Where has this winter gone? Here we are in late January and the sports year is in high gear. OK, enough with the rhyming. Here's a roundup of some local sports so far this year. Tiger Basketball: Keep that shiny record against Cincinnati (still C-USA's top dog at 18-1, and #5 in the nation according to ESPN/USA TODAY rankings), and Calipari will have all the rankings he needs. Until then, just keep plowing through conference opponents that will test the real abilities of phenom-frosh Dajuan Wagner and his 21.3 ppg. Luckily for Calipari and company, Senior Kelly Wise has returned to form in a big way with 12.7 ppg and 11.7 rpg. But whatever happened to the supposed domination of big men Chris Massie or Earl Barron? This team still has the talent to go deep in the NCCA's come March, but only if that talent comes to the fore. Tigers' Women's Basketball: At 7-10, 2-3 the Lady Tigers are still struggling for respect in C-USA and aren't helping their cause with recent losses to both Marquette and DePaul. The Tigers started the year strong, until that 92-66 loss to the Tennessee Lady Vols at the Pyramid last December. Since then, the team is only 2-4. Yet Conference play is still young and the Tigers could make a run at an NCAA bid through the league tourney. On the upside for Lady Tiger sports, the dance team just placed second in the nation. You go, girls. Grizzlies Basketball: Oh, what to say about these guys? I watch most all their games and I still don't know what to think from week to week. Here's the deal: If the Grizzlies lose more players, coach Sidney Lowe will probably reactivate himself and suit up to play. With the recent injuries of forward Shane Battier and the migraine headaches of guard Jason Williams, the Grizzlies can barely field a team, much less be competitive. And yet they are. The Sacramento game the other night should have been a blow-out at Sacramento, and yet the Grizzlies made the game interesting for three quarters, despite having a line-up that consisted to no players who were starters at the beginning of the season. And to be even more positive, rookie Pau Gasol is still on the mark for rookie-of-the-year honors, unless Battier beats him to it. There is a very real chance that Memphis could host co-rookies of the year in an unprecedented turn of events. Both forwards will be playing in the All-Star rookie game, and fellow forward Stromile Swift will be playing against the two on the sophomore squad. Also, consistent rumors persist that center Lorenzen Wright could be back even as soon as the All-Star break. Things aren't necessarily rosy in the land of the Grizz, but they could definitely be worse for this inaugural season in Memphis. RiverKings Hockey The Kings are still number one in the CHL's Northeast division with a league-best record of 27-9-2 over the season. Recently, defensivemen Luch Nasato and Don Martin were named to the Northern Division's All-Star roster, with coach Doug Seddon tapped to coach the All-Star squad (his fifth straight appearance). The Kings already have goalie Sebastian Centomo and wingman Don Parsons on the squad. That gives the Kings the best representation of any team in the league for the All-Star match-up, which will be on February 1st in Corpus Christi. Parsons is a league-leader in total points with 27 goals and 21 assists (for 48 points), and Centomo is one of the league's top goalies with a 16-1 record and a 2.09 goals-against average. Bottom line, the season is up to the Kings, who seem on the brink of bringing home a CHL championship for Memphis and DeSoto county. ODDS & ENDS NOTABLE:
'You've heard me say this all year long. You've got to have shooters. You've got to have guys who can shoot the basketball if you are going to win in this league. If you have shooters, you always give yourself a chance to win the ballgame." Grizzlies coach Sidney Lowe after his team shot 43% against the Orlando Magic's 51.7%.
"It was a breather." Orlando Magic head coach Doc Rivers on his team's 119-103 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
"We kind of worked our way back into it, but the hole was too deep." Grizzlies guard Brevin Knight on his teams comeback attempt against the Magic.
"We knew we were short-handed, but that's the NBA. It happens to all teams, which means guys have to step up. But we didn't." Grizzlies guard Rodney Buford on his team's undermanned effort against the Sacramento Kings.
"The 12-game win streak is nice, but we are not satisfied with it. We are not sitting here Lakers-watching." Sacramento forward Chris Webber on his team's recent success.
- There are currently only two teams in the NBA that have seven players averaging double-digit scoring: the Sacramento Kings and the Memphis Grizzlies.
- Guard Willie Solomon's four-point play against the Orlando Magic was only the fourth in team history.
- The Memphis Grizzlies' game against the Sacramento Kings was the 500th in team history. The franchise's all-time record at that point: 113-387.
- It's not so great to host the NBA All-Star game. Apparently, the league co-opted 18,000 of the 20,000 seats at Philadelphia's First Union Center for corporate big wigs. That officially turns the All-Star game into a business convention.