More Q-and-A with Denny Crum on today’s college game, the best JC player he ever saw, and how he still is ‘Cool Hand Luke’

On the official “Joe B. and Denny Show” website (linked here), Joe B. Hall wears the blue jacket and Denny Crum has the red blazer ablazin’.

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Kentucky vs. Louisville never dies. Even in a battle of Snugglies.

Check out the clip from CBS Sports when Louisville and Kentucky met in the 1983 NCAA tournament, in the Mideast Regional final, with Crum and Hall trading barbs.

And here’s more from today’s Q-and-A (linked here) on Crum being inducted into the inaugural Pierce College Hall of Fame on Monday night (more on that linked here):

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Q: Do you think junior colleges still have the same impact on getting players or coaches into major college programs as in the past?

Crum: Yea, I don’t see as many go from junior college to major colleges as it used to be. It seems what they do is hire coaches from successful programs to fill coaching vacancies, and then those other spots get filled by an assistant or someone from a smaller four-year school or a D-II program. It used to be a great way for a coach to move up.

Q: Maybe it’s someone many people would have never heard of, but who’s the best player you’ve ever seen or coached that came out of a junior college?

Crum: Oh boy …. I’ll tell you what, Sidney Wicks was maybe as good as it gets when he was at Santa Monica College. Six-foot-eight and strong. But you don’t see those kinds of kids anymore in junior college. It used to be that you could use a good junior college player to fill in some of your holes on the roster, if you needed a guard, or a forward, or even a center. Everyone has a need. More kids from JCs could go right in and start at four-year schools, but now it seems you come out of high school, go the four-year schoolk, stay a year and move on. I don’t think there needs to be any kind of stigma on being a junior college player.

Q: I saw a quote of yours that said, “When I was at UCLA with coach Wooden, we spent an hour to an hour and a half on fundamentals every single day; including the day before the national championship.” Do today’s college basketball teams lack in fundamentals?

Crum: I’ve seen too many of them that aren’t fundamentally sound. Regardless of talent. But I can give you examles of what a team can do with fundamentals — Northern Iowa, Cornell, those are great examples. And they’re in the Sweet 16.

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Q: Is it because college players come and go too quickly and don’t stay around long enough to learn the fundamentals?

Crum: We lose a lot of them, but you can see how 7 or 8 seniors on the Cornell team have obviously come a long way in four years. If you’re not fundamentally sound, that kind of success doesn’t happen. You’ve got to be better at than instead of just finding talented superstars.

Q: And there’s no secret why the kids leave early …

Crum: I can’t blame them for the kind of money they can make. Golly, you could stay in school and get 10 degrees and never make that kind of money. It’s hard to fault the kids, especially those from lower-income families. They’ve never had anything and it’s hard to pass up on. But the quality of player suffers and it has hurt college basketball. It doesn’t mean there are some good programs and teams out there. Overall, (the NBA) has been good for college, good for those kids that have the opportunity to be lottery picks. It shows. You can tell. But just think how good Kentucky could be if all those kids stayed. In four years, gracious, they’d be unbelieveable.

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Courtesy of Pierce College

Denny Crum, left, with former Pierce College President Rocky Young.

Q: Do you fill out a tournament bracket?

Crum: Yeah, and at the end of the first round, i had eight winners and eight losers, and seven of them were the favorites who got beat. It shows how teams seeded 10 or 11 — any one of them on a given nght can beat you. I’d never seen St. Mary’s play, or Utah State, or Washington. Or Cornell. And then a team like Michigan State and West Virginia lose their points guards … anyone can win at any time.

Q: And where did you have Louisville finishing in your bracket?

Crum: I had them losing in the second round to Duke. They can beat anyone, but they could also lose to anyone — and they did. Even if they played good enough to beat Cal (in the first round), I’m not sure they’d get past Duke. And then, like everybody else, I had Kansas beating Kentucky in the final.

