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March Madness; Scottie Scheffler
Add-on posted early Wed. a.m.
--First, the final AP Top 25 ahead of the tournament…
1. Alabama (48) 29-5
2. Houston (9) 31-3
3. Purdue (3) 29-5
4. Kansas 27-7
5. Texas 26-8
6. Marquette 28-6
7. UCLA (1) 29-5
8. Arizona 28-6
9. Gonzaga 28-5
10. UConn 25-8
11. Baylor 22-10
12. Duke 22-10
13. Xavier 25-9
14. Virginia 25-7
15. Kansa State 23-9
16. Miami 25-7
17. Texas A&M 25-9
18. San Diego State 27-6
19. Saint Mary’s 26-7
20. Tennessee 23-10
21. Indiana 22-11
22. TCU 21-12
23. Missouri 24-9
24. Memphis 26-8
25. FAU 31-3
The No. 1 and 2 seeds in the Tournament bracket line up with the above.
--And now your editor’s Final Four…
South: Creighton. East: Duke
Midwest: Miami. West: Gonzaga
Miami over Duke in the national title game.
--Shaka Smart’s Marquette is 18-2 since Christmas, but going back to his days at Texas and VCU, he has lost six straight NCAA tournament games.
--How was Texas A&M, second in the SEC at 15-3, just a 7 seed? How is Penn State a 10?! They should be in one of those 11-11 play-in games.
--Iona’s Rick Pitino has an interesting first-round, 4-13 matchup with UConn and Coach Dan Hurley. The only thing Pitino said about St. John’s after his Gaels learned who they were going against, was that he knows the school’s president (Rev. Brian Shanley) very well, “he’s a superstar,” and that the two got to know each other at Providence.
Pitino added he hasn’t been on St. John’s campus in about 20 years, and that after this tournament, “If I have interest and they have interest, I need to get to that campus and see it.
“Iona’s a place I’m very comfortable at, very happy at, so I’m not sure what my future holds.”
He’s gonna be a Johnnie and bring back some excitement. He could get a good transfer or two, that’s for sure. At age 70, with tons of energy, St. John’s would be hoping for up to five years, and give him time to recruit a good replacement after.
--I am more than a bit perplexed that Wake Forest and Fordham (25-8) didn’t get into the NIT. I suspect Wake, for a second year in a row, was done in by the late-season loss to Boston College, as 11-9 and 20-13 looks much better than 10-10 and 19-14. The B.C. defeat was one of seven 2-point losses Wake had this season.
But what really upsets me is that Seton Hall (17-15) got in over both Fordham and Wake.
--Rutgers, one of the 1-seeds in the NIT, which really is a great tournament, especially with the games on campus, and then a big final four (though for the first time not at Madison Square Garden this year), is not in the NCAAs because of that late-season loss at Minnesota where they blew a 10-point lead and lost on a buzzer beater.
Rutgers then lost a terrific NIT opener last night, 88-86 to Hofstra in overtime, while Seton Hall lost to Colorado, 65-64, and Liberty beat Villanova, 62-57. So much for my prediction Nova would win the tournament.
--The CBI did not invite Detroit Mercy, meaning Antoine Davis will finish three points shy of tying Pete Maravich’s 3,667 points.
“After evaluating all of the nuances over the past week, we decided to proceed with a 16-team bracket without Detroit,” Rick Giles, president of the Gazelle Group, told ESPN on Sunday after the CBI revealed its bracket.
But there was one more shot. A new event called the PS8, but it seems whoever is organizing this stupid deal isn’t prepared to launch because a site page is talking of March 2024.
But good for Rick Giles and showing some integrity for the game.
--Ah yes, integrity. Exactly what North Carolina lacks in turning down an NIT invitation.
“All season, our focus and goal have been on being the best team we can possibly become and reaching our full potential to give us another opportunity to compete, play for and win an NCAA championship,” said coach Hubert Davis. “Although we no longer have that opportunity and this season wasn’t what we had hoped for, I want to thank our players and staff for their hard work and love for Carolina Basketball.
“Many factors go into postseason play, and we believe now is the time to focus on moving ahead, preparing for next season and the opportunity to again compete for ACC and NCAA championships. I also want to thank our great fans for their incredible support. Our commitment to you is what drives us to improve our program in every way.”
What a crock of merde. You dissed an historic tournament. An important one. Many good programs use it as a springboard for the next season. Give some of your other players good game experience before the offseason.
What losers. [The Tar Heels have played in the NIT six times before.]
--Ole Miss hired former Texas coach Chris Beard as the Rebels’ next men’s coach.
Beard was fired by the Longhorns in January following an arrest Dec. 12. His fiancée, Randi Trew, called 911 and told officers that he choked her from behind, bit her and hit her when the two got in an argument, according to authorities.
Trew then released a statement Dec. 23 in which she denied telling police that Beard choked her and said she “initiated a physical struggle” with Beard. On Feb. 15, the charges were dropped, the Travis County DA taking into account Trew’s wishes not to prosecute Beard. The DA’s office determined the charges could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Beard led Texas Tech to the national title game in 2019 and has coached three different programs to the NCAA tournament since 2016.
So what a tough situation for Texas, as they try to focus on the NCAA tournament with their 2-seed, first game against Colgate, and if they win that, a potential second-round matchup vs. Texas A&M. Rodney Terry, 19-7 as interim coach, has done a solid job, but after mediocre tenures at Fresno State and UTEP, he’s not going to be named head coach.
--In the Women’s Bracket….
No. 1 seeds: South Carolina, Stanford, Indiana, Virginia Tech
No. 2 seeds: UConn, Maryland, Iowa, Utah
--Thankfully for Knicks fans, Julius Randle got his act together a day after imploding against the Clippers, Randle with 33 to lead the Knickerbockers to a 112-108 victory Sunday night against the Lakers.
“I’m not gonna second-guess myself just because I had a bad game. Come back next game, be better.”
But the Knicks are still without Jalen Brunson for an unknown period of time.
No problem last night as they won in Portland, 123-107, Immanuel Quickley with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
So, the Knicks go 2-2 on the West Coast swing and are back in fifth in the East at 41-30.
--Brooklyn is in sixth, 39-30, following a poor 121-107 loss at Oklahoma City, Tuesday.
--Following a 103-81 win over the Pelicans last night, the Lakers, 34-35, are in the final play-in slot. Anthony Davis, 35 points and 17 rebounds, has been carrying the team in LeBron’s absence.
--Ja Morant entered a counseling program in Florida after he brandished a gun at a Denver nightclub. There is no timetable for his return to the team, the Grizzlies saying he will be out at least through Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat.
Memphis is 3-2 without Morant, winning its last three, including back-to-back against the Mavericks, 41-26 overall, second in the West, as rookie David Roddy has stepped up big.
--Miami acquired cornerback Jalen Ramsey for a bag of donuts from the Rams, who have salary cap issues and thus jettisoned the 3X All-Pro, who now teams with Xavien Howard to form one of the league’s top CB tandem.
But the Dolphins had to figure out what to do at quarterback as they surely can’t rely on heavily concussed Tua, so they signed the Jets’ Mike White to a two-year, $16 million deal which is terrific for White, a likable sort in his time here so good for him.
--As the Jets wait on Aaron Rodgers with the first day of free agency, Monday, Jimmy Garoppolo signed a three-year, $67.5 million contract with Las Vegas, where he’ll replace Derek Carr, who went to New Orleans.
Sam Darnold then signed a one-year deal with San Francisco to compete with Trey Lance and Brock Purdy. Darnold played well down the stretch for Carolina, going 4-2 over the final six, with seven touchdown passes and three interceptions.
The Panthers signed Andy Dalton to a two-year deal, as they gear up to select a hoped-for franchise QB with the first pick in the draft.
--The Broncos bolstered their offensive line by agreeing to a deal with tackle Mike McGlinchey from the 49ers and guard Ben Powers from the Ravens. And they added Arizona defensive end Zach Allen, but lost D-lineman Dre’Mont Jones to Seattle.
--Three-time All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson agreed to a two-year, $14 million deal with Pittsburgh. Only $5.85 million is guaranteed. As good as Peterson is, he does turn 33 this summer. But the move was surprising in that he had been talking up Cincinnati and Dallas.
--The Giants signed a solid inside linebacker, Bobby Okereke, to a four-year, $40 million deal. He played the last four seasons in Indianapolis.
And then they acquired tight end Darren Waller in a trade with Las Vegas. Waller, a 2020 Pro Bowler, gives Daniel Jones an established veteran target for the passing game.
--Solid safety Jessie Bates III signed a four-year deal with the Falcons, after five good seasons in Cincinnati, following his star play at Wake Forest.
--Back to Aaron Rodgers, who could be announcing his decision today, he gave the Jets a list of receivers he wanted the team to go after, which is rather rich, and the Jets complied, signing one of his longtime wideouts, Allen Lazard, to a four-year, $44 million contract. Nice move.
--I was posting Sunday as The Players wrapped up and need to tie up some loose ends.
Tyrrell Hatton, with his historic five-birdie run at the end, earned $2.725 million for finishing solo second. Tom Hoge and Viktor Hovland picked up $1.475 million each for finishing T3. Hideki Matsuyama earned $1.025 million for his solo fifth.
And Matsuyama is a classic example of how in terms of the FedEx Cup points list, you need top tens to really make a move. His fifth moved him from 90 to 60 on the points list. Hatton moved from 69 to 26. Hovland from 36 to 23, Hoge from 24 to 16. Hatton, Hoge and Hovland (personal injury attorneys on the side) would seem assured of being in the top 70 for the FedEx Cup playoffs, and then you now know you have to play well to stay in the top 50 after the first playoff tournament and thus earn your status for designated events in 2024.
Rickie Fowler, who finished T13, is 22 on the points list, Rickie with three top-10s this season.
But Tommy Fleetwood, who collapsed at the end and finished just T27, moved up only three spots, from 100 to 97, and Shane Lowry, T35, gained just one to 96. So these two lads need some top-10s.
And not for nothing, but Justin Thomas is only 66th, Jordan Spieth 65th, and Will Zalatoris 85th. Though in the case of the first two, as major champions they would gain some exempt status. Not Zalatoris. So look to see him in a lot of non-designated events the rest of the way. That’s the beauty of this system. You better perform. And it’s why I wrote of Fleetwood after the third round, that he really needed to hold that position, and then he double-bogeyed Nos. 14 and 17. Had he parred them instead, he’s tied for fifth with Matsuyama and moves up to about 70 on the points list.
