Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Villanova Plus

Three musings about the sports events of last night, Monday April 4th.

(1) The end of the UNC//Villanova championship game was as good as it gets.  I have watched so many basketball games with so many exciting endings.  There are few contests that have ended like last night's.  The shot that Paige hit to tie the game at 74 would have been sensational if it came in a game of horse in an empty gym.  A double pump released as the player was coming down and an essential make given the three point deficit.  Fantastic.  And then Villanova racing back to hit the winning shot with only tenths of a second left on the clock.

(2) After I came down from the basketball game, I switched the channel to watch continuous action in the women's world championship gold medal hockey game.  I had been watching intermittently during basketball commercials.  Now with no basketball left, I was all in for the hockey game. One of our students here, Kendall Coyne, is on the Olympic//World Championship teams. Mostly because I know Kendall and partly because it was the championship game I was riveted until past 1 am. The 0-0 contest went into sudden death overtime.  Towards the end of the sudden death period, the US scored the lone goal.  It was a thrilling victory after which I could not sleep for another 45 minutes.  It is a sad comment that while the men's basketball championship deserves a lot of media coverage, I have not seen a word today written about the women's world championship victory.

(3) I had alpha and omega moments as it relates to UNC coach Roy Williams yesterday.  His post game teary interview made me feel bad for him. He was as eloquent as one can be when the team he  had coached for seven months lost in the last second. Williams commented that the difference between winning and losing in basketball games can be minimal, but the emotional gap between winning and losing is huge.  Williams eyes were red and I felt for him.  This perspective on the coach was antithetical to what I was thinking about him before the game. During an interview earlier in the week, the coach was asked if UNC would be penalized by the NCAA because of serious academic infractions.  His response was startling and made me angry.  Williams said that he expected no sanctions as there had been no allegations. Without allegations there could be no reason for sanctions.  The problem with this assertion is that it is not the case.  I think what he meant to say is that there have been no direct links between the academic offenses and the basketball coaches.  While this may be so, anyone who has examined the offenses knows for sure, that the institution committed outrageous academic fraud by designing a system where athletes would be granted grades for bogus classes.  It would be a stretch to contend that the athletic department was not involved.  So, it angered me to hear him attempt to contribute to a narrative that pretended UNC athletics was innocent.  However, now after hearing him speak after the game, I am inclined to cut the guy some slack.  Maybe he misspoke during the pre game interview.  Maybe he was deliberately not being candid.  Regardless I feel for the guy today.  His team plays brilliantly, makes an impossible shot to tie the game, and then sees the season end with a jump shot taken with less than a second left in the season.

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