Saturday night was a depressing evening. The dream of an all-Big East championship was crushed. I watched the UConn Huskies struggle to do anything against a scrappy group of Spartans from Michigan State. Then I watched Villanova get demolished by UNC, ending the Big East's run in the Men's NCAA Tourament. Not only that, I lost my dorm bracket pool to my roommate, who has Michigan State winning it all. How do you recover from such a bitter night? Watch more sports of course!
Sunday was a fantastic day of sports for me. After a night of rejection and heartbreak, I was treated to an entire day of victory.
NASCAR?!?!?! Who watches NASCAR? FYI, it's better than F1 or Indy Cart. Why? Because you've actually heard of everyone in the race. Anyway, I jumped into the race with about 50 laps to go. This gave me enough time to see Carl Edwards lose the lead on a poor pit stop and Jeff Gordon to hold off a charging Jimmie Johnson to win his first race at Texas and end a 47-race winless streak. The best part of all this? Gordon is leading the points standings early in the season and is looking for his 5th NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.
For the record, I think Derek Lowe's contract is reprehensible. It's terrible. I hate it. But he continues to pitch like he did last night, I'm going to have to change my mind on that in a hurry. Lowe went 8 shutout innings and was supported with a barrage of homers from Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur and rookie Jordan Schafer. Schafer also became the 99th player in MLB history to hit a homer in his first career at-bat. Mike Gonlazez had a shaky 9th inning to close the game, but a win is a win. The Phillies also celebrated their 2008 World Series Championship complete with video highlights, raising a championship flag and a first pitch by former GM Pat Gillick. And who ruined it? Larry "Chipper" Jones and the HOTlanta Braves. Good times.
A friend of mine adamantly told me that Stanford would crush the Huskies last night. Needless to say, he was wrong. I was hoping for an all-Big East title game, but I figured it was more likely to come from the Men's side. But thanks to Louisville's upset over Courtney Paris and Oklahoma, the Women's side will be an Big East affair. One problem with both title games though? Both favorites have blowout wins over the underdogs (UNC 98-63 @ Ford Field; UConn 93-65 @ Storrs, CT/UConn 75-36 @ Hartford, CT - Big East Tournament Final). So I'm hoping that the two finals won't be a repeat of the earlier contests, because I know CBS and ESPN hate the UConn Men and Oklahoma Women, respectfully, for potentially producing two snoozers. Imagine the hype for a UConn-UNC and a UConn-Oklahoma title game. Might make my previous blog entry relevent.
Anyway, numerous friends of mine asked me if I was okay with the UConn men losing. Aside from losing a small bracket pool to my roommate, I was fine with it. This loss was nothing compared to the George Mason upset from a few years ago (and that was no where near the worst loss of my life - Bucs over the Eagles - 2002 NFC Championship). Had UConn played better or "well enough to win the game" (an arbitrary standard that analysts use. I think it's dumb), I might have been a little more disappointed. But honestly, the UConn Men's team might have overachieved this season. After losing Jerome Dyson for the season, they struggled down the stretch losing to Syracuse in that epic 6 OT thriller and Pittsburgh twice. They weren't the same team and didn't have the same depth. Yes, Stanley "Sticks" Robinson, A.J. Price and freshman Kemba Walker were phenomenal this season, especially after Dyson went down with the injury. But UConn just wasn't as deep with out Dyson. UConn really only used a 7-man rotation for the last half of the year with Thabeet, Adrien, Robinson, Austrie and Price as the starting 5 and Walker and Gavin Edwards coming off the bench. Having Dyson allows UConn to go smaller more often with three guards and giving the big guys some more rest.
Overall, fans might remember this UConn season more for the failures, Dyson's injury, the recruiting scandal and the Final Four loss, than the great achievements. Getting to the Final Four is no easy task and making it to the Elite 8 is still a fantastic accomplishment. Navigating through the toughest conference in college basketball should grant every player in the league some sort of combat achievement from each branch of the US Military. I hope Jim Calhoun doesn't retire. He (and Geno Auriemma) are the face of Connecticut basketball. And I still think that both coaches will win another National Championship. And I'm not counting Tuesday's game in that calculation. If the UConn Women beat Louisville for thier 6ht National title and 3rd undefeated season, Geno has to win one more on top of that.
And I know both coaches would say that they should win at least two more. Possibly three. They're just such great competitors.
But we do know one thing. If Jim Calhoun retires, he's not giving a dime back. And he shouldn't have to.