Greetings from the Hoodwood, where are favorite golfers are named Boo, Tiger and Bubba and feel like one of our own won the Masters on Sunday…more on that later.
Im in my 3rd year writing this column and I will admit there are times where I struggle to put together a piece that is coherent and topical. This wont be one of them since I have lot of musings.
The Line You can draw from Jackie
As I mentioned at the end of last weeks column, my grandfather celebrated his 90th birthday last Sunday. My Grampy is a simple quiet man, very reserved and so low key its often hard to hear him. He is a very passionate baseball fan and knows the game well. We often went to ballgames and he would have the section we sat in enthralled with his simple story of watching Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers throw a shutout at old Crosley Field, or Jackie Robinson scoring a run with a walk, a stolen base, a fielders choice and worrying the pitcher so much while at third he’d score on a balk. Jackie Robinson was the first to break the color line and the Dodgers had fans in every city they played at. A heated discussion developed when my Grampy stated in his low-key way that while Jackie Robinson was the first, he wasn’t the best player to come from the Negro Leagues and it wasn’t even close. Many of the white patrons at that game were shocked to hear him say that. I knew where he was going with his point, so I let the patrons continue their shocked disbelief while Grampy pointed out players like Josh Gibson, Cool Papa and Ray Dandrige never played in the majors but were stars in their own right, Satchel Paige was well past forty when he started playing for the Indians in 1948 and though is prime years were behind him was able to pitch effectively for the last Indians team to be crowned World Series Champs. When one of the patrons argued that he had never heard of these players except for Paige, I stepped in and challenged him to look all the players up and note that they each have their own plaque in Cooperstown. Now the reason that Robinson was the first was because of where he had came from , he was college educated, he was a military vet and of the right mentality to take the merciless abuse he would get. With Robinson not only proving that he could play, but play well he opened the door for many other talented Negro League players as well as players from the Caribbean, but keep in mind with out Robinson you don’t have Brown v. Board of Education, you don’t have Rosa Parks, you don’t have freedom rides, a civil right bills isn’t celebrating it golden anniversary of passage . Martin Luther King Jr. was still a sociology student at Morehouse when Robinson broke in with the Dodgers. Over the last 67 years, the US has had tremendous growth in civil rights, and still has much progress yet to be made. But I dare say that none of that progress would have been made or would be severely stunted had Robinson not taken the field that overcast day in 1947. We’re all better for it.
PGA: Bubba does it again!
Its hard not to like Gerry Lester Watson Jr. The people call him Bubba and hes the 2014 masters champion. He won his 2nd green jacket on Sunday with an -8 score, besting young Jordan Spieth by 3 shots. The simple, earthy Watson is fast becoming a fan favorite for his unorthodox play, laid-back dare we say it aw-shucks manner and humble attitude. Many people considered his 2012 Masters win a fluke, the lucky dog finding the biggest of bones, but this win you couldn’t write off as luck. Watson played it aggressive from the hilt, in the final round where many thought he would lay up, play it conservative and not try to do anything foolish on the brutal Augusta course, Watson with a three shot lead went for and got the green in two on the 15th when the experts all clucked their collective toungues and openly questioned Bubba’s aggressive style. But when it was all said and done, the roles were reversed and Aussie Adam Scott was putting the jacket back on Watson as Watson had put the jacket on Scott last year. And what did Bubba do to celebrate? Fancy dinner with wife and toddler? Welllll, if you call hitting a Waffle House early Monday morning after the win a fancy dinner. Watson becomes only the 7th golfer to claim his first two major wins at Augusta the first since Jose Maria Olazabal claimed his 2nd green jacket in 1999. But that’s just our Bubba. You damn right Hoodwood claims him as one of our own, your humble scribe owns three Bubba Golf Shirts (damn, I miss Steve and Barry’s…lol) and with Tiger missing from the field, it was only right that the most down to earth guy wins the Masters.
