Round of Applause
Naugatuck High’s new athletic facilitiessound like they’re going to be great. I visited the high school this week and talked to athletic director Tom Pompei, who briefed me on what the plans are looking like at the moment. I’ll have a full story coming up next week, but trust me when I tell Naugatuck residents that the money being spent on this project — or at the very least, the athletic portion that I know of — sounds like it’s going to be well worth it.
The Woodland Regional High School Hall of Fame will be opening up nominations starting this Friday. Visit the WRHS Hall of Fame’s website at halloffame.wrhsonline.net to read the criteria and nominate a candidate. Retired teachers and staff, former coaches, and athletes and alumni from the class of 2006 and prior are all eligible for this round of nominations. Last year, the WRHS Hall of Fame inducted six members into its initial class. We’ll also have a fuller story on this next week, but start sending in your nominations now. They’re all due by April 20.
Second-chance brackets are among the greatest inventions ever. Nearly everyone is very dissatisfied with the shape of their brackets by this point — that is, if the bracket hasn’t been immolated yet. But second-chance brackets give everybody hope again. It’s like going to confession and being forgiven for all your sins. You get a fresh start and it feels great. There are only 16 teams remaining in the tournament, so it can’t be too difficult to pick the remaining 15 games, right? Wrong. It’s still pretty darned near impossible to pick every game right even with just 16 teams left and having seen each of them play two games in the tournament thus far. Still, that’s not going to stop me from filling out six or seven second-chance brackets. In fact, it’s taking me longer than usual to write this column today because I’ve got a window open with my first bracket right now.
Chorus of Boos
Filling out too many brackets usually causes more problems than the whole process is worth. First off, the frantic situation that is the first Thursday morning of the tournament is just pure insanity. This year, I think I filled out 20 brackets in 2 ½ hours before 12:15 p.m. on the first day of the tourney. The quality of these brackets clearly suffers when, at the peak of the craziness, I’m filling out one bracket every three minutes. But the quality isn’t of as much concern—let’s face it, half the time the bracket we think will be our best ends up our worst, and vice versa. The bigger problem comes in trying to keep track of which bracket is which, and which team I’m supposed to be rooting for in each game. (Sidetrack: Sports fans always need to pick a team to root for to be really engaged in the game. Watching a game without rooting for a team is like playing poker without money, or like using an indoor shower after going to the beach. It’s just not the same.) Anyway, this is all a long-winded way of saying that I felt really depressed when I discovered that I picked Missouri to win the national championship in the only bracket that I really cared about when I thought I had picked Michigan State.
Top 10 Remaining Teams Most Likely to Win the NCAA Tourney
1. Kentucky: Wildcats have looked great in both games. So much versatility all around.
2. Michigan State: Draymond Green has been best player in tournament so far.
3. Ohio State: With Sullinger, Craft, et al, there’s strength and quickness on floor.
4. Kansas: Almost lost to Purdue, but could be favorite in Midwest with Robinson.
5. North Carolina: Potential loss of point guard Marshall could be end of title hopes.
6. Syracuse: Great rebound against K-State after Asheville debacle. OK with no Melo.
7. Marquette: Braided Crowder is one of top bigs left in tourney. Strong defense, too.
8. Wisconsin: Slow pace, great defense, and star in Taylor could mean Final Four.
9. Baylor: If Bears are shooting at their best, they could be toughest out remaining.
10. Louisville: Cardinals don’t do anything great, but everything well. Siva’s the stud.
Lips to CN’s Ear
“That’s an eight-game improvement, so in that sense we’re happy. But we lost some close games. We could have easily been 15-5 [in the regular season]. We’re happy we were in games, but we can’t let those slip away.”
Naugatuck boys basketball coach Mike Wilson on his team’s season. The Greyhounds finished 11-11 overall, but they returned to both postseason tournaments after several years on the outside. Wilson felt like a number of close losses could have gone the other way and changed Naugy’s season.
“You have to expend a lot of energy to compete. Every event gets really fast at this level. The meet was twice as deep as it has been in the past. We didn’t do absolute best times in some events, but it’s tough when you have to swim too many hard races.”
Naugatuck boys swimming coach Jim McKee on his team’s performance at last week’s Class L state championships. The Greyhounds finished 11th at the meet and didn’t have any swimmers advance to the State Open, but McKee said the strong competition at the meet led to some swimmers being not as fresh for all their races.