Random Notes

on the


NCAA Tourney

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"I watch the games so you don't have to"


How I won this thing is beyond me. My prize? A fantasy after the past couple years of Wildcat futility would be a #1 ranked incoming class featuring four McDonald’s All Americans including the MVP of the McDonald’s game

This just in: Dreams come true!


The MVP burger boy is D.J. Wagner. He’s a third generation McDonald’s All American. His grandfather, Milt Wager, led Louisville to three Final Fours and the national title in 1986. His Dad, Dajuan Wagner, may be the first one-and-done. He played one season for Calipari at Memphis in 2002. Then Cal revoked his scholarship to force him to move on to the NBA. All three generations of Wagners attended Camden High School in New Jersey. Dajuan, who averaged over 42 points a game in his senior year of high school, is considered by many to be the greatest player ever to emerge from the storied Jersey prep scene.


D.J. is Dajuan Wagner Jr. but goes by his initials for obvious reasons. D.J. is a protype Calipari guard. You can’t keep him out of the lane and he finishes through contact. D.J. Wagner will be the first three generation player in the NBA, when he declares for the draft in 2024 after leading undefeated Kentucky to the title.


In fairness, I should mention that Justin Edwards, the 6’7” scoring wing out of North Philly, blew up this season. Several recruiting services have moved Edwards past Wagner at the top of their rankings. Guess what? UK got him too!


D.J. Wagner is a teammate of Aaron Bradshaw, a 7’0” rim protector. He’s ranked #4 in this class. And he’s on his way to Lexington next season!


The #11 player in the class is another slashing guard, Robert Dillingham, who unwisely signed up to play his senior season for Kanye’s Donda Academy, which fell apart after Kanye started spouting antisemitic nonsense. So, Dillingham was not eligible for the McDonald’s game.

The fourth Kentucky signee in the McDonald’s game was Reed Sheppard, son of Jeff Sheppard (the MOP of the 1998 Final Four, won by Kentucky). This recruiting class covers all the bases and serves as a more than adequate prize for all the hoops that I have chronicled over the past month.

Louisville hired Kenny Payne to coach their men's team last year. He hired Milt Wagner, a teammate at Louisville back in the day, as an assistant. Louisville fans were convinced that they were getting D.J., which was just adorable.

An unprecedented three-way tie for second place among Mary, Fair and Utsav. Your prize is an all-expense paid trip to the Sunshine State, which placed two teams in the Final Four. Get ready for a fun-filled weekend in Lake City, Florida!

Lake City touts itself as the Gateway to Florida because highways I-75 and I-10 intersect there. So, it’ll be easy to find! It’s only a 90-minute drive to Jacksonville Beach. Evidently, the water there is brown due to salt-marsh turbidity created by the St. Johns River. According to the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, the characteristic brown water definitely has nothing to do with pollution from the nearby city of Jacksonville. But who needs the beach when you are in Lake City? I can assure you that the water in Alligator Lake is a naturalistic blue. According to the Lake City Chamber of Commerce, alligator attacks are actually quite rare.

If you time it right, you can attend the reenactment of the Battle of Olustee, the most significant Civil War battle in Florida. Then again, you would be celebrating a battle won by the Confederates. Moving on….to the Heartwood Soundstage, where you can enjoy a show by 90s jangle pop band Sister Hazel. You’ll remember their song All for You, probably, and you’ll probably enjoy all their other songs too. You Zoomers may prefer new country musician and social media influencer Megan Moroney. You know her song, Tennessee Orange, right? [Editor’s Note: I didn’t. I listened. She makes Florida Georgia Line seem authentic. Back to the Notes.]

You can’t leave town without checking out the local cuisine, which includes virtually all the popular roadside eateries: Cracker Barrel, Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse, Ruby Tuesday, they’ve got it all! 

Megan Moroney: her music is as vacuous as her expression.

Historic downtown Lake City, where nondescript is a feature not a bug.

We booked you a room in the whimsical Mona Lisa hotel. We didn't predict a tie and the budget only allowed for one room. The motelier assures me that a second roll out will fit in the bathroom.

