The NCAA Final Four is now set as the Louisville Cardinals, Syracuse Orange, Wichita State Shockers and Michigan Wolverines have all made it to Atlanta. But out of all these teams, the victory is definitely bittersweet for the Cardinals. Louisville guard Kevin Ware, while contesting a shot, landed awkwardly on his leg and broke it in a gruesome manner. His bone was pertruding out of his skin as the game came to a grinding halt. His teammates and even his coach, Rick Pitino, shed a tear as Ware lay there in pain. But the only thing that Ware could do was think about his team and the game at hand. He encouraged his team to go out and win the game, and that’s what they did. Louisville is headed to Atlanta, the hometwown of Ware, to do exactly what he asked them to do, win. And after this game and this effort, a lot of fans are now behind the Cardinals.
In other collegiate basketball news, UCLA has a new basketball coach. After firing Ben Howland this offseason, the Bruins were looking for new blood to take over their head coaching position. Brad Stevens of Butler and Shaka Smart of VCU turned down the position, so the Bruins turned to New Mexico head coach Steve Alford. The New Mexico head coach, who recently said that he would sign a new 10 year deal with the Lobos, instead bolted to Westwood to the tune of a $2.6 million dollars a year deal. Alford may have done well with the Lobos, but he will find the expectations at UCLA are far above those at New Mexico. At UCLA, getting to the post-season will not be acceptable. He will be expected to compete for championships every single year. It should be intersting to see if the pressure makes him wilt or if he rises to the occasion.
In the NBA, the Miami Heat traveled to San Antonio to take on the Spurs. But just like when the Spurs traveled to Miami earlier this season, we did not get the matchup we expected. LeBron James (hamstring), Dwyane Wade (ankle) and point guard Mario Chalmers (ankle) did not play in the game. Many viewed this as a message being sent by the Heat to the Spurs for them sending Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Danny Green home in their matchup earlier this season. Well, the message was definitely received by the Spurs. On the strength of a three-point shot by Chris Bosh with 1.1 seconds left in the game, the Miami Heat went in to San Antonio and pulled out the win. The Heat are now up three games on the Spurs for the best record in the NBA and also won the season series against them this year. But the real question on everyone’s minds will be whether Wade and James’ injures really warranted them not playing in this game. If they were able to play, then they cheated the fans and the league should punish them like they did the Spurs. But I guess that is up to the league to determine at this point.
The Spurs may have the top spot in the West locked up, but who they will play in the Western Conference’s first round is still up in the air. The Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks are all fighting for the last spot in the West. And as it stands right now, the Mavericks are starting to catch a little steam while the Lakers and Jazz have played pretty unevenly. The Jazz have Minnesota twice in their last few games, while the Lakers have Dallas along with the Spurs and the Clippers. Meanwhile, the Mavericks have New Orleans twice, Phoenix and Sacramento to close out the year. The Mavericks have the easier schedule, but we all know that anything can happen. The game Tuesday night between the Lakers and the Mavericks could go a long way in someone sewing up that eighth spot in the NBA’s Western Conference. That’s if Utah, who is currently in the eighth spot, doesn’t handle their business.
In women’s college basketball, the Baylor Bears were expected to capture another crown this year. With the most unstoppable force in college basketball, Britney Griner, and a very talented roster around her, the Bears started their journey to what all thought was another title. But somebody forgot to tell Louisville that was supposed to happen. The Cardinals, behind 16 three-pointers, led the whole game and edged out the Bears 82-81 and will marching on in the tournament. This was not how it was supposed to end for the Bears and this undoubtedly has to be one of the biggest upsets in women’s college basketball since Tennessee and Chamique Holdsclaw lost to Duke in the NCAA tournament in 1999. Now it is on to the next chapter for Griner and that means going to the WNBA. And with that, she carries the hopes of trying to put a charge into the popularity of the league.
Finally, Major League Baseball started up this Sunday on ESPN as the Houston Astros made their debut in the American League versus the Texas Rangers. But with the excitement of the NCAA Tournament and the popularity of the NBA as we get closer to the playoffs, it seems like baseball was pushed to the backburner. Every year, baseball gets pushed further and further down the totem pole in America. And baseball has no one to blame but themselves. All the drug usage to go along with teams like the Marlins and Astros fielding farm teams has made the game become a turnoff in most sports fans’ eyes. I’m not sure what they can do to get these fans back to the game, but unfortunately, the thrill is gone and baseball is falling into the sports abyss. Hopefully they can figure it out soon before we start to see even more empty stadiums.
These are my thoughts and these are my words. Until next time……