NBA: Messed up playoff set
This just aint right. The Atlanta Hawks clinched their 7th straight playoff appearance, which is stunningly the 2nd longest active playoff streak in the NBA to the Spurs. Wait let that sink in the Hawks have meandered their way to the playoffs and I was stunned to see that indeed that they have made the playoffs 7 years running, with 3 different coaches, they ran off Mike Woodson and Larry Drew who were pretty capable coaches and if you can name the Hawks coach without looking it up you are a lie (No Sully, you aren’t eligible) But the Hawks will make the playoffs and wont be close to a winning record (they are 37-44 after losing to Charlotte Monday) but they edged out the sorry Knicks for the final playoff spot and will likely be ran out the playoff by the Pacers (maybe) who clinched the first seed in the east with the Heat tanking, errrrr losing to the Wizards which I think that seeing the easier playoff path at the bottom half of the East, they’ll run out the aforementioned playoff neophyte Bobcat-Hornets in the first round then get more playoff neophyte in the winner of the Toronto-Washington winner. Even worse, the Pacers get the winner of the Brooklyn-Chicago winner in the top half of the East draw. You think the Heat will even break a sweat for a month before the East Finals? Meanwhile out west, there will be a team that will win at least 47 games…and go home. The Suns and Grizzlies are battling for the last playoff spot and the right to get executed by the 62 win Spurs, put either one of those teams in the East and they have home court in the first round, in the West you could have 7 teams that will have 50 wins. 50 wins in the East locks a 3 seed up. 37 wins in the west puts you in 11th…Am I the only on that thinks that a losing team shouldn’t get in the playoffs if there are other teams that have better records? Am I the only that thinks that either the Suns or Grizzlies will get sent to the sidelines with a better record in four playoff teams in the East? Should there be some playoff restructuring? Food for thought
NFL: Content Cowboy mediocrity
The Cowboys are so full of themselves. Really. I guess I have an inherent hatred of the team, but its messed up that their owner Jerry Jones is so deluded that he thinks that even though the Pokes are 136-136 since their last Super Bowl appearance in 1996, he is convinced that the Pokes are stlll a good draw and are good TV. The Cowboys are on TV all the time, and have been the Sunday night finale each of the last three seasons and have lost to their other three divisional rivals. Jones doesn’t care he just cares about the ratings. Jones was quoted in Vegas as saying “As you know, the Cowboys have not gone to the playoffs in several years. We have not gone. Yet we're the most popular TV show there is on television. We lead all teams in TV ratings. We lead, 24 out of the last top 25 shows were NFL games, and any time your Cowboys play, they're up there at the top and leading." Leading? Leading in what? Ratings is the only thing that seems to matter to Jones and being at .500 with only 1 playoff win in the past 18 years isn’t something you want to be known for. The Pokes are a joke and the sad thing either their owner doesn’t know it or doesn’t care.
Phat Dap Head Slap
Phat Dap to Union College who won their first national title in school history by downing Minnesota in the NCAA Frozen Four. Union College in upstate New York made their first appearance in the Hockey National semifinals in Philly, after downing Boston College Thursday the Dutchmen scored three times in a 1:54 span in the 1st period to down the Gophers, who I was rooting for to take their 6th national title. But you have to give it to the tiny 2000 student college for whom Hockey is the only D-1 sport in taking their first national title.
To the 49ers Aldon Smith who thought it would be funny to say that he was carrying a bomb in LAX. Smith was annoyed that he was being randomly targeted for a secondary security search. Smith got arrested after he became belligerent and refused to be cooperative with the airport authorities. Smith needed to get checked, you don’t play with airport security…ever. Smith has numerous run ins with the law over the last few months and is walking on a thin line with the lack of discipline.
I might add some more random thoughts later, but until next post fellow sports fans!
Yeah put that national champion trophy over there with the other three...
Shabazz Napier leads the Huskies to the 2014 National title
Greetings from the Hoodwood where the patrons are trying to get over the college basketball season being over…I cant listen to One Shining Moment, it just means that another great season is history and the next time we’ll see good college basketball it will be cold again.
The Winnahs! The Huskies are top dog in college basketball
The National Championship trophy will head back to Storrs Connecticut for the 4th time in the last 15 years, Most Outstanding player Shabazz Napier leads the Huskies to a 60-54 win over the Kentucky Wildcats. The veteran laden Huskies of the neophyte American Conference got the best of the precocious band of freshman of Kentucky who many didn’t think were going to make it this far. The Huskies weren’t even eligible to make the tourney last year due to academic restrictions and this year got hammered at the end of the regular season by 33 points and again in the American conference title game both times by Louisville but the Huskies took their 7 seed fended off an upset minded St. Joes team and proceeded to knock off 3 straight higher seeded teams to win the East regional. The Huskies were decided underdogs in the national semifinals against the tourney #1 seed the Florida Gators. But they held the SEC champs to a single 3 pointer and a season low 53 points to advance to the national title game. The Wildcats, whom I was not very fond of, just seemed to be like a horror movie monster that wouldn’t die seemed to dodge one team after another as they knocked off Kansas State, unbeaten Wichita State, in-state rival Louisville and Big Ten heavy Michigan to get to North Texas then won a thrilling semifinal against Wisconsin but unlike all the other teams that faced UK. UConn didn’t wilt under a heavy charge by the Wildcats. All the teams they faced had sizeable leads. Louisville jumped out to an 18-5 lead in the regional semis. But Calipari’s freshmen phenoms ran out of gas in the finale where they made repeated charges by never took the lead. It was a thrilling game nonetheless and give the Huskies their due they are the best team in the land, the last team standing. Kevin Ollie at 41 (three months and one week younger than your humble scribe) is one the youngest coaches to ever win the title and won his first six tourney games (matching Steve Fisher’s 1989 feat at Michigan) The UConn ladies will try to match their male counterparts as they try to complete their 5th undefeated season in their storied history as they take on equally undefeated Notre Dame Irish in the national title tilt, Tuesday night.
