All overachievers? It's madness

March 30, 1994|By Phil Jackman

Reading Time: Two Minutes.

One of the verities of March Madness, a ritual repeated as each of 63 teams is eliminated from the NCAA tournament, is the coach extolling the virtues of "these kids" going so much farther than anyone expected. Every squad, it seems, is a huge overachiever, and thus it follows by extension that the coach did one terrific coaching job. Balder--!

* This is the 50th anniversary of Utah's "Fabulous Freshmen" win for the NCAA title over Dartmouth in overtime, 42-40. See, there was life on the hardcourt before Michigan's "Fab Five" showed up. The teen-age rage back then was Arnie Ferrin, tourney Most Valuable Player.

While on the subject of Michigan, if the Wolverines' basketball team was a disappointment not making the Final Four, how about the hockey team? Loaded and the favorite to win the NCAA tourney, Michigan got zapped by Lake Superior State, a team it had beaten four times during the regular season, and lost out on the ice Final Four, in St. Paul, Minn., tomorrow and Saturday. Fight fiercely, Harvard!

* Oh, by the way, Wes Unseld's contract is up with the Washington Bullets, so it's not as though Abe Pollin will have to fire him, is it?

Psst, the Bullets are beyond dormie. If the NBA playoffs started today (fat chance, huh?), there's no way the Bullets could be included because they were eliminated from the eighth and last conference qualifying spot a couple of losses ago.

* Three cheers for the high school league in California that is banning the post-game handshake between teams as a phony show of sportsmanship. Thing is, it started too many fights as kids continued their woofing. Now to put the squelch on all that ridiculous high-fiving and player confabs on the foul lines that goes on during games.

* The power ratings starting the NCAA tournament read: 1. Arizona, 3. Arkansas, 7. Duke, 19. Florida.

* The Australian Open is going to a five-set final for the women next year, which is a major, major mistake. It has been tried before, and Martina Navratilova, for one, said it was ridiculous because the quality of play deteriorated so badly after the first three sets.

* While some college teams hereabouts are still working out in gyms, preparing for their first baseball game, Florida State has 35 games under its belt. And, no, Charlie Ward hasn't shown up with a bat yet.

* It's certainly reassuring to be told by all-time soccer great Pele that "normal sex is not a problem" before World Cup competition just so long as the athlete gets his proper rest. Years ago, the famed sports surgeon Robert Kerlan debunked the whole idea of sex being debilitating by stating, "I tell the players who ask me, 'Never halftime.' "

* The bad thing about the Orioles unloading David Segui on the Mets after his solid season last year (.273 with 10 home runs and 60 RBI) is it figures to hurt the morale and incentive of players signed by the club and working their way up through the organization, the old-fashioned way.

* During the past 11 seasons, the Philadelphia Phillies have had 11 left fielders in their Opening Day lineups. They just don't make 'em like Del Ennis anymore, do they?

* If it's true that Red Wings general manager Bryan Murray was willing to give up Steve Yzerman for Washington's Kevin Hatcher and was overruled by Detroit's ownership, the former Capitals' coach should spend all of Holy Week in church being thankful.

* Instead of all this foolishness, hooking up the coaches in the press box electronically with the quarterback so a play can get called, and all the skulduggery and malfunctions that will lead to, why not this revolutionary idea: Allow the QB to call his own plays. Eureka!

* Tom Rothe, who spent more than half a lifetime in boxing and won the state amateur lightweight title, celebrated the 20th anniversary of his feat recently by winning Maryland's kart-racing title. Another 20 years, he says, and he plans on annexing a Maryland crown in the state's sport of jousting.

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