- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 9, 2009

HE SAID WHAT?

“That would be another violation. I’m trying to go one week without that.” - Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin when asked to comment on his recent run of NCAA secondary violations

Take your pick: Is Roger Federer the greatest tennis player ever?

Yes — He has matched Pete Sampras with 14 Grand Slam titles in the Open era. Unlike Sampras, however, Federer’s long-awaited virgin victory at the French Open gives him the clay piece of the career Grand Slam missing from Pete’s resume. Also unlike Sampras, a superb raw athlete who relied predominantly on his serve-and-volley skills, Federer is a more complete player. Federer joins Rod Laver in a trans-Sampras category and clips the Australian legend by virtue of his edge in slam titles (14-11).

No — Rod Laver was and is still the greatest player ever. Period. End of discussion. No contest. Forget for a second the fact that “Rocket Rod” basically invented topspin groundstrokes and won the calendar slam not once but twice (1962 and 1969). The key to the argument is that Laver turned pro after winning the slam in 1962, before the start of the open era. Professionals weren’t allowed to compete in the sport’s four majors until 1968, meaning Laver missed 20 slam starts in the meat of his prime. Laver is the greatest ever… and it’s not even close.

Our take — It’s impossible to argue with Laver’s two calendar slams (no man has managed one since) and his five-year absence from slam competition (1963-67) before the game’s open era. That said, it’s also important to note that some of Laver’s early slam titles as an amateur were collected in draws that didn’t include top rivals who had already turned pro. While it’s difficult to compare eras, Laver is still king. Sampras is no longer in the argument; both Laver and Federer boast better resumes and more complete games. In our opinion, Federer’s magic number for unquestionably trumping Laver is 16 slam titles.

TWT TEN COLLEGE BASKETBALL DROP-OFFS

Major-conference or NCAA tournament basketball teams that experienced the heaviest production losses because of graduation, early departure* or transfers. Notice that no conference was gutted like the Big East, which features half of the hardest-hit squads:

Team Pts lost Rebs lostLoss quotient**

North Carolina 73.5 27.5 114.8

LSU 59.4 29.7 104.0

Notre Dame 58.9 25.6 97.3

Providence 52.7 26.0 91.7

Pittsburgh 52.0 25.4 90.1

Connecticut 49.3 26.1 88.5

Gonzaga 52.1 23.9 88.0

Southern Cal 50.6 23.3 85.4

Utah 49.5 21.0 81.0

Villanova 46.8 21.2 78.6

* Assumes those currently declared stay in draft pool

** Points lost plus rebounds lost multiplied by 1.5

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