Bob Lutz

Lutz on the Loose: Team USA, you have our attention

I'm not a hockey guy. I grew up in Kansas, which doesn't excuse me, I suppose, but it does explain me. At least when it comes to my appreciation for hockey.

But the Olympics bring out my red, white and blue, so I watched Sunday night's USA-Canada hockey game from Vancouver and will just say this: If every hockey game was like that, I'd be a fan.

I watched most of the USA win over the Soviet Union in 1980. Of course, that's the biggest moment in Winter Olympics history and the most famous hockey game ever played.

Still, Sunday night's game comes close, even though medals weren't on the line and even though Canada, which was beaten, 5-3, can still come back and win the gold.

I was struck, first of all, by the speed of the game. And by the intensity. And by the skill.

For the sake of the Olympics, I hope NHL commissioner Gary Bettman lets his league's stars play in the 2014 Olympics, to be held in Sochi, Russia.

* Again, please take into account my lack of hockey knowledge. Given that, I ask this: Has there ever been a more dramatic goal than the one pushed in by Team USA's Ryan Kesler that gave the Americans a 5-3 advantage?

The Canadians had been assaulting American goalie Ryan Miller, peppering him with one shot after another. The puck finally cleared and Kesler, unrelenting, chased it along with Canada's Corey Perry.

It appeared Perry would track down the puck and that Canada would get back to flinging shots at Miller. But Kesler somehow caught Perry, reached around him and slapped the puck into an open net.

What an incredible play.

* Needless to say, the hockey competition in Vancouver has my attention.

* The rest of the Winter Olympics is entertaining, too. It took me a while to get into it this year, but now I think I'll probably tune in, at least for a while, every night.

When, of course, the Olympics don't conflict with "American Idol."

* I got to wondering how long it has been since Wichita State had a player score 30 points in a game (Paul Miller, 30, Feb. 4, 1006) or get 20 rebounds (Troy Mack, 22, Jan. 18, 1999).

Then I started looking back and was amazed to find that it has been 23 years since a Shocker player averaged at least 10 rebounds per game. The last to do it: Xavier McDaniel, who averaged 14.8 rebounds per game in 1984-85.

It's interesting to me that in the 30 seasons from 1955-56 through 1984-85, the Shockers had players average double-digit rebounds 23 times. But there hasn't been one since.

What's happened to rebounding? Any theories?

The only one I can come up with is that players are better shooters nowadays. But that doesn't really hold up, because I don't think players are better shooters nowadays.

Bob Hodgson, Al Tate, Ron Heller, Gene Wiley, Dave Stallworth, Warren Armstrong (Jabali), Terry Benton, Robert Elmore, Cheese Johnson, Cliff Levingston and McDaniel all averaged 10 or more rebounds for a season in their careers.

The only player to come close since McDaniel is Jamie Arnold, who averaged more than nine rebounds per game three times in his underrated career (1993-97).

Meanwhile, only three WSU players have averaged 20 or more points in the past 25 years (John Cooper, 20.8 ppg, 1990-91; Maurice Evans, 22.6, 1998-99; Jason Perez, 20.2, 1999-2000).

Only three others — Randy Burns (15.1, 2002-03); Arnold (15.0, 1996-97); Paul Guffrovich (15.8, 1990-91); and Gus Santos (15.0, 1985-86) have averaged 15 or more.

That surprises me, too, especially since in the 23 seasons from 1962-63 through 1984-85, the 20 ppg mark was cracked 12 times.

* This is the time of the college basketball season when so many teams are struggling with consistency, fatigue and mental drain.

Not Kansas State, which is peaking toward the end of February if its impressive win over Oklahoma on Saturday is any indication.

The Wildcats are a load, having moved to No. 6 in the rankings with the arrow pointed up. There's a great chance that next Wednesday's KSU-KU game in Lawrence will be a battle between Top 5 teams. That has never happened in the long history of the Wildcats-Jayhawks rivalry.

I'm often asked whether Kansas State is a potential Final Four team.

My answer is: You better believe it. The Wildcats can beat anyone in the country on a given night. No one can convince me, for instance, that Purdue or Duke are better than Kansas State, even though both are ranked ahead of the Wildcats.

* Did you catch John Wall's blocked shot late during Kentucky's win over Vanderbilt on Saturday?

What a player.

Wall didn't do a whole lot offensively, but showed his versatility as a defensive player and playmaker.

* The worst thing about Kansas being such a regular on ESPN's Big Monday telecasts is having to listen to Brent Musburger and Bob Knight.

I officially became a part of a movement to remove them from the Big 12 telecasts by signing a petition started by Kansas City sports-talk radio host Kevin Keitzman. You can find it at byebyebrentandbob.com.

I understand, better than almost anybody, how people in the media can get on people's nerves. I'm guessing I get on some people's nerves, although no one has ever told me I do.

Anyway, the problem with Musburger and Knight is professionalism. Neither appears to do much homework on the games or teams they're covering. They're embarrassing, really.

I wouldn't think it would require a petition for the Big 12 to persuade ESPN to yank this pair from the Big Monday telecasts. Surely, conference commissioner Dan Beebe and his minions are hearing the same thing we are.

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