13) NCAA updates:
— Oklahoma’s #2 scorer De’Vion Harmon is out for this week, after testing positive for COVID. Sooners play Missouri in their first round game. Harmon is averaging 12.9 ppg.
— Georgia Tech star Moses Wright, the ACC player of the year, will miss the Yellow Jackets’ first-round game against Loyola-Chicago.
12) Watching lot of exhibition baseball this month, was wondering who has hit the most home runs ever in exhibition games? I’m guessing this information isn’t available and I know it isn’t important, but it would be fun to see.
Searched the Interweb but couldn’t find anything; I did see that in 2000, five Boston pitchers combined to throw a perfect game against Toronto in an exhibition game, but that’s just more useless knowledge.
11) This spring, San Diego Padres’ pitchers are going to the plate with a bat in their hands, but they’re not hitting; they just take three strikes and go back to the dugout, to avoid injury. This is something Oakland’s pitchers did a few years ago, eliminates the risk of a costly injury.
Spring training games have become like basketball scrimmages, where coaches control some scenarios. Pitchers can re-enter, innings were stopped early for the first 10 days of games. It is all about getting pitchers some work, on the mound, not at the plate.
10) Francisco Lindor says he is opening to signing a contract extension with the Mets, but if it isn’t done before the season starts, then he will not discuss a contract extension during the season. This is probably a negotiating ploy, but Lindor does have leverage to get a deal done.
9) Miami Heat traded Meyers Leonard and a 2nd-round pick to Oklahoma City for Trevor Ariza. Miami will be the 35-year old Ariza’s 10th NBA team.
Weird trade; Ariza hasn’t played yet this season, but Miami announced on Twitter that it is hopeful he’ll be available to play this weekend.
As for Leonard, the Thunder said Leonard “will not be reporting to Oklahoma City and will not be an active member of the organization.” When you’re marginal player and you yell out anti-Semitic stuff on the Interweb, your career spirals downward. Quickly.
In other words, he’ll have a lot more time to play video games, now that he is retired.
8) Chicago Bears tried really hard to trade for Russell Wilson; they offered Seattle three 1st-round picks, one 3rd-round pick and two starting players, one of whom was Khalil Mack. Seattle apparently turned them down.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter says the trade isn’t dead until the NFL Draft happens, but the Bears trading for Andy Dalton says otherwise.
7) With Drew Brees retiring, New Orleans paid its two QB’s this week; they gave Taysom Hill a four-year, $140M deal where the last three years are voidable, and they paid backup Jameis Winston $12M for 2021. Very unusual quarterback room.
Hill has played in 53 NFL games, is 3-1 as a starting quarterback; he’s thrown 134 career NFL passes, run ball 151 times, caught 30 passes. Am curious to see how this plays out.
6) NFL has a great skill of staying in the news 365 days a year, 366 in leap years. Today is March 18 and NFL is in the news as much as March Madness and more than spring training games. Part of it is because the people who run baseball are arrogant imbeciles who won’t market their sport the right way, but that’s another discussion for another day.
5) Thoughts/prayers to former NBA center Shawn Bradley, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury which left him paralyzed, after a car crashed into his bicycle. Bradley is 7-foot-6; he played 12 years in the NBA, scoring 8.1 ppg.
Since retiring from NBA in 2005, Bradley has been a counselor at a private school in Utah.
4) Couple weeks ago, Rams DT Michael Brockers declared that Matthew Stafford was an upgrade at quarterback for Los Angeles, over the departed Jared Goff. His actual quote:
“Is it a level up? In my heart, deeply, just understanding what he brings, it’s a level up. It’s a level up.”
Since then, the Rams wanted Brockers to re-do his contract, to help get the Rams under the salary cap. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, so Brockers is now a Detroit Lion, where one of his new teammates is…..Jared Goff.
3) Iowa State paid former basketball coach Steve Prohm $5.5M to take a hike, after a hideous 2-22 season. Prohm’s Cyclones had made three of previous four NCAA tournaments, but were also a combined 18-54 in conference games the last four years. 18-54 gets you fired.
Less than 24 hours later, word is out that TJ Otzelberger is bolting UNLV to take the Iowa State job; Otzelberger worked as an assistant at Iowa State from 2006-2013, and again three years later. Unnamed sources claim this deal has been done for a month or so.
Here’s the thing; Otzelberger was 28-29 in two years at UNLV and was showing zero signs of any progress. Rebels had very little depth this year; when you play in a league where lot of teams play in higher altitude, you need some depth and UNLV didn’t have much.
Rebel fans can’t be that sad to see Otzelberger go, but the program is now mired in mediocrity— next year they’ll have their fifth head coach in eight years. Richard Pitino just got hired by New Mexico, so UNLV can forget about hiring Rick Pitino as a bombshell replacement, since UNLV and New Mexico are in the same league.
Iowa State will also have to pay $4M or so to UNLV, as part of Otzelberger’s buyout.
2) Richmond 76, Toledo 66— Spiders win their NIT opener, despite being down couple of starters. Richmond had lost their last three games coming in, were down 8 with 15:43 left in this game, but they stormed back for the win and will play in the next round March 25.
1) Western Kentucky 69, Saint Mary’s 67— Big man Bassey had 19 points, 11 rebounds; Hilltoppers blew an 11-point lead, but pulled it out on free throws with 0:03.3 left and move on to the second round.
Saint Mary’s finishes 14-10 after starting out 8-1; first time in 14 years they didn’t win 20 games.