Tuesday, February 12, 2008
U of A Sports Debacle Instructions
This Sun Devil dominance has left many cat fans clueless and unprepared (just like their degrees do- Zing!) for encounters with Sun Devil fans who have been basking in the glory of their recent success. Apparently Arizona Athletic Director Jim Livengood felt they should all be on the same page.
Monday, February 11, 2008
When it rains it pours
In light of getting swept by the Sun Devils in their beloved cash cow men's basketball, one would think this would be a good week for the University of Arizona to lie low and wait it out until softball season starts, but leave it to our good friend Jeff Metcalfe to pile it on when some piling needs doing. Metcalfe, the ASU beat writer for the Arizona Republic, has been the only Republic journalist that has treated ASU like a hometown team as long as I've been reading it (about a decade) and today may be his finest hour. We'll get to Jeff in a moment.
In a story that should have already died (thanks internet!), Mike Stoops used part of his signing day press conference to badmouth the recruits that originally pledged committments to UA but later switched to ASU. He also made sure to include a potshot about rival Arizona State and their academics, stating the following:
"Obviously Arizona State has turned into a JC, and we're a four-year college. According to all the players, they say it is easier to go to school there, easier to get in. I thought we had the same requirements."Wow. I've had a number of thoughts regarding the situation since it came out last Wednesday.
1. The academic requirements are identical at ASU, UA and NAU, as set forth by the Arizona Board of Regents.
This is true! There was such a large request for information after this story broke that the University posted two academic FYI articles on the official athletics website.
2. Every other team in the country is talking about the players they signed, how bad are yours that you're discussing the ones you lost?
Not great but it could have been worse. Stoops signed the top DB in the west in Robert Golden, but the overall class was ranked 39th by Rivals, 39th by Scout, and 32nd by espn. A 36.6 average out of 119 D1 teams sounds pretty good, but 36.6 out of the 66 BCS teams comes off as pretty meh, ranging somewhere near the 45th percentile. In a day based on potential where everyone wins, somehow Arizona loses.
3. Dennis Erickson fucking owns you.
Also true! Stoops got one of the top 18 recruits in the State of Arizona while Erickson got six. Also, DE is 1-0 against Stoops lifetime, and while one doesn't usually make a trend, you know it's a trend. By the way, ASU's recruiting class landed a ranking average of 20, good enough for the 70th percentile.
4. Koetter never even pulled any shit like this, you buffoon.
He hated the media, and the media hated him back. If Koetter had done something this stupid, you would have known about it. This means one very important thing: Koetter loses the "horse's ass" moniker, for Lord Stoops has rightfully claimed it as his own!
At least Stoops didn't punt during the presser.
5. I bet those UA nutjobs will rally around him again, using JuCo! as a battle cry for years to come.
Example A. Example B, they chanted "J-C! J-C! J-C!" during Sunday's loss to ASU in hoops. Case closed.
6. What kind of a message does this send to Stoops' commits? Should they not be the star of the show?
The verdict's still out on this one since Tucson isn't exactly a hub of information or unbiased journalism.
7. What kind of a message does this send to the three players that switched commitments?
Which brings us to today's article by Jeff Metcalfe. I would make the entire thing my smartass subtitle at the top of the page, but Blogger has a character limit. Metcalfe took the time to interview RB Ryan Bass, WR Gerrell Robinson, and WR Jarell Barbour- the three big name recruits that spurned UA for ASU- to find out what they thought. Bring on the quotes! (emphasis mine)
Barbour said ASU associate athletic director Jean Boyd, is the "main reason why I'm there." Boyd directs ASU's academic support for football and other sports. "He sat me down and said this is what you need to do to be eligible to play football," said Barbour, who feels his comments were misused by Stoops.A note to Mr. Stoops: when you're in a hole, step #1 is to stop digging. Please cease and desist any and all digging immediately. We at ASU would like to see nothing more than a lengthy contract extension for you.
"He put my business out in the open. It was cruel. I didn't want to go there because their football team is horrible. They stunk it up bad. I didn't want to be a part of it. I want to be on a good football team that's going to go places."
