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Posted on: March 12, 2010 4:36 am
 

Top 5 NCAA Tournament Memories


Selection Sunday is upon us which means March Madness is about to happen.  I’ve seen hundreds of tourney games over the years and there have been thousands of memories.  But, as hard as it was, I’ve narrowed it down to 5.  These are my Top 5 Favorite or at least most memorable, NCAA Tourney moments.  Not that these are the ‘best’ moments of the Tournament, but just my most memorable.

 

1)  Alonzo’s block -- First, I’m a lifelong Hoya fan and I didn’t want this to be a list of 5 Georgetown memories, so Zo’s block actually represents my most memorable G’town tourney moment as well – It was 1989 and the Mighty Hoyas were the #1 overall seed in the Tournament.  First up was 20-point underdog and 16<sup>th</sup> seeded Princeton from the Ivy League.  Of course no 1 seed has ever lost to a 16 seed in tourney history, ever.  Coach Pete Carrill lured Freshman stud Alonzo Mourning away from the basket with his sharp-shooting big men while the Princeton guards would backdoor the over-aggressive Hoya D.  Lay-up after lay-up after lay-up for the Tigers, each one seemingly with less than 5 seconds on the shot clock.  However, Georgetown had little trouble scoring either, as Mourning was just too big in the middle.  But the game came down to the final possession, and it belonged to the Tigers.  Down 50-49, Princeton ran a play to again bring Big Zo out of the paint…but this time their big guy took the shot, and Mourning leaped to try to just get a piece.  And that’s just what he got – a piece, but enough of a piece to cause the shot to fall short and Georgetown to hold on to victory.  Whew! 

 

 

2)  Keith Smart’s jumper – It’s 1987 -- Steve Alford and the Indiana Hoosiers are in a titanic battle with freshman beast Derrick Coleman and the then Syracuse Orangemen.  I think DC had something like 20+ rebounds in that game….crazy.  Anyway, this game too came down to the last possession, and the Hoosiers had the ball.  Up a point, the ‘Cuse decided that All America guard Alford is NOT going to beat them….little did they know Keith Smart would.  After he hit that corner jumper, I can remember going outside and shooting that shot over and over and over.  3….2….1….from the corner…..gooooooood!  You too, right?

 

 

 

3)  Bo honoring Hank – In 1990, the college basketball world lost a fantastic player, one Hank Gathers.  He played alongside Bo Kimble in High School and both stints in college, at USC and Loyola-Marymount (Gathers and Kimble transferred from USC to LMU after the ’85-’86 season after their coach was fired).  During the 1990 West Coast Conference Tourney, Gathers collapsed and died on the court due to a known heart condition.  The conference tournament was of course suspended and, due to their regular season title, LMU was given the automatic NCAA tourney bid.  The 11<sup>th</sup> seeded Lions made an unbelievable run, all the way to the Elite 8.  But what I most remember is that Bo, although right-handed, would shoot his first free throw of each tourney game lefty, honoring his longtime southpaw pal.  Bo went 3 for 3 left handed during the Tournament.  Great stuff.

 

 

 

4)  Rice’s takeover – 1989 – The University of Michigan is entering the Tournament with a coach who hadn’t won a game all season.  The coach who was at the helm for every win that season was Bill Frieder.  But after the regular season, Frider had accepted a new job with Arizona State , and although he intended to coach the Wolverines throughout the Tournament, AD Bo Schembechler was having none of it.  He told Frieder to split and gave the job (and the Tournament) to Steve Fisher.  There’s no way this team can advance very far with a new coach, right?  It’s just everyone forgot to tell Glen Rice.  Dude went nuts.  I can remember him coming off those double-screens and popping out at the top of the key….swish!   Perfect form, perfect release…it was beautiful.  It seemed like he never missed.  Throughout the Tournament, he scored a record 184 points, just a shade over 30 per.  That record still stands today.  I wanted to have just won day where I was in the zone Rice was for that Tournament.  Simply amazing.  By the way, the Wolverines did go on to win the whole thing – Rumeal Robinson sinking the clinching free throws against Andrew Gaze and Seton Hall.

