Final Four and Opening Day

Last week Amalie Benjamin wrote in the Boston Globe

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s almost six weeks into spring training, and already one member of the Red Sox has had surgery, pitchers are headed toward five innings at a clip, and my bracket is shredded beyond recognition. (No, I’m not bitter at all.)

That’s where I am this morning.  My bracket is shredded but for North Carolina (Go Heels!) and it’s gonna rain on opening day at Fenway.  So let’s look at this picture of the grounds crew on a perfect April Saturday two days before opening day.

The season opener at Fenway Park might be a washout on Monday, but groundscrew members John Driscoll pounds down the dirt around homeplate while Jeremy Fuller smooths the gravel in the the area on Saturday morning.

This is also from the Globe.

And about the men’s championship game no matter what happens kids can admire Tyler Hansboough.  He’s called the “player you love to hate” because of his agressive play but he stayed in school for four years and whether you are a North Carolina fan or a Michigan State fan you have to love that. 

There will be two Hall of Famers watching tonights finals (no rainouts in basketball).  This from the New York Times

Magic Johnson will be in attendance at Ford Field on Monday, pulling for Michigan State, which he led to a national title in 1979. Michael Jordan, he hit the game winning shot in North Carolina’s 1982 title-game victory, is expected to be in the crowd, too.

And in my one minute of fame, I was there in New Orleans when Carolina beat Georgetown on the last second errant pass by Brown and the shot by Jordan.  It was a blur, but I believe that James Worthy was in there somehow. Great game and great result.

My Final Four – 50% Result

I picked the number one seeds:  Louisville, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, North Carolina.  And we got:  Michigan State, Connecticut, Villanova and North Carolina. 

I keep telling myself that a great batter like Ted Williams only gets to .400. not .5oo while the average hitter is doing well to hit .280.  And don’t ask me about the earlier rounds, please.  I think I am at about 50%  or a bit over for most of the rounds.  Just a 50% tournament for me.

Part of my problem is I don’t know when to pick on sentiment and when not to do so.  Like I picked VCU bacause I taught and worked there once.  Bad move.  I also didn’t pick Kansas over Boston College because BC is a local Boston school.  But I thought very hard about not picking Louisville because I dislike Rick Pitino and I should have gone with instinct there. 

Oh well, the Final Four should be exciting anyway.  Go Tar Heels!

Gerald Henderson the Elder

Gerald Henderson a native of Richmond Virginia played for Virginia Commonweath University.  I watched him play for VCU, and even worked out at the same gym.  (back then it was a Nautillus Club and there were only a couple in the Richmond area so lots of people were members.)  We were all excited when he was drafted in 1978 and in my family at least, we were most excited when he started playing for the Boston Celtics.

Today, his son, Gerald, plays for Duke as a key player in their NCAA tournament run.  This weekend the Hendersons return to Boston: Gerald the Elder to revisit the town where he made his most famous play and Gerald the Younger to try to lead Duke into the Round of eight – and maybe the final four.  All this will take place in the building that is often referred to as the New Garden, the real Boston Garden long torn down to make way for an area that has changed names multiple times.  The New York Times has an interesting article about father and son.

Twenty-five years after Gerald Henderson stole the ball, his son of the same name is going to Boston, scene of the crime.

What was that crime?

Go back to May 31, 1984, Game 2 of the N.B.A. finals, the Celtics facing the unthinkable prospect of losing the first two games at home to Magic Johnson and the Lakers. With 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Lakers had a 2-point lead and the ball in the backcourt.

Henderson is a little fuzzy on whom he was supposed to guard, on what exactly came next, but he will never forget James Worthy, after taking a pass from Magic, floating one to the right side, toward Byron Scott.

For years, Scott would rue his rookie mistake of not moving to the ball, of letting it come to him. Henderson seized his parquet moment, angling in for the interception, deflecting the ball with his left hand, soaring to the basket to lay it in.

Resuscitated, the Celtics won in overtime, 124-121. The series would end with Magic overdribbling the Lakers into a Game 7 defeat in Boston, where Bird’s triumph over Johnson was illuminated like a darkened Garden full of victory cigars.

The son, who bears a striking facial resemblance to his father, goes to Boston in the 25th anniversary year. Maybe he celebrates by stealing the show.

Of course, I didn’t pick Duke to get to the final four, but they are an ACC team and even if they mess up my bracket I won’t be too unhappy is Gerald the Younger leads them to an upset of Pittsburg.

Friday Night Random Thoughts

Why have I picked the wrong upsets in the first round?  I picked  Cornell over Missouri and VCU over UCLA for example and totally didn’t see Dayton beating West VA. 

Why is everyone so focused on the President’s Special Olympics “gaffe”?  I thought his dancing around the Tim Geithner question was much worse.  Besides all those special olympians are now going to get to bowl at the White House. 

Why hasn’t Norm Coleman surrendered yet?  I have read that it is expected that Al Franken will likely pick up some votes as the court studies some more ballots.  Then Coleman says he will appeal.  Franken is asking Coleman to pay his legal costs.  I think Minnesota needs an second Senator and let’s just certify the election and let Al take his seat.

Why is is always so cold on the first day of spring in Boston?  At least this year it isn’t snowing.

I wonder what criticism the Republicans will come up with about the White House vegetable garden?  Marion Burros had a lovely story in the New York Times yesterday.  Seems everyone will have to pull weeds, including the President.  I guess that will be more time he is wasting when he should be focused on the economy.

Will President Obama and Barney Frank acually suceed in rewriting the regulations concerning financial institutions?  Does anyone else remember when stock brokers were separate from banks and the twain was never supposed to meet?  Maybe we need to go back to those days?

The cats are gathering and telling me it is time to stop having random thoughts and focus on their dinner.

Almost Time for the Big Dance

I’m looking at the March 9 Sports Illustrated cover showing the Elite Eight picks – as they say themselves “for now” and thinking it is a measure of just how unpredictable the tournament is going to be.  Of the eight, only Memphis, Duke, and Louisville have survived in conference tournament play.  The cover curse striking?

Louisville overcame a worn out Syracuse team which has played 7 overtimes in the past two days and just ran out of gas.  I think it is remarkable that the Orange still only lost by 10.  I have to say right off that I don’t like either Louisville or Syracuse – not because of their player but because I don’t particularly like either coach.  I’ve never forgiven Pitino for his awful years trying to be Mr. Celtic and trying to make Antoine Walker into something he was not.

The Big East is bragging that they will get 3 number one seeds.  I think Memphis and North Carolina (despite their loss to Florida State) will be number one seeds.  That gives the Big East two possible slots. 

Some things I wish for:  That Ty Lawson’s big toe heals and Carolina makes into the final Four.  That Memphis loses in an early round (I wish they would play in a more competitive conference and get beaten up like ACC and Big East teams do).  That Virginia Commonwealth makes at the least Sweet Sixteen.  Ditto for Syracuse.  That there are no injuries and every game is close.

Sleeper team?  Haven’t decided yet.  Robert Morris or American University?  Maybe Morehead State.