How this week stacks up as the autumn breeze blows stronger:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
COLLEGE BASKETBALL OPENERS:
USC at UTAH STATE, Friday at 6:05 p.m., CBS Sports Net
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE vs. HOPE INTERNATIONAL, Matadome, Friday at 7 p.m.
LONG BEACH STATE vs. HAWAII PACIFIC, the Pyramid, Saturday at 3 p.m.
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT vs. GRAND CANYON at UC San Diego, Friday at 4:30 p.m.
PEPPERDINE vs. SAN DIEGO CHRISTIAN, Firestone Fieldhouse, Saturday at 5 p.m.:
Steve Alford says he embraces the pressure.
“’I would much rather be in a situation where there’s pressure of success versus the pressure of not caring,” UCLA’s new head basketball coach says. “’To be at a place like UCLA, it should be about winning national championships.”
Andy Enfield says he embraces the challenge.
“We think we have enough talent on our roster to compete with any team in the Pac-12,” USC’s new head basketball coach says. “There’s nothing better than to overachieve in the media’s eyes or to win some games that people think you’re not supposed to win. We’re looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity.”
Reggie Theus says he embraces the teachable moments.
“It’s a big decision in life, to coach in the NBA or to coach in college,” Cal State Northridge’s new basketball coach says. “The difference for me is I don’t want to deal with the politics in the NBA. In the end, in college it’s your program and that gets me fired up. The ability to have an effect on young men.”
You shouldn’t need a program to know who’s running the basketball programs at three of the Southern California colleges this year. With it comes the new pressures, challenges and teaching credentials.
There’s also the security provided in Dan Monson has having won three straight Big West Coach of the Year awards at Long Beach State, and a strong chance of the 49ers returning to the NCAA Tournament.
Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine, meanwhile, have their usual annual battles to make some kind of noise in the West Coast Conference. Lions coach Max Good has senior all-conference guard Anthony Ireland (20.2 ppg, on the floor 93 percent of the time last season).
Waves coach Marty Wilson has conference Newcomer of the Year Stacy Davis (11.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg) back for his sophomore season.
Let the madness begin.
THE BEST OF THE REST:
NBA: CLIPPERS vs. HOUSTON, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
A banner season already: What do you make of Chris Paul leading the league in assists (12.0 per game), second in points (27.7 per game) and third in steals (3.67 per game)? The fact the Clippers have only played three games?
TENNIS: ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS at London, round robin play, 4 a.m, Tennis Channel:
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are the headline qualifiers – Andy Murray also made the field, but it out with an injury – as round-robin play runs through Saturday, pushing toward a Monday, Nov. 11 finish. The Bryan Brothers are the top seeds to take the doubles crown. Tennis Channel has live coverage from 4-to-8 a.m. Monday-Saturday. Doubles semifinals are live Sunday at 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Tennis Channel. ESPN2 has delayed semifinals Sunday at 6 a.m. and noon.
NFL WEEK 9:
CHICAGO at GREEN BAY, 5:40 p.m., ESPN:
Aaron Rodgers is a mere 9-2 against the Bears –12 TDs, two picks — while Chicago goes with Josh McCown instead of the injured Jay Cutler.
NBA: LAKERS at DALLAS, 5:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
It’s still tough to figure out how the Mavs are just five games above .500 over the last two seasons.
WORLD SERIES OF POKER, main event final table of three, 6 p.m., ESPN:
The final nine start Monday (ESPN2, 5 p.m.) with $733,000 going to the first man out. There’s $8.3 million awaiting the winner after Tuesday’s table at the Rio in Vegas. Sacramento’s JC Tran is the chip leader (38 million).
NBA: CLIPPERS at ORLANDO, 4 p.m., Prime:
If the Magic has no intention to make the playoffs again, at least Aaron Afflalo can make it look respectable.
NBA: CLIPPERS at MIAMI, 4 p.m., TNT:
It’s not Christmas in L.A. – that’s reserved for a Lakers-
Heat meeting. But venue will draw a national broadcast with that “NBA Finals preview” jargon even though it’s about six months premature.
NHL: KINGS vs. BUFFALO, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m, FSW:
After a four-day layoff, we find nothing really stands out for the Kings after their 15 games, does it? Except a) an abundance of penalty minutes and b) when does Jeff Carter and Jarret Stoll return? The only saving grace: The Sabres have fallen on their own sword again this season with a 2-13-1 start and five miserable points and minus-23 in goal differential, both last in the entire league.
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
GALAXY at REAL SALT LAKE, 6 p.m., ESPN2:
The Galaxy needs to win or tie and they move on to face Portland or Seattle next week in the conference finals (as the Timbers and Sounders meet in their second leg also today at 7 p.m., on NBCSN)
OREGON at STANFORD, 6 p.m., ESPN:
It’ll decide a lot more than just who takes over in the Pac-12 North. This has BCS reverberations. (There’s also a snazzy matchup over on FS1 at 4:30 p.m. with Oklahoma at Baylor.)
NFL WEEK 10:
WASHINGTON at MINNESOTA, 5:25 p.m., NFL Network:
Watch how the NFL Net broadcasters handle this “Redskins” elephant in the Metrodome.
HOLLYWOOD PARK WINTER SEASON, first post: 1 p.m.:
The clock starts on the last season at the 75-year-old Inglewood track, a 27-day meet scheduled to wrap up on Dec. 22. Any plans for those $1 hot dog Friday nights, for old times?
UCLA at ARIZONA, Saturday at 7 p.m., ESPN:
The Bruins (6-2, 3-2) embark on the last third of the season with that proverbial “they control their own destiny” run, starting with the wildcard Wildcats who have an identical record. Slight problem: UCLA hasn’t won a game at Tucson in 10 years, including a 48-12 embarrassment in 2011.
USC at CAL, Saturday at noon, Channel 11:
One more win, and the 6-3 Trojans are bowl eligible. Is that really an accomplishment, even it comes against the 1-8 Bears? As long as they’re working their way up from accepting a New Mexico Bowl bid (set aside for the conference’s No. 7 entrant).
NBA: CLIPPERS at HOUSTON, 5:30 p.m., Prime:
See Monday’s game, at L.A., and reverse the outcome.
NHL: KINGS vs. VANCOUVER, Staples Center, 7 p.m., FSW:
This ends a streak of having nine of 10 games at home.
NHRA FINALS, Pomona Fairplex, final runs, 4 p.m., ESPN2 (delayed):
John Force celebrated as if he was cast as one of the old guys in the movie “Last Vegas” when he claimed his record 16th Funny Car championship with a win last week off the Strip. But the Top Fuel and Pro Stock titles come down this annual blast. Qualifying starts Thursday. ESPN2 has quarterfinals Saturday at 11:30 p.m. (delayed) and Sunday at 11 a.m.
LAKERS vs. MINNESOTA, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Seen the ESPN “SportsCenter” spots where Kevin Love mixes his “double-double” drinks for Stan Verrett?
NFL WEEK 10:
DALLAS at NEW ORLEANS, 5:30 p.m., Channel 4
DENVER at SAN DIEGO, 1:25 p.m., Channel 2:
The Broncos’ visit to San Diego comes without head coach John Fox, recovering from heart surgery. Jack Del Rio likely is put back into the interim role, giving USC more of an idea what he might be able to do for his alma mater. If he is so inclined.