Q: And that’s the beauty of the tournament. …

Crum: Absolutely, so don’t mess with it. If you go up to 96 teams, it may save some coaching jobs because they’d get something extra in their paychecks, but we have the best postseason going. The route to the Final Four is better than the Super Bowl or World Series. I’d hate to see it change.

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Q: One last thing: Did you like the name Al McGuire gave you when he was a TV broadcaster, “Cool Hand Luke”? Can you apply that to your poker playing now?

Crum: As a kid growing up, when you’ve got name like Crum, you get called everything. Al and I turned out to be really good friends. It’s hard of me to be critical of him. That didn’t bother me. It does apply to poker playing. You’ve got to have a lot of patience, I’ll admit that. That could irritate some people.
Texas Hold ‘em is the only game where you can lose even if you have a good hand. I can’t think of any other game when you can lose even if you’re playing well. I haven’t played in a tournament much this year.

== More on Denny Crum:

== A recent interview with the website LostLettermen.com (linked here)
== His Basketball Hall of Fame page (linked here)
== His Louisville website page (linked here)
== His Wikipedia page (linked here)
== His latest poker tournament appearance (linked here) and a 2005 SI story on his poker playing (linked here)

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The Media Learning Curve: March 12-26

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In today’s issue of USA Today (linked here), under the headline, “Veteran announcers speak from experience,” a story focused on broadcasters who are up there in age makes the assertion:

Septuagenarians and octogenarians are asked to keep up with the play of teenagers and young men, keep an eye on officials’ calls, game clocks and more, all while directors are barking commands in their ears and asking them to synchronize on-air promotional reads. … Does that means it’s time for some of them to hang up their mikes? Is the tyranny of the clock overpowering?

That’s gonna leave a mark. After all, it’s septuagenarians and octogenarians who make up 83 percent of today’s newspaper readership.

Vin Scully doesn’t seem to think there’s all that much to fear. Not at 82 strong — and not the oldest on a USA Today list that’s included in the story of those still doing play-by-play. That would be Jerry Coleman (85), doing games for the Padres, and Milo Hamilton (82) on the Astros. Ralph Kiner (87) is a Mets analyst.

“I’ve been carrying a laptop on the road for some 10 years because the internet offers a goldmine of information, anecdotal or otherwise,” Scully says. “But there’s so much available today that there’s the constant temptation to provide too much information on the broadcast.”

Well said. Take that as a teaching moment, you young, cram-it-all-in-there broadcasters.

As for other things we learned:

== Dick Enberg, calling his last NCAA tournament game for CBS on Saturday before he dives back into baseball with the Padres, says “I’m not dying” (linked here).

== Chet Simmons, the former NBC Sports and ESPN chief, has left the park (linked here)

== The Orlando Sentinel columnist sticks up for his guy — and not for Urban Meyer (linked here)

== Why would Bob Costas be calling the sports editor of the Highland (Calif.) community news to debate whether the media did enough to call out steroid users in the 1980s? (linked here).

== CBS is Bill Self-serving (linked here)

== Does what’s going on in San Diego sports-talk float your clipper ship (linked here)?

== Don Cherry is worried about a bio-pix mini-series on his life by CBC? (linked here)

== Five good minutes with Tiger … not for CBS (linked here)

== MSG tried a 3D hockey game … and many dug it (linked here) like the NYTimes (linked here).

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== AND FINALLY:

== You doubted whether CBS’ Gus Johnson would get the chance to scream about an upset this month? (linked here) You want him for your Final Four announcer? (linked here)

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Our Daily Dread: You want cabanas, you got ‘em

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Your Home Depot Center listens. Even the 27,000-soccer stadium named after the home-improvement store.

The 125-acre facility in Carson, home of Major League Soccer from here until it runs out of money or fan interest, announced today that there will be “new additions” and “perks” for guests. Some of what will be obvious: Better food and drink menu.