Alligator Lake, now featuring 30% fewer unprovoked reptile attacks.

Final Tourney Thoughts

The Nephew was over for the Finals. His favorite play of the game? The Hawkins blown dunk at the start of the second half.

When the Aztecs cut it to five, it looked like The Host (from down the shore) was going to hit it big. A UConn fan, he would cash in on another tourney pool (one that gives out actual prizes and in cash) but only if SDS covered the spread. They did not.

UConn was a 4-seed, but they were actually great all season if you ignored January (when they went 3-5). The selection committee did not forget the Ides of January. Perhaps they should have focused more on how the Huskies finished the season. 

UConn's Tristen Newton is the only senior on their roster. Their only true pro prospect, Jordan Hawkins, is a sophomore. His draft stock is all over the map. Some services have moved him into the lottery after his turn on the big stage; some have him in second round. Most see him as a late first rounder, which is probably enough to lure him away from school. Sanogo will be back. Ditto Clingan. They both have to prove that they can shoot consistently from the outside. Point is, UConn should have most of their team available again next year. Given their history, they'll probably end up missing the 2024 tourney entirely.

That buzzer beater aganist Miami was fun, but I cannot forgive the putrid performance the Aztecs displayed in the Finals. If they ran an actual offensive play, I missed it.

I'm really glad that I found time to watch the women over the weekend. Great games, high level play, trash talk, a unicorn sighting, the sartorial splendor of Kim Mulkey. Speaking of which, Mulkey is clearly a polarizing person. She clearly leans to the right politically. She has a strained relationship with her former player, Britney Griner, but that doesn't necessarily make her a homophobe (the popular accusation since the Finals). Griner is a proud gay woman and she can go to school wherever she likes. That said, the ultra-conservative Baylor was perhaps an odd choice. Bear in mind that when Griner attended Baylor homosexual behavior was classified as sexual misconduct. I don't know why anyone would want to go there, personally. And did I mention that it's in Waco, Texas?

We covered the trash talk Angel Reese aimed at Caitlin Clark after the title game on Sunday. It wasn't gracious but it wasn't the international incident that Twitter tried to turn it into either. Clark, wisely, claimed she hadn't noticed even though Reese was right in her face. Because Clark is one of the most notorious trash talkers in the game. She can dish it out and she can take it too.

This was the last tournament for Houston native Jim Nantz. He is not retiring, however. He will continue his golf and NFL duties for CBS. Nantz, who is only 63 years old, has been calling the Madness since 1990. He will be replaced by Ian Eagle.

Waco, Texas at night. Just kidding; that's the moon.

West Texas. I'd rather live on the moon.

An Improbable Title

The Trophy is Heading to Storrs!

SDS was lucky to only be down 12 at the half, 36-24. Has a team had a more futile scoring first half in the Finals? UConn, actually, who only managed 19 against Butler in 2011. Bulter only scored 22 in that one - an inverse classic.

The Aztecs had nothing on the offensive end. If you don't run plays, you go over 10 minutes without a field goal. UConn played good D, but SDS has no one who can get their own shot. How did they make it to this game?

The Aztecs hit a few shots a the end of the first to keep things from getting out of hand. They delayed the inevitable. I expect things to get ugly the second.

It was a second half only a Husky could love. UConn did not blow the game open. In fact, UConn forgot that they have Sanogo on their team and allowed SDS to pull within five down the stretch. Then the Aztecs missed everything, including free throws, the rest of the game.

Connecticut wins going away, 75-59, holding SDS under 33% shooting from the field.

Two Huskies with double doubles. Sanogo (the MOP) with 17 and 10; Tristen Newton with 19 and 10. 

That's right, they are first cousins.

(Largest overall point differential for the tourney? Kentucky in 1996)

I Can't Quit the Women's Game

LSU Upsets Iowa

Unusual finals in the women's tourney. And I'm not talking about the suit worn by LSU coach Kim Mulkey. Mainly because unusual doesn't begin to describe that outfit.