--Eamon Lynch / Golfweek….on Pete Dye’s Stadium Course…
“As many a USGA official can testify, elite professional golfers are often unable to distinguish between being tested and being humiliated. The higher the number on the scorecard, the greater the odds a player will hold a dim view of both golf course and architect. T’was always thus with the Stadium Course. The first Players Championship held here was in 1982 when J.C. Snead famously sniped that Dye had ruined a perfectly good swamp. (His verdict probably didn’t soften in eight subsequent appearances, during which he broke 70 only once and even carded an 85).
“Dye earned the moniker of the ‘Marquis De Sod’ for what Tour players saw as his gleeful embrace of sadism.
“Four decades after it opened, the Stadium Course is golf’s equivalent of a medieval rack, across which the world’s best players are stretched until their breaking point is identified….
“A course that shows no mercy also showed no favoritism, as players who arrived in form were sent packing early. While world No. 1 Jon Rahm was felled by a stomach bug, others had to sign for their woes. Like Chris Kirk, fresh off victory two weeks ago at the Honda Classic. And Kurt Kitayama, winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational five days ago. He will have the weekend off to celebrate his victory. The two men who finished tied second behind Kitayama – Rory McIlroy and Harris English – were also rendered roadkill.
“The Stadium Course is one of only two PGA Tour venues (Pebble Beach being the other) where the course is not merely the stage upon which great actors work, but itself a character in the drama. Fans remember the triumphs and disasters, particularly on the closing holes, a challenge more terrifying than being caught short in a long line for the portalet on Saturday at the WM Phoenix Open. Like Hal Sutton’s right club on that day in 2000, or Tiger’s better than most putt. Looming as large are the misfortunes. Len Mattiace was one shot off the lead when he got to the 17th hole 25 years ago and made 8, a painful moment for a popular figure in the locker room. Ten years ago, Sergio Garcia came to the 17th tee tied for the lead with Woods and made a quadruple bogey, prompting peers in the locker room to wonder if Schadenfreude is capitalized.”
--The USGA and R&A are proposing a new golf ball testing standard for elite competition that would roll back performance by 20 yards or more. But first there’s a Notice and Comment period which lasts through mid-August and what is known as a “model local rule” (MLR), which is basically a guideline existing for any level of tournament that might wish to adopt its provisions, and that isn’t scheduled to take effect until Jan. 2026.
High-level men’s professional golf is the primary target and the MLR would apply to the way the golf ball used in these competitions is tested for conformance.
The details make my head hurt and we’ll see how this is all sorted out over the coming years.
--Sorry, I can’t get into the World Baseball Classic. I just want my Metsies involved to stay healthy, especially closer Edwin Diaz. The Mets announced Tuesday that starter Jose Quintana will undergo bone graft surgery, after a benign lesion was found on his rib. We’re probably talking August, July at the earliest.
This sucks, and we feel for Quintana, who was signed to a two-year, $26 million contract in the offseason. But it’s one position where we have some depth.
But I have to note Team Mexico beating Team USA Sunday in Phoenix, 11-5, as Nationals slugger Joey Meneses, the 30-year-old journeyman who had a terrific half season for Washington when he was finally called up, crushed two homers for Mexico, driving in five.
--We note the passing of Jesus Alou, one of the three Alou brothers, along with Felipe and Matty, who blazed a trail for Dominican natives in the major leagues. He was 80.
It was Sept. 15, 1963, that all three brothers were in the outfield for the San Francisco Giants. The only three brothers in major league history to play together in a single game.
Jesus played 15 seasons in the big leagues, batting a solid .280 for his career, though with zero pop, just 32 home runs. But he did win two World Series rings as a fourth outfielder for the Oakland A’s, 1973-74.
Jesus once said of the day the three brothers played together:
“It was my first or second day in the big leagues, and they sent me in to pinch-hit and then play left field. Matty had just been recalled from Tacoma, and he replaced Willie Mays in center to give him some rest. Felipe was the regular right fielder. It was no big deal, we didn’t telephone home or anything. After all, we played together all the time in winter ball back in the Caribbean.”
It is amazing to think that the three brothers all made it to the big stage at a time when few Dominicans had made the majors. Ossie Virgil Sr. was the first, playing for the New York Giants in 1956, and then Juan Marichal joined the Giants in 1960. But that was about it before the Alou brothers hit the scene, and now look at today and the Dominican imprint on the sport.
Jesus was one of six children in a poor family. His father was a carpenter and fisherman, the grandson of a slave.
--And Joe Pepitone died. The three-time All-Star and Gold Glover was 82.
Pepitone played 12 seasons in the big leagues, 1962-73, his best seasons with the Yankees, where he was a slugging first baseman/outfielder, with five seasons of 20+ home runs, 219 for his career, 721 RBIs, .258 batting average.
He helped take the Yankees to the 1963 and ’64 World Series, though they lost to the Dodgers and Cardinals.
“The Yankees are deeply saddened by the passing of former Yankee Joe Pepitone, whose playful and charismatic personality and on-field contributions made him a favorite of generations of Yankees fans even beyond his years with the team in the 1960s,” the Yankees said in a statement.
“As a native New Yorker, he embraced everything about being a Yankee during both his playing career – and in the decades thereafter. You always knew when Joe walked into a room – his immense pride in being a Yankee was always on display.”
