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Tuesday Morning Point Guard

December 18, 2003 Columns No Comments

Tuesday Morning Point Guard

by Dean Austin

Rather more Thursday Morning Point Guard than Tuesday Morning this week. And given my current state it occurs to me that you never see a notice that a columnist is out sick. Peter King, Don Banks, Dick Vitale etc. etc. they occasionally take a vacation but never does it say they are out sick. So for those of you who want continuity in the columnist world, I was on vacation at the start of the week. For the rest of you the Creeping Crud visited the Austin household and what follows is an abbreviated Tuesday Morning Point Guard.

Ten College Basketball Thoughts

1. Showing an emotional fortitude of iron I was so impressed with the play of Louisville’s Francisco Garcia during the Cardinals defeat of Florida. Days removed from the death of his brother, Garcia led Louisville to a 73-65 win that was far more convincing than the final score.

1a: With 18 turnovers and a defense that could be called anemic, at best, Florida’s lack of hustle was appalling. The antithesis of their head coach, Billy Donovan, during his playing days, there are times I think the Gators recruit too many great players and not enough of the building block team guys that you also need to win.

2. Yes it would be easy to be all smug about the Gonzaga “upset” of Missouri but I’m not that shallow and self centered; well at least not in public. In fact Missouri showed that they are a good team, one that could be a serious factor come March. My point has always been that at this juncture in the season the Tigers have done nothing to achieve their lofty poll status. Multiple great recruiting classes does not a great team make, at least not yet.

3. Intriguing match up this weekend in the Pete Newell Challenge between Gonzaga and Stanford who have both knocked off Big 12 competition, the aforementioned Missouri and Kansas respectively. Mike Montgomery’s men have been playing without their star Josh Childress who continues to battle a left foot injury. Unlike last week, there’s no clear outcome.

4. The Pete Newell Challenge also sees St. Joseph’s play Cal. A month ago I would have been touting Cal to pull the upset; they certainly have the coach and team. However given Cal’s extremely poor 3-3 start, this looks like the Jameer Nelson coming out party for those of us on the left coast, however late, who are finally figuring out just how good this kid is.

5. I completely agree with Dick Vitale that Indiana should honor Bob Knight with the naming of an arena/building. I’m sure Dickie V sits at home each night saying to himself, “I hope Dean Austin agrees with me,” but for what it’s worth add in my vote.

6. Yeah Florida State is 8-0, but talk to me after they’ve played Pitt on the 22nd.

7. My comment about Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, that he’s one of the top 10 coaches in the game, got me thinking. Who are the Top 10 coaches in the game? When you start to sit down and make a list it quickly becomes a lot more than ten. Who would you leave out and why? Over the next couple of columns I’ll answer that one.

8. I’m curious as to what more Oklahoma has to do to get respect. A great team last year, followed by solid recruiting and a 7-0 start. They’ve beaten up on the teams they should cream, played tough on the road against a useful Michigan State squad and knocked off Purdue by a couple of points. Where’s the love?

9. What has happened to the proud tradition that was St. John’s? A record of 2-4 and loses to Fairfield and Hofstra. No disrespect to those two schools, but they are not exactly North Carolina and Connecticut. Mike Jarvis has to be hearing footsteps at this point. Over at Manhattan, Luis Flores is a senior and it might be the time for Coach Bobby Gonzalez to move on.

10. The game I’d pay money to see this week: Wake Forest at North Carolina. This is a fascinating ACC match up which I will discuss further in my Thursday column, although given the circumstances it may be a Friday column – you’ve been warned. With apologies to the Wake Forest fans that have been particularly vocal, both teams are ranked on the basis of reputation. That being said both have terrific personnel and should be significant players in the ACC battle this year.

Five Non-College Basketball Sports thoughts

1. Well, well, advantage Red Sox. The decision of Andy Pettitte to forsake the Yankees extra wads of cash and pitch closer to home in Houston is, I believe, an important one. Not for the regular season, but for the playoffs. I’d call Pedro and Schilling vs. Mussina and Vazquez a wash at the top of the rotation. Pettitte’s reputation as a big game pitcher was an important psychological factor when he was trotted out. Although only 13-8 lifetime in the post season, Pettitte’s 6-1 League Championship record tells the story of just how crucial he has been the last eight years.

1a: Remember that famous saying from Baseball’s past, “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain?” Pedro and Schilling and Lowe God willing is going to be the mantra in Boston unless they can get a great third starter.

2. Kudos to the fine folk at ESPN for grabbing the “Getting’ Miggy with it” headline first when shortstop Miguel Tejada signed with Baltimore, but the Tejada signing shows everything that is wrong with the Orioles franchise. Great pitching wins in the long run. A great offense is good and if the rumored signings of Vladimir Guerrero and Pudge Rodriguez are true then it is a great offense. However the Orioles pitching is one for the Birds. At this point Jason Johnson appears to be Baltimore’s ace when he’s more suited to be a number four starter. Kurt Ainsworth, picked up from San Francisco at the trading deadline is a move the Giants will regret for the next ten years and he has the stuff to be a staff ace, but not this year.

3. Anyone else notice that the Toronto Blue Jays are quietly putting together a nice starting staff? No, I’m not going to tell you who, go look it up. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Throw in an improving Devil Ray Squad and it’s going to be a fascinating AL East this year.

4. Obviously Dan Reeves was the problem in Atlanta. Not! Michael Vick was absolutely throttled by the Colts’ defense and this bodes very well for Manning and co to finally win a Playoff game.

5. Bad bad trade by the Cavaliers this week in sending Ricky Davis to Boston. As soon as they won the No. 1 pick in the lottery Davis should have been shipped out. Now, negotiating from a position of weakness Cleveland also gives up on former Texas center Chris Mihm who was finally starting to come around.

And a couple of Non-Sporting Thoughts

1. Normally I shy away from politics, especially in an irreverent sports column but the capture of Saddam Hussein is an exception. Nor will I take the easy way out and not profess an opinion on the War. I believe we did the right thing for the wrong reasons, a position no doubt that will tick off folks on both sides of the political spectrum. What I do want to say is congratulations to our men and woman in uniform on a job well done, and to wish them all a safe and speedy return home.

2. Back to the irreverence… And speaking of soundtracks I started listening to Crimson Tide this past week. Composer Hans Zimmer at the top of his game with the track Roll Tide one that you will immediately recognize.

3. More book tips for those of you who like Ludlum, Morrell etc. For those long days visiting the in-laws, find a local used book store and check out Jon Land. His most recent work featuring Danielle Barnea and Ben Kamal is only so-so, better than most on the market, but not up to his early standards. For evidence of that check out Council of Ten, The Omega Command, The Eighth Trumpet and the classic Ninth Dominion.


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