Talking Points: Hang in there, Blazer fans

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As the Trail Blazers tip off their 43rd NBA season, we can feel the excitement!

The excitement of draft day 2007, that is.

Back then, it was only a matter of time before the Blazers would be behemoths of the NBA. And that time was to be now.

Brandon Roy is 28 years old. LaMarcus Aldridge is 27. Two superstars entering their prime together.

Greg Olden is nearing his 25th birthday, and entering his fifth NBA season is the kind of defensive presence a championship team can use. Yeah, we can feel the excitement from the summer of 2007 ... in the pit of our stomachs.

The new rallying cry is "New Team. New Dream." Might as well be: "Hang in there with us."

To their credit, most Blazers fans will. In part, that is because the Blazers are the only show in town.

Portland fans will get behind the young players on this team, guys who will try to make the most of their NBA dreams.

But it won't be the dream season we all anticipated.

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We haven't read the fine print, but it appears new rules approved on Tuesday by the NCAA should significantly increase the risk for coaches whose programs violate NCAA rules.

Most significantly, the new rules aim to penalize those who break the rules rather than the wave of student-athletes that follow the violators into a program.

Under the new plan, programs found to have committed the most egregious violations can be forced to return millions of dollars in revenue. The onus will be on head coaches to police their entire program or face a possible suspension.

Will there still be cheaters?

Of course. But it is nice that, when caught, it will be the cheaters who pay the highest price.

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The Major League Soccer playoffs kick off Wednesday and Thursday. The Portland Timbers, of course, forgot about the playoffs about three months ago. But that doesn't mean there aren't some reason for Timbers fans to watch.

One is Thursday's one-game playoff between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Los Angeles Galaxy. Which team will Timbers fans be rooting against? Their upstart 2011 expansion rivals from British Columbia? Or those defending champions from Southern California?