Running back Ryan Bass of Corona (Calif.) Centennial also was expressed disappointment in Stoops: "I felt he was out of bounds with his comments. I hope he didn't make those comments because I switched to Arizona State. Everyone knows it's the same to get in. It didn't sit too well with me. I'm glad he (Stoops) apologized."
"I've worked too hard these past four years to say I have grade issues," said Robinson, who has a 3.0 grade-point average and 1490 SAT score that are good enough for admission to Notre Dame. "We all have reasons why we decommitted and why we committed in the beginning. We're 17- and 18-year-old kids. He's a grown man. You'd expect him to take the high road. If anything, you'd expect one of the three of us to say something like that, not the grown man in the situation.
"ASU has done nothing but help get Jarrell and Ryan on the right track. I don't think Arizona was adamant about doing that at all. I was there 15-20 times myself and never once saw anything about academics. It was poor judgment on my part (to initially commit to UA). ASU on junior day showed us around to all the educational categories they have."
Barbour also is more than ready for his first Territorial Cup.
"I can't remember the last time Arizona beat Arizona State," he said. "We're going to take it out on the field, and it's not going to be pretty. It'll be the best game of my life, I promise that."
Sunday, February 10, 2008
I can't believe that just f___ing happened!
Is it dead? Damn skippy. The Sun Devils played true team basketball today to drop the Cats for the second time this season, sweeping UA on the season and winning at McKale for the first time since 1995. James Harden was limited by a flu virus and was held out of practice for most of the week, but he was able to play a majority of the game, doing all of the little things that are usually overshadowed by his scoring touch. Three steals, five rebounds (two on offense), and plenty of hustle on defense made him a factor even if he wasn't the factor. That honor belongs to Jeff Pendergraph, who dropped an ungodly 29 points on the Cats.
Pendergraph's offensive explosion didn't happen all by itself, as the Sun Devil team played in the spirit of Norman Dale's Hickory team in Hoosiers- "five pistons firing as a unit." Soph PG Derek Glasser played like a fifth-year senior, a floor general whizzing passes that even the ASU players couldn't see coming at times. I think a large fraction of Sun Devil fans let out a collective "oh crap here we go again" when Glasser fouled out (on a bullshit charge call oh by the way) with 3:33 remaining. Jamelle McMillan filled in nicely for Glasser however, sinking a driving scoop shot and sustaining the lead without turning the ball over in the waning moments of Sunday's victory. Ty Abbott and Jerren Shipp still don't seem to have the outside shooting touch many of us were expecting this season, but they ran through the offense with precise cuts and sharp passes while refusing to yield on the defensive end, holding Chase Budinger to a whopping FOUR points.
Arizona State's matchup zone was unbelievable, doing exactly what it's designed to do: reduce a team to five individuals. Jordan Hill, a monster on both ends in the first matchup in Tempe, wasn't able to get involved in UA's offensive scheme, but then again neither was anyone not named Jerryd Bayless. And seriously, Jerryd with a "Y"? maybe his pops was a big Jackyl fan in the 1980's. Oh happy day, look who's playing Tucson on May 10, because you can't make stuff like this up. Wow, what a day this has been! Getting back on track, the non-Bayless wildcats totaled a meager 15 points on the day.
Regarding Harden's flu bug, it may have helped the team's outlook on playing in such a challenging environment. During the recently ended five game losing streak and especially against USC, the offense was doing a lot of standing around, as though they were waiting for Harden to make a play. The entire gameplan appeared to be geared to get James the ball on the right wing and let him dribble-drive down the lane. Knowing he wouldn't be up to carrying the load today, the Sendek offense played it's best 40 minute stretch I've seen since his arrival in Tempe, getting the ball to all five players on a consistent basis. There were lob passes, down screening, and back door cuts that, when utilized in combination with one another, appear to be a pick-your-poison predicament for opposing defenses. If this team keeps this level of play up and then starts hitting threes, look the fuck out.