Pepitone was born in Brooklyn and was signed by the Yankees in 1958, playing in the big leagues with them from 1962-69.
In 1963, he had 27 homers, 89 RBIs, and followed that up with 28-100 in ’64, but he only hit .154 in the two World Series defeats. He would play for the Astros, Cubs, and Braves over his final years.
But Joe Pepitone, for those of us of a certain age, was known for his colorful character and off-field incidents.
New York fans will remember he was the first player with a hair dryer in the clubhouse, which was big news. He loved his hair (and tupees). And he loved hitting the nightclub scene, womanizing. As one scribe aptly put it, he was the poor man’s Joe Namath.
His autobiography, “Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud,” detailed his time in a Rikers Island jail and nightlife with Frank Sinatra. Pepitone once said in an interview that he hung out with mafia members in New York and hid drugs he received from fans in Wrigley Field’s ivy during his tenure with the Cubs.
“Things were a little different back then, sure,” Pepitone told Rolling Stone in 2015. “When I brought the hair dryer into the clubhouse, they thought I was a hairdresser or something; they didn’t know what the hell was going on, you know? I’d walk in with a black Nehru jacket on, beads, my hair slicked back; it was ridiculous. I think about it now, and I laugh.”
Pepitone was convicted on two drug misdemeanor charges in 1988, landing him in jail at Rikers Island for four months.
--Baseball America Top 25, 3/13
5. Wake Forest
6. Ole Miss
18. Boston College
Seven ACC teams in top 25.
--William Byron won his second straight NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday at Phoenix Raceway. Ryan Blaney was second, Tyler Reddick third.
Kevin Harvick, who finished fifth, was attempting to win his 10th at Phoenix, but in settling for fifth, it was his 20th straight top 10 at the track, which is the most top 10s in a row at one track in Cup history, a cool record.
--Dick Fosbury, of ‘Fosbury Flop’ fame, died at the age of 76.
Fosbury revolutionized the high jump, winning gold at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics in a technique used by high jumpers ever since.
Fosbury began experimenting with the ‘flop’ in high school and, encouraged by his coaches, he had all-but-perfected it by the time he was in college.
In the Mexico City high jump final of 1968, Fosbury jumped an Olympic record 7 feet 4 ¼ inches. [The current Olympic record is held by Charles Austin, who Fosbury Flopped 7 feet 10 inches at the 1996 games in Atlanta.]
“He changed an entire event forever with a technique that looked crazy at the time but the result made it the standard,” said American four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson.
“Our sport lost a true legend and innovator with the passing of Dick Fosbury,” said USA Track and Field in a statement. “He invented the ‘Fosbury Flop,’ was a gold medalist at the 1968 Games, and remained an advocate for athletes his entire life. Fosbury’s legacy will live on for generations to come.”
Fosbury grew up in Medford, Oregon, and eventually graduated from Oregon State in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He then settled in Idaho, where he founded an engineering company that specialized in designing and building bike trails and running paths.
Fosbury died of lymphoma.
--Gary Lineker is returning to his “Match of the Day” duties with the BBC, big news for British football fans. The BBC’s director general Tim Davie announced an independent review of social media guidelines at the corporation, apologizing for “a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences.”
Lineker said he was looking forward to getting back on air.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
Note: A bit chaotic in the 6:00 hour, with NCAA Tournament bracket reveal and the finish of The Players.
NHL Quiz: 1) Who was the first to score 50 goals in a season? 2) Who was the first to have 100 points in a season? 3) Who was the first with 100 assists? Answers below.
[Note: I wrote all of the following prior to release of the NCAA bracket, which I briefly note at the end of this segment.]
I am in no way attempting to recap all the tournament action. Like the rest of you, I’m just waiting for the brackets and in my Add-on, Wednesday, especially after release of the final AP poll, I’ll have more to say.
For now…those on bubble watch were looking at Penn State’s win over 19 Indiana in the Big Ten semifinals yesterday and ready to commit hari-kari.
Penn State took on 5 Purdue for the Big Ten crown this afternoon, but Joe Lunardi (ESPN) had the Nittany Lions at a 10-seed heading into it, which I don’t understand.
Lunardi has the ACC with only five bids, and no Clemson, which finished 14-6 in the conference, T-3 with Duke and Pitt. And Clemson beat North Carolina State (12-8), which Lunardi has as an 11-seed play-in along with Pitt, twice.
In games with an impact on seeding….
2 UCLA may have seen its hopes of a 1-seed go out the window, the shorthanded Bruins (29-5, 18-2) falling to 8 Arizona (28-6, 14-6), 61-59, UCLA missing a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
And 3 Kansas (27-7, 13-5) lost to 7 Texas (26-8, 12-6), 76-56. But the Jayhawks should still be a 1. Coach Bill Self, though, remained on the sidelines after a medical ‘procedure.’ The school says it wasn’t a heart attack and Self is due back this week.
No. 1 Houston (31-2, 17-1) beat Cincinnati in an AAC semifinal, 69-48, but they lost star Marcus Sasser, the conference player of the year, to an apparent groin injury in the contest.
And then, without Sasser, Houston lost the title game to Memphis, 75-65. But they will still be a 1-seed.
--In the quarterfinals Thursday of the ACC tournament, Virginia beat North Carolina, ending any hope the Tar Heels had of making the Big Dance. Just stunning.
