Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Big Wednesday

This will be a good day to get outside and enjoy some of the furtive sunshine.  We won't have much of it over the next week according to my intrepid weatherman Whitney Southwick, the giver of coats to cold women.  Before I chase a sunbeam, let's talk about today's big topics:

  • Tonight's SDSU/Utah game is surprisingly important.  When Utah came off the court at Cox Arena on January 10th, I was sure they were a non-factor in the conference.  Ted Leitner and I were setting there courtside and both agreed the Utes were nowhere near the team athletically or in terms of overall basketball acumen.  Since then, the Utes have gone 6-1, including home squeakers over BYU and New Mexico.  Utah could still conceivably lose both of those road games on the 28th and March 3rd, but to keep things in their control the Aztecs need to storm Huntsman Center and win tonight.  The last time they did so, they wound up winning the Mountain West, in 2006.  If Steve Fisher's guys can get it done tonight, they will likely win the West again.  
  • But can the Aztecs pull off a road win in Salt Lake City without a healthy squad?  Yes, but Utah gets a much better shot at the win if they don't have Wade to deal with.  An ineffective and weakened Wade might be an even bigger problem than no Wade at all.
  • Regardless, my player in the spotlight is Ryan Amoroso.  He has pulled off some of the best games of his career against Luke Nevill and the Utes, matching him point-for-point and rebound-for-rebound in basically every game:
Game 1, at SDSU: Ammo 5-9 FG, 10pts, 8 reb Nevill 5-9 FG, 12pts, 8 reb
Game 2, at Utah: Ammo 5-11 FG, 11pts, 6 reb Nevill 3-7 FG, 10pts, 5 reb
Game 3, at SDSU: Ammo 6-11 FG, 17pts, 8 reb Nevill 4-6 FG, 17pts, 7 reb
  • I watched the two home games of that set in person and was impressed each time with Amoroso's footwork, rooting Nevill out of scoring areas.  That will be tougher on Utah's home court but he remains the key to the game.  
  • Keep an eye on the producion of Utah's lesser lights, such as Lawrence Borha, Carlon Brown, and Shaun Green. It's always the secondary players who flourish on their home court.  Tonight, Cheriet's offense isn't a bonus, it's a necessity.  Gay will have to hit shots and FT's, and the same goes for Spain.  Last year's team would lose this game by 6. Healthy, Aztecs win by 5.  In their uncertain state, this game really feels like a toss-up for me, so I'll take the leap of faith for another big basket late, this one from Richie Williams knifing through the lane past Nevill, and an Aztecs win by 1, 68-67.

  • And so it ends.  Matt Bush is a Blue Jay, and the Padres have a bag of rocks (otherwise known as a PTBNL or cash) to show for their #1 overall pick in 2004.  Tim Stauffer is still in the system but not on the 40-man roster; he's nowhere near the radar of a team hungry for pitching.  That's the #3 overall pick in 2003.  Sandy Alderson has been the popular whipping boy of Padres fans in this city, and he certainly didn't engender much warmth or affection during his term at the top of the team.  But he had no responsibility for Stauffer and Bush, the two biggest reasons why the Padres have been passed by every team in the NL West.  
  • Who is responsible for Matt Bush?  It's easy from the outside to say Kevin Towers and Bill Gayton.  But I have been told by multiple sources in and around the organization that the braintrust had battled between Stephen Drew and Justin Verlander, and settled for the most part on Drew as their pick.  They were then told 3 days prior to the draft quite suddenly and unexpectedly that their budget would be about 1/3 of what they had previously been told.  A scramble led to an upside signability pick from down the street.  The guys paid to find talent were crushed, all their work had been for nothing.  So blame John Moores on the way out the door for breaking the heart of his baseball men by leading them on and then dumping them at the corner on the weekend before draft day 2004.
  • This is Getting Uncomfortable: OK, so Cheri Olvera is a crazy woman who scuttled a Hawaii wedding by refusing to sign the pre-nup, and took swings at Brian Giles, and tried to run him over, and stole his checks for a spending binge.  Those are some of the allegations in Brian Giles' countersuit, an attempt to stem the tide of negative sentiment after the video showing Giles slapping Olvera down in a Phoenix nightclub.  If we're going to listen to Olvera's claims (including a misacarriage at Giles' hands, which he denies), we might as well listen to his claims too.  Oh-kay, abusive relationship all around, got it, slowly backing away...but here's thing: everything Brian says could be true, but the video is him slapping her to the ground.  That's sticky, and that's why Giles is a tough guy to support right now.  
  • I am with Chris Young and not Curt Schilling on this one: the other 103 names on the list should be protected.  That was the deal the players agreed to as they eventually submitted to much more stringent PED testing...the 2003 test was confidential and a survey test.  The players knew it was coming and 104 still tested positive, an indictment of either their stupidity 0r the pervasiveness of PED abuse.  I lean to the latter.  But regardless, they took those tests after negotiating their confidentiality, and to have that breached is wrong.  It's salacious and sensational to hear that ARod's a doper, and we want 103 more gotchas (wow!  Jeff Fassero's a DOPER MAN!  GOTCHA!  Doug Mientkiewicz?  WHAMMO!)  to satisfy the thirst of the hungry baseball mob.  But it was the grudging willingness of those PED-injecting baseball players to test that led to what is in place now, so I think it is only fair to keep those results a secret.  It will never happen, of course, more names will eventually be revealed...but Young's point that there are both false positives and false negatives in that set of results is a valid one.  
  • The death of Jeremy Lusk is shocking, particularly in that the video is being played on the Today Show this morning.  Inappropriate, maybe?  If showing Chris Young getting his nose broken was a mortal sin for Channel 4, maybe showing a guy getting his spine crushed and dying should be a no-no.  (Update: it appears the video could have been a similar crash in which he did not die.  The tastelessness remains, but waiting to confirm.)  My heart goes out to his family and anyone who knows him.  For the sport, is this a deal breaker?  Can they continue competitively pushing the envelope with bigger and more dangerous jumps and just allow deaths to continue?  
  • If you like the blog, let someone know about it!  Happy to connect, cross-link, add followers, friends on Facebook, etc.  Also, let's make a post into a conversation with the comments section.  And stay tuned for podcasts coming soon, as well as the possible addition of another familiar San Diego sports voice!  Now, time to go find that sunbeam!

1 comment:

  1. This should be an absolute beauty tonight between the Aztecs and Utes! I actually like our chances to steal one at the Huntsman Center, where Steve Fisher coached Aztec teams are 1-9 (including the '06 NCAA game against Indiana). I really think the matchups favor the Aztecs--better speed, quickness, athleticism, the ability to play physical......The one thing that really concerns me with Utah is their outside shooting with Drca, Kepkay, and Shaun Green. Oh yeah, and Laurence Bohra.......that guy has a nasty habit of coming up BIG against the Aztecs!

    By the way Craig: Excellent comparison on the head-to-head between Ammo and Nevill! It's what Aztec fans have been saying for some time, that Ammo OWNS Nevill! (There is a t-shirt mock up that puts it another way, but we'll keep it 'G' rated here.) If Ammo can continue to limit Lurch the way he has the previous three games, it definitely bodes well for an Aztec victory tonight!