So here’s some of the news of the weekend:
--Serena Williams and Roger Federer won Australian Open titles in matches that tipped off at 3:30 a.m. on the east coast because the Aussies like to play their finals at night to avoid the searing heat that often hits Melbourne in January.
--They played The Pro Bowl. Somebody won. Driving home from the Holy Cross-Lehigh game (more on that later) I could not find a single sports-oriented radio station that was NOT broadcasting the damn game. My God, someone please help me.
--The ACC is a complete mess. Duke, which everyone in the league alleges is the most talented team the ACC has to offer this season got smushed—to use my daughter’s word—by Georgetown on Saturday. The final was 89-77 only because Duke finished the game on a 16-5 run. North Carolina was embarrassed at home by Virginia on Sunday night. Maryland, a team Virginia Tech’s Seth Greenberg said was, “playing as well as anyone in the country,” turned the ball over 26 times and lost to a Clemson team that shot 32 percent. Hey ACC fans, the league is still REALLY good in soccer.
--Ben Crane won the golf tournament in San Diego. Someone wake me when LA starts on Thursday. Crane is one of those guys the Rules Officials like to say takes a lantern with him as his 15th club. Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson is using a wedge with square grooves that is legal in spite of square grooves being outlawed by the USGA because of a court case settled more than 20 years ago. Scott McCarron says Mickelson is “cheating,” the spirit of the new rule. Mickelson says that McCarron has “publicly slandered,” him and is threatening legal action. One thing worth noting: you can’t PRIVATELY slander someone.
--The Islanders have tanked. Five straight losses with six goals scored in those games. Even their last win was 2-1 in a shootout. That makes seven goals in six games. That’s okay in soccer. Not so much in hockey. Meanwhile, the Capitals have won 10 in a row and I think the average score has been something like 14-2. Prediction: Barring injury, they win The Stanley Cup although I’m still not sure about the goaltending. It may not matter if they continue to score 14 goals a night.
--The NBA is still going on. At least I think it is. ESPN is still running those silly commercials so I guess it’s going on. No reported arrests in the Wizards locker room last week. Great line by a radio guy in New York before the Wiz and the Nets played Friday night: “The Nets are going for one for the thumb tonight.” That would have been their fifth win of the season. They didn’t get it. The announced attendance in the Meadowlands was 11,384 that night. Yeah, right. I believe the 384 part.
--I was listening this morning to a radio show and the subject of Cornell came up. I’m amazed sometimes that people who call themselves college basketball fans think that only the teams from the BCS conference matter or are any good—especially since that’s disproven every March. Someone had the temerity to call in and say Cornell deserved some respect and attention. The hosts started laughing at him, saying Cornell couldn’t possibly compete in the ACC. Guess what? The Big Red might not be able to keep up with the entire league for 16 games but one game on a neutral site? There’s not a soul in the ACC that wants to play them. This is a team that’s won At Alabama, At Massachusetts, At St. John’s and almost beat Kansas at Kansas. Its other two losses are at Syracuse and to Seton Hall—very early in the season. One host said, “yeah, I guess they’ll be a No. 14 seed.” Guess what: If they aren’t at least a single digit seed (assuming they win out which they should) the committee should be investigated.
Now, a few words on my weekend. After getting home late Friday night from the Florida trip for the ‘Caddy For Life,’ documentary, I had to drive Saturday to Worcester to do Lehigh-Holy Cross on Sunday. I enjoy doing The Patriot League games on TV. I like my partner, Bob Socci and we’ve worked together for 13 years on Navy games and eight years on The Patriot League games. I enjoy the coaches and the players and the people I’ve come to know through the years at the eight schools.
I don’t usually mind the drive to Holy Cross. I know it in my sleep, I even know exactly where I want to stop to eat and to get gas. I can usually make it in seven hours or a little less if I’m lucky.
Saturday was a nightmare. We were supposed to get a couple of inches of snow in the Washington area. Not exactly. Closer to 10. There was supposed to be no snow north of Baltimore. Not exactly. It stopped snowing when I got to the George Washington Bridge. There wasn’t a plow in sight on I-95. The road was treacherous. There were people spinning out and pulled over everywhere. It took me two hours and 20 minutes—normally 45 minutes—to get to Baltimore. It took four hours—normally two hours—to get to The New Jersey Turnpike. It took more than two hours to get up the Turnpike—normally 1:45 at most. In all, it was just under 10 hours. I think I’m getting too old for this. Maybe I’ll tell The Patriot League it should hire Pete Gillen to do the games next season.
I enjoyed the game. I always like being inside The Hart Center, which is a classic old GYM—not an arena with some stupid corporate name on it. The atmosphere is relaxed. There’s not a single yellow-jacketed security person to be found. I felt for Sean Kearney, who is in his first year at Holy Cross after 22 years as an assistant and is struggling with a team trying to learn a completely different style of play at both ends of the court. There’s not a nicer person in hoops than Sean. I think—and hope—things will get better for him.
The trip home was easy—seven hours on the dot. The only problem was not being able to escape The Pro Bowl. At least that’s over. Now we have seven days of Super Bowl hype to look forward to. Oh joy.