The first preseason No. 1 to miss the NCAA tournament since it expanded to 64 teams in 1985. As one scribe put it, it’s not a stretch to call this team the biggest bust in the sport’s history.
Everyone returned from last year’s national runner-up team except for Brady Manek.
Duke then beat Virginia for the ACC title Saturday night, 59-49, the Cavaliers a miserable 6 for 22 from the field in a 17-point first half.
Jon Scheyer became the third rookie coach to win the tournament, while Duke’s Kyle Filipowski, who is going to be one helluva pro, had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
--Fordham’s dream season ended, 25-8, 12-6, as the Rams fell to Dayton (22-11, 12-6) in the A-10 semis.
--Howard is going dancing for the first time since 1991-92, the Bison (22-12, 11-3) defeating Norfolk State (22-11, 9-5) for the MEAC crown, 65-64.
Howard was down 64-60 with 23.7 seconds remaining and pulled it out, Norfolk State with a critical turnover, Howard’s Jelani Williams with two clutch free throws to clinch it.
--Today, Princeton earned the Ivy League bid, 74-65 over Yale, the Tigers with just five turnovers! [Wake fans know that Tyree Appleby could pick up five himself in five minutes.]
It’s been a down year for the A-10, with just one bid, and for a while it looked like it would go to Dayton (12-6) in an upset, the Flyers up 36-30 over VCU (15-3) at the half, but then the Rams rolled, 68-56 for the bid.
4 Alabama whipped 18 Texas A&M 82-63 for the SEC title and a No. 1 seed.
And Purdue beat Penn State 67-65.
--Wake Forest sent Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, and the Orange, packing, 77-74 in Wednesday’s ACC tournament game. Immediately after, it was announced that after 47 seasons, Hall of Famer Boeheim would not be back, replaced by associate head coach Adrian Autry, who has been on the staff since 2011.
“There is no doubt in my mind that without Boeheim, Syracuse basketball would not be the powerhouse program it is today,” Chancellor Kent Syvrud said in a statement. “Jim has invested and dedicated the majority of his life to building this program, cultivating generations of student-athletes and representing his alma mater with pride and distinction. I extend my deep appreciation and gratitude to an alumnus who epitomizes what it means to be ‘Forever Orange.’”
After Wednesday’s loss, Boeheim hinted that he would be retiring, but he said it was up to the university to decide his future.
It’s true, the manner in which Boeheim was let go, not on his own terms and for someone that loyal, was pretty lousy.
But Boeheim very often in his career was a classless jerk*. All you needed to see was his lack of interaction with Wake’s Steve Forbes at the end of the game, and the way he handled the halftime interview (which left others on the network a bit flummoxed, if not bemused) to get an idea of what he’s about.
*Back in February, Boeheim said: “Wake Forest bought a team. Miami bought a team….”
To which Steve Forbes told CBS Sports: “He’s wrong. He’s one thousand percent wrong. I don’t have one player on my team that got NIL to come here. That’s a fact. I’ve never had a player come here for NIL.”
I know…Boeheim went to children’s hospitals, cared about his players, blah blah blah….all the stuff you hear about unlikable people after they are gone.
By contrast, after Wake lost the next day to Miami, 74-72, in a game we should have won if we had hit our foul shots, Forbes and Miami’s Jim Larranega had a warm exchange after, mutual respect, as it should be.
You won’t see many authentically warm commentaries about Boeheim. But he was successful, second most wins in Division I history next to Coach K. Syracuse made the Big Dance 35 times and advanced to the Final Four in five of those trips, winning the national title in 2003.
But here’s the thing. Syracuse didn’t finish in the final AP Top 25 poll the last nine seasons! Forget Boeheim, how in today’s Instagram, NIL world, do you get top recruits to freeze their butts off in Syracuse? Alumni have wanted him gone for years because he wasn’t getting the big recruits, but will Adrian Autry? Over UCLA/USC; Arizona/Arizona State; Miami/Florida/Florida State/Clemson; Alabama/Georgia/Tennessee/Kentucky; most Big Ten programs? And it’s the same thing in football.
I mean I see some pieces saying Adrian Autry has been Syracuse’s top recruiter since returning to his alma mater in 2011, and what has he done?
Just one word on Wake, 19-14, 10-10, and hopefully NIT bound, one thing I learned this season with our team is Steve Forbes is a good coach. He’s the right man in the right spot. The players seem to like him, a true test coming up as to how many of the freshmen and sophomores transfer this offseason (I don’t see any of the key pieces doing so), and he knows how to work the transfer portal.
Wake’s issue is similar to that of Syracuse. We’re never going to get the top recruits in football or basketball. But no Wake alum ever expects us to. In Syracuse, they do.
--St. John’s fired head coach Mike Anderson after four highly mediocre, at best, seasons (68-56, no NCAA tournament appearances), and the Redmen (err, Red Storm) will be going after Rick Pitino. Everyone in the area is in total agreement this has to be Pitino’s final gig. It makes sense, and it’s the only high-profile school that wouldn’t have problems of one kind or other given Pitino’s baggage.
I’ve come to kind of like the guy after the manner in which he’s embraced the job at Iona, 34-6 in MAAC conference play the last two seasons, and Saturday night I watched the entire Iona-Marist game for the title and the NCAA bid, the Gaels (27-7, 17-3) pulling away, 76-55, after the game was tied at 42-42 in the second half. Daniss Jenkins had 22 of his 27 points after the intermission.
