Four Play

A number of reasons the Cats are headed for a championship.

Despite having been raised by an Italian mother who believed that the Evil Eye was an effective tool for political change and an Irish father who saw leprechauns (especially on Saturday nights), I've never been superstitious. In fact, I think it's bad luck to be superstitious. Alas, this isn't a universally accepted principle among the Danehy Clan.

My wife, who has more college degrees than the entire faculty at ASU (the over/under on that deal would be 3), is well-versed in folklore, old wives tales and superstitions. She may even believe in a couple of them, although I'm not crazy enough to ask her. When my daughter was playing on a championship team in high school, she wore the same hair tie the entire season without washing it. By the end of the season it smelled like the shampoo she was using was Herbal Putrescence. And my son, who is a teen columnist for the Citizen, recently wrote an entire column about the mystical properties of the number four.

As with most cases, I thought he was nuts, but then I looked deeper. Hey, there are FOUR letters in "Cats," as well as in "U of A" and "Lute." Plus, Arizona is going to the Final FOUR for the FOURth time. As Alexander would say, it's positively eerie.

I did some further checking. The links are everywhere. For example, FOUR is:

· The number of words that Bill Walton (who is ostensibly the sidekick on TV broadcasts) feels obligated to say for every one word uttered by game announcer Dick Enberg. I loved Bill Walton as a player (in fact, I'll still argue that he was the best college player ever), and I respect what he has done as a father, but as an announcer, he sucks moving trailer hitches.

The game against Illinois was brutal and absolutely drenched with emotion. We didn't need Walton slathering on the hyperbole on virtually every possession. I watched the game on tape and it got so bad, I hit the "mute" button. Several people I know watched the game on TV and listened to Brian Jeffries call the game on the radio.

Remember that old joke about what did the Deadhead say when he sobered up? "Wow, this music sucks!" I'm betting that Deadheads probably find Walton profound. The rest of us are actually capable of watching a game and discerning our own level of drama and excitement without being yammered at incessantly.

· The number of non-senior starters on the squad. The Cats could be even better next year if they all stick around for another season.

· The number of different pronunciations used by announcers for Eugene Edgerson's last name. Would somebody please ask him how he would prefer it to be said and then let's try for some uniformity.

His is one of the better stories last week, and not all that stuff about his having graduated. We've only been told that about eight thousand times. What was amazing was that he actually helped his team on the floor in a pressure situation. And he was so impressive that Lute Olson kept stud monster Michael Wright on the bench during crunch time.

· The number of phases Edgerson has gone through in his playing career at Arizona. He started off as a Con, best known for delivering a cheap-shot elbow to the face of a BYU player. It was an embarrassment to the program and the coaching staff, one that still hasn't been forgiven in the minds of many local fans.

He then became a Clown, adopting a garishly retro style of dress and appearance to help take attention away from the fact that he really wasn't a very good player. Fans loved the big Afro and old shoes, and why not? They had Michael Wright and Loren Woods to do the actual playing. Edgerson was a delightful sideshow, comic relief, if you will.

Then, early this season, he became a Cry-Baby over playing time. With tragedy swirling around the program and the team in splinters, he decided to whine about playing time. Apparently, somebody took him aside and shoved a big ol' Chuck Taylor Converse up his butt, because he came back contrite and just played hard, if not always well. He even said one time that he was positioning himself for a pro career. Dude, I wish you the best, but if you play pro ball anywhere on this Earth, it'll be in a place where everybody's last name ends in a vowel and the stadium's marquee will occasionally have the message: "Tonight's Game Postponed Due To Rebel Insurgency."

But now--surprise, surprise--he has become a Contributor. He's hitting the boards, playing defense and providing a controlled toughness. As for his shooting--well, he still couldn't throw a marble in the ocean if he were standing in the surf. But at least he doesn't stink any more.

As for this beating to death of the story of his taking a year off to student teach--ENOUGH ALREADY! He got a college degree? He's a college student! That's what he's supposed to do! It's like when Chris Rock hears black fathers being praised for taking care of their kids. "That's their kids!" he screams. When all is said and done, it's rather pathetic that Edgerson's educational situation is so unique among UA basketball players.

· FOUR will be the margin of victory in the title game over the team with FOUR letters in its name--Duke.

· And finally, FOUR is the average IQ of the idiots who will use the Cats' victory as an excuse to act a fool. They'll drink too much, they'll destroy property, they'll risk the safety of others, and in the process, they'll disgrace the team, the school and Tucson, in general.

And where will they gather to do this? On FOURth Avenue, of course.