Kitty Litter

Reflections From A Lost Weekend.

By Tom Danehy

THE AVERAGE UA men's basketball fan has apparently done some growing up over the past few years. Back in the early '90s, when Arizona had that nasty run of three first-round upsets (bracketed around the 1994 Final Four season), people in these parts went bonkers. You would have thought that the letters "u-c-k" had been added to the mascot's name, as in "The Catsuck."

But now, the Cats play like crap, blow a last-minute lead to lose in the first round, and people go "Aw heck, that's all right. Everybody's entitled to a bad game. Hey, this year's freshmen should be really good next year, don't you think?"

Danehy What's going on? People used to be outraged, or at least miffed. Instead, now, they're like...supportive. It's way weird.

Make no mistake about it, Arizona played horribly last week in Milwaukee. They pretty much stank up the place. And for them to create an overpowering odor in an area where the entire population subsists on a diet of beer, cheese and bratwurst is really saying something.

ANOTHER THING WE learned from that game is that the NCAA Tournament selection committee is fallible, sometimes to the extreme. Its process for selecting teams has often come under fire, but generally overlooked is its seeding procedure.

There's no way Oklahoma should have been a 13 seed. The Sooners' win over Arizona was certainly an upset, but then Oklahoma turned around and dismantled 5th-seeded UNC-Charlotte to reach the Sweet 16. Arizona should have beaten them, but Oklahoma, we all found out the hard way, is not bad.

OKLAHOMA'S BIG STAR, Eduardo Najera, wants to be the first Mexican citizen drafted into the NBA. Fine, but first he has to learn how to pronounce his own last name. At first I thought all the announcers, goofy white people that they are, were just butchering it. But then it turns out that he pronounces it with the accent on the last syllable so it sounds Arabic.

When I was a little kid in Southern California, I had this good friend whose last name was Ruiz. In those pre-Brown Pride days, his family insisted on pronouncing it "Reese." Finally, I told him, "Dude, your dad looks like the Frito Bandito and Katy Jurado would play your mom in the movies. Ain't nobody buyin' 'Reese.'"

That was the year I won the Citizenship Award in school.

As for you, Mr. Nah-heh- (long pause) dah!, you have every right to pronounce your last name any way you want. But you need a good explanation and a note from your mom saying it's okay.

THEY HELD A boxing match last Saturday that was supposed to unify the heavyweight alphabet-soup championship, once and for...the next few weeks. But it ended in a draw when one judge voted for Evander Holyfield, another voted for Lennox Lewis, and the third judge called it a tie.

Fans and pundits were enraged, most feeling that Lewis had won a clear decision. People, THIS IS BOXING, a sport where competitors consume each other's body parts, for cryin' out loud. Bad judges are a minor technicality. Quitcher complainin'.

The latest stupid thing in boxing is this new computer which counts the number of punches thrown and those which connect, like that's important. I remember that Joe Frazier would wade on into his opponent, absorbing five or six blows just so he could throw one. If ever there were an overrated stat in sports, it's this one.

I kept hearing on the radio that over a million people purchased the pay-per-view fight in their homes, at the lofty cost of $50 a pop. I want to know where these people are.

The day after the fight, I spoke to at least 30 people who had seen the fight and not one person bought it. There might as well be a store on every corner called "Black Boxes 'R Us."

NOW THAT THEY'VE achieved national status, I look for Joan Bonvicini's women's basketball teams to reach the NCAA Tournament on an annual basis. Is it asking too much to want to watch them play?

CBS has the men's tourney all locked up contractually and they've got a(n imperfect) system which allows everyone in the country to see the hometown team play. But the women are relegated to ESPN 2, with games often on late at night, if at all.

That's fine; the sport is still growing. But there should be a way for local fans to see their team play, seeing as how availability leads to interest and interest eventually equals higher ratings. Why not allow a local station to buy the feed for a low cost, thereby increasing exposure of the sport? Or is that too much common sense to be absorbed at one time?

FINALLY, WHILE RUNNING errands Saturday afternoon, I tuned in to KFFN-AM to keep up on the NCAA scores. But what do I hear instead? A Diamondbacks, split-squad, pre-season, Cactus League, doesn't-mean-shit, nobody cares, exhibition baseball game!

If I'da had a rifle, I would have climbed to the top of a tower at the University of Texas and shot out my radio.

Have you ever heard of the Phoenix Suns subjecting people to a broadcast of a pre-season basketball game? No, and that's yet another reason why baseball is, and shall forever remain, an abomination. TW

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