So Pitino will be focused on the first-round tourney game before signing with the Johnnies.
--Georgetown parted ways with Patrick Ewing after a disastrous 7-25 season (2-18 in the Big East), 75-109 in his six seasons at the helm. As the Washington Post put it, it’s time to move on from selecting those long affiliated with the program in either a coaching or playing capacity. They’ve gotta move on from John Thompson Jr., in other words.
--Texas Tech coach Mark Adams stepped down following his suspension for racist remarks. This guy deserved to go.
As for the top seeds…just announced….
South: 1. Alabama, 2. Arizona
Midwest: 1. Houston, 2. Texas (vs. the Colgate Red Raiders)
West: 1. Kansas, 2. UCLA
East: 1. Purdue, 2. Marquette (Shaka Smart…shaka smart, shaka smart…)
And Rutgers does not get in, ditto Clemson.
Much more in Add-on.
--The Knicks, after winning nine in a row, have a big potential problem. Star point guard Jalen Brunson’s sore foot isn’t getting better and the Knicks, on a brutal West Coast swing, lost at Sacramento, had the Clippers Saturday, Lakers Sunday, and Portland Tuesday, before heading home.
In the Sacramento game, Brunson scored 19 points in the first half before exiting and being ruled out against the Clippers, the Knicks losing 122-117…Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley a combined 4 of 28 from three!
And then yesterday in L.A., the Knicks (39-30) fell to the Clippers (36-33) 106-95, as Julius Randle, who has had a terrific season, with a great attitude, as compared to last season’s shitshow, totally imploded, 5 of 24 from the floor (the Knicks another putrid night from three, 7 of 31), Randle arguing on the sidelines, with referees, security guards…not a good show. It’s going to be interesting to see what version of Randle we now get down the stretch.
--Kevin Durant was 3-0 in his first three games in Phoenix, averaging 26.7 points on 69% shooting, and then he sprained his left ankle and will be out three weeks. This comes after missing about two months with a sprained MCL in his right knee.
--Ja Morant’s absence from the Grizzlies was extended to six games, at least through March 15 and a game at Miami. So far Memphis is 2-2 without him.
Police in Glendale, Colorado, did look into the nightclub video, where Morant appeared to be holding a firearm, and found no proof that a crime was committed.
--The Chicago Bears shocked the football world in trading the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft to the Panthers for this year’s and next year’s first-round Panthers picks (No. 9 this year), plus a late 2023 second-rounder and a second-round pick in 2025. Plus wide receiver D.J. Moore, who will turn 26 next month and has three, 1,000-yard seasons for his career.
The Bears have Justin Fields at quarterback, but the Panthers want a franchise QB out of the draft, and so it will be either C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis or Anthony Richardson.
I’d narrow it down to between Young and Richardson. And then go with Richardson. Carolina can wait a season for Richardson to develop. But early reporting has them looking at Stroud.
--The Jets are the only team talking to Aaron Rodgers, the Packers anxious to part ways, and at any moment, us fans expect an announcement of a deal, and then some of us will be like, oh boy.
Hopefully, those of us who don’t want him will be very wrong.
--Longtime New England safety Devin McCourty has called it a career after 13 seasons, all with the Patriots, where he produced 35 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles, along with 971 tackles, in 205 career regular-season games – all as a starter. He was one of football’s most durable players, last missing a game in 2015. And he was a 12-time team captain, winning three Super Bowl rings.
“It is a rare group of players who win games at a historic rate, exude team culture, lead, win awards, and win championships,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “And then there is Devin McCourty. Devin did all of those things as a player and more.
“But, what I think of first when I think of Devin is the type of man he is, his character, his values and how high he raised the bar for spreading goodness and justice in the community. For 13 years, Devin made everyone in our organization feel better and be better because of who he is – a pillar of professionalism, unselfishness, work ethic, preparation, intelligence and performance.”
Rather high praise, for the class act out of Rutgers.
--Otis Taylor, the longtime Chiefs wide receiver who was a favorite target of Len Dawson, died after more than a decade of health problems, including Parkinson’s and dementia. He was 80, dying just seven months after his buddy, Dawson, passed away.
Taylor spent all 10+ years of his career (1965-75) with Kansas City, a fourth-round pick out of Prairie View A&M in the 1965 AFL draft. He finished his career with 410 receptions for 7,306 yards and 57 touchdowns.
Taylor was among the first big wide receivers at 6-3, 215, and I loved watching him play.
He’s probably best remembered for his 46-yard touchdown catch in Super Bowl IV that clinched the Chiefs’ win over the Vikings. Taylor was inducted into the Chiefs’ ring of honor in 1982.
--Speaking of the Vikings, longtime coach Bud Grant died. He was 95.
In 1967, after a successful 10-year run coaching in Canada, Grant took over a moribund franchise that had done little in its first six seasons of existence and took them to the Super Bowl in his third year. And then in 1974 against Miami, 1975 vs. Pittsburgh, and 1977 against the Raiders, but the Vikings lost all four.
His regular season record was an outstanding 158-96-5, for a .621 winning percentage, 11 division titles and those four Super Bowls.
Grant’s big teams were led by the defensive line known as the Purple People Eaters, headed by Alan Page and Carl Eller, and an offense that included Fran Tarkenton and running back Chuck Foreman.
