|Articles||Go Fund Me||All-Species List||Hot Spots||Go Fund Me|
|Web Epoch NJ Web Design | (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.|
It's Michigan vs. Villanova
[Posted Sunday p.m.]
NCAA Tournament Quiz: Name the coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats’ team that won the 1961 and ’62 titles, without Oscar Robertson, who had left the year before the first one. Answer below.
Final Four is Set....
--Well, Saturday’s games were disappointing. 11-seed Loyola’s miracle run ended with a 69-57 loss to 3-seed Michigan, after the Ramblers had a 29-22 lead at the intermission. Too many turnovers (17) and too much Moritz Wagner of the Wolverines, Wagner finishing with 24 points and 15 rebounds, joining Hakeem Olajuwon and Larry Bird as the only players to notch at least 20 points and 15 rebounds in a national semifinal. That’s kind of stunning, actually.
But thank you, Loyola, and you too, Sister Jean. You leave us with great memories.
In the nightcap, all you needed to know if you hadn’t watched the game was that Villanova tied the Final Four record for threes in a game with 3:45 left in the first half, making 13 of 26 for a 47-32 lead at the intermission. 39 of 47 points on threes.
‘Nova would go on to hit 18 of 40 from behind the arc as the Wildcats cruised 95-79, never seriously threatened. Eric Paschall picked a good time to score a career-high 24 points on 10 of 11 shooting from the field (4 of 5 from downtown).
It’s not that Kansas was that awful, like they committed only 9 turnovers, but when your opponent comes out blazing as Villanova did, as Tony Soprano would’ve commented at The Bada-Bing, “Whaddya gonna do?” [aside from tighten the defense around the arc.]
So it’s on to Monday night’s championship. Certainly the two best teams. No flukes. I’ll say Omari Spellman is the player of the game.
--Virginia’s Tony Bennett was named Associated Press Coach of the Year, the balloting taking place before the NCAA tournament began. The award was presented the other day and Bennett said, “I thought it was for NCAA tournament coach of the year. I didn’t get that? I wasn’t sure.”
Having a sense of humor is about the only way Bennett can get out of the funk he and his program will be in as a result of losing to UMBC. UVA had one helluva season, 31-2, before the historic stumble.
Bennett said: “I got a great text from one of my players, Ty Jerome, and he said, ‘Coach, this is now part of our story, and we get to respond to it the way we want.’ And it will be day-by-day where we can make the right steps. And we shared that with our team the other day. Everybody says, you know, ‘You’ll be better because of this loss.’ And the fact of the matter is, the only way you’re better after a tough loss is if you respond to it the right way. If you do nothing with it and just say, ‘Ah, this was tough,’ then nothing’s going to happen.”
--Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill highlight the 13-member class that will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September. Other inductees include Ray Allen, Maurice Cheeks, Lefty Driesell, Charlie Scott, and longtime NBA executive Rod Thorn.
Nash and Kidd were two of the greatest point guards of their generation; Nash a two-time NBA MVP and eight-time All-Star. Kidd earned 10 All-Star selections.
Hill won two NCAA titles at Duke and made seven All-Star teams. Allen is the most prolific 3-point shooter in NBA history.
Charlie Scott was a five-time NBA All-Star who also excelled in the ABA, while Cheeks is a four-time All-Star and one of the greatest defensive point guards in hoops history.
But some of us are very happy for Lefty Driesell. It’s about time. He’s the only NCAA coach to win 100 games at four different schools...Davidson, Maryland, James Madison, and Georgia State...taking all four to the NCAA tournament.
--Geno Auriemma tasted defeat for a second year in a row, a stunning 92-89 overtime loss to Notre Dame in the women’s semifinals on Friday night.
Notre Dame was up by five with 21 seconds remaining in regulation, but UConn got a three, and then stole the ball off the inbounds and hit a layup to send the game into OT.
Then the Irish were up five again in overtime, only to see UConn tie it, but ND’s Arike Ogunbowale hit the game-winner with two seconds remaining.
