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.