From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.
Kentucky's Eloy Vargas, left and Kentucky's Darius Miller reacts in the closing seconds of the second half of an NCAA tournament South Regional finals college basketball game against Baylor today in Atlanta. Kentucky won 82-70. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Madness for sure
It's been a crazy tournament that could well be remembered for any number of things. It could be the broken bone in Kendall Marshall's wrist or the foul-fest that was Ohio State-Syracuse or the flameouts by No. 2 seeds Missouri (unexpected and killed our bracket) and Duke (somewhat expected and helped our bracket). It could be the impressive weapons of Kentucky or the overall impressiveness (would that be 'impressive in its impressiveness') of Thomas Robinson.
There are a slew of them — and who's to say that the in-state Bluegrass Battle Royale of Louisville and UK in the Final Four won't be the lasting image of this tournament. (Side note: This would be like Alabama-Auburn meeting in the BCS semifinals or the Yankees-Red Sox meeting in the ALCS. This has a chance to be the among the best non-championship game postseason showdowns ever. Granted US-USSR hockey sets the bar mighty high, but Cards-Cats could be special.)
Here's what the 5-at-10 will take away from the first two weekends of this version of Madness:
— Our TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer was spot-on this morning with his feeling http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/mar/26/wiedmer-final-four-looks-great-unc-deserved-better/ that UNC deserved a better finish. Injuries are part of sports of course, but playing without Marshall was devastating for UNC, especially late when Kansas closed on a 12-0 run.
— In the 5-at-10's lifetime (We're a man. We're 41.), Rick Pitino may be the most underrated coach in college sports. Leading Louisville to this year's Final Four gives Pitino a Final Four berth in four separate decades — something only Dean Smith and Coach K have done.
— While Ricky P continues to open our eyes, maybe we should start giving a little extra credence to the Big East tournament champ? After UConn's tournament run a year ago and the Cards sprint to the finish this spring, we'll keep a closer eye on Madison Square Garden next March.
— We don't have a dog in the fight (our sheets are pretty much trashed), but this season has been extra enjoyable because of the improved level of play. And the two kids we'd pay money to watch are still Dancing. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may be the singularly most instinctive college basketball player we can remember in a while. Dude has an innate sense of making the proper play two seconds before in becomes the obvious play. MKG is special. Kansas forward Thomas Robineson is a warrior, plain and simple. Robinson is the best college rebounder since Paul Milsaps, and he may be the best offensive rebounder since Dennis Rodman was in his prime. Dude works.
With that let's check the tote board for the our NCAA tournament contests. ThatIDoKnow and Ware had the perfect Underrated/Overrated entry of Michigan State and N.C. State and congrats to ThatIDoKnow for winning on the tie-breaker. Congrats as well to scole023 for his Thursday morning entry of T-Rob and MKG for the winning entry on the Kemba Walker Memorial Shootout. We'll hook each of you up with some Final Four swag. Well-played indeed.
scole023: Thomas Robinson (36), M. Kidd-Gilchrist (43) — 79
APridemore: Anthony Davis (27), MK Gilchrist (43) — 70
Chas9: Sullinger (42), Darius Johnson-Odom (14) — 56
dawg747: Draymond Green (13), Jared Sullinger (42) — 55
StuckinKent: Harrison Barnes (25), Tyshawn Taylor (28) — 53
ThatIDoKnow: Harrison Barnes (25), Anthony Davis (27) — 52
Ware: Draymond Green (13), Bradley Beal (35) — 48
wcole777: Harrison Barnes (25), Jordan Taylor (17) — 42
KPridemore: Draymond Green (13), Scoop Jardin (28) — 41
SportsTalk's Quake: Draymond Green (13), Anthony Davis (27) — 40
McPell: E. Johnson (21), Brady Heslip (15) — 36
5-at-10: Tu Holloway (22), Draymond Green (13) 35
SportTalk's Cowboy Joe: Brady Heslip (15), Jay Crowder (15) — 30
TFP UT ace Patrick Davis: Jae Crowder (15), Darius Johnson-Odom (14) — 29
Follower: D.J. Cooper (10), CJ Leslie (18) — 28
Thanks for everyone for playing and we may have one more for the Final Four. (Sidenote: The 5-at-10 would thoroughly like to thank Draymond Green for playing his worst game of the season when we tagged him in the KWMS. Less-than-well-played all around.)
Tiger Woods holds up the championship trophy after winning during the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill, Sunday, March 25, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Tiger wins at Bay Hill
Tiger Woods played nearly flawless golf this weekend, putting together all parts of his game for his 72nd career win — and his first sanctioned win since September 2009, some two months before he crashed into a fire hydrant and words like "infidelity" and "porn stars" became as common as "incredible" and "perfect shots" in stories about Tiger.
He won with a dazzling array of shots — his putter was solid, he hit an 8-iron 182 yards to 4 feet on No. 8 and a 3-iron 267 yards to 15-feet on the par-5 sixth — and showed flashes of being the dominant closer he was during his domination of the game. He won by four shots, and at times it felt like the cushion was bigger.
