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Mark Wiedmer

Stories by Mark

Normal Park Museum Magnet School principal Jill Levine grew up in Boston. Which meant she was a huge fan of the NBA's Celtics. Which also meant that in the endless argument over who was better -- the Celts' Larry Bird or the Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson -- she always was a Bird backer.

It's a little early to call these NBA playoffs the greatest ever.

Even if they each stand around 6-foot-9, weigh roughly 235 pounds and knock down the 3-ball fairly efficiently, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga redshirt sophomore forward Justin Tuoyo quickly admits that he and NBA superstar Kevin Durant are "two different people."

I don't know what floats around in Michael Jordan's head or heart. Neither do you.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic director David Blackburn remembers last year's Porky's Open for what he didn't have.

Whenever these amazing NBA playoffs finally end, Los Angeles Clippers coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers deserves to be named MVP -- Most Valuable Person.

The scene that unfolded atop Grace Academy's baseball field Thursday night was equal parts odd, wonderful, tragic, uplifting and extraordinary.

Having quite possibly just won a daily double at one of England's finest turf courses, the incomparable Winston Churchill once said of our most majestic four-legged friends: "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."

An official Los Angeles Dodgers cap atop his head, a pricey Dodgers jacket covering his torso, Sergio Ruelas left his Marietta, Ga., home at 4:45 Wednesday afternoon bound for our town's AT&T Field.

The hour was growing late at Tuesday night's Boys & Girls Clubs' Stake 'N Burger Dinner at The Chattanoogan hotel. Tennessee football coach Butch Jones' inspiring talk was over. Outside, ominous storm clouds grew darker and the wind grew fiercer.

It wasn't hard to spot overt racism in our town this past weekend. All you had to do was stroll past the Hamilton County Courthouse during the National Socialist Movement's dimwitted demonstration on Saturday.

Anna Brooke Shipley put her right arm around Jessica Sierra as the two broke into similarly wide smiles Saturday morning.

DALTON, Ga. — The hair is a bit more gray than it was in 2001, his build perhaps a pound or two heavier. Georgia football coach Mark Richt may even speak a wee bit more softly these days, if such a thing is possible.

KNOXVILLE — When it comes to Morehead State basketball, it would be tough to find a more critical or discerning eye than Wayne Martin, who played for, coached and now serves on the board of regents of the Kentucky university.

No 37-year-old men's basketball coach at Louisiana Tech who's failed to reach the NCAA tournament in three years on the job should ever turn down a coaching vacancy at the University of Tennessee. Never. Ever.

Perhaps you've found yourself mildly entertained by the start of the NBA playoffs the past couple of days.

Until this past Wednesday morning, the only two things Heath Claiborne, Robert Pomeroy and Jamey Roberts had in common were (1) they all had signed an online petition to bring back former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl as soon as possible, and (2) none of them wanted Cuonzo Martin to coach the Volunteers past this season.

Ryan Martin was pushing a lawnmower around a Hixson front yard last September, trying to put an extra $20 in his pocket, when his cell phone rang.

Found on a Duke website Wednesday afternoon was the following Tweet from one Keith Stubbs: "Fun fact: if Jabari Parker stays in college he'll get free food."

The only ingredient missing from Cuonzo Martin's stunning move from Tennessee to California on Tuesday was a soundtrack. Something along the lines of Johnny Paycheck's classic, "Take This Job and Shove It!"

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Recognizing his center's somewhat superior intellectual skills in that long-ago summer of 1968, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Sam Wyche often leaned on University of Tennessee great Bob Johnson for help when calling audibles for the expansion franchise.

KNOXVILLE — Josh Dobbs for the Heisman.

ARLINGTON, Texas — In another time, in a different sport, what Connecticut used Monday night to defeat Kentucky in NCAA basketball championship game inside the AT&T Stadium the Dallas Cowboys also call home was known as "Doomsday Defense."

ARLINGTON, Texas — Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie tried to tell the nation Sunday that it would be this way, that his Huskies would harass Kentucky into oblivion, just as they had the last two opponents they'd played in this amazing NCAA men's basketball tournament.

ARLINGTON, Texas — As Kentucky and Connecticut readied for Monday night's NCAA basketball title game, the sport they play has spent most of the season being beaten down for all that's wrong with it. The one-and-done debate. Too many games. Too much television exposure. Questionable officiating. Dwindling crowds.

