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December 23, 2010 4:08 PM

Column Awards of the Week (12/15-12/21)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particularly passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgCongratulations to the UConn women for winning their 89th game in a row. Should they be compared to the UCLA men's team from the '70s? Maybe as all things like these are debated over a glass of beer. The point is - who cares? Who cares to compare them? They're both amazing accomplishments in their own right. Now when writing about that UCLA team it will read, "who own the longest streak in men's college basketball." Was that so hard? There doesn't even have to be a mention of the UConn women. There's no need to even enter into that argument.

The angle I do find interesting about the UConn women's team is if this streak is good for women's basketball. I believe the amount of attention they're bringing to the sport is good for it. There are two things that currently bring attention to women's hoops: UConn's streak and Brittney Griner. And if Baylor and UConn wind up playing for the national championship it should draw good ratings.

Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports doesn't believe the streak is good the sport but he does bring up an interesting point: "The talent pool for women's basketball remains shallow. Check out the scores on any given day, and you'll see grotesque, high school-level blowouts. It's not just UConn blowing out the No. 11 Buckeyes. It's Duke blowing out undefeated Oklahoma State 73-45. And Stanford blowing out two-loss Fresno State 77-40. And Iowa State blowing out Columbia 73-27. And that was just one day last week." This made me realize women's college hoops needs contraction. The major talent all go to the top 5 programs (and UConn probably scores more than the other four combined) and the rest of the talent is so spread out among schools that it results in these colossal blowouts. Imagine if there were 30 college teams and only the best of the best athletes played. The competition would be fierce and the sport would be much easier to follow. Of course, something like this is impossible because what schools would be willing to give up their women's program and subsequently drop male athletes as well to comply with Title IX.

Where Doyel and I disagree is where he likens the recruits to LeBron, Wade and Bosh heading to the Heat and questions the recruits' desire for competition and a challenge. "Practice is the only competition the typical UConn signee will ever face. They have to win playing time, but either way they'll be on a team almost guaranteed to win 35-plus games and reach the Final Four." I actually completely agree with that statement but completely disagree with the premise. The reason they go to UConn is for competition and a challenge. They are challenged by their coach and other players and get those practices are more competitive than any regular season game. They practice against each other and against a highly-skilled practice squad of men. This is why they wind up blowing everyone out. The practices are so tough that the games are easy.

Hopefully women's college hoops can continue to make gains in the public eye and increase ratings and revenue and that will eventually create more parity. Until then, just enjoy UConn's dominance the way you would enjoy similar dominance on the men's side. On to the awards!


Saying What No One Is Thinking

Billy Witz of Fox Sports wrote about the raised expectations for the Lakers now that Bynum is back: There will be less tolerance for listless performances and if they rattle off a few wins in a row, they'll have to start answering questions - as they did in October -- about 72 wins.

WHAT?? At the time this was written, they had already lost seven games. They have now lost eight. They would have to go
-WHAT?? They ALREADY have 7 losses. They would have to go 51-2 to finish the season. NO ONE is asking them about 72. In fact, they're probably asking if they'll even win the Western Conference. They currently sit in third place behind the Spurs and the Mavericks.


Best Imagery

Jennifer Floyd Engel of the Fort Worth Star Telegram is afraid the Rangers are going to make some stupid moves after not re-signing Cliff Lee: My fear with the Rangers is they are drunk dialing the Royals and Rays right now, being lured into overpaying for Zack Greinke and Matt Garza to appease a fan base that had its sports heart broken.
This is not Cleveland, so nobody has burned anything publicly, yet media and fans already have started clamoring for them to go trade-and-sign and fill the hole left by Cliff.

I love the thought of Nolan Ryan drunkenly calling up Rays owner Stuart Sternberg. "What up Stu-bird! I really love that Garza kid. How bout you and me make a deal? Don't make me put you in a headlock. You've seen that clip right? That was awesome! Alright, well you lemme know so we can get this thing rolling." And more Cleveland bashing? It seems like every columnists go-to city to make fun of right now is Cleveland.

Best Use of Sarcasm?
I can't quite tell if this is supposed to be sarcasm or not. I'll let you decide. Here is Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer on Andrew Luck: Scouts talk about him even more warmly than they talked about other coveted quarterbacks such as David Carr, Tim Couch, Jim Druckenmiller, Joey Harrington, David Klingler, Ryan Leaf, Matt Leinart, Todd Marinovich, Cade McNown, JaMarcus Russell and Akili Smith.
Scouts love Luck. The Panthers have never had a franchise quarterback. They've never had a quarterback who could lift them when nothing else worked. Most teams don't. Luck could be that quarterback.


I assume he likes Luck but is inferring that he's certainly not a sure thing. It seems like it's trying to temper expectations for those that think Luck will come in and immediately turn the Panthers around. But those fans have reason to have that type of hope with QBs like Matt Ryan and Sam Bradford doing exactly that.

Analogy That Misses the Mark
Edwin Pope of the Miami Herald rails on the Dolphins for their pathetic offense recently: Sunday's finish gave the Dolphins totals of 10, 10 and 14 points of offense in their past three games. Soccer, anyone?

What soccer team scores 14 goals? If soccer were that high-scoring maybe Americans could get into it. It's not like they scored, 7, 3 and 0 points. Baseball would've been a better comparison and even that would've been off the mark.

Most Ignorant Column

David Whitley of FanHouse penned an article about how the Bears and Vikings shouldn't have been complaining about playing in the cold this past Monday at TFC Stadium. He thinks players nowadays are pampered and wimps. I'd like him to tell that to the players themselves. The cold was never the concern. You see players all the time in games well-below freezing in short sleeves. The issue was the turf being ice cold. Yes, players played in worse conditions in the past but they also suffered the consequences. The game is brutal enough without making the playing surface feel like cement.


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