Yesterday, I said that one of the big differences between the tournament games this year and your typical NBA game is that teams play defense with
effort in the tournament. After writing that, I ran across some stats that support that observation:
When Duke lost, they shot 28%.
When Memphis lost, they shot 31%.
When Villanova lost, they shot 24%.
In the regular season, Memphis scored 51 points on UCLA at halftime of their game. Last weekend, they would have won if they had scored 51 points at
the end of regulation time.
I really don't understand why there is such a hubbub about hiring a new coach at Indiana. Yes, I understand that basketball is a big deal in the
state, but the Nobel Committee actually needs a yearlong process to make its selections; this is a basketball coach selection process we're talking
about here. Every once in a while, I read somewhere that there are 'forces' in the background at IU trying to find a way to bring Bob Knight back to
Bloomington. I just don't think that's going to happen. The next coach at IU will not be Bob Knight, nor will it be one of the Jedi Knights; nor
will it be David Hasselhoff from Knight Rider; nor will it be the Dark Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail; nor will it be Eric Knight; nor
will it be any of the now unemployed executives from the Knight Ridder newspaper chain. But wouldn't it be cool if it were Gladys Knight so that the
five guys on the floor could be nicknamed 'The Pips'?
Joakim Noah has become a celeb during this tournament. You've heard about a thousand times that he is the son of former tennis player, Yannick Noah.
What you may not realize is that his mother was a former Miss Sweden about 25 years ago. This kid has some powerful DNA going for him.
I've tried to avoid any commentary about baseball's spring training 'stories'. Now that the baseball season is about to happen for real, I'll take
this opportunity to make a couple of observations:
Mariners' outfielder Carl Everett commented on his peripatetic career path in baseball. He said that the fact that he is now on his eighth team in 13
years shows that teams want him. Well, that's one way of looking at it. Alternatively, seven teams have told him to take a hike. In fact, only one
team - the Mets - held on to him for more than two seasons.
Here's what I mean about spring training stories that are not really news. Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Rick Ankiel will start the season on the DL.
Here's the good news for Cubs' fans; Wood can't hurt his shoulder/knee, elbow while he is on the DL - - or can he?
The Marlins might have as many as 17 players on their opening day roster making the major league minimum salary of $327K. According to the Boston
Globe that could give the Marlins a total payroll of $18.9M, which would mean that A-Rod, Derek Jeter and Manny Ramierez would all be making more this
year than the entire Marlins' roster. The Marlins play home-and-home series with the Devil Rays this year; you needn't stampede to get tickets for
The WBC may have resuscitated the career of Chan Ho Park. He has been a disaster with the Rangers for the last 4 seasons; his cumulative ERA in Texas
is 5.85. However, he threw 10 scoreless innings in the WBC and may have shown that he can come out of the bullpen effectively.
When the Blue Jays signed AJ Burnett for $55M, I was skeptical; he's been a .500 pitcher for his career. I'm sure the ownership there had some
anxious moments when Burnett had to have his surgically repaired elbow examined this spring; fortunately for them, an MRI showed that it had not
fallen apart. Nevertheless, they still have a .500 pitcher signed for a guaranteed $55M; and if that isn't bad enough, he may need an appointment
with the surgeon imminently. Not a good prospect for a 'five-year investment' ...
On paper, the Mets made good moves this winter. They got the best available closer in free agency (Billy Wagner) and they got arguably the best
hitter out there (Carlos Delgado). They added a good catcher in Paul LoDuca; and most importantly, they arranged to have Kris Benson play his trade
in a different area code this year.
When the Orioles acquired Kris Benson, they may have 'subtracted by adding'. Often teams do the obverse of this process; maybe the Orioles are
looking for newer and better ways to maintain their level of mediocrity.
The Boston Red Sox acquired Josh Beckett to lots of fanfare. Based on last year, Beckett is a gem. However, prior to last year, he too was a .500
pitcher (26-26). So, is he about to 'explode onto the scene' or will he revert to the mean? The Red Sox better hope it is not the latter.
The White Sox hardly stood pat after their World Series win last October. Frank Thomas - once the iconic figure of the franchise - was jettisoned.
An important addition should be Javier Vasquez. With the White Sox, he can pitch in the middle - or even at the bottom - of the rotation without the
scrutiny and pressure he found with the Yankees. If Vasquez recovers his form, the White Sox staff is loaded.
When the A's acquired Frank Thomas, Billy Beane said that Thomas' presence on the A's roster would cause 'a lot of thinking in the other dugout'.
That's a nice sound bite but if Thomas' foot is tender and he is no more productive in Oakland than he has been in Chicago for a couple of years here
is what the thinking is going to be in the other dugouts:
'Why the hell did they sign that guy?'
Finally, an observation from Dan Bickley in the Arizona Republic:
'Once, tennis grew famous for its petulance (John McEnroe, Jimmy Conners, Ilie Nastase). Now it has two of the best ambassadors for sportsmanship
ever (Andre Agassi, Roger Federer), and lawn bowling gets better ratings.”
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...