Bruce and Bruce
Episode 52 – Bowling Week and Bad Jazz
Listen Here! Christmas Season Status as been officially changed from “Right Around the Corner” to “Practically Here” at the Utah SportsCast, so we figured it was about time to do a little shopping for some of our favorite local sports figures. We made a list of everyone we talked about this year, and what we thought they would either like or need. Some of the gifts were pretty easy to find (a box of tissues for Larry H. Miller, for example, or an English-Portuguese dictionary for Freddy Adu), but the others proved a bit more challenging. Here are some of the highlights: We started our holiday gift giving with the Utah Jazz, and Jerry Sloan was first. For Christmas he will receive Long Overdue Kudos, for producing one of the most remarkable careers a head coach has ever had in the NBA. There is a curious reluctance among basketball insiders to give Coach Sloan credit for his body of work. It is often mentioned that he has never won an NBA Championship as a head coach, although plenty of others have won awards like Coach of the Year without the hardware. When USA Basketball used to change head coaches in the 20th Century, it was always the previous team’s first assistant that was given a chance at the helm. Remember who had come up through that system and was due to coach the national team when they decided to disregard the long-standing accolade and just give it to Mike Krzyzewski? Does anyone believe USA Basketball would have made such a drastic change if the next coach had been Phil Jackson or Pat Riley, instead of Jerry Sloan? Incidentally, how many NBA Championships has Coach K won as a head coach? A little respect from the national media will do a lot of good for Coach Sloan this year. Next on the list is Andrei Kirilenko, and we are giving him a Reliable Jumpshot for Christmas (or whatever they celebrate in Russia). This is basically the only thing AK really needs as a basketball player, as his lessons with Jeff Hornacek do not seem to have borne fruit yet. We want to give him a little jumpstart, and turn Kirilenko into that third offensive option the Jazz desperately need. For Matt Harpring we would like to offer him a free Turning Back of the Clock. Of all the problems Harpring has dealt with this year, the most pressing seems to be the slow, steady creep of his odometer. Perhaps an extra year or two (kind of similar to what the NCAA does for medically ineligible athletes) would heal a lot of persistent pains and rejuvenate the hardest working man on the team. Paul Millsap is next, and for him we have picked Four More Inches of Height. Millsap is a talented, strong, and determined player who can be very good for an NBA team, preferably the Jazz. However, being just a little bit taller would take him to another level. Do you think he comes up with some amazing rebounds and unbelievable blocks now? Wait until he is as tall as Dwight Howard. We almost gave him a Great Nickname as his Christmas gift, but we thought he could make good use of the height upgrade now, and save that for another year. For the BYU Football team we began with Bronco Mendenhall. This was an obvious choice, and something we know he really wants. We would like to give Coach Mendenhall A Few More Non-Conference Wins as his Christmas gift. The conference hasn’t been a problem for the last few years, and he seems to have the Utah rivalry figured out. So the only thing he really needs to take this program to another level is a few more wins in the non-conference schedule. Of course, there will be a whole new set of arguments from the national BCS apologists when the Cougars go 12-0 next year, but at least BYU will be a part of the conversation. We think Max Hall will make good use of the Quicker Decision Making Ability we are giving him. Hopefully it will keep him from being dismembered in the pocket as often as he has in the past twelve games. In addition to concern for his personal welfare, he should also be able to find smaller passing seams and hit more receivers, which will be nice. It was either that or A Mustache, which would make him look more old-school, but we wouldn’t want him to have Honor Code issues. Bryan Kehl won’t be playing for the Cougars next year, but we are giving him a gift anyway. He will be getting More National Attention, which has been sadly missing for an athlete of his caliber. Not only will this benefit Kehl as a football player (not to mention his soon-to-be-bulging bank account), but an NFL team will find themselves with an exceptional, adaptable defensive player. With his size and speed, Kehl could be one of the scariest safeties in the league, or a tough, blitzing linebacker. Congratulations, Bryan, and you’re welcome. [Note: Here I wanted to give Harvey Unga the gift of Becoming the Starting Running Back for the University of Utah, but Zach vetoed the idea, rather dramatically. Sorry, Harvey.] We started our list for the University of Utah football team by giving Kyle Wittingham a Season with No Significant Injuries. Every coach knows that being hurt is a part of football (the game does involve wearing armor and hitting other people, after all) but Coach Wittingham seems to have had unusually bad luck in that department last year. There are plenty of theories as to why: some people think it comes from over-practicing, and others claim it is really under-practicing. We say: no worries either way. With this gift, no Utah player will miss significant time due to injury, and then we can really evaluate the season, without disclaimers. The gift of Durability for Brian Johnson was an easy call. We wanted to give it to him during the first half of the first game this year, when he was trudging into the locker room with an injury. This was after just a quarter-and-a-half of competitive football in a little under two seasons. But we didn’t have that kind of foresight, and besides, Christmas was still a few months away. When Johnson came back he was tentative at best, and looked like he thought every hit may be his last. A little dose of durability should give him the confidence he needs to have a great senior season. Brice McCain was a bit difficult to shop for, and you know there is always at least one on your list. I wanted to give him a Time Machine, so he could go back a few weeks and properly cover Austin Collie on fourth and 17, but that wouldn’t really solve the problem (and I imagined another nixing coming from Zach). We finally settled on The Ability to Stop Making Rookie Mistakes, which should be beneficial in the future. We also remembered Jason Kreis, the head coach of Real Salt Lake. We are giving him Greater Public Support as his gift, which will help a lot as he struggles in the coming years. We considered giving Coach Kreis More Offensive Weapons to help him win over the soccer-ignorant masses, but instead we just went right to the source. Finally, to Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake we would like to give a Reliable Back Line. The best defender RSL has had in their brief existence (Eddie Pope) is now retired, and he was overburdened as it was. Having one of the best young keepers in the league is great, but he needs to be making one or two great saves per game rather than five or six. With our gift of talented defenders, he doesn’t have to be miraculous in order to get a clean sheet here and there. That’s it for the holiday gift highlights, and thank you for reading. Please download and listen to our show for previews of the Poinsettia Bowl and the Las Vegas Bowl, a little ranting and raving about the woes of the Utah Jazz, and a little bit about local college hoops. Our Top 3 in Utah for this week: 3. Ronnie Brewer 2. Lee Cummard 1. Jaycee Carroll We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.