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Shooting from the lip

Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Funniest rip job

North Dakota State coach Saul Phillips (right) cried during his news conference after an NCAA Tournament loss to San Diego State on Saturday. He mentioned that Turner Sports analyst Charles Barkley would make fun of him.

Barkley (inset right) then said, "Coach, I've been in the situation when you lose. It's tough, man. I've been so blessed in my life. Basketball's given me everything in my life. I'm not going to make fun because losing just (stinks). You guys had a tremendous year. I'm not going to make fun of you, man."

But Barkley couldn't help himself.

"I don't think he was crying because they lost,'' Barkley said. "I think he was crying because he gotta go back to North Dakota."

Worst attempt at humor

CBS college basketball announcer Andrew Catalon had a momentary brain cramp while calling Friday night's NCAA Tournament game between Gonzaga and Oklahoma State. When Oklahoma State fouled Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski (right) late in the game, Catalon referred to the strategy as, "Hack a Polack,'' using a derogatory term for someone of Polish descent.

Interestingly, Catalon's broadcast partner was Mike Gminski, who is of Polish descent. Immediately, but not in an angry way, Gminski said, "Easy now'' after Catalon's comment.

A short time later, Catalon apologized on the air for his poor choice of words and then, face to face, apologized to Karnowski after the game. Catalon was back on the air Sunday.

Best question

NBC's Meet the Press usually has politicians and pundits, but Sunday morning's show had a dash of sports with guest Mark Emmert, who is the president of the NCAA.

Host David Gregory pressed Emmert on how much money is generated by the men's basketball tournament.

"To suggest it's not a business when you're making almost a billion dollars in TV revenue, most of which comes from March Madness, strikes a lot of people as disingenuous,'' Gregory said.

Emmert said, "Everything that goes on in college sport is supported by the revenue that comes out of March Madness."

Best short feature

NBC's Jimmy Roberts did a bang-up job with a short feature on PGA Tour golfer Patrick Reed, who recently declared himself as one of the top five golfers in the world even though he just recently moved into the top 20. Reed adopted Tiger Woods' tradition of wearing a red shirt on Sunday. That and his boastful comments have people wondering if Reed is just a little too full of himself.

Roberts relayed some quotes from basketball legend Michael Jordan, who said he was impressed with Reed's confidence. During the piece, Roberts even referred to NBC analyst Johnny Miller, who certainly thought highly of himself during his playing days.

Miller agreed but also took a bit of a shot at Reed.

"I was definitely confident and opened my mouth a few times,'' Miller said. "But I had already won 10 or 12 times.''

Reed, on the other hand, has three professional victories.

"When you say that, you're putting extra weight on your shoulders, aren't you?'' Miller said. "You can sort of wait and win eight or 10 times before (talking like that).''

Funniest line

Multibillionaire businessman Warren Buffett offered to pay $1 billion to anyone who correctly picked the outcome of every NCAA Tournament game. Every applicant was eliminated before the end of the second round. Two games — Mercer over Duke and Dayton over Ohio State — took out 99 percent of the entries.

Hey, maybe you're still alive in another contest. Comedy Central's Daniel Tosh joked on Twitter: "Jimmy Buffett is offering $100 to anyone who has a perfect NIT bracket."

Best point

Gotta love New York Post sports media critic Phil Mushnick. He points out that Chris Webber has been seen over the past few days starring in an NCAA-licensed commercial for Burger King while wearing a No. 4 Michigan-gold jersey. This is the same Webber who pleaded guilty to perjury in a scandal that ended with Michigan's Fab Five having all their basketball victories and Final Four appearances vacated. As Mushnick wrote, "World gone nuts.''

Worst fan display

Yikes, the natives sure are restless in Edmonton. Oilers fans, surely longing for the days of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, are suffering through yet another rough season. Saturday, the Oilers were blasted at home, 8-1 by the rival Flames. One fan showed his disgust in perhaps the most insulting way possible. He took off his Oilers jersey and threw it on the ice. This is the second time this season that has happened. Saturday, Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens picked up the jersey with his goalie stick and pitch-forked it back into the stands.

Most disappointing numbers

Want to know why tennis isn't as popular among American television viewers as it used to be?

Maybe this has something to do with it, and it's absolutely shocking. Only one American — John Isner at No. 10 — is ranked in the top 50 of the ATP rankings. Heck, there are more players in the top 50 from Croatia, Switzerland and Canada than there are from the United States.

Of the top 100 players, there are only five Americans.

"The state of U.S. tennis is not the greatest it has ever been," Isner (above) told the Miami Herald. That's for sure.

Best call

It helps to have an exciting game, but CBS's Jim Nantz and Greg Anthony were superb calling Sunday's Kentucky-Wichita State NCAA Tournament game. This is their first year calling games regularly together, but they've developed a nice chemistry, and that bodes well for Final Four weekend.

Three things that popped into my head

1. Did anyone else think that the Penguins' Sidney Crosby (left) should have been called for interference during the power play just seconds before Pittsburgh's James Neal scored the overtime winner against the Lightning on Saturday?

2. Those rumors of Manhattan basketball coach Steve Masiello coming to USF sure are promising. And exciting.

3. Hey, Rays, save a couple of victories for the regular season, why don't you.

tom jones' two cents

Shooting from the lip 03/23/14 [Last modified: Sunday, March 23, 2014 10:07pm]

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