Posted on: March 11, 2008 3:33 pm
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My first time

So after following UofA basketball for the better part of the past 20 years, the program has given me a series of firsts.  Here are the highlights of that long, joyous journey.

1989 - Getting Steve Kerr's autograph at the Tucson Mall just after the Sun's had drafted him.
1997 - Actually having a team to cheer for in the National Championship Game
2000-2001 - Seeing the fans and players support for Lute and Bobbi during the toughest times of their lives
2001 - REALLY having a team to cheer for in the NC game (win it for Bobbi).
2002 - Meeting Channing and Luke Walton on campus.  Seeing Lute in person for the first time.
2003 - Going to a sports bar to watch UofA against Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament.  Somehow found the only bar in Arizona with 20 (no joke) Gonzaga Alums in it that day.
2005 - The unbelievable defeat at the hands of Illinois.  Rest of the night I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed.
2006 - Sneaking into the lobby of MY wedding reception to watch some non-UofA tourney games .
2006 (next day) - Postponing my honeymoon so we wouldn't be traveling when UofA faced Villanova in the tourney.
2007 - Attending my first game at McKale.

So lots of ups and downs, and there are many, many more, but these are the ones that really stick out.  Unfortunately 2008 will bring a whole new first for me.  Watching the Selection Sunday show with some sort of anticipation.  I have watched in the past, to see what seed we would be given, but this is the first time I will be watching to see if we are in at all....
Posted on: March 4, 2008 2:36 pm
 

2008 : Best Year for Formula 1 In A Long Time

So, with the Australian GP kicking off the 2008 Formula 1 season in a couple of weeks, I must say that I am more excited for this season than I have been in a very long time.  There are so many variables to and off season changes to the ranks, that should keep the fans guessing right up until the end of the year. 

What I am looking forward to...

1. No more traction control.  Excellent decision by the FIA.  As Formula 1 is the epitome of road racing, these are supposed to be the World's greatest drivers, not the World's greatest on board electronics systems.  Part of being a great driver is having the ability to manipulate weight transfer, wheelspin, and throttle steer.  Should be exciting to watch, with a LOT more slipping and sliding along the way.  Bonus, is there anything worse sounding than the 'blap, blap, blap' of an F1 engine being cut out by the ECU?  Some points to consider.  Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Nelsinho Piquet and all other driver who competed in GP2 over the past 3 years hold the upper hand here as GP2 cars do not have TC.  Another thing to consider, current World Champion Kimi Raikkonen has never driver a true 'car' without TC (went straight from Formula Renault to F1, good eye Peter Sauber).

2. Alonso - Quiet the critics or out yourself as lucky.  Going from McLaren to a lackluster Renault team leaves Alonso with the unique opportunity to either prove that he is one of the greats (only driver to beat Schumacher to the title since 2000, and only current driver to ever do so, farewell Jacques) or to show that he was in the right place at the right time (i.e. Renault and McLaren having superior cars to the rest of the field over the past 3 years).  With Renault's poor showing last year this is Alonso's chance to show that he can pull a team around him to motivate them, help  develop a competitive car, and drive through any technical shortcomings of that car early in the year.  Or its his opportunity to show that he picked the right teams at the right time. 

3. No USGP. Living in the States some might think this is heresy.  My point is the debacle that was the '05 USGP (Please FIA, strike this 'race' from the record books, did Pantero REALLY deserve a podium finish?) and the lack of interest of the sport in the states since, oh about forever, shows that the US should not host an event.  That and the fact that it is possibly the worst F1 track ever (no elevation change, high speed straight, followed by a series of laughable left-right layout with a silly little hairpin) will be good for the sport.  The US should host a GP, but there are better tracks.  Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen, etc.

4. BMW-Sauber - Will they continue their rise to the F1 elite.  I say 'yes'.  They have the budget (BMW), experience (Thiessen), drivers (Heidfeld).  Look for a win or 2 this year, and really competing for the Championship 2-3 years down the road.

5. Lewis Hamilton - No driver has ever come in with the hype that Lewis did, and he delivered last year.  Team in-fighting and rookie mistakes may have cost him the championship, and no one, other teams included, will be underestimating him this year. 

What I'm not looking forward to....

1. Scandal - Please, no spying scandal.  Ruined the season last year.  Not sure who to blame here.  McLaren?  Ferrari? Renault is in the discussion now.  Please FIA, relax your standards a bit.  Engineers switch teams and take information with them, whether it is only in their heads or on paper is a moot point.  Engineers share information.  Anyone who denies this is bonkers.