The refs seemed determined to put their mark on this one. Three LSU starters, including star Angel Reese, were saddled with two fouls each in the first half. LSU's Jasmine Carson came off the bench firing - burying 3 after 3 including a bank shot as time expired in the first half. LSU poured in an incredible 59 points in the first stanza. LSU as a team hit 9/12 from deep in the first.

Iowa was down 21 with 8 minutes to go in the third. The thing is, LSU has a reputation for blowing big leads. Right on cue, Iowa stormed back to get within seven. Then the refs intervened. Iowa's big, Monika Czinano, was called for her fourth foul. Caitlin Clark retrieved the ball and flipped it behind her. The refs called a tech, which also counts as a foul. Clark's fourth. I watched the replay closely. Clark didn't say a word. No way should that have been a technical foul.

That took the wind out of the Hawkeyes sails, who ended up losing 102-85. Look, LSU was the better team today. No question. It's still a shame that the refs felt compelled to take center stage for themselves.

Increadible turnaround for LSU. Three years ago they won 9 games. They hired Kim Mulkey and immediately flipped to 26-6. This year, 34-2 and a national title. Kim Mulkey can wear whatever she likes. Respect.

Caitlin Clark, who had 30 in the title game, is not WNBA eligible.

Jill Biden attended the game with Billie Jean King.

This is poor form. Clark did something similar earlier in the tournament - that wasn't cool either.

Mulkey gets a little animated on the sideline.

UConn Looks Unstoppable

Another Double Digit Win

The form on those Sanogo 3 pointers looked very Shaq-esque. But they went in! UConn with an early 9-point lead.

The Host called a UConn kid Joey California. That's not really his name, right? Nah. It's Joey Calcaterra who is from Novato, California. Mrs Notes commented that he needed to get out in the sun. The Host, without missing a beat, said to give him a break. He lives in Connecticut, God's blind spot. And he's a UConn grad/fan!

Nice play for an open UConn 3 to end the half. That extended the lead to 37-24, the lowest scoring half of the season for Miami.

UConn is dominating mainly without Jordan Hawkins, who is hobbled with a "non-covid illness".  Evidently a stomach bug.

Miami tried to make a game of it in the second, but UConn had an answer every time. Sanogo finished with 21 and 10. Hawkins ended playing and playing well, finishing with 13.

The Huskies should be heavy favorites in Monday night.

Final shot of the first half.

Good run for the Canes. Larrañaga is a class act.

Aztecs to the Finals!

A lot of drama and upsets this March, but there haven't been many true last second shots. Tonight's game came ended after a furious San Diego State comeback. 

With his team down a point, the Aztec's Lamont Butler nailed a shot from the elbow as time expired. SDS to the Finals!

This completed a surprising comeback. Florida Atlantic controlled the entire game, leading by 14 with around 15 minutes remaining. Florida Atlantic's play down the stretch was sloppy and needlessly aggressive. Long outlet passes that ended up out of bounds. Dribbling behind the back in traffic and getting stripped. An epic win was there for the Owls and they gave it away.

SDS hit half of their 3s (9/18). The final score was the only SDS lead of the second half.

The fan reaction.

Tremendous effort by Alijah Martin (26 points) wasted. 

UConn Watch Party Down the Shore

Casa Battaglia

After watching 50 or so ball games primarily in the solitude of Notes Central, I was reminded that sports is typically a communal experience.

So we loaded up the car and headed down the shore. Margate, New Jersey. Hanging out with the extended Battaglia clan. The master of the house is a UConn grad so I'll have to keep my snarky comments to myself.

There is a tornado warning in the area. They broke into the early game for an extended period of time. You know you are with hard core sports fans when they respond to this news not by figuring out which neighbor has a basement but finding out what channel is still playing the game. [Editor's Note: It was the CW. Which apparently still exists.]

Iowa Defeats the Undefeated!

The Best Game of the Weekend

May Have Already Happened

In the most anticipated matchup in either Final Four, Caitlin Clark and Iowa took on Aliyah Boston and the undefeated South Carolina juggernaut. The match pitted the 2022 player of the year, 6’7” bruiser Boston, against the presumed 2023 player of the year, Clark the unguardable guard. 


