Separation weekend for Pac-12


Separation weekend for Pac-12

PROGRAMING NOTE: Watch Stanford take on Colorado Saturday on VERSUS. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m.
All-righty then. Were done with the events in Eugene on Thursday night and now we can focus on the rest of the Pac-12 on a weekend that could begin to sort the wheat from the chaff in this conference.

Stanford continues to cruise through its early season schedule and it would be a shock to see things change this weekend when Colorado comes calling. The Cards still have not been tested and continue to be a work in progress on the defensive side of the ball -- albeit one that still has a chance to be very good.

I dont think the answer to, Can the Cardinal stop a good teams offense? will be forthcoming against a Colorado team that has mustered just one victory this year. Colorado is simply outmanned in its first year of play in the conference.

PREVIEW: Colorado vs. No. 7 Stanford

Andrew Luck is everything expected of him, the Cardinal has three tight ends who will all play on Sundays, and the offensive line is coming together nicely. The question of how much the loss of Shane Skov will affect the defense is still probably weeks away from being known. But for this week, all is well in the land of wishful thinking.

Two games of interest in terms of whats real and whats not in the Pac-12 this year are ASU at Utah, and WSU at UCLA. Arizona State is good -- with a chance to be very good -- but every time you start to think the Sun Devils have it all together, they step on their own body parts. This is a real test for the Sun Devils theyve been much better at home than on the road and they have to travel to Utah. The Utes have a backup quarterback starting and that bodes well for the Devils defense. Like Cal, I think Utah is trying to figure itself out. I think ASU survives -- but dont say I didnt warn you.

PREVIEW: No. 22 ASU vs. Utah
I never thought Id be talking about Washington St. playing a game of any meaning five games into the season but if the Cougars beat UCLA Saturday, theyll be 4-1 -- and its not out of the question.

Dont get me wrong, I dont think WSU is headed for national prominence, but I do think this is a winnable game for them. And, I just cant help rooting for them -- its like cheering for Bambi against Godzilla. Only this Godzilla (UCLA) is bruised and battered and is no threat to Tokyo -- or maybe even to Pullman, Wash.

And finally, the futility bowl: Arizona and Oregon State. The Wildcats are living proof of what happens when good skill position players dont have the big uglies up front to keep them out of harms way. The Cats lost their offensive line and much of their defense and despite a very good quarterback and an all-star receiver they are mired in mediocrity. In fact, mediocrity would be a lofty goal at this juncture.

As to the Beavs -- I dont know what to say. This is a team that has always thrived because of the system, but this year there seems to be a system failure in Corvallis. This game falls into the dreaded must win category for OSU. For Arizona, after this game its either, How bout those Cats, or Whens hoops start?

Thats the good and the bad in the Pac this week. And you can rest assured therell be some of the ugly too.

Barry Tompkins is a regular contributor to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and Chronicle Live.

Tiger Woods' DUI arrest not really a stunning development


Tiger Woods' DUI arrest not really a stunning development

Tiger Woods’ DUI has led to an awful lot of hand-wringing by people who either enjoy his slow but steady fall from grace, or want it to be a sudden plummet from grace.

The first group – well, schadenfreude is very marketable stuff these days, because so many of us choose personal misery and the right to distribute it to others on a moment’s notice.

The second group is just wrong.

Woods’ iconic years are almost a decade behind him, and his reduction through hyper-celebrity and eventually to run-of-the-mill clickbait has been a slow and overly tortured process. We have clung to his myth far too tenaciously for either his good or ours, and the reaction to his arrest and mug shot are both predictable and tedious.

There is no cautionary tale here. All the longform pieces about his tortured soul have been exhausted, and the amateur psychological studies have just become well-worn paths to the same conclusion – namely, that he was a very big deal, and through time and erosion is no longer so.

He has won six times in eight years, and no majors. He has had one burst of exemplary golf since in this decade and the rest of the time has been at best day-to-day, and at worst a perpetual patient. He is not a tragic figure, he is merely someone whose body and soul could not keep up with the rigors he damned of them.

So in that way, today’s arrest isn’t really a stunning development. It is bad, because all DUIs are bad. It is sad, because he had the access to at-a-moment’s-notice drivers above and beyond Lyft-level.

