NOTES WRITTEN FROM THE BASELINE, END ZONE AND PITCHER’S MOUND:
*It’s silly to expect a Colin Cowherd apology, but not nearly as silly as those things Cowherd said about former Kentucky basketball player John Wall nearly four years ago on his ESPN radio show.
You remember the Cowherd rant. He essentially said that the Washington Wizards had wasted the first pick of the 2010 NBA Draft on Wall. Cowherd then wrote off Wall’s character and career, in part because Wall introduced himself to the league by performing “The Dougie,” during a pre-game intro.
“Before the game started, he spent 34 seconds doing “The Dougie,” Cowherd said. “That tells me all I need to know about J-Wow. Then he opened his mouth and confirmed it – not a sharp guy. All about him.”
It was one of the last times I listened to Cowherd.
It was not the last time I watched Wall.
Four years into his pro career, Wall has matured nicely into one of the NBA’s best young point guards. He showed it Sunday with a 16-point, 6-assist, 6-rebound effort as the Wizards toppled the Bulls in Chicago in their opening playoff game.
Wall will likely play even better. He had a solid season, averaging 19.3 points, 8.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds. Mr. All-About-Him ranked third in the NBA in assists, trailing only Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo.
Mark it down as Washington’s first playoff victory in nine seasons. Three more wins and everybody will be dancing.
Except Colin Cowherd.
*Tubby Smith to Minnesota I understood. Tubby had run his race at Kentucky, and a substantial knot of UK fans were ready for a coaching change.
Trent Johnson from Louisiana State to the wasteland that is TCU basketball I did not understand for a single dribble. But I also never understood why Johnson left Stanford for Baton Rouge. Johnson has mismanaged his career into irrelevance.
Cuonzo Martin from Tennessee to California last week was not a complicated decision. Tennessee fans were never going to be happy with anything but a copycat version of Bruce Pearl (illegal off-campus barbecue included). Martin is a no-nonsense guy who made a no-nonsense move to the Bay Area.
Finally, last week we had Frank Haith fleeing Missouri for Tulsa. I’ll file that one under self-preservation. Run before the locks to your office are changed. Haith is barely an average coach, as the good folks of Tulsa will discover.
But as Pat Forde noted in his column at Yahoo! Sports, that is four talented African-American coaches who have departed Southeastern Conference for lesser positions, or at best lateral moves, in the last seven seasons.
That can’t be seen as encouraging news for a league that is always trying to get the rest of the country to take SEC basketball seriously every March.
I think it’s a reach to say there’s a common theme here – other than there are a dozen SEC schools that need to commit to basketball the way that Kentucky and Florida have committed.
But SEC administrators have reason for concern.
*Welcome to Texas football, Charlie Strong.
The Longhorns played their spring game Saturday – and drew 30,000 fans, just 2,500 more than Louisville.
And unlike Louisville, the Longhorns do not appear to have a quarterback. David Ash, who was expected to start, can’t play because of a foot injury. His replacement, Tyrone Swoopes, was shaky during the spring game, with 10 incompletions in his first 17 throws.
Swoopes did rally to throw three touchdown passes. But Strong did not sound like a coach whose team was ready to play Oklahoma next week.
“I don’t know how good we can be,” Strong said. “I wish I had 15 more days of practice, but I don’t.”
*Congrats to former University of Louisville pitcher Justin Marks. After five challenging seasons in the minor leagues, Marks made his major-league debut Sunday for the Kansas City Royals.
The first inning was superb. He struck out two Minnesota hitters.
The second inning as not so superb. Marks allowed two singles, two doubles and a walk.
But at 26, Marks got to The Show. He’s a left-hander – and there are always opportunities for lefties who can throw an effective inning or two.