Sorry, Mike. It’s nice to have you back where you belong, but check us when the playoffs start. We don’t have time for you now.
No disrespect intended, Your Airness. But you understand. We are consumed by a three-week drama that moves its actors and audiences to dance wildly, weep unashamedly, and cheer endlessly.
It’s called the NCAA Tournament, and we’ve already seen Jud Heathcote’s class, Bob Knight’s cruelty, Tyus Edney’s speed, Old Dominion’s resolve, and Arkansas’ luck. Two weeks and 16 teams remain, but after 48 games in four days, we welcome the chance to reflect and anticipate.
Can’t wait: Georgetown-North Carolina pits Allen Iverson against the subtle, sophisticated defenses of Dean Smith. Memphis-Arkansas matches two programs that hog all the high-flying talent in Elvis’ basketball-rich hometown.
ACC reunion: Wake Forest, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia in the Final Four? Can’t happen. Can it?
Blue bloods: A North Carolina-Kentucky Southeast Regional final would match the two winningest programs in college basketball history. The Tar Heels have 1,624 victories, the Wildcats 1,615.
Bring back ESPN: Watching Old Dominion’s triple-overtime victory against Villanova was riveting and maddening.
The game was a classic, recommended only for those with a strong ticker. Too bad CBS botched the telecast.
First we had to endure analyst George Raveling, the former Southern California coach, as he continually referred to ODU coach Jeff Capel as “Jeff Capels.”
Then, with Weber State in the process of upsetting Michigan State and ending Heathcote’s coaching career, CBS failed to show live cut-ins. All we got were score updates and a bunch of Bud Light commercials. It was left to ESPN’s SportsCenter to show us highlights.
Fond farewell: Heathcote announced before the season that he was retiring, but the end didn’t figure to come so soon in the tournament. Despite the shock, he exited with grace.
Bully Bob: Grace is a word rarely, if ever, associated with Indiana coach Bob Knight, and Friday night he showed why.
After the Hoosiers lost to Missouri, Knight was late for the required postgame news conference, prompting a volunteer moderator to tell the media that Knight would not attend. When Knight finally appeared, he profanely lectured the volunteer. Enough is enough. If the NCAA has any guts, it will suspend this incorrigible bully from Indiana’s next two NCAA Tournament games.
Of course, the NCAA has no guts.
Little Ten: Indiana was part of the Big Ten’s colossal flop. Its teams went 1-6 in the tournament, leaving the conference without a regional semifinalist for the first time since 1943.
On the edge: Will harrowing victories against Texas Southern and Syracuse wake up Arkansas?
Mad dash: Tyus Edney’s full-court sprint and buzzer-beating shot, which saved UCLA against Missouri, brought back memories of Brigham Young’s Danny Ainge weaving through the Notre Dame defense for the game-winner in the 1981 East Regional semifinals.
Who’s the boss?: Wake Forest coach Dave Odom promised flu-weakened guard Randolph Childress a day free of media obligations Friday. Then CBS decided it needed Childress for a promo of Wake’s Saturday game against St. Louis.
So much for promises.
Kodak moment: Junior Burrough had a right to be exhausted. His relentless, 28-point performance had carried Virginia past Miami of Ohio in overtime, and as a chartered jet took the Cavaliers back to Charlottesville, Va., Burrough did what tired boys naturally do.
He fell asleep with his head in his daddy’s lap.