But if we must categorize this, it is mostly a reaffirmation of gravity. He rose mightily, he filled the sky for a time with a spectacular aurora, but he did not achieve earth orbit, except in the prurient new world in which everyone is reflexively famous until we decide otherwise, and now he is in re-entry.

Compared to the height of his fame, it is a massive fall. But it didn’t happen all at once, and this arrest may not even be some gothic tale of rueful self-examination. It might have been just him getting plowed, refusing to acknowledge his impaired state and trying to drive when he clearly should not have done so. It didn’t have to be any more melodramatic from that.

In short, Tiger Woods’ DUI is bad enough, because all DUIs are objectively bad. He deserves no sympathy for a stupid choice, and he shall have none. But it is not a plot point unless you decide in your head that it is, in which case it isn’t his story but yours. You want him to be a disgraceful character or a tragic figure, and as is typically the case, it is probably neither of those two poles.

The answer, of course, is most likely Occam’s Razor – the obvious one. A guy got drunk and reckless. It isn’t more evidence of a tortured soul as told by his most avid followers and his fellow torturers.

Nevertheless, we will try. Even in the current social media age, some stories hold more helium than others only because we choose to pump more into them. Tiger Woods drove drunk, and now we will decide what it means. It’s another story that is more about the reader than the subject.

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

It’s lonely at the top, which is where Markelle Fultz sits on almost every 2017 NBA Draft board. The Brooklyn Nets should be set for the next decade with a big time scoring point guard. Instead, it’s the Boston Celtics who have no choice but to take Fultz with the No. 1 overall selection after a savvy trade that sent veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for a stack of picks and players back in 2013.

Fultz can do it all. He’s deadly from the outside, he can take you off the bounce and he has elite passing skills to boot. In a draft packed with star potential, specifically at the point guard position, the freshman from Washington stands out well above the rest.  

It would take a major shake up at the top for Fultz not to have his name called first on draft night, but there are plenty of very talented players sitting on the board behind him. Here is a deeper look at the potential top overall selection.

The Positives:
Fultz has tremendous size, length and athleticism for an NBA point guard. He measured in at 6-foot-5, 195-pounds with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and has a frame built to take on muscle. At just 19-years-old, he is already well defined physically and has plenty of room to grow and get stronger.

A crafty, high-end scorer, Fultz changes speed and direction well and has an advanced Euro-step for a young player. He averaged 23.2 points in 35.7 minutes a night for the Huskies while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three. He can score from all three levels, finish well above the rim and play through contact.

In his lone season in college, Fultz showed that he is not only a legitimate scoring threat, but he is a willing passer and an unselfish teammate. While Lonzo Ball is considered the true pass first point guard of the draft, Fultz had a higher assist rate (35.5 to 31.5) and lower turnover rate (13.4 to 18.2) than the star guard from UCLA.

Fultz rebounds well for his position, averaging 5.7 rebounds per game at Washington. He also has potential as a defender, posting 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks, although he is a work in progress on that end of the floor.

Known as a high-character kid and tireless worker off the court, Fultz has the entire package. He can also play the lead or shooting guard spot, which will come in handy if the Celtics decide to pair him with All-Star Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt.

The Negatives:
9-16 is a concern. Great college players should be able to will their team to victory, even if the talent around them is suspect. Washington was certainly worse off without Fultz down the stretch, losing their last six while he sat with a knee injury.

Shot selection and sloppy ball handling was also an issue this season. In Fultz’ defense, he played with a group that lacked overall talent and those issues might eventually disappear when he’s added to a roster that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  

Fultz is a quality chase down defender, but he fell asleep on plenty of plays or didn’t show a consistent fight on the defensive end. Lack of focus allowed for plenty of back cuts. He also showed an inconsistent effort fighting through screens.

He’s a work in progress on the defensive end, like most young players coming into the league. Most of these issues can easily be coached out of him at the next level.

Fultz has an advanced feel and tons of room to expand his game. On the court, he resembles another former Husky in Brandon Roy. Fultz is much further along than Roy was at the same age, but possesses both the ability to score from anywhere on the court, as well as rebound and set up his teammates.  

It’s hard to imagine the Celtics passing on Fultz with the top overall selection, but if they do, teams will scramble trying to move up to select him. He would fit perfectly in the Kings starting backcourt alongside sophomore Buddy Hield, but Sacramento lacks the assets to move from five to one, Fultz’ likely landing spot.