ARLINGTON, Texas — When Kentucky and Connecticut tip off tonight's NCAA championship game a few minutes after 9 on CBS, the focus will be on basketball only, on which of these two unlikely finalists — eighth-seeded UK and seventh-seeded UConn are the highest combined seeds to ever reach the final — will finish No. 1.

ARLINGTON, Tex. — Aaron and Andrew Harrison weren't always identical twins about to share the backcourt for Kentucky against Connecticut in tonight's NCAA title game.

ARLINGTON, Tex. — With 79,444 college basketball fans crammed into AT&T Stadium for Saturday night's Final Four — many of them forced to watch the stadium's 150-foot long video boards to keep up with the game — NCAA president Mark Emmert was asked on Sunday if the organization will ever consider returning its biggest event to a regular basketball venue.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Maybe it had to end this way. Nearly every other game in this NCAA basketball tournament has for Kentucky.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jim Calhoun may no longer officially be the Connecticut basketball coach.

ARLINGTON, Texas — They're playing in the Final Four, this quirky basketball quartet of Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

NORTH TEXAS — The smile rarely leaves Scottie Wilbekin's face these days.

When the men's Final Four tips off Saturday evening in Dallas, it's a safe assumption that most of America's NCAA Tournament brackets will have long been busted to smithereens. Especially with top-seeded Florida being joined by the unlikely trio of second seed Wisconsin, seventh seed Connecticut and eighth seed Kentucky.

According to Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, into the Wildcats' locker room a few weeks ago was wheeled a casket, from which Cal soon popped up proclaiming, "We aren't dead yet."

Thirty years ago, Ron Bishop never dreamed that SCORE International would accumulate millions of dollars in assets, send more than 100,000 American athletes and coaches on mission trips around the globe or run three orphanages.

Tuesday should have been Cuonzo Martin's day in the limelight. A brief flirtation — or was it a money grab disguised as hurt feelings? — with Marquette behind him, a new Tennessee contract apparently in the works, it should have been his moment finally to feel the love and the focus of the Big Orange Nation, if not much of the sports world.

When it comes to the Atlanta Braves, let's hope there aren't 161 more games like Monday.

So sorry if I offend any of you this morning, but I have to type this in all caps regarding the upcoming Final Four: S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C!

INDIANAPOLIS — To be or not to be the University of Tennessee basketball coach.

INDIANAPOLIS — It shouldn’t end this way. That’s what Tennessee basketball fans will no doubt claim after Friday night’s 73-71 Midwest Regional semifinal loss to Michigan on Friday night.

INDIANAPOLIS — If you go to the Dick's Sporting Goods website today and cue up "Louisville replica basketball jersey," you can purchase a No. 2 tank top for $60 that's remarkably similar to the one Cardinals guard Russ Smith may wear tonight against Kentucky in their NCAA Sweet 16 showdown.

INDIANAPOLIS — When you've reached zero Final Fours and but one Elite Eight in the 104 years you've fielded a men's basketball team, there are a lot painful moments.

Because the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's football season kicks off 155 days from today at Central Michigan, a sports writer decided to ask a couple of the mighty Mocs a far more timely question following Monday's spring practice. Something along the lines of ... "So how's your NCAA tournament bracket?"

I need your help this morning. I'm taking up a collection to buy NCAA Tournament Selection Committee chairman Ron Wellman a pair of eyeglasses and a new computer software program.

What if the Tennessee men's basketball team beats Mercer today, then wins twice more to reach its first Final Four in program history?

One free throw. For one trophy.

Happy belated birthday, Bruce Almighty. Or should that now be Bruce Au-mighty? Either way, welcome back to the Southeastern Conference. The league obviously has missed you, just in case you hadn't noticed those paltry three NCAA bids it's received each of the last two years.

It's rule 4-17.4 in the NCAA basketball rules book. It concerns the block/charge call. And thanks to Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's tirade inside Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 22, it has become the most discussed official's call of the 2013-14 season, at least until the NCAA tournament's First Four games begin tonight in Dayton, Ohio.

Dick Vitale’s volume too often overwhelms his veracity.

ATLANTA — Fourteen points.

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