Play it forward: March 14-20 on your L.A. sports calendar

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Can we help you find your college basketball game of choice? Did you try truTV yet? HGTV? The Oprah Channel?

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

MONDAY

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NBA: Lakers vs. Orlando, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW, ESPN:

Welcome back to L.A., Dwight Howard. Would you like this locker next to Kobe’s? If the Magic center comes to the Lakers when he’s a free agent in the summer of ’12, will Shaq talk him out of it? Howard posted this on his Twitter account recently about his future: “I never said I wanted to leave . . . stop reading the rumors. It’s really stupid. And annoying to be honest. They tryna make something outta nothing I have another yr under my contract before I can sign.” Stan Van Gundy couldn’t make that any more clear.

NBA: Clippers at Memphis, 5 p.m., Prime:

The five-game roadie ends, and the Clips could still use some more tiger blood to get near a playoff spot – even one that these Grizzles seem to even be holding onto right now.

TUESDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA tournament, first round in Dayton, Ohio: NC-Asheville vs. Arkansas-Little Rock, 3:30 p.m.; Alabama-Birmingham vs. Clemson, 6 p.m., truTV:

Seriously, UAB? You don’t have to be a Harvard scholar to figure out 10 other teams that could be taking its place as the field of 68 tips off.

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MLS: Galaxy at Seattle, 6:30 p.m., ESPN:

Season No. 16 for the local kickballers, with an expanded 34-game season that runs until the end of October. Plus, the addition of one Juan Pablo Angel, a 13-goal scorer for the Red Bull last season, to step in for the departed Edson Buddle as the new sled dog for the pack led by David Beckham and Landon Donovan. It’s the final year of Becks’ five-year, $32-plus million contract, and the 35-year-old could just as easily make this his last go-around. Watch and see.

NHL: Kings at Nashville, 5 p.m., FSW:

To end the four-game road trip, don’t let it sound like a country-western song.

WEDNESDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA tournament, first round in Dayton, Ohio: Alabama State vs. Texas-San Antonio, 3:30 p.m.; USC vs. Virginia Commonwealth, 6 p.m., truTV:

As long as the Trojans don’t have to face Rider, Bradley, TCU or Oregon, the reinstated Kevin O’Neill could have an easier path toward a meeting later on Friday against Georgetown in Chicago.

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NBA: Clippers vs. Philadelphia, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

Since Jan. 21, only the Chicago Bulls have posted a better record in the Eastern Conference than the Sixers. Thanks to Jrue Holiday and Elton Brand.

NHL: Ducks vs. St. Louis, Honda Center, 7 p.m., FSW:

Last meeting: Blue scored nine goals on the Ducks’ Curtis McElhinney and rookie Timo Pielmeier.

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THURSDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA tournament, second round in Tampa Bay: UCLA vs. Michigan State, approx. 6:30 p.m. TBS:

A meeting of the March Madness minds: Can Ben Howland refocus his Bruins after their lethargic Pac-10 tournament performance? Can Tom Izzo work his tournament magic and rally his three starting seniors to live up to preseason expectations? It’s a quirky meeting of star programs, all right. Consider the Spartans’ decline. In Week 3, they’re 2-0 and ranked sixth in the country, with six first-place votes. By Week 10, they’ve dropped out of the Top 25 all together. This day also includes San Diego State vs. Northern Colorado in Tucson, Ariz.. (approx. 1:30 p.m., TNT) and St. John’s vs. Gonzaga in Denver.

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

A fluke-ish goal by the Blues’ Erik Johnson in the third period resulted in a 2-1 Kings’ loss back in January.

FRIDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA Tournament, 16 second-round games include Arizona vs. Memphis in Tulsa, Okla., approx. 11:45 a.m., Channel 2 and Washington vs. Georgia in Charlotte, N.C, approx. 6:45 p.m., Channel 2:

The Pac-10 reps who met in the conference tournament final share the day. Here’s a quirk: Steve Kerr, the former Wildcats star guard, will call Arizona’s game with Marv Albert.

NBA: Lakers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

Sorry if you invested three grand in courtside seats for this one.

SATURDAY

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

Prelude to the home-and-home series on April 8-9 that will end the regular season and likely determine which of them – or neither – make the Western Conference’s final eight. The Kings have won the last two of the previous three meetings this season.

MLS: Chivas USA vs. Sporting Kansas City, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m.:

One of the Goats’ preseason losses was to UCLA, 2-1, on their home turf. That came after another loss to Canada’s under-23 national team. Are they ready to play games for real, against the team that used by known as the Kansas City Wizards?

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NBA: Clippers vs. Cleveland, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime:

These bunch of losers not only aren’t LeBron’s team any more, but they belong to Baron Davis. Dribble-drive that Kia back onto the court and see how that goes over.

College basketball: Men’s NCAA Tournament, third round, eight games, from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. tipoffs, Channel 2, TNT and TBS:

Have you figure out how this new CBS-Turner system works yet? Or is it just easier to follow along on NCAA.com? You know, this round sure looks like the old second round.

SUNDAY

NBA: Clippers vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime; Lakers vs. Portland, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:

Not a preview of the Western Conference semifinals, but conveniently located for all invited – just like the recent Pac-10 tournament.

