The Road Ends Here!!!
Greetings from the hoodwood, where the locals are seeking treatment for their collective college hoops overdose.
In 15 days we’ve went from 68 teams to 4 and from a basketball purist standpoint you couldn’t ask for a more heavyweight driven Final Four than what you have this year. The consensus #1 team Kentucky with their precocious and talented freshmen Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis, Ohio State with its chillingly efficient Jared Sullinger and William Buford, Kansas with its player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson and Louisville led by do everything guard Peyton Siva. There are no shortage of storylines here. Can John Calipari finally get the title he has chased from UMass to Memphis to Kentucky (And better still will he be able to keep it?) Will Rick Pitino get the 2nd title that he has so long desired. Will Ohio State finally put it all together? Can Kansas prove that they were the ultimate sleeper? The Big Easy will have four very noisy and boisterous fan bases. The problem is have no love really for any of them. I have always had a soft spot for Kansas and their Rock Chalk KU chant…but Its never been a deep seated love. Though with the Buckeyes and Cards on my master shit lists for defeating my beloved Bearcats and their fans never letting me hear the end of it and the arrogant UK fans who have treated this tournament like their coronation. I have to root hard for the team that has done nothing to offend me.
The four regions had their share of wild moments, but no buzzer beaters and only one OT game where an Ohio team that wouldn’t give an inch simply ran out of gas against a tougher UNC game. But the Tar Heels showed more scars from that game than most thought as they were worn down by a relentless Jayhawks squad. Ol Roy Boy didn’t want to say as much but the loss of Kendal Marshall hurt the Heels more than a little down the stretch. I give some dap to Stilman White, the erstwhile backup point guard for UNC. Thrust into lineup with the injury to Marshall, White played capably for a while but as the game went into its final moments. White looked like he wanted nothing to do with taking a crucial shot. The Jayhawks went on a 13-0 closing run and the Heels had no scoring option. The Jayhawks triangle and 2 taking their key scoring threats, Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller out of the mix
In the East Ohio State raced out to a big lead against my beloved Bearcats watched them rally heroically to wipe out that lead and go up 52-48 With the Bucks seemingly on the ropes,they turned on the jets in a 17-1 spurt that sent them to the Elite 8 where they faced Syracuse. The Orange who roiled back and forth in their sweet 16 game but hung on to beat a solid Wisconsin squad in a game that didn’t get decided till a last desperate twisting Badger jumper sailed off line. The Orange and Bucks tussled for awhile in the TD North Garden in Boston but you just had the feeling that the Bucks were just too much of a handful for the Orange. Jared Sullinger repeatedly abused the Orange after being in early foul trouble. The game just seemed to have an odd flow and was tightly officiated. The Lady Bandit and I took some of the game in over dinner where a partisan Ohio State crowd was cheering every positive Buckeyes play. She observed that there were a lot of fouls called and that the Syracuse coach was getting madder and madder. Boeheim ended up getting a T and was lucky that he didn’t get a second later in the game. The Bucks made the game a free throw shooting parade late and Boeheim’s puzzling decision to keep uber playmaker make Scoop Jardine on the bench in the 2nd half was a puzzling coda to a 77-70 Bucks win. 2 of the 3 Orange losses this season were to teams from Ohio.
The Ville seems to win the ugliest games, witness their Big East title win over Cincy a stomach turning 50-44 decision. Or their ouster of #1 seed Michigan State in the regional semis a 58-47 clunker that no one outside of Jefferson County in Kentucky could have loved. Ive never been a Rick Pitino fan, his whining preening style is annoying and grating, but give the man his due. He wins with any kind of style, this grinder of a team he has this year wont win any aesthetic awards but they have won ball games. After the snoozer win over the Spartans, they fell behind to the Florida Gators who quietly made the regional final by rolling past Marquette and taking advantage of the absence of #2 Mizzou on that side of the draw. The Gators raced to an 8 point lead at the half and were up 11 with 8:16 to play. The Cards blitzed the Gators with a 23-8 run and stormed back to the 72-68 win. The win was even more impressive in that the Cards made most of their run with their do everything guard Peyton Siva on the bench. Oh geez this means we will have to see Siva’s father 20 million times during the national semifinal.
Finally there is Kentucky who has seemingly toyed with every opponent in the tourney. They played a thrilling track meet with Indiana for a half in the Sweet 16 and for awhile in the second it looked like the Hoosiers were going to match the Wildcats blow for blow. But the Hoosiers never took the lead in the 2nd half and the Wildcats just kept pulling further and further away the 102-90 decision was the most points scored in any game in the tourney and the only game that a team cracked the century mark. Indiana was the only team in the tourney so far to score 90 and lose. They went to regional final to face Baylor who’s up and down play let Xavier back into the game after taking a 22-4 lead early. The Bears held off a number of late charges to win 77-70. The Bears then raced out to an early 10-5 lead on Kentucky and looked to be in position to spring the mammoth upset. Facing their largest deficit of the tourney so far, all that did was annoy the Wildcats as they went on a frightening 34-7 run to destroy the Bears regional title hopes and cruise to an 82-70 win. This sets up a bluegrass rematch of the highest order. The arch rivals of the Commonwealth who for so long refused to play one another until they were forced to do so in the 1982 NCAA tourney then were shamed into playing one another by state proclamation. Now they play once a year and there is still no love lost especially with Cardinals coach Rick Pitino being UK’s most famous Ex-coach.
