Round of Applause
The Naugatuck Valley All-Star Games were a brilliant idea by Sacred Heart football coach Chris Ortiz. It’s a shame that the last time something like this happened was 18 years ago because it’s such a no-brainer. There are few things in sports more fun for the participants than all-star games. It’s really a great way to reward an athlete for a season well played. I love how they decided to divide the teams along the city/suburban lines, and I’m glad our suburban players held their own—and in the boys case actually beat the city guys. This idea seems really obvious and somebody should try to pull these together for some other sports, too. It’s probably not a realistic idea for football, but I think it can be pulled off for soccer, volleyball, baseball, and softball. Although the NVL didn’t organize last weekend’s basketball games, I hope they realize how good an idea this is and turn it into a tradition for several sports.
Chorus of Boos
My bracket is not in very good shape. Part of my problem was that I over-picked for upsets, especially in the first round. I nailed Richmond’s upset of Vanderbilt, but my picks of Oakland over Texas, Belmont over Wisconsin, Clemson over West Virginia, and Utah State over Kansas State didn’t come to fruition. My pick of Washington over North Carolina didn’t pan out, either. I’m a Butler fan, but I didn’t even think this year’s Bulldogs would beat Old Dominion in the first round. I had too much faith in St. John’s, Syracuse, Louisville—well, almost the entire Big East—and it’s really just been a disaster. I’ve talked to some friends, though, and I don’t think I would do a whole lot differently if I had to fill out my bracket again. The upsets I did pick were pretty close to coming true, and I wouldn’t put it past any of those teams to beat the others if they played again. Unfortunately, that will not happen. Luckily, Yahoo! runs a Second Chance Tournament Pick’em game that I jumped all over. Hopefully that works for me.
Lakewood Lanes was disappointing to me on Saturday night. A few friends and I headed up to Waterbury for a little bowling—which most of us are not very good at—around 8 p.m. or so. I figured I wouldn’t be missing a whole lot, or at least any good games, in the NCAA Tournament because No. 1 Pittsburgh and No. 2 San Diego State were in action against lower seeded teams. Needless to say, I was incorrect and they might have been the two best games of the tournament so far. To make things worse, our lane was in an area close to three televisions. Should have been a great luxury, right? Not so much. During the fantastic finish of the Pittsburgh-Butler game, all three televisions were tuned to the 20-point blowout BYU was inflicting on Gonzaga. And with this year’s new style of coverage when all games are on different channels and they don’t cut in to show you what’s going on, we couldn’t see the ending of the Pitt-Butler game live. That’s the last time I go out during an NCAA Tournament game.
People upset about President Obama making an NCAA Tournament bracket really need to relax. Yeah, Obama’s got a lot on his plate right now with the situations in Japan and Libya, plus everything going on in our country. But the NCAA Tournament is far more important than any of those trivial matters. I’m not usually an Obama supporter on most of his political issues, but I’ve always enjoyed the fact that he’s an avid sports fan and he knows his basketball. And at least he’s doing a bang-up job on his bracket: He’s in the 99.9th percentile on ESPN.com and is the 7,549th ranked bracket out of several million on the website. I’m pretty sure I’ll speak for you when I say his is better than yours.
Snow is now ridiculous. Really? Just when we finally get the chance to get outside for the first week of spring sports practice, it decides to snow on Monday, and while I was writing this on Wednesday morning, it started flurrying again in advance of what was supposed to be fairly significant snowfall. Enough is enough. And for those supporters of global warming … you haven’t made your case very well this winter.
Tony’s back after furiously filling out his brackets—including one which he picked via coin flip—so he finally has some time for some more takes. Let’s not keep you waiting.
1. Who cares about Barry Bonds’ perjury trial? He juiced, cheated, and lied. No Cooperstown for you, Barry.
2. I honestly think the UConn Kembas—err, I mean Huskies—can win it all this year. Jim Calhoun and Co. have got this.
3. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Butler and VCU reach the Final Four at the end of this weekend. Good luck to both of them.
Teams I’d like to see win the NCAA Tournament
1. Butler: Might be my favorite basketball team now. Love these guys.
2. UConn: The Huskies were my first team, and you can’t not like Kemba.
3. BYU: Jimmer is something else and I’d love to keep watching him play.
4. VCU: Few people thought VCU should have made the tourney. Now look.
5. Wisconsin: The Badgers always play good basketball. Maybe it’s time.
6. Richmond: How cool would it be if a No. 12 seed won the whole thing?
7. Marquette: Playing for the rest of the Big East at this point. Nice uniforms.
8. San Diego State: The little guys that didn’t get much respect are really good.
9. Florida State: I always like a team that plays really good defense.
10. Duke: Easy, folks. Only because I picked the Blue Devils in my main bracket.
Lips to CN’s Ear
“Having one of your own, Lauren Piroscafo, on the Suburban team really will get the younger girls in our program to take notice. Outside of winning the state championship in my senior year of high school and beating Torrington two years ago, this is the most fun I’ve had related to hoops coaching this team.”
Naugatuck girls basketball coach after she coached the girls City All-Stars in the first Naugatuck Valley All-Star Game in 18 years last weekend at Sacred Heart High. Ruccio’s team beat the girls Suburban All-Stars, 64-58.
“It was a lot of fun competing at that level. Playing with teammates with that kind of skill level really takes the pressure off and you can go out and have some fun. It certainly was an honor to be named to the team and I think I did okay.”
Naugatuck girls basketball star after she played in last weekend’s City vs. Suburban All-Star Game. Piroscafo scored 10 points in the game after averaging 15.9 points per game during the season.
“It certainly was a good experience for me to play with that level of competition. … I worked real hard this year and it certainly paid off. This is a great honor to be named to this all-star team.”
Naugatuck boys basketball star after he played in last weekend’s City vs. Suburban All-Star Game. Kuczenski scored 13 points after averaging 16.6 points per game during the season. He helped lead the Suburban All-Stars to a 79-70 upset of the City All-Stars.
Kyle Brennan is a contributing sports writer for the Citizen’s News.