13) Baylor 94, West Virginia 89, OT— If any of the games in the NCAA Tournament are as good as this one was, it’ll be surprising. This was a tremendous game between two really good teams, as Baylor clinches the Big X regular season title, their first league title since 1950.
Baylor was 13-31 on the arc; they were outscored 28-9 on the foul line.
12) Georgia Tech 81, Duke 77, OT— Tech choked away a 64-56 lead with 3:23 left; seriously, been a while since I’ve seen a team that won an overtime game play worse than they did, but they did win, snapping an 0-14 skid against Duke.
Tech started three seniors, two juniors; Duke started three frosh, two sophs.
Duke is now 11-10; will they even be one of the first four teams outside the field of 68?
11) Underrated fact: since 1976, Michigan State has had only two basketball coaches. Two!!!
10) Football is a game, but it is also a business, and businesses can be cold:
— Washington is going to release QB Alex Smith, who made a great comeback this year.
— Dolphins cut LB Kyle Van Noy, who was a team captain, one of their defense’s leaders.
— Vikings cut TE Kyle Rudolph, after he played 10 years in Minnesota.
These are salary cap-related moves, for the most part. I’m very curious to see who the QB will be in Washington next fall. I’m told quarterback is an important position.
9) JJ Watt gets $23M guaranteed from the Arizona Cardinals, where he re-unites with former Houston teammate DeAndre Hopkins. NFC West just got a little more difficult.
8) AAA baseball is going to start a month later than expected; now it will start the first week in May, when all the other minor league teams start. Spring training is weird this year, with very few 9-inning games so far— the rosters are so much thinner, with no minor leaguers to plug holes in the lineup late in games.
7) NIT is going to be a 16-team tournament this year, held totally in Dallas/Fort Worth area. Guess their first big question is whether or not Duke will trek to Texas and play there, since they do not figure to make the NCAA’s.
6) Good news for major league hitters; in-game video will be allowed in dugouts again this season. They said last summer that some hitters suffered because they were so used to seeing their at-bats right after they happened, so they could make adjustments the next time up.
Once the videos were banned, there were guys who were lost without it, so seems like a good common sense move to reverse that decision.
5) My quick plan to improve the NBA All-Star Game this year:
They’re going to have the dunk contest at HALFTIME of the game, which should make halftime very, very long (90 minutes?) You think older players are going to want to sit out for 90 minutes, then gear up to play again? I think not.
Here is my plan: have four All-Star teams, 8 or 9 guys on a team. Play two shorter All-Star Games, one before the dunk contest, one after, then no one has to play after a 90-minute break.
4) Happy 90th birthday to Gavin MacLeod, who played Murray on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and was Captain Stubing on The Love Boat. He was also in Kelly’s Heroes, a 1970 war movie with Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland and many other stars.
3) It is March 3rd and there are already 14 head coaching jobs open in Division I
2) March is the month when we obsess over the NCAA Tournament, but on the other side of the street, the teams who don’t win a lot often change coaches- those coaches have friends, families- losing your job can be a traumatic thing. Sometimes we forget coaches are people too.
Was reminded of that when my alma mater, the Albany Great Danes, fired their coach this week, a guy who had been the Albany coach for 20 years.
Will Brown made the NCAA’s five times in his 20 seasons, not too shabby, especially since he inherited a dumpster fire 20 years ago, a program that had just joined Division I, a program that was going nowhere, and fast.
Last few years, Albany got caught up in the transfer epidemic; they were supposed to have two senior guards three years ago, but both of them bolted to big $$$ programs for their senior year, and Albany never recovered- they went 33-47 the last three years, 20-24 in America East.
The AD seems intent on pushing the “mutual parting of ways” angle, but when the coach’s son is on the team, there is no freakin’ way the coach wanted to leave. He is a good coach, a better person; he made me proud to be an Albany alum. Will Brown will be missed.
1) Also saw that Northern Illinois fired their coach; several years ago out in Las Vegas, I’m sitting outside a gym, waiting for the doors to open to an AAU tournament, and I talked to Mark Montgomery for maybe 15-20 minutes. I picked his brain and he couldn’t have been nicer; he is smart, had worked for Tom Izzo at Michigan State. Learned a lot in our conversation.
For him to be as nice as he was to a total stranger, some older guy just hanging out and watching games, it made me sad when I saw he got fired. Hopefully he’ll bounce back and get another chance. When one door closes, another one often opens.