Friday, June 15th Quick Hitters: Arizona Sports Teams Edition

I haven’t written a Quick Hitters column in month so time to bring it back this time with an Arizona sports-only theme!

-First, let me commend the Diamondbacks for turning things around quickly after it seemed like their season was going in the absolute dumpster. It also helped that Paul Goldschmidt hit .620 last week. Assuming A.J. Pollock comes back and produces at a solid level by the All Star Break, it might be an exciting 2nd half for this squad.

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-But if you think I’m picking them to win the division, as of now, well…yes I am. I have a feeling they’ll make a move in July for starting pitching help and potentially another bat. The Dodgers are playing well but I’m still not bullish on their hitting minus Corey Seager, who’s out for the season.

-I’ve said it many times but just to refresh…if the Suns don’t select UofA center DeAndre Ayton in next Thursday’s NBA Draft, I’ll relinquish whatever fandom I have left! To pass on a potential franchise player, a 7-footer with a polished inside and outside game would be a borderline travesty. I’ll literally jump on the bandwagon of any other team in that case. Fortunately I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that.

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-I’ll do a full mock lottery next week but for now my top 5 would be:

1. Phoenix: DeAndre Ayton (C, Arizona)
2. Sacramento: Marvin Bagley, III (F, Duke)
3. Atlanta: Luke Doncic (F, Slovenia)
4. Memphis: Mohamed Bamba (C, Texas)
5. Dallas: Jaren Jackson, Jr. (C, Michigan State)

Let me also say how NOT confident I am in ANY of those picks as of now.

-I also plan on predicting that the Suns will trade pick #16 and the Heat’s #1 pick in 2021 to move up into the late lottery to select a PG. Find out whom in this column next week…

-4 years, $32 million for David Johnson, $20 million guaranteed. Who says no, his agent or the Cardinals? One way or another, this contract will get done within 30 days.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals

-If you’re one of those people who thinks Josh Rosen will start Week 1 over Sam Bradford, I have a private island to sell you in the Caribbean! How do you bench a guy, right away, that is making $20 million if he’s healthy? The answer: you don’t!

-What do I want to see from the Arizona Coyotes this offseason? Maybe just bring in a scorer or two whose name I might recognize. Seriously this team is full of so many young, unknown players that it’s hard for me, the casual hockey fan, to get excited about them.

I wrote a column last month predicting the UofA football season. But I failed to mention how I thought ASU would fare. So game-by-game, here goes nothing:
(Home teams underlined)

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9/1: ASU 33, UTSA 17
9/8: Michigan State 27, ASU 17
9/15: ASU 26, San Diego State 23
9/22: Washington 34, ASU 16
9/29: ASU 41, Oregon State 21
10/6: ASU 38, Colorado 34
10/18: Stanford 30, ASU 17
10/27: USC 30, ASU 20
11/3: ASU 27, Utah 20
11/10: ASU 38, UCLA 27
11/17: Oregon 41, ASU 28
11/24: Arizona 35, ASU 31

There you have it…6-6 with a trip to the Cactus Bowl at Chase Field. Would you be happy with that Sun Devils fans?

-Let me also go on record and predict and NCAA Basketball Tournament appearance for Sean Miller and the Wildcats. Bobby Hurley and his improved ASU team…well, throw them in the First Four again this year.

-And finally, a bit off topic…but here are my projected championship game / matchup predictions in all major sports:

MLB: Houston vs. Chicago Cubs
NFL (2019): Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans
College Football (2019): Alabama vs. Michigan
College Basketball (2019): Duke vs. Gonzaga
NHL (2019): Pittsburgh vs. Nashville
NBA (2019): Golden State vs. Boston

To read previous entries of my blog, click here. Also make sure to follow me on Twitter @eacohen83.

Arizona Wildcats Football: Pre-Preseason Game-By-Game Predictions for 2018

I wrote a similar column to this one last year, when I first debuted the blog…and while I was WAY off (Arizona went 7-5, not 5-7), at least I got two things correct…that Rich Rodriguez wouldn’t be the Wildcats’ head football coach come 2018 and that “Arizona football will look a lot different in 2018.” In my wildest dreams, however, I would never have expected Arizona to land a coach with the successful track record that Kevin Sumlin brings to Tucson.

