Sorry for the lack of blogs after the onslaught of them in Branson, but the truth is that National Tournament can be draining. I'm sure some people think it's all golf courses and hospitality rooms for an SID at the National Tournament, but I felt like I was working almost the entire time we were there, and after the deflating way it came to an end, I think everyone involved needed a little break.
Plus, I always have some scheduled vacation for right after the National Tournament. Since college, my friends make a point to all get together for the first four days of the NCAA tournament, and this year was no exception. I spent a long weekend in the Minneapolis area watching basketball, seeing some great people I don't get to see often enough, and finally relaxing after the hectic stretch that is fall and winter sports. Spring sports are busy too, but not the way the fall and winter are. It was great to stop and catch my breath before moving on to spring. Oh, and I got to go to an open house at Target Field. That was OK, too.
It was back to business in a big way yesterday with both the DWU baseball and softball home openers. I hope the softball team will be encouraged with the way they play in a pair of 2-0 and 4-0 losses to Dordt College. Simple enough, the Tigers need to hit. I was impressed by their freshman pitchers, Roni Nekrassoff and Kelsey Timmons, and the defense was solid save for one crucial inning, but if DWU's bats can come around, they can win a lot of games with that pitching and fielding. I like the athleticism in the outfield, and if this core sticks around, this could be a great team in a year or two. They could use a finished press box at their new field, too, so I can actually block some of the glare that made my computer nearly impossible to see.
I got over to the baseball doubleheader just in time for the drama of game two. In a tie game in the bottom of the seventh, it appeared like DWU had stolen the winning run into scoring position with one out, but the umps called the runner out on batter interference and despite a great bit of arguing out of the Ron Gardenhire or Lou Pinella's book by head coach Steve Gust, the call stood and Southwest Minnesota State dodged the bullet.
However, it couldn't dodge the big bullet an inning later when Casey Solem blasted a walk-off home run, setting of a classic home-plate mobbing. What a way to end the home opener. I don't want to brag either, but that blast was called by a certain SID up in the press box. That makes me 2-for-2 this year after also predicting Anthony Muilenburg's kick return for a touchdown during football season. Now, there are probably some people who are going to say I misfired on a few calls during the year during football, volleyball or basketball (quiet down, Clint Farrar and Jon Hart) but as far as I'm concerned, I'm still batting 1.000.
Getting this blog going during the NAIA National Tournament has re-energized me for this type of writing, so I'm hoping to start another blog soon. I'll keep this one purely Tiger related, and I'm hoping to use the other as an outlet to share some thoughts about my other favorite teams - the Twins, Gophers, Packers, etc. - as well as music and entertainment. To start to get in the flow, here are some of my quick hit thoughts about the NCAA Tournament thus far.
-There's no "I" in "Team" but according to Digger Phelps there's an "R" in "Washington."
-When will CBS figure out the dream announcing team for the Final Four and Championship game is Gus Johnson with Bill Raftery. They're the best. Give Jim Nantz some time off to get ready for The Masters. Nantz is perfect for golf, chess and the national spelling bee, but give me Gus and Raftery for any big basketball game.
-Thursday was probably the single best day of First-Round action I can ever remember. I loved the first day in 2000 too, when you Mitchell people will recall Mike Miller's game-winner to help Florida beat Butler, but almost every single game this Thursday was excellent. And I partly loved that 2000 tourney becasue that's where the March Madness tradition was born with my friends, crammed into Room 169 in Frontier Hall at the University of Minnesota. Since then, it's been my favorite time of the year.
-I was born and raised a Big Ten guy, and I love seeing them put the most teams in the Sweet 16, even with Michigan State and Purdue missing their stars. And Evan Turner is hands-down the best player in college basketball this season. Hands down. However, the maroon and gold that runs through my veins had me rooting hard for Wofford, and silently celebrating Cornell's thrashing of Bucky. I'm a fan of any situation where Andy Bernard celebrates, and Bo Ryan (a great, great coach) goes back to selling used cars.
-I am so sick of that "Bags Fly Free" commercial. And every single ad for that movie where the girl is out of the guy's league. Awful.
-It's 7:27 p.m. on Thursday, Syracuse just got a huge alley-oop dunk off an inbounds pass and Gus Johnson just yelled "INSIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE!" He's the best.
-What's your favorite "little" aspect of a basketball game? Mine is when a jump shot hits only backboard and comes flying back off. Always hilarious.
Alright, that's enough for now. I'll check back in this weekend with my final thoughts from the NAIA tournament. Good luck to all the DWU teams on the road, and if you're like me, enjoy the next four days of college hoops!