The game tipped off and almost immediately Boston and Clark had two fouls each. Boston was taken out, but Clark stayed in. That might have been the difference in the game. Boston spent a lot of time on the bench and didn’t get into the flow when she was playing (finishing with 8 points and 10 boards). That said, South Carolina goes 12-deep and they have plenty of talented bigs on the bench. Like 6’7” Brazilian Kamilla Cardoso, who filled in admirably with 14 points and 14 rebounds. South Carolina dominated the boards, as they have all season, outrebounding Iowa 49 to 25 (nearly doubling them up!). USC reminds me of the Patrick Ewing teams of the 1980s. Very big and very physical. Caitlin Clark looked completely gassed at the end of the first half. I thought USC’s relentlessness combined with Iowa’s lack of depth would be an issue down the stretch [Editor’s Note: It wasn’t.].

Check out the beautiful pick and roll at the 1:40 mark.

As is often the case, the team with the best player wins. And Caitlin Clark may be the best women’s player at any level. Her range knows no limits and she can get a shot off before her defender knows what’s coming. I didn’t realize how quick she is off the bounce. South Carolina, which emphasizes defense, could not stay in front of her. The Gamecocks were helpless against the Clark pick and roll with Monika Czinano, who finished with 18. Clark was again spectacular: 41 points, 8 assists, six boards. (Also 8 turnovers – she is, apparently, human) In the fourth quarter, Clark scored or assisted on every point Iowa scored. She lived up to the hype and then some.


Respect to the Iowa coach, Lisa Bluder. Iowa has Clark and Czinano plus a bunch of role players. South Carolina has a skilled 6’7” player and she doesn’t even start. Bluder played a quirky zone almost the whole game, with Clark doubling Boston when she got the ball. Iowa basically begged the USC guards to shoot, which they were hesitant to do. Because when they did, they missed (4/20 from deep). USC’s Dawn Staley did not make many adjustments. Maybe she expected her team to wear Iowa down (their average margin of victory was, stunningly, almost 20 points this season). USC needed to do something to slow down Clark. You can’t zone to keep her out of the lane because she’ll just shoot over it. Maybe a box and one? Easy for me to suggest a gimmick defense that they’ve never practiced. 


Lisa Bluder has been the Iowa coach since 2000. Her teams have won a lot of games, but this was their first trip to the Final Four. Impressed with her, but Caitlin Clark gets the last word.


“Tonight showed how fun women’s basketball is,” Clark said. “I’m sure so many people wish this was a series of seven. That would be really, really fun.”

Is UConn a Blue Blood?

Blue blood denotes nobility or aristocracy, but where does the phrase originate? Not from a good place, turns out. The etiology is from the Spanish sangre azul. Back in the day, the noble classes in Spain and throughout Europe valued fair skin, which allowed blue veins to show through. Sadly, this was meant to highlight racial purity, excluding people with darker skin.

Racist origins of this idiom aside, there is general agreement that four teams occupy the heights of college hoops aristocracy: Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke. These also happen to be the four winningest programs in NCAA men's hoops history. The fifth? Would you believe Temple? The Owls were one of the first organized college basketball teams, starting in 1895. They've won 1,961 games. Absolutely no one considers them one of the top programs.

How about titles? UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana and Kansas. Indiana and UCLA also in the top 10 of all-time wins. 

What about UConn, which I refused blue blood status earlier in the tourney? At first glance, they are the most successful program of this century with three titles. Husky fans might protest that it's even better than that, because if we go back one more year (to 1999) they have won four titles (which is all of their titles). Then again, if we go back to 1996 we add two more to Kentucky's list and it we go back a little more, to 1991, Duke has the most with five. At any rate, UConn has won four titles which is the same as Kansas. And they are the favorites to win #5 this weekend. Respect. UConn's all-time wins are about the same as Louisville, 27th on the list. 