MLS: Galaxy vs. New England, Home Depot Center, 5 p.m., Galavision:

First 15,000 for the home opener get a free magnet schedule. At least slap it on your forehead and see if it brings relief for migraine headaches.

NHL: Ducks vs. Calgary, Honda Center, 5 p.m., Prime:

Cam Fowler won it in OT for the Ducks in their last meeting in Calgary, after Teemu Selanne tied it with under 3 minutes to go in regulation.

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College basketball: Men’s NCAA Tournament, third round, eight games, from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. tipoffs, Channel 2, TNT, TBS and TruTV:

All is sweet for the 16 left after this day’s play, with four of them heading to Anaheim for a regional final.

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Steve Kerr, from close range

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When UCLA’s 88-game college basketball winning streak ended in 1974, 8-year-old Steve Kerr cried. The son of Dr. Malcolm Kerr, a longtime political science professor at the school, Steve grew up on power blue and gold.

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When UCLA coach Gary Cunningham sent his teams out on the floor at Pauley Pavilion in 1978 and ’79, teenaged Steve Kerr rolled out the balls. He had an inside track on getting one of the prized ballboy jobs in the city.

When UCLA didn’t recruit him after his senior season at Palisades High, a realistic Steve Kerr understood. Turns out, he had a much better future spending five years in the Arizona desert, leading coach Lute Olson’s team to the 1988 Final Four.

When CBS merged with Turner Sports to expand coverage of the new 68-game men’s college basketball tournament, Steve Kerr, a recent returnee to the TV world as an NBA analyst, has a new opportunity. Joining Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg as the broadcast team for the Final Four and championship game kind of brings things full circle.

Just a year removed from a three-season stint at the Phoenix Suns’ general manager, the product of a successful 15-year NBA career (with four championships), the former long-range shooting Kerr says he’s “fired up” all over again with this assignment. It begins Tuesday with play-in games in Dayton, Ohio, then traveling to Tulsa, Okla., to work the second- and third-round contests with Marv Albert.

Living in north San Diego near Del Mar, with a son about to play next year at the University of San Diego, the 45-year-old Kerr reflects on a very different world from the one he experienced more than 20 years ago as a player and even more recently as an NBA exec:

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Question: How different have you been watching the college game these days from when you did as an NBA general manager or even as an NBA broadcaster?

Kerr: The last three years, I was watching it far more for the players than for the teams. I’d go to the Big East Tournament and sit through four games a day for four straight days, then go to the ACC Tournament and do the same. It was awesome, but I was really watching just the individual play. Now I’m focusing on teams and trends and strategies, and it’s really been fun again. The NBA game has been second-nature to me since I’ve been watching them forever, so to focus back on the college game has been a new challenge.

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Question: We saw you work on the UCLA-USC broadcast at the Galen Center a couple of months ago. What else has got you refocused on college ball again?

Kerr: I did Oklahoma-Arizona a month before that one, a San Diego State-BYU game in San Diego recently. I ended up doing three Pac-10 games, and I’ll be at two Big Ten Tournament games this weekend, so by the time the tournament starts, maybe seven or eight games, which is very helpful in feeling the rhythm and time-out situations, the subtle rule changes. It’s been good to get my feet wet again with all that.

Question: Seeing the college game with a fresh set of eyes, what are some of the issues facing the sport that are most troubling?

Kerr: Without a doubt, it’s one and done. You’re getting so many players who are very talented but leave before they even give themselves time to develop. You rarely get a team anymore with star players that has experience, like the North Carolina team of 2009. Occasionally, you get a situation like Kentucky had last year with all that freshman talent. But it’s a shame when the players leave and it affects the overall quality of play. The tournament is still great, with all the passion and emotion, but the level of play has definitely dropped off.

Question: So how do you fix it?

Kerr: It would be tough, but maybe with (the NBA’s) new collective bargaining agreement, you change some rules. But that’s a long shot. You can’t blame some of them for going pro with all the money out there.

One of the things I realized as a GM is when you see the list of those players who have declared to come out early, maybe 75 percent of them are players you’ve never heard of. That’s when it really gets bizarre. You wonder why kids would bypass their education and go after a dream that never gets fulfilled. Of the 25 percent you do know, some make it and will do fine, but even then some of them would be better if they’d stayed in college. And then there are guys that drop off like flies. They’re just kids and they don’t know the difference.

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Did you see the comment that the Clippers’ Willie Warren (above, right) made the other day? (The Clippers’ 2010 second-round pick out of Oklahoma was recently sent to their Development League squad in Bakersfield for the second time this season). He tweeted something about he may just go back to school because he didn’t know if he could deal with all this. Here was a projected lottery pick as a freshman, stayed in school, had a lousy sophomore year, still came out, and just wasn’t ready. You wonder what would have happened if he did had some more coaches mentoring him.

To me, that’s such a big issue on so many levels, not just how much better a player will get, but how better of a person he’d be with a degree. Even if he did make the NBA, he’d still be much better off at that point, having developed more as a human being.

Question: Do you think of what kind of a team UCLA might have right now if some of those players hadn’t left after a season or two? But then, you look at the success they’ve had in the NBA. Is that a tough thing to convince a kid to stay when others have such quick success?

