Wichita State, KU, K-State---I no longer have a horse in the race, so who do I pull for? Do I need to pull for anyone in order to enjoy the rest of the tournament? Do I just look for reruns of ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ to kill time? Maybe I re-connect with my wife and children…Nah, they’ve got better things to do. I guess I’ll just force myself to watch, even if one shining moment has already passed me by.
How’s your sheet?
I’ve only got ten of the Sweet 16; I do still have three of the Final Four and my two finalists are still alive. I no longer have conviction about my champion—Michigan State simply hasn’t looked the part, especially guard Keith Appling who still doesn’t look totally healthy.
So does Louisville get my nod? Arizona perhaps? Why can’t I get on board with Florida, they’ve only won 26 straight games and were unbeaten in a conference that’s 7-0 so far in the NCAA. Virginia is an intriguing team; they play a lot like the Shockers and, even though they’re from the ACC, are relatively new to this stage. I do like Fred Hoiberg and Iowa State, but how far can they really go without Georges Niang? I guess I’ll just wait and see if anybody grabs my fancy.
I was really glad to hear that Wayne Selden was returning for a second year at KU. He’s a really talented player but my guess is that he would have ended up in the D-League or overseas. A second year under Bill Self will help groom him for the next level and it immediately makes the ‘Hawks better, although Joel Embiid’s decision could be the difference between whether or not Kansas is a national title contender next year.
All Selden needs to do is look down the turnpike for an example of how staying in school can change your fortunes. Cleanthony Early came out of a small junior college in New York; he leaves Wichita State as a likely top 15 pick in the NBA draft. Staying put probably wouldn’t make very good financial sense for Embiid or Andrew Wiggins, but Selden can raise his profile considerably by staying in school.
I’m looking forward to calling the Shocker game with Cal State-Fullerton this weekend, WSU is 14-9 against an outstanding schedule. Six of those nine losses have come by a single run, so they appear to be close to being the kind of team first year coach Todd Butler wants. I couldn’t be more impressed with the way that Butler has taken over the program, it’s never easy to replace a legend but he’s been flawless.
Butler has spoken to every group that will have him and every step of the way he’s lauded his predecessor Gene Stephenson. He’s been humbled by the opportunity to succeed Stephenson, but hasn’t been intimidated by it. Butler saw irregularities in his front office and he reported them to his new superiors—you know how easy it would have been to have turned a blind eye?
All that’s behind him now and he’s about the business of trying to win baseball games which, ultimately, will define him. It’s just good to know that he’s trying to do it with such impeccable character.