Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Generation Next Is a Boomer for Arizona

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Generation Next Is a Boomer for Arizona

Article excerpt

We always hear what's wrong with college basketball. Billy Packer huffs, puffs and pontificates. Dick Vitale speaks in tongues and flaps his arms like a wounded seagull.

Everything is wrong. It is terrible. What is happening to the college game? There are no seniors. If only more players stayed for four years, the way Tim Duncan, Keith Van Horn and Jacque Vaughn did.

But now? With these ungrateful kids leaving school early for the National Basketball Association? These spoiled kids don't know how to play. The kids are ruining the game, hurting the universities, giving the coaches headaches. To the TV shills, every coach is a genius. Every victory is a coaching masterpiece. No coach should ever be fired. The coaches never lose games. The players never win the games. It is always the coach, and his IQ, that gets it done. The coaches are Einstein. They are the Magi. And to that I say: Thank you, Arizona. Thanks for exploding the Senior Myth. Thanks for being so inexperienced, so fresh, so full of life, so unafraid of challenging and imposing moments. Arizona plays no seniors. Arizona starts a freshman, a sophomore and three juniors. The first three players off the bench are a freshman and two sophs. Coach Lute Olson is old enough to be their grandpa. "We're young," freshman point guard Mike Bibby said. "And we're good." Where are the seniors? Mostly gone. Of the 20 players who started for the Final Four teams that competed Saturday, only five were seniors. Six were juniors, eight were sophomores and one was a freshman. Generation X has snatched the ball and taken over. And college basketball, miraculously, has survived. Can you believe it? Arizona, a No. 4 seed, advanced to Monday's NCAA Championship Game vs. Kentucky by rudely eliminating North Carolina 66-58 at RCA Dome. These kids should show more respect for their elders. They sent the legendary Dean Smith home. Deano became Carolina's coach the same year (1961) that John F. Kennedy was sworn in as president. Dean started coaching before the Beatles became a popular Rock n' Roll band. And Smith - one of the greatest coaches in the game's history - lost to a team that listens to hip-hop music. At least Miles Simon tried to be polite in a chat with Smith after the game. Once upon a time, he wanted to play for Carolina. It was his boyhood dream. But Smith wrote him a letter and said, sorry, but we have plenty of guards. So Simon went to Arizona and is a junior now. "I just told Coach Smith at the end, that it was a pleasure playing against them," Simon said. "And just wished them, like, the best of luck." Oh, those crazy Arizona kids. Last week they played a cruel teen-age prank on Kansas, upsetting the No. 1 Jayhawks in the round of 16. This, in turn, upset Packer, who talks during the games on CBS. …

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