We especially were interested in the start of the Pacific-10 basketball race, and what we expect will be a topsy-turvy season with no one team (with the possible exception of Washington) dominating things from start to finish.
Arizona seemed to be on the upswing in the pre-league games, giving national champion contender Kansas a great run to the end in one game before losing. Despite a soft early schedule overall, the Cats looked to us like a bona fide candidate for an upper-division finish, if not better.
ASU, mostly young and not overly gifted in any aspect of the game, seemed iffier to us, even though its excellent head coach Herb Sendek gets the most out of just about every player.
We're still thinking the same about the Sun Devils. But the WIldcats may not be as potentially formidable as we had suspected.
Playing up in Oregon never is easy, even though both Pac-10 programs (University of Oregon and Oregon State) have seen better days in times past.
That's where the Arizona schools headed last weekend to start their respective conference seasons.
One road victory each, over Oregon in the final games to be played at venerable MacArthur Court, a creaky and cool 84-year-old venue known as "The Pit" that long was a nightmare for opposing teams. (A shiny new arena is about to open in pretty Eugene).
Both ASU and UA lost to Oregon State, the Sun Devils in a blowout and the Wildcats by one point in a game last night more notable for missed free throws and turnovers by the losers than anything else.
The Beavers aren't that good and we will be stunned if they are in the hunt at the end of the 18-game league season.
But they are a scrappy bunch, and that's why they are 2-0 after the first weekend and the Arizona schools are 1-1 each.
Arizona won't win many road games, or many games at all, if they hover around the 50-percent mark on the foul line, or commit 20-or-so turnovers every time out.
Point guard MoMo Jones scored 20 points--a nice game for him--but also turned the ball over five times, too many.
Overall, a disappointing weekend for the Cats and an okay start for the Devils.
The Arizona schools return to action later in the week against the northern California schools, Stanford and California.