SCREAMIN’ FROM THE CHEAP SEATS :
FEBRUARY 24
By Leo Haggerty

Lot’s of rants and raves below. I’m on al roll.

If you disagree, by all means leave a comment and tell you where you think I’m wrong.  Then we’ll me at a local establishment to argue the point over food and drink.

Chicken wings at 20 paces!

DOES ANYBODY HAVE A CLUE

GONZAGA OVERALL NUMBER 1 SEED

Ok, someone needs to find out what some of these so-called NCAA basketball experts are smoking because they are definitely on another planet.  I cannot believe that these people, and there are at least six of them that didn’t vote Gonzaga #1,  are still trying to make a case for Villanova or Kansas as the top team in the country.

Stop trying to come up with ways to rationalize the fact that, as of right now, the Zags are not the best NCAA Division I Men’s basketball team in the country.  All the Bulldogs have done is throw up a zero on the right side and 29 on the left side of the dash.

This is so simple.  Gonzaga is undefeated and the next closest team has three losses.  Yes, you heard that right, three losses.

If the team behind Gonzaga had one, or maybe two, defeats I could possibly buy into the tougher schedule scenario.  But, not with three losses.

I don’t care that the Zags are in the West Coast Conference.  The WCC isn’t chopped liver this year.  St. Mary’s is ranked #20 with a 25-3 log and Brigham Young has a 20-10 slate.

Unless the Bulldogs lose a home game to BYU in the last week of the regular season or make an early exit in the WCC tournament in Las Vegas, which HC Mark Few may secretly want to happen (see previous Screamin’ column), Gonzaga is the #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  End of story.

WHAT’S HOT

CONNECTICUT WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

The UConn women’s basketball program isn’t just hot, they’re on fire.  With a consecutive game winning streak of 102 games, and counting, the Huskies are at the pinnacle of NCAA basketball success. Plus, it doesn’t look like anyone is going to knock them off that perch at least for this year.

I don’t care if you’re playing in a PAL or CYO grade school league, this is a phenomenal feat.  What HC Geno Auriemma has done up in Storrs is mindboggling.

Add to that the fact that UConn will plays anybody, home or away, just makes this an accomplishment for the ages.  The only question is what team will step up and end the streak.  When that happens, my friends, it will be front page news.  

WHAT’S NOT

NCAA BASKETBALL OFFICIALS

Before you all go ballistic, I’m not criticizing the NCAA referees for what happens on the court.  What I am questioning is what happens off the court.

I truly believe that the NCAA needs to step in an limit the number of games done by an individual official.  I think fatigue, especially late in the saeson, is a contributing factor to some very questionable calls especially late in the game.

The zebras, if they choose, can work seven days a week and let me give you an example.  An official, who is employed by The Big Esat and the Atlantic Coast Conference, and this is not uncommon for officials to be working in two major basketball leagues, can have an ACC game on Monday and Wednesday and Friday.  They can have a Big East game on Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday.  Then, they could pick up a mid-major MAAC game on Sunday.

To me, that’s just too much.  I would like to see the NCAA come up with a policy that would limit an official to no more than six games in a week and the referee can do no more than three consecutive games in that seven-day period.

I believe that will accomplish two things.  One, it will increase the pool of younger officials at the major college level.  Two, the older and more established veteran officials will be more rested when it comes to tournament time in March.  

LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

PROFESSIONAL ALL STAR GAMES 

The Crystal Ball is very clear on this point. The All Star games in the four major North American professional sports (National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball) will be eliminated with the next three or four years.

The Crystal Ball is not casting blame on any group as being the cause of the All Star game demise.  It has got to a point where the major negative, and that is sustaining a career ending injury that will cost the player millions of dollars in salary and the owner hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, far outweigh any of the positives.

The Crystal Ball is showing the NBA as an example with perfect clarity.  That’s probably because their All Star game was the most recently completed.

The Crystal Ball is showing Cleveland All Star F Lebron James blowing out a knee when someone tries to go up and contest one of his  dunks with the injury being so severe he cannot play again.  Not only is King James out big pesos but the owner of the Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, would lose mega money with declining attendance plus lost playoff proceeds.

You can make this analogy to any of the other three sports.  Take a Sidney Crosby out of the NHL, a Mike Trout out of MLB or a Julio Jones out of the NFL and those players and owners will suffer immeasurably.

It time to put All Star games out to pasture.  They were great but have outlived their usefulness.

With that, the Crystal Ball rests.