Shots in the Darke

Were you like many others who underestimated, or even disregarded, UConn’s chances in this year’s version of March Madness? Flying under the radar the Huskies had their “one shining moment” last night by defeating a game but outmanned San Diego State 76-59. Size in the post position, overall team depth, and a stifling defense all contributed to UConn’s fifth national title since 1999; all of this from a team that lost six of eight games in the middle of the  season, finished tied for fourth in the Big East, and lost in the second round of the conference  tourney. It was a classic case of a team peaking at the right time, enabling it to dominate the opposition in all six games on the way to the championship. 

And we all will miss Jim Nantz as he called his 32nd and last Final Four. As he said in closing last night’s telecast, “Thank you for being my friend”. He’ll continue his other duties for CBS but will be forever remembered as the voice of March Madness! 

What a weekend of the women’s NCAA basketball tournament in Dallas! First of all, congratulations to the committee that thought to hold the national championships in all three divisions at the same site the same weekend. In case you didn’t know, Transylvania University  took home D-III honors while the Lady Eagles of Ashland University capped a perfect 37-0  season with the D-II crown. Pastor Tony Price of Cedar Grove Church outside of New Madison  considers himself a lucky man as he was not only the public address announcer for Tri-Village’s  undefeated and state champion Lady Patriots but is also an Ashland University graduate! 

The D-I Final Four saw Iowa end defending champion South Carolina’s 42-game winning streak in one semifinal while LSU knocked off Virginia Tech in the other. The Lady Bayou Tigers claimed the hardware Sunday afternoon with a decisive 102-85 win over the Hawkeyes, giving LSU its first national title and Coach Kim Mulkey her fourth, three with Baylor. 

How great was Iowa junior guard Caitlin Clark? The National Player of the Year set a new tournament record with 191 points in six games as well as 60 assists but was unable to offset a tremendous shooting exhibition, particularly in the first half, by LSU. It seemed that everyone wearing purple couldn’t miss from 3-point range as they put up 59 first half points in the title contest. 

I don’t normally criticize officials as they have a tough job that most people couldn’t handle but I have to in this case. The officiating crew in the championship game was completely out of their league to be calling such an important match. I don’t know about their past experiences and am sure that they are competent for the most part but this game called for the  best and this crew was far from being up to the task—a technical on the game’s best player for  flipping a ball to the baseline after a foul call on a teammate—c’mon!! 

Here’s the first of two trivia questions in this column—what is a Quinnipiac? Answer to follow. 

The Reds took two out of three in the season opening series against the Pirates. It will take  a while to learn about all of the new team members but young pitchers Nick Lodolo and 

Graham Ashcraft both were impressive in their initial outings. As I stated a week or two ago,  you have to love the pitch clock as the final two games of the series lasted 2 hours and 16  minutes and 2 hours and 24 minutes. The average game time over the weekend in all of MLB was down 25 minutes compared to last year—might hurt beer and concession sales though! 

Eldora Speedway, the “World’s Greatest Dirt Track” opens Saturday the 15th with a Test and  Tune day with open gates and no concessions. The first racing of the season takes place on Tuesday the 18th as the Late Models, Modifieds, and Eldora Stocks take to Tony Stewart’s half-mile oval. The crown jewel of the season will be the Eldora Million the weekend of July 12-13 featuring a $1.4 million purse with a little over a million going to the winner! 

Trivia question number two—within one second, what is the fastest lap time ever recorded  at Eldora? 

The Masters gets underway at Augusta National this Thursday as the quest for the Green Jacket takes place. It will be interesting in particular this week as this will be the first field to include the “renegades” who left the PGA for the Saudi-sponsored LIV Tour. Settle in for some great golf and wishfully dream that you could just once hit a ball like the pros!! 

Finally the answers to the two trivia questions—Quinnipiac is a private university of almost 10,000 students located in Hamden, Connecticut. Ever hear of the Quinnipiac polls of public opinion? Also, the Bobcats hockey team is in the Frozen Four this weekend! And the fastest lap recorded at Eldora—how about 12.599 seconds? You deserve an Earl Baltes hat if you got that one right! Have a great week; don’t get blown away by the winds!