To me, longevity also is a factor.  I called UConn new money. That's not a knock. Would I trade a 2015 title for UK (which means a 40-0 season) for our 1949 title. Yes. Yes, I would. Would I trade 2015 for 1948? Probably not. Many consider that UK team to be the best all-time, when considered relative to the competition of the time. Think I'm a homer? Well, duh. But think about this. 1948 was an Olympic year. When the people who decide these things met in a smoke filled room, they came to the conclusion that they weren't going to do better than the UK starting 5. So the UK starters ended up as the core of the US Olympic team. They beat France in for the gold medal, 65-21. Kentucky's Alex Groza was the team's leading scorer. I just wrote all that from memory. Yea, we take basketball seriously in my home state. So, the 1948 title is special. Repeating in 1949? I'd trade that one for a team that actually played in my lifetime. [Editor's Note: Your eye rolls are noted. I haven't written about Kentucky in two weeks - I'm in withdrawal! Back to the Notes.]

Back to UConn. Nothing but respect, let me be clear. But allow me to bring up a few curious facts. UConn is either terrific or terrible. Terrific: Six Final Fours and they've won four going on five. With three different coaches. But the terrible is pretty bad. Over the past 24 years, UConn missed tourney 8 times! Then add in 7 times failing to get past the first round. (Checks math) That equals futility in 15 of the last 24 years! But of the remaining 9, they might win it all 5 times! That's a lot of exclamation points!

I'll admit that I figured UConn was done after the Kevin Ollie experiment cratered. I was obviously wrong. The least famous Hurley, Dan, turned the program around and is about to take them all the way to the promised land. 

With respect to Ricky Moore, I think Rip Hamilton had a little more to do with the 1999 UConn title run than him.

Kentucky's 1948 "Fabulous Five" in their Olympic unis.


Disturbing legal woes aside, the most talented men's NCAA player remains Brandon Miller. His off the court issues appeared to catch up to him the in tourney, where he played his worst ball of the season. I'm not sorry that his Bama team went home early. He will still be the #2 pick the the NBA draft this summer. Most likely.  It could be Scoot Henderson from the G-League. It's one or the other. Scoot is a combo guard, whereas Miller is a modern "small" forward. Both are great. Neither will go #1.

The top spot is a lock. It belongs to Victor Wembanyama. He's a 19 year old from Le Chesnay, France (it's near Versailles). Wicked first step, can finish at the rim. Smooth shot extending well into NBA range. Remarkably mature game for his age. Did I mention he's a legit 7'2"? (He also can protect the rim). Check out his highlight video. Kid is unreal. Note that those are grown men he is playing against.

A generational talent, but is he a unicorn? In basketball, a unicorn typically describes a big man with guard skills. Think Le Bron or Giannis. That's not my definition. I think a unicorn is a player with extraordinary skills that change the game. What player was the first unicorn? Some will say Bill Russell. One of the greatest rebounders to play the game and an undisputed leader and winner. But he was a big who could rebound. He did it better than anyone before him, but I wouldn't call his game transformational.

I would happily lose that argument. I love Russell, who died last summer, and would much rather have him on a team than notorious ball hog Wilt Chamberlain. But I think Wilt was the original unicorn. Wilt was the first great seven footer, and great he was. He was unguardable. In 1962, playing for the Sixers, he averaged more than 50 points a game. If Wilt didn't exist, Kareem is probably the first unicorn. Kareem was a better player, in my opinion, but he was basically Wilt 2.0.

Who else? The first 6'9" point guard? Yea, Magic was a unicorn. Jordan and LeBron? The best male basketball players ever. LeBron is Magic 2.0. Jordan had plenty of precursors - Ervin, Gervin, take your pick.

Are there any unicorns in the NBA today? Giannis is amazing. But he's not even 30 and Wembanyama has similar skills and is three inches taller.

I think Curry is a unicorn. Have there been great shooters before? Of course. No one regularly threw up shots from as far out as Steph. He taught the league that the 3 was the most effective shot, which changed the game. When guards started routinely shooting from 30 feet, everything opened up. Bigs have nothing to do if they stand around waiting for a post pass that never comes. So they started shooting 3s. And hitting them. Karl Anthony Towns just won the NBA 3-point shooting contest.

