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A Couple of Sports Thoughts

Sunday, April 04, 2010

First of all, we have reached the championship game of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. This has definitely been a unique tournament and the set-up for the National Championship Game continues to add a little bit of intrique as we get the proverbial "David vs. Goliath" match-up of the perinniel powerhouse Duke Blue Devils vs. the upstart small-school mid-major Butler Bulldogs.

Many people will be playing up the comparison to the movie "Hoosiers" and the 1954 Milan High School basketball team upon which it was (very loosely) based. The connections are definitely interesting and will make for some great copy for those who wish to pursue them. (For instance, the movie's final scene where tiny Hickory High won the championship was filmed at Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse, the real person upon whom the movie's basketball star "Jimmy Chitwood" is based upon was a young man named Bobby Plump, who followed his career at Milan by playing at ... you guessed it - Butler University. The coach of the 1954 Milan team was a graduate of ... Butler University.)

The story line of little Butler vs. mighty Duke will get lots of play this week, although the story is actually a little bit of a stretch.

For instance, while Butler does not have the storied history of Duke, the reality is that seeing them in the Finals this year should not be much more of a suprise than seeing Duke in the Finals. Back at the beginning of the year, the expectations for both teams were actually quite similar. The pre-season AP poll had Duke ranked 9 and Butler ranked 11. The pre-season ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll had them at 8 and 10 respectively. (You can see the polls here.)

Even the size difference is not really that great. Butler enrolls about 4.000 undergraduate students while Duke enrolls about 6,400 undergraduate students.

However, that should not make it any less fun to watch if the realitively unknown Butler can defeat the mighty Duke Blue Devils.

In regards to our Thinking Man's Tourney Time, the final results are now set since no one picked either of the remaining teams.

So... without further ado, the results of the 2010 Thinking Man's Tourney Time are:

1. Sarah Nething with 36 correct picks and 190 points.
2. Andy Rupert jumped into second place with the Duke win and finished with 37 correct picks and 180 points.
3. Don Johnson finished third with 36 correct picks and 179 points.
4. Ron Bean finished with 37 correct picks and 178 points
5. Jon Knisely - 35 correct picks - 169 points
6. Matt Jury - 35 correct - 160 points
7. Frank Sansone - 32 correct - 145 points
8. Andy Efting - 25 correct - 119 points

Congratulations, Sarah on winning the Tourney. Very impressive.

Way to go, Andy R. and Ron for getting the most picks correct, with 37 each.

Andy E. and I will have to say like the old Brooklyn Dodger fans - "Wait until next year." BTW, Andy's "jinx" finally ended in this last round as he mentioned in the comments of the last basketball post that he wanted Butler and Duke with Butler winning it all.

On an unrelated sports note, the Philadelphia Eagles traded away our "franchise" quarterback, Donovan McNabb, to the Washington Redskins today. While no one should be shocked at the Eagles trading McNabb (it has been talked about for the last couple of weeks), I was a little suprised that the Eagles traded him to a division rival whom they will face at least two times every year.

Eagles fans have long had a kind of "love/hate" relationship with Donovan McNabb. From the "booing" at the Eagles' selection of McNabb as the number 2 pick in the 1999 draft (btw, the "booing" was not directed against McNabb, but against the Eagles management as many Eagles fans wanted the Eagles to draft Ricky Williams - or at least get a lot of picks for not drafting RW).

Donovan McNabb has been a very good player for the Eagles and I agree with Andy Reid that his career will likely be considered a Hall of Fame career when it is over. Over the years it has been my opinion that McNabb and Andy Reid's offense were not a good match - I know, considering McNabb's 73-39 win-loss record as an Eagle, that seems kind of a stretch.) My point has been that while McNabb has a fairly high completion rate, he seems to lack one of the most important skills necessary for success in a "West Coast" type of offense - the ability to consistently "lead" your receivers with your passes. If you have watched many Eagles' games over the year, you will notice that McNabb is notorious for throwing behind the receiver. Even though many of those have been caught, the receiver is seldom able to get many "yards after the catch" in that type of play - and the whole point of the West Coast offense is to set up the receivers to get those very yards after the catch.

I have said over the years that the Eagles either need to switch their offense to an offense more suited to McNabb's skills - perhaps a "run and gun" type of offense, or if Andy Reid is so wed to the West Coast offense that he will not do that, he needs to find a quarterback that can run the offense he wants to run. (BTW, I believe this issue of the "leading" the receivers is why you have had a number of Eagles back-ups do well when they replaced McNabb over the years - Koy Detmer, A. J. Feeley, Jeff Garcia, etc. It is not that they are better overall quarterbacks than McNabb, but that they seemed to have been able to make those lead passes that McNabb could not consistently make.

Anyway, a new Eagles era has begun. I hope Andy Reid knows what he is doing.

Just my sports thoughts,



Jim Peet said...

On McNabb,

You're close enough to DC to root for the Redskins!

So what's your pick for the Duke / Butler game

Frank Sansone said...


On McNabb,


But at least the Redskins aren't as bad as the C*** - sorry, my computer won't let me type the name of that team.

I think Duke will win tonight, but I will be rooting for Butler.

Good to see you over here again.


Andy Efting said...

Well, Duke won but I'm still sort of happy because Clemson also beat Bulter earlier in the year.