Sports Section Syndicated: February 25, 2008
Today’s SSS starts off with the “March-like Madness” of Saturday’s big game in college basketball.
Luke Winn of SI.com: In ascending order of craziness, the memorable things that happened in or around Saturday’s (Tennessee-Memphis) game… 1. Pearl conducting an interview with Entertainment Tonight — yes, ET — after he finished talking to basketball reporters. Pearl, never turning down the opportunity to ham it up, asked the reporter for a “J-O-B” and told them that entertainment news might be his true calling instead of coaching… 2. That Memphis’ final possession while it had a lead, at 61-60 with 43 seconds left, ended with teammates Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier tying each other up on an offensive rebound, and being called for a travel. Dorsey’s stat line: one point, six boards, four fouls… 3. That Tennessee won without Chris Lofton making a single three-pointer… 4. The awkward silence of Memphis locker room, in which packs of media members trying, mostly in vain, to get any comments on the loss. The players are not required by any NCAA rule to speak, and Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey and Antonio Anderson in particular opted not to — which was unfortunate, considering how loud they had been before the game, “woofing” (as Tyler Smith put it) into Tennessee’s huddle in the tunnel of FexEx Forum… 5. Pearl giving some “love” (or at least that’s one way to describe it) to Erin Andrews in the halftime interview. I didn’t witness Pearl’s defensive demonstration live, but it has spread like wildfire on the Web. The man is single now: you have to give him some credit for trying… 6. That Memphis, the 225th-ranked three-point shooting team in the country, attempted 27 threes. The Tigers were 0-for-7 in the second half… 7. Looking up from my computer during a first-half timeout to see Lindsay Davenport and James Blake, both clad in Tiger tees, hitting tennis balls (rather aggressively, it may be noted) into the crowd as part of a promotion for a Memphis tournament. 8. That Antonio Anderson, and not Chris Douglas-Roberts or Derrick Rose, took Memphis’ final meaningful shot… 9. That in the media room at halftime, the person behind me in the pretzel-and-popcorn line was Priscilla Presley. She took a look at the ravaged serving dishes of snacks and decided to pass.
Michael Wilbon of The Washington Post: The Boston Celtics started this basketball makeover craze. Back at the end of July, before the Lakers had any thought of trading for Pau Gasol or the Phoenix Suns had any inkling Shaq might become The Big Cactus, Danny Ainge remade and as a result reenergized the Celtics. Even as they’ve struggled now through their first three-game losing streak of the season out west, the overall numbers make it fairly easy to argue that the biggest trade in the season of swap took place not in February to beat the deadline, but back in the summer when Ainge pulled off huge deals for Ray Allen and then Kevin Garnett that enabled the Celtics to run off to the best record in the NBA.
Larry Dorman of the NYTimes: Tiger Woods scorched the high desert Sunday, roaring like a wildfire across the Gallery Club at Dove Mountain with a phenomenal display of golf, incinerating Stewart Cink, winning the Accenture Match Play Championship and setting his sights on higher ground… His 8-and-7 victory over Cink in the final, the largest margin in the history of the event, concluded an astonishing week of match play. Woods won six matches, twice escaped imminent elimination and made 47 birdies and 2 eagles in 117 holes. With his fourth consecutive PGA Tour win and sixth straight worldwide, he rekindled speculation that he could be embarking on a perfect season.
Bill Dwyre of the LA Times: He will be 70 years old this November, but time and age haven’t made the Big O any smaller. Oscar Robertson is one of those sports heroes whose legend survives decades and whose marketability spans eras. If you are a sports fan 25 or 85, and all stops in between, you know who the Big O is. His is both a nickname and a brand. The term “bigger-than-life” is overused. Not so in reference to Robertson. Pro basketball didn’t make him better. It was the other way around. Today, an NBA triple-double (double figures in three statistical categories, usually points, rebounds and assists) is big news. Robertson had 181 in his career. Magic Johnson got to within 43 of that for second place. Robertson averaged a triple-double in the 1961-62 season with the Cincinnati Royals, 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists. Nobody had done that before, or since. Likely, nobody ever will. When he played college basketball, few had ever seen the likes of him. He was a skinny, 6-foot-5 sophomore at the University of Cincinnati on the night of Jan. 9, 1958, when his team beat Seton Hall, 118-54. Robertson scored 56, two more than the entire opposing team and most in Madison Square Garden history. Before that game, he was just another college player. The New York Times mentioned him in its game preview, calling him Connie Robertson. No paper ever got it wrong after that.
Todd McShay of ESPN.com: Arkansas RB Darren McFadden made a statement with his sensational combine workout on Sunday. McFadden officially ran his first 40-yard dash — the faster of his two attempts — in 4.33 seconds. In addition, he jumped 10 feet, 8 inches in the broad jump and 33 inches in the vertical leap. Comparatively speaking, McFadden’s overall workout was stronger than Adrian Peterson‘s a year ago, which included 40 time of 4.41, a 10-7 broad jump and a 38.5-inch vertical… McFadden and Peterson have very different running styles, though. Peterson is clearly the more powerful back and was better suited to carry a full NFL load coming out of Oklahoma a year ago. McFadden, on the other hand, is more versatile and explosive but lacks Peterson’s physicality. The more apt comparison is their exceptional combination of size and athletic ability. McFadden’s workout verifies his big-play ability and status as Scouts Inc.’s No. 1 overall prospect, adding to the list of reasons teams should not pass on him come April 26.
NFL.com: Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian isn’t sure if having a top 10 draft pick would be worth it… His Colts don’t have a selection until late in the second round. He explained Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine why his team might be better off that way… Polian said good teams like the Colts are less likely than in the past to trade up for an early pick because of the required financial commitment. Last year’s top pick, JaMarcus Russell, missed all of training camp in a contract dispute before getting $29 million in guarantees… “Trades are a unique thing in the first round anymore because of the cost of the top 10 picks financially,” he said. “To take on that cost … is almost counterintuitive.”… Polian said agents have driven up the cost of the early picks, making it more difficult than ever for struggling franchises to improve. He said that cost can hamper teams for years, especially if they make a mistake on a pick or the player gets injured… “The draft was designed to either allow the weakest teams, based on record, to choose the best players, or if they chose not to take a particular player, to gather a bunch of picks to further accelerate their growth and competitiveness,” he said. “That’s now been skewed by the cost of the picks in the first round.