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Rodriguez had his moments of success but in the end his lack of successful recruiting and lack of fan interest was key to his demise. I know there were off-the-field things…but I’ll leave those out of this column.

For those of you who know me personally, I’m most passionate about two sports teams: the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Wildcats football. Some of you may think I’m drinking the Kool-Aid with these predictions…but here’s how I feel about UA’s chances in 2018:

Continue reading “Arizona Wildcats Football: Pre-Preseason Game-By-Game Predictions for 2018”

Predicting the Future of the University of Arizona’s Basketball Program

Was Saturday’s final 2017-18 home game against California the end of an era at McKale Center? Unfortunately the answer is yes and here’s what I think happens next:

1. Regardless of what happens in the NCAA Tournament, I’d be surprised if Sean Miller returned as Arizona’s head coach.

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Continue reading “Predicting the Future of the University of Arizona’s Basketball Program”

Friday, 2/23 Quick Hitters – On Allonzo Trier’s suspension, Sean Miller’s future, and more

Late-Thursday afternoon Arizona star guard Allonzo Trier was ruled ineligible by the NCAA as a miniscule amount of the banned substance Ostarine once again appeared in a test. His attorney believes that since the substance hadn’t appeared since early-2017, it was the result of Trier taking the test when not properly hydrated. Either way, let’s break the implications of this down for Wildcats fans:

-First of all, this is complete BS. But welcome to the world of the NCAA and its rampant corruption / unfairness.

-Arizona has lodged an appeal and is challenging the ruling. Based on the usual slowness of the NCAA’s actions, it’s not looking good for Trier to return anytime soon. In fact it’s quite possible that last Thursday night’s win in Tempe might have been Allonzo’s final game in a Wildcats’ uniform. (But if this all gets sorted out on Friday as Sean Miller suggested on Thursday night, ignore the next few bullet points).

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Friday, 2/16 Quick Hitters: On UofA-ASU, Ayton’s dominance, Fitz returns, and picking the Daytona 500!

I’ve never been more happy to be wrong. I predicted a 10 point ASU victory over Arizona in Thursday’s college basketball matchup from Tempe. UofA’s 77-70 win was just the opposite and hallelujah!

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-First of all, Thursday night’s crowd at Wells Fargo Arena was arguably the loudest in the stadium’s history. Props to ASU fans for filling the joint. And bringing notable announcer Michael Buffer to announce ASU’s starting lineup before his signature “LET’S GET READY TO RUMMMMBLLLLEEEE” line was pretty darn cool.

Continue reading “Friday, 2/16 Quick Hitters: On UofA-ASU, Ayton’s dominance, Fitz returns, and picking the Daytona 500!”

Friday, 2/9 Quick Hitters: UofA / ASU Recruiting, Ranking the Pac-12 HCs, Trades Galore, and more!

-Let’s start with the elephant in the room from college football’s National Signing Day…according to 247Sports’ team rankings…ASU is 36th and UofA sits at #58. Am I worried? Not in the least. Last I checked Herm Edwards was hired in early-December which gave him and his staff nearly two months to improve upon Todd Graham’s class. For Kevin Sumlin, it was closer to 2.5 weeks. And in three days, Sumlin signed Arizona’s highest rated recruit, QB Kevin Doyle from Washington D.C.

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-Props to Herm for finishing with a solid class…but if you’d like to bet me that next year Sumlin’s Arizona class will rank significantly above Edwards’ ASU signees, message me on Twitter @eacohen83. In fact I’ll take it a step further, if Sumlin’s 2019 class isn’t in the top-30, I’ll be prepared to eat some MAJOR crow.

-Georgia is going to be really, really, really good these next few years. What Kirby Smart has done in only 2+ short years…almost a National Championship + elite recruiting classes = brilliance. The Bulldogs will be the new Alabama in terms of success for years to come.

-I don’t want to say a lot about Arizona basketball after their garbage performance at home against UCLA on Thursday night. I’m still REALLY upset about it. But the fact is, if you think this team is a Final Four contender (as I previously had), you’re in for some major disappointment. As it stands right now, I’d be more surprised if they made the Final Four than if they lost in the first round…

-For those who have asked, here are my personal rankings of the Pac-12 coaches from worst to first:
12. Jonathan Smith (Oregon State)
11. Mario Cristobal (Oregon)
10. Herm Edwards (ASU)
9. Mike McIntyre (Colorado)
8. Justin Wilcox (Cal)
7. Clay Helton (USC)
6. Mike Leach (Washington State)
5. Kevin Sumlin (Arizona)
4. Kyle Whittingham (Utah)
3. Chris Peterson (Washington)
2. Chip Kelly (UCLA)
1. David Shaw (Stanford)

Wondering where I would’ve ranked Rich Rodriguez? Likely 8th on this list…

-At first I absolutely hated what the Cavaliers did on Thursday before the NBA’s Trade Deadline. By dealing Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a 2018 first round pick to the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, it didn’t at first glance appears that the Cavs made their team better. But a subsequent 3-way trade netting them PG George Hill (from Sacramento) and SG Rodney Hood (from Utah) gave Cleveland the firepower and defensive ability they recently have been lacking. Mind you that LeBron’s club is far from a lock to represent the East in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year (and his eighth straight year dating back to his days with the Heat) but these moves definitely help. Many props to Cleveland GM Koby Altman who wasn’t afraid to press the reset button right before the All-Star Break. Thomas was a disaster next to LBJ and he needed to go. For the Lakers, they were also the biggest winners on deadline day as they’ve freed up enough money to sign two max contract free agents in the coming offseason(s).

-Don’t underestimate the Suns late trade on Thursday afternoon…having acquired Orlando PG and former 10th overall pick Elfrid Payton. While he’s known more for his crazy hair than his game on the court, Phoenix desperately needed a competent ball distributor and Payton brings them just that. While I still strive to see the Suns lose games in bunches to achieve a higher draft pick, the Payton experiment is certainly worth watching as the team plays out the string in 2018.

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-Let’s put it this way about the Suns, it’s hard to be much worse than they were on Wednesday night…3 of 32 from three point range has to be among the most pathetic statistics by any team this season.

-Five years, $137 million for Jimmy Garoppolo, a QB who has started what, eight games in his career? Ridiculous. I understand he’s never lost as a starting QB but it’s a SMALL sample size to say the least. Next week I’ll write a breakdown of NFL starting QBs…but there’s no way I’d have Garoppolo higher than 15th. Some players are about to get P-A-I-D!

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-Like many fans, players, agents, and observers, I’m disgusted by the pathetic lack of movement lately among baseball teams when it comes to marquee free agents. Pitchers and catchers report in a week or so and as of now, Houston is the CLEAR CUT best team in the league. Do something people! If players like Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, and Alex Cobb are still unsigned one week from today, something is CLEARLY wrong with the system.

-I really could care less about the Winter Olympics especially considering my favorite sport in the games, hockey, is being played without NHL players. Just looking at the U.S. roster…considering I haven’t heard of 90% of the players, it’s hard to expect them to be medal contenders.

-Starting a new weekly feature here – I’ll name the teams that I think will be in the finals of the six most popular major sports (including college). Based on injuries, transactions, etc… I’ll revise weekly as necessary:
NBA: Golden State vs. Boston
College Basketball: Villanova vs. Michigan State
NHL: Boston vs. Dallas
MLB: Houston vs. Washington
NFL (2019): Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans
College Football (2019): Alabama vs. Michigan

-Finally – I failed to mention in previous blogs that nearly a month ago, one of my favorite sports broadcasters of all-time, Keith Jackson, passed away at the age of 89. To me and many others, Keith was the voice of college football during our childhoods. His smooth yet elegant style of broadcasting with a flair for the dramatic was what set him apart from the run-of-the mill announcers.

And if this video doesn’t give you chills…I don’t know what will…

Rest in peace to one of the all-time greats.

 

Kevin Sumlin to Arizona: The definition of an A+ coaching hire

Since 2001, I’ve been to 120 University of Arizona football games. I haven’t missed one played in the state of Arizona since 2007. The Wildcats’ record in those games? A pedestrian 63-57. But two decades of mediocrity ends now…

In the words of the late, great college football broadcaster Keith Jackson, “WHOA NELLY!”

I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for an Arizona football season as I will be in 2018!

Sunday’s announcement that the Wildcats were hiring former Houston and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin might have been overdue to some but was welcome news to this alum and UA football diehard.

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