Friday, March 28, 2008

March Madness Impressions: Sweet 16-Elite 8

March Madness continues, with the cream slowly rising to the top. Tennessee proved to be not so creamy as Louisville blew them out. I was afraid of this, with Tennessee's inconsistent recent play combined with Louisville's jelling and improved health. Should be a great game between Louisville and North Carolina, as the Tarheels are hitting on all cylinders too! I should take time though, to congratulate Bruce Pearl. He's done a marvelous job at Tennessee and I really appreciate his giving tribute to the late, great Ray Mears by wearing the orange blazer from time to time. I got to know Mears while he was serving as AD and AD Emeritus at UT Martin, and he was a wonderful man. Mears was the one who put Tennessee basketball on the map, even though it slipped off for a few years following his departure. His struggle against depression was heroic and inspiring. I'm a richer person for having known him.

There has been a lot written and said about Memphis' poor free throw shooting. When you're ahead 30 points at halftime and cruising, you don't have to worry a lot about free throws. "Tiger High" was certainly impressive. I just know Big Jack Eaton's smile is as wide as the state of Tennessee right now.

Xavier continues to impress and all the while, making my wife, Bridget look like a genius! Bridget picked Xavier to make it to the final four as her "darkhorse" pick, and she's looking pretty smart right now! Xavier's overtime win over West Virginia was the only close game of the Sweet Sixteen. Don't you know CBS HATES that the majority of the games weren't any closer.

Davidson's a great story. They're well coached and play well together. Stephan Curry is a treat to watch, just like his Dad was! Davidson has an enrollment of 1,700. That's about the HALF the size of Union University in Jackson, TN, and well less than the full time enrollment of West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, KY.

Kansas is VERY impressive, along with Texas. Maybe the Big 12 was the strongest conference.

Stanford's Lopez twins are awesome. Unfortunately, they didn't have enough to go with them.

Western Kentucky's Ty Rogers of Eddyville, KY STILL has the shot of the tournament. Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples wrote Rogers may never have to buy a beer in Eddyville again. Truth is, he never has. Eddyville is in Lyon County, a dry county, no beer. In Kentucky, when they say dry, they mean DRY! I hated to see the Toppers fall to UCLA, but they fought a good fight.

Overall: Let's not get too wound up on who should do this or who should do that. Keep in mind that we're talking about 20-year-old boys. Did you do everything perfect when you were a 20-year-old kid? MANY will attest that I did NOT!

Jody, We Hardly Knew Ya: Murray State women's coach Jody Adams jumped ship after only one year at Murray State. It was a great year, with the Lady Racer's 1st NCAA tournament appearance. Can't blame her for cashing in. although it's tough for Murray. I watched Adams play high school basketball for Bradley Central (Cleveland, TN) and the winningest HS coach ever, Jim Smiddy (1,217 wins-206 losses), and then play for the winningest college coach ever, Pat Summitt. What a pedigree. Heck, I watched Pat Head Summitt play college basketball at UT Martin! I guess that makes me an "old dude" as the kids say. Smiddy always impressed me. I watched him coach so many games over the years, and I never saw him raise his voice or even get out of his chair. Maybe he did, but I never saw it. He just sat there calmly, in that yellow blazer. His kids were just SO well drilled and coached. They were like a machine. To me, he always seemed so very organized and prepared. Pat Summitt, on the other hand, is a general. She truly has a commanding presence. When I've been in the same room with her, she has such a powerful aura about her. It's amazing. How cool is it that Adams played for and learned from both.

Don't EVER ask a coach for Bracket help: The winningest Men's college basketball coach, Bobby Knight picked Pitt to win the NCAA tournament. I didn't. Pitt didn't even make the Sweet 16. Am I smarter than Bobby Knight? Nope. It's just that coaches don't watch many teams play basketball. They just watch THEIR teams and THEIR opponents tapes.

Commercials: Observation from the "Guitar Hero" commercial: Slash now makes Keith Richards look like the "picture of health." Observation from the Applebee's commercial: That's voiced by the "Northern Exposure" guy. The fact that I immediately recognized the voice says a lot. What a perfect choice for their voice over!

American Idol: Hated to see Chikezie go. Would much rather retread Michael Johns be sent packing, or Kristy Lee Cook, who went "Lee Greenwood" on us! On the way up: David Cook. On the way down: David Archuleta (although I still predict Archuleta makes the final 2).

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