From The Cheap Seats
The Huskies may have beaten the Bulldogs in the All-Canine championship, but Gonzaga showed they belonged on the court with anybody, even mighty Connecticut. How did this happen, how did a team that didn't go undefeated in its own minor conference reach a level where it wasn't an accidental upset victor, but a genuine "Elite Eight" team? The key may be the experience these lesser schools have. The top schools may get the blue-chip athletes, but most of them are unlikely to stay more than two years, three at most. We are amazed when a Tim Duncan stays in school four years, but there is a level of athlete below the best, good solid players who, given time in a program, make the team top rate. One of the things that has kept Duke at the top of the heap as long as they've been there is that they haven't lost players early to the pros. They have been able to build their program on a long-term basis. North Carolina hasn't been so lucky in recent years; how good would they have been this year with Vince Carter and Antwan Jamison? The Gonzagas of the world are able to retain their players, if they get good ones, they stay and help train the next group. The only thing that stops these schools from being consistent winners is the inability to retain top rate coaches. Look for more of these "Cinderellas" in the future.
The Sweet Sixteen, except for the East, was a lot of fun. Good, tight basketball, last second tip-ins, desperate comebacks falling just short, and the best teams seem to have emerged. I had 7 of 8 games right in the first game of the regionals, just missing a sweep when Gonzaga's miracle tip upset Florida. I had St. John's beating Ohio St. and was surprised when they didn't. The Buckeyes played a terrific game, had it under control until their Achilles' Heel showed up. They are a horrid foul shooting team and I think it'll be fatal in the next round. It almost killed them against the Red Storm, as the Buckeyes missed the front end of consecutive one-and-ones. More on this later in the week.
NJW (Next Jordan Watch):Kobe Bryant scored 38 against Orlando Sunday, 33 in a brilliant second half, carrying the Lakers to a very important win, overcoming a 24 point deficit. Being MJ isn't just about numbers, it's about lifting your team and carrying them on your back if need be. This was a classic example of that.
The reason it was an important win was that earlier in the week, the Lakers had been whipped by the 76ers. NJW regular Allen Iverson was the heavy lifter in that game, scoring 41 points and adding 10 assists to them.
Stephon Marbury had one of those games that he has about two or three times a month last night. He scored 31, had 12 assists, 2 steals and only 1 turnover. Unfortunately, he's on the Nets, so these efforts will probably not lead to enough wins to end up in the playoffs.
I'd like to apologize to Jean Williams, the misbegotten judge who had Holyfield winning the fight against Lewis. Well, not completely apologize, I still think she was on the take. But Larry O'Connell has gotten off pretty easy because Jean Williams has kept insisting she had it right. He, on the other hand, to prevent his house from being burned down by his countrymen, has been babbling about how he thought Lewis won the fight and was "shocked" when his scorecard ended up a draw. Right, and Claude Rains was shocked to find gambling at Humphrey Bogart's nightclub. Most critics have focused on the fifth round and Jean Williams' giving it to Holyfield, in the face of Lewis' battering of Evander. Her explanation, that she was blocked from seeing all of Lennox Lewis' punches, was lame. Why is no one asking O'Connell about the seventh round, where Holyfield hardly threw a punch, looking old, tired, or disinterested -- take your pick. This wasn't lopsided in the same way the fifth was, but no sane person could make a case for Holyfield. In fact, Williams and Christodulou, as well as almost everyone else on the planet, gave it to Lewis. But not old Larry, he scored it even. Now even rounds are very rare, judges try very hard to avoid them. Not old Larry, he decided that this round merited that treatment. And that point was the key point, for had he scored the seventh for Lewis, as everyone including the much-maligned Jean Williams did, Lennox Lewis would've won the unified championship and we would be chuckling over Williams' odd scoring. Let's run a check on his bank account, shall we?