For Auriemma it was his 11th consecutive year in the semis, which is indeed remarkable.
In the other semi, Mississippi State – the team that knocked UConn out of the Final Four last year – beat Louisville in OT, the first Final Four in NCAA tournament history in which both semifinals went into overtime.
So it was Notre Dame vs. Mississippi State for the national title tonight and....I actually watched the end of the first half and the last ten minutes of the game...and what a finish it was. Arike Ogunbowale with another 3-pointer at the buzzer for the win...61-58. As Ronald Reagan would have said, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
--For the record, since it occurred after I last posted, Penn State won the NIT Championship 82-66 over Utah. That’s a nice way for the Nittany Lions to cap a solid season.
--One of the top high school players in the country, Darius Bazley, had committed to Syracuse, but this week he told Yahoo Sports that he has changed his mind and is foregoing college to play professionally next season in the NBA’s G League.
The 6-9 Bazley scored 11 points and pulled down seven rebounds in the McDonald’s All-American Game on Wednesday night in Atlanta. I’m not sure how it works in terms of who he signs with...whether it is with an NBA team or just a G League team, with NBA teams then vying for his rights later?
--Not for nuthin’, but today the Philadelphia 76ers won their 10th in a row, 119-102 over Charlotte to move to 46-30. 6-10 point guard Ben Simmons had 20 points and 15 assists. Suddenly, Philly fans have every reason to believe their team is capable of making some serious noise in the playoffs. Why not? It would be a cool story (except I can’t stand Philly fans...it’s a New York-Philly thing, you understand).
--I just have to note Karl-Anthony Towns’ game last Wednesday night in Minneapolis, scoring a franchise record 56 for the T’Wolves in their 126-114 win over Atlanta. Towns also hauled down 15 rebounds.
--And on Friday, in a 107-102 win over the Pelicans, LeBron James had 27 points for the Cavs, breaking Michael Jordan’s record of 866 consecutive double-digit scoring games, which is really remarkable.
--The season opened with some unconventional moves- and what is now the norm, a lot of home runs, three players (Matt Davidson and Tim Anderson of the White Sox and the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton) hitting multiple homers. The 33 home runs on Opening Day was the most since 2006. Davidson hit three.
But in terms of the unconventional, I am sold on one thing. Batting the pitcher 8th, as Mets Manager Mickey Callaway did the first three games. With 22-year-old shortstop Amed Rosario batting ninth, it will give the team’s best hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, who is batting second, far more RBI opportunities. Callaway said he isn’t going to do this every game, but with the team’s better hitting pitchers it makes sense. I never thought I would agree with this.
--The Mets continued their amazing opening day record, now 37-20 all time, including losses their first eight...so a kind of staggering, and needless to say MLB best since then, 37-12, 9-4 winners over the Cardinals behind Noah Syndergaard on Thursday.
But the Metsies, who won Saturday with Jacob deGrom on the mound, had a desultory 5-1 loss today to St. Louis; a Cards team that I think you can comfortably say right now will finish under .500, with a manager change by June 1st.
--The Cardinals did land one of the free agents sitting in no-man’s land...closer Greg Holland, signing him for one year, $14 million. A three-time All-Star, Holland led the N.L. in saves last season with 41 for the Rockies.
--Meanwhile, the Yankees started off winning their first two, but then Saturday and today, the bullpen imploded bigly, first Dellin Betances in a 5-3 loss yesterday, and Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson today in a 7-4 loss, those two giving up six runs in the seventh and eighth innings in Toronto. This is the same pen that is supposed to be a top three in baseball.
--The Dodgers lost their opener 1-0 to San Francisco on a Joe Panik sixth-inning homer off Clayton Kershaw, who lost his first opening day start in eight seasons, giving up that lone run.
Panik then homered for the only run in the ninth-inning the next game, off Kenley Jansen, the first player to ever accomplish this feat to open a season in back-to-back 1-0 contests.
So after losing its first two, the Dodgers shut out the Giants 5-0 in the third game behind four pitchers.