 

 

5)  Hill to Laettner – 1992 East Regional Final – a trip to the Final Four on the line.  All America beast Christian Laettner was already perfect on the night, having gone 9 for 9 from the field and 10 of 10 at the line.  But there were only 2.1 seconds left, and Duke trailed Kentucky 103-102.  Its Duke ball out-of-bounds baseline after a made UK basket.  Grant Hill inbounds the ball with a Hail Mary-like bomb to Laettner at the far free throw line.  Guarded by two Kentucky players (who inexplicably just stand there), Laettner catches the bomb, dribbles, spins, and fires a 17 footer that hits nothing but the bottom.  Time expires and Duke advances to the Final Four (and eventually the National Championship).  Amazing pass, amazing shot, amazing game by Laettner.  He literally couldn’t miss all night.

 

 

Ok, I know I left out TONS of great stuff.  Honorable mention to Scotty Thurman’s jumper vs Duke, Chris Webber’s timeout that wasn’t, NC State, and the multitude of Georgetown memories….Jordan in ’82, Ewing in ’84, and Nova in ’85.

 

Let’s start bustin’ some brackets!

 

 


 
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 9, 2010 7:07 am
 

Plan for MLB realignment

Has anyone else wondered why there are 30 Major League teams, 6 Divisions, yet not all divisions are made up of conveniently divisible 5 teams??  The AL West has 4 while the NL Central houses 6…..really??  How does this make sense to anyone?  I have an idea for realignment that will balance the divisions and add some intrigue.

 

First, I’d move the Colorado Rockies from the NL West to the AL West.  They would join Seattle, LAoA, Oakland and Texas.  Geographically it works and wouldn’t you agree Coors Field was made for the DH??  Those Blake Street Bombers of the mid-90s (Galarraga, Castilla, Walker, Bichette, Burks) were nothing but DHs anyway….unfortunately they were in the NL!

 

But that leaves the NL West with only 4 teams (SF, SD, LA Dodgers, Arizona).  No problem.  Move Houston from the already- too-crowded NL Central to the NL West.  This move leaves the NL Central with 5 teams (St Louis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Chicago) and also puts BOTH Texas teams in Western Divisions.  The Astros travel would be no more taxing on them than it already is for the Rangers.

 

Why wouldn’t this work??  It’s not like we’d be killing any great rivalries….I mean, who’s going to miss those Rockies/Padres games in mid-May?  Didn’t think so.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 26, 2010 5:57 pm
 

Top 5 Reasons Baseball is better at the Ballpark

Pitchers and catchers have finally reported and that ‘sizzle-and-pop’ is back in the air – along with the ‘crack-of-the-bat’ and the sound of 40+ grown men acting like children.  Man, do I miss baseball.  Here are the Top 5 Reasons Baseball is better at the Ballpark:

5)  The Grounds Crew – The only time you see these guys on TV is right before a rain-delay.  But the truth is, the crew does a ton of work on the field right up until game time.  Bags upon bags (of what can only be assumed is “Sam’s Best Infield Dirt”) are hauled from the mound to the batter’s box, making sure they’re both in pristine condition.  A guy on a Gator drags the entire infield while 2 others drop the chalk – then they all grab the hose and lightly mist the whole thing – When you walk into that ballpark and your eyes light up upon seeing the field, you’ll have the grounds crew to thank.

4)  The Smells – Unless you’re in Pittsburgh (or trapped in one of those goofy domes), there’s just something amazing about the way the ballpark smells…the combination of freshly cut grass plus all the tools of the game;  leather gloves and wooden bats.  And the food is hard to beat.  Nachos, hot dogs, cotton candy, peanuts, hell, even beer smells great at the ballpark – these pretzels are making me thirsty!