PGA: Does no Tiger mean the Masters is less relevant?
The focus of the golf world turns to Augusta and the famed course the holds the PGA’s first major the Masters. The focus though may not really on defending champ Aussie Adam Scott, but on a former champ who wont be there. Tiger Woods. THe Masters will not have Tiger prowling the hallowed grounds for the first time since 1996, but Woods was still an amateur then. This time Woods will miss his first Masters in his career as he recovers from back surgery. THe question begs itself will the media hype machine really be pumped up without Woods in the mix. Even last year with Woods more or less out of contention last year, the Masters still had the sheen and shine of must see golf. Now you wonder is this must watch or will it just another major with that Woods guy...
NHL/NBA: The drive to the playoffs
Im a Red Wings fan and all my adult life, Ive never not known the Wings to not be in the playoffs. The Wings last missed the playoffs in the 1989-90 season. Your humble scribe was getting ready to graduate from Mt. Healthy High school and the Wings were stumbling to 28-38-14…they still had tie games back then. The playoff miss broke a three year run of making the playoffs. But after that the Wings have made the playoff every season since that there have been a chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup. In 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008 the Wings have claimed the silver chalice but have made the playoffs year in and year out. That streak is in danger as the Wings are still trying to claim one of the last two playoff wild cards in their first year in the Eastern conference. The Wings played mediocre for a large part of the season and still have a negative goal differential but the Wings have seemingly put a late run together and are on the cusp of claiming a playoff berth for the 23 year in a row. No team in the four major pro sports have a streak that long. But the playoff picture overall is a wild one to be sure. In the Western conference five teams already have 100 points and the LA Kings are at 97 points with four games still to play a six seed with 100+ points? Whoa. In the east, the Bruins and Penguins have better than 110 points each and look to be the bullies in that conference.
Meanwhile in the NBA, the playoff situation is quite messy. In the west there is a distinct possibility that there will be a team that will win 50 games and miss the playoffs meanwhile in the east there could be two teams that make the playoffs with a losing record. I think the Knicks and Hawks neither of which will finish anywhere close to .500 will see playoff basketball while entertaining teams like the Suns and Grizzlies may miss out. I was arguing with a colleague at work who thought that the number of 50 win teams in the west meant a lower standard of pro ball out west. I think that the best basketball is being played out west.
Phat Dap/Head Slap
To the newest members of the Basketball Hall of Fame class which includes Alonzo Mourning, Mitch Richmond, NBA Mafioso don David Stern and longtime college coach Nolan Richardson. As much as I knocked Stern he made the NBA what it is now and he brought hoops to the world masses.
To two lunkheads and a QB I usually think highly of. Mets 2B David Murphy took paternity leave last week to be with his wife in Florida for the birth of their first child. Baby Noah was born last Monday and by all reports mother and baby were fine. Murphy missed the season opener and Wednesday’s game but drew flak from some media sources for “abandoning his team” loudest of the critics were Mike Francesa of WFAN a notorious loudmouth whos braying about Murphy sounded like pitiful whining by someone who you figure that his kids probably hate him anyway. But the other potshots were coming from the new sports morning duo of Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton of the WFAN/CBS Sports Network Boomer and Carton morning show. These nutjobs who are trying in vain to unseat the long time dominance of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike took various potshots at Murphy. Esiason going so far as to openly wonder why Murphy’s wife didn’t plan better to have the child during the offseason. And also suggested that she have a c-section earlier so as to not inconvience her husband. Francesa also chimed in asking what good would Murphy be present at the hospital. Now as a proud father of two daughters, I was present at the birth of each and would not have traded that experience for anything in the world. I was fortunate to be working at jobs that let me have the time off and I was grateful but I would not have missed the birth of my kids for anything. Murphy did the right thing and shame on these lunkheads especially Esiason who is well known for being a parent.
Wonder if the goober that got the tat proclaiming the UK Wildcats the national champs is regretting his decision yet
Julie Hermann, Rutgers AD who just is an idiot for wishing a paper to go under but says that she doesnt want to make headlines but makes comments like that??? What...were......you...thinking...
I went to charity fight and a hockey game broke out...did the NYPD and FDNY think that it was supposed to be the boxing matches but got misdirected to the hockey rink???
Finally repeated birthday wishes to my Grampy. Who celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday. Hes a big time Cincinnati Reds fans and though he knows that the Dodgers moved to LA in 1958 (the year my namesake uncle was born) but still refers to them as the Brooklyn Dodgers. My Grampy is still sharp as a tack and when not watching baseball or his favorite animal shows on NatGeo still keeps up on the politics of the day. My Grampy is still the man to me, someone who taught me a lot about being a man and someone I still look up to and revere.