--Give the Marlins credit...they split their opening four-game series with the Cubs in Miami. But the Marlins had crowds of 13,000 and 10,000 the past two days; a sign of things yet to come.
--But lastly in terms of the action on the field, Shohei Ohtani did it! Your editor said the kid should start the season in the minors, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia is just a tad smarter than moi, I guess, and Ohtani, in his first major league start, threw six innings of three run ball, just one walk, six strikeouts, picking up the win in the Angels’ 7-4 win over the A’s to take the opening series 3-1. That’s great. I just want Shohei to be as good as possible. It’s all about the good of the game, sports fans.
--When we learned former star Rusty Staub was seriously ill, I wrote of his career, and post-career life in my March 5 chat, so after his passing the other day at 73, I add the following.
Bill Madden / New York Daily News
“In every way, Rusty Staub was bigger than life – a bigger-than-life baseball personality, humanitarian, gourmet chef, wine connoisseur, friend-to-all and, to the fans of Montreal, quite simply, ‘Le Grand Orange.’
“The hulking 6-2 Staub, whose post-retirement weight fluctuated from 250-300 pounds, had battled a number of health issues in recent years...(and he died) due to multiple organ failure....
“Off the field, Staub was a prominent humanitarian. His Rusty Staub Foundation, which in 1986 established the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, distributed over $11 million in the first 15 years of its existence to the families of New York area police and fire fighters killed in the line of duty, and since the September 11, 2001 attacks, received over $112 million in contributions. On January 8, Staub announced that, in conjunction with Catholic Charities, his foundation had also served 9,043,741 meals to the hungry at food pantries throughout New York over the last 10 years.
“ ‘For more than thirty years, Rusty dedicated his life to helping others,’ said Stephen Dannhauser, the foundation’s chairman, in a statement. ‘He worked tirelessly on behalf of the widows, widowers, and children of New York City’s fallen heroes.
“ ‘He cared about each and every family and they felt the same way about him. Rusty started more than just a charity – he started a family. While many admire Rusty for his impressive record as a baseball player, it is his work off the field that truly made him one of the greats. We will miss his laughter, friendship, and leadership but we will work to carry on his mission through our continued stewardship of the charity he founded.’”
As for his playing career, imagine that he was the Houston Colt 45s Opening Day cleanup hitter in 1963 as a 19-year-old rookie after just one season of minor league ball, though he wasn’t ready, was sent back to the minors, and returned for good in 1965.
“In an interview with me a few weeks after 9/11 – in which one of his closest friends and foundation partner, Frank Brenna, a bond trader with Cantor-Fitzgerald, was killed – Rusty talked about what brought him to his life’s work after baseball. ‘My mother’s brother was a policeman killed in the line of duty in New Orleans. I was just a little kid, siting on my bed with my mom and my brother saying the rosary, and I never got over that.’
“ ‘Then, in 1984, I was sitting in my old restaurant when a cop I knew was killed, leaving a wife and three kids. I remember saying to Frank: ‘Someone needs to do something about this.’
“Somebody did, and a fitting epitaph for his great life and all his good works would be his own favorite expression: ‘Amen, brother.’”
The Mets are going to be wearing a patch honoring Rusty all season, a fitting tribute.
Benjamin Hoffman had this tidbit on Staub. He reached base 4,050 times – more times than Rogers Hornsby, Tony Gwynn, Ichiro and Honus Wagner. 1,000 more times than Joe DiMaggio.
In 23 seasons, Staub’s 4,050 times is the 41st highest total in baseball history (4,165 if you include the 115 times he reached via error). He had an impressive .362 career on-base percentage.
While with 292 home runs and 1,466 RBIs, plus 2,716 hits, he was a fringe Hall of Fame candidate at best, Hoffman notes that of the players to reach base 4,000 times, of the 43 of the 46 who have done it and been retired long enough to be considered for the Hall, 37 were elected. The six who were not: Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Gary Sheffield, Staub and Manny Ramirez.
Four of the six tainted by allegations / connections to PEDs, Rose, and then Staub...a baseball treasure.
