What I learned … again

By Mike Szwaja

Since my “Summer of 72” column went over so well with many of the people I know read every week, I figured I’d give it a shot again. So, here are 36 things – one for each day I’ve spent since I last attended class – I learned about sports over winter break.

A Monday night can’t get much better than $2 games at the local bowling alley with friends you hardly get to see when school is in session. …Auburn/USC = the best game you’ll never see. … Ben Gordon could very well be the second coming of Allen Iverson, with one exception: a superior jump shot. …

Szwaja’s “What the hell?” moment of winter break: Watching a guy named Craig Nall shred the Bears’ secondary from my eighth-row-from-the-top Soldier Field seat. … Carlos Beltran is a good player, but to say that he’ll be the same player in five years is stretching it, which will ultimately mean the Mets will be stuck with an overpaid outfielder. But they’re plenty used to that by now. …

You know you’re getting older when Ryne Sandberg – once your favorite player – is voted into the Hall of Fame. … Kenny Williams and the White Sox had a heck of an off-season, perhaps the best all-around off-season in the league. …

Iowa quarterback Drew Tate’s pass to Warren Halloway to win the Capital One Bowl was probably the best end to a football game I’ve ever seen. If Halloway drops that ball or gets tackled, Iowa loses; that’s gutsy play-calling. …

Szwaja’s pathetic hockey fan moment of the break: My dad forcing me to turn off the Norfolk Admirals game on Comcast Sports Net. …

A healthy Magglio Ordonez and the Cubs fit together as well as the Italian beef sandwich and the city of Chicago do. … Meanwhile, Terry Shea and the worst offensive coordinator fit together as well as a good Italian beef sandwich and the city of Champaign do. … Good for Ron Turner and the Bears. There’s no doubt Turner has a great NFL mind; the guy just couldn’t recruit. … Turner will now have to convince Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo that he needs another tailback. …

Watching Utah in the Fiesta Bowl was about as entertaining as football can get. … Joe Buck overreacted when Randy Moss “mooned” the Packer fans, but that doesn’t mean Moss isn’t annoying. The NFL would be better off without him. …

If I were Jim Jackson, I wouldn’t report to the New Orleans Hornets either. … The Phoenix Suns will finish with 72 or more wins? Yeah right. … When I wrote this, the Bulls were leading the league in opponent FG percentage. … When Othella Harrington starts for the Bulls, he’s unstoppable. …

Motley Crue getting back together has nothing to do with sports, but it will still be awesome. … While we’re on the subject, Ashlee Simpson, stick to the lip synching. …

Shaq and Kobe put on a nice Christmas day show. … Tyson Chandler stacks up more blocks than local preschoolers these days. …

I made it to watch my buddy, who plays forward for Lake Forest College, play against Grinnell – a team that holds 37 NCAA scoring and 3-pointer records. Watching Grinnell is like watching the Indianapolis Colts – all offense, all the time. LFC prevailed 106-99. … I watched the 1986 Super Bowl in its entirety for the first time. Wow, what a Bears defense. The Patriots had -25 yards at halftime. The Ravens defense in 2000? Please. …

Most of you will neither understand nor care, but Tottenham scored a goal last weekend in an English Premier League match that should have sealed their upset over Manchester United, but none of the referees saw the ball cross the goal-line – a devastating blow to Spurs supporters indeed. … Brock Bolen, we hardly knew ya. … Ditto to Larry Fedora and Joe Wickline. … Northern Illinois officially has more bowl victories than Illinois in this decade. …

Congrats to the Illini on their 1,500th basketball victory in their 100th season. … Thanks to Dee Brown and Deron Williams, my roommates and I can’t stop saying, “I do this!” …

Michael Schumacher donated $10 million to the tsunami relief fund. You have to admire that. …

Cinderella Man looks like it could be a decent movie, but, unless I’m missing something, what a terrible name for a film about a boxer. … The Miller Lite referee commercials are suddenly annoying. …Okay, so maybe Emeka Okafor won’t be a bust after all, but I’m still waiting for a bone chip in his shoulder or something to end his season. …

Thanks a lot for reading. This is my last semester doing this after nearly four years, so I’ll do my best to make sure this thing is fun to read. …