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But the topper: VIP four-seat cabana suites and new outdoor lounge on the west terrace above sections 104 and 105, available for single-game rentals. It comes with two VIP parking passes, comped food and drink with waiter service and access to the stadium club. How much do they cost? Enough so that it’s not listed in the press release the HDC issued today. You gotta call 877-604-8777.

Also note: The Stadium Club’s west terrace has been transformed into an outdoor lounge, complete with 2,295 square feet of Tiger Turf Sierra Pro synthetic grass, flat screen TVs, outdoor couches and lounge furniture and a full bar — oh, and 30 planters filled with jasmine flowers.

You can see it first tonight when Chivas USA opens the season against Colorado (7:30 p.m.) or Saturday when the Galaxy faces New England (8 p.m.).

As for the food: Fried chicken from Pollo Campero, Starbucks coffee and Cinnabon. Plus BBQ brisket stacker and pulled pork sandwiches, pizza-by-the-slice, tostadas grandes, super nachos … check it out (linked here).

“At the conclusion of the 2009 season, we issued an online survey to season ticket holders from both the Galaxy and Chivas USA, and one comment that was consistent was a desire for a wider variety of food and beverage options,” said Katie Pandolfo, the Home Depot Center general manager. “We are grateful for the feedback we received, and made several improvements during the off-season that we’re excited to roll out this weekend.”

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The Media Learning Curve: Social network this

Twitter to yourself:

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== The lineup for this weekend’s CIF state high school basketball championships:
= Tonight:
6 p.m.: D-II girls championship: Carondelet (Concord) vs. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) with Paul Sunderland, Caren Horstmeyer and Dan Dibley.
8 p.m.: D-II boys championship: St. Francis (Mountain View) vs. Lincoln (San Diego), with
Sunderland, Sean Farnham and Dibley.
= Saturday:
6 p.m.: D-I girls championship: Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) vs. Long Beach Poly, with Sunderland, Horstmeyer and Dibley.
8 p.m.: D-I boys championship: Newark Memorial vs. Westchester, with Sunderland, Farnham and Dibley.
It is also streamed live online (linked here).

== In a piece that’s never too late to tell again, but one that seemed more timely linked to the ABC/ESPN coverage of the Breeders’ Cup last November, the story of Japanese-American interment at the Santa Anita racetrack stables during World War II in 1942 gets a closer look Sunday on ESPN’s Outside the Lines (6 a.m., ESPN, 9 a.m. ESPN) and SportsCenter ( 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.) with Tom Rinaldi narrating it. We believe the story was planned to air earlier to make a connection with the former prisoners to jockey Corey Nakatani, but an injury prevented him from racing in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup, thus it was held. A sample from the story (linked here).

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== HBO’s “Hard Knocks” has landed the New York Jets as the all-access victim this summer, starting with shows on Aug. 11 and ending on Sept. 8. “Get ready for some of Coach Ryan’s ‘blunt force trauma’ behind the scenes with this staff and this talent,” said HBO president Ross Greenburg. A 24-person NFL Films crew will live at the Jets’ training camp and shoot more than 1,000 hours of video. For those who don’t recall, “Hard Knocks” started in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens, followed by Dallas (2002 and 2008), Kansas City (2007) and Cincinnati (2009). HBO and NFL Films recently received four Sports Emmy nominations for last season’s “Hard Knocks” including Outstanding Edited Sports Series/Anthology, Outstanding Camera Work, Outstanding Editing and Outstanding Post-Produced Audio/Sound. Winners will be announced April 26.

== The FoxSports.com show “Cubed,” which got an Emmy nomination for Outstanding New Approaches to Sports Programming, has returned with new episodes starting Thursday at 10 a.m. on FoxSports.com’s “Lunch With Benefits” link.

== The Dodgers Sports Lab, which experiments with new media, won the Golden Matrix Award for best music video. During the 2009 season, a jumbo-tron production called “Ice Cream Paint Job” used still images from Dodger team photographer Jon SooHoo with motion graphics by Darrell Quandt to do the video. More current video: www.dodgers.com/dmn.