Grant was loved by his players because unlike his contemporaries, he rarely yelled and he kept practices light to preserve their physical and mental energy for games.
Grant was also known to go duck hunting at 4:00 a.m. before hitting the office. He once told the New York Times: “A good coach needs a patient wife, a loyal dog and a great quarterback, but not necessarily in that order. I happen to have been blessed with all three, and when I did happen to have any extra time I didn’t spend it with the quarterback.”
--After two rounds of The Players Championship, the fifth major, we had a less than scintillating leaderboard.
Adam Svensson -9
Scottie Scheffler -7
Ben Griffin -6
Min Woo Lee -6
Christian Bezuidenhout -6
Collin Morikawa -6
Shockingly, Rory McIlroy missed the cut at +5 (76-73), and World No. 1 Jon Rahm had to withdraw before the second round with a stomach issue.
With Rahm and Rory not playing this weekend, Scheffler needs to finish in the top five to regain the No. 1 ranking in the OWGR.
--And that seems a certainty after a record-breaking third round at TPC Sawgrass, Tom Hoge with a course-record 62 to move from the cut line to -8. Scheffler, Tommy Fleetwood and Aaron Rai with 65s, Sungjae Im a 64.
So heading into today’s final round….
Min Woo Lee -12
Cam Davis -10
Chad Ramey -9
It will be fascinating to see if Lee can hold up, while I hope the popular Fleetwood holds his position as he desperately needs the FedEx Cup points.
Well, Lee started out 1-under through his first three and then triple-bogeyed No. 4 to fall back to -10, and by the time Scheffler and Lee had made the turn at 9, we had….
Scheffler -15 thru 9
Tyrell Hatton -12…F…after a sizzling 65, birdieing his last five!
Viktor Hovland -10…16
Hideki Matsuyama had gotten it to -12, but doubled 14 and bogeyed 18.
And Scheffler rolls…win No. 6 in 27 events, a biggie…. $4.5 million.
By five at -17 over Hatton.
More in Add-on. But the guy has won like $34 million (including bonuses) the last two years. He deserves every dollar.
--Michael Rosenberg / SI.com
“This week’s Players Championship will be missing its defending champion, the since-defected Cam Smith, but Smith will miss the Players more than the Players will miss him. As a competitive entity, LIV Golf has zero credibility. It will never give Smith the platform or feeling he had at TPC Sawgrass last March.
“The defending champion of the Players is not playing this week yet is hardly missed on a PGA Tour riding a wave of momentum with high-profile events.
“LIV Golf is a morally indefensible operation, funded by the murderous, propaganda-spreading Saudi Arabian government with no plausible business plan. But even if you forget where the money is coming from, you cannot forget it is there. For every single player who joined LIV, money was the No. 1 factor. There are no exceptions. Any golf fan understands this.
“Yes, players run for the money in other sports all the time. But they switch teams, not leagues. (Soccer is an exception, but soccer has been embedded in the culture of so many countries for so long that comparing it to another sport is impossible.) When Gerrit Cole signed with the Yankees, we knew he went for the money, but also that he would try just as hard to pitch well there as he did in Houston or Pittsburgh. He still wants to win the World Series.
“LIV golfers just want to make as much money as they can between majors, which leaves them two options: Admit it, and expose their league for the competitive farce that it is, or lie about it…and expose their league for the competitive farce that it is.
“With the exception of Dustin Johnson, LIV’s top players have lied so often about their reasons for joining LIV that every time they talk, all I hear is other people laughing. They said they wanted to control their schedule, but they control it less. They said they want to grow the game, but who is watching? They talk about the team aspect like we’re supposed to get excited about the Four Birdies or Triple Salchows or whatever the hell the teams are called, and they’re not following anybody. Are we supposed to believe that Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed suddenly care most about lifting a team? I’d sooner believe that James Harden just wants to play defense.
“Every LIV hype video looks like a parody, and every promotional effort accomplishes the exact opposite of its goal; It just convinces more people that these guys sold out.”
--Attorneys for Tiger Woods said he never had an oral or written tenancy agreement with former girlfriend Erica Herman, who has sued a trust – that she claims Woods controls – for at least $30 million after he asked her to move out of his home following their breakup in October.
First off, few seem to have known they had broken up, Herman a fixture since 2017.
Woods’ attorneys, in a court filing in Martin County, Florida, wrote that Herman sued the trust to avoid an agreement she had made with Tiger to arbitrate all disputes. Herman worked as a general manager at Woods’ restaurant before starting a personal relationship with him. She is also asking a judge to remove her from a nondisclosure agreement she had signed with him on Aug. 9, 2017.
Herman is alleging she had an oral tenancy agreement that allowed her to live in Woods’ personal home rent-free and expense-free in exchange for her performing personal services during their six-year relationship. She claims the agreement was breached when Woods informed her that he was ending their relationship on Oct. 13. She alleges there were about five years left on the oral agreement at the time.
Woods’ attorneys dispute this.
Herman didn’t make any specific allegations against Woods otherwise.
--Oh, those spring training injuries. The Yankees lost starter Carlos Rodon to a strained forearm that will keep him out an undetermined amount of time, but certainly for months, and then they lost center fielder Harrison Bader, who they are counting on heavily, to an oblique injury, so call that 6-8 weeks. Plus two relievers, Tommy Kahnle and Lou Trivino, are missing the start of the season.
