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Sports Watching & Wondering

John Randolph Rogers

My congratulations to the Bruins and the Trojans, they did get to the Big Dance, and they finished among the top 32 colleges in this country. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears for them to get that far. Honesty compels me to say that I had hoped that they would have been even more successful, but the reality is that they probably got further than their talent should have allowed them to go. Without a doubt, they all gave their best, and that is all that you can ask of anyone.

Arizona and Gonzaga are the two teams that are left from the West Coast. Neither of them has great prospects since Arizona must face dreaded Louisville, and Gonzaga has to play terrifying North Carolina. Gonzaga always has a surprisingly tough team, but an upset of the Tar Heels is unlikely.

It is somewhat ironic that USC's Taj Gibson filed out of the game against Michigan State. The teams from the East and the South play a rougher, more physical game of basketball. If they played their games on the West Coast, most of them would foul out in the first quarter. Also their players routinely knock down their opponents, but are rarely, if ever, called for flagrant fouls. The NCAA needs have more uniform officiating from coast-to-coast, so that everyone is accustomed to playing by the same rules.

I did not spend any time on Bracketology, since there are always so many upsets. However, at this point I am picking Memphis to win it all. However, don't take that to the bank, but you can take it to AIG. Unless I have overlooked someone, Missouri's Mike Anderson is the only African-American coach, who is still at the Dance. He resurrected Missouri (30-6), and he is a possible roadblock for Memphis. A few years ago, Anderson was an assistant to Nolan Richardson at Arkansas. Richardson's motto was, "40 minutes of Hell", and Anderson's is "Wear & Tear". Whew! There are already rumors and that Anderson will be lured away by big spending Alabama or Georgia. They are deadly serious about their sports in that part of the world.

Both UCLA and USC will lose some of their key players to the NBA. However, they need not fret, since there are always new players coming along, and the world will survive. Perhaps both schools need to build a nucleus of their teams around players, who are likely to spend four years in college. This is the approach that is being taken by Stanford, Oregon State, Princeton, and Georgetown. These schools will take the big stars if they can get them, but in the main they concentrate on team skills and discipline to get them their victories. Even if they get a great player, the public won't know it until he gets to the NBA. Michael Jordan had great skills when he was at North Carolina, but he played for Coach Dean Smith, who emphasized teamwork rather than individual play. So, even the great Jordan was not the first player drafted in his NBA class. That was Sam Bowie. Remember him?

Things have gotten so bad for one of the local professional teams that their Slum Dog Owner (SDO) is reportedly trying to hire Jerry West, among others, to become his General Manager. If West took the job, he would demand full contractual control of the team, and he would turn them into winners, while keeping them profitable. The SDO is not likely to give anyone control, since his team is just a profitable hobby, which gets him a lot of free publicity.

The Charlotte Bobcats are an NBA team that was destined to be worse than the Clippers, if that is possible. Then they brought in Larry Brown, remember him, to coach the team this year. Well to everyone's amazement, except his own, the Bobcats are just one game away from being in the NBA Playoffs. They are breathing down our necks of the Chicago Bulls, for the last playoff spot. Unbelievable! If you recall, Brown took the Clippers to the playoffs, in the only year that he coached the team.

It seems almost certain that the Cleveland Cavaliers will have home-court advantage all during the NBA Playoffs. LeBron James thrives there, and the team is almost unbeatable in Cleveland. It will be nearly impossible for the Lakers, Celtics, or Spurs to beat them there. So, if James stays healthy, the outcome of the NBA season has been decided. He has become the irresistible force that cannot be stopped.

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