== Forty four years after Texas Western College won the NCAA basketball championship, sparking the creation of the movie “Glory Road,” Texas-El Paso has launched a website about the events of the 1966 team at http://www.utep.edu/gloryroad. It includes many never before seen photos provided by the famliy of the late Don Haskins , interviews with Haskins’ wife, Mary, a copy of the 1966 Final Four championship program, the 1965-66 TWC media guide, video highlights and more stories.

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== The NHRA’s Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C., which looks more like a life-sized Soap Box Derby, gets unique coverage on ESPN2 with qualifying (Saturday, 4 p.m.) and finals (Sunday, 2 p.m.) with Paul Page and Mike Dunn.

== All 15 games of the NCAA men’s hockey tournament will be on either ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN360.com, starting today and ending with the April 10 final from Detroit’s Ford Field. The first 12 games are on ESPNU; the rest on ESPN and ESPN2. The broadcast teams: Gary Thorne (play-by-play), Barry Melrose (analyst), Clay Matvick (ice-level reporter) in Detroit; John Buccigross and Melrose at the East Regional in Albany, N.Y.; Clay Matvick and Jim Paradise at the West Regional in Saint Paul, Minn.; Dan Parkhurst and Damian DiGiulian at the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass.; and Ben Holden and Sean Ritchlin at the Midwest Regional in Fort Wayne, Ind.

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== Golf Channel, as it did Thursday, has the rest of the Kia Classic presented by J Golf from La Costa in Carlsbad — the first LPGA Tour event in the U.S. for 2010 — featuring Hall of Famer Judy Rankin, right, debuting as the lead analyst for the network’s LPGA coverage. It airs 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. live today and Saturday and 4 to 6:30 p.m. live Sunday. Tom Abbott is also making his first appearance as the lead play-by-play man.

== The NBC golf designs for the weekend: The final two rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational from Orlando, Fla., (Saturday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Channel 4) with Dan Hicks, Johnny Miller and the rest of the crew; the “Global Golf Adventure” golf travel show hosted by Mark Rolfing, featuring Michelle Wie in Maui, launches Saturday at 11 a.m.; the ” 2010 Golf Digest Equipment Special,” airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m. One inticement to watching Saturday’s travel show: Dottie Pepper offers a tip on how you can improve your own golf game while watching televised golf tournaments.

== Prepping for the May 1 Kentucky Derby, NBC has two prep races Saturday — the Louisiana Derby in New Orleans and the Lane’s End Stakes in Florence, Ky., starting at 2 p.m. on the USA Network. Tom Hammond and Gary Stevens will host the hour-long show. NBC comes back with the Santa Anita Derby as part of its April 3 block of programming with the Wood Memorial.

AND FINALLY:

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== Because bourbon and typing go together so well, an ESPN web series/product placement show called “The Next Round — Served Up By Jim Beam” is set to start April 3 during the first commercial break of the 8 p.m. ESPN SportsCenter as well as on ESPN.com, reports Mediapost.com (linked here). Scoop Jackson, described in the report as a “personality/sports journalist,” will host it, with the idea of bouncing “the latest developments in sports and only timely topics” with actors, comedians and other media personalities. It’ll be recorded in L.A. at a “custom-built ESPN/Jim Beam studio” as well as other remote spots — the web series premiere will be shot at a bar in Boston. Why not?

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The Media Learning Curve: Still yacking it up

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To expand on today’s column (linked here) about Victor Rojas’ new sports social network website Yakcy.com (linked here):

First, thanks to Maury Brown’s BizofBaseball.com (linked here) for writing about Yakcy.com when it launched last week.

Rojas (email him here), who will make his first Angels’ regular-season broadcast on April 5 when they open the season at home against the Twins, explains on Yakcy.com that his interests in the media go beyond just broadcasting for the Rangers and Marlins in the past. Prior to deciding on a broadcasting career, he did marketing and communications in minor league baseball, Arena Football, NHL and Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami. He also worked for GolfSpan.com.