Thats a real baller, showin Lebron what being an inspration is...
Greetings for the Hoodwood, where no one even thought of the final four teams that are left.
NCAA: From a sweet 16 to a final 4 in Arlington
After 64 games, 64 teams have been sent off. Now there are 4 left. One favorite and three no one saw coming. The favorite left is Florida, winners of 30 straight that looked almost bored as they toyed with then vanquished a spunky Dayton squad that won the hearts of the college basketball nation with their fearless play. The Flyers sent 3 teams from 3 of the power conferences home earlier than they thought they should have been sent in Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford and hung tough with the Gators for the better part of a half but the clock struck midnight and the Gators claimed the South regional title and head back to the final four for the fist time since the halcyon days of the back to back titleists in 2006 and 2007.
Carreening out of the East is UConn who was all but left for dead after getting housed by Louisville on the regular season finale by 33 points. But lead by the gritty performance by All-American Shabazz Napier the Huskies hung tough, won a slugfest against Cincy and despite losing the American title game to Louisville went in to the tourney a serious dark horse. Though many pundits, your humble scribe included, thought they would last past the first weekend of the tourney, they knocked out the 2,3 & 4 seeds to claim the Eastern Regional. The finale was a street fight against Michigan State the supposed dark horse darling of the experts. I had an uneasy feeling that if UConn got to the regional finals at venerable Madison Square Garden, that it would be an extended home game for them with Storrs only being 139 miles and a 2 ½ hour drive away. The game as I stated before was a grinding street fight with Sparty’s rugged veteran group battling an equally veteran though not as tourney tested bunch. The Huskies made an insane amount of free throws down the stretch and the 60-54 win sent the American conference team to the Final Four. It is the first time since the 1992 Cincinnati squad that hailed from the Great Midwest that a team from a brand new conference heads to the Final Four.
Rambling in from the West is Wisconsin…you read right the quietest #2 seed you’ll ever seen. They don’t play pretty, they don’t play fancy and they sure as shooting don’t play nice. They play a grimy, gully style game based on strong defense, led by the sleepy eyed 7 footer Frank Kaminsky who netted 28 points but it was a strong defensive stand at the end of the overtime thriller against Arizona that got their tickets to Texas punched. The #1 seed Wildcats had 2 chances to take the lead in the closing seconds but failed to get a shot off either time. It was a bitter disappointment for the Miller Brothers who were both turned away from the Final Four a game short.
Finally, to my everlasting chagrin there is Kentucky. The haughty Wildcats who started the season as the unanamious choice for the country’s #1 team, there was talk of a possible run through a perfect season. But as one loss after another piled up like so much snow in the Bluegrass state, the whispers and grumblings got louder and louder. Especially with hated rivals like Louisville in state and Florida in conference flourishing so handily. The Gators, not the Wildcats ran the table in conference. The Cards, not the Wildcats were considered the fab favorites to make the deep run for a title defense. But Wildcats downed the unbeaten Shockers, edged their hated in-state rivals and needed a last second three from Aaron Harrison to edge Michigan and prevent the Big Ten from having multiple teams in the Final Four for the first time since 2000 which ironically was the last time Wisconsin the Wildcats opponents in North Texas will be, made the Final Four. As an avowed Kentucky hater (Princess Jazzie’s family are big Wildcat boosters and her Uncle Matt is a UK grad) I could feel myself want to vomit seeing the bragging, grinning, jeering Wildcat fans celebrate a regional title that they really had no right to expect two weeks ago.
So there you have it, four teams that I think are equally tough and balanced. This could be a raucous final four in front of record crowds at the Jerry Dome where the road ends in the 2014 basketball season.
NBA: Sixers destroy the dream
I had a dream that a team would be so bad that it would eclipse the longest losing streak in major pro sports. The Bucs lost their first 26 games in their existence, the Cavs in 2010 lost 26 in a row the first year after LeBron left to take his talents to South Beach, MLB cites the 1899 Cleveland Spiders 26 game losing streak as its record. The 1988 Baltimore Orioles lost their first 21 games of the season as a more modern record of futility. But the Sixers were in full command of their losing destiny, all they had to do was play their normal hapless selves against a middling Detroit team and the pro record would be theirs. What did they do? They mucked it up. 70 points in the first half? Oh no… Five starters in double figures? What the? 12 of 21 from downtown. Who do these palookas a d-leaguers think they are? Well for that night in front of a good crowd of 17,438 they were 123-98 winners. Ohhhhh snap, the game wasn’t even close. For a rare time the Sixers got to be the bully, punishing the beleaguered Pistons who were coming off a Friday night thrashing by the Heat. I was depressed in thinking that instead of being a special team, they are just another bad team trying to tank their way to a chance at drafting Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins.
