Friday, January 09, 2004

Hoops heaven

Taking the New Year’s shift gives me Saturday off – perfect because I can now watch the Arizona-Stanford game in a proper setting. I plan to join the General (and perhaps the Simpsons) for some pitchers and top-notch basketball.
I can’t for the life of me figure out why there’s minimal national buzz about this game. A match between No. 3 and No. 4? The West Coast’s two premiere programs, a series that is as tight and exciting as any in the country over the last several years and there’s hardly any attention.
It’s on the Web as ESPN’s marquee matchup, but it’s still referred to as just a Pac 10 game. Both these teams will be ranked No. 1 at some time in the year and beat the top one-two punch of any conference in the nation.
Stanford is undefeated and has knocked off a No. 1 team in Kansas. Meanwhile, Arizona’s only loss was by 1 point on the road to the then-No. 1 Florida. Josh Childress, touted in the preseason as Stanford’s top player – although I wouldn’t be too sure of that anymore with Lottich’s 34 points – has just returned to the lineup. But Arizona’s newest – 6 foot 10 Serb Ivan Radenovich – is amazingly multi-faceted and a dream fit for the team.
Look for Olson to outshine Montgomery and the Wildcats to outplay Stanford everywhere it counts – on the break, on the boards, defensive quickness and from behind the arc. And here’s a promise that Andre and Hassan will each – again – deliver stunning highlight reel slams. It wouldn’t be an Arizona game without it.