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Sports Watching and Wondering

African American news from Pasadena - Sports - The Final Four and moreTHE FINAL FOUR!

I yield to no one in my admiration of President Obama. However, if I could, I would advise him to not publicize, or televise, his tournament selections. The chance of anyone making all of the correct picks is reported to be about one in a trillion. There are usually at least two underdog teams that upset the apple cart.

There were 64 Teams that began the competition for the NCAA Championship. This Tournament has become known by many nicknames. The favorites are "The Big Dance" and "March Madness". In a way, this tournament emphasizes the changes that have occurred, since African-American coaches began to participate.

African American news from Pasadena - Sports - Final Four

Starting about 30 years ago, we could expect to see John Thompson, Jr., Nolan Richardson, and Tubby Smith leading their teams into these contests. Thompson became the head coach at Georgetown University in the 70s, and he became a regular participant. He was a great coach and motivator, and his well coached teams played extremely hard. We were all proud of him and them.


At that time, we did not know about the problems that he and his teams faced. When they traveled, the names of the hotels where they stayed were kept secret. This was done because the lives of his team and Mr. Thompson himself were under constant threat. The need for this security was not given to the press, so he was often accused of having Hoya Paranoia.

As the years have passed, March Madness is now bigger than ever and nearly everyone wants to see the Final Four. This year, there were at least three African-American head coaches participating. Stanford was led by Johnny Dawkins; Virginia's leader was Shaka Smart. Connecticut had the unknown Kevin Ollie, leading them. Both Dawkins and Smart had some wins along the way, before they were eliminated.

To the astonishment of most fans, Kevin Ollie has made it through to the Final Four. This is his second year as the head coach of the University of Connecticut Huskies. Last year, the team was sanctioned by the NCAA, not allowed to play in this tournament. The fact that a second-year coach has taken them this far is a shock to most of our sensibilities. However, it does appear that a new coaching star has been born.

This Saturday, his team will have to face the dreaded Florida Seminoles, who have a won-loss record of 36-2, while the Huskies are checking in with 30-8. Ollie is the youngest coach to take his team this far, in this year's tournament. I wish him the best, but win or lose; he will be several years older on Sunday. The world will be watching. Good luck, Ollie!

[To contact John Randolph Rogers, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .]



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