Louisville’s march through Rupp Arena, Indianapolis and on to “Catlanta” has turned Big Blue Nation and Hoosiers into the loudest silent majority since ESPN shut down Dick Vitale for the season.
Who’s going to stop the Cards? If Rick Pitino’s team plays the next (possible) 80 minutes the way it played the last 80, and a Kevin Ware battle cry carries on, then Michigan nor Syracuse is going to flag down this flight.
Two under-card dramas will play out at this Final Four. v The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Committee will announce its picks for induction. Five coaches are among the 12 candidates — Tom Heinsohn, Sylvia Hatchell, Jerry Tarkanian, Guy Lewis and Rick Pitino.
How natural would it be for pied piper Pitino if he won a national championship and Hall of Fame induction in same week? For what he’s accomplished — including a team in this and last year’s Final Four — Pitino should be odds-on for election. v How come two of five finalists for the Naismith Committee’s Bob Cousy Award for the best collegiate guard are playing in the Final Four but neither is named Russ Smith or Peyton Siva?
Among the last five, Michael- Carter Williams of Syracuse and Trey Burke of Michigan, both were freshmen.
Things happen fast
In a flash, Louisville’s Kevin Ware lay sprawled on the sideline. Right leg snapped in two places, his life changed in more ways than that. Some for the better.
Just turned 20, in a jiffy Ware saw how suddenly a ball stops bouncing … how vital good friends are … how inconvenient simple things will become on crutches, and how crucial it is to get to class. All of them. v Brittney Griner’s college basketball days ended. Suddenly Baylor’s 6-8 star faces adjusting her attitude to a rough and tough workplace, the WNBA. v Ryan Harrow decided he needed to be closer to home, Georgia State. And, John Calipari has an open scholarship. First option? Andrew Wiggins. Best (PR) option? Kentucky Mr. Basketball Dominique Hawkins.
Harrow’s decision is not sudden. It came, I believe, after conversation with coach that included in some form: “Ryan, the reality is, there are three reasons why your playing time next season might be zero. Two are named Harrison, the other is I need your scholarship. Now, lets make a plausible heartrending story for the media that saves face for both of us.”
v Tubby Smith to Texas Tech? Bad match. At Kentucky, Tubby gave Big Blue Nation winning and ethical basketball success for 10 years, including a national title. Then he gave Minnesota basketball new energy and new hope. Tubby Smith was let go at both places for one overriding reason — he would not or could not hire a recruiter. v Minnesota was said to have dumped Tubby in hopes of a new man able to recruit several high school stars in the state. Yet, top candidate is said to be Minnesota alum Flip Saunders, best known as an NBA coaching re-tread. v Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield was flirting with USC last week. His contract at FGC pays just $157,000 a year. USC would pay him $2 million, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
And so it goes.