We asked more about what happen with this webtool once fans figure out its general purpose and navigate through it all:

Q: We see on Twitter where reporters use it as a means of reporting news as it happens. Is that something you see happening with Yakcy?

A: I really don’t know. The focus now is just on social interaction and coining a new term in networking. It’s about interaction of fans especially at one event. Ideally, one feature will be links to hot stories and postings. I really hope that’s why people would be leaving Twitter on that day and going to Yacky, just to talk about the game. I understand that and it’s difficult to control it, but right now, that’s my focus.”

Q: Did you have to coordinate this with Twitter or Facebook ownership to make this work for you?

A: We’re a separate entity. Twiter and Facebook have an open API, so like Tweetdeck (linked here), all the other applications feed off a firehose from Twitter. So if you click on the Twiter logo, you put in your credentials and Twitter will ask you: Yakcy wants to interact with your account, do you allow or deny. It’s up to the user to grant permission. There are people who may have up to 5,000 followers and the last thing they want to do is burden them with posts from Yakcy pertaining to a Steelers-Bengals game. So you don’t have to stay on Twitter to have the same experience.

Q: How do you find most people coming to Yakcy so far?

A: The whole mindset is running through any number of scenarios — raising money, spending it on advertising. I think the best way is to get it out there on the grassroots level, put it in the hands of the users and see if it can catch a spark here and there, then we can make decisions on it. If people don’t like it, what’s the point? Then the onus is on you to spend all that money and be accountable.”

Q: What other ways to you see people using Yakcy?

A: Just think of yourself sitting at a game at the Big A and on the scoreboard it shows the Yankees are up 17-2 on the Red Sox. That’s just static infomation, unless there’s some highlight video. You’ve got no idea how it got that way. With the mobile app, you go to the Yankees clubhouse and scroll through and virtually put yourself at Yankee Stadium so see what’s going on from a fan’s perspective.”

Q: What’s the long-range thoughts about this — could you be the Mark Cuban of sports social interaction?

A: I can’t look that far ahead, there are too many things to concentrate on. Right now, it’s already consumed me and I’m having fun learning about everything on the tech side. Down the road, I can’t control that stuff. Ask anyone who lived in the dot-com generation of the late ’90s. The whole social media thing can go away. Twitter has yet to roll out monetization, but they get money thrown at them every day. I can’t look at it that way. I’m a broadcaster first. The minute I start worrying about the bottom line, I get away from the focus and that’s how products and services lag behind.

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Coming Friday: Yak-ity Yakcy, powered by Victor Rojas

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Think 21st Century chat room. Brought to you via Twitter.

It’s a concept that Victor Rojas, the new TV play-by-play for the Angels and former MLB Network host, kept rolling around in his head while trying to watch and converse with people on his iPhone during the White Sox-Twins play-in game last October. He lost sleep over it.

Why can’t we filter out that string of conversation on Twitter to focus just on the game we’re watching?

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The result: Yakcy, a beta site Rojas launched last week to give fans watching a particular event the ability to talk to others also watching without the background 140-word noise.

Check it out (linked here) and we’ll write more about it in the print edition, because that’s where all the teckies go for their state-of-the-art media news.

== Rojas’ blog (linked here)
== Rojas’ Twitter feed (linked here)

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Our Daily Dread: Fur sure, Candy Parker is dog-gone set against wearing fur

Never in all the work that the People for Ethical Treatment for Animals do did we ever assume there were people wearing beagle, poodle or cocker spanier as their choice of luxury coat.

Candace Parker apparently wants it to stay that way.

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The Sparks star is the latest hoops celeb — Ron Artest, A’mare “Choose ink, not mink” Stoudamireand Dennis Rodman have done it in the past — to join the PETA revolution against animal cruelty. Particularly, against the wearing of fur.