Kerr: It really is. Schools like UCLA, Kentucky and Duke especially get the big-time recruits and can’t keep them. A UCLA team right now with Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, and Jrue Holliday running the point. Are you kidding me? That would be incredible. But that’s the way it goes.

Question: You can compare that to the UCLA teams you saw as a kid growing up, how they stayed together. As a ballboy, what are some of your strongest memories of getting to be close to some of those players?

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Kerr: I was just in awe of it. There was Kiki Vandeweghe, another Palisades High guy. Roy Hamilton, who ironically I worked for this season as an executive producer for Fox Sports. Marques Johnson . . . Brad Holland. The players were really respectful.

I had been a UCLA fan since I was old enough to understand what was going on. I remember coming out of Pauley Pavilion when UCLA beat Maryland, which was the No. 2 team in the country with John Lucas and Tom McMillen. I remember crying when the (88-game win) streak was broken in South Bend. It was already in my blood.

I still remember coming out of Pauley once and the fans were complaining that UCLA only won by four points – they’re all asking each other, ‘What’s wrong with our team?’ I asked my dad, ‘Didn’t we win?’ He said that everyone was used to winning games by 20 points.

Question: How did the UCLA ballboy job come about?

Kerr: I had a couple of ins. It helped that my dad was a professor there, but I also knew Herb Furth, who was the game-clock operator and was part of the ballboy interview process. I remember that our main job was wear blue corduroys and a white tennis shirt, we weren’t allowed to shoot at all – and that part was tough. They were pretty strict. We never went into the locker rooms. We sat under the hoop and rebounded for the players (during warmups) and then sat under the hoop and wiped the floor if there was sweat. But it was such a thrill.

And then there was Coach Wooden, who would still be there. I probably have the same story as everyone else — going to his camp, writing him a letter five years ago just to tell him what a big impact he had on my life and getting a letter back from his two days later.

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Question: Were your dreams of going to UCLA crushed when you graduated from Palisades High and they didn’t make you an offer?

Kerr: It sounds funny now, but I was really a late bloomer. I wasn’t good enough then and I didn’t expect to go there. UCLA recruited players at a much higher level. But there was obvious interest when I got to Arizona, and developed and got pretty good. We clinched our first Pac-10 championship when I was a junior at Pauley Pavilion. We had a lot of great battles with UCLA.

Question: Consider how you weren’t recruited out of high school – you took a trip to Gonzaga, but couldn’t keep up with John Stockton during a scrimmage; you applied to Colorado and wanted to walk on there; suddenly, Arizona and Fullerton seemed to have a scholarship available, and you took the Fullerton offer because of a miscommunication with Lute Olson. Your father straightens it out, and you get to Arizona. After all that, do you ever wonder what would have happened if you went to Fullerton after all?

Kerr: (Laughing) I probably wouldn’t be talking to you right now.

*****************

An aside: To start the Q-and-A, Kerr was asked to comment on all the recent changes taking place the Middle East. His father, Dr. Malcom Kerr (linked here and, in this bio written by Steve’s mother, Ann, linked here), who specialized in Middle East studies and once chaired UCLA’s Political Science department during his 20 years in Westwood, was assassinated in 1989 at age 52, then the president of the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, in an apparent act of anti-American terrorism.

Steve Kerr, who was born in Beirut, spent much of his childhood in Lebanon and other Arab states and attended Cairo American College in Egypt, said this about the recent world events:

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“I’d be very interested to hear what my dad would say. I often talk to my mom about it – she’s still living in the Palisades and is very involved in that world.

“What happened in Egypt is actually very inspiring in how change all came about in a non-violent manner, the result of nothing that was religious but based on the freedom of speech and politics and economy and people who just want to live a better life. They’ve started this wave that really started in Tunisia, but the problem now is what’s going in in Libya.

“The intentions are great and the potential for change is great, but there’s also the potential for more depression and dictatorship. So who knows. But for sure, hearing my dad talk about these things today would be interesting, but so would going back to the Gulf War and everything else since then.”

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The Media Learning Curve: March 4-11

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Why any form of women’s wrestling wouldn’t even pry some away from the attention now on college basketball as March Madness kicks into full gear this weekend, with a new format and more voices in our heads, as we discussed in today’s media column (linked here).

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And for Lent 2011, we’ve given up on many things. Like trying to avoid the temptation of a nice looking cheerleader — who could be as old as our own daughter. They’re part of the appeal of the game. At least they stay all four years. The players don’t even do that.

There’s more:

== For the CBS tournament pairings announcement — Channel 2, Sunday, 3 p.m. — Turner Sports’ Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith will team with CBS’ Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony and Seth Davis to co-host the thing from CBS’ studio in New York. Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg will come in via satellite from the Big Ten championship site in Indianapolis to interview NCAA Basketball Committee Chairman Gene Smith.

The show will also videostream on NCAA.com, CBSSports.com and SI.com.

== Steve Physioc and Marques Johnson call tonight’s Pac-10 tournament semifinals for FSW at 6 and 8:30 p.m., while Gus Johnson and Bob Wenzel do Saturday’s final at 3 p.m. for CBS (Channel 2).