NFL: Requiem for Mr. Wilson
The football world lost one of its patriarchs last week. Ralph Wilson, founder of the Buffalo Bills passed away after battling a lingering illness at the age of 95. Wilson who was an insurance magnate in the 50’s and a minority owner of the Detroit Lions took $25,000 of his own money to become part of the so-called “Foolish Club” spearheaded by Lamar Hunt. That foolish club became the AFL and he was one of the key figures behind the scenes that greased the works for the eventual merger between the AFL and NFL. Wilson became a dedicated owner and was a beloved figure in Buffalo. Players, coaches and Bills fans all spoke lovingly and warmly of Mr. Wilson. I went to Buffalo four times in the heyday of the Bills in the 90s and understood how much this team means to that area and how Mr. Wilson worked hard to keep the in Western New York. Now that he has passed on the speculation will arise anew that the Bills might be headed to LA, but that would be a sad coda to a great football legacy. Mr. Wilson was Buffalo football and he was the Bills. He was a class act and will be missed.
Phat Dap Head Slap
To Lebron James and the Miami Heat, who reached out to a young teenager who is battling cancer. Ebony Nettles-Bey is fighting the good fight against stage-four Rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer in the soft tissues of the body, she has chemo treatments and still goes to play at Verona High School in Wisconsin. She is a fan of LeBron and said that she wanted to meet him. With the help of a Milwaukee Bucks season ticket holder who generously donated his tickets to the Bucks-Heat game last Saturday, Nettles-Bey not only met James but hung out with the Heat during their shootaround, pregame warmup and team introductions. James also gave Nettles-Bey his uniform postgame. The interaction between Nettles-Bey and her favorite players and his teammates was more than just perfunctory wave and hello, James spoke postgame about his admiration for Nettles-Bey’s battle and her courage which is infinitely larger than any game. Dap to the Heat for brighenting the cancer fight for someone who needs the boost, we here in Hoodwood like Lebron is full on in support for Nettles-Bey’s fight against cancer.
To Mexican soccer who plays politics in trying to keep two key US players out of a friendly match. US and Mexico are developing a rather nasty rivalry and two American players that would be playing in the so-called friendly between the US and Mexico won’t because their Mexican club team Puebla wont release them from their obligations. DeMarco Beasley and Michael Orozco weren’t granted their release to play in Wednesday’s game in Phoenix. Foreign players are usually granted their release to play for their national teams but its highly suspicious that this Mexican league team would not when their players would be playing against the Mexican national team.
Vlad Guerrero retires an Angel, makes sense but super not fresh that Don Baylor (the only other Angels MVP) broke his leg catching the cermonial first pitch from Vlad...ugh. What is it with home plate at Angels Stadium that breaks legs. First Kendry Morales a couple years back now this?
Mr. Wilson of the Bills hasnt even been gone a week and here there is talk that Donald Trump may be interested in buying the team. If that happens, goodbye Western New York, hello LA Sharks. Trump will vacate that area faster than it takes a plate of Buffalo wings to disappear from a plate, he'll cry poor and that area in Hollywood Park would look mighty appealing. That happens and Baltimore moves to the AFC East, Indy moves to the AFC North and Kansas City to the AFC South to accomdate the new LA team..dont say that Bandito, your humble scribe didnt warn you.
All the supposed experts that were picking Michigan State to win it...did you really think that they would beat UConn at MSG? C'Mon Man!
Speaking of UConn, Geno (the Mafiaso don) Aureimma is leading another undefeated bid for the Lady Huskies, a showdown in Nashville with Muffet McGraw's Irish might be a jim dandy finale...oh did I mention that the Lady Irish are unbeaten too? The NCAA got this one right when they put the Huskies and Irish on opposite sides of the big bracket...No dis to Stanford, UNC, Maryland and Louisville (well maybe a slight one to Louisville) but Im hoping that they will be mere speed bumps to a title tilt of the first rank.
Miggy Cabrera and Mikey Trout get PAID! I like both of their games, Cabrera is the most complete hitter in the game today bar none. Trout will be a superstar in the big leagues for a long time but Trouts payday is more the preemptive strike by the Angels who didnt have to fork out the money for another 3 years. They figure get one of the best young hitters in the game locked up in his young prime years, but when he comes due for his next free agent contract...ooooh he might be getting a half billion dollar payday. You laugh, but I remember when Barry Bonds signed his first big money contract and the 7 year $43 million contract blew everyone away now thats a bargain for a middle reliever.
Finally, After careful thought and consideration Ive decided to quit writing and give up my pursuit of sports writing in an effort to pursue a dream being a sports agent. This will be my last column but if Arliss or Jerry McGwire doesnt hire me...then I'll be back next week...
Hey these mascot ideas are just as bad as the team...or is this the team???
