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April 4, 2012 - Al Stephenson
March madness has ended, though it went into the month of April. The college basketball season has concluded and it did so with a record setting effort by the Baylor women and a predictable result in the men's championship.
Let's start with Baylor. The Lady Bears did what no other team in college basketball has ever done. They went 40-0 in claiming the title. There have been perfect seasons before in both men's and women's competition, but no team has ever reached 40 victories. Until now, that is. Baylor center Brittney Greiner left little doubt that she is the most dynamic player in the women's game.
The 6'8" Greiner, whose wing span of 7'4" has to make opponents feel like she is some sort of monster, is not just tall. She dominates games and could possibly do so by virtue of her height, but she is a complete player that is very athletic. If you can get past her voice and the infamous punch she threw as a freshman, then you can appreciate her amazing skills. She got help from an impressive cast, but there is no doubt that she was the dominant piece in Baylor's amazing run. I wish I had managed to make my way to BGSU to watch her play in person.
As for the men, Kentucky made sure everyone knew the seeding process was correct, as the top ranked Wildcats will add another banner to the ceiling of legendary Rupp Arena. It was a dominant center that led the way to the men's championship just like the Greiner-led Bears. Anthony Davis was the player of the year in most college basketball circles and the freshman led the Cats to the crown.
Davis, like Greiner is tall, very tall. He is a shot blocker supreme, but again his size belies his athletic ability. Where you see some tall players get blocks simply because they tower over people, Davis can run the floor and is as athletic as any player on the court. Though it would have been fun to see Ohio State make the final game, the Bucks would not likely have fared any better than a game Kansas Jayhawk team. No doubt both Baylor and Kentucky were the class of their respective tournaments.
So now college hoop fans have to wait until November before they can follow their beloved game. So what do you do in the meantime? If college basketball is the only game you follow, then you simply wait. If, on the other hand, you enjoy other sports - well, things are just heating up.
Major league baseball officially opens its season tonight (the games in Japan just seem wrong to me) with the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals helping the Miami Marlins open their new stadium. The long standing tradition of the Cincinnati Reds playing in the first game of the season apparently is a thing of the past.
If baseball is not your cup of tea, you can also watch one of the most fascinating golf tournaments of the year starting Thursday. The Masters, billed as a tradition like no other, will have viewers tuning in to see if Tiger Woods is indeed back. Will his win at Bay Hill launch him into another run as the best in the game? Will Rory McIlroy forget his collapse from Augusta last year and let Tiger know that he is now the greatest golfer in the world? Does Lefty have another green jacket in his future?
Any of these guys could win, but then again there are a number of other fellows who will have a say in the outcome. I guess you will just have to tune in and watch the views from Amen Corner and listen for the roars of the crowd when the leaders hit the back nine on Sunday. If you follow golf, you have to love this tournament.
As for me, well I'm taking some time off. The Mrs. and I are heading to Florida to relax and visit friends. While there we will continue a long running tradition.
We are going to visit the new Marlins Park. It will be my 55th major league stadium.
The view from my seat suggests that the NCAA basketball tournament was great TV watching. So too will be the Masters.
As for going to the ballpark, the shirts that I have had made up for my wife and I says it all for this baseball fan. On the back it says - "If you build it, we will come."
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