== Because of its committment to doing NCAA men’s tournament games next Thursday, TNT’s regular Thursday NBA doubleheader has been moved to Tuesday next week and will include the Lakers hosting Phoenix (7:30 p.m., with Kevin Harlan and Kevin McHale) following up Chicago at Atlanta (with Dick Stockton and Mike Fratello).

== ESPN covers Monday’s Lakers-Orlando game from Staples Center with Mike Breen calling it, and former St. John’s teammates (on the ’85 Final Four team) Mark Jackson and Chris Mullin as the analysts.

== Paul Burmeister and Solomon Wilcots call the first of 23 Arena Football League games for the NFL Network when Philadelphia faces Pittsburgh tonight at 5 p.m. Fran Charles and Ari Wolfe will also do play-by-play during the course of the season, with Trent Green, Michael Lombardi, Charles Davis, Brian Baldinger and Tom Waddle.

== Check out the tribule to the late golf producer and lifetime Emmy winner Frank Chirkinian that CBS Sports put up on its website (linked here).

== The Dodgers will shift to a new Spanish-language radio partner, Univision’s KTNQ-AM (1020) for all regular season and eight spring training games. Hall of Famer Jaime Jarrin, starting his 53rd season, is rejoined by Pepe Yniguez (13th season) and Fernando Valenzuela (ninth season) on the call.The Dodgers were the first big-league team to start a Spanish-language radio broadcast in 1958.

== In light of Trevor Bayne’s victory at the recent Daytona 500, Fox and NASCAR have produced an hour-long documentary on the event that airs Sunday (10 a.m., Channel 11). And Bayne says he wants to see it. “The show sounds really awesome,” he said in a press release. “Believe it or not, I haven’t had time to sit and watch the entire race, so I look forward to watching the show and seeing how it all went down.”

== AND FINALLY:

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== Skyhorse Publishing has announced that a new book authored by longtime New York broadcaster Bob Wolff will come out later this month called “Bob Wolff’s Complete Guide to Sportscasting: How to Make it in Sportscasting With or Without Talent” (linked here).

From the press release:

“Bob’s insight of how sportscasting works shatters many myths. He explains a creative way to get sportscasting jobs and states that although there are many big names with outstanding talent, there are many others with personal appeal who thrive on camera or behind the mike on personality alone. To get hired, one has to please the hirer.”

With or without talent? We seem to see plenty in the later category.

This, by the way, is a long awaited followup to a 1992 book that Wolff wrote called: “It’s Not Who Won or Lost the Game: It’s How You Sold the Beer” (linked here), which is worth tracking down the $1.99 used versions of the book that appear to be available on the Barnes & Noble website.

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How truTV will set you free

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Maybe the true test of this CBS-Turner mega-March merger that promises to broadcast every single second of the 68-team NCAA men’s basketball tournament ultimately come down to one thing.

Who can flip, fumble, find and fixate on truTV before the Gus Johnson hyperventilates?

This otherwise off-the-sports-radar reality channel — home to such ratings-busters as “Hardcore Pawn,” “Lizard Lick Towing,” and “World’s Dumbest …” — will test our remote-control aptitude when the first four games of the new abbreviated first round are dumped into its programming lineup Tuesday and Wednesday.

True enough, truTV is reputed to be available in some 93 million homes. And if was still named CourtTV, it would probably make more sense these days. But since it has kidnapped 13 of the 67 games during the three-week long event, and has extended studio shows planned for the final weekend, doesn’t that create some unnecessary consternation with channel-challenged viewers that at least know the buttons related to where CBS (26 games), TBS (16) and TNT (12) belong?

Think of when NBC expanded its Olympics coverage on cable to MSNBC or CNBC. Or ESPN told you to find ESPNU for a special event.

Change can be as challenging as simply changing a channel sometimes.

“Basically, it came down to needing four channels do be able to do all these games on a national basis, and when you have 16 games on some days, there’s no way that just CBS, TNT and TBS can do it,” said David Levy, Turner’s president of sales, distribution and sports.

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So the choice was this – DirecTV Channel 246 (right between TBS and TNT), Dish Network Channel 204, Time Warner Cable Channel 74 — instead of CBS College Sports, which has been stuck with less than 50 million cable homes for some time.

With a 14-year, $10.8 billion agreement done, CBS and Turner folks say that most time-consuming challenge for all involved at this point isn’t so much integrating networks, broadcasters, production teams, schedule makers and ad salesmen. It has to do with the consumer education process.

No more CBS lording over everything, switching games at its whim. You’re in charge.

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“We’ve empowered the viewer,” says CBS Sports chief Sean McManus. “He’s got the control in his hands and doesn’t have to rely on a CBS executive to switch the games. We’ll still do some look-ins and some buzzer-beaters, but the concept is: If you’re watching a game on TNT, that’s the one you’re watching and that’s our obligation to show that game in its entirety.

“We’ll help navigate viewers with graphics and point to games on other channels that might be closer if the one they’re watching gets out of hand, but really there’s no flexing here. For better or for worse. And that can take some time (to get used to).”

As forward thinking as all this may be, there will be those who can’t resist knocking a concept that’s long overdue.

Like, Billy Packer.

The former lead CBS college basketball analyst told USA Today recently that he’s been a longtime fan of truTV, “and people who watch it aren’t going to be happy they’re missing their cops and robbers shows” when it switches over to basketball.