And with that, Woods became the favorite for the Masters. With that, the achy Achilles' that forced him to withdraw two weeks ago is all but forgotten. With that, Woods becomes the face of golf again. And while you can make the argument that Woods may have always been the face of golf despite his struggles on and off the course, don't try to make the claim that this Woods is the old Woods.
It's not and it likely never will be. This is Tiger Part II not Tiger reincarnate. And there's a huge difference. Woods may repair his game to the point that he walks away from the field like he did Sunday, but he will never restore the persona that forced the best golfers in the world to run and hide when Tiger was prowling.
Woods was back in the winner's circle Sunday, and that's all well and good. But Tiger will never be back to the Tiger of old, and that's where we are.
UT football practice
Our UT football ace Downtown Patrick Brown got every primed for the Vols spring football practice over the weekend.
There are a variety of issues for these Vols to press through. And let's not beat around the bush — this is a huge season for Derek Dooley and Co., and it starts today with the first spring practice.
What are the three things we think are the most important for Dooley, the Vols and Johnny Vols Fan everywhere? Glad you asked.
First order of BID-ness: Getting the 417 new coaches on the same page and working in the same direction. OK, OK, the Vols have only seven new assistant coaches, but that's still more turnover than most teams have in TWO offseasons. Want to know the level of overhaul? The only two UT coaches doing the same job this spring that they were charged with last spring are Dooley and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
Second order of BID-ness: Who's going to lead this bunch? Everyone would love for it to be Tyler Bray, he's the starting QB and all. But the only thing that is worse than no leadership is forced/bad leadership, and if that's not Bray's cup of tea, then forcing him to do it will be at best ineffective and at worst destructive. That said, in the absence of real leadership, people gravitate to bad leadership, and well, if Da'Rick Rogers if left leading the locker room, this will be less than pretty.
Third order of BID-ness: Finding some 'backs — that'd be running backs and linebackers. The running game was awful last fall and unless someone emerges this spring, the concerns at tailback will again be warranted and scary. UT thought it had answered its linebacker questions in recruiting but Dalton Santos and Othra Peters switched at the 11th hour. It happens, but the games go on and beyond A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt, UT's linebackers is a collection of unknowns. (And the Vols are going to need more LBs this year after making a move to running more 3-4.)
Tony Stewart poses with the trophy after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 25, 2012, in Fontana, Calif. Stewart won the rain-shortened race. (AP Photo/Autostock, Nigel Kinrade)
This and that
— Tony Stewart won the rain-shortened NASCAR race Sunday. Hey, it's the rules and we completely understand why NASCAR of all sports must beware of rain — running 200 mph on slick surface is not the brightest idea around. We get it. But something in our sports fan sensibility is offended when a winner is decided with 71 laps remaining. You know?
— Simply put, tonight's UT-Baylor women's basketball game is huge, Huge, HUGE. Did we mention it's huge? It's the game's best player (Baylor's Brittney Griner) against the game's all-time icon (Pat Summitt) with a Final Four spot on the line. Hey, we take great pride in staying neutral in sporting events, but if you are not directly-related to Baylor, it's program or its players, and you are not pulling for Pat to win it all and walk-off into the sunset, well, we have nothing to say to you.
— Bert Sugar, who was arguably the most influential boxing media person out there this side of Howard Cosell, died this weekend. Rest well.
— Wow, Mike Brown benched Kobe Bryant in the Lakers' loss Sunday. Maybe he learned some things coaching LeBron all those years in Cleveland, huh?
— The Atlanta Braves are off today. That's good news. The Braves are 8-14 this spring. That's bad news. Good news at the plate involves Dan Uggla (.311, 5 HRs, 12 RBIs) and reserve outfielder Jordan Parraz (.387, 1, 6). Bad news at the plate involves outfielder Jason Heyward (.183, 2, 8) and Freddie Freeman (.218, 1, 6). Good news on the mound involves the team's light's out bullpen — relievers Cory Gearrin (0.00 ERA in 9.1 innings), Craig Kimbrel (0.00 in 7 IP) and lefty Yohan Flande (0.00 in 8.1 IP) — and starter Mike Minor (0.96 ERA in 18.2 IP). The bad news is rampant amid the rotation. Tim Hudson will miss the first month. Brandon Beachy (6.43 in 14 IP), Jair Jurrjens (10.13 in 13 IP and a staggering WHiP approaching 3.00), Julio Teheran (9.00 ERA in 13 IP) and Randall Delgado (7.94 ERA in 17 IP). At this rate, Johnny Braves Fan may start to look longingly at Derek Lowe.
As always Monday is Open Mic Night. So much happens on the weekend and there's some much going on, we more than likely missed something.
Tell us and bring it.
If you need a topic, here you go:
Spring football is here. What's your biggest concern about your team?
Let it loose and share it and we'll discuss it. We'll even try to see if we can't round-up some extra info for you.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...