Sunday, March 20, 2011


Usually the players are responsible for losing games they should have won, understandable since they are normally just teenagers, after all. We've also seen three referees cost a team the chance, at least, to win a game. Last night we saw a coach completely blow a game, and not some bespeckled, fresh-faced youngster like BYU's Dave Rose. No, this was Pittsburgh's intense, scowling Jamie Dixon.

First, Butler's Shelvin Mack fouls Pittsburgh's Gilbert Brown near mid-court with only 1.4 seconds left and Butler ahead by 1 point. Dumb play, sure, but this is just a kid remember. Before you put this in the "Player's Fault" column, let's finish the game. Brown made the first free throw, tying the game. Even an amateur like me knew what was coming next. "Now watch," I said to Annie-O, "Pittsburgh will take everyone off the line. Either he makes the free throw and Pitt wins, or he misses and it goes to overtime. No point in trying for a rebound. Only bad things can happen." See how wrong I can be. Back to the game, and there's Pitt with guys on the line. Predictably, a Butler player is fouled getting the rebound, makes a free throw, and Butler continues it's dream. Thank you, Jamie Dixon.

Mushnick (He needs a name change, seriously) wrote an interesting article on student-athletes who don't graduate. According to him, better than half the athletes don't graduate and many never even return to classes after their season is overwith if their eligibility has expired or they plan on turning pro. Teams in the NCAA Tournament like San Diego, Kansas St., Syracuse and Purdue all have graduation rates at less than 50%. We know why this is: better teams mean bigger crowds and more money. The Knight Commission on collegiate academics (no connection with former coach Bobby Knight), who investigate such things, has proposed an interesting solution. Tie the payouts in the NCAA Tournament to the graduation rate and teams with an overall rate of less than 50% be excluded from the tournament. Athletic Directors from all over the country are currently clutching their hearts. Don't worry guys, the university Board of directors will never let this happen. Nobody fools with their money.

The athletes that do graduate, or pass enough courses to continue in school, do so by taking the many bogus courses that are offered in their behalf. A standing joke in central New York in the '50's was that Jimmy Brown majored in basket weaving @ Syracuse Univ. Don't laugh; word is that even today, he can fabricate a basket for you in 30 minutes. With a handle.

Phil also told another interesting story. "Jerry Tarkanian, while coaching the, ahem, student-athlete basketball team at UNLV, was asked by another school’s AD why, given Tarkanian’s and UNLV’s rotten reputation, he votes for all the most stringent academic reform rules. Because, Tarkanian explained, other fools from other schools might actually follow them."
It's hard to argue with success.

AJ Burnett was named the #2 starter in the Yankee rotation this week. While this may have made AJ feel good, it probably didn't thrill catcher Russell Martin, who learned how difficult it was to catch a well-thrown Burnett curveball. All three Yankee catchers (plus Posada, if I may use the term "catcher" loosely) have had trouble corralling that pitch. Better learn fast, guys, the season is only 11 days away.
Andruw Jones has not impressed this spring, which may be why we saw Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena in the outfield yesterday. Eric Chavez continues playing well as does Bartolo Colon and Mark Pryor. I think we have seen the last of Freddie Garcia, who has had a typically slow spring. He has said he will refuse to go back the minors to work into form, so he'll probably be joining Kevin Millwood in Scott Boras' dreamworld. Boras had Millwood work out for clubs and only the Yankees showed up. Reportedly, Millwood looked out of shape and couldn't top 86 on the radar gun. At least he'll probably have a gin rummy partner in Garcia.


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