The Solomon Islands were hit by a 10-foot-high tsunami today, reportedly killing at least 8 people. It was caused by an 8.0 earthquake that rocked the nearby sea-floor at 3:39 PM EDT Sunday (7:39 AM Monday local time). A local politician told CNN, “There are quite large boats sitting in the middle of the road. Many of the houses that were on stilts are sitting on the ground. A number of the coastal communities have been completely wiped out.”
In much the same way that foul trouble ruined the much-hyped battle between Ohio State’s Greg Oden and Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert, foul trouble has thus far ruined the showdown between two of the premier players in women’s basketball, Tennessee’s Candace Parker and North Carolina’s Ivory Latta. Latta picked up three quick fouls and spent most of the half on the bench, while Parker got a quick two and also spent much of the half bench-warming.
Asked during a live halftime interview about her team’s offensive struggles (the Lady Vols lead 22-21 in an absolutely ugly game so far) and what they need to do to improve, Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said they need to “get Candace Parker back on the floor” and stated that the early fouls were “hurting both teams.” She added pointedly, “In a game like this, the whole country wants to see the best players on the floor.” So yeah, I think it’s safe to say that Coach Summitt is not overwhelmingly happy with the officiating at the moment.
In a related story, Ivory Latta has really, really big eyes. They kinda scare me.
Oh, and in the night’s earlier semifinal, Rutgers overwhelmed LSU, 59-35. You read that right, 35. (Will anyone in the women’s Final Four reach 60 points?) Anyway, the Scarlet Knights are in the title game as a #4 seed… which is the same number as the combined seeds of both men’s NCAA finalists and both men’s NIT finalists. Women’s basketball: it’s where the drama is! … The Rutgers win eliminated Daniel Port and Brian Dupuis from any chance of winning the Living Room Times women’s basketball pool. Still alive: Jennifer Elam, Scott Fort, Rick Boeckler and Josh Krause. If Tennessee wins, it’ll be Fort vs. Krause; if UNC wins, it’ll be Elam vs. Boeckler.
UPDATE: Another North Carolina collapse? Tennessee is on a 15-2 run since trailing 48-36 with 8:17 left. The Vols now lead 51-50 with 1:01 go, and they have the ball.
UPDATE 2: Wow. Tennessee finishes on a 20-2 run and wins, 56-50. Amazing comeback for the Vols. On the other side, it sucks to be a North Carolina fan this year. That’s two massive choke jobs in the course of a week.
I had a pool update all set for the North Carolina victory, with the headline “Defending champ Boeckler one win from third women’s pool title.” Instead, Boeckler and Elam are eliminated, Fort and Krause are still alive, and I have to write a new update.
I know I’m supposed to be on a light-blogging quasi-hiatus, but I have to post this nugget of major NDLS breaking news:
I’m hearing through the grapevine, from what I believe to be reliable sources, that Dean Patty O’Hara will resign before the schoolyear is over. I guess the combination of the rankings controversy and all the other criticism that’s been swirling has finally done her in.
I don’t know too much more than that at this point, but a few additional details are after the jump.
UPDATE: Okay, it’s April 2 now, so I’m removing the “jump” and changing the title. This post is, of course, a joke… APRIL FOOLS!!
For those who saw this post before I changed it: did I fool you? This one totally fooled me.
Happy April Fools Day, everybody. :)
I know when I say “blogging will be light,” I usually don’t stick to it… but I really, really need to get some serious work done today on my Electoral College paper, which is due next week (and which appears likely to be quite long, considering I’m currently on Page 11, but haven’t even finished part “I” on my outline, which has “VI” parts). So I don’t expect I’ll be blogging or commenting much today.
Just a reminder, though: the women’s Final Four is tonight, and the pool ramifications are as follows: if LSU and UNC win, it’s Daniel Port vs. Jennifer Elam. If LSU and Tennessee win, it’s Brian Dupuis vs. Scott Fort. If Rutgers and UNC win, it’s Rick Boeckler vs. Jennifer Elam. If Rutgers and Tennessee win, it’s Josh Krause vs. Scott Fort.
