Tom Jones’ Two Cents: Hamilton’s meltdown for FSU; A-Rod’s conflict

Florida State basketball coach Leonard Hamilton looks on during the second half of his team's West Region final against Michigan at Staples Center on Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Los Angeles.  [Getty Images]
Florida State basketball coach Leonard Hamilton looks on during the second half of his team's West Region final against Michigan at Staples Center on Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Los Angeles. [Getty Images]
Published March 26, 2018|Updated March 26, 2018

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

Worst performance
Just when we thought it was safe to praise Florida State basketball coach Leonard Hamilton for doing a good job, he once again proves why he is a lousy tournament coach.

His Seminoles fell apart in the final minute of Saturday's four-point loss to Michigan with a trip to the Final Four at stake, and Hamilton deserves most of the blame.

First, with his Seminoles down by three in the West Region final, he decided to foul Michigan with 40 seconds left in the game (and 20 on the shot clock) even though the Wolverines were shooting 38 percent from the field. There was no need to foul at that point. Michigan hit one free throw to go up by four, which caused a two-possession game that the Seminoles couldn't overcome.

What's worse, down four with plenty of time left, FSU panicked. P.J. Savoy jacked up a difficult 3-pointer with 29 seconds left (and still 19 seconds left on the shot clock). That was a horrible shot, and you can blame all of the above on kids who weren't prepared or well-coached in late-game situations.

Then, in the most controversial moment of the game, the Seminoles refused to foul Michigan with 10 seconds left and down four. Now the odds of FSU winning at the point were not good, but they weren't impossible either. Stranger things have happened. Virginia won a game  this season down by four with only one second left. You have to keep trying, especially when you're playing to keep your season alive against a team that shoots 61 percent from the line.

And especially when you're playing the biggest game the program has played since 1993.

When asked about it after the game by CBS's Dana Jacobson, Hamilton really embarrassed himself. He first acted confused about the question, then he nearly walked away from the interview on TBS before criticizing Jacobson's perfectly legitimate question. Hamilton said in a statement Sunday that Jacobson was doing her job and that he did not handle the interview as he would have liked.

But Hamilton also was at a loss when asked later by reporters to explain the entire last minute of the game. And I don't want to hear about raw emotions immediately after the game and all of that. Go back and watch how Virginia's Tony Bennett behaved after his Cavaliers became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16. He didn't snap at reporters. And he didn't blame the reporters because he or his players didn't know how to handle pressure situations.

In the end, this isn't about how Hamilton acted after the game, but how he acted during the game. No wonder the Seminoles lost Saturday. The bigger surprise is that Hamilton got FSU there in the first place.

Best point
Sports Illustrated's Jimmy Traina points out that new ESPN Sunday Night Baseball analyst Alex Rodriguez also has another job. He's a Yankees adviser. Traina is 100 percent right in that either A-Rod should not be taking paychecks from the Yankees or he shouldn't be working for ESPN. He shouldn't be doing both.

A-Rod says he knows the appearance of a conflict of interest and says it won't be a problem. Oh, okay, I feel better now because his word is solid as oak. It's not like A-Rod has ever lied or cheated or anything.

Best analyst
The best story of the weekend was little Loyola-Chicago going to the Final Four. Its victory against Kansas State on Saturday was the best broadcast of the weekend, and it was made all the more enjoyable by the outstanding work of CBS/TBS analyst Chris Webber, who has quickly developed into a top-notch announcer. Not only does he recognize the emotion of watching a team such as Loyola, he also understands the X's and O's of the game. For example, on Saturday, he pointed out that Kansas State looked out of sorts against the Ramblers because it had five guards on the court and likely never practiced with that lineup.

"They don't know what to do,'' Webber yelled out.

Good stuff.

Best quote
"Nothing can ruin this tournament. With all of the stuff going on in college basketball, this, to me, has been the most exciting tournament we've had in all of our eight years, I think, that we have been doing the tournament."
— CBS/TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley

Media tidbits
* ESPN's new morning show with Mike Greenberg, formerly of Mike & Mike, debuts April 2 and airs daily from 7 to 10 a.m. Michelle Beadle and Jalen Rose will co-host with Greenberg.

* ESPN has made two notable hires. Former NFL coach John Fox joins the network as an NFL studio analyst. Meantime, former Red Sox manager John Farrell makes his ESPN debut Wednesday on the network's baseball preview studio show.

* Two big network switches — and the end of two television traditions — were announced last week. IndyCar is moving to NBC in 2019. That includes the Indianapolis 500, which has been on ABC since 1965. Meantime, the Pro Bowlers Association will move to Fox in 2019 after being on ABC/ESPN since 1962.

Scariest moment
Saturday night's HBO heavyweight fight in London between Dillian Whyte and Lucas Browne was disturbing to watch as Browne's face became a bloody, mangled mess. It got even more frightening when Browne was knocked out cold, leaving one to wonder for a few moments if Browne was even going to get up. There are reports out of London that Sky Sports wouldn't show replays of the knockout because of how violent it was. (Browne tweeted Sunday that he is okay.)

Meantime, good job by HBO, especially analyst Max Kellerman, for not glorifying the violence but pointing out that it could have been avoided if the referee or Browne's corner had stopped the fight before the sixth-round knockout.

Three things that popped into my head
1. March Madness. The Masters. Baseball opening day. Stanley Cup playoffs. NBA playoffs. Is there a better time of year for sports than spring?

2. Has it really been 10 years since the Rays went to the World Series?

3. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski is still the best college basketball coach in the country. And of all time.