Pointless and arbitrary discussion, I'll concede. The point is that Wembanyama is coming and we should all be excited.


When I write things like "best shooting percentage in college hoops" it is implied that I am talking about the men's game. I don't have the bandwidth to follow the women's tourney very closely, which is a pity. Because the best player in college hoops, without question, is Iowa's Caitlin Clark. She just had a triple double to lead her team to the Final Four. The first 40 point triple double in the history of the college game, period.

It's truly a shame that UConn's Paige Bueckers tore her ACL late last year. Bad for her, obviously, but also bad for the game. Clark and Bueckers are the future of women's hoops.

So, Iowa is going to win it all, right? Not so fast. They face South Carolina in the Final Four (Friday at 9:00). Dawn Staley's squad, led by Zia Cooke, is unreal. Look for the Gamecocks to repeat. Although it's worth tuning in to that game on Friday.

What a pity that Miami gets UConn in the Final Four. Which means that Florida Atlantic or San Diego State will show up in the finals and get destroyed. 

The Finals could be a battle of the Florida Treasure Coast.

The Miami women also made the Elite 8 but lost today to LSU.

Day 8 of the NCAA Tournament

Miami with Epic Comeback!

This game was refreshing after the earlier contest. Nice pace, quality of play excellent. Two well coached teams.

Texas closed the half on a 9-4 run to take a 45-37 lead into the half. Texas hit seven 3s in the first, which is what they normally average for a game.

Miami's Isaiah Wong with only 2 at the break. He has to show up in the second for his team to have a chance.

Texas roared out of the locker room quickly building a double digit lead that extended to as many as 13. They looked like they were going to cruise to the win but then the shots finally started falling for Miami.

Miami went on a 13-2 run to storm back into the lead as we entered the stretch run. Back and forth with neither team building a lead. 

Game tied at 79 with a minute to go.

Texas seemed out of gas; the 3s sure stopped falling in the second. Miami was clutch from the line - 28/32. Miami came back without hitting a single 3 in the second half.

Jordan Miller with 27 for Miami. Wong with 14, Pack 15.

Miami coach Jim Larrañaga has been on the big stage before, taking Cinderella George Mason to the Final Four in 2006.

Rodney Terry is Texas' interim coach. There's one word in that sentence that needs to be deleted, immediately.

Texas would have beaten either San Diego State or Creighton handily. But they were matched against a Miami team that would not be denied.

Awsome playground shot, that unfortunately is not legal.

The shooter was Nijel Pack, who was involved in a legit name-image-likeness (NIL) dust up. He signed a $400,000 deal to transfer from Kansas State to Miami (with Pack, KSU is in the Final Four). Problem was, that was way more than Isaiah Wong was getting and he threatened to leave the program if he didn't get the same. Miami evidently didn't match it but made Wong sufficiently happy that he stuck around. Bet he's glad he did.


Coming into this season, Chris Mack was one of the hottest names in coaching. He took over the Texas Tech job in 2016. They quickly became one of the stingiest defenses in the country. In his third season Beard had the Raiders in the NCAA finals, which his team lost to Baylor. Two 18-win seasons did not dimish his reputation and when Texas fired Shaka Smart, Chris Mack was the first coach they called. Mack, previously a grad assistant at Texas, became the 25th coach of the Longhorns. His team won 21 games in 2022 and was 7-1 this year.

In the middle of the night on December 12, 2022 Beard's fiancée called the Austin police accusing Beard of assualt. His fiancée told the police that Beard "choked me, threw me off the bed, bit me, bruises all over my leg, going nuts." The choking was sufficiently severe that she feared for her life. Beard was arrested. Texas suspended Beard and then fired him in January. This was absolutely the right thing to do even though Beard's now former fiancée ultimately declined to press charges. Without her cooperation, the Austin prosecutors had little choice but to drop the ccase.

