Kelvin Sampson’s Redemption at Houston

It seems all fell into place this week-end in college basketball and in the state of Indiana simultaneously.

Former Hoosier Mike Woodson was hired as the new coach of the once iconic Hoosier program while former estranged Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson took his team to the Final Four with a win over Cinderella Oregon State last night in March Madness.

It feels as if the basketball gods have made this good for all parties involved.

Kelvin was fired at Indiana and banned from coaching college basketball for in essence doing things which aren’t even violations anymore. He continued coaching as an assistant in the NBA and when his ban had expired he took the job at Houston seven years ago.

The story was culminated last night as for the first time since the glory days of Guy Lewis in the mid ’80s the Houston Cougars have made the Final Four field with a gritty team which embodies the very basketball personality of Kelvin.

As an OU fan who enjoyed watching Kevin’s teams I think it’s great he has turned Houston back into the national power it once was back in the day when mens’ college basketball was more prominent than it is today as far as viewership and interest.

Nice to see Baylor advance as well as Scott Drew’s story in Waco is truly one of the remarkable stories in collegiate sports considering the dark siuation he inherited when he took the job seventeen years ago. I’ll maybe touch on that more once our Final Four field is completed later this evening.

UCLA Eliminates Alabama in Overtime

Only one compelling basketball game on Sunday in the Sweet 16 as the 11th seeded UCLA Bruins continued their grind to an Elite 8 matchup with Michigan by defeating Alabama in overtime.

I thought this was one of the best games of the tournament so far as we now begin Elite 8 games today with a Baylor vs. Arkansas matchup and a Houston vs. Oregon State battle to give us our first two members of the Final Four.

On Tuesday we get Gonzaga vs. USC and Michigan vs. UCLA. Despite some of the normal upsets along the way in the first two rounds…we have the top three teams in college basketball still standing in Gonzaga, Baylor, and Michigan.

Both Baylor and Michigan have come back to their norms after serious Covid issues derailed their seasons in mid to late February. In Houston we have a team which has been on a solid trajectory all season long. Arkansas is on a tear and winners of eleven straight and is the sole SEC team left standing.

The Big 12 and the Big Ten have both been whittled down to one team apiece. The surprise in this tournament is that three PAC 12 teams in USC, UCLA, and 12th seeded Oregon State are still alive on this Monday morning.

Houston vs. Oregon State should be a war with the primary focus being if Houston’s tough defense can grind down Ethan Thompson’s star studded run in this tournament so far.

Then there’s Gonzaga the No. 1 team in the tournament with Evan Mobley and Company standing in their way to a Final Four opportunity to create a another shot at their elusive first ever NCAA mens hoops championship.

We’ve gotten this far in Indiana with this bubble approach to pulling off the tournament and the teams we have left standing should give us a compelling finish.

From a regional view in the Big 12 both Oklahoma and Texas sometime this week will both probably be naming new basketball coaches while Indiana named Mike Woodson their head coach yesterday.

In the NBA…the question to be answered is if LeBron and AD can both get healthy and win another ring. Not much competitive drama if they both get healthy. But if one of them doesn’t get back in form, unlike last season, we could have an interesting spring of NBA Playoffs.

But for now…it’s March Madness front and center heading towards Easter week-end.

Oral Roberts’ Cinderella Season Ends in Sweet 16

This was clearly the best Sweet 16 game of the day as Arkansas survived a last three point attempt by Max Abmas at the buzzer to beat Oral Roberts 72-70. It was a great play drawn up by head coach Paul Mills as with only 3.1 seconds he got Max Abmas baseline to baseline… a very makeable three from the right wing which didn’t miss by much.

Coach Mills is from the Scott Drew coaching tree at Baylor and I wonder if Joe C at Oklahoma Coach Mills on his short list of three to interview for the Sooners’ head coaching vacancy. He’s third on my list currently behind 1 Dana Altman, Oregon and Grant McCasland, North Texas, who BTw is another young hot coach from the Scott Drew/Baylor coaching tree in Waco.