--Writer Bob Greene had a piece in the Wall Street Journal on a long-ago first-person essay by Hall of Famer Duke Snider. Greene said he had heard of it, but couldn’t find it for a long time. Turns out he thought it was in the Saturday Evening Post, but it was in Collier’s, May 25, 1956.
“Long forgotten, it was a stark demarcation point between the gauzy, time-honored childhood fantasy of big-league ballplayers competing because they adored the game, and everything coldly cash- and contract-centered that would follow. How controversial were Snider’s words? Fathers would deny to their baseball-loving sons that the essay even existed. The magazine in which it was published was hidden away at the bottom of those dads’ shirt drawers. Young minds, the fathers feared, would be unable to process Duke’s message.”
The essay, as told to sportswriter Roger Kahn, was splashed across the cover: “I play baseball for money – not fun. By Duke Snider.”
“In those years, the idea of a beloved ballplayer saying he was in it for the money was as jarring a notion as Dwight D. Eisenhower saying he was a communist, or John Wayne saying his real passion was collecting Russian nesting dolls. It sounded un-American.
“So no wonder dads concealed the essay from their kids, or tried to dismiss the rumor by saying Duke had been joking. This was in the pre-free-agency era, before Marvin Miller, as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, revolutionized the economics of professional athletes’ compensation. In 1967, the year before Miller began negotiating on behalf of players, the average major-league salary was $19,000, and the minimum salary was $6,000. This year, the average salary for a player – the average salary – will be north of $4 million. The minimum salary will be $545,000. That’s for the last player off the bench on a last-place team.”
Back in Snider’s day, “it was common for big-league ballplayers to work construction jobs or sell insurance in the off-season. The gap between how ballplayers and fans lived was not so wide. Major leaguers routinely rode the bus to the ballpark, side by side with ticket holders. After hitting baseball’s most fabled home run, ‘the shot heard ‘round the world,’ to beat the Dodgers for the 1951 National League pennant, the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson took the ferry home to Staten Island, stopping off to say hello to his older brother Jim at the firehouse where he worked.”
Yes, baseball in the 1950s was different than today. Bob Greene relates how upset Dodgers manager Charlie Dressen once was at the players ordering cauliflower with their meals in the dining room of the team’s hotel:
“Creamed cauliflower? You [blanking] wise guys got nothing better to do than order creamed cauliflower at 75 cents extra?”
Duke Snider wrote that he volunteered to let Dressen deduct the 75 cents from his paycheck.
--I solicited a few others for their picks for 2018, mine being Astros over Nationals:
Shu: Nationals over Indians
J. Mac: Indians over Dodgers
Ken P: Astros over Nationals
Mark R: Indians over the Nationals
USA TODAY Sports had seven writers and editors weigh in and three picked the Indians, with one each for the Dodgers, Astros, Cubs and Yankees.
--42-year-old Englishman Ian Poulter, known to Americans as the villain in seemingly every Ryder Cup in recent memory with his astounding clutch putting, secured his 3rd PGA Tour title and a trip to The Masters with, first, a 20-foot birdie putt on the last hole to force a playoff with Beau Hossler, and then a solid par while Hossler was imploding on the first hole of sudden death. Good on Ian, as they would say across the pond. You may not like him, but he sure makes the game more interesting.
Understand that after the first round, Poulter, with a 73, was 123rd.
Significantly for next week, Jordan Spieth found his game with a 66 in the final round, good for T-3.
[And thank you NBC for your extensive use of shot-tracker, which CBS has assured us will be in use at Augusta, the Masters’ folks previously being against it.]
--In a story posted on his website Friday, Tiger Woods said, “I got a second chance on life. I am a walking miracle,” in acknowledging how far he has come from spinal fusion surgery less than a year ago.
As for Augusta, Tiger said: “I’m just really looking forward to playing. It’s the best-run tournament in the world. The golf course, the patrons, the entire atmosphere. It’s a golfer’s heaven.”
Woods played two practice rounds at Augusta this past week, and was joined for 9 holes both days by Bryson DeChambeau, who has played practice rounds with Woods on a few occasions this year.