Oh, and for those of you who were just dying to know who won the WNIT (anyone? anyone? Bueller?)… ’twas Wyoming, by a score of 72-56 over Wisconsin in a battle of UWs. The Cowboys’ relatively easy title-game victory followed a triple-overtime semifinal win over defending champ Kansas State.
When I bitched and moaned about the total lack of underdog victories in the Sweet Sixteen (which was merely the icing on an extremely chalky cake after a first weekend almost devoid of major upsets), the common response was that I should stop whining and appreciate the beauty of an Elite Eight featuring all the “best” teams, because such a scenario would surely produce a bevy of extremely entertaining games with a high quality of play. As one commenter put it, “I’d rather see a great game between two great teams than watch a 1 seed destroy a mediocre team that played above its head for a couple of games and then ran out of steam.”
Well, six games later, how is that “great team between two great teams” theory lookin’ for ya? Because it seems to me, we’ve just watched an Elite Eight that featured exactly one genuinely exciting game — North Carolina vs. Georgetown — followed by a Final Four that produced just as much excitement as last year’s incredibly boring semifinals, namely, zero. As commenter NDLauren, who attended today’s games in Atlanta, aptly put it, “Ugh.”
Have there been great teams on the floor? Yes. Have they been paired in matchups that appeared very compelling? Yes. Have those matchups produced great games? No, which just goes to show that you can’t script sports drama. It has to happen organically, and it’s incredibly myopic to pretend that drama (or the lack thereof) in a given instance was pre-ordained by seed numbers or preceding events. A matchup that looks great on paper doesn’t guarantee a dramatic game, nor does a David vs. Goliath mismatch guarantee that drama won’t happen. (Heck, Butler has given Florida more of a game than anyone else in this tournament so far!)
Bottom line, this is the worst NCAA Tournament since I started religiously watching the NCAA Tournament in the early ’90s. Have there been some extremely dramatic, exciting games? Of course! But if you choose any 63 college-basketball games at random, at least a handful of them will inevitably be dramatic and exciting… and that’s all the more true in a “win or go home” setting, where any close, down-to-the-wire game is inherently dramatic and exciting. In other words, there are always going to be some really good games, but that doesn’t mean this has been a great NCAA Tournament. On the contrary, the total lack of truly stunning upsets, the chalk-filled nature of the later rounds, the relatively ordinary number of really exciting games (and the fact that several of them happened simultaneously, while other timeslots were totally devoid of excitement), and the general lack of drama in the Elite Eight and Final Four, have combined to make this tourney a total dud, IMHO. (Well, as compared to other NCAA Tournaments, that is. Even a “dud” of an NCAA Tournament is still the greatest sporting event of the year. But that doesn’t mean I can’t wish it was better!)
Of course, there’s one game left, and here’s hoping Florida and Ohio State go to quintuple-overtime and play the greatest game in college basketball history. Then at least we’ll have something to remember this tournament for. Otherwise, I’m afraid the fine folks at CBS might have to cut “One Shining Moment” a verse short this year, due to a lack of compelling source material.
But that’s just my opinion, and I know I’m a bit of a weirdo when it comes to preferring games like Butler-Southern Illinois over games like UCLA-Kansas. So, what do y’all think?
UPDATE: Looks like I’m vindicated in my belief that this tournament has totally sucked. Nearly 24 hours after I posted this, the poll results show that a whopping 40% agree that the tourney has been one of the worst in years, and another 25% think it’s been below average. Less than 15% think it’s been above average… and most of them probably go to Florida or OSU. ;)
Florida is one win away from a repeat national championship in men’s college basketball, and if they do it, Sports Illustrated writer and USC alumnus Arash Markazi will finally break the “Trojan Curse” in Living Room Times basketball pools.
But if the Ohio State hoopsters can do what the Buckeye football team was unable to do back in January, namely beat the Gators, it will mean another disappointment at the wire for a USC contestant in a Times pool — and a championship for Scott Robertson, a graduate student at the University of Utah.