sneak into the Sweet 16 and face off against Louisville. They need to be the same Arizona team we saw against Washington and UCLA in Tucson. They need to have the never say die attitude that was there against Houston. They need to have the passion and fire to win. This team could make the Sweet 16, it's been said all season. They've got a pair of first rounders and Nic Wise in their starting 5. They've got the talent to win a couple Tournament games. They also have the history and head cases to lose by 12 to Utah in the first round.

    And for all of you who say Arizona didn't deserve to get in over St. Mary's, you know as well as I do that St. Mary's didn't deserve it. They play in a weak conference and didn't schedule any tough teams to prove their worth. Gonzaga plays top teams for just that reason. Few knows that just playing the WCC isn't enough. The Gaels had a great season, but this isn't college football, scheduling cupcakes doesn't get you a better post-season.

    More after the jump...

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Cats Notes

    It has been said over and over again, by everyone, that based on the recent 1-4 record of our beloved Men's Basketball team, Arizona's season, fittingly so, rests in the hands of the archrival, scum of the earth, Arizona State Scum Devils. They knocked UA out of a bowl 2 years ago. UA knocked them out of a bowl last year, and took, what some suggest, was their spot in the NCAA's last year, and now Arizona's chances at continuing the streak to 25 rests in the hands of James Harden, Jeff Pendergraph, and the questionable recruiting tactics of Herb Sendek.

    It might just be me, but I feel like I am much more enthralled, and emotionally attached to this Arizona team. Previous teams have just been a disappointment. Underachieving teams with potential pros who wind up becoming selfish and throwing the season away. Had Iggy stayed Arizona would have lasted past Illinois' ridiculous comeback a few years back. Had Hot Sauce not become a 17 foot jump shot machine, Arizona probably would have fared better in his final season. Last year's squad had potential, but a lack of leadership and coaching issues had Arizona backing their way in under KO.

    So what did we expect this season?
    Not much. A second choice interim coach and 3 good players surrounded by a bunch of sub par role players at best. They were up and down all season, including the most recent stretch of 7-0 then 1-4. But damn it's been fun hasn't it. There were no guarantees. No wins were impossible (Washington, Gonzaga, Kansas, UCLA, etc.) and no wins were guaranteed (Stanford, Washington State, UNLV, etc), and many losses were heart-breakers (A&M, Washington, ASU, ASU, et. al.).


    While nothing is certain, it seems, at least on a basic level, as well as based on my previous assumptions on the Wildcats Postseason Possibilities, that Arizona has one game remaining between themselves and the Postseason. They are in a win and their in game this week. If only the Pac-10 officials weren't going to be in attendance. Arizona is facing their toughest test of the season. On the road against the Scum Devil team that is currently holding 4 straight over their head.

    I'm about as compelled as a fan can be with no vested interest in the game, other than years of being a fan, and thousands of dollars spent at the Bookstores, Arizona Stadium, McKale, Sancet Field, oh and the Administration office. Arizona is finally out of the scummy pollution riddled shadow of the Normies from Tempe on the Football Field. Let's see some emotion out there. Screw win one for the Gipper, this is bigger than George Gipp and John Button Salmon combined. Let's win one for the streak, let's win one for tradition, let's win one for the seniors, let's win one for Papa Lute.

    More after the jump...

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Hoping for a Lockout?

    Following the last Triumphant Run by Michael, Scottie, Phil, and The Bulls, the NBA went immediately into a lockout. It was actually a temporary reprieve for Bulls fans, not having to watch the Bulls flounder immediately following the departure of their 3 Hall of Famers. A short lockout shortened season was just what the doctor ordered. I saw the good in the lockout back in 1998, and I, the eternal pessimist, actually see more positives in the looming NBA lockout.

    For those of you who don't read ESPN's Bill Simmons, or haven't read his latest column about the impending lockout, please take a moment and swing by the Sports Guy here.

    As Simmons points out, with the economic troubles and the rising cost of player contracts, a lockout sits, like the elephant in the room, on the not so distant horizon. According to Simmons, and many others in the know, a lockout is due for the 2011 season following the end of the CBA, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, not the league up North that Isiah shut down. The owners know, based on the previous lockout as well as NBA players penchant for spending, that the players are going to break first. And Stern is fine with that. What could possibly be good about losing 1, 2, or more seasons of one of the major sports.

    Well here are the Top 4 good things that can come of such a disaster:

    5. Player Contracts:
    These players are making too much money. You hear it screamed from every soapbox and mountain top across the country. We'll see any combination of things that will make it tougher to sign players like Vlad Radmanovic to ridiculous contracts. Did you know he was making over $6 Mill this year?

    4. Showcasing Young Talent:
    Football may be my favorite sport, to follow, but my favorite sport to attend is baseball. There are many reasons but a couple of the top reasons are minor league call-ups and Spring Training. Sure, during Spring Training, and the rest of the season for that matter, you've got multi-millionaires who pull up before reaching first on a fly, guys playing the bounce instead of laying out. Essentially, there are a whole lot of Roger Dorns out there. But when those youngsters come in, they know they have an uphill battle. The lay out for everything, sacrifice the body on every play, and run out a grounder to short every time.

