OK, we watched two NCAA tournament teams last night.
Wofford will be a trendy upset pick and a conversational hot spot during the next few days of bracket preparation.
There's a lot to like. They are money from the foul line. They are No. 2 nationally in 3-point accuracy at 42 percent. They are experienced, and maybe most importantly, they know who they are.
That's important when adversary comes, because adversary will come. It's March people.
But, there's a real chance that the chatter of "Wofford as a sleeper" may take on the spin of "Ben Wallace is underrated." (You remember the theory right? "Wallace is underrated" is whispered and whispered, and that chatter becomes the narrative to the point that someone gives Ben Wallace, who was an elite rebounder and a plus defensive player but had the offensive game of a shellfish, superstar money. Then the underrated Wallace becomes the overrated Wallace.)
So if that plays out, and Wofford gets a 7 or, depending on what happens in the bigger tourneys, maybe a 6, and then it's not exactly a sleeper any more.
We also watched Gonzaga steamroll a Pepperdine bunch that, in truth, would have finished in the top three or four in the intramural league I played in at Auburn. (Hey, it was a tough league.)
We have covered this, and some of you hit us with some overwhelming stats of consistent excellence from the Zags.
But, man, we thought this stat was telling, too: Of the five spots on the all-West Coast Conference first team, four of them were Gonzaga players. Yes, four.
That screams to the overwhelming talent edge the Zags had every time they have stepped on the floor in their perfect run through the WCC.
Let's examine the Zags' results against Power 5 opponents shall we? I think we shall.
(And remember the most recent test against a non-WCC patsy was Dec. 15 at Chapel Hill, which was Gonzaga's last loss.)
Zags 94, Texas A&M 71 — The Aggies are not a tournament team;
Zags 84, Illinois 78 — The Illini are not a tournament team;
Zags 91, Arizona 74 — The Wildcats are not a tournament team;
Zags 89, Duke 87 — Great win
Zags 81, Washington 79 — The Huskies are a bubble team;
Tennessee 76, Zags 73 — Vols are a top-two seed;
UNC 103, Zags 90 — Heels are a top-two seed.
And then the avalanche of blowouts in the WCC.
OK, and maybe they will prove me wicked wrong over the next three-plus weeks.
Adam Silver has a decision to make this morning.
Russell Westbrook, one of the NBA's biggest stars, biggest names and biggest talents, got into a profanity-filled back and forth with a couple of Utah Jazz fans at the tail end Monday's game.
It got ugly. So ugly in fact that Westbrook threaten a fan named Shane Keisel and his girlfriend Jen, who according to Shane — who was interviewed by a local TV station after the exchange — was attending her first NBA game.
Here's the story from ESPN.com.
Of course Russell said something racially offensive was said. From the story: "According to Westbrook, the man told him to, "Get down on your knees like you're used to." Westbrook considered that comment to be 'racial' and 'inappropriate.'"
Keisel said he thought it was a somewhat playful exchange and said he told Russ — who had ice packs on his knees — to "sit down and ice your knees." Keisel, who is inaudible on the video that caught Westbrook's diatribe, said after the game he did not say a single swear word in the direction of the Thunder star and former NBA MVP.
Here's the transcript of Russ' rant from the video: ""I'm going to tell you one thing, I'll f--- him up if he says that s--- again. I promise you," Westbrook said to a security guard behind the bench at the beginning of the video posted to Twitter. Westbrook then looks toward Keisel. "I promise you. You think I'm playing. I swear to God, I swear to God, I'll f--- you up. You and your wife, I'll f--- you up. I promise you, on everything I love. On everything I love, n----, I promise you."
OK, that's the back story, and this comes less than 48 hours from the soccer fan who charged the field and punched a player in the back of the head. That fanatic is facing serious charges and 14 months in jail. (Cue the scene from Fletch Lives in which he's thrown in the pokey and meets Ben Dover.)
Anyhoo, we can all see that the soccer nut job was clearly in the wrong, and that line can never be crossed. That's a no-brainer, especially considering how much worse that could have been if the loon had a weapon.
But what's the protocol on the modern-day heckler? Is Westbrook in the wrong or did the fan deserve it?
We can all concur that Westbrook is headed for a sizable fine because he threatened a woman. Right? In today's culture, the optics of "I swear to God, I swear to God, I'll f--- you up. You and your wife, I'll f--- you up," is unacceptable conduct and toxic in terms of business, especially from one of the league's most popular stars.
And in the end, maybe this is nothing more than a fine for Russ, which for guys making Russ kind of coin is a token gesture from the NBA P.R. arm.
But the back and forth of heckling is an interesting tangent here. One of the reasons a lot of fans pay those enormous prices — or college students wait days outside an arena — for seats close to the court is to have the opposing players hear the heckling.
I know this to be true. Believe it or not I was actually pretty accomplished at the art of heckling during my AU career. (Yes, Corliss Williamson wanted to take a swing at me, which would have likely ended me week, but man we got under his skin. Our rules were simple: No cussing and nothing — ever — that could be viewed as racial. We'd do research, too.)