Ohio State and Kansas face off in a rematch as well, the Jayhawks rolled over the then second ranked Bucks in Allen but did so without facing Jared Sullinger. Im thinking that the Bucks will methodically wear the Jayhawks down in the second semifinal after the Wildcats overpower the Cards. There will be no suicide watches in Kentucky as the Wildcats beat the Bucks to win their first title in 14 years and give SEC fan one more teasing point on Ohio State.
The Big Tuna in the Big Easy?
Yeah, it could happens. Disgraced and soon to be suspended Saints Coach Sean Payton is reaching out to former mentor Bill Parcells to coach the Saints in his absence...could it happen? Stay tuned
Hes Baaaaack! Tiger takes the Palmer
Damn kid, it took ya long enough! Tiger Woods finally did the damn thing. Winning the Arnold Palmer invitational by 5 strokes over Graeme McDowell, the joy on Tigers face was obvious. Every media outlet has chronicalled the 2 plus years since Woods last tour victory in September 2009, since then Woods has had a nasty adultery scandal, leading to a painful and very public divorce, awkward apologies, crippling injuries and a puzzling slump that were leading many to believe that tour win #73 would be a long time coming if ever. But Tiger has shown a resiliency that has been long lacking and shook off a pesky achillies injury from his last outing to roll to a win in one of his favorite venues. The only shame was that the tourney’s namesake Arnold Palmer wasn’t on hand to present the trophy to Woods. The living legend was hospitalized with high blood pressure. We in the hoodwood wish Mr. Palmer a speedy recovery. And uh oh, whats the next major tour event??? It wouldn’t be a pristine course in Georgia where they give out green jackets to the winners would it???
Tebow time in the Big Apple
Tell me if this makes any sense to you. A backup quarterback getting back page news in the NYC tabloids and a press conference to boot. If it was anyone other than Timothy Richard Tebow, it would be considered a useless excerise. But Tebow mania is coming to the Big Apple. The soap opera that is the New York Jets and their grinning jeering coach Rex Ryan continue to outdo themselves in hyperbole. While their MetLife Stadium roommate New York Giants have won two Super Bowls in four years, the Jets seem to be more fodder for the tabloids than headliners for winning games. In a stunning reversal the Jets seemingly gave starter Mark Sanchez a vote of confidence by spurning any thought of pursing then free agent QB Peyton Manning and giving Sanchez a contract extension. Making a crazy quixotic turn the Jets then traded for Tebow. Sanchez, a fragile ego to begin with in the maelstrom that is the New York media shark tank now has to deal with the looming shadow of Tebow and his loud, loyal fan base. Tebow of course said all the right things in his Monday presser. Saying that he just wanted to do what was needed to help the Jets win and that about Sanchez that he “(thinks) We'll have a great relationship and, hopefully, we'll thrive together.” Many in the New York media ripped the trade and many former Jets did too. Jets legend Joe Namath called the move a dumb publicity stunt and many are lef to wonder that in an already highly charged locker room will the arrival of Tebow rip the team further apart. Tebow could have went to Jacksonville, a team with a young QB of its own in Blaine “Gabby” Gabbert and the Jags were hot for him, since Tebow grew up in Jacksonville and the Jags are desperate for a PR move that would fill the seats at an otherwise mostly empty EverBank Field. But Tebow wanted NYC and the Broncos made the trade work after a lengthy and at times puzzling horse trading session. Tebow leaving Denver had a number of critics including one that you wouldn’t expect (See Head Slap) Sanchez in a conference call later said that he was not concerned over his starting job. He better be, cause you can bet your bottom dollar the first time he throws a pick, or a string of incompletions not only will the boo bird come out but the Tebow chants will start. It ran Kyle Orton out of Denver, Im betting that it will drive Sanchez out of Gotham before the season is half over.
PHAT DAP/HEAD SLAP
In the wake of the tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the Miami Heat lead by Lebron James lead a protest of their own, the team was photographed hoodies up as a symbolic gesture over the controversy surrounding the shooting last month. While there are still no arrests and a good deal of the country has strong opinions, usually sports figures try to stay above it. James and the Heat felt it necessary to say little but their gesture said a lot. As a black man, I understand the frustration and have dealt with harassment before just because I looked suspicious as Im sure everyone of those players were saying with their gesture. I commend the James and the Heat for their actions and Hoodwood stands with the players and those that are calling for action in this matter.
To televangelist and noted blowhard Pat Robertson who on his 700 Club program was very sharp and pointed on his criticism of the Denver Broncos for trading Tebow. Robertson who rarely pontificates on sports took offense that the Broncos picked up Manning and traded Tebow. Robertson opined about Manning’s neck injury and said that the Broncos would be in serious trouble if Manning got hurt. That’s a no brainer and nothing overly controversial but he followed that up with the opinion that trading away Tebow would haunt the Broncos in some sort of dogmatic karma. Robertson went on to state that Tebow had turned the “nothing” Broncos into a contender and that acquiring Manning to bench then trade the devoutly religious QB was nothing short of terrible. Robertson needs to stick with what works, thundering from his pulpit for money and calling those that don’t follow his ideals evil.
Thats the view from the Hoodwood, until next post fellow sports fans!