--Bob Hohler / Boston Globe
“A rebellion is underway in the billion-dollar NFL concussion case, as lawyers representing thousands of former players are asking a federal judge to curb the league’s influence in the process and correct flaws that have allegedly threatened the settlement’s integrity and left many brain-injured players unpaid.
“ ‘The settlement is broken’ and ‘on the brink of collapse,’ said attorney Peter Shahriari, whose firm represents about 250 former players, in a document seeking the court’s intervention.”
Shahriari claims the league is evading its obligations to compensate brain-injured players by waging “a campaign to hide the truth about the dangers of the of the game” and by calling the former players and their doctors deceptive and fraudulent.
Hohler: “As of March 26, 1,731 retired players had submitted claims for monetary awards for various types of brain damage since the process began nearly a year ago, but only 156 – less than 10 percent – have received payments totaling $150 million.
“In all, monetary claims by 350 former players have received initial approval for about $380 million in payments, but nearly 200 players have yet to receive a check because of various snags, including NFL appeals.”
To be fair, as I have written before, many of the 1,731 who have submitted claims do not have current CTE-related issues, but they’ve filed for future expected expenses.
--Very much related to the above, former Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien said he once tried to kill himself – the result of mental health issues stemming from his playing days.
In an interview with a Spokane TV station and The Spokesman-Review, Rypien said: “I suffer from a complex stew of mental health conditions. Dark places, depression, anxiety, addictions, poor choices, poor decisions, brought about from dozens of concussions and thousands of subconcussive injuries from playing this sport.”
Rypien felt compelled to speak out after the January suicide of Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski and the death earlier this month of Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) High School principal Troy Schueller from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Rypien played collegiately at Washington State. His cousin, former NHL player Ryan Rypien, also suffered from depression and died in an apparent suicide in 2011.
Rypien said he once attempted suicide on the same day as his daughter Angie’s birthday. Rypien said he swallowed 150 Advil pills and then drank a bottle of merlot.
When his wife, Danielle, found him, she “poured hydrogen peroxide and charcoal down his throat, inducing him to vomit the pills.”
Geezuz. Man, don’t try either thing at home.
--On a lighter note...but yet another Sign of the Apocalypse...the Los Angeles Rams just named the first two men to perform the same routine as their female cheerleaders! Noooo!!!!! [The Ravens and Colts have men who perform stunts, but don’t dance.]
Well, this is one guy who is going to continue to be politically incorrect...USC’s cheerleaders back to No. 1 over Oregon’s due to the Ducks’ recent lack of success on the gridiron. UCLA is up there too.
And for the NFL, I’m partial to the hometown Jets’ Flight Crew. Good old Jersey Girls. [cough cough...cough...]
--Back to the play on the field, the NFL recognizes that the kickoff play, despite tweaks in the rules designed to make it safer, is still the most dangerous. Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy, a member of the competition committee, said that statistics compiled by the league showed that kickoffs were five times more likely than other plays to produce concussions.
Over the past decade, the NFL has moved the spot of kickoffs up five yards and reduced the distance behind the line of scrimmage from which kicking team members can get a running start, changes designed to both reduce returns and lower the speed of collisions.
But Murphy points out that by the time would-be returners catch the ball in the end zone, many of the concussions have already occurred.
“One player lets up, the player covering lets up, and one of the blockers comes over and, you know,” Murphy, a former player, told reporters this week. “That creates problems when you’ve got one player going half-speed and the other one full speed.”
But don’t look for the NFL to eliminate the kickoff altogether...at least not this coming season.
One-time Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, now the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, related his experience as head coach at Rutgers, when one of his players, Eric LeGrand, suffered a major spinal injury on a kickoff. “One of the things that when I was researching, I think it was like, in the old kickoff rules, 17 percent of the catastrophic injuries happened on kickoffs, yet it’s only about 6 percent of the plays in the game,” he said. “Well, that is disproportionate.”
