I promise you, I did not want to be writing this.
Yes, I predicted the Aztecs would lose to the Arizona Wildcats, and that their season would come to an end Thursday night. But I derive no pleasure from being correct.
I watched the Aztecs game, cheering them on and enjoying their early lead, but two second-half runs by the Arizona offense showed the difference in talent between the two squads. Even when freshman forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson fouled out with almost 5 minutes left in the game, the Wildcats had junior guard Nick Johnson to lean on. Despite missing his first 10 shots, Johnson scored 15 points in the final 2:45. The Aztecs offense, up against the powerful Arizona defense, had no answer for him. The Wildcats ended up winning by 6.
Xavier Thames was again the only SDSU player with any hope of scoring consistently. He picked up 25 points on 22 shots, despite going 1-for-6 from three-point range. Coming off the bench, Dwayne Polee was the team’s second leading scorer with 13 points on nine shots. The team, as a whole, failed to move the basketball and did not seem to execute many offensive plays. They finished with just three total assists, as a team, and no player with more than one. By comparison, Arizona had 14 assists and four players had more than one.
The Aztecs played their hearts out, in the tournament and all season. They deserve our congratulations for a fantastic year. This was, essentially, supposed to be a “bridge year” between the last generation of Steve Fisher’s top recruits and the next generation on the horizon. The only reason they got as far as they did is because they played as a team and took pride in their identity as a nightmare for opposing offenses. Fisher may have been outdone by a few teams in terms of talent on the court this year, but he was never out-coached.
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Where Did the Padres Put the Super Glue and Duct Tape?
The first game of the Padres’ season is Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. By this time next week, baseball will be in full swing. As you look to get caught up on everything going on with the Padres, you’ll want to focus on injuries. They are the biggest factor in determining how the beginning of the season will go for Bud Black’s team. Here’s the full rundown:
• Josh Johnson, signed this offseason to be the ace of the pitching staff, will miss at least the first month of the season with a flexor strain in his right forearm.
• Joe Wieland, who was expected to win a role in the team’s starting rotation despite missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his elbow and will miss at least half of the 2014 season.
• Corey Luebke, who was supposed to play an important role in this year’s starting rotation after missing last season with Tommy John surgery, has gone back under the knife for a second Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm. He’ll miss the entire season, again.
• Chase Headley, who under-performed last year due to injury issues (a broken thumb to start the year, knee surgery at the end of the year), is just now getting on the field at Spring Training following a calf injury.
• Yasmani Grandal, who missed most of last season with a PED suspension and a torn ACL, is apparently healthy enough to make the Padres’ Opening Day roster, but not healthy enough to serve as a full-time starter or a full-time backup. For this reason, the team is considering starting the season with three catchers.
• Cameron Maybin will miss two to three months with a torn bicep tendon, an injury he received when diving to catch a ball in an early Spring Training game.
• Carlos Quentin, always an injury waiting to happen with his rickety old knees, was scratched from a game on Wednesday due to soreness in his left knee.
Don’t fret. There’s plenty of reason for optimism for the Padres this season. But the team will need to play well in spite of these injuries to avoid digging themselves into an early hole. Coaches, players and fans would much rather see Johnson and Maybin returning to a team that is at or above .500 in a month or two, acting as the final pieces to put the team in the thick of the NL West race, than see them returning as “saviors” who could help the team get back to .500 after a slow start.
Either way, when they return, there will be plenty of vegetables to eat in the Padres’ bullpen garden.
Drifting Along With the Tumbling Tumbleweeds
The last week has been quite quiet for the San Diego Chargers, which is exactly what the team wants.
• The team received zero compensatory draft picks as a result for the 2013 offseason, but they likely weren’t expecting one.
• The NFL’s Owners Meetings resulted in a few minor rule changes in the upcoming season and an announcement that they will experiment with extra point field goals during the preseason.
• Legendary Buffalo Bills owner/founder and one of the founding fathers of the AFL, Ralph Wilson, passed away this week at the age of 95.
Stories You May Have Missed
• In a groundbreaking ruling that has already begun to shake the NCAA up a bit, the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago has determined that Northwestern’s football players are employees and can form a union. This is going to get messy, and the scare tactics have already begun.
• The San Antonio Spurs are in the middle of the longest winning streak of the NBA season and their most important player might just be former SDSU Aztec Kawhi Leonard.
• SELF magazine is probably feeling the self-pity about now. NBC San Diego reports that the mag asked a San Diego woman if it could use a picture of her running a marathon in a Wonder Woman costume. She agreed – but the mag ended up using the photo to make fun of her outfit. Turns out the woman was in the midst of chemo treatment for brain cancer when she ran the marathon. That Wonder Woman costume was pretty appropriate after all.
• If you happen to be stuck at work during the two early NCAA Tournament games Friday, you can watch them live online here.
• Video of the Week: This one is good for fans of Johnny Cash, the Dodgers or general comedy. Make sure you’re somewhere where you can laugh very loudly before starting this one up.
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