Sports Section Syndicated – March 11th, 2008
This edition of Sports Section Syndicated puts the ball in OJ Mayo’s court, and questions whether or not he has the influence on USC that he thought he’d have.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times: Barring an unexpected run to the Final Four or an even more unlikely return for a second season of college basketball, Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo hasn’t had quite the impact he envisioned 15 months ago… USC didn’t suddenly become a college basketball blueblood. In fact, the Trojans are still very much the undercard in their own town… So, if it was a legacy Mayo was looking for when he surprised everyone by trekking across the country from Huntington, W.Va., to play for the Trojans, those apparently are built in more than one season… “If O.J. goes into the NBA this year, then no, it’s not going to have more effect than a Nick Young or somebody else who helped them win games,” said former Stanford coach Mike Montgomery, an FSN analyst and a self-professed critic of a system that allows players to leap to the NBA after one college season. “If he stayed three years, led them to the Final Four, was a two-time All-American, first-round draft pick, then yeah”… For one season, though, there is no debating Mayo’s impact. Averaging 20.9 points, he’s already established a school record for points by a freshman and has been selected first-team All-Pacific 10 Conference.
Tim Legler of ESPN.com: The Rockets are now sitting on the victorious 19th hole after the 91-73 win Monday over the Nets, and have a very good chance of surpassing the second-longest win streak in NBA history, the 20 compiled by the Bucks in 1970-71 season. The Rockets need a win over playoff-hungry Atlanta on Wednesday and then at home against Charlotte Bobcats on Friday. The record is 33 straight set by the 1971-72 Lakers… Right now, the Rockets have the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed in their sights, sitting one game behind the Spurs and Lakers, who are tied for first. It’s been a quick rise, using a NBA-best 28-4 mark since Jan. 1 to vault from out of the race to having a chance at the No. 1 seed in the competitive West… Of greater significance, let’s jump ahead to next week, putting aside what happens in the next two games. Starting Sunday, the road ahead will bring some challenges, with five games against the Lakers, Celtics, Hornets, Warriors and Suns approaching… They might go 2-3 in those five games, and some might write them off as a fraud. But that judgment based on wins and losses would be wrong. You’re going to drop some games in this league, even if you’re a team as hot as the Rockets… What’s more important to me is how they compete, and if they are able to do the same things defensively. Even if they lost some games, I want to see if they make teams miserable with their defense. Stifling half-court defense is the name of the game in the playoffs.
This streak has shown us that the Houston style would be tough for many teams to deal with in the postseason.
Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News: Memo to Jerry Jones: Don’t even think about acquiring Pacman Jones… Not today. Not next month. Not ever… He ain’t worth it… You can’t trust him. How could you? We have 44 strip clubs in Dallas. Another 14 in Fort Worth. And eight more in Arlington… You don’t have enough security to prevent him from “making it rain” in Dallas-Fort Worth. Even if you did, he could fly down to Houston on his off day and find 45 more strip clubs. Or head to Austin, which has 14 strip clubs. Or San Antonio, which has 20 topless joints… Pacman is currently serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s player conduct policy time after time after time… He didn’t even play last year, and there’s no guarantee league commissioner Roger Goodell will let him play this year. You know why? He makes dumb decision after dumb decision after dumb decision.
J. Brady McCollough of the Kansas City Star: Four Kansas basketball players received first-team votes for the Associated Press’ All-Big 12 team, but no members of KU’s regular-season co-championship team made the final cut… Perhaps the 19 voters in charge of deciding the AP’s team should have held a caucus to choose one Jayhawk that would receive their vote. That way, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers and Darnell Jackson wouldn’t have split the vote and left Kansas off the first team entirely… But it’s only fitting, really, a tribute to the balance that led KU to a 13-3 league record. Other than Kansas, only Kansas State had more than one player receive a first-team vote… “I can see how that would happen with our team,” KU coach Bill Self said. “You could look at our team, and who’s the best player depends on what game you watch”… K-State’s Michael Beasley and Texas’ D.J. Augustin were unanimous selections for the AP’s first team. Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin, Baylor’s Curtis Jerrells and Nebraska’s Aleks Maric rounded out the group. Three Jayhawks — Rush, Arthur and Chalmers — were voted to the second team, and Jackson made the third team… Self hinted that statistics probably shouldn’t be such a factor in judging his squad… “You could take a Darrell Arthur and put him on another team, and he wouldn’t average 14 points per game,” Self said. “And you could take some players and put them on our team, and maybe they wouldn’t average the same amount”… The Big 12 coaches also released their All-Big 12 teams on Monday, and theirs might have made it all OK for Kansas. Rush and Arthur were both voted to the first team, which had six players because of a tie in the voting. In the coaches’ edition, the KU players replaced Maric… Predictably, Beasley took home awards for player of the year and freshman of the year. Missouri’s DeMarre Carroll won the newcomer of the year, and KU’s Sherron Colllins was given the sixth-man award despite playing through injuries all season.