Last month, the University of Mississippi hired Beard as their head basketball coach, which is equal measures desperate and disgusting. When given an opportunity to address his arrest, Beard spoke a lot of words but said nothing. “She and I have agreed not to talk about the details of not only that night but kind of the nights that we went through this process,” Beard said. “But what I can tell you is, much of what was reported was not accurate, and that’s been proven with the case not only being dismissed but also the charges dropped.” Violence victims decline to press charges for myriad reasons; that doesn't absolve the abuser.

Beard will probably be successful, but Ole Miss has made a deal with the devil. And my guess is they will get burned. Chris Beard is ambitious to a fault. From 2012-2016 he held five different coaching jobs in five years. He acepted the head coaching job at UNLV in 2016 and then backed out a month later when the Texas Tech job opened. He didn't hesitate to leave Lubbock for the bigger stage in Austin. Chris Beard will win games in Oxford and then he will disappear.

I could say that Ole Miss doesn't have much of a reputation to sully. What I will say is that Texas took decisive action against a criminal and never looked back. Go Longhorns. 

Not an Impressive Game

San Diego State Wins

Florida Atlantic Awaits in Final Four

How many air balls did both teams throw up in the first half? A bunch. Overall, not exactly elite level play on either side.

SDSU had no answer for Creighton big man Ryan Kalkbrenner. The 7'1" center from Missouri was really effective in the pick-and-roll (guarded by a guy 4 inches shorter). Kalkbrenner had 10 points at the break, with his team leading by five at halftime. 

San Diego State started the second half with renewed purpose. Tought defense and effective dribble-drive offense gave the lead to the Aztecs at the first TV timeout. [I hope it's politically correct to love the Aztec mascot, because I do. Excellent logo as well.]

SDSU went cold allowing Creighton to retake the lead. Then Ceighton went cold too. Some awfully futile hoops for virtually the entire second half as we headed down the stretch with SDSU up a bucket.

Tense finish to a poorly played game. With about 30 seconds remaining and ahead by two, SDSU blew a lob pass entry on an out of bounds. You do not throw a pass like that toward the opposing team's basket. SDSU did, Creighton stole it and layed it in. Tie ballgame.

SDSU's Trammel got a last second shot from the free throw line. He was held on the shot. Officials do not want to call a foul in the situation but they did. It was the right call. Free throws to decide it. He missed the first. Hit the second. Aztecs to the Final Four!

Seiko played 23 minutes for SDSU. Didn't shoot, didn't score. 2 assists. Kaluma scored 12 and had 5 boards for Creighton. He's their go-to guy; they needed more from him to make a game of it.

How pathetic was the play on both sides, let me count the ways. 57-56 was the score. Pitiful. Creighton shot 40% from the field, SDSU 38%. Putrid. Creighton usually makes 9 3s a game; today they hit 2 and it took 17 shots to get them (that's 11.8%). 

Creighton does not miss from the line. 91.2 from the chartity stripe as a team for this tourney, which is unreal. They were 10/11 today.

This cool logo replaced one that was problematic. Along the line of Cleveland's horribly racist Chief Wahoo. People who think criticizing offensive imagery like Wahoo is woke need to rethink their priorities. Rant over.

It was a foul. Good call.

Creighton's Arthur Kaluma and SDSU's Adam Seiko are half brothers. They met in the tourney last year as well, when Creighton rallied from a 9-point deficit in the final two minutes to win in overtime. Kaluma, who is five years younger but four inches taller, is known as a trash talker; Seiko, who is a sixth (!) year senior, says he lets his game do the talking. Before last year's tourney, the only time the brothers played an organized game of basketball was once in a YMCA league. Kaluma fouled Seiko hard when he was going for a layup resulting in a gash over his eye. Says Seiko: “I got furious. I was like, ‘Dude, how can you let that happen?’ My whole eye was bleeding. I had to go to urgent care, get it stitched up. Brothers, man.” Although they grew up in Southern California (Seiko) and Texas/Arizona (Kaluma), their family is originally from Uganda. They both played for the Uganda national team last summer.

Seiko on the left, Kaluma on the right.