“If truTV viewers liked basketball,” he said, “they’d already be watching ESPN.”

True enough.

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HBO, ESPN look back at the college hoop landscape two decades ago through the prism of UNLV and Michigan

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Weaving a common thread of showmanship, cultural rebellion and NCAA sanctions, there’s an intriguing connection between two well-made college basketball-related documentaries that HBO and ESPN will debut this weekend.

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Coming up on the 20th anniversary of UNLV’s last trip to the Final Four, HBO’s hour-long “Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV” (Saturday, 9:30 p.m.) examines the wild-west impact that Jerry Tarkanian had on what was once referred to “Tumbleweed Tech,” after he was lured from Long Beach State in 1973 and somehow survived a tumultuous tenure that caused him to vacate in 1992 after more violations and nasty media attention.

Current CBS college basketball analyst Greg Anthony, Tarkanian’s hard-nosed Vegas-native point guard who with Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon led the school to the 1990 national title, stands out as one of the strongest voices in the piece.

He talks at one point about how the national perception of the program was how “they thought we were thugs and idiots and dumb kids (who) didn’t deserve to be in school.” Anthony, for that matter, was the school’s president of the Young Republicans.

Commentary from comedian Jimmy Kimmel (who grew up in Vegas), Ross Porter (who followed Chick Hearn calling UNLV games on TV that were seen in L.A. from 1978-92) and USC cultural professor Todd Boyd add a cactus-pile of context.

As usual, HBO covers all the bases, and it got a thumbs-up from Tarkanian. In his Las Vegas Sun website blog, he wrote: “(HBO was) professional and fair. The story had to be done and they had a lot of guts for doing it . . . I would say 75 of the program was positive. For me, that is a pretty good percentage.”

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Meanwhile, ESPN Film’s two-hour doc, “The Fab Five” (Sunday, 6 p.m., ESPN), lands with current network NBA analyst Jalen Rose as one of the executive producers and former University of Michigan teammates Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson listed as producers.

Seemingly picking up the story of college basketball where UNLV leaves it off — Duke knocks the Rebels off in the 1991 Final Four, and then meets up with Michigan the next season twice, including beating the Wolverines in the ’92 title game — the Fab 5 really was a two-year phenomonem but seemed like much longer.

Rose, Howard, King and Jackson are the focal points in explaining how 20 years ago they landed on the campus as five heralded freshmen who caused a seismic shift in the hoops world with fashion trends and cautionary tales of quick success.

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Noticeably missing is Chris Webber. The analyst at NBA TV and TNT didn’t feel like talking on camera about either his ill-taken timeout in the ’93 title game, or address his relationship with booster Ed Martin that led to the firing of coach Steve Fisher and rescinding two championship game appearances.

“At this point in Chris’ life, he’s not ready to talk about what happened at that time,” Rose said. “It’s still a sore spot for him. (But) him not being a part of it in 2011 does not affect the integrity of (the documentary) at all. It’s still told in a truthful manner.”

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The bracketeria man says: USC’s teetering disposition in Region 68 Purgatory pushes them closer to a NIT purge

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The fact we live in a world where someone can make a living simply analyzing the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament brackets all year is beyond bizarre enough to begin with.

That ESPN’s Joe Lunardi is a self-certified “bracketologist” who actually does this job very well makes it even more mindnumbing.

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On his often-updated website (linked here), where the field and seedings are constantly up and down graded based on the latest morsel of information, we’ve noticed that USC has been sitting in this group called “first four out” since January (today, they’re joined by Washington State, Missouri State and Alabama), which sits precariously behind another group of four teams that are “on the bubble” (at this moment: Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Colorado and Georgia).

Swallowing our pride and another blast of “5 Hour Energy,” we asked Lunardi to explain this phenomonial Trojan Purgatory Phenomenon and what, at this point, can be done to make it go away.

Lunardi, who also does radio color for St. Joseph’s games in Philadelphia, started his answer with a joke: “I’ve been putting them there all year hoping that someone will invite me to an event in Southern California since its been so dreary in the East Coast.”

But all kidding aside, bracket boy, spit out your knowledge:

“Who do they have in the (Pac-10 conference tournament first round on Thursday)? Cal? They (the Trojans) have to win at least two games, and probably the automatic (bid, which means winning the tournament) unless the bubble (above them) falls apart and a whole lot more happens. This season has been very uneven, some bad losses — I’ve seen Rider, and they’re a nice team, but not an NCAA team. And the Pac-10 isn’t giving them a lot of juice numerically. The Texas win really keeps them afloat.

“There are a lot of teams (like USC) where they’re very close, but the next loss knocks them out, so they can’t really go any higher. USC and Washington State could get an at-large by winning a couple of game and even losing by one point to Arizona (in the title game). But I’m not betting the mortgage payment on it.”

The fact he can make a mortgage payment as a “bracketologist” who, in the last 11 seasons has missed only 12 teams in his final projections (including a perfect record in 2008) is, again, stunning.

(FYI: ESPN.com also has a women’s tournament bracketologist, Charlie Creme. His real name).