As for Rodon, who had a history of arm injuries but was healthy the last two, not the way he wanted to start off with his six-year, $162 million contract. And this is a team that lost starter Frankie Montas probably for the season.
--And the Mets have some issues, including lefty reliever Brooks Railey, who was removed from Team USA after experiencing tightness in his left hamstring. Not a disaster, but he’s probably not available for Opening Day and he’s a key piece.
The Mets still haven’t given a timetable on Jose Quintana’s rib injury, and now Kodai Senga has a finger issue.
--Bryce Harper is in Phillies camp, after last fall’s Tommy John Surgery. When Shohei Ohtani had the same surgery after the 2018 season, he was DH-ing in May, but it appears Harper is kind of targeting sometime in June.
--In College Baseball, Wake Forest lost its first at Coastal Carolina, 13-11, midweek, as the Deacs committed seven errors after just four errors in their first 13 games.
Then this weekend, they had their first ACC action, in Durham against Duke, and won 2 of three, the Deacs now 15-2, but in their second loss, they committed five errors. Just a bit disturbing if you’re thinking what can happen despite a perhaps gaudy record come tournament time.
She did it…Mikaela Shiffrin won her record-tying 86th World Cup race Friday, tying Ingemar Stenmark by taking a giant slalom in Are, Sweden, and then Saturday, she broke it…win No. 87 in the slalom. She’s officially the GOAT…in the same category as Michael Jordan (LeBron wouldn’t like this), Tom Brady, and Serena Williams.
Shiffrin, with three races to go, has had a phenomenal season, capturing the overall title, and the slalom and giant slalom crystal globe trophies.
“Pretty hard to comprehend,” she said after No. 87.
Stenmark, pure class, said he hoped she becomes the first to get to 100.
--Edmonton’s Connor McDavid has 127 points through Saturday, one point from Nikita Kucherov’s 128 in 2018-19 for Tampa Bay, which is the most since Mario Lemieux’s 161 in 1995-96. And McDavid has 15 games to play.
--My struggling Rangers have won two straight over Montreal and Buffalo, the first in a shootout, the second in OT…and Patrick Kane scored in each, a good sign.
Following Liverpool’s 7-0 masterclass, and humiliation of Manchester United last Sunday, the Reds lost at Bournemouth, 1-0, on Saturday. Inexplicable.
Tottenham had a needed 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest, Harry Kane with two goals, to retain the fourth and final Champions League slot; this after the Spurs were knocked out of this year’s Champions League Round of 16 midweek.
Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 1-0.
And today, Arsenal took on Fulham and had no problem, a 3-0 win. But Man U only managed a 0-0 draw at home against Southampton, while Newcastle edged the Wolves, 2-1.
Standings (25/27 of 38)….Played – Points
1. Arsenal…27 – 66
2. Man City…27 – 61
3. Man U…26 – 50
4. Tottenham…27 – 48
5. Newcastle…25 – 44
6. Liverpool…26 – 42
But the big news in the UK is the row between the BBC and football presenter Gary Lineker over Lineker’s criticism of government immigration policy.
Understand that Lineker hosts the BBC’s heavily watched “Match of the Day” program, which normally runs for 80 minutes, and on Saturday only aired for 20, the BBC forced to axe much of its sports coverage on Saturday as presenters refused to work in solidarity with Lineker.
Lineker, a former England soccer captain, is the BBC’s highest-paid presenter and the anchor of the highlights program.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a statement on Saturday defending the migration policy, which bars the entry of asylum seekers arriving in small boats across the English Channel.
Now, the BBC chairman, Richard Sharp, and its director general, Tim Davie, are under growing pressure to resign.
The BBC’s edict is to be politically impartial. But the opposition Labour Party and media commentators accuse the BBC of silencing Lineker, bowing to pressure from the Conservative government after Sunak’s spokeswoman called Lineker’s comments “unacceptable.”
--Vinyl albums outsold CDs last year for the first time since 1987, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, an industry trade group. About 41 million vinyl albums were sold in 2022, compared with about 33 million CDs, RIAA said in its year-end report released on Thursday.
Sales of recorded music rose 6% to a record $15.9 billion last year, the seventh straight year of growth, with streaming continuing to be the biggest driver of the industry’s recent expansion.
Top 3 songs for the week 3/13/82: #1 “Centerfold” (The J. Geils Band) #2 “Open Arms” (Journey) #3 “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” (Joan Jett & The Blackhearts)…and…#4 “Shake It Up” (The Cars) #5 “That Girl” (Stevie Wonder) #6 “Sweet Dreams” (Air Supply) #7 “We Got The Beat” (Go-Go’s) #8 “Mirror, Mirror” (Diana Ross) #9 “Leader Of The Band” (Dan Fogelberg) #10 “Take It Easy On Me” (Little River Band….D week…back to the 60s…)
NHL Quiz Answers: 1) Maurice Richard, Montreal, was the first to score 50 goals in a season, 1944-45, back when there was just a 50-game schedule. 2) Phil Esposito, Boston, 1968-69, was the first with 100 points, 76-game schedule. Bobby Hull, 107, and Gordie Howe, 103, also hit the mark that year. 3) Bobby Orr, Boston, 1970-71, was the first to have 100 assists, 102, over a 78-game schedule.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.