Brownie Points: Valley sports fans getting coal - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Brownie Points: Valley sports fans getting coal

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Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. Contact him at

Posted: Sunday, December 25, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:17 pm, Thu Jan 5, 2012.

Where to start in the Valley's dismal sports world these days ...

•You could start with Arizona State football. The only people who enjoyed Boise State's tap-dance act on the lame duck Sun Devils more than the Broncos might have been Todd Graham's former players in Pittsburgh. "Coach, you left us like Robert Irsay left Baltimore for that?"

How nice of Dennis Erickson to leave us all with a highlight reel of all that went wrong in Tempe during his tenure. The Devils' seventh loss in a season where they were seen as Rose Bowl contender said it all, from the opening kickoff to the bitter end. Erickson might not have gotten the timeout he wanted in the third quarter, but he's got all the time he wants now.

•You could start with ASU basketball. Big time-college teams pad their December schedules with home games against inferior opponents so their players can focus on final exams while stacking wins before the conference season. But after watching the last two weeks, it's safe to say there isn't a team in the country that falls into this category for the Sun Devils.

Yes, Herb Sendek lost his point guard (Jahii Carson) to grades and a couple injuries of late. But this team's overall lack of fundamentals, inability to take care of the ball and poor effort, not to mention Sendek's calling card (defense) is an embarrassment. Unless I'm missing something amid losses to the NAU, Southern Mississippi and Fresno State, the Pac-12 season will be a 10-week trip to the dentist.

•You could start with the Suns, who will finally start playing this week. That might not be a good thing.

When you hear people in the organization talking about how deep the draft class will be this summer before the first game is played ... that's not encouraging. It's only preseason, but a pair of blowout losses to the Nuggets indicate (1) the Suns will struggle to score and (2) new defensive coordinator Elston Turner is just beginning to understand what he's up against.

It took Ray Horton nine weeks to straighten out the Arizona Cardinals defense. If Turner can do it that fast, he should skip right past a head coaching job and move directly to sainthood.

So what are your options, Arizona sports fans? They might only be in town for a few more months, but the Phoenix Coyotes are winning games and fighting for first place in their division. How far are you willing to drive to root for a winner?

Captain Coyote

Speaking of hockey, it was nice to see Keith Tkachuk take his place in the Coyotes Ring of Honor Friday night. It harkened back to a day when the Desert Dogs packed then-America West Arena and had plenty of storylines to go with their winning ways on the ice.

Tkachuk's running mate, Jeremy Roenick, will join him in the Ring later this year. In the meantime, he offered this assist when it comes to insight of an era when the Coyotes worked hard and played hard:

Tkachuk and Roenick teamed with fellow Boston-natives Bob Corkum and Craig Janney to form "The Massachusetts Mafia," a pack of Coyotes who were mainstays in the Scottsdale nightlife scene and took their act on the road when the schedule allowed. Sometimes when it didn't.

One December night in Miami, this mafia paid little heed to coach Jim Schoenfeld's curfew - not an uncommon practice - and headed out for a nocturnal investigation of South Beach the night before facing the Florida Panthers.

"We finally crawled in about 4 a.m. and we were all in pretty rough shape," Roenick said. "I felt like I was skating in the sand, and the rest of the boys were a mess. But (Tkachuk) was everywhere."

The captain beat the Panthers, 3-2. Tkachuk came to the rescue with a hat trick and all trespasses were forgiven.

Tkachuk remembers climbing on the team bus, sinking into his back-row seat and announcing, "OK boys, I did my part. The rest of the trip is up to you."

Quick Hitters

•Who needs Andrew Luck when you've got Dan Orlovsky? The Indianapolis Colts ruined 13 weeks of perfectly-orchestrated heartache with two meaningless wins.

Cardinals 27, Bengals 20: Over the last seven weeks, the Cardinals have the same record as the Packers. Hey, just sayin'.

Am I the only one who thinks the Big Red are actually going to wind up 9-7?

Here's a better question: Has an NFL team ever gone 8-1 down the stretch and (1) missed the playoffs and (2) still didn't know who the heck their quarterback was?


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