Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Weekend sports round-up


Hi Kari:

Are the BCS people laughing all the way to the bank because they got everybody talking and interested or worried they will have egg all over their faces?

The USC as #1 in human polls but not in the BCS championship game scenario that floated around as the scores from Arrowhead were coming in came to reality on Sunday afternoon.

My feeling has always been either bring back the old bowl system or go with the playoffs. The BCS has neither the charm of the old traditional bowls nor the clarity of a playoff. It is time for the BCS to go. Ian O'Conner of USA Today defends the BCS. I think his argument suits me fine as a reason to go back to the old bowl system.

As a UCLA alum, it will be a tough day on Rose Bowl game day. The BCS supporters want Michigan to win because they want the Sugar Bowl to be the championship game. The East Coast sports pundits want Michigan to win so they can continue to bash the Pac-10. The Big-12, SEC and Big-10 fans want Michigan to win. USC, a sympathetic team? USC, against the world as underdogs? ARGH! What is a UCLA partisan to do?

Meanwhile, this UCLA bball fan is happy with the good effort in the 52-50 defeat to Kentucky. Last year was truly Bruins in ruins.

Have to also say I was pleased that Stanford played some good ball in their win in the other game of the John Wooden classic. Sorry, Kari, I had to mention it. I suspect the jubilation over the KSU mauling of OU in football outweighed a non-conference loss by KU in basketball. Please know that I know it is early in the season and it was a road game so I'm not making any pronouncements about the future success of your favorite basketball team. Coach Williams left lots on the shelf for Self to work with. But for now, how about a mighty roar for the Pac-10?

UCLA is facing hard times with the shelf somewhat bare from the Steve Lavin era. It will be an interesting test case of whether coaching really makes a difference. Lavin's recruits do have potential -- that most dreaded word in assessing athletic talent. Bozman is a junior and showing signs of improvement at the point. Morrison is the kind of athletic hard working gym rat every team needs. Thompson is the offensive star who is starting to play some defense under defense-minded Coach Howland. Fey and Hollins, the two 7-footers, are second year guys with lots of upside. Finally, Ariza, an impact freshman, could be a star when he gets back from a collapsed lung and Cummings can score points for the team in conference play if he regains academic eligibility. These seven should get the lion's share of the minutes. There are several others who may get into the game under some circumstances but aren't expected to be big contributors.

How is the Big-12 looking this year?

Arizona and Stanford are the top dogs in the Pac-10. UCLA, USC, Cal, Oregon and Arizona State are the middle of the pack teams. Oregon State, Washington and Washington State are anticipated to be the bottom feeders.

It is really amazing how poorly the two Washington schools are doing. Gonzaga has taken over as the basketball program in Washington playing in that "powerhouse" West Coast Conference. They took care of Maryland pretty easily and will be facing Missouri and Stanford soon.

Besides UCLA, I'll follow the UC Irvine Anteaters of the Big West Conference. As you know, I went to graduate school there and that the team has never made it to the NCAA March Madness. As someone with a fondness for underdogs, you've understood my affection for the Zots. They are predicted to finish third in the Big West in preseason polls. However, since the Big West is a one-bid conference, if the Anteaters can peak for the post-season conference tournament, they can make it to the NCAA. I'll be sure to blog back now and then about the Anteaters as they clearly fly well below the national media radar.

Be well,
Rene

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