But she’s doing it in a way that, to use, confuses the message.

“I feel very passionate about the fur campaign for PETA,” she says in the latest video clip on the organization’s website (above), as well as posing with her mutt for a campaign poster.

“I really feel like it’s very cruel what [fur businesses] do to animals. … I love my dog and couldn’t imagine anyone harming her. … Animals don’t have a voice, so people have to speak for them.”

Yes, there is testing done on animals that’s not cool. And mistreatment of animals, especially dogs, as we’ve learned from Michael Vick. More dogs, and cats, need adoption.

But to somehow tie dogs into fur trade … are we connecting the dots with a giant leap from Point A to Point Q?

Apparently not, PETA says.

Among the information they give on their site:

“Animals killed for their fur endure tremendous pain and suffering. Foxes, minks, and rabbits–and even dogs and cats–are bludgeoned, stomped, electrocuted, and often skinned alive. Undercover investigations reveal that animals struggle and scream in pain as workers rip the skin off their writhing bodies.”

If that’s the case and we don’t know about it, shame on us. If PETA is trying to stretch the boundaries to get their point across, show me a dog coat or a cat handbag that we shouldn’t be purchasing.

Otherwise, we’re on boad with Candy’s anti-fur project. And if it helps, she’s also offering up a contest to win an autographed ball — a ball, we suspect, that was made of leather? (contest linked here)

No dogs were harmed in the construction of these paragraphs.

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Play it forward: March 22-28 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

MONDAY

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NHL: Kings vs. Colorado, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

If the NHL playoffs started in a couple weeks as planned — not today or tomorrow or any other stupid scenario we like to throw out there — the Kings could be dancing with these Avs in the first round. They won’t be dancing with the Stars. Dallas is down there in “DNP — Coaches’ Confusion” category in the Western Conference (along with those Ducks). If the Kings and Avs really cared, they could also watch the season debut of the “Dancing With The Stars” co-called competition. Odds of Erin Andrews acing out Ocho Cinco in the finals … we don’t give a puck about it, really.

TUESDAY

College basketball: Women’s NCAA basketball tournament, UCLA vs. Nebraska in Minneapolis, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2:

The Bruins’ victory Sunday in the first round over N.C. State puts them up against top-seeded Nebraska (31-1) in the Kansas City region. Yes, UCLA is still alive in the tournament. The girls. Take what you can get.

NBA: Clippers at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:

If the Knicks can top the Mavericks, as they did last week, ending the team’s 13-game win streak, then so can the Clips. OK, who are we kidding?

WEDNESDAY

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NBA: Lakers at San Antonio, 6:30 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:

The first of a five-game road trip over seven days starts for the Lakers in a place they’ve not had much fun. And if we’re playing “what if” again, these two could meet in the first round of the playoffs. Did you know someone was thoughtful enough to start a “Lakers-Spurs Rivalry” Wikipedia page (linked here). So this is what Bruce Bowen has been doing during his retirement.

NHL: Kings at Colorado, 6 p.m., FSW:

See: Kings-Avs, Monday. The reason they couldn’t play this one again at Staples Center: There’s something called “Calibash 2010″ taking place on this night. According to the promoters, it’s some kind of music thing that will feature “Alexis y Fido, Ivy Queen, Rakim y Ken Y, La Factoria, Arcangel, Tony Dize, Cosculluela, Angel y Kris, Zion y Lenox, De La Getto, Voltio, Makano … and more!” We can barely handle a George Lopez concert.

THURSDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA basketball tournament Sweet 16, 4 to 9 p.m., Channel 2:

West top-seed Syracuse has 23- and 22-point wins going into the next round against a fifth-seeded Butler team that almost couldn’t get past 13-seed Murray State. This one’s in Salt Lake City (4:07 p.m. tipoff, with Gus Johnson and Len Elmore, followed by Kansas State-Xavier). Meanwhile, back in Syracuse’s own Carrier Dome, 11-seed Washington is left to uphold the Pac-10′s dignity against second-seeded West Virginia (4:27 p.m. tipoff, with Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas, followed by Kentucky-Cornell).