3)  Defensive adjustments – Even the best TV announcers rarely discuss how the defense is positioned…maybe once an inning, MAYBE.  But when you’re live, you can’t help but see it…and on almost every pitch.  From the infielders creeping-in to the outfielders guarding-the-lines, you can watch the managers constantly making adjustments.  You’d probably be surprised how many times a guy flies out to deep left-center only because the leftfielder had him shaded to the power alley before the pitch.

2)  Batting Practice – If you’ve ever seen this at the Major League level you’re probably wondering the same thing I am – How are more guys NOT hurt during this??  Despite the name, BP is more than just hitting – you’ve got guys running the bases, fielders fielding, and an outfield full of guys playing long-toss, stretching or generally ignoring everything that’s going on.  However, injuries hardly ever happen, and the choreography is beautiful – each guys just strolls into the cage, takes his pre-determined number of hacks (normally including a first pitch bunt), jogs out and in comes the next guy – at each rotation you get fewer cuts and therefore the long balls start flying more frequently – and don’t forget all the while you’re shortstop is deep in the whole practicing his backhand short-hop and deep throw to first – I know it’s only practice, but you get a season’s worth of highlights all at once – Point being, if you’re lucky enough to attend a game this season, go early enough to enjoy Batting Practice – you won’t regret it.

1)  A Win – imagine it’s May 23 and you’re watching your team play the Padres on TV.  Your team takes a 3-2 lead with a 2-run double in the bottom of the 7<sup>th</sup> (that you missed because you forgot to click back from the last commercial) and your closer ultimately comes in to seal the deal with a 1-2-3 ninth.  Yay – go team – CLICK – you’re already watching “The Office” re-runs.  Now, imagine you’re at the ballpark on that May 23 – just as that opportunity in the 7<sup>th</sup> presents itself you and the other 20k+ fans start a buzz…..then that double screams down the line and the place goes nuts!!!  And in that 9<sup>th</sup> inning – every pitch has drama when you’re live – Already 2outs, when your closer gets that 1<sup>st</sup> strike, you revisit that buzz – Strike Two and everyone’s clapping, and I mean EVERYONE, even that lady 3 rows ahead of you who’s been reading Little Women since the first pitch – Strike Three and you’re high-fiving strangers, chest bumping with ushers and hugging in the aisles – the guy at home, watching on TV, probably just farted.

What do YOU like best about the Ballpark?

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 22, 2010 5:34 am
 

2010 Spring Training Power Rankings

2010 Spring Training Power Rankings

 

1)      Philadelphia Phillies – explosive offense plus they added stud Roy Halladay – Doc should enjoy feasting of NL hitting after spending all of his previous time in the slugger infested AL East – the NL is theirs to lose

 

2)      NY Yankees – neck and neck with Boston for title of Best Staff in Baseball – the Yanks bats put them over the top, however – the Sox can’t compete with Tex, ARod, Granderson, Jeter and company

 

3)      Boston Red Sox – their pitching staff is deeper than the Yankees, if not better – the addition of John Lackey is huge – and if Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia return to their old form, watch out – C/1B Victor Martinez is dark horse MVP candidate

 

4)      St Louis CardinalsAlbert Pujols alone would elevate any team to Top 10 status, but these Redbirds can pitch, too – Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright both are coming off Cy Young caliber seasons, and the Cards locked up Matt Holliday to protect Prince Albert

 

5)      Tampa Bay Rays – Most of the pieces are still in place from their World Series run a couple seasons ago, but David Price is the key, his improvements (or lack thereof) will be echoed by the club

 

6)      Seattle Mariners – Simply put, they had the best offseason of any other team.  Signing Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins were huge.  The top of that lineup features Ichiro and Figgins??  Then you’re faced with a 1-2 of Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee??  Seattle should cruise to the AL West crown

 

7)      LA Dodgers – the best young talent in baseball – assuming their pitching holds up, those young bats (plus Manny’s old one) should keep Torre’s Dodgers in the hunt all summer

 

8)      Colorado Rockies – had an incredible finish to last season….and now Jeff Francis returns – should be a great race between LA/Colorado/SF for that division

 

