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Sports Watching and Wondering

African American news from Pasadena - Sports - March Madness, USC, Ben Holland, Tiger Woods and moreMARCH MADNESS INDEED!

For several months now, Pundits and Prognosticators have been telling us the name of the team that will win the NCAA Championship. In addition to the one and loss records of the team, they also use the strength of the teams that they play against. They now even have a word for what they do, and it is called "Bracketology."

If we listen to them, we could just cancel the tournament, and mail the Trophy to the team that they pick to win. Fortunately for us, the teams don't pay them any attention, and they go out and play the game.

I do not know about you, but I did not hear anyone mention the Wichita State Shockers, or Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. The games will be played this weekend at Staples Center. Unfortunately, none of the teams from California made it this far.

There may be something in our drinking water, which keeps both are collegiate and professional basketball players, from performing successfully. In the past, we could have blamed it on Smog, but now our air is as pure as a baby's thoughts.


UCLA head basketball coach Ben Howland was fired by the school after their NCAA loss to Minnesota. They were defeated by Tubby Smith, their old nemesis, who also defeated them back in 1995. Howland did a better than average job at UCLA, but the school is waiting for the second coming of John Wooden. They are going to discover that is not going to happen.

As a condition of employment, USC should require that Howland completed course on "How to Win Friends and Influence People." He appears to be so tyrannical move that not many people want to be around him . . . He stresses the defensive side of basketball to the point where there isn't any room for any offense. Also, he does not seem to really like his players, and they in turn don't seem to be terribly fond of him. So he was willing to undergo a little professional coaching himself, USC could wind up with a big winner, and most of his salary would still be played by UCLA. Ho ho!

I don't know who Pat Haden has in mind for the head coaching job of the USC Men's Basketball Team, but he probably can't do any better than Howland. Another potential plus for the Trojans is that some of the potential UCLA recruits might follow him to Troy. This could be the masterstroke that Haden had been hoping for.

The good news for the Lakers is that they have Kobe Bryant. The bad news for the Lakers is that they have Kobe Bryant. One player, no matter how great he might be, is unlikely the team that uses 12 players, if you recall the early days of the Lakers, they had Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, and that was about it. They were great players, and they won lots of games.

However, they lost every championship game to the dreaded Boston Celtics. The Celtics would just come at the Lakers in wave after wave. Baylor and West played well and they scored lots of points, before they wore down. They never won a championship series against the Celtics.

Bryant is truly a great player, and he has an absolute will to win. When things are not going well for his team, he feels that it is his job to become the hero, and to single-handedly save the day. It may a great idea, but the problem is that it will not work. This approach both demoralizes his own teammates, and makes it easier for the opponents to defend him the Lakers gave him carte blanche so long ago that he is simply uncoachable. This approach also allows him to point out to the media and his teammates that he is doing all of the work for everyone. At this point, the Lakers I believe the Lakers would be better off if they traded everyone on this team for high draft picks, and started all over again. While they at it, they might take the trouble to find someone who can actually coach in the NBA.


Tiger Woods has done the impossible. His career seemed to be over, and there were rumors that he would retire. There are not many comebacks in golf. It was sad to see him at a press conference, after another of his losses. You'd be explaining that he was "working on a new swing", or giving some other excuse for not winning. He would say that he felt that his game was improving, but that did not seem to be the case. However, he hung in there and he now seems to be as good as ever.

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