Greetings for the Hoodwood, where the most frequent sound you hear is bracket busting all over the place. As for me ? Don’t ask.
NCAA: From 68 to 16 how we got here
Start from when Dayton stood up to the so-called mighty Buckeyes and wouldn’t back down and you had the makings of a wild first day. You have to live in Ohio (as I do) to fully understand the gravitas of this game. Ohio State avoids playing teams in state at all costs unless its in an exotic place, at home in the cozy confines of Value City Arena in Columbus or forced to do so by the bracket. Ohio State is the school that the other schools in the state are always measured against and Buck Nation will not hesitate to remind you of this fact. But the arrogant Buck Nation saw this matchup as a gimme, the problem was that the rowdy Flyers weren’t intimidated. They pressed the Bucks into errors, made the timely shots, kept the score low and close and didn’t let the haughty Bucks dictate the pace. The Flyers made the last shot, but needed too strong bounce off the rim on a last second bulrush to the rim by Aaron Craft to win. Two night later the Flyers topped that feat by knocking off Syracuse, these games were in Buffalo which doubled the incredible quotient. To knock off in-state big brother is awe inducing enough, but to knock Syracuse off in First Niagara Arena in downtown Buffalo, practically in the Orange’s backyard is a real feat. Here are the Flyers doing the cabbage patch in the corner of the dance hall, elbowing others out of the way to keep right on dancin’
5-12 matchup seemed to be trap games in the round of 64 (I refuse to call it the 2nd round. 3 of the 5 seed teams(including my beloved Bearcats) got zapped. The sole survivor of the 5 seeds Saint Louis needed OT to survive and they got sent packing 2 nights later. But all the 5-12 games were eye opener. We'll skip the horrid performance my Bearcats had against a good Harvard team and go to the Bison of North Dakota State, I caught their Summit League title win, a thriller against IPFW but like most gave them little chance against a solid Oklahoma squad, but to the pundits surprise the Bison played like they belonged and sent the Sooners packing. I wasnt fond of the SF Austin-VCU matchup which I saw as the NCAA putting two good smaller schools against one another to keep them away from bigger opponents. Let the lower creatures fend for themselves and kill each other off. But the game in San Diego was a classic. The Rams rallied from a halftime deficit by stifiling the Lumberjacks with an agressive press that seemed to paralyze the Southland Champs and seemed to have the game in hand with a 4 point lead until Desmond Haymon launched a 3 and was fouled by JaQuon Lewis with under 5 seconds to play. The shot went down to the horror of Lewis and the Rams, a look that was all over his face when the call was made. Despite an icing attempt by VCU coach Shaka Smart Haymon made the free throw to complete the 4 point play and force OT which the Lumberjacks outdueld a deflated Rams squad who had the look of having let one get away. The win was the 5th OT game in the first round...consider that the last two tournaments years in 132 games had a total of 2 games that went OT. The first two days had 5. Whoa. This is gonna get better as the stakes get higher. In the 2nd round. Wichita State and Kentucky played a Regional quarterfinal game that should have been a regional final or final four game. The unbeaten Shockers were taking on basketball royalty in the Wildcats. The game went back and forth but wasnt decided till Fred Van Fleet's three at the buzzer was off and the Wildcats got a hard earned victory. And of course the haters came out in force saying that the Shockers crumbled in the face of the first "real team" that they faced. I think that this
NCAA Coaching carousel.
They call this the silly season, though the basketball is still being played there are teams that are speculating and pushing hard for teams. Wake Forest is trying to reach for a coach from a familiar place, they got Bob Staak from Xavier in 1985, then the late Skip Prosser in the late 1990’s now they reportedly are after current Xavier coach Chris Mack who has been the coach of the Musketeers since 2009. Would Mack who is a Xavier grad abandon his alma mater for the famous ground of the ACC? Someone that Wake also is reportedly after is VCU coach Shaka Smart who was pursued by UCLA last year but turned it down to stay put, Marquette is also after Smart who is from Wisconsin. Now Marquette is trying to fill its vacancy after its head coach Buzz Williams headed to Virginia Tech. Their AD was once the AD of Cincy. Trying to keep their hot young coach in the same place, Dayton moved to extend the contract of Archie Miller, the younger brother of Sean who is the coach of Arizona and formerly of…wait for it...Xavier. Does this carousel make you dizzy? It makes me a bit seasick. And its only going to get worse. If you thought football was bad….
NFL: Is Cuban Right? Is the NFL getting bloated?