Creighton has been coached by Greg McDermott since 2010, when he took over from long-time coach Dana Altman (after he moved to Oregon). Greg McDermott came with his son Doug, who would become a scoring machine leading him to be a three time first team All-American and consensus national Player of the Year. That surely was part of the reason the Big East came calling in 2013. Creighton also is a Jesuit school and the Big East is populated by catholic institutions. Finally, and signficnatly, Creighton has an impressively passionate fan base. Their arena seats almost 19,000 and they pack it (routinely in the top 10 for attendance - no kidding). Tourney success, however, has always eluded them. The last time they made the Eite 8, in 1941, only 16 teams were invited to the tourney, which was not televised becaused no one had a TV. Today, they play for a chance to represent Iowa in the Final Four.

Eddie Sutton coached at Creighton back in the early 70s. The school has produced 36 All-Americans, including Kyle Korver and (old-timers like me will remember) Paul Silas.

Creighton College was established in 1978 by Mary Creighton to honor her late husband Edward, a prominent Omaha businessman.

What does one do on a weekend in Omaha? The Henry Doorly zoo has the largest indoor desert housed in the world's largest geodesic dome. So there's that. The old railway station is now a museum of Omaha history. Learning about Fortune 500 insurance companies is reportedly quite popular with the kids. [Editor's Note: I have fond memories of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Remember Marlin Perkins? And how he sent Jim Fowler to deal with all manner of dangerous critters? Remember old Jim struggling with a cranky python in an Amazon river while Marlin chuckled while the tape played back in the studio? Good times. Back to the Notes.] One can stroll across the Bob Kerry pedestrian bridge. I'm sure you'll end up near a successful investment firm or insurance company. 

I found a picture that makes Omaha look nice. It's still in Iowa, a state I once spent a day driving across. Mile after mile after mile of corn, fencepost to fencepost. 

Greg and Doug McDermott. Doug is only one of three NCAA players to score more than 3,000 points and snare 1,000 rebounds in their career.  A jorneyman in the NBA, Doug McDermott has avereaged a little over 9 PPG in the NBA for six different teams.

Wild Kingdom's Jim Fowler. It was the 70s. We would basically watch anything. How else does one explain Ed Sullivan and Lawrence Welk? (Seriously, I watched hours and hours of this stuff as a kid).

HBO Owns Sunday

Stop reading and click on the first link over there (the HBO intro).  

When that familiar seven second clip ended I'll bet a theme song popped into your head. Sopranos? Game of Thrones? For me, it's Curb Your Enthusiasm.

When my kid was a preteen, they figured out how to mine cryptocurrency (not kidding). When I was a preteen, I spent a lot of time figuring out how to hack HBO. Back then (the early 80s) the network was all about movies - I don't think many folks signed up for Fraggle Rock.

Now, HBO is synonymous with prestige TV. If it's Sunday night, HBO is on in our household. Coming into 2023, HBO was hyping The Last of Us as their next big thing. I thought to myself, I don't think this one is for me. Not a big fan of zombie stuff. Haven't watched an episode of The Walking Dead and I couldn't get through a chapter of World War Z even though many people recommended it. And The Last of Us is based in a video game. Seriously! Pass.

It debuted while Mrs. Notes was in Chile. This is a problem media-wise, because we watch most shows together. I saw The Last of Us in the queue and thought what the heck. No way Mrs Notes is watching that.

Fast forward to last weekend, the first after The Last of Us season concluded. Mrs Notes and I both commented on the absence, even in the midst of the basketball distraction. Absolutely terrific program, which we both loved. Starring Chilean Pedro Pascal (who seems to be in everything) and Bella Ramsey from Game of Thrones. The third episode was one of the most moving hours of television in recent memory. And it's a zombie show!

HBO took one Sunday off and tonight we have the premiere of the last season of Succession. A drama that may be the funniest show on television! This post has nothing to do with basketball, obviously. Just a little media criticism on a Sunday morning while I avoid doing work I actually get paid for.

Did I watch Fraggle Rock? Of course I did!

Bella Ramsey is 19, here playing a 14 year old. Which means she was 15 when playing 10 year old Lyanna Mormont. Ramsey, who is British, is a terrific actor no matter the part.

The Rest of the Notes is Archived

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