TOMORROW IS THANKSGIVING Day and what I'm most thankful for is that columnists are no longer obligated to write one of those "What I'm most thankful for" columns. Besides, there's all this other stuff ...
· Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris bowed down and held the Republican party line in hopes that when George W. Bush takes office, he'll name her the head of the new federal Department of Excessive Makeup.
· Most revealing sight of the UA football season: Mere hours after suffering the heartbreaking, last-minute loss at Washington (the third in what has now become an eye-watering, four-game-and-counting losing streak for the Cats), Arizona quarterback Ortege Jenkins was out clubbing at Gentle Ben's. He had to have gotten off the plane and headed straight for the club.
I understand that young people have the right to be carefree and stupid, but if I'm the QB and I'm watching my once high-flying team falling off a cliff (not to mention my once-bright future pouring down the drain), I'm not out drinking and dancing and prowling for hoochies. I'm doing some serious soul-searching or maybe watching film, anything to keep from being the guy who was at the helm while the Cats stumbled home from a 5-1 start with five straight losses.
Who knows, he might be able to save himself from complete ignominy should he find some way to lead the impotent Cats to a victory over the equally-sucko Sun Devils on Friday. It's probably too late to win back anybody's respect. Heck, it might be too late to save Dick Tomey's job. But a win over ASU is always nice and the extra month of practice will help the (redshirt freshman) Rattay kid get ready for next year when there will be an opening at quarterback. Heck, as it turns out, there was an opening at quarterback most of this season.
· Giving credit where it's due, I salute the local papers and TV stations for their concerted effort in giving increased coverage to high-school sports. As a parent (but even more so as a sports fan), I think what they've done this year with football is great. I really like Brian Pedersen's "Super 7" listing of local teams in the Star and I hope it continues into basketball season. Likewise, John Moredich has beefed up the Citizen's coverage, and all three major-network TV stations have made taping of the Friday-night late newscasts an absolute must.
Having harped on this issue for years, I naturally would like to assume that I goaded them into it. The fact that they're all doing it (and cross-promo-ing each other, to boot) makes me think that they all got together and had a meeting and didn't invite me. Whatever the case, I'm happy with it. They should be proud of themselves. They're doing a good thing and truly serving their community of viewers and readers.
One note of advice, if I may. Stay the course. Sports fans are like slow-moving cattle. It takes them a while to come around. You're always going to get complaints about there not being enough coverage of hockey/NAU football/horse racing/auto racing/cheerleading/field hockey and God knows what else. This is sort of a chicken-and-the-egg situation. Once the average sports fan in this town realizes that you're giving prep sports serious coverage and you're not going to stop, they'll get with it.
· Now, having said all that, I must point out that the two dailies missed something in their prep hoop previews. The oversight was understandable for reasons I'll explain later. In the meantime, I get to be the one who makes this announcement. Appearing at gymnasiums all over town this season will be the best girl basketball player in the history of Tucson. Better than Paula Pyers, who starred at USC. Better than Paula Dotson, who helped put Tucson girls' basketball on the map. Yes, even better than Julie Brase, who was a two-time State Player of the Year. Heck, this kid is better than Julie Brase is now.
Her name is Catherria Turner and she is nothing short of spectacular. (Her first name does not rhyme with "malaria"; rather, it's pronounced Cath-er-REE-uh.) She led CDO to a region title and deep into the state playoffs as a freshman. Then, after transferring to Amphi as a sophomore, she led the Panthers to their only conference title in school history. Last year, she appeared ready to explode onto the national scene, but the only exploding that was done happened to her knee ligaments during a routine move to the basket. After 12 grueling months of rehab, she's back, as quick as lightning and now possessing a deadly three-point shot.
I've been watching girls' basketball in Southern Arizona for the past quarter-century. I got to see the 1976 team from tiny Elfrida Valley Union that won the combined-class state championship and shamed the monster Phoenix schools into splitting the subsequent tournaments into size classifications so they wouldn't have to suffer that embarrassment again. I watched Marana dominate the state throughout the 1980s with Patty Patton, Kim Walden and Chris Lee. I saw CDO's marvelous undefeated team in 1987 with Nicole Smith. I watched the Vielledent girls lead Sahuaro to glory.
But I'm telling you now: Catherria Turner is the best I've ever seen. If she hadn't been hurt last year, Amphi would have been a Final Four team. (Even after the loss of Turner and All-City center Star Landergren, the Panthers still went to State.) Amphi's in something of a rebuilding situation this year, but that shouldn't stop Turner from putting up some monster numbers. Do yourself a favor and catch one of her games. You won't believe your eyes.
· Finally, in an analysis piece in the Daily Star, Terrance Harris wrote that the Wildcat football team is "in jeopardy of their second straight losing season" if they lose to ASU Friday. He then adds that last year, "The Wildcats posted a disappointing 6-6 record."
I know last year felt like a losing record, but 6-6 is .500. I demand a recount!