Mark Cuban is someone that despite being a great and savvy businessman, is someone that like to hear himself talk. This has been the case since he became the owner of the Mavs a decade or so ago. Despite his attempts to broaden his sports ownership portfolio he has been rebuffed in attempts to buy MLB franchises and be a part of efforts in a possible NFL expansion ownership group. Cuban lashed out at the NFL saying that in 10 years the NFL would "implode in 10 years" by oversaturation. Now there are some points that Cuban made that were valid. The NFL's TV package as it is, is perfect.Though Im not crazy about the the Thursday Night games though and I hate the thought of expanding the playoffs. But does Cuban have a point in saying that the NFL is bloated and will get too big for its britches? Or does he come off as someone that missed out on getting into a very exclusive rich boys club and is lashing out
NBA: Reverse Streaking
I remember a Sports Illustrated Cover from 1983, it had the incomparable Dr. J. tipping a rebound into the basket. The cover read, The Sixers are going for Seventy. The Sixers were after what was considered an untouchable 69-13 record the LA Lakers set in the 1971-72 season. The Sixers got to 57-9 at one point but coasted to 65-17 with a .500 finish over the last quarter of the season. But that was a great team. Dr. J. Mo Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Marc Iavaroni, Andrew “The Boston Strangler” TOney The famous fo, fo, fo quote by Moses Malone wasn’t quite fulfilled in the 1983 playoffs They went fo, fi, fo to win the 1983 NBA title. It was something that was celebrated by Philly Jazz Fusion group Pieces of A Dream making it into a smooth hit song also named Fo, Fi, Fo.
Ok now that you’ve enjoyed the throwback from the 80s you get thrown to the modern day and the Sixers are the antithesis of that great team they have lost a mind boggling 25 games in a row. And the worst thing is that there is no sign of any kind of reprieve. Consider that the Sixers last won on January 29th, that was nearly 2 months ago. They are closing in fast on the record for the NBA’s longest losing streak held by the post Lebron Cleveland Cavaliers who lost 26 in a row. This team shows no signs of slowing its losing streak after getting hammered by the Spurs who have their longest winning streak of the Pop-Duncan era at 14 games. The Sixers play the Rockets in Houston then come home to face the Pistons exactly two months since their last win and facing possibly the record loss. Can the Sixers run the table in reverse? Will this cinch a new system for a lottery? Stay Tuned.
MLB: Define Overrated
There was a poll of MLB players on who was the most overrated player in their ranks and the person that led the poll surprised me. The Nationals Bryce Harper led over Yasiel Puig and get this A-Fraud...errr A-Rod. Now I think that Harper has rode a considerable hype machine since coming up as a precocious teenager and zooming through the minors to become a stud player for the Nats but to call him overrated? Im not too sure about that, Im also wondering why the haterade is being thrown at Puig who has burned bright as a young star from Cuba and has shown the tools if not the supposed discipline and decorum to be an all-around star in MLB. A-Rod? Is he still in this league? I want someone to define overrated for me. Im thinking of another Public Enemy Jam in "Dont Believe the Hype" It seems that the mainstream sports media wants to find the next big thing to build up so that they can tear them down and rail on them just as fast.
To the ladies of Oklahoma and Depaul Universities who played an thrilling shootout on Saturday afternoon in the NCAA opening round. The 104-100 game was a record for number of points scored in a regulation womens tourney game but also was filled with a breakneck end to end energy that would hearten any hoop head. Both teams shot well with the Blue Demons shooting a crisp 54% from the field. the Sooners made 12 3's and the Lady Demons nailed 11 triples. it was a tight game all the way, decided only in the final seconds. It was a fun game to watch and well deserving in the tourney.
To the New York Post (Want a good tune, listen to the old Public Enemy jam Letter to the New York Post) who slipped up again reporting the former SMU basketball player Quinton Davis was dead...there was one problem. He wasn't. Davis who still lives in the Dallas area was at the La. Tech-SMU game the other night and returned home to find a flurry of messages. Davis who is in his early 30s, was reported as having been found dead as a homeless person. Davis who was neither had to spend the next couple days online and making calls to report that the reports of his death were exaggerated. The New York Post printed a correction but its just another slip up by a horrid publication.
I still think that the Wildcats benefited from a mass of no-calls. My mom isnt a hoop head like me but was wondering why the calls were so blatantly in favor of Kentucky.
Magic Johnson complained that the Lakers lack real leadership and that Laker legends Pat Riley, Phil Jackson and Jerry West in other cities instead of LA is a travesty. The leadership of Jimmy Buss is the travesty in LA and no quick fix is helping that squad.
Gotta send love and prayers to one of my all time favorite QB's Jim Kelly who is battling an aggressive form of cancer. Kelly has been a favorite of mine since he was playing at the University of Miami and the old USFL Houston Gamblers. Send one up for an old QB battling a foe we all hope he will riddle like he did so many defenses in the K-Gun back in the day.
Richie Incognito with the Raiders? That just sounds too easy...
Baseball starts in Austraila this year, did you watch or care? Or are you like me, that baseball season starts when the Reds, or Red Sox or Braves or Cubs or whatever team you follow hits the field at the local ballyard. Its not really spring until opening day in the states. Not NIGHT...Opening Day!