--Phil W. notified me of the passing of a Wake Forest great from our era, defensive lineman James Parker, who became a legend in the Canadian Football League for the B.C. Lions, three times being named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player. I knew he was playing in the CFL, but had no idea he had gone on to become such a great, winning three Grey Cups with the team in 1980, 1981 and 1982.
His 139.5 career sacks rank him fourth all time and spurred his induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
Parker was part of the great Wake Forest team our (Phil being a classmate) senior year, 1979, that went to the Tangerine Bowl and helped propel coach John Mackovic into the NFL after the following season. Fellow classmate Syd Kitson went on to play in the NFL, and a year behind was Bill Ard, who would go on to great success with the Giants.
Kitson is making a real name for himself as a developer in Florida. Look up Babcock Ranch someday.
Play resumed after a week off for international matches, and there was really only one game that mattered, today’s between Tottenham and Chelsea, the Spurs not having won at Stamford Bridge since 1990, including 9 draws and 16 losses in Premier League play.
Well the streak is over, as Tottenham, down 1-0, scored the next three, the last two a thing of beauty from Dele Alli, for a 3-1 win and a seemingly insurmountable 8-point lead over the Blues for the last Champions League slot. This one was huge, no doubt, and a rare clutch win for my Spurs on the road against an elite club. And they did it without Harry Kane, who returned from injury to play just the last 20 minutes after it was already decided.
But it also means that for a second year in three, the Premier League titleholder is likely to miss the Champions League.
In other games with major relegation implications, Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-1, and Newcastle beat Huddersfield 1-0.
So the standings after 31/32 of 38...
1. Manchester City 31 games played...84 points
2. Manchester United 32 – 66
3. Liverpool 32 – 66
4. Tottenham 31 – 64 ...Champions League line
5. Chelsea 31 – 56
6. Arsenal 31 – 51
15. Swansea 31 – 31
16. Huddersfield 32 – 31
17. Crystal Palace 32 – 30...Relegation line
18. Southampton 31 – 28
19. Stoke 32 – 27
20. West Brom 32 - 20
--That truly was a great story Thursday night in Chicago. Scott Foster, a 36-year-old who typically spends his day in an office as an accountant, saved all seven shots he faced in 14 ½ minutes of the Blackhawks’ 6-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center.
Foster was thrust into action as an “emergency goaltender” because of injuries to goalies Anton Forsberg and Collin Delia and his play earned him star of the game and a huge ovation from the Chicago fans.
Foster plays in recreational leagues, but is among a handful of emergency goaltenders who normally get a free meal and sit in the press box during the games.
The next day he was back at his day job.
--Edmonton’s Connor McDavid is leading the NHL in scoring with 103 points through Saturday’s action, the 21-year-old becoming one of just eight to have produced two 100-point seasons in the NHL before their 22nd birthday: Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky, Dale Hawerchuk, Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Denis Savard, along with Sidney Crosby and Jimmy Carson.
But Edmonton isn’t making the playoffs.
--Speaking of the playoffs, this is just the second season since 2005-06 that the Rangers aren’t in them, and it’s depressing. They’ve been fun to watch in the postseason. I’m not now likely to watch the Stanley Cup action until the finals, though I know some Bruins fans who are eagerly anticipating a good run.
Toronto could be a good story as they pursue their first Cup since 1966-67. Maybe I’ll half-root for them.
Top 3 the week of 4/7/79: #1 “I Will Survive” (Gloria Gaynor) #2 “What A Fool Believes” (The Doobie Brothers) #3 “Tragedy” (Bee Gees)...and...#4 “Sultans Of Swing” (Dire Straits) #5 “Shake Your Groove Thing” (Peaches & Herb) #6 “Music Box Dancer” (Frank Mills) #7 “Knock On Wood” (Amii Stewart) #8 “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (Rod Stewart” #9 “Heart Of Glass” (Blondie) #10 “Lady” (Little River Band)
NCAA Tournament Quiz Answer: Ed Jucker was the coach of Cincinnati in 1961 and ’62 when they won the national title. They lost in the finals the next year.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday....The Masters....