"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Win some, lose some.
It is a phrase with which we are all familiar, and it rolls off the tongue
with simplicity and ease to facilitate and compensate for the loss just
suffered, the one you thought would never happen. It is a choice of words and
expression that you do not hear from winners. Too casual and off-handed.
Overly confident. Looking ahead to the next encounter with trepidation
instead of defiance. It is for losers who want to indicate that they have won
in the past but not today.
That is what has taken place along the way in the wars and hand-to-hand combat
known as March Madness, but it works somewhat differently here. Win some and
continue on the journey to the Final Four and, possibly, deciding game for the
championship. Lose one, not some, and become a spectator whose mind is filled
with more couldas, wouldas, mightas and haddas than you can handle. In truth,
lose one and gone, win some and the kingdom of hardwoods is yours. The mental
replays are a pathway to a padded room. Release and escape comes to those who
are not seniors, who wait for the games to be over and then are able to
concentrate on next season.
I thought Louisville would survive with their "who knows what's coming next"
style of play that confused opponents but, sadly, it only served to confuse
them as well and Rick Pitino, who should have known better. I had them
beating Arizona, which was fine, but Michigan State came to the hardwoods as
if they were a gridiron and played like their counterparts in helmets and
shoulder pads. The only thing missing when they took the court was each one
carrying a lunch pail as if they were going to the mines. In this case, they
mined a win and the opportunity to take on the Huskies of Connecticut.
UConn, whom I had chosen over Purdue, is unlike the Spartans, who win with
their coach, and wins despite their coach. They are a solid, workmanlike team
and found, in Missouri, precisely what they will encounter with Michigan
State, a team I thought Kansas would take out of the running. It was a
practice round for them. That will serve them well Saturday. Picking them
over Missouri, as I did, was a choice of the more consistent over the full-
court-press-until-you-drop approach. Happily, it worked.
Jim Calhoun has won two national titles for UConn (1998-99, 2003-04.
I think the Huskies are headed to the Final Game on Monday evening.
Pittsburgh was my choice over Xavier so another win was recorded that day but
then I also preferred Duke to eliminate Villanova and, when they did not, Pitt
to do so without putting that choice into any column on this site. Just
honesty. But the Wildcats were on a roll and it showed. Quick, how many
college teams are named Wildcats in the U.S.? And, while we are at it, which
is the most used for college mascots (hint, it flies). How many Tigers?
Enough for a streak or ambush? (see below for the answers.)
Lucky shot for the big "V" at the end of the game? Not really. Terrible
coaching and bad defense by the Panthers, who might have lost in overtime
regardless? Absolutely. Elementary rule out of high school and schoolyards
is that your tallest player guards the in-bound passer, especially when he has
to go the length of the court in precious seconds. Rule number two, which is
not hindsight...you create havoc on the court, without fouling, you do not let
someone dribble through you like water in a sieve. Be that as it may,
Villanova moves on and I record a loser in that game.
So now they encounter North Carolina, the team I had over Gonzaga and then
Oklahoma easier than most of the nation, moving on to a final game in Detroit
on April 6th. But, yes, I also thought Syracuse would have sent the Sooners
home to the ranch. They did not.
Waiting, it is Villanova. Can they hold the dice for another twenty minutes?
My take is that there will be more disappointment in Philadelphia, on its Main
Line, than joy. Jay Wright has his boys at the top of their game in their
fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, sporting their all-time school best
record, and confidence flows freely, like champagne after the final win, for
whoever that will be. But Roy Williams is no slouch at coaching and his own
team is in high gear. He's been to the dance before, sixth straight in March
Madness but no great achievement there for a school with this reputation and
the usual array of talent.
Jay Wright is 11-4 in his five years in the NCAA Tournament.
Should be a hell of a game. I like the Tar Heels to stay in Detroit to play,
not watch with regret, and take Connecticut on Monday.
Lastly, why do they cut the net down at the end of the game when they can just
as easily remove it by sliding it over the "hooks" of the rim that secure it?
And, take less time doing so. Tradition evolves into a frayed braided twine
when a nice new-looking clean one will look a lot better in the trophy case
than one that seems like it came through heaven and hell to get there courtesy
of a player with a ladder and scissors.
I know, I know.
For the record, legendary high school and college coach Everett Case is the man
given credit for starting this practice back in 1947. In his first season as
coach of North Carolina State, Case's team won the Southern Conference tournament. To
celebrate, Case decided to take the nets as a souvenir. The practice caught on and
now college teams punctuate tournament titles with some twine trimming.
But, do I know for certain who will win Saturday and then, again, Monday? You
gotta be kidding!
Answers to mascots and nicknames: