Monday, March 3, 2008

Blame someone if you want, but don't blame Kirk

OK let’s get this out of the way right now. Yesterday afternoon’s game was a heart breaker. No doubt. In case you missed it, Arizona lost to number four UCLA 68-66. Arizona had a chance to hit a winning shot in the last seconds, but rather then take a wide open shot Kirk Walters dished the ball to a triple teamed Jerryd Bayless. Bayless was unable to get a clean look.
That being said one person I don’t blame at all is Kirk Walters. Walters has taken heat over the past few years in part because he has yet to recover from a major case of mono (among other things) that caused him to miss most of the season last year. He has taken a lot of heat on the talk shows, from the message boards and just from friends at bars.
Look, he’s not that good. I’ll give you that. But he’d school me and he’d most likely school you too. But for a few reason he has not gotten any better over the years. In my mind there really is two reasons why this is the case.
Reason one: playing time. How, how, I ask you can he get his feet back under him if he’s not getting any time on the floor. Think about your job. Would you be able to get any better at your job if you only did it one hour a week? Why Kevin O’Neil won’t play him more I don’t understand.
I know people are going to tell me that he needs to be good to get playing time. I get that I really do. I think he could have been better then he turned out if he had gotten more time during the soft part of the season.
Reason two: he’s afraid. He’s taken so much heat from so many people that now he’s afraid. I’ve heard that the play in question was a planned shot for Bayless, but Walters was wide up. Really wide up. Yet, he was’t going to shoot. He wasn’t going to take the heat again. He didn't want to be the goat anymore. And sadly he ended up being the goat anyway.
So should basketball players be so soft? Should anyone be so soft that what mostly nameless, faceless people say about him effects his play? No, I guess not. But don’t forget these guys are kids. I remember when I was 21. I would let people in my head all the time. There was nothing worse then being yelled at by my boss. But what was worse was when my peers said something bad. That would get in my head every time. I know that a lot of people that are my friends now, I wanted to fight at times, based just on a few words, when I was 21.
So what can we learn from the Walters era (Sunday was his last home game with Arizona, unless the play some NIT home games-well get into that later). Why do we feel the need to get on the radio or onto the message boards and blog sites and say bad things about a kid who is playing mostly for the love the game. Let’s tone it down, just a little. Show a little love for our guys. For our team. Our family.

Tune in tomorrow for as the Wildcat world turns.

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