Chat with Arash Markazi
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPNLosAngeles.com writer Arash Markazi stops by to chat.
Markazi joined ESPNLosAngeles.com as a columnist and writer after five years with Sports Illustrated. Markazi has also written for Slam, King, Vibe and Playboy and is on the board of directors for the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation.
Send your questions now and join Markazi Monday at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT!
Arash Markazi (1:00 PM)
Hello everyone, welcome to this week's chat where I'm still recovering from watching four straight days of Pac-10 basketball. Who's got the first question?
Jack (Newport Beach)
With Oregon losing Masoli will SC be the favorite once again?
Arash Markazi (1:03 PM)
I think that certainly takes Oregon out of the running as the clear-cut favorite. I still think USC has a lot to prove though. If they were a close second to Oregon last year I would be more comfortable tabbing them as the favorite, but with a new coaching staff and the loss of some key playmakers on offense like Joe McKnight and Damian Williams, I'm still not sold on the Trojans as Pac-10 champions in Lane Kiffin's first season.
which hoops team do u think will turn it around sooner usc or ucla??
Arash Markazi (1:07 PM)
I think UCLA will turn it around quicker. They already have the built in foundation in place with a coach like Ben Howland and the storied history of the program. It will only take one or two good recruiting classes to bring the Bruins back to top of the conference and potentially another Final Four. USC will always be a fringe college basketball contender in my mind. They will make a strong run every now and again but I don't see them ever being a consistent power program.
roger (Los Angeles)
so whuts up with all the bashing, and phil's critizicsim??
Arash Markazi (1:12 PM)
That's always going to happen when a team doesn't play up to the expectations not only of the fans but the coach. The Lakers have been playing like a team just waiting for the playoffs to start for a while now and that's never a good thing when there's a still a month of regular season games to play. Phil just wants his team to focus in now and clinch home court in the West and at least put themselves in a position to catch the Cavs if Cleveland slips up towards the end.
Jonathan (Alhambra, Ca)
Gotta chance to see Cal's Randle and boy is he ready for primetime, do you see him leaving early?
Arash Markazi (1:17 PM)
Well, Randle is a senior so he's gone but you're right he's a talented player and the kind of small, quick point guard that NBA teams seem to be in love with right now. I actually think he would be a solid second round pick for a contender looking to add a spark plug off the bench. Maybe the Lakers can take him late in the draft. He would be easily be a fan favorite.
Jonathan (Alhambra, Ca)
Hey Arash, gotta bone to pick with the Laker bigs...Gasol's hard foul was the first "signal" sent to other teams not to bring it inside, but flagrant or not, why do the laker bigs continuously give ground and backpedal vs penetration as opposed to standing tall and enforcing the "no-layup" rule?
Arash Markazi (1:21 PM)
Jonathan, you echo the frustration of Phil Jackson and his assistants. At some point though we might have to come to the realization or at least the understanding that Gasol and Bynum will never be the kind of tough enforcers in the paint they should be. They are finesse players who are more comfortable gliding to the basket and giving ground when they are getting pushed. They push back from time to time but not enough to make people stop challenging them or calling them, "soft."
arash who do you think wins the ncaa title?
Arash Markazi (1:27 PM)
I keep changing my pick but now that I completed my bracket, I can't change it. I'm going with Kansas. I just think they are the most talented and deepest team in the tournament and I don't see them slipping up. Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich turned down going to the NBA last year to win it all and I don't think they'll let the Jayhawks slip up now that they have come this far.
and the perfect size for the NCAA tournament is.....
Arash Markazi (1:31 PM)
I'd keep it at 65. I think it's good to have a few "tournament-worthy" miss the cut. That just means getting in is special you can't take it for granted just because you win 20 games or are above .500. A 96-team field would totally dilute the tournament and we'd be arguing about teams below .500 being on the bubble.
Miguel (Rancho Cucamonga)
Why do the lakers play better, in the fourth quarter when they run Kobe and Pau Gasol pick and roll and go away from the triangle offense?
Arash Markazi (1:33 PM)
Well, the Triangle is the foundation of the Lakers offense but as you probably have noticed by now come crutch time the Lakers revert to a "let Kobe be the closer and get out of his way" offense. Gasol and Bryant play off each other well and it's no surprise the Lakers would lean on their two best players and run the offense through them at the end of games.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Which NFL Teams will USC Running Back Joe McKnight
Arash Markazi (1:38 PM)
I don't know. Probably a team that doesn't mind a running back with a penchant for putting the ball on the ground.
do u think that the lakers will turn it on since the playoffs are a month away
Arash Markazi (1:40 PM)
Yes, I think the Lakers will get on a little streak here before the playoffs, clinch the No. 1 seed in the West and fall a game or two behind Cleveland for the best overall record. That will probably be good enough to propel the Lakers to the Finals but something tells me the Cavs will win in 6 or 7 if the NBA finally gets their dream match-up.
Hayden (Logan, Utah)
you a fan of lane kiffin?
Arash Markazi (1:43 PM)
I think he's an amazing recruiter (insert your infraction joke here) and a solid offensive coordinator but I'm not sold on him as a head coach yet. He didn't do anything in Oakland or in Tennessee for me to think he was the second coming of Pete Carroll but we'll see how he does now that he has his "dream job" and promises he will stay in one place for more than two years.
josh watts (tampa)
the dodgers and the angels had a good run last year, i think. So, with the two teams new additions, such as, matsui, JP, and Carroll. and the lose off people like orlando hudson, how far do you predict the two teams to go in 2010?
Arash Markazi (1:47 PM)
Last season was an amazing year for both teams as they won their division and made it to championship series but I don't think either team did enough to make it that far again. I'm still picking them to win their division but I don't see them returning to the championship series and I certainly don't see a Freeway Series in the cards. Then again, it's early.
On the NASCAR front, California Speedway's 2 races are a hot topic and many feel it should only be 1... when you factor in all the other sports in LA- is there just too much to other distractions, plus the Vegas race the week after, to support 2 races?
Arash Markazi (1:52 PM)
I think the NASCAR fans will always come out no matter what but you're right there's just too much going on in LA for the average or casual fan to care. The California Speedway is also in Fontana, which isn't a convenient drive if you live, for example, in Downtown Los Angeles. I wish there was a track closer the area, maybe near Hollywood Park but it's a sport that has a loyal niche audience which is rabid and will go anywhere to watch a race but the guy who simply flips the channel and watches a race on the weekend isn't going to make the trek to Fontana and sit in the grandstands on race day.
Lame Kitten (So Cal)
What's up with my Lakers ? How come Ron-Ron and Odom are playing like little girls lately ?? Will they pick it up this week ?
Arash Markazi (1:55 PM)
Nice name. I wouldn't worry about Ron-Ron and Odom. They'll be fine and I think they are just suffering from the same complacency infecting the entire team as of late. I actually think the Lakers will head into the playoffs on a nice streak and everyone in Los Angeles will be able to return to their normal breathing habits, that is until the Lakers' first playoff loss.
Justin (Pella IA)
I would just as soon eliminate baseball divisions- put equal teams in both leagues, and play a balanced schedule- with at least 1 interleague matchup at all times...and a 4 team per league playoff... to me this makes more sense than the other trial balloons being floated...how about you..?
Arash Markazi (1:58 PM)
The minds of baseball purists everywhere just exploded. I don't mind that idea actually. I guess it's because I'm not a baseball purist but I've never liked the idea that one sports league had two leagues under its umbrella that were so separated they had different rules and rarely played each other.
Arash Markazi (2:01 PM)
OK, that's it for this week. Thanks for all your questions. See you next week.