It's all about the ladies today. Marion Jones SHOCKing the WNBA, the 2010 NCAA Women's Tournament looking for a shocking upset of the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies to shake things up and the McMaster Maruauders failing to upset the Simon Fraser Clan in the CIS Championships over the weekend. But we will also have a little discussion on "athletic character" bringing in some comments made by Gilbert Arenas this week - lots to sink our teeth into, so let's dive in.
Marion Jones Returning to Basketball
I'll bet most of you forgot Marion Jones played basketball. When she began her basketball career at North Carolina back in 1994, Marion was the starting point guard for the Tar Heels' national championship team. About three years later during the 1996-1997 season, she is playing her final season of competitive basketball just shy of the WNBA's debut. I think it was always in the back of her mind to play and the break from her track and field woes allowed her to do some soul searching. Now we get to watch her write a new chapter in her life as the newest member of the Tulsa Shock. Now that's the positive side of me talking.
Now for the realistic side. I really hope she doesn't screw up this time. I know this chapter is supposed to be a new start for her but she can't possibly think she is going slip back into our sports pages without any mention of the fact that she lied, took steroids and served 6 months in prison for it. If we just rolled out the red carpet and let her back into the sporting world on a get-out-of-jail-free pass, we would be doing a disservice to those athletes who were true to their word and earned our trust. She should be held accountable and I hope she makes a new name for herself in Tulsa. I really do. Think about it. What if Michael Vick decided to take a break from football and work out with the Detroit Pistons or (god forbid) the Los Angeles Lakers? or if Tiger Woods said "to hell with golf - I'm playing a new ball game now"? I am all for the art of redemption and I don't think any of us can really say what it is like to have camera crews and other media documenting our every move and mistake. I believe in second chances but I don't think a simple "I'm sorry" and "let's move on" kind of attitude can cut it in a world where professional athletes should be held to a higher standard when so many people look up to them. I think this season will be a real eye opener for her since she will be one of the older players in the league as a rookie and she's not the star anymore. She's going to have to earn that badge again. I hope for her sake and for the little girls out there watching, she does.
Lady Huskies and Lady's Hockey - Lots in common
So going into the 2010 Winter Olympic games we knew it would be a stick show-down between Canada and the USA on the ice - all the games before it, a mere formality. Some have been saying the same about the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies' path towards basketball greatness. They are currently unbeaten and not just for this season either. They are on a massive win streak of 70 games and if they steam roll through the March Madness tournament, which many are saying is pretty much a done deal, their record may climb to 78-0. But in a field of 64 teams competing, anything can happen and we won't really see the front runners until the third round in my opinion. A lot of people make the mistake of hanging onto the pre-season records of these teams when making picks for their office March Madness pool. You also need to look at how they won those games: Were they close? Did they have to battle back from a third quarter deficit to win? A lot of factors come into play. I bet you the UCONN Lady Huskies are looking past #16 seeded Southern University in round one. But a lot can be said for the experience of playing under pressure and playing close games and having the emotional intensity of playing cool given the cards are stacked against you. I'm just saying you can't win every game and the Lady Huskies can't take anything for granted.
No Bronze Baby staying in Hamilton
Wow, did Hamilton ever put on a show this weekend. As I mentioned lask week, McMaster University hosted the CIS Women's Basketball Championship tournament and as you know, I was cheering for my MAC ladies. (Carleton University wasn't in it, my alma mater). They didn't get steam-rolled like some people tried to tell me before the game - the Marauders really held their own even though they lost 94-76 to Simon Fraser University. Considering the SFU Clan are leaving the Canadian University athletics system for NCAA Division II ball, that's huge. I am not just saying this as a fan but as someone looking at this critically.
This was their third opening round match-up in five years and Simon Fraser won all three. So with SFU going on to win this year's tournament, claiming their 5th bronze baby in 9 years, that's a little hard to compete with. But you should have seen Emily Ledger hit the jumper to cut Simon Fraser's lead to three points with just over five minutes left in the third quarter. I was on the verge of dialing Spike Lee to re-write Hoosiers to take place in the Hammer and insert the Lady Marauders. But alas, there was no upsetting the SFU Clan who eventually stole the show. Don't worry MAC - there's always next year. And if Carleton isn't in it, you'll have my support 100%.
Gilbert "I deserved to be punished" Arenas
Gilbert Arenas was suspended from the Washington Wizards for taking out four guns in what he says was an attempt to play a prank on teammate Javaris Crittenton in December. As if we could forget that little Christmas present. The latest is he plead guilty to a felony charge in January and will be sentenced next week. Also, he is still suspended from the NBA until the end of the season. But wait it gets better. He plays on the heart strings of Wizards fans by saying he "messed up" the legacy of Wizards owner Abe Poulin, who died in November. Nothing like being caught doing something stupid, on the verge of facing the judicial music and calling on ghosts from NBA past to help your image. Seriously? Not even the Scrooge could look this foolish. He put all but 4 of his 500-gun collection in storage when he had kids. So this is a guy that is clearly comfortable around guns but also de-sensitized by them. I hope the judge hearing his case next week is a fan of the Christmas Carol and makes Gilbert see the errors of his ways.