Round of Applause
National Sit-at-Home-and-Do-Nothing-Except-Watch-Basketball-Extended-Weekendis here. If you need an explanation as to what that is … well then. The first four days of the NCAA tournament are the best four days of the sports year. Allow me to describe the perfect day to you: Wake up and all that good stuff. Finish filling out my last 10 brackets. Order a pizza at 11:45 a.m. Pick up the pizza just after noon. Get back to my Bracket Lab immediately. Invite a revolving door’s worth of people to stop by and drop off their brackets. Organize the brackets while watching one game on TV and another on the computer. Score brackets after every half-dozen games or so. Eat more pizza for dinner. Repeat everything until about 1 a.m., then repeat for the next three days. This is absolutely fantastic.
Spring weather is here and hopefully it’s here to stay. This is the first time I’ve ever been involved in a baseball team where we can actually have a useful practice during pitchers and catchers week outdoors in the second full week of March. It is totally sensational outside. I’ve actually turned my front porch into my pseudo-office this week on spring break because it’s just too nice to sit inside. (Remember, the weather will not matter while sitting inside and watching basketball.) However, my oh-so-wise grandmother brought up a great point the other day. Somehow, some way, we’re going to pay for this nice weather. Maybe we’ll get a legitimate hurricane to visit this summer. Maybe we’ll get a tumbleweed storm. Who knows.
Chorus of Boos
The New York Jets are at their dumb tricks again. Because apparently they couldn’t get Peyton Manning to visit and consider joining the squad (who could blame him, really), the Jets decided to “reward” Mark Sanchez with a three-year contract extension worth way more money than he deserves. Sanchez should owe the team money. I tried to ride his bandwagon from the moment the team drafted him, and I stayed on until Week 17 last season at Miami, when he played about as bad a game as any quarterback could ever play in a pressure situation. Sanchez was improving for a while. Then he stopped. I’m going to give this one more shot with a new offensive coordinator, but Sanchez is on his last leg here. I want to know what it feels like one day to have a quarterback that doesn’t scare the hell out of me when he lets go of the ball.
Top 10 Lower-Ranked Teams to Make an NCAA Tourney Run (Hopefully)
1. No. 5 Vanderbilt: Veteran squad needs to get past Harvard, but Syracuse is weaker now.
2. No. 6 Murray State: Racers have only lost once. With great guards and shooters, who knows?
3. No. 7 Gonzaga: Gonzaga hasn’t been intimidating in the tourney in a while. Strong inside.
4. No. 8 Kansas State: Wildcats have been really up and down. Could face weaker Syracuse.
5. No. 9 UConn: Depends which team shows up. Could lose to Iowa State or beat Kentucky.
6. No. 11 NC State: Wolfpack is hot after strong ACC tourney run, but up and down overall.
7. No. 12 VCU: VCU did it last year. Can never count out the run-and-gun, shooting style.
8. No. 12 Long Beach State: I love this team. Veterans, tested, shooters, and defensive.
9. No. 13 Ohio: Ohio pulled an upset two years ago over Georgetown. Look out, Michigan.
10. No. 14 Belmont: A frequent tourney squad, Belmont is red-hot. Georgetown is a weak No. 3.
Lips to CN’s Ear
“Now we have more kids coming out because they want to be a part of it. We have football and baseball players coming out and when I first got here that wasn’t happening. It’s because of the quality of the kids here at Woodland. Their work ethic, enthusiasm, respect for the coaches and teammates is something you don’t see very often and we need to see a lot more of it in this day and age. It’s that kind of attitude that is going to help them to be successful, not only on the court but in life well after they’ve played their last game.”
Woodland boys basketball coach Tom Hunt on the growth of the Hawks’ program during his five-year tenure. Hunt has led Woodland to the state tournament in each of the last three seasons and to the NVL tournament in each of the last two seasons.
“We came into the season with no returning players and really no expectations. I told them early on that we would not measure the success of this season by wins and losses. As it turned out, this was probably the best season I ever had as a coach. We lost our first game by 50 points and by season’s end we finished strong at 7-7 on the year.”
City Hill boys basketball coach Ron Plasky on his team’s season this winter. The team graduated every player from its undefeated, league championship season last year and rallied this season to finish with a .500 record.