9)      Minnesota Twins – the M&M boys should be at it again – Mauer and Mornueau are beasts – and as per usual, they’ll find just the right mix of pitching and defense to quietly win another AL Central crown

 

10)   Atlanta Braves – this staff is starting to send the same kind of fears Rockin’ Leo’s used to in the 90s – Tommy Hanson will be a star, and Tim Hudson says his arm feels better than it has in years – as long as Jair Jurrjens shoulder issue is minor, these guys could contend now – of course, they’d need almost everything else to go right and an MVP-type season out of Nate McClouth

 

11)  SF Giants

12)  Chicago White Sox

13)  Chicago Cubs

14)  Texas Rangers

15)  Florida Marlins

16)  LA Angels

17)  Arizona Diamondbacks

18)  Milwaukee Brewers

19)  NY Mets

20)  Detroit Tigers

21)  Oakland A’s

22)  Houston Astros

23)  Cleveland Indians

24)  Cincinnati Reds

25)  Toronto Blue Jays

26)  Kansas City Royals

27)  Baltimore Orioles

28)  Washington Nationals

29)  Pittsburgh Pirates

30)  San Diego Padres

Posted on: February 22, 2010 4:51 am
 

The Perfect Lineup

If you could use the enitre Major League as your player pool, what would be your perfect lineup??  For argument's sake, let's choose all 8 defensive positions, DH (anyone not already selected), 5 starters and a closer:

1)  Ichiro Suzuki, RF
2)  Joe Mauer, C
3)  Albert Pujols, 1B
4)  Ryan Howard, DH
5)  Alex Rodriguez, 3B
6)  Ryan Braun, LF
7)  Chase Utley, 2B
8)  Hanley Ramirez, SS
9)  Grady Sizemore, CF

SP - Tim Lincecum
SP - Roy Halladay
SP - Chris Carpenter
SP - CC Sabathia
SP - Cliff Lee
Closer - Mariano Rivera

The hardest cut was, of course, DH -- for me, it came down to Howard, Fielder and Justin Morneau -- really can't go wrong.
Posted on: February 21, 2010 12:48 pm
 

Offseason Husker Update

Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald recently interviewed Nebraska Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson.  I found some incredibly telling information within the few questions and answers.  Among them:

Wats explained how the offense was thrown into 'management' mode even before the season started when they lost both OL Jaivorio Burkes and IB Quentin Castille, both of whom were expected to be major factors in the '09 campaign.  Once the season got going, every OL suffered injuries limiting their practice time, thus limiting the 'game-like' reps Pelini wants and demands.  The lack of depth combined with the injuries resulted in a lack of competition....and without that the offense could not evolve.  Then QB Zac Lee damaged his throwing elbow and IB Roy Helu Jr suffered a shoulder injury that never got right.  Buckup IB Rex Burkhead breaks his foot in practice (what would Iverson say?) and misses most of the season's 2nd half.  The offense also was hit hard by the swine flu, especially during the Missouri game.  However, I'm not claiming injuries as an excuse, and neiter was Watson.  Every team has to deal with injuries.  But because most of these injuries went unreported until after the season, most Husker fans wondered why the offense had gotten so basic.  Knowing how banged up everyone really explains alot.

Watson goes on to describe how he and Bo envision the 2010 version of the offense.  It can best be described as multiple -- mixing in both shotgun and under-center sets.  They want to be a run-first offense, but will always take what's given.  Their plan is to run a basic scheme until the opponent makes an adjustment, but always be one step ahead.  Give them the same look but exploit the weakness that's given when what you were running is stopped.  Expect two-backs, power running and play-action passes deep down field.  Wats and Bo even spend time with Dr. Tom Osborne and former assistant Milt Tenopir to gain additinoal insight as to how the Big Red used to practice, how they used to play....heck, they might even have taken a play or two from the old play book -- we'll have to wait and see.

