5 at 10: Braves, basketball the beginning of Masters week

5 at 10: Braves, basketball the beginning of Masters week

April 4th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

Hope you all enjoyed the weekend. Let's get to it.

Here we go.

Connecticut's Alex Oriakhi loses the ball as Kentucky's Josh Harrellson defends during the first half of a men's NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball game Saturday, April 2, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

NCAA hoops championships set

If you had UConn playing for just one college basketball title, and it was only the men's team, well, you could cash in that ticket on something like 10,000-to-1 odds.

Men Huskies in, women Huskies out. The team with the game's hottest player who's name sounds like Hemba Talker (we promised Bigbearzzz we would not mention Kemba Walker, so there, wait, Oh Crud. Sorry) is in. The team with Maya Moore, arguably the best women's player of her generation, is done.

Hard to believe, huh?

The weekend was loaded with great hoops, and it's getting harder and harder to explain that (again) a John Calipari-coached team made it to the Final Four (Again) and is going home without the title because of faulty free-throwing shooting (AGAIN). Alas.

Call the 5-at-10 crazy (hey, we've been called way, Way, WAY worse), but doesn't this feel like Butler's time. Yes, Hemba Talker is among the best college players in a decade and is on the hottest single-handed run since Danny Manning led Kansas to the 1988 title, but c'mon. Dare to dream. It just feels right, and it may be UConn by 36 tonight, but why not. In the name of Batman's Alfred, here's hoping this is Butler's moment. And if it happens, what are the odds on Jim Nantz's cheesy championship call being, "The Butler finally did it," or something of that ilk? Would you bet against that?

The 5-at-10 would be remiss if we did not throw out one more mention of Moore's career. Heck, forget a mention, she's getting her own entry.

Connecticut forward Maya Moore shoots over Duke guard Karima Christmas in the first half of an NCAA women's college basketball tournament regional final, Tuesday, March 29, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Barbara Johnston)

Moore deserving shoutout

It was a tough way for Maya Moore to end her college career. Simply put she was awesome in her awesomeness in her four years at UConn.

From the AP story after Moore scored 36 points as the Huskies were bounced by Big East rival Notre Dame 72-63 late Sunday night:

Her career ended the same way it started -- with a loss in the national semifinals. She finished as the NCAA's fourth all-time leading scorer, putting up 3,036 points.

"I'm going to have to choose to remember the great thing and how fortunate I was to be a part of so many record-breaking seasons," Moore told the AP. "It's just tough because it's the current taste in my mouth now. I'll just have to deal with it."

Moore was her usually amazing self, scoring 12 consecutive UConn points in the second half as the Huskies tried to rally.

With the 90-game winning streak, the two tiltes, and all things included, Maya Moore was an all-timer. Was she the best women's college player ever? That's debatable, but she's definitely in the team picture.

That said, Notre Dame will face Texas A&M in Tuesday's title game. And on one hand, the women's game needed some fresh faces and new blood playing for titles, but this can hardly be what the TV people had in mind. Three weeks ago, we were talking about the possible mega-matchup of Tennessee and UConn (which likely would have been the highest-rated women's sporting event on TV ever); now UConn and Moore's exit won't be part of the title game.

Wow, last one watching turn the TV off, OK?

A course worker rakes a bunker before a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Monday, April 4, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Masters Week, Day I

So much Masters stuff to get to this week. First, Holy Arnie's Army, Phil Mickelson (or as hotshot 5-at-10 newcomer wc-triple7s calls him "Dill Pickelson") was outstanding Sunday on his way to winning the Shell Houston Open.

That said, let's do Day I (we're using Roman Numerals, because if the Super Bowl can, then certainly the Masters deserves it, right?) of the Masters with a quick, 10-word top-five (that's right, the 5-at-10's 5-in-10):

  1. Master's biggest question: Will Eldrick or Tiger show up?
  2. (In Yoda's voice) Hot Pickelson is, but caution when tempting Augusta.
  3. (In Mr. Miyagi's voice) Young guns: First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature's rule.
  4. Here's saying that someone will win their first major Sunday.
  5. Prediction: Matt Kuchar holds of Dill; Eldrick finishes 10th.

So much more to come this week, including more predicitions.