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How giving Charles Barkley a platform on the CBS-Turner NCAA tournament coverage could come back to haunt ‘em

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The Associated Press

Charles Barkley’s analysis after a first-round blowout in the NCAA tournament: “Duke graduates their players, but that team they did has not graduated a player in like seven years.”

Never one for understatement, Barkley was in fact exaggerating Tuesday when he imagined that scene. But not by much. The brash Hall of Famer plans to lobby for better graduation rates in his new job as a college basketball commentator.

CBS and Turner Sports’ new 14-year, $10.8 billion deal to televise the NCAA tournament adds announcers from the NBA broadcasts on TNT to March Madness. And Barkley is mad about how few Division I players, especially African-American men, earn degrees.

“They got $10.8 billion. That’s a lot of freakin’ money,” Barkley told The Associated Press. “The players aren’t getting any of it, so clearly somebody is making money. I’m not opposed to people making money, but we do have an obligation, to, like, ‘OK, you know what? We’re making a (ton) of money. Let’s at least make sure these kids get educated.’”

When Turner Sports chief David Levy asked him about joining the college studio show, Barkley said he wouldn’t take part if he couldn’t get academic. He met with NCAA President Mark Emmert in Atlanta in January, which convinced him players shouldn’t be paid because it wasn’t fair to give athletes in some sports money but not others.

“He understands what this is all about,” NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen said. “His comments are representative of the many issues in the environment of basketball we’re all trying to address. … It’s a great opportunity for him to comment on those topics.”

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Ron Shelton, on Greg Goossen

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Ron Shelton (linked here), the screenwriter, producer and director of such movies as “Bull Durham,” “White Men Can’t Jump,” “Cobb,” “Blue Chips” and “Tim Cup,” sent along a remembrance of Greg Goossen, who passed away on Feb. 26 and will have a memorial service this Thursday (6 p.m., St. Frances de Sales Church in Sherman Oaks).

Shelton, shooting a cable TV pilot that he wrote about Triple-A baseball in Nashville, Tenn., called “Hound Dogs,” says:

“In my senior year of high school at Santa Barbara (1964) — the high school of Eddie Mathews, Jesse Orosco, Jamaal Wilkes, and Sam and Randall Cunningham, among others, so in other words, a very good sports school — we had probably the best team in school history to that time and won the Channel League.

“We were advancing through the CIF playoffs when we played Notre Dame High of Sherman Oaks, who started a pitcher against us named John Herbst who had, I believe, a 0.00 ERA, plus a starting catcher named Greg Goosen, soon to be number one in the draft.

“Needless to say, Herbst threw a shutout at us and ended our quest. But what I remember were two balls that Goosen hit. The first was a line drive over my head at shortstop. I leapt up and caught it in the web, but the force of the liner took my glove into left field.

“The second ball he hit is still going, I believe, way, way out of that old minor league Laguna Park in Santa Barbara.

“Only decades later, as a boxing fan, did I meet the guy who hit those two shots.”

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Play it forward: March 7-13 on your L.A. sports calendar

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Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick can’t stop a goal by Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen in Saturday’s game at Staples Center.

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

MONDAY

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

A win over Phoenix, followed by a loss to Vancouver, put the Kings no closer to a playoff berth than they started. “You win a game, you’re in fifth (place), you lose one, you’re in 10th,” the Kings’ Anze Kopitar said the other day, after a victory over Phoenix pushed them up the Western Conference ladder. Temporarily. “You can’t look beyond the next game.” Including this one.

NBA: Clippers at Charlotte, 4 p.m., Prime:

What to do again with Eric Gordon injured.

TUESDAY

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NBA: Lakers at Atlanta, 4 p.m., Channel 9:

Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford and Mo Evans combined for 19 points against the Lakers a couple of week ago – and were all traded to Washington for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong not long afterward. By the way, the Lakers won that game by 24. Almost as good as the 16-point win over the Spurs on Sunday — as if it was even that close.

WEDNESDAY

NHL: Kings at Detroit, 4 p.m., Channel 13:

Sandwiched between a “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “How I Met Your Mother” rerun comes a repeat of a matchup that last week resulted in a 7-4 Red Wings win.

NHL: Ducks vs. N.Y. Rangers, Honda Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

This is the last Eastern Conference team that the Ducks will face in the regular season — the final 15 are all against the West. The Ducks are 10-6-1 against the East so far. A recent scoring drought has knocked the Rangers from fifth in the East to holding onto the final playoff spot.

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NBA: Clippers at Boston, 4:30 p.m., Prime:

How much longer can the Celtic Pride survive with Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy trying to clog the middle instead of Shaquille O’Neal and Glen Davis, both nursing injuries? When these two last met on Feb. 26, the Clippers lead by seven at halftime before losing 99-92. “That was (the Celtics’) first game with (Jeff Green and Krstic) after the Kendrick Perkins trade. We had not finished our trade (for guard Mo Williams),” Clippers coach Vinnie Del Negro said. “This time, they’ll have their chemistry and we should have ours.”

College basketball: Pacific-10 men’s tournament at Staples Center: Oregon State vs. Stanford, 6 p.m., Arizona State vs. Oregon, 8:30 p.m., FSW:

The four teams left with sub-.500 records in the conference regular season slug it out in a free trip to L.A.

