One man's breakdown of the known Phoenix Suns coaching candidates, in the order they've been interviewed by general manager Steve Kerr:
Mark Jackson - If the Suns were looking for a "180 degree" flip in philosophy, Jackson might have a better chance. But his total lack of coaching experience combined with Phoenix's penchant toward staying the course leaves him as a runner-up.
Terry Porter - Lots of pluses. One of the few names in the running with NBA head coaching experience, he is close with Kerr and has gone deep in into the playoffs as a player and assistant coach in Detroit.
The negatives might come on the public-relations side. The gruff Porter is known to run a tight ship and may not be nearly as receptive to the friendly media/corporate/family atmosphere the Suns have carefully cultivated and want to continue.
Elston Turner - Has proven to be a good, hard-working assistant coach under Rick Adelman and has worked in systems (Sacramento, Houston) that are similar to the Phoenix offense, but with more emphasis on defense. Check marks all around. The question is whether Turner is ready to be a head coach and handle the daily media responsibilities, be the face of the franchise, etc. If he wins the job, a strong lead assistant (Paul Silas, Phil Johnson) would be necessary.
Jeff Hornacek - An interesting name for several reasons. He has the cache of being a popular ex-Sun, a reputation for being a coach on the floor and, like Kerr, delayed his transition from player to coach for family.
But he has no experience and, unlike all those previously mentioned, would likely accept an assistant's job here.
Tyrone Corbin - He's an ex-Sun, but without Hornacek's popularity. He's been an assistant for years, but without Turner's responsibility. He played a long time in the NBA, but without the success of Jackson or Porter. But all the chatter around Corbin is positive, and he remains a very viable alternative. So, with the knowledge that Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer is still on the interview list and others (Kurt Rambis, Brian Shaw and Tom Thibodeau) could remain in the mix, I'll reshuffle the known candidates and list them as Porter, Corbin, Hornacek, Turner and Jackson.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW
ASU clinches Pac-10 - again
To ASU's baseball team for clinching the Pac-10 title - the third under Pat Murphy - with a win over Arizona on Friday. The Devils will likely host a regional and a super regional, which always makes the road to Omaha a little smoother. With only four returning starters and amid accusations of wrongdoing off the field, ASU won 45 of its first 54 games against stiff foes. The Devils should be ready for whatever comes next.
Where's our game?
First, Glendale loses out to Indianapolis (which, as I remember, is just gorgeous in early February) for the 2012 Super Bowl. Now comes word that Anaheim will host baseball's 2010 All-Star Game, leaving Phoenix out of the loop again. Apparently, bitter-cold Super Bowls (with a roof) are OK, but hot All-Star Games (with a roof) are bad. By the way, doesn't the NHL still owe Glendale an All-Star game? Just asking.
Phoenix needs a Penny
Uh-oh. Our local defending champions, the Mercury, are off to an 0-3 start, with two losses at home. We'd love to blame it on offseason indulgences, but stars Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter spent their "down time" winning championships in Russia and Turkey. Taurasi said she hasn't had more than a two-week break from basketball since she left UConn. Paging Penny Taylor!
The dream season continues for ASU athletics. A day after Azahara Munoz won an NCAA championship in women's golf, the softball team punches its ticket for a third straight trip to the Women's College World Series, with the Pac-10 champion baseball team up next.
It's hard not to factor in the youth and inexperience of the Penguins, but even with 20 Stanley Cups on the Red Wings' side, I love Pittsburgh's firepower and remember that Chris Osgood can implode at any moment. Give me the Pens in six.
If the Spurs somehow find a way to regroup and win four out of five against the Lakers, forget about all the "dynasty" qualifiers.
Meanwhile, the Celtics suddenly have to end their winless ways on the road in the next two games, or their great season will come crashing down in a hurry.
Let's hear it for Jose Valverde, who closed out Houston's 4-3 win over Philadelphia despite taking a line drive from Pedro Feliz off his face. He gave up two runs in the ninth and left the tying and go-ahead runs on second and third, but that's Valverde, who now has 15 saves in 18 chances with the Astros.
Any more questions about whether Randy Johnson still belongs in the Diamondbacks' starting rotation?
THE HIGH FIVE
The top five teams in major league baseball at the 50-game mark:
FIVE Florida Marlins - Getting it done with a payroll ($14 million) that would barely keep the ASU wrestling program afloat.
FOUR Boston Red Sox - Forget the bats, that starting rotation is wicked hard to beat.
THREE Chicago Cubs - Come on, it couldn't happen exactly 100 years later, could it?
TWO Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-Orange County, etc. - Check out the 15-10 road record.
ONE Arizona Diamondbacks - Still top dog, but the next month will tell the tale.