The confluence of social obligations and time spent on home maintenance chores wiped out the time for rants earlier this week. Sorry about that. So, today needs to be a catch-up day…
Congratulations to the Baylor women’s basketball team for their totally exciting win over Notre Dame in the NCAA Women’s final game on Sunday night. The games in the women’s tournament from the Elite 8 on down to the final game were generally interesting contests instead of monstrous blowouts. I have suggested in the past – and this year’s women’s tournament reinforces my belief in this suggestion – that the women’s tournament should not be 64 teams in scope. There just are not that many competitive programs in women’s basketball at this time and the women’s tournament would draw more interest if it could put on more competitive/compelling contests instead of early round blowouts where one team more than “doubles up” on its opponent. [See Mississippi St. 103 – Southern U 46.] Reducing the field to 32 would be a good idea; I think a better idea is to start with 24 teams; give 8 teams a bye through the first round and go from there. I doubt that is going to happen any time soon, but I do think it would be beneficial for women’s college basketball.
Congratulations to the Virginia men’s basketball team for winning the first national championship in school history. The games in the men’s tournament from the Sweet 16 forward were good contests – – even the Auburn win over UNC by 17 points was exciting to watch. I realize that there was another point where human error presented itself with regard to the officiating in the Auburn/UVa game. I refer back to my comments about officiating last week and the impossibility of eliminating human error from any human endeavor.
- [Aside: I forget which comedian said this, but he pointed out that if someone spent his lifetime making a device “idiot-proof”, it would not take the world long to develop a bigger idiot.]
Like most everyone else, I expected the final game against Texas Tech to be a low-scoring affair. At halftime, I thought to myself that 60 points could win the game and that 65 points would surely win the game. Well, it was 68-68 at the end of regulation time and the teams combined to score 26 points in the 5-minute overtime. So much for my expectations…
In terms of next season, Virginia stands to lose DeAndre Hunter to the NBA Draft, but the rest of the starters will be back. Michigan St. will also return a bunch of starters. Such is the positive aspect of staying out of the annual “one-and-done” recruiting wars…
Chris Mullin resigned as the head coach at St. John’s. If that was expected, the commentary surrounding the expectation escaped me. Mullin has been at St. John’s for 4 seasons and the team made the tournament this year for the first time since 2015 and for only the third time since 2002.
In my commentary last week about the NBA turning itself into a 3-point shooting contest with players launching them at the rate of about once every 46 seconds, a commenter, Rich, said that Wilt Chamberlain set some impressive scoring records (on the court and presumably in the bedroom too) without resorting to the 3-point shot. My response was that Chamberlains sent a lot of staggering records during his playing career. That sent me to the stat sites and from there let me present these facts:
- In NBA history, only 4 players have ever collected 40 or more rebounds in a single game.
- Jerry Lucas did that one time taking down 40 rebounds.
- Nate Thurmond also did that one time taking down 43 rebounds.
- Bill Russell did that 11 times taking down 40 or more rebounds in a single game. He snagged 51 rebounds in a game in 1960.
- Wilt Chamberlain did that 15 times taking down 40 or more rebounds in a single game. Chamberlain holds the NBA record for most rebounds in a game with 55 – – against the Boston Celtics with Bill Russell in 1960.
You may recall back when rumors began to get serious that the Lakers would fire Luke Walton soon after the NBA season ended, I said that the major issue in LA was not Walton; it was the roster handed to Walton by the Front Office of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka. Well, Magic Johnson just stepped down as President of the Lakers; he is leaving the free agency recruiting to “someone else”. I think Johnson has gotten a pass from criticism over his personnel decisions during his time with the Lakers because – – after all – – he IS Magic Johnson and how can one be critical of such a great person and such a great player. Well, he deserves to earn a “C-minus” for this aspect of his managerial endeavors. Luke Walton will probably also take a fall here; but Walton could not have been successful with the roster he had; Johnson could have done a better job than he did assembling the Lakers’ roster once LeBron James signed on.
This summer, the NBA will see a bunch of free agents with name recognition. There are three free agents who are at the top of the class:
- Kevin Durant
- Kyrie Irving
- Kawhi Leonard
[Aside: Maybe I could stretch a point and add Jimmy Butler to this list…]
If the Lakers – and their new recruiting team – do not entice at least one of those players to come and play alongside – and sometimes under – LeBron James, they will continue to be a non-playoff team in the NBA West. Unless, of course, the NBA Lottery once again “miraculously” awards the Lakers a top pick that gets them Zion Williamson …
Finally, since I mentioned Jimmy Butler above, consider this comment from Brad Rock in the Deseret News:
“A study says one-third of young Chicagoans want to leave the city.
“Maybe Jimmy Butler wasn’t so wrong after all.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………