Shooting from the lip
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
ESPN's Outside the Lines did a good feature on the rivalry between Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt and UConn's Geno Auriemma. It has gotten so frosty that they no longer play each other in the regular season even though it's the one game that gains interest from the general fan. The Boston Globe's Jackie McMullen put it best when she said: "I think they both have to understand that they're much better off together than they are apart if they really do want to promote the women's game. It's sad that the game still needs to be promoted, but it does.''
Summitt and Auriemma need get over themselves and put the game ahead of their egos. Not playing is like Ohio State refusing to play Michigan in football. Actually, it's worse because Tenn-UConn, unfortunately, is about the only women's game people want to see.
Most overblown story
Everyone likes to compare conferences in basketball, but it's time to stop that nonsense. This past weekend proved that there's no way to tell which conference is good or bad. The ACC, the Big 10, the Big 12, the Pac-10, the SEC, the Big East. They all have teams alive and they all had top teams knocked out. The mid-majors are well represented, too. If this weekend showed anything, it's that parity is taking over college hoops.
What's it going to take for the NHL to change the rules on icing? Is it going to take a player becoming paralyzed? A player being killed? Last week, the Wild's Kurtis Foster was the latest to get hurt. His leg was shattered when he crashed into the boards chasing down an icing against an opponent. A few years ago, a player in the Czech Republic was killed on an icing play. The league needs to change the rule now so that as soon as the puck crosses the end line, the whistle is blown and icing is called. In other words, the puck does not need to be touched by the defensive team. No-touch icing. The league needs to change the rule. Now.
Just when I was starting to like Bob Knight for his ESPN work, he messes it up. He went on the Mike & Mike radio program and refused to answer questions about the controversy involving Indiana's coaching situation. Either you are a commentator or you're not. If you're being paid to give analysis, you have to analyze everything, not just the subjects you feel like. You don't see Bill Cowher refusing to talk about the Steelers. Or Tiki Barber refusing to talk about the Giants. Or Kirk Herbstreit refusing to talk about Ohio State. As an analyst, you're either all in or all out. If Knight doesn't want to talk about Indiana basketball then he needs to drive home, grab his fishing rod and go stand in a stream somewhere.
CBS does a bang-up job covering the NCAA Tournament, but it was absolutely masterful during a half-hour stretch Sunday afternoon, juggling three games at one time as they were all coming to a close. It kept track of Western Kentucky-San Diego and didn't miss any of the key moments in the Tennessee-Butler and Georgetown-Davidson thrillers. During this stretch, it became apparent that Verne Lundquist and (our man in the photo there) Bill Raftery, who were calling the Tennessee game, make up the best team CBS has. Yes, even better — way better — than the lead team of Jim Nantz and Billy Packer. Tim Brando and Mike Gminski called the Tampa games and did fine, although Brando kept making "bunny'' comments Sunday. We get it, Sunday was Easter.
This brief exchange shows again why NBC's Johnny Miller and Dottie Pepper are about as good as it gets when it comes to golf. It came when Jim Furyk had about a 5-foot putt during Sunday's coverage at Doral. Just check out how much they know and how much you learn.
Pepper: "He has backed away from this putt twice, which makes me think he might have trouble.''
Miller: "Well, he always backs away once.''
Pepper. "Once. But he has now backed away a second time, which could mean a problem.''
Miller: "He has a new putter.''
Sure enough, Furyk missed what seemed like an easy putt. This is the type of stuff they deliver all afternoon every time they’re on the air. And you know what? They didn't break their arms patting themselves on the back after Furyk missed his putt.
The only thing surprising about Duke getting knocked out of the second round of the NCAA Tournament was that it got to the second round in the first place. Time for coach Mike Krzyzewski to go on the recruiting trail and pick up a few bruisers because the Blue Devils have become a soft team. Shooting 3s coming off the bus can work in December, January and February. But come March, when the grind of the season causes fatigue in the legs, it doesn't work. Did you realize Duke is 1-3 in its last four tournament games?
Tiger Woods didn't win Sunday, but that doesn't change anything that Mike Lupica said on ESPN's The Sports Reporters: "He is the main event in sports right now. … He towers over golf the way Babe Ruth once towered over baseball.''
The Celtics lost at New Orleans on Saturday, but considering before that they won games at Dallas; San Antonio, Texas; and Houston (in the game that snapped the Rockets' 22-game win streak), they have become the clear team to beat in the NBA.
Three questions that popped into my head over the weekend (and one answer)
1. Does anyone besides Rays manager Joe Maddon refer to Tropicana Field as "The Pit?''
2. Stanford coach Trent Johnson was kicked out his team's game against Marquette on Saturday. No matter what comes out of a coach's mouth, doesn't a referee have to give a coach a little slack in a tight NCAA Tournament game?
3. How many analysts are better at their job than ESPN's Doris Burke is on women's college basketball? (Answer: Not many.)