A respected colleague once alluded to the fact that some of these Left Field columns appeared written on the fly. The insinuation? Whatever pulsated through my brain at the initial moment of fingers to keyboard would get mentioned in the opening.
If that were the case, I would need two opening paragraphs this week. The Texas versus Arkansas College hoops clash and the spectacular Green Bay battle with Arizona this past Sunday. Wow. Just wow. I'll go with the basketball angle but only to fit with the rest of the column.
Last week, Texas played Arkansas on the court. The Longhorns basketball program seems poised to make another deep run into March Madness.
But who cares about Texas basketball? The interesting subplot was two-fold. A) With college football ending and the NFL playoffs wrapping up, we're forced to turn our attention to college basketball. B) Some announcer kept referring to a Razorback player as "Big Shot" Rot.
Of course, he was commenting on Verdigris's very own HYPERLINK "http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/player/profile?playerId=41319"; Rotnei Clarke. Seems like just yesterday ORU and TU were posturing themselves for a run at the shooting phenom. Unfortunately for them, he jumped the state line.
Not sure if Clark has earned the "Big Shot" moniker. His Razorbacks are a .500 squad for the year. However, he is torching the nets at an unfathomable 50 percent clip from behind the 3-point line.
Here is a fast-break-down of the local basketball scene.
The Tulsa 66ers visited Boise, Idaho last week to take part in the D-League Showcase. The Showcase is a platform for all D-League franchises and players in one location. NBA scouts save a few bucks on travel, while getting non-stop action during several days.
As previously mentioned in this space, the 66ers are no joke this season.
Is it the new coach? Did the organization finally get the right mix of players? Did moving closer to downtown Tulsa reward the team with good karma? Do the new uniforms elicit magical powers unleashed on the hardwood floors? Is it the dance team's professionalism?
I'm thinking it's the presence of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder's astute general manager and head coach have ventured to Tulsa for a hands-on look at their affiliate.
In past years, the 66ers served as a feeder team for several NBA squads. Now the partnership with the Thunder is singular. Watch a Thunder game on Fox Sports, and you are reminded of the Tulsa 66ers throughout the broadcast. These are all positives for the 66ers' longevity in town.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Thunder. What an exciting brand of basketball they are playing down the turnpike. The Western conference is top heavy, but the Thunder has a legit shot at making a playoff appearance this season.
If you enjoy watching old school basketball with smooth playmakers and likeable teammates routing for one another's success sans trash talk--this is your team. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green ball. If you hate basketball in general, you probably should have stopped reading this column 10 paragraphs ago as you definitely would not like the Thunder.
Must... not... fall... into... BCS versus playoffs... trap... again... Too late.
I tried to stick to basketball, but check out the University of Tulsa basketball for another prime example. No matter what happens during the Golden Hurricane's conference schedule, they need to win their post-season tournament to qualify for the NCAA bash.
We know head coach Doug Wojcik would scoff at the idea. Ben Uzoh and Jerome Jordan have something to prove during conference play.
But at the end of the day, TU needs to win the C-USA Tournament. Bonus, the tourney takes place at the BOK Center March 10-13. Visit bokcenter.com for ticket info.
Why mention the BCS quagmire again? Because I can. If college football played a postseason tournament, many regular season games would be meaningless--just like college basketball. I enjoy watching Saturday's highlights with a must-win contest. Call me crazy, but there are no must win games in college basketball's regular season.
Oral Roberts is in the same boat as Tulsa. Of course, they are used to the pressure. A promising non-conference schedule turned bumpy once The Summit League games commenced.
The diverse offense is comprised of three double-digit scorers. They face a stiff test next Wednesday at home versus their cross-town rival.
Yes, you read that correct. TU visits ORU at the Mabee Center. Ticket sales were red hot last time I checked. The atmosphere should be electric. Pushing the Mayor's Cup game to post-college football season was genius.
Can ORU hang with TU's Jordan on the low blocks? According to Geoff Haxton, the voice of Golden Eagles basketball, ORU bigs Kevin Ford and Michael Craion must stay out of foul trouble and battle Jordan better than they handled Keith Benson of Oakland.
"When you look back on this season and say 'the Golden Eagles knocked off Stanford, Missouri, New Mexico and possibly TU' that will be impressive no doubt. With city bragging rights on the line and all that comes with ORU versus TU... TU is very good. That would be a HUGE win," Haxton said.
Tickets can be purchased for the Jan. 20, 7pm game at orugoldeneagles.com. Or call 495-6000 for that special human touch.
Saturday, May 15 marks the first game for the Tulsa (your guess at the nickname is as good as mine) WNBA team. Visit wnba.com/tulsa for ticket and schedule information.
Finally, a few words heading into the NFL's Divisional Weekend.
I would put this year's group of talent against any playoff year in history. Just look at some of the names remaining: Manning, Brees, Favre, Rivers, Romo, Warner, Peterson, Rice, Bush, Tomlinson, Jones, Wayne, Gates, Witten, Austin, Fitzgerald -- and that's just the offensive star power.
Suffice it to say I'll be glued to the plasma one more weekend. At least the arctic temps provided a valid reason for couch-potatoing this past weekend. Let me know if you have a suggestion for this weekend's uber laziness.
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