Thanks for your patience while I fixed the column. Its hard to write with a sicky kid to take care of. Until next post fellow sports fans!
Before I get started, more birthday greetings...this time to my mom. Yes her birthday is one week after her granddaughters. Mine coincidentally was 11 days after mine...but still. Happy Birthday... Now on the the final spec tally...
Well the bids have been issued 68 teams now know where their road to the Final Four starts at, and while many wont get out of the first weekend and first city they dream of being this years Florida Gulf Coast or Wichita State, every player on every team dreams of making that one big shot that will be remembered for ages. This is where 286 teams wish that they were, holding one of the golden tickets to the NCAA tournament.
Lets review the spec. I got 59 of the 68 teams correct. There were some that got the shaft, by not getting a bid. There were some that got bid that didn’t (in my opinion) didn’t deserve it but here is the final tally.
Incorrectly Forecasted as out: NC State Skinny on the ACC: I thought the Wolfpack didn’t do enough to get in, but apparently the selection committee thought that they did but sent them to Dayton to play in the 11 seed play in game.
Projected Bids: 5, Teams selected: 6
Atlantic Ten Conference Class- Major
Correctly Predicted: Saint Louis, George Washington, UMass, St. Joes, Dayton, VCU
The A-10 Spec is: Got them all. The wonks whine about Dayton but they deserved it. Coach K knocked the validity of the
All-American Spec: SMU got the shaft! 23-9 and ranked but not sent to the tourney. The Mustangs got royally hosed. The American is already looking like the bastard stepchild of the conference, defending champ Louisville who steamrolled through the conference tourney gets a 4 while regular season co-champ Cincy not only gets sent west as a 5 faces a tough Ivy League champ Harvard.
Correctly Predicted : Providence
Going: Creighton, Xavier, Villanova
Big East Skinny: Four projected and four going, though like I said Xavier was sweating it till they were announced in the 11 seed 1st round.
Projected bids: 4
Big Ten Conference Class-Power
Correctly Predicted: Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State
Incorrectly Forcasted as out:Iowa
The word on the Big Ten is: Iowa gets in??? Are you serious? The committee contradicts itself by saying finish strong but awards a bid to an Iowa team limping to the finish line. I don’t think that they deserved a bid and doubt that they will get out of Dayton.
Big Ten Championship Michigan State vs Michigan Saturday 3:30 (CBS) Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Projected Bids: 5 Actual Bids: 6
Big 12 Conference Class-Power
Correctly Projected: Iowa State, Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State Skinny from the heartland: The Cyclones lead 7 teams into the dance, West Virginia wasn’t really going to make this crowded bus.
Projected Bids: 7
Conference USA Conference Class-Mid-Major
Correctly Projected: Tulsa
Projected but not selected: La. Tech Oh Say Can You C-USA Spec: The Hurricane got the only bid and I was stunned to see that the only bid. I think that La. Tech should have gotten a bid
Projected Bids: 2 Actual Bids: 1
Missouri Valley Conference Class-Mid Major
Clinched: Wichita State
Missouri Valley Skinny: The Shockers got the #1 seed
Missouri Valley Conference Champions: Wichita State
Projected Bids: 1
Mountain West Conference Class-Major
Correctly Projected: New Mexico, San Diego State Spec from the Mountains: There were no surprises here, the Lobos and Aztecs were getting bids and everyone knew it.
Southeastern Conference Class-Power
Going: Florida, UK
Incorrectly Forecasted as out: Tennessee Spec is Down South: The SEC sent three I think to keep the powerful SEC contingent happy. Tennessee really didn’t deserve their bid
Projected Bids: 2, Actual Bids:3
West Coast Conference Class- Mid Major
Incorrectly Forecasted as out: BYU West Coast Spec: BYU getting a bid was a shock, I really didn’t think that they had the resume to get a bid.
West Coast Conference Champions: Gonzaga
Projected Bids: 1
The following conferences sent their champions as the lone representative from their respective conferences and (projected Amer. East (Albany), Atlantic Sun (Mercer), Big Sky (Weber State), Big South (Coastal Carolina). Big West (Cal-Poly), Colonial (Delaware), Horizon (Milwaukee), Ivy (Harvard), MAC (Western Michigan) , MAAC (Manhattan) , MEAC (NC Central), Northeast (Mount St. Mary’s), Ohio Valley (Eastern Kentucky) , Patriot (American), Southern (Wofford), Southland (SF Austin), Sun Belt (Georgia St.) , Summit (North Dakota St.), and SWAC (Texas Southern) and Western Athletic (New Mexico St).
Now in the words of Kevin Bacon…
The Hoodwood returns in its full glory with thoughts on the Sweet 16 next week. Until Next Post fellow sports fans!