This was a great game as Oral Roberts led most of the way and led by as many as 12 points in the second half before the Razorbacks’ offenive rebounding turned the game around in the final eight minutes of play.

A tough end for the Golden Eagles from Tulsa, but at the same time an exhilirating ride for a team which beat Ohio State and Florida on this remarkable journey.

For Arkansas and Coach Musselman it’s the first time since 1994-95 in the glory days of Nolan Richardson that the Razorbacks have advanced to an Elite 8.

Arkansas now has Baylor in front of them and both teams are in essence a mirror of one another. Both are deep and talented, but Baylor is the more experienced team and the Razorbacks next year will be one of the national picks to do big things with an added year of roster maturity.

If I were going to handicap this game…I’d go Baylor as a 4.5 favorite to get to the Final Four.

Houston and Oregon State both advanced on the day as well. Great job by both clubs. As an OU fan, of course I’m very happy for Kelvin and proud of the great job he’s done with the Houston program with his son Kellen who played for Jeff Capel. Plus.. the fact former OU Final Four’ers Hollis Price and Quannas White are on the Cougars’ staff.

Houston from this point moving forward will be my sentimental team to root for in the tournament as they can get to the Final Four with a win over the Cinderella Beavers.

Houston hasn’t been this far in the tournament since 1984-85 when Guy Lewis lost back to back games in the national finals if I remember correctly. I might need to google that just to make sure.

How Houston lost that epic game to Jimmy V’s NC State team is one of the greatest memories in the tournament as in ever as it spawned the screeplay for the best ESPN film of all-time in Win, Survive, and Advance.

And that’s exactly where we are in this tournament heading into this Sunday of the second set of Sweet 16 games. My feature game will be the USC vs. Oregon game. This should be a great game if you haven’t seen both teams this season.

Enjoy the beautiful Oklahoma spring weather today and enjoy a Sweet 16 game as well. Nobody tanks in the Sweet 16. It’s not allowed in real competition. You don’t tank in college, in your livelihood, in your business, or in high school sports. I can’t remmember once when Bob Jackson pulled me aside and told me he was going to tank in a courtroon on his client either. Just saying.

Sam Presti…I’m calling bullshit for the time being on your claims of sustainability. If sustaining in Oklahoma City …then why tank?

Max Abmas-Oral Roberts…What We Should Know

Cinderella Oral Roberts has two very good players in point guard Max Abmas and forward Kevin Obanor. It was quite a season for guards in the state of Oklahoma this season with Cade Cunningham, Austin Reaves, Devion Harmon, Avery Anderson and Max Abmas.

What we should know is that Max Abmas led the country in scoring this season and is on a tear in this NCAA Tournament.

You put two quality players like Abmas and Obanor together to play a two man game and the college game becomes somewhat simple.

I’m a little bummed right now because Devion Harmon announced today he’s going pro this summer. I knew there was a chance, but I was hoping he’d come back because ‘we know’ Joe C will hire an excellent coach for the program in the Big 8-Big 12 era which has been the second best program in the conference in the contemporary black athlete era…only behind Kansas as far as program accomplishments. OU basketball is a good coaching job.

I’m excited about watching Oral Roberts vs. Arkansas on Saturday evening in the feature game. Arkansas probably has a better team, but the question will be how much and to what extent Abmas and Obanor can carry their team as the competition gets more intense every round moving forward.

Think I’ll catch the Oregon vs. USC Sweet 16 game with coach Dana Altman as well and star Trojan center Evan Mobley.

Lon Kruger To Call It a Career

The word coming out of Norman late today was Lon Kruger met with his players and told them he’s going to retire.

This doesn’t shock me, but it does put a lump in my throat because I love Lon Kruger. I actually have a framed photo of Coach Kruger in my sports study with my son Chris on one side and my daughter-in-law Elaine on the other side of Coach K inside of the O Club.

