Filler Brain Drain

By Tom Danehy

IT'S JUST MY opinion, but... The current UA men's basketball team is turning into one of my favorites in the entire Lute Olson era. They're like those scrappy Pete Williams teams in the mid-'80s. They play hard and they play smart.

Danehy By losing those two nasty one-point games (to Washington at home and at UCLA), the Cats have probably blown any chance they had to play the first two NCAA Tournament games at ASU, but they still should be able to get into the Sweet 16.

This has been a very strange season for the Cats. Two home-court losses, the miracle-shot win over Cincinnati, the bizarre ending at UCLA, two conference losses on horrible last-second calls, and the ineligibility of Joseph Blair.

Blair was a sure thing before he pulled the million-dollar blunder, while Davis was toiling in inconsistent anonymity. But when Blair went away, Davis went nuts. He recorded 11 double-doubles (double figures in scoring and rebounding) in 13 games and was a major factor in stabilizing the Cats when the team very easily could have gone into a tailspin.

I'm not sure if Davis has the size to make it in the NBA, but his performance in the second half of the season certainly will earn him a shot. And for that he can thank Joseph Blair and Blair's very costly study habits (or lack thereof).

• Just when you think the Arizona State Legislature is the stupidest collection of humanoids on Earth, there comes word another legislative body may have trumped our local loonies.

The Oklahoma State Legislature has made it illegal to wrestle bears in bars. Apparently, this was a popular pastime in Oklahoma, even after all of the trailer parks got wired for cable TV.

But now it's punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Amazingly, it was attached as a rider on another bill which increased the punishment for wife beating to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

The message is clear: You slap old Ella Mae around, you'll pay. But if you rassle a b'ar, you'll pay big time.

• I knew Neil O'Donnell had to be distraught after throwing those two horrible interceptions that cost the Pittsburgh Steelers a shot at winning the Super Bowl, but I didn't know it was this bad. He signed a five-year contract with the New York Jets, virtually guaranteeing that he'll never throw another pass of any kind in a Super Bowl.

• It was announced last week that the San Diego Padres and New York Mets will play a three-game series during the regular season in Monterrey, Mexico. The switch was necessitated because Jack Murphy Stadium will be occupied with peripheral events relating to the Republican National Convention, which will be in San Diego the third week of August.

If the Republican nod hasn't been decided yet, I'm sure the candidates will all use the series as fodder. Pat Buchanan will claim there are fewer Mexican citizens living in Monterrey than there are in San Diego. Bob Dole will try to tell a story about the time he met Lou Gehrig, but then he'll forget the punch line. And Steve Forbes will claim that having the New York Mets play in blue uniforms in Mexico is proof the flat tax works.

The thing to really look for is the clash of cultures. Half of Tucson usually spends the third week in August in San Diego. With all those Tucsonans and Republicans there at the same time, you could have the bloodiest mess since Chicago in '68.

• That was a cute story last week about the New Mexico guy who tried to get Olympics tickets, but was originally turned down because the person in Atlanta thought he was from a foreign country.

The guy ended up having them sent to an address in Phoenix, where he "maintains a separate residence." I'm sure all the punch lines have been used up concerning the geography snafu. What I want to know is what must New Mexico pay its state employees to allow this guy to have a second house in Phoenix. And where do we apply?

• You'll love this one. The University of Arkansas announced that basketball players Jesse Pate, the team's leading scorer, and Sunday Adebayo (yeah, that's his name), the team's leading rebounder, are both ineligible for the rest of this season and all of next because of irregularities in their junior-college transcripts.

However, both players can stay at Arkansas and not play or transfer to another school and play immediately next season. Plus, Arkansas won't have to forfeit any games, even though those two were a major part of the Hogs' (somewhat-limited) success this year.

Just put that one in the NCAA Is A Big Joke file.

• Obnoxious Chicago Bulls fans (which include my two pals, Skippy and Masai) are getting in the way of my appreciating what may be the best NBA team ever. With the Bulls running out to a 50-6 mark (the best ever at that point in any NBA season), they have a real good shot at beating the NBA record of 69-13, set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

The Bulls are playing great basketball, with Michael Jordan leading the league in scoring, Dennis Rodman leading the league in rebounding, and Scottie Pippen having an MVP season. But their fans need to tone it down just a few notches.

Remember these three things:

1. The Bulls aren't the world champions; the Houston Rockets are.

2. Lots of teams have gotten off to blazing starts, but not all of them have finished on top.

3. Dennis Rodman is still Dennis Rodman. Last year he waited until the Western Conference finals before his brain (and game) turned into lemon meringue pie. If that doesn't happen this year, good for him. But let's wait and see.

There's a long way to go. TW

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