THURSDAY

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AP Photo/ Bahram Mark Sobhani
Miami’s Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh watch from the bench late in their 125-95 loss to San Antonio last Friday.

NBA: Lakers at Miami, 5 p.m., TNT:

The Heat has put itself back on the hot seat. A 30-point loss in San Antonio, just a day after blowing a 24-point lead against Orlando. And then a one-point loss in Chicago. Meanwhile, Miami is just 1-4 against the Western Division elite of the Lakers, Spurs and Mavs this season – and guess which one it beat? That 16-point Christmas Day unwrapping over the Lakers featured a 27-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist effort by LeBron James. No. 3 in the East meets No. 3 in the West, on another national telecast, another statement game for someone. Turn up the heat.

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College basketball: Pacific-10 men’s tournament quarterfinals at Staples Center: USC vs. Cal, noon; Arizona vs. Oregon State or Stanford, 2:30 p.m.; UCLA vs. Arizona State or Oregon, 6 p.m.; Washington vs. Washington State, 8:30 p.m.:

The Trojans (18-13) have more to lose by losing early than the Bruins (22-9), who should be ranked in the Top 25. The semifinals are Friday at 6 and 8:30 p.m.

College basketball: Big West men’s tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim: Cal State Northridge vs. Cal State Fullerton, 8:30 p.m.:

The third-seeded Matadors (13-17, 9-7 in conference) won nine of their last 14 games since Jan. 15 to make things interesting. The semifinals are Friday with the final on Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2. Long Beach State is the No. 1 seed.

PGA: World Golf Championship: Cadillac Championships, first round, Golf Channel, 11 a.m.:

The top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking have signed up, and Tiger Woods, who now commands all the respect that a No. 5 overall can, has won this one at the Doral Blue Monster in Miami six times in his career.

FRIDAY

NHL: Kings at Columbus, 4 p.m., Prime (delayed at 7:30 p.m.):

The Kings pulled out a shootout win in Columbus last month when Jarret Stoll beat Mathieu Garon.

NHL: Ducks at Colorado, 6 p.m., KDOC:

Corey Perry had his second hat trick of the season in a 3-0 win over the Avs a month ago.

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NBA: Clippers at New Jersey, 4 p.m., Prime:

Perhaps Deron Williams and his new Nets teammates will still be suffering from jetlag, or at least some lethargicness, from their two-game trip to London last week.

SATURDAY

NBA: Lakers at Dallas, 6 p.m., Channel 9:

It’s the end of what could be a nasty four-game roadie for the Lakers, in a game they most likely need to win to have any hope of chasing down the No. 1 Western Conference seed. A couple of months ago, the Mavs’ Jason Kidd had a season-high 21 points and 10 assists in a 109-100 victory over the Lakers. Now the Mavs have Corey Brewer to bang some bodies.

NBA: Clippers at Washington, 4 p.m., Prime:

The fourth stop in a five-game, seven-day trip might may as well go round two with a Blake Griffin-JaVale McGee dunk contest. No cars allowed.

College basketball: Pac-10 men’s final, 3 p.m., Staples Center, Channel 2:

Could the No. 4 seed Trojans and No. 2 seed Bruins end up playing each other a third time this season? That would be a first. Next year, it’ll be a Pac-12 tournament title crowned.

SUNDAY

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College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament selection show, 3 p.m., Channel 2, ESPN:

The inaugural field of 68 is officially announced – and you’ve only got a few hours to officially fill out a bracket since the new mini-first round starts on Tuesday instead of Thursday next week. ESPN launches a three-hour “Bracketology” show at noon, and keeps hammering on the number 97 – as in the percentage of accuracy that Joe Lunardi has had in predicting the at-large bids over the years. Blame him if your bubble is prematurely burst. This games arrives after the ACC final (ESPN, 10 a.m.), the Atlantic 10 final (Channel 2, 10 a.m.) and the Big Ten final (Channel 2, 12:30 p.m.).

NHL: Kings at Dallas, noon, FSW:

The second meeting with the Stars in six days, and there’s one more to go in early April.

NHL: Ducks vs. Phoenix, Honda Center, 5 p.m., FSW:

On the first of daylight savings, don’t show for this one at 6 p.m. by accident.

College baseball: USC vs. UCLA, Dodger Stadium, 2:30 p.m. (Prime has it delayed at 7 p.m., after the Dodgers-Cubs exhibition in Las Vegas at 1 p.m. and Dodgers-White Sox exhibition in Arizona delayed at 4 p.m.):

Free parking, all concession prices half the normal rate for a Dodgers game, and a $12 ticket. And no motocross to get in the way. In the first game of this doubleheader, Georgia faces St. Mary’s at 10 a.m.

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More on remembering Greg Goossen

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Michael Owen-Baker/Daily News Staff Photographer

For an upcoming documentary on the Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary, Northridge filmmaker Jon Leonoudakis realized that in the hundreds of hours of footage he’s already shot, there was an extended interview he did with Greg Goossen at his apartment last October.

Leonoudakis revisited it this week, edited it down, and produced DVD copies for the Goossen family to have.

There was Greg Goossen alive on the screen again, with all the photos on the wall behind him, talking about his life, appreciating the time he had in the spotlight, wearing the giant gold ring that champion middleweight Michael Nunn once gave him as thanks for his help as a trainer.