Here's a 5-at-10 game for everyone: Submit your top five players (order is not important; points will be awarded as 5 for first, 4 for second, 3 for third, 2 for fourth and 1 for fifth; perfect score is 15) and the most points will get you a Masters trinket or something (we won't bring you back a pimento cheese sandwich, but don't expect the moon either _ the 5-at-10's on a tight budget). As always, everyone's welcome to play, no purchase necessary.

Atlanta Braves' Tim Hudson pitches against the Florida Marlins in the sixth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Tuesday, Sept. 1 2009. The Braves won 4-3. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Welcome back baseball

Some meaningful (or meaningless, depending on you view) observations from the first weekend of spring training:

_ The 5-at-10 loves the stat that Tim Hudson is something like 4,000-0 when he has a three-run-or-more lead. Hudson, who's actually 133-2 when given a cushion of three runs or more after Sunday's 11-2 win, was super sharp Sunday _ retiring 18 in a row before being removed from the game.

_ MLB needs some sort of mercy-rule, if for no other reason than to speed up one-sided games. Here's one thought: If a team is up more than 8 runs, no more stepping out of the box/off the pitching rubber. Thoughts?

_ We said it last week, and will likely say it again later this season, but this Braves team really seems to enjoy the game and playing together. When Alex Gonzalez tripled early in Sunday's game, the celebration in the dugout was energetic and uniform. And it was telling, since it was strong emotion in game No. 3 of 162 and it was for the player that replaced Yunel Escobar, who was rumored to have been a clubhouse nightmare in his time with the Braves.

_ Saturday was a tough day to be Edgar Martinez, who had two of his records erased. Ichiro passed Martinez to become the Mariners' hit leader, and David Ortiz passed Martinez to become the all-time DH leader in RBIs.

_ Wow, have you seen the panic for Red Sox Nation. Boston started 0-3 this weekend after getting swept out of Texas, and the reaction has been over the top. One New England paper's headline was "Red Sox ruin summer two weeks into spring," and the Boston postgame show after Sunday's loss opened with, "The season is not over."

_ (For SteelerFan) Don't know if you guys saw this, but at this pace Brian McCann is going to finish the season with a franchise-record 270 RBIs.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) passes Kyle Busch (18) in Turn 3 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday, April 3, 2011 Earnhardt finished second in the race, and Busch third. (AP Photo/Steve Sheppard)

This and that

_ Sweet Lasting Legacies, Dale Earnhardt Jr. almost won a race. Seriously. And it was a big-boy Sprint Cup race, too. Dale Jr. was passed by Kevin Harvick with four laps left Sunday at Martinsville at the track known as the Paper Clip. (Ever notice that NASCAR venues have great nicknames, like the "Track to Tough to Tame," and the "Monster Mile." What about "Widow Maker" or "Spit-stained Sally?" Anyhoo). As for Dale Jr., his winless streak sits at 99, and afterward Harvick was almost apologizing for denying NASCAR's most-popular/most-overrated driver the checkered flag. Oh, stop it. Let's all agree to let Dale's boy win one. We'll tussle his hair and say, "Great job, Sport," and then get back to racing and get back to deciding if anyone can stop JJ's domination.

_ UTC's spring football is closed, and it appears the Mocs reached goal No. 1 of every spring practice session _ no one was seriously injured during the drills. The 5-at-10 likes this Mocs team. Football season starts in September, and we believe there will be FCS playoff football in Chattanooga again in 2011 _ and no the title game currently has no plans to return to Finley.

_ Saw that EASports and the folks behind NFL Madden12 (the Babe Ruth of video games at the 5-at-10 ranch) are going to put more of an emphasis on concussions and recovery times to increase awareness. It's a great game and all, but if gamers are getting concussions, they're doing something wrong. (Kidding, kidding _ sadly this may raise more awareness than people realize. Think of it this way, if Gamer22 is in the middle of big season with the Falcons, and Matt Ryan has to sit out the next four games because of a concussion, then Gamer22 will say, "Dude, concussions are like not a cool thing.")

_ EC, our resident NBA expert, agreed with the 5-at-10 that the New York Knicks' move to acquire Carmelo Anthony was a good one. Know who else loved it? Denver fans, since the Nuggets are 15-4 since dealing Anthony to the Knicks. Go figure. (EC is still 100-percent right, though, if for no other reason that the star-power needed in New York. And of course, look for the Knicks to add a point guard in the offseason, and then it's on.)

Until tomorrow.