How sweep it is!
Up next for this new basketball sport is #9 Stanford, who the Devils led by ten in the first half on the road before succumbing to the Cardinal and losing by double digits. That game was a microcosm for this season in Sun Devil basketball. The offense was fluid in the first half and ran through Pendergraph in the high post, making the Lopez twins virtual non factors by attacking the basket from every spot on the court. As soon as Jeff got into foul trouble and off the floor the ASU offense was reduced to the James Harden solo act, which got outscored by 20 in the second half. These are the joys of having three true freshmen in the starting lineup, though: they are nothing if not inconsistent. Let's not thrust these Sun Devils into a postseason selection just yet; at some point in the near future they will play far worse than they did today, but hopefully for very short stretches.
A fun fact brought up by Hode over at Devil's Digest: Since the start of the 2007-2008 athletics season, ASU is undefeated against UA, including the following:
Two wins in basketball
Two wins in Women's basketball
One win in soccer
One (another) win in football
How do I bitchslap thee, let me count the ways. It's a great time to be a Sun Devil.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Sullivan better than Carpenter? HELL NO
You've got to be kidding me. People are jumping ship on Carpenter after a couple of bad outings and are calling for backup Danny Sullivan to compete for the starting job when spring camp begins in March. Arrogant? Yes. Erratic and unconventional? Guilty. But Sullivan is NOT better than Carpenter, and to declare him so after a good stint of mop up duty in awfully harsh.
Danny Sullivan had moderate success during mop-up duty in the Holiday bowl. He went 7-14 for 118 yards with a pick and a score, which is ok but not job promotion good. Besides, Texas had softened their coverage, playing a bit of umbrella/prevent passing defense, which we all know doesn't work. In other action this season, he stepped in to the UCLA game and turned a nearly locked-up game into a nail biter by fumbling the ball away to the Bruin defense. That fumble was no fluke, if you watch tape on Sullivan he (just guessing here) probably fumbled in more than half of his career appearances. As previously noted on this site, the ball won't give you cancer, Danny.
Paying little mind to the Holiday Bowl, Carpenter is 21-10 as ASU's starter and is on track to break school records in career games won, passing touchdowns, and passing yards. He is taking entirely too much blame for ASU's three losses, when in fact he should be given credit for carrying the offense after losing one of the Pac-10's top running backs in Ryan Torain and surviving that abysmal pass blocking.
Rudy Carpenter is one of the top quarterbacks in the Pac-10, a conference known for producing top-notch quarterbacks. Based on returning starters for 2008, it's hard to say he won't be an all-conference selection heading into next season. It's probably still too early for Jake locker, and don't try to sell me that Tuitama lemon. Ok, maybe Longshore, but is that something you want to gamble away by putting your faith in a backup with zero starts and fewer that 40 career passing attempts over two years?
Carpenter is definitely a polarizing figure, and another quarterback competition/controversy could prove detrimental to team unity, especially this early in Erickson's tenure. A promising 2006 team never got a chance after the Sam Keller switcheroo incident finishing a very meh 7-6, and the suggestion of Carpenter splitting practice reps with Sullivan would likely lead the Sun Devils down the same path. those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. You don't lose your job going into your senior season. An ASU coach tried that once, and it blew up in his face eventually costing him his job. The suggestion is ludicrous, and Rudy has proven himself on the field. He gives his all on every play and he's a fiery competitor that should be leading ASU in the Pac-10 title hunt next season.
Sullivan better than Carpenter? HELL YES
Danny Sullivan stepped in to the Holiday Bowl against Texas' starting defense and marched the Sun Devils down the field for two scores, throwing 7-14 for 118 yards including going 5-5 on his first drive. He's had some serious butterfingers his entire collegiate career but he showed all of us on Thursday that he's capable of running this team. He obviously possesses a stronger arm that Carpenter, and he's able to throw the ball with zip in addition to airing it out on the long bombs. Sullivan appeared to have better field vision (being taller helps), and for someone with so little game experience he did a good job of making his progressions and reads without locking on to a single receiver, something Carpenter is guilty of doing every so often. Despite being bigger, Sullivan isn't the concrete-footed sloth we're used to seeing in the maroon and gold pocket. (see Walter, Andrew and Keller, Sam) In fact, he looked far more elusive than the smaller Carpenter. Remember how early on in the season Carpenter's mobility was supposed to be a strength? My how times change.
