Author: Chris Dufresne

In order to win it all, does Gonzaga need to lose it now?

“I don’t always choose watching college basketball in late-February and early March but, when I do, I prefer Gonzaga.” –Rankman Let’s up the ante on that two more Bing Crosbys. No one who ever paid a child’s tuition to rival Saint Mary’s has appreciated more what has risen along the bank-shots of the Spokane River. I wasn’t on board for the 1999 squad that cracked its tournament egg en route to a no shame loss to eventual national champion Connecticut. After that, however, you’ll see my deadlined face in a lot of NCAA, press-row, back drops. That was me, in the corner, losing my 2003 religion in Salt Lake City when Arizona drew its last breath against Gonzaga in double overtime. It remains one of the top-five NCAA Tournament games I’ve ever witnessed. That was me, also, chasing down Gonzaga Coach Mark Few in a hallway seeing if he would be interested in replacing Steve Lavin at some hoop-hole called UCLA. (He wasn’t, but Ben Howland was). Adam Morrison, in 2006, in Oakland, crying at half court after his team blew a 17-point lead to UCLA in the regional semifinals? I was close enough to hand Adam a hankie. There I was again, center court, in 2013, when top-seeded Gonzaga was felled by No. 9 Wichita State in Salt Lake City. Knowing that Few was a lost cause, I...

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Tuesday will forever be a diamond-shaped day for love and lovers

Tuesday, of course, connotes a special day for love across the country. Some people think Feb. 14 has become too commercialized, syrupy and over-hyped, but to me these eternal, show-of-love words will never grow stale: Pitchers and catchers report   Years ago, when he played shortstop and center field for middle-earth Orange County, we called it Bobby Valentine’s Day. Anyway, if you love baseball you most likely have YOUR team. Maybe you inherited it from your father, or stumbled upon it honestly. In my day, you most definitely had a baseball card collection of your team. My love of the “California” Angels was largely born of accident, serendipity and geography. In 1966, as I recall these 50-some years later, my bookworm older sister won Angels tickets in a local library raffle. Local is the operative word here. We grew up in La Habra, then a city of avocado trees that was a stone’s throw away from Richard Nixon’s Whittier. La Habra was also located, conveniently, to a spanking new stadium opening in Anaheim. This new stadium would house Gene Autry’s Angels, who had been renting Dodger Stadium while their next-door-to-Disneyland edifice was being constructed. So, there you have it—it all came together. I got the raffle ticket my sister would never use in a million years—my guess is she has still never set foot in a sports arena, stadium,...

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Is this the back-nine for Tiger Woods’ back? If so, then what?

The clearest sign I have seen that Tiger Woods knows his career is in peril did not come with Friday’s news that his balky back will force him to miss his next two scheduled tournaments. It is highly disappointing that one of those events is next week at Riviera Country Club, a course Tiger loves but has never conquered. And hasn’t played since 2006. The clearest sign did not manifest with the 76-72 he posted at the Farmers Insurance Open, or the WD after shooting 77 last week in Dubai. It did not come from his latest narrative-controlling, website post about his lingering spasms. Oh, those are incriminating signs all right. The clearest sign to me, though, was caught on television after Woods’ missed the cut at Torrey Pines. The jaw-drop indicator was Tiger Woods standing in a rope line, patiently signing autographs for dozens of kids. This was NOT Tiger of old, the rock star who exited golf complexes the way Elvis left arena halls. While watching Tiger on TV, finally giving back to his community, it hit me: Tiger Knows. He knows, at 41, that he might never get back to the standard he set. He knows, after playing with bombers Dustin Johnson and Jason Day at Farmers, that he can’t compete in the same way. Tiger realized that, while he may play well again, he can’t...

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As the weekly world turns: Saban, Sark and all the news that’s fit to fib

My degree in “Fake News” from Cal State Fullerton has served me well since 1981.  Four years of studying the “yellow” journalism of William Randolph Hearst, along with other muckrakers, has keenly honed my skills in the art of B.S. detection. The pot-smoking, acid-dropping, hippy-dippy weathermen  professors who taught me how to fabricate sources prepared me like a sous chef for a four-decade career of lying about lying athletes, coaches and administrators. It’s hard to slip anything by me these days, which is why my “Lance Armstrong” alarm went off Tuesday with the news that Steve Sarkisian was amicably leaving Alabama, after one game,  to become offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. Nick Saban put out a nice statement:  “We appreciate all Coach Sarkisian did for our program during his time here. He is an outstanding coach.” Right. Sarkisian offensively coordinated one game for Alabama—the loss to Clemson in last month’s national title game. Not long ago, Sark was being promoted as the seamless and harmonious successor to Lane Kiffin, the bad-boy brat Saban couldn’t wait to put on a boat to the Gulf of Mexico. And now, a month later, right after signing day, Sarkisian bolts for Atlanta with a letter of recommendation from his old boss? Give me a break. While I was at CSUF,  a guest-lecturer spoke in a class I needed to graduate called:  “How...

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“Best” Super Bowl ever decided by dumbest overtime rule ever concocted by humankind

There must be a better way (oh, wait, there is) to settle games as stupendously thrilling as Sunday’s Super Bowl in Houston. I know that sounds silly considering, out of 50, it may have been the best one played. This isn’t about the outcome, or sour grapes against New England winning. Yes, I wanted Atlanta to win but, as a kid, I also wanted a Kawasaki 125 one year for my birthday. Didn’t get that either. This isn’t about that. In fact, the better team won. New England’s comeback from 28-3 down should be regarded as one of all-time greatest. Unlike politics these days, in sports there are no “alternative facts.” In my profession, “scoreboard” dictates. Don’t like quarterback Tom Brady because of his model-wife or political views? Tough. He’s won five Super Bowls and can now be considered the best of all time. Don’t like Bill Belichick because he sulks in lumpy, hooded sweatshirts and is tougher to beat information out of than a KGB agent? Too bad. He can now be considered the greatest football coach ever, at any level. What I can argue, however, is that the NFL continues to have the single, dumbest overtime rule in history, and that includes rock, paper and scissors. You mean to tell me, after reporting to camp in July and then battling your jock strap off through months of...

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