Shooting from the lip
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Predicting which teams will be a No. 1 seed, a No. 2, a No. 3 and so on in the NCAA Tournament has almost become a full-time job for some. In fact, ESPN even has its own bracketologists and a segment called "Bracketology.'' (By the way, those words are completely invented for the NCAA Tournament.) That's why it was refreshing to hear former-coach-turned-ESPN analyst Bob Knight to say it’s all a waste of time.
"I'll go back to what I've thought all along — first seed, second seed, third seed … it looks nice that you got a first seed,'' Knight said. "But it really doesn't make much difference. The seeding, I think, has very little bearing on what is eventually going to take place.''
Speaking of Knight, wow, he was much better in his analyst job than could have been expected. Totally relaxed and insightful and, shocker of all shockers, engaging. Of course, he knows basketball, but the surprising part was how well he knew the other teams in the country, especially those outside of the conferences he has coached. He was candid without being rude, knowledgeable without being condescending and funny without being glib. I never thought I would write this sentence: He should consider doing this full time.
How bizarre was it to watch the SEC Tournament being played at the tiny gym of an ACC school with hardly any fans. The tournament, of course, had to be moved from the Georgia Dome to the 9,100-seat Alexander Memorial Coliseum on the campus of Georgia Tech after storms and a tornado Friday night made the Georgia Dome in Atlanta unsafe. At times, it looked like a high school tournament. But give credit to Raycom and CBS (the two networks that carried the tournament). Neither, of course, could have expected or even anticipated such a dramatic curveball, and the broadcasts did not suffer one bit.
The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan, talking about golfer John Daly, above, on ESPN's Sports Reporters: "It should be apparent by now that John Daly has no interest in being anything other than the walking country song he is. … He will go down in golf history as its single biggest squandered talent.''
Happy St. Patrick's Day. To commemorate the day, here’s a list of my five favorite Patricks in sports history — and I'm talking those who were actually known as Patrick, and not Pat or Patty.
Patrick Roy: Best goalie in NHL history.
Patrick Ewing: Always think of this hoops great this time of year.
Danica Patrick: The favorite race car driver of the Two Cents page.
Patrick McEnroe: Yeesh, running out of Patricks. He wasn't even the best tennis player in his family.
Lester Patrick: Former Ranger so famous that the NHL once named a division after him.
In hockey circles, there's something called the Gordie Howe hat trick. It's when a player gets a goal, an assist and gets into a fight in the same game. It's like the ultimate thing, and it's named after the great Howe, who was talented and tough. But do you know how many Gordie Howe hat tricks Howe had in his career? TWO! Hockey Night in Canada put an end to one of hockey's enduring myths by pointing out the only times Howe had a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game came once in 1953 and once in 1954. And that's it.
As many blogs and even a YouTube clip pointed out over the weekend, it appears ESPN announcer Mike Patrick has fallen head over heels for North Carolina big man Tyler Hansbrough. If you listen to Patrick long enough, you're convinced that Hansbrough plays harder and better and even chews gum and ties his shoes better than any player in the country. That's fine. Everyone has their favorites, and Patrick certainly is entitled to like Hansbrough. But he made one comment that had me scratching my head. After Patrick's partner, Dick Vitale, pointed out during an ACC Tournament game between Carolina and Virginia Tech that Hansbrough might not enter the NBA draft, Patrick said Hansbrough was the "kind of kid'' who would return for his senior season.
I don't know what he meant by "kind of kid,'' but here’s how it was taken: Hansbrough is a good, smart kid and that's why he would return. And, in turn, anybody that does leave school early somehow isn't as smart or as good of a person as Hansbrough. Again, maybe that's not what Patrick meant, that's certainly how it came out. And, if that's the case, that's flat-out wrong.
Most tired sentiment
I can't think of anyone else who gets as many pats on the back in sports as the NCAA Tournament selection committee. With Jim Nantz and Billy Packer leading the cheerleading with handshakes and "congratulations'' and "great jobs,'' CBS once again tripped all over themselves to talk about how "hard'' it is to put together the 65-team tournament and how "great'' the committee did. The whole thing is getting tired. Just interview the committee, thank them for talking to you and then move on without all the on-air applause. At least ESPN's crew raised questions about selections, criticized the process and offered solutions.
Really, we like Lightning coach John Tortorella. And we know it has been a rough season for him. Still, he frustrates us when he refuses to talk about records, such as last week when he became the all-time winningest American-born NHL coach. He likes to slough off questions and acts all irritated as he says it’s not "about'' him. Torts is partly right. It's not all about him. It's sometimes about the game, and he does the game a disservice by not acknowledging the milestone.
At the very least, he could've made a comment or two about some of men he passed, including Herb Brooks and Bob "It's a Great Day for Hockey'' Johnson, whose record Tortorella broke. He had a chance to say some nice things about Johnson, giving us all a chance to remember and appreciate him and Brooks again and, instead, Tortorella essentially refused.
Poor Johan Holmqvist. The former Lightning goalie traded to Dallas with Brad Richards got his first start Saturday night and was yanked after giving up three first-period goals. But shame on Stars coach Dave Tippett, who broke all the rules in starting Holmqvist, left. You don't start a goalie who is feeling pressure on a team that is in a free fall at home. You wait for a road game. In fact, Tippett could've waited until later this week when the Stars go to San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix.
Three things that popped into my head
1. As Arkansas was made its way to the SEC Championship, I wonder what former Arkansas and current USF coach Stan Heath was thinking about watching all the players he recruited do so well.
2. The best basketball tournament in the next few months might not be the NCAA tournament, but the three-round tournament to see who is going to win the NBA's Western Conference. Do you realize that a 50-win team might miss the playoffs in the West?
3. The best interview of the weekend was listening to former USF coach Seth Greenberg, now at Virginia Tech, whine on ESPN about not making the NCAA Tournament and saying how the tournament needs to be expanded. Hey Seth, if you had won more, you'd be in the tourney.