The most important and noticeable difference between Carpenter and Sullivan in the Holiday Bowl is that Sullivan seems to be able to lead receivers on passing routes, which is what Erickson/Olson's offense is designed to do. If you look at the delicious 41-9 Fiesta Bowl massacre of Notre Dame, Erickson's Oregon State team burned the Irish secondary with catch and runs by Chad Johnson and TJ Hooshmazoo. Carpenter's receivers always seem to be leaping, diving, and contorting themselves to make spectacular catches where they immediately fall to the ground or out of bounds. As a former hockey goalie, I was taught that the spectacular saves you see on NHL 2Night were the result of the goaltender being out of position, not because of some sort of freakish skill. If he were in position, the save would have been made in lackluster fashion, the puck would have been covered, and a faceoff would have ensued. Dominick Hasek was the exception, but any goalie coach will tell you to never watch Hasek for technique. Where was I? Oh yes, leading the receivers. Chris McGaha is an incredible athlete- he won a slam dunk contest in high school- his athletic ability would be on some serious display if he was able to catch and run rather than snare all of Rudy's over/underthrown balls. Kyle Williams has Shaun MacDonald explosiveness (not hands, obviously) and pre-injury Brandon Smith (remember him?) was garnering comparisons to Chad Johnson in fall camp. Hard to say what Mike Jones can do since he usually runs out routes, but you don't play Pac-10 football and baseball by being a slouch. All four of these guys return next season, along with athletic Kerry Taylor and Nate Kimbrough. It would be nice to take advantage of them.
And finally, I'm not hanging out with the players but Carpenter seems like a locker room cancer and his rumored smack talking coupled with the sideline tirades are embarrassing our school. I hate to say it, but he looks like a budding Mike Stoops. The offensive line hasn't been great this year, but not everyone responds well to being called out in front of 71,000 people. There's a reasonable possibility that the pass blocking wasn't that great on purpose. Despite the negative attention another QB controversy would bring to ASU, it's time for an open competition under center.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I fucking love love love Ty Abbott. He rebounds like a starving man fighting for a buffet ticket and he chucks threes with reckless abandon. He's a little fella too, straight scrappy. Plays tough defense, and isn't afraid to use his body. Marques Johnson pointed out that Abbott "hip-checked" a Muskateer while scrambling for a loose ball. James Harden is getting a lot of the attention this season, but Ty is my boy early on. He has a lot of Jason Braxton/Alton Mason in him, and if you know who either of those guys are I'll give you a shiny nickel because you, sir, are a true fan. Nineteen points is a prett good total for somebody who's "that other local guy" among this year's freshmen.
I was going to post a pic of Scrappy Doo, but Abbott is more like the chickenhawk. Besides, I never liked Scrappy anyway and the chickenhawk is a badass.
The one-three-one defense! Xavier is a tremendously talented team, at least physically, and the 1-3-1 gave them fits for most of the day. ASU has enough hustle and raw speed on defense that using this cover package can negate obvious physical mismatches, but no one is saying we're going to roll UCLA, Arizona, or the rest of the conference; ASU got a ton of bounces and had a staggering field goal percentage today. Add to that, Xavier looks like they went out to Mill Avenue last night. Maybe it's because it's right after finals and maybe it's jet lag, but I kept waiting for them to turn it on and they simply couldn't.
Good job on not rushing the court. Way to act like you've been there before.
That's right, two posts in one day after months of silence. I do what I can. I'll gladly accept auditions for a second contributor to the blog, preferably one that lives in/near Tempe and can actually watch/go to the basketball games. Just email me something that includes 1) a story about ASU athletics and 2) an anecdote about something stupid you and your friends did while under the influence- we're obviously running a tight ship here. Zap them to me via the intertubes at houseofheat of the gmail variety.
Holiday Bowl Warm up
I've never cared too much for Texas, and growing up in Oklahoma I didn't find too many folks who did. They weren't the hated archrival that they are today; in the 1980's the Horns were in a relative slump and Oklahoma was contending for the National Championship every season. Our bitter rival was Nebraska, as more often than not the winner of that game would play against Miami in the Orange Bowl with major title implications. Texas wasn't even a conference game in those days, as they were still the overlords of the old SWC. Obviously times have changed, but I still have loyalties to the Sooners. This game will be a lot of fun for me, even though I'll be watching it from my couch.
We're not just playing the University of Texas- we're playing the whole state, which happens to be a republic. Despite a number of quality football programs in the Lone Star state, the people of Texas unite around the Longhorns the same way they do with the Cowboys. This game will be very special for the eight Native Texans on the ASU roster.
# Name: Hometown (high school)
1 Mike Jones: Sugarland, TX (Fort Bend Austin)
20 Jonathan Clark: Arlington, TX (Seguin)
23 Chris Baloney: Houston, TX (Langham Creek)
31 Dmitri Nance: Euless, TX (Trinity)
46 Jeff Bereuter: Irving, TX (MacArthur)
48 Chad Lindsey: Houston, TX (Cypress Ridge)
71 Saia Falahola: Euless, TX (Trinity)
78 Julius Orieukwu: Houston, TX (Bellaire)
Leading up to big games against USC, Coach Kush was notorious for motivating the Sun Devil players who were California natives by taunting them during practice for never having been recruited by the Trojans. Dennis Erickson may or may not employ this strategy, but there ought to be at least some sort of chip applied to the shoulders of each of the aforementioned Texans.
Dmitri Nance received no recruiting attention from the Horns having split backfield time in his junior year, and he took it upon himself to recruit the Sun Devils leading up to his breakout senior year where he finished second all-time in single season yards in Texas 5A high school football history. Number one, of course, is Texas alum Cedric Benson.
Mike Jones was on Texas' radar but wasn't exactly a priority for Mack Brown's staff. From a 2003 Scout.com article:
Texas ATH Michael Jones has had good December trips to Oklahoma St and Arizona St. Missouri is set for this weekend. But if Texas comes calling, those trips won't matter much.The offer never came but Jones isn't exactly ho-humming around Tempe, he's busy catching game-winning passes against U of A.
Sugar Land Austin (TX) WR/ATH Michael Jones says he'll commit to the Texas Longhorns if they come through with an offer. "They haven't talked to me about offering," says Jones. "But they've told me to keep them in mind. If they offered, I'd commit.
Who? MIKE JONES!
Heeeeey Pardner! For the rest of you who will be watching the Holiday Bowl on tv like me, take solace: Brent Musberger will be calling the game. Sure, we'll have to deal with him calling us "Wildcats" every so often (as he did during the 2005 Insight Bowl), not to mention the constant polestroking of Texas from the powerhouse Big XII sponsored by Dr. Pepper Jackaroooot, but there's one thing that will soothe the pain: the Brent Musberger Drinking game. Win or lose, you'll drink more booze.
If you're going to the game, the shirt shown above is available in maroon at Hornhater.com. The website, which is affiliated with no single school in particular, also accepts special orders on other colors (ahem, GOLD) so get cracking and be sure to get a batch in time for the trip to San Diego.
The Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
Thursday, December 27
8 pm EST on espn
Thursday, December 06, 2007
All is right with the world...AGAIN
Three in a row. Seven of the last nine. UA's bowlless streak is nine and counting while ASU will go to their fourth straight. 364 more days of knowing we're better than them. So what if we're not going to the BCS. Unless you're in the title game, big freaking whoop (there's also several million dollars at stake, but I digress). A tilt with Texas in the Holiday Bowl is nothing to sneeze at, especially since one important fact seems to be overlooked: ASU is co- Pac-10 Champions!