And there’s lot of laughing. Loud and raspy.

At one point, Goossen is talking about the career of the star-crossed Bill Buckner, and he comes up with the line: “Someone once said, I don’t care how they remember me, as long as they remember me.”

No worries there, Goose. You won’t be forgotten.

From today’s column (linked here), we have these additional comments:

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From Jim Bouton, who last saw Goossen at a “Ball Four” celebration last September in Burbank, put together by the Baseball Reliquary:

“We did see each other just before that at a reunion in Seattle for the Pilots, and we all went out to a Mariners’ game. But afterward, he got lost under the stands when were leaving the park. ‘Where the hell is Greg?’ ‘I saw him go that way…’ I took off to find him because I figured he could easily get disorientated. I think I found him 50 yards going the other way, looking bewildered over which way to go. ‘Greg, over here!’ And he grabbed my arm and said, ‘Daddy! Thanks for finding me … I got you Daddy.’ And we swam against the current of fans coming out. …

“I could just see him as a student in high school, never taking himself too seriously. Maybe not a great student, but a very smart guy who was aware of what was going on around him. Wise to everything enough so that teachers would pass him through. Sort of the class clown, but not having an enemy in the world.”

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From Pete Rose, whom Goossen stepped in to accept his induction last July in the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals:

“Such a gem of a guy. Just quit smoking. Just got his knees operated on. His weight was good. Great stories at lunch, Mondays and Wednesdays, same seats, making everyone laugh. You know, he never ordered food, but when he’d get up, he’d always be full. And the only reason he’d leave was to take care of his dogs at home. We could always laugh about that. And his 2002 red Mercedes, that only had 18,000 miles on it. He had that flattop haircut. … and always had a comeback when I’d make fun of it.”

Goossen had said that if Rose ever got back into managing in the big-leagues, he might be one of his coaches. Rose’s response: “I’d put him on my staff anytime. I’m not sure if he could handled it as a bullpen coach with guys throwing 95. His fingers would be so banged up he couldn’t get a quarter off a bar, but I know he’d put the mask on and try it. He would have been a great bench coach fo rme. He knew the game, understood it, was always a couple of innings ahead, knew what the hell was going on.”

On the times they played against each other in the big leagues: “Neither of us were very talkative back then (in the mid-’60s). We were young players who just kept our mouths shut even with our personalities. We didn’t want to wear out our welcome. I really didn’t try to get involved with catchers, either. I didn’t necessarily like pitchers or catchers. I kinda wish I knew him better when we were players instead of just the last four or five years. If I were playing against Greg now we’d have so much fun when I would come to bat. That would be a fun at bat. I think I’d still get a base hit, but then get thrown out at second trying to steal.”

== From Terry Cannon, the director of the Baseball Reliquary:

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“It was really a treat for me to get to meet Greg over the last six months or so. I think he genuinely understood and appreciated the Baseball Reliquary, and felt quite omfortable around the organization and its members. I think there’s a very good likelihood that he will appear at some point on the Shrine of the Eternals ballot.

“Looking back over Greg’s appearances at Reliquary events last year, I think my favorite story relates to his presentation at the Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day last July, when he accepted Pete Rose’s induction on his behalf. Greg was sitting by Sister Mary Assumpta of Cleveland, who was receiving the Hilda Award, and he was dressed in black from head to toe. Several people came up to me who didn’t know Greg, and they asked if he was a priest who had accompanied her on her trip to Pasadena. The story gets even better.

“Sister Mary was sitting next to Chris Chesser, a Hollywood guy who had co-produced the film ‘Major League,’ which featured a cameo appearance by Sister Mary. Chris was there that day to introduce Sister Mary prior to her receiving the Hilda Award. Very few in the audience knew that Greg had tried out for a role in ‘Major League.’ When I introduced Greg and he began to walk to the podium to accept Rose’s induction, Greg walked right by Chesser and mumbled under his breath, but loud enough to be heard by those sitting in the first few rows, “. . . and fuck you for not hiring me for that picture!” I guess if there was anyone in the first few rows still wondering if Greg was a priest, that gave them their answer!

“Greg was just the real genuine article, and I’m sure glad the Reliquary had this interaction, albeit brief, with him. And I’m also really glad that Jon Leonoudakis was able to capture his wonderful appearance at ‘Ball Four Turns Forty’ and also the interview he did with Greg for the Reliquary documentary. These are wonderful glimpses into Greg’s life and personality.”

“One more thing about Greg: After the Shrine ceremony, Greg came up to me on his way home and I handed him the induction plaque for Pete Rose. Greg said, ‘Hey, this is gonna look great on my mantle.’ And I replied to Greg by saying that I hope he kept the plaque, because I think it was probably more meaningful to him than it would be to Pete Rose. I suspect he gave it to Pete, although I never asked him.

“Greg was one of only three players that I recall who was so impressed with the Reliquary that he said to me a couple of times, if there was anything he could do for the Reliquary to just ask. The only other players who ever said that to me were Dock Ellis and Dick Allen. Of course, I wouldn’t ask for any favors, but just the fact that they offered showed me that they were Reliquarians at heart and really appreciated our modest efforts to honor the legacy of the game.”

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