SO THE CATS started off the Pac-10 season with a loss. No big deal. They've done that four times in the past five years and have gone on each time to grab the league crown. They certainly could have won that game, but ASU always plays the Cats tough in Tempe, and this year's Sun Devil squad is special.
I still look for Arizona to win the Pac-10 title and advance far into the NCAAs, but it won't be easy. There won't be any 16-2 or 17-1 teams this year. The conference champ could very easily be 12-6 or so. That's good for the conference overall and for the teams that advance to the NCAAs.
It's hard to get a feel for this year's team. The real team personality has yet to emerge. I'm mildly disappointed with their record, but I sure like them more than any of the teams that had Sean Rooks or Ed Stokes.
It's already been a strange season and it's not even halfway over yet. First Ben Davis got screwed by the NCAA because they were unable to read his transcripts properly. Then the Cats lost their season opener and failed to win the Great Alaska Shootout against a relatively mediocre field. And then Lute missed a game with a bad back.
One of the reasons I wasn't that bummed out during the loss to ASU was that my kids had gotten their report cards and both of them got straight A's. Again.
I mention this for the benefit of the recent homophobic-gun-nut letter writer who claimed that I had a gay sex slave. While he's having fantasies of plugging drug-crazed minorities, my minority kids are kickin' butt and taking all the scholarships away from white folks like him. Life is unfair.
Speaking of report cards, here's mine for the Cats at this point:
Damon Stoudamire: He's done just about everything that could be expected of him, including almost letting us forget Khalid Reeves. He's an outside scoring threat, a good ballhandler, good passer and surprisingly good rebounder. He coulda' shot that three against ASU a little quicker, but hey, why quibble. GRADE: A-
Reggie Geary: Still a tough defender, still an offensive liability. Not talking as much stuff as last year (thank God) and got lit up by Lawrence Moten of Syracuse. Unselfish, hard worker. GRADE: B+
Joseph Blair: Riding on last year's tournament performance. Missed games because he missed classwork--unbelievable in this day and age, in this program. If he doesn't remove his head from his butt soon, people will start mistaking him for Sean Rooks, which is the worst insult I could come up with. GRADE: C-
Ray Owes: Solid, steady player. I'm getting tired of hearing how he's unsung. Not everybody can be sung, just like not everybody can sing. Just listen to Janet Jackson. GRADE: B
Joe McLean: Does smart things on the floor. Got rid of the anachronistic kneepads. Good passer, better shooter than he's shown thus far, good defender, nice team player. GRADE: B+
Miles Simon: Tough freshman. Started off like an experienced veteran, but has fallen off somewhat since. Still one of the best surprises of the season. Should be a killer in a year or two. GRADE: A-
Ben Davis: As Muhammad Ali said, this is a bad man. Monster on the boards, hard worker on defense, can score if he wants to, won't sulk if he doesn't. And should just keep getting better. GRADE: A
Corey Williams: Showing better shooting tough, inconsistent on defense and on boards. Had the No. 3 spot if he wanted it, but couldn't close the deal. Still, nice to have coming off the bench. GRADE: B
Michael Dickerson: Looks good at times, looks overwhelmed at others. We'll have to wait and see. GRADE: Incomplete
Kelvin Eafon: Looks like a good football player. GRADE: Incomplete.
Jarvis Kelley: Can you spell T-r-a-n-s-f-e-r? How about if you see it written on a wall? Probably a nice guy, but can't see much PT ahead. GRADE: Incomplete.
Marty Barmentloo: Peaked during the Red-Blue Scrimmage. Seems to be having fun, though. GRADE: C
Assistant Coaches: Kept themselves from being sucked into a made-for-The Arizona Daily Star controversy when Greg Hansen tried to get Jessie Evans and Jim Rosborough to backbite each other. Appear to be doling out PT equitably (although we don't understand Davis on the bench in the second half at ASU) and keeping most people happy. Have the team on schedule for the NCAAs. GRADE: A-
Lute: He's Lute, and I'm not stupid. GRADE: A
Team Managers: One of them once wore a tie that didn't match the others'. We can't have that. GRADE D-.
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