2. Standard ECU - I'm not against an standardized ECU, but rather that it will be built by McLaren Electronics (guess who owns THAT company).  Don't get me wrong.  I am a huge McLaren fan (only started rooting for Ferrari when Kimi went there), but they should have gone to an outside electronics company to produce the ECU.  Not saying that McLaren will cheat, or even be able to cheat, but they will know the source code better than any other team, and thus be able to tune their engines that much more efficiently and quickly.  Could be a huge advantage early in the year.  FIA should have commisioned these from an outside company (someone not affiliated with F1 or any team competing in F1) and given the teams the ECUs and source code at the same time.

3. Qualifying - System in place for the past 2 years is MUCH better than the single car one lap qualifying of a few years ago.   Still boring though.  I especially take issue with the final round 'fuel burn off' until the final minute when everyone puts their fliers in.  New rules.  No pit stops during qualifying to eliminate one lap out-flier-in laps, no fuel burn credit (i.e. do as few or as many laps as you want, but you must have enough fuel on board for your qualifying session plus however long you want to go for your first stint in the race), and since you can't pit, you can't put up a quick lap early and then refuel.  They say that they went to the knockout quali system because no one watched the first 45 minutes of quali when it was basically 60 minutes of open track (because no one but the cellar dwellers would go out on the track early).  Guess what, no one is watching it now.  Stop pandering to the casual fan and go back to the original system that ensured the quickest cars were up front, not the car who timed the pit stop and one lap flyer just right.

4. PC - Drivers are kept in check so much these days, no one can speak their mind in the open.  As these drivers represent their teams and sponsors 24/7 they can't say anything.  Instead of  "The team put together a real brick in the offseason, and we weren't able to develop it during testing" we will hear "We are confident that as the season progresses we will move up the grid.  The car has  lot of potential, blah, blah, blah"  Right, you can't wait to get out of this team and into better machinery.  Instead of "Yeah, off the start 'driverA' was an absolute madman, forcing me onto the grass.  Could have taken us both out.  I will be lobbying the FIA to investigate" we will be fed "Uhhmmm, he made a nice start and made it very difficult for me in the first corner."  Uh-huh, where is Senna decking Eddie Irvine when you need it. Would be nice if the drivers could speak their minds and stir things up a bit.

5. Jordan/Midland/Spyker/whatever they are now - Would be nice to see a team buy into the sport and stick with it.  We all knew that for Midland this was a VC venture, and I was shocked to see Eddie Jordan sell the team to them.  Then we had hope when Spyker took over.  Now they are out.  Hopefully the new owners are in for the long haul, and want to put this team back up on the sharp end of the grid.  Or if they do sell out, maybe Eddie can come back to run things?  Face it, he's a better team owner than journalist.

All in all, should be a great season.  Can't wait to see who will come out on top, and how the lack of TC gives some of these drivers fits.
Posted on: February 21, 2008 1:01 pm
 

Stanford to Waive Tuition

Check this out.

www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi

To me it looks like Stanford University will waive tuition to families who earn less than $100,000 per year, and waive room and board for families who earn less than $60,000/year.  Of course there are stipulations as far as home equity, etc.

Don't get me wrong, so I'm going to state it here.  I think this is a great idea and I hope more Universities follow this example.  With more and more college students and  graduates coming from oversees (doctors, engineers, etc.) the US has drastically fallen behind the rest of the World when it comes to higher education.  A lot of those graduates are taking their degrees back to their native countries as well.  With a 2 year old, whom I have already set aside a college fund for, my head spins everytime I so much as read the words 'Cost of Tuition'.  So a good idea in my opinion, but I do have questions and concerns.

How will this affect those students and their families who are paying tuition.  Will they be paying more to subsidize this? 