It used to be that the goal was to get a reaction. More times than not — by quite a few actually — the players and coaches and refs would just ignore you or smile. And that was fine.
But now the reaction involves F-bomb filled threats from one of the game's biggest names. There is no doubt in my mind that Keisel was riding Westbrook for most of the game — and remember Westbrook and Utah have a history — but for a lot of the ticket-buying crowd, the heckle is a big part of the draw.
This is not tea and crumpets outside the polo crowds with the Lords and the Ladies around. Are we headed to sitting on your hands and nothing worse than a "boo" moving forward?
Your move Adam.
NFL moving and shaking
OK, if I am a Titans fan this morning, I would be confused. CON-fused.
As we prepare for Wednesday's start of the new NFL year — how the league picked March 13 as the day to flip the calendar is anyone's guess — word comes that the Titans have signed Adam Humphries to a four-year, $36 million.
Oh brother. Yes, that Adam Humphries, who the Titans believe can answer their gaping hole as a slot receiver. There are numbers to support the signing — Twain said it best, there are lies, damn lies and statistics — but the simple truth is the Titans added a wide out who is no better than a No. 2 to a position of glaring need that is screaming for a 1. And Humphries comes in at $9 million per.
We'll ask it: At any point in the current run of mediocrity of this Titans bunch — we like GM Jon Robinson and think HC Mike Vrabel has upside mind you, but Tennessee is teetering on 8-8 as much as franchise north of Miami — has anyone ever thought, "Man, we are ready to make a run in the AFC if we could just find a way to sign Adam Humphries?" No, and no bleepin' way.
The Titans signing was buried under the avalanche of NFL news, considering this is the eve of the new year.
Let's review some of the announced moves, which will become official Wednesday:
Love the Redskins signing Landon Collins. First, dude is a DUDE. Second, he said at the combine that his dream franchise was the Redkins because he loved, Loved, LOVED Sean Taylor. Cool.
Love what the Jets are doing. C.J. Mosely is a DUDE. So is Anthony Barr, the former Vikings LB. That's overhauling a position group right there friends. Add in a deal to add a guard from Oakland and Jamison Crowder at WR, and the Jets are committed to getting better now. (Which makes a lot of sense considering they have a QB they believe in who is on a rookie deal.)
Do not love the Jags signing Nick Foles. That's a four-year, $88 million deal with more than $50 million guaranteed. Folks has a ring, and the roster in Jacksonville seems somewhat similar to the title run Foles led in Philly. But consider some of the defections from the Jags — Malik Jackson and safety Tashaun Gibson among them — to allow them to pay for Foles. And we'll ask, would you rather have Foles at cap-crippling coin or a rookie QB — this year and/or next — and allow you to continue to maintain an elite roster everywhere else?
Love the way the Patriots refuse to overpay for defecting players. Trey Flowers getting $16-17 million per? Trey Flowers? A monster part of the Belichick Way in New England is being willing to release a guy one year too soon rather than a year too late (that could result in dead cap money).
On the other end of this, the Ravens have, with a rookie QB deal in place with Lamar Jackson, are burning down the headquarters around him. Gone are Terrell Suggs, Mosely and Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle. Maybe they will reallocate those funds starting tomorrow, but man.
OK, raise your hand if you can name the highest-paid linebacker in the league. Luke Kuechly, maybe? Or Mosely maybe? Dont'a Hightower? Nope it's Kwon Alexander, who got monster coin from the 49ers. Alexander is a good player, but overpaying in the NFL is a death knell because when you give a good player franchise-player money (Alexander is getting $54 million over four years) you are hamstringing your franchise.
This and that
— Yep, we hit on Wofford minus-7 and missed on Gonzaga minus-1 million (whatever it was, it was not enough). Side note: That was almost a heartbreaking back-door cover for Gonzaga backers. The Zags were up 41 — 90-49 — with 5:30 left as a 24.5-point favorite. Pepperdine went on a 22-6 run to cut it to 96-71 with 56 seconds left before a couple of late lay-ups by Gonzaga scrubs and a cosmetic 3 made it 100-74. So, yes, another 1-1 night. No entertainment in splitting.
— As Gene of Many Hats Henley, the TFP UT beat ace, shares here, Grant Williams repeats as SEC player of the year.
— Liked this story right here, as the Milwaukee Brewers voted to pay beloved announcer Bob Uecker a full player's share of the postseason coin. Kudos.
— Weeds writes college hoops, we read and post Weeds on college hoops. Here's the guru catching up with former Mocs point guard Casey Long.
True or false, it's a Tuesday. (That one is true, Alejandro.)
True or false, Russell Westbrook should be suspended.
True or false, Gonzaga will be a Final Four team.
True or false, Nick Foles will be a Pro Bowl-level player with the Jags.
As for today, March 12, well, let's look.
Today is national pancake day. Seems like we have a few of those every month or so.
On this day in 1894, Coke is sold in bottles for the first time in a candy store in Vicksburg, Miss. That was a bigger day for us around here than most know.
On this day in 1973, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In had its final episode. We'll stay there.
Rushmore of ensemble/skit TV comedy shows ever. (Yes, SNL is far left, but from there, where do you go?)