NBA: Clippers at Houston, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket; NHL: Kings at St. Louis, 5 p.m., FSW:

If there wasn’t a dang John Mayer concert at Staples Center tonight, this could have been the double-header options. You buying that? Move it all to Nokia next time. Or the ESPN Zone.

Golf: PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, first round, Golf Channel (round two also on Golf Channel, rounds three and four on Saturday and Sunday on Channel 4):

Orlando resident Tiger Woods supposedly considered playing in this event. Wrote Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi on Saturday: “As a fellow Orlandoan, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tiger Woods. Thanks,Tiger. For nothing. Once again, Tiger has treated the city where he lives just like one of his many alleged mistresses. Used us. Abused us. And then callously excused us. Tiger announced earlier this week he would make his much-ballyhooed return to golf not in Orlando at next weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, but at the Masters two weeks later. Yet another example of how Tiger has viewed Orlando since he moved here in 1996. We are merely his tax shelter; not his hometown.” Chew on that for a while.

FRIDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA basketball tournament Sweet 16, 4 to 9 p.m., Channel 2:

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Having “UNI” at the top slot of the Midwest Region bracket simply reflects on the uniqueness of this annual scramble. A united Northern Iowa squad can’t possibly have gone this far in the so-called “Group of Death,” with Kansas and Georgetown already fallen off the radar. The Panthers face Michigan State in the Sweet 16 matchup (approx. 6:37 p.m. tipoff, with Vern Lundquist and Bill Raftery), with the winner most likely to meet second-seed Ohio State, which bucks up against Tennessee in St. Louis (4:04 p.m. tipoff). In the South Regional at Houston, 10th-seeded St. Mary’s continues to wave the West Coast Conference flag, taking on Baylor (4:27 p.m. tipoff, with Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg, followed by Duke-Purdue).

Soccer: Chivas USA vs. Colorado, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m.:

The opener to the Major League Soccer schedule, now that there’ll be no strike. Who’s ready for some kickball?

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NBA: Lakers at Oklahoma City, 5 p.m., Channel 9:

Among the NBA’s current scoring leaders, Kobe Bryant (27.7 points a game) has trailed Kevin Durant (29.7 ppg) through most of the season. In the Lakers’ last (and only other visit) to Thunder Mountain, Kobe had 31 and Durant had 28 (all in the first three quarters) during the Lakers’ three-point OT victory.
With the score tied 90-90 in regulation, Durant casted off a 3-pointer that missed instead of driving to the basket. “I thought he had a chance to attack (Andrew) Bynum,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Kevin thought he could make that shot.” Everything was not OK in OKC. Live and learn. And shoot it again if you get the chance.

SATURDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA basketball tournament Elite Eight, noon to 4 p.m., Channel 2:

East Region top-seed Kentucky should have outsmarted Cornell to get this far, right?

Exhibition baseball: Dodgers vs. Seattle, 1:05 p.m., Channel 9:

One more practice game for Vin Scully. Real stuff starts pretty soon.

NBA: Lakers at Houston, 5:30 p.m., Channel 9:

Yao’s still on the DL? Yikes.

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Soccer: Galaxy vs. New England, Home Depot Center, 8 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel:

Donovan’s back, Becks is out and it still shows on the Galaxy home page that the result of their last game on Nov. 22 was a loss in PKs, 5-4. That was the MLS Cup. This is Game 1 of the ’10 season.

SUNDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA basketball tournament Elite Eight, noon to 4 p.m., Channel 2:

If South Region top-seed Duke gets into the K-zone and makes it this far, it’ll be the 18th appearance in the final eight, but only the third this century.

NBA: Clippers vs. Golden State, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:

Step right up and watch Steph Curry get it done.

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