Vidakovich column: Random sports thoughts
Each year when the NCAA basketball tournament rolls around, I avoid filling out brackets so that I don’t have to feel the sting of coming in at or near the bottom of whatever pool I have entered. For several years running, when I taught at Glenwood Elementary, the eventual winner would be someone who knew absolutely nothing about basketball.
After the money had been all doled out to the top three finishers, I would ask the winner, usually a female, how in the world she had predicted that a team like Evansville could make it so far in the tourney, collecting upset after upset. “I liked their nickname and I think they have the cutest purple uniforms!”
It was that type of criteria and misguided attention to detail that never failed to be a common trait in the person walking away from me with the envelope filled with cash. At that point, I would vow to not enter another college basketball pool ever again, and then one year later, I would fall into the same foul trap that always seemed to rise up and bite me in the posterior. Another $10 down the drain.
Case in point: This year I would have almost guaranteed that a very talented Arizona team, which featured all the ingredients for success would be the big winners. They have two NBA-caliber big men, forwards who could shoot, rebound and run with the best of them. Throw in a point guard who is also deadly from 3-point range and you would have the reason that they were my sure bet to go deep into March Madness.
Princeton 59, Arizona 55. A first round exit for the not-so-big Cats from Tucson.
With the teams that are still left in the field, my heart has me pulling for UCLA to make the final. I watch the teams from the PAC 12 a lot during basketball season because the games are usually later in the evening when I turn on the TV. I saw UCLA play a lot and I like how hard they play and how tough their coach is.
I have to add that another reason I am partial to the PAC 12 telecasts is I love listening to former UCLA great Bill Walton do the commentary on the games. Walton, a devout follower of the Grateful Dead, is a bit quirky with many of his comments, and some would say he ventures off into bizarre ramblings during the games too often, but he adds humor and color that no other announcer since Al McGuire can match. Well, Dick Vitale is pretty entertaining also.
Oh so close
It was an exciting time a few weeks back when the Glenwood hockey team and the girls’ basketball team at GSHS were both vying for a state title. Two championships in one school year would have equaled the feat of the class of 1979, which won the state AA football championship with a win over Valley at a snow-covered Stubler Memorial Field in early December of that year. Then in March at the old McNichol’s Arena in Denver, the Demons took home the hoops hardware by easily downing Denver Christian in the final.
A little known fact about the ’79 class is that this talented group came within a whisker of adding a third crown to their resume. The Demons finished second at the state track and field meet later that spring, narrowly losing to league rival Steamboat Springs. I might add that all of this took place back when Glenwood was in a much more manageable classification competition-wise, with AA being schools of 200-650 students. At the time, GSHS was just over 500 in enrollment, which made us one of the bigger schools in AA. This is just pure biased speculation, but I do believe the ‘79 basketball team could have given Boulder or Regis, the two entries in the AAA final that year, all they could handle.
A Demon turned Blue Raider
Late last Saturday night, former GSHS alum Chris Massaro, now the athletics director at Middle Tennessee State University, texted a picture of himself standing on the floor of Duke’s famed Cameron Indoor Stadium. His Lady Blue Raiders were in Durham, NC to take on the CU Buffaloes the next night in the first round of the NCAA women’s tourney. The Blue Raiders didn’t fare too well, losing to the Buffs by a fairly large margin, but it’s quite an accomplishment just to make it to the tourney.
These Nuggets are not golden
I’m not sure that my NBA playoff forecasting is any more reliable than my college picks, but I have watched the Denver Nuggets quite often this season, and in spite of the fact that they have the best record in the Western Conference, I see quite a few chinks in the armor that I believe will lead to a first round exit from the playoffs for the men from the Mile High City.
Regardless of whether he gets it or not, Nikola Jokic is the MVP of the league. He has won it the previous two seasons and I believe the third award should have a place in his trophy room. But with a balky knee, guard Jamal Murray is a shadow of what he once was on the court, and with an even balkier back, wingman Michael Porter is not one I think can be counted on to make it through the almost three-month grind that is the NBA playoffs.
I hope I’m wrong on this one. I’ll certainly be pulling for them every step of the way and watching intently. The Joker can only carry this team on his back for so long. There needs to be other major contributors step forward to win that big, shiny trophy.
When the swirling waters of the basketball stream all splashes out of the pan, I don’t believe there will be any gold Nuggets, or playoff victories for us Denver NBA fans to marvel at.
Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer, teacher and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at PostIndependent.com.
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