I'm not as butt hurt as most seem to be about the snub, but the only solace I can take is that even though ASU got the shaft, Missouri got the double-ended multi-pronged gas-powered behemoth of a shaft, having beaten two BCS participants in Kansas and Illinois yet still sit on the outside looking inward. ASU controlled it's own destiny and lost it's two biggest challenges against Oregon and USC. Tough titty, but a two-loss team shouldn't be in the BCS anyway. If it's any consolation the Holiday Bowl has been labeled by the talking heads as on of the best non-BCS matchups.
The silver lining in all of this: look who still has a job!
A fun tidbit to think about before your focus shifts to Texas: when was the last time anyone rushed the field after defeating U of A at home?
EDIT: Best joke I heard all weekend- How do you keep a wildcat from masturbating?
A: paint his junk maroon and gold and he won't be able to beat it for years.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
How to deal with a wildcat fan
1) They will call you a "scummie." It's short for the beautifully inventive scumdevil, the kittycat moniker for all things Sparky.
Your response: call them a pussy. Do so loudly, as it's true on a number of levels. If you don't want to use such language in front of children there's always the alternative. You know what the difference is between a toddler and a comb? You don't need a runing start to kick the teeth out of a comb. Teach 'em to fear ASU at an early age.
2) They will use scare tactics, noting UA football to be "on the rise," "turning the corner," and everyone's favorite "closing the gap" that exists between ASU's and UA's respective programs.
Your response: Obviously none of these are true, so technically you don't need to do anything mre than laugh at such idiocy. One fun comeback is to point out that Bill Clinton was almost halfway through his second term the last time Wilbur went to a bowl game. George Bush has been president for a long time, y'all.
3) The all time series is in Arizona's favor at 44-36-1.
Your response: It's true, and kudos to you as those were some mighty impressive wins against Tempe Normal School back in the pre-depression days. ASU has only been a university since 1958 and in that time holds a 27-21-1 advantage when the schools held equal academic standing, not to mention winning two in a row, four of the last five, and six of the last eight.
4) We beat Oregon they were #2 they beat you so we're better than you we're on a roll BYAAAAH!!!
Your response: No you didn't, you beat Brady Leaf. Dennis Dixon ran all over you in the 1st quarter with an already torn ACL. You can thank Omar Bolden for that one, and thanks to you for keeping us in the Rose Bowl hunt. What, you don't know what a Rose Bowl is? Let me explain...
5) Becoming frustrated, a true wildcat always makes reference to the lopsided nature of the
Your response: Point out the irrelevance of such an argument and make reference to our new coach and highly rated recruiting class. Then note how ASU hoops is turning the corner, closing the gap, etc. Apply heavy sarcasm and watch the kitty squirm.
A few helpful zingers to squeeze in:
Arizona has not bee to a bowl game since the 1998 Holiday Bowl.
Arizona has only been to 12 bowl games EVER.
Arizona has never produced an NFL quarterback.
Arizona has not won an outright conference championship since 1941. (Border Conference)
Mike Stoops has never had a winning season as a head coach.
Willie Tuitama has started two games against ASU and has not won or finished either of them.
May hate week COMMENSE
We're going for three in a row, but so much more is at stake. The first ten-win season for the Sun Devils, Keeping the kitties from becoming bowl eligible again, and there is still a mathematical possibility of a Rose Bowl if UCLA plays as manic-depressive as they have all year and can upset USC again.
I'll be arriving in Tempe late Wednesday night so send emails to houseofheat of the gmail variety if you care to buy me a beer, invite me to your tailgate, etc. On Saturday our crew will be in section 38 next to the band, the same place we sat when we witnessed this:
Weather could throw a huge wrench into all of this as the experts are forecasting a 40% chance of t-showers on saturday. One has to think this works more to Sparky's favor than it does to the vaunted Air-izona pass happy offense. Squatty guys like Keegan Herring and Dmitri Nance ought to have a field day eluding defenders in soggy conditions.
It's concussion time, motherfuckers.