    Basketball has the D-League, and there's a lot of young talent in the D-League that nobody knows about. I'm not saying that the NBA isn't marketing them enough, or correctly, because Stern already has his money wrapped up in expansion plans and the WNBA, but the NBADL is there. When that lockout happens, this time there's the D-League. It will give the fans something to watch, and Stern will definitely showcase it. It will provide "scab" players to fill the rosters, if necessary. Now I could be wrong about this, and if so I apologize, since many of the players, if not all, are tied to NBA teams, they might be affected by the lockout as well. If that's the case than just make this a Top 3, skip this one, and call me an idiot. I don't mind.

    3. Better College Basketball
    Look back at the NCAA Tournaments of the past. The game used to be so much better before the age rule allowed for the one and done players. Then when the age limit went up, we got to see amazing athletes playing in the Tournament, and while the Tournaments lost a little something, the product was that much better. Why not get both?

    With a lockout there won't be a need for these one-and-doners to jump to the NBA, because there won't be an NBA. Some might test the waters in Europe, some might jump on in the D-League (if that's a possibility), but others might just choose to stick around another year or two. I have firmly entrenched myself in the belief that College Football and Basketball are better and more entertaining than their Professional Counterparts, so for me, better College Basketball, at least for a year or two, is a good thing.

    2. Better NBA Product - For the Fans
    Players in the NBA, for the most part, look out for themselves first and team and fans take a distant 2nd and 3rd respectively. Need proof, Elton Brand, Summer of '08. Ask Baron Davis about his old buddy EB, but make sure the knife-wound in his back isn't still fresh. I'm not saying that all of the evils of the current NBA will go away, but with stricter controls on contracts, salary caps, opt out clauses, etc, players will be more likely to stick around, and teams will be able to build without taking on expiring contracts and overpaying Larry Hughes. The Trade Deadline will matter again.

    1. Better College Basketball
    It's no secret that Stern wants to add on to his age requirement ruling and make one and done guys become two and done guys, and a new CBA would be the perfect place to do so. Again, this is very beneficial to the College Basketball fans out there, namely me. Not only will we get better talent in the NCAA game for an extra year, but those players won't be just trying to make themselves a lottery pick. Those guys will have an extra year in a system, making the team around them better. What Arizona fan doesn't wish that Jerryd was still in Tucson, find a USC fan that doesn't miss Mayo, who among the UCLA faithful wouldn't mind another season with Kevin Love, Texas - Durant, Ohio State - Oden and Conley, the list goes on and you know it.

    More after the jump...

    Monday, March 2, 2009

    Greg Paulus - I Kissed a Boy

    As you all know I hate Dook. If you don't believe be google the phrase "Hate Duke", my article shows up twice, or just click here. I despise the Blue Devils or Les Diables Bleus - french bastards. Anyway, found this, thought it was worthwhile:



    Dook Sucks

    More after the jump...

    Friday, February 27, 2009

    Lincecum Shouldn't Blame the Economy He Should Blame Manny



    Spring Training is finally in full swing, but most people are still debating the ARod and Steroid situation which I have been completely sick of for over a year now. If there is something to debate here, or at least a big issue that should be brought to everyone’s attention it would be this: Why is it that some players feel a sense of entitlement to earn a certain amount of money? Why is it that contracts no longer seem binding and that players still get away with seemingly not playing hard yet still earn the financial commitments outlined in those contracts?

    The best illustration as of late would be the difference between Dodgers OF Manny Ramirez and Giants P Tim Lincecum.

    First lets take a quick look at Manny’s situation. Most recently he has rejected an offer that would pay him $25 million next year with an option for $20 million the following year. Manny may be technically one of the greatest hitters of all time, but he is also one of the biggest wastes of potential. If you look at his numbers you may think that sounds crazy, but there were a lot of years where it seemed as though he really wasn’t trying that hard. The Sox claim he gave up on the team, and quite frankly maybe he did. I think that Manny would be better off playing DH for the Yankees and just sit on a monster contract than trying to play in the NL. Ramirez is still looking for a contract that is 25 and 25 with no deferred money. They will probably give in, but should they?

    Tim Lincecum on the other hand won the National League Cy Young in 08’ in just his second year and is the polar opposite of Ramirez. In 08’ Luncecum posted an 18-5 (2nd NL) record with 2.62 ERA (3rd MLB, 2nd NL), 265 SO, 1.17 WHIP.

    In 2007 Sabathia won the AL Cy Young giving him a 250k bonus and increasing his salary from 9 mil to 11 in 2008. In the NL Peavy received a 100k bonus and his salary increased from 3 to 11 million a year. Not too shabby right?

    Well it was just announced that the Reigning NL Cy Young winner just signed a 1 year deal with the Giants for a mere $650,000. Granted it is reported that he will be eligible for salary arbitration after this upcoming season, but regardless there is a big difference in the respect given. In 2007 Lincecum earned $405,000 making his total salary increase about the same as CC’s bonus.

    Who on the Giants staff is bringing in a bigger paycheck? Randy Johnson at $15 million (up from $9 million in 07’) who posted a pretty unimpressive 11-10 record with 3.91 ERA, and 173 SO.

    Or How about Barry Zito who is raking in 14.5 million (up from $10 million in 07’) for his 10-17 performance with an ERA over 5 and only 120 SO.

    Maybe the Giants learned something from Zito’s situation, and maybe not since they took another step back by signing Johnson. Oh and as a final side note: Lincecum didn’t receive a bonus for taking home the hardware, but CC pocketed $75,000 for placing FIFTH.


    4Real Out....

    More after the jump...