My thoughts -- I truly believe the Bros. Pelini think they have something special brewing.  I really think that they think the Huskers can win the National Title in 2010.  I like that.  It will be really interesting to see how much of the 'multiple' offense is real, and how much is media-speak.  I suppose we'll learn quite a bit in the Spring...but Lee isn't expected to be recovered from offseason elbow surgery by then, so the QB will still be a huge question mark.  One thing I have learned is the green 'no contact' jersey for QBs will NOT be used by the Huskers until an absolute clear cut favorite emerges from the pack.  In the spring, expect Cody Green to compete with Taylor Martinez, Kody Spano and LaTravis Washington for the starting job.  All reports are that Martinez is an exceptional runner -- I would love to see him in the Wildcat formation, posing a true passing presence along with the ability to run.  Green has a little experience now, and the bright light syndrome should be behind him.  He really needs to spend time devouring the playbook -- and don't underestimate the fact that former Husker QB Joe Ganz is on board as an intern.  I really think he can help relate to the younger players, especially Green.  If Ganz can get what he knows in Green's body with that skill-set....look out!!  Both Washington (a converted LB)  and Spano are unproven -- and don't forget about Ron Kellogg Jr....he was Scout Team player of the year last year -- no small feat against that Blackshirt Defense.

Can't wait for Spring ball!!!

GBR!!!

Posted on: February 19, 2010 9:12 pm
 

My thoughts on Eldrick - I'm tired!

I'm tired -- tired of hearing that I should 'leave Tiger alone' -- tired of hearing that he 'needs his privacy' -- tired of being told 'others are doing far worse, bother them' -- Listen, Tiger is a Kagillia-Billionaire, and he owes damn-near ALL of it to his (previous) marketibility.  So let me get this straight.....it's OK for him to get grotesquely rich trying to get us in his business (ie, Nike, Buick, Gatorade, etc) but NOW, after a 'transgression', we're just supposed to get out??  I don't think so -- the reason nobody cares about the oil-change tech down the road cheating on his wife is because that dude has NEVER invited us into his life, let alone get punk-nutty rich off of us.  But Tiger has.  Over and over and over and over and....before this Thanksgiving (and after, actually, but for different reasons) he was everywhere.

Hey, I don't have any opinion on the actual problem between he and his wife -- that's their deal, totally, I don't have a dog in that fight -- but, when she married him, she KNEW what she was getting into -- not the extra-marital affair part, I don't imagine, but the media circus that is Tiger Woods part -- you don't get to reap all the rewards of being Mrs Tiger Woods without being in the public eye , ALL THE TIME -- that's just how it is -- you want anonymity?  Marry a Blockbuster clerk in St Petersburg, Fla -- You want to live in a house the size of DFW?  Marry the most famous person in the world...and don't freak out when everyone wants to know everything about you:  good, bad and otherwise.

For Tiger, all he'll have to do is shoot a 62 in the Final Round of (Insert Major Tournament Here) and the galleries will be back -- I strongly doubt he'll ever be a coveted marketing icon again -- but golf fans will still enjoy watching him play the game...assuming all of this doesn't impact his focus and concentration.  If he's the same on the links, golf fans will quickly forgive and forget -- but America as a whole will not.

I hope he returns to the game soon as I do enjoy watching him play -- but no one deserves praise who can't also be criticized. 

So ask yourself this:  Would you trade every-single shred of your own personal privacy for endless riches??  Would you??  Really??  Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 14, 2010 11:24 am
 

2 Simple Ways to Fix the NBAs Dunk Contest

These are so simple they don't need much explanation at all:

Idea 1)  Turn the contest into a game of HORSE, dunk style.  Each participant has to mimic the previous player's successful dunk, or 'get a letter' -- I think it would be more entertaining than the current format because the players would be trying dunks they've never tried before.....THAT would better define who is the better dunker

Idea 2)  Raise the goal -- let the players show off who can really FLY -- imagine LeBron doing a 360 on a 12 foot goal??  Yo!!!  Judges wouldn't be necessary.  Any trick dunk on the highest goal wins. 

I'm sure both of these ideas have their flaws, but ultimately, I feel like either format would far exceed the snooze fest we have now.

Ideas??

Lemme hear ya
Category: NBA
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com