Gang, remember our college basketball contest — First 1 out, last dog in. Pick the first No. 1 seed to lose and the double-digit seed that sticks around the longest. We need your entry by noon on Thursday. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezey. It don't cost nothing and you could win stuff. If you picked MTSU, well, more on that in a moment.
From the "Talks too much" studios,
The tournaments have started, the tournaments have started. While not quite the same ring as Navin R. Johnson screaming "The new phone books are here, the new phone books are here," it does generate some excitement. (Side note: Wow, when was the last time you used a phone book?)
Here is a Rushmore of things we learned about college basketball last night during some better than expected college basketball:
• Every big-boy college basketball power should go on the road to a small-school and play for the energy, and in some ways to give back to the sport of basketball in general and the state of college basketball in particular. Watching Robert Morris host Kentucky in a gym about the size of a big high school venue was awesome for the casual fan. The energy, the pace and the intensity — it was the most meaningful NIT game we've ever seen (well, not so much to the Wildcats, but still). Good times.
• If you wanted a microcosm of Kentucky's season, last night's two-point loss to Ol' Bobby Morris was it. There were times that UK looked great, but those times were sandwiched with turnovers and tuned out moments of either disinterest or distraction. (Side question for UK fans — especially you 9er: While being physically similar, is Alex Poythress the exact opposite of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the intangible categories? Wow. The last supposed superstar to vanish that much was David Copperfield.)
• Wow, MTSU, what was that? The committee invited you, a smaller conference at-large team with a suspect resume, to the Dance and you showed up unshowered and and half-asleep.
• Can we please, Please, PLEASE stop calling the play-in games the first round? The first round starts Thursday. This is the first four. It's confusing for the casual fans and their brackets, and if you think college basketball does not need casual fans and the brackets, well, you're mistaken.
One more thing: How many times do you think Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin will mention's Kentucky's listlessness before the Vols' game tonight against the Mighty Bears of Mercer (enrollment 2,800 ... — Hoosiers).
UT pro day
And we're here. We're at the point where Tyler Bray makes his final meaningful football flings on the UT campus. It's the Vols pro day, a combine event that features a slew of NFL front office types and several Vols and other area college football standouts trying to catch someone's eye and land on someone's draft board.
There will be a ton of folks there, considering the presence of the supremely talented receivers who have recently resided in the 865. (Side note: We'd be surprised if Justin Hunter or Cordarrelle Patterson did much other than run patters for Bray considering the numbers each clocked at the official combine in Indy. Most draft boards have Patterson and Hunter somewhere in round one.)
For Bray, though, being there and being good are paramount because arguably the biggest moment of his professional life starts about the time this is posted to the interwebs.
We wonder what breakfast was like for him, knowing that this is lottery-ticket chance.
That said, the physical stuff is the given with Bray, the tall and lanky kid from California that troubled Tennessee fans and coaches with his array of physical gifts and an assortment of mental mistakes.
The extremes for Bray on each side of the coin are the things that make scouts and NFL executives stay awake into the wee morning hours before the draft. Physically, at worst he is similar to a Ryan Mallett, the former Arkansas star who has been Tom Brady's back-up and is drawing interest from other NFL teams. Emotionally, the act that ultimately wore out it's welcome in Knoxville and was as noteworthy as his talents, simply would not be tolerated in the NFL.
So today, Bray gets to show off his arm. And hope teams are willing to take a chance that he has righted his ship.
Today is the first day of spring. Yay.
Today is the perfect day to look at the spring training numbers for your Atlanta Braves. And for the most part, that's a yay too, well, unless you are Dan Uggla. E-GADS. If we were in Rocky II and needed a slew of catchy nicknames for Uggla, well, can you imagine Michael Buffer unloading, "Now, your second basebman.... The King of Swing and miss... Sir Whiffs-A-Lot... the grand dragon of a completely different K-K-K, Dan "The Fan" Uggla." (And yes, that's over the top, and yes, we know Uggla starts slow, but sweet bowls of golden flakes, in 19 spring games, Uggla has 10 hits and 19 Ks. Ouch-standing. And that strikeout pace is amazingly true to his time in Atlanta. Uggla has played 315 games in a Braves uniform and has struck out 324 times.)
Other than Uggla, let's examine some numbers and if they mean anything:
The good: Tyler Pastornicky is slap raking. He's hitting like we thought he would last year — .396 with five extra base hits in 48 at-bats and 11 RBIs. B.J. Upton is hitting .396, too. Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton look like the core of a strong middle of the lineup. The third-base lawfirm of Johnson and Francisco has eight home runs, 20 RBIs and is hitting .350 in 100 at-bats. Granted, all of that
The bad: Jason Heyward is under .230. Uggla has been the Uggla Johnny Braves Fans have become used to.
The Uggla: Catcher Gerald Laird is struggling so bad (with a 2-for-20 spring, he's making Uggla look like Wade Boggs) Evan Gattis and his .378 spring average is battling for a roster spot. And if that was any where close to the original plan, then Gattis would not be wearing No. 68.
We'll check the pitching numbers tomorrow, and while spring numbers are to be taken with the ultimate truckload of salt, there is a lot to like about the offensive firepower on this roster. And there's a lot of strikeouts on their horizon.
This and that
Lee University's Hollie German drives against Westmont of California Tuesday during the NAIA Division I tournament championship game in Frankfort, Ky. Contributed photo by Marvin Young
— The Lee University women made a run to the NAIA basketball title game before losing last night to Westmont 71-65. Lee is moving to Div. II athletics next school year.
— As our college sports ace David Paschall sent this morning, UK could be the first preseason No. 1 coming off a season-ending loss to Bob Morris.
— Got to say that President Obama's Final Four was quite similar to our bracket. (We gotta change it now, right?)
We're looking for everyone's entry picks — we've got about two dozen or so and we'll post what we have after lunch.
If you got something to say, well, say it. If you need a talking point, here's a spin on an interesting question Stewwie tossed out on Tuesday (Side note: Stewwie's would be a nice name for a beer joint. We'd hang out and watch a game and knock back a couple of Co-Colas at Stewwie's.).
Stewwis asked who got more ESPN love LeBron and Tiger? That's tough, but we went with Tiger because of the career numbers. That said, that's two of the world's biggest sports stars, so it's somewhat understandable that the Worldwide Leader followed their every move.
What's the Rushmore of overplayed ESPN storylines/athletes? We're going to think about this one for a while, but we're pretty sure Manti Te'o's success/failures as an interweb Romeo is on there as is BountyGate.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...