As Stanford is basically the Ivy of the West their admission standards are much higher than most Universities.  60 years ago the board of regents at Harvard came up with a little test to make sure that they get the best talent in the nation, and aren't just admitting those with legacies or those who come with prominent families.  Today we call that test the SAT.  The trouble is that research shows that those who come from well to do families tend to do better on standardized tests, and better in school in general.  So 60 years later, Ivy League schools are basically getting the same students that they would have whether or not the SAT was ever adopted. Is this because these families realize the importance of education and push their kids to succeed?  Is it because those kids are subconnciously given preferential treatment by teachers, administrators, etc. because of their economic and social status?  Are their other factors?  Tough to say.  For more information on this you can check out a great book called "Freakonomics" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.  www.amazon.com/Freakonomics-Revised
-Expanded-Economist-Everything/dp/0
061234001/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1


So my point is, what effect will this have.  Most of the kids who will meet Stanford's strict admission standards will come from well to do families.  Granted, their will be a sizable percentage of students that this will be beneficial to, but how many? 
Posted on: February 21, 2008 11:29 am
 

Defense!!!!! (stomp, stomp, stomp) Oh wait.

So admittedly I only saw the last 10 minutes of the Suns Lakers game last night, so if I'm wrong, please call me on it, but here is what I saw and how I feel about it.

The Suns trade for the aging and ailing Hack, I uh, er, mean Shaq, to give them an inside presence on defense.  The Lakers subsequently scored 130 points....in regulation.  I'm sorry, teams shouldn't being scoring 130 points unless we get to see two overtimes, at least.  See why I like the college game so much more, you actually still play defense!!!  Its not  a big game of "I shoot one, then you shoot one, and after 48 minutes, we'll see who made more."

  Shaq doesn't fit with this Suns offense.  I think Steve Kerr's idea was to have Shaq cherry pick defensive rebounds and launch the ball down court on a fast break opportunity.  I didn't see the Suns with one fast break last night, but I did see the Lakers get 2 or 3.  I also saw Gasol fight harder for rebounds, dunk over Shaq, and drop about 30 points.  I saw Shaq fall on Gasol and Odem. 

I said it from the start.  This was a bad trade, and this isn't going to work out.  I know its only his first game with the team, so we are still experimenting, but I just don't see Shaq being able to run in the West. 

Disagree?  Let me know...
Category: NBA
Posted on: February 19, 2008 3:53 pm
 

Why do I care?

So every year, and more and more so lately (tough last couple of seasons), I start to ask myself, why do I care so much about Arizona Basketball? Anyone who knows me, knows that I rarely miss a game, will call in sick to work for the first games of the PAC-10 tourney (since the first day the games are played in the middle of the day), heck, I even delayed my honeymoon so we wouldn't be traveling on the day that we played Villanova in the national tourney back in 2005. Why am I so fanatical about this program. I have no ties to the program, and really no ties to the school. I've only attended one game in my life (Adams St. earlier this year).

Little background about myself. I was born and raised in Tucson Arizona, right around the time that Lute and Bobbi's program really began to make headlines. I have vivid memories of shooting hoops in my back yard pretending to be Steve Kerr. I remember Lute being revered as royalty in those times, and UofA basketball being all the buzz in Tucson (think 1988-1989). Side note, I had Steve Kerr sign a flyer while he was signing autographs at the Tucson mall right after he was drafted.

Shortly after this (summer of 1989) I moved to Yuma (I wanted to stary in Tucson, but I was only 8 so I had to go where my parents were going). After graduating High School I moved to Dallas, and watched the Blue Devils deny us our second national title. The following fall I enrolled at the U. While attending Arizona, I had absolutely no affiliation with the program. Outside of seeing Lute around campus or town on occasion, and my girlfriend at the time having Luke Walton in a class, nothing.

I transferred to a community college after that first year, so only attended the UofA for a short while. So, I'm not an alumni, hardly went to school there, I don't know anyone within the program, and I've never played organized ball in any form (I wrestled in junior high and high school, and I think I signed a lot of year books with "I'd rather wrestle and get pinned, then to ever play basketball") but man, do I love to watch it.

So what is it? The prestige of the program? Maybe. Fear of being called a fair weather fan, given the recent (relatively) down years? No. I think it may have something to do with the underdog factor. Even in years past, even when holding the #1 ranking, I think UofA has been looked down upon by voters and the rest of the nation. Maybe its because of the way the program works, and the program that Lute put together. You (almost) never hear about a UofA player getting into altercations (Adams' DUI is the only one I can think of off the top of my head), or being on academic suspension (UofA is rated as a Public Ivy for those who didn't know, so Academic Suspension can be a real possibility). I'll sum it up as character. This is a program that Lute built on character, work ethic, and taking care of business. I love to see these kids night in and night out, and if they win, great, if they are having an off night, or an off year, or an off decade, you know that you'll still have at least one fan here.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com