The Madness, And Reality

March 13

The Bay Area will not be a factor in the NCAA tournament. St. Mary’s was the last chance for the Dance.

The Gaels were not invited. I guess that last-second scheduling of Weber State really worked. The Tournament Selection Committee wasn’t havin’ it.

St. Mary’s has no one but itself to blame for being excluded. The loss to San Diego, and the WCC championship loss to Gonzaga, left them on the bubble — and vulnerable to Cinderella teams from other conferences, as well as the whims of the Committee.

The Gaels couldn’t even get in with an expanded tournament — now 68 teams and the “First Four” play-in games. They’re better than several teams in the tournament but needed to win the title in a smaller conference.

The WCC will get a higher profile next year when BYU joins. Assuming the Cougars remain strong that will improve strength-of-schedule for the entire conference, but even then it will probably be no more than a two-bid league.

That means it will probably come down to St. Mary’s and Gonzaga again, even if it’s not for the conference championship. Unless both those teams have very strong years. 25-8 was not strong enough this time.

You can argue that the Gaels, Colorado, and other schools were snubbed, but when you’re scuffling to get into an expanded 68-team tournament you don’t have a shot at a national title. It’s like arguing over the last bread crumbs.

***

For what it’s worth I like Kansas to beat North Carolina in the semifinals, the Roy Williams Bowl, then Duke in the finals. I’ll be there in Houston, April 2-4, for the Final Four. Brackets, engaged.

***

Sometimes, you just have to appreciate a game for the pure competition, regardless of its’ meaning in the grand scheme of things. I can think of three such examples from over the weekend.

— Friday night the Warriors had an awful start against the Magic, but rallied from a 21 point deficit. Down the stretch, both teams threw haymaker after haymaker, and the Warriors sank a franchise-record 21 three-pointers. The two teams combined for an NBA-record 36.

The Warriors tried to give the game away several times but managed to get to overtime and won, 123-120. They aren’t going to the playoffs but it was a good confidence-building win, and probably the best game at Oracle Arena this year. The Warriors have demonstrated they can take down better teams at home, but have yet to learn how to do so consistently on the road.

— Saturday, the Giants and Dodgers went back-and-forth in what Jon Miller likes to call, “a Cactus League friendly.” The Giants won, 8-7, scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth, getting key contributions from up-and-coming talent. They got singles from Thomas Neal, Francisco Peguero and Gary Brown, with Brown’s RBI single sending everyone home.

Teammates even mobbed Brown on the infield. I know it meant nothing but it was an entertaining game on a bright spring day in Scottsdale, and a good sign that the Giants have young players other than Brandon Belt ready to make a mark fairly soon.

— Also on Saturday afternoon, Washington took the fight to Arizona in the Pac 10 championship basketball game. Both teams were likely to make the NCAA tournament, but the Huskies didn’t want to take any chances, and just as in the Warriors’ game, both teams landed haymaker after haymaker down the stretch.

No one was bigger than Isaiah Thomas, the Huskies’ guard whose stepback jumper won it at the buzzer in overtime. A fitting ending, and guess who the announcer was ? Of course it was Screamin’ Gus Johnson.

I’m not a fan of conference championships. They’re just a big money-grab, and they give more mediocre teams a chance to get into the NCAA tournament if they get hot for two or three games. Nonetheless, it was a simply great basketball game Saturday at the Staples Center.

***
Sacramento’s Nick Watney beat Dustin Johnson in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at the Blue Monster, his third career win and seventh consecutive Top Ten finish. Tiger Woods shot a final-round 66 to gain his first Top Ten of the year. That’s a far cry to what we’re usually writing about Tiger, but it’s a step forward. You know he’s ramping up for the Masters.

I’m sticking to my prediction that Tiger will not match Jack Nicklaus’ record for majors at 18. Even Nicklaus has said he’s surprised Tiger hasn’t done it by now.

The landscape on the PGA Tour has changed, and Tiger will probably win another Masters or British Open, but I don’t see him winning more than a couple. The competition is stupidly good now.

***

Sports is and always will be a diversion, but we’re not stupid. We know what’s going on in the world.

The devastation in Japan is truly stunning and scary. Mother Nature has brought an economic superpower to its knees, and we’re just now getting an idea of the toll — economic, ecological, and human.

Watching the incredible video of the tsunami brought to mind computer-generated graphics from a disaster movie — only it was real. I can’t imagine how long it will take to recover from this mess, and with the threat of nuclear power plant meltdowns and continued aftershocks, the damage is still being done.

Hurricane Katrina’s wrath wiped out a portion of New Orleans, and that city is still recovering more than five years later. Last week’s quake may dwarf the awful damage in the Cresecent City.

We have a link at KNBR.com if you would like to help the people of Japan — some of whom are still looking for loved ones, and are still looking for a place to sleep. It could be us someday.

***

I missed a chance at the end of Friday’s show to say a few words about a family member we recently lost.

Leon Collins was just a good dude. He was a whiz at fixing things and never hesistated to help people, especially those in his family.

They buried Leon Saturday in New Hampshire, with military honors for an ex-Marine. He was only 55. He died accidentally while fixing a work truck last week.

Leon was married to Mercy for some three decades. Mercy is hurting right now, but she has family to help her absorb some of the sorrow.

Good people should not pass from this Earth without being noticed and remembered. Leon was good people.

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One Response to “The Madness, And Reality”

  1. Richard Diaz Says:

    Nice posting Mr. Woodson. Especially about your lost family member. We forget about “everyday people” who are exceptional, far too much these days. Take care.

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