I never got to spend much time talking to Coach Kruger as I did with chance meetings with Eddie Sutton, Abe Lemons, and Paul Hansen… but he’s a coach I genuinely respect and admire.

Lon Kruger is easily a Hall of Famer having won 674 games at the DI level with six different schools in his head coaching career which spanned thirty-five seasons.

He was head man at Pan American, his alma mater Kansas State, Illinois, Florida, UNLV, and Oklahoma. Pan American is the only team he coached which didn’t make the NCAA Tournament.

At K State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV, and Oklahoma he took teams to the NCAA Tournament. At Florida and Oklahoma he took teams to the Final Four. At Kansas State in 1988 he took his Wildcats to the Midwest Regionals where they were denied a Final Four berth by of all teams Danny Manning & The Miracles. A season I will never forget as three Big Eight teams made regional final games.

His son Kevin was recently named the head coach at UNLV and you know maybe Lon will pop up as an assistant for his son at the age of sixty-eight. That would be cool.

I by chance met Lon’s assistant head coach at OU, Steve Henson, at an DFW terminal once on a late flight back from Denver. Coach Henson had just landed the UT-SA head job and gushed positive as he talked about Coach Kruger. Henson couldn’t believe I recognized him. He was genuinely very nice after he realized I wasn’t some sort of sick freak stalker. I wonder where Coach Henson’s next job will be after five season at UT-SA?

Coach Kruger won just under two hundred games in his ten years at OU. The Buddy Hield team made the Final Four. He coached two National Player of the Year winners at OU in Buddy Hield and Trey Young.

Coach Kruger is a great golfer so moving back to Vegas to be with his son and the year round golf should be awesome for he and his family.

So…who will Joe C hire as the next Sooner hoops coach?

OU hoops is a good job. Out of the last four head coaches three have made a Final Four appearance with Billy Tubbs, Kelvin Sampson, and Lon Kruger. Jeff Capel made an Elite 8 in Blake Griffin’s National Player of the Year season.

You know who I love…Chris Beard, but I would guess he’s pretty much committed to Texas Tech. I have no idea what the buyout is with Coach Beard in Lubbock…but if were Joe C and I could wrangle an interview out of Coach Beard…that would be my choice.

Joe C…you get Lincoln Riley next to Chris Beard or Dana Altman at Oregon and that’s pretty impressive. I think I’m going to google Coach Beard’s buyout.

Congrats…on a Hall of Fame career, Lon Kruger.

*** Googled it. Yikes. The buyout for Coach Beard is $6 million if he leaves to coach another Big 12 team…$3 million for schools outside of the Big 12. I don’t see that happening coming off a Covid season of monetary losses. Plus…OU has to hire a new women’s coach.

My god…what a voice! He sounds like Bill Self or Coach Sutton. I’d hire him on the spot with that voice. He’s been head coach at Creighton, K State, Marshall, and Oregon His teams have made the NCAA Tournament thirteen times. He’s been named conference coach of the year in each conference he’s coached in over his career.

Actually—OU beat Oregon in the regional finals to advance to the Final Four with the Buddy Hield team. Let’s see if Joe C gets his man. Joe C is sly in this way.

That voice is incredible. It’s like listening to Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird. Coach Altman would be a great fit with the core OU has coming back.

I’ve got to get ready for Oral Roberts vs. Arkansas.

One of the classic lines of all time from Atticus Finch which reminds me of Trump supporters…’This poor woman is a victim of ignorance and poverty…but nothing else.”

The end. Have a nice Sweet 16. Hope your team plays well.

Thunder Lose To Memphis On Eve Of Trade Deadline

It’s March 25th..with the hallowed ritual of the NBA trade deadline being pushed back a month this year due to Covid. I have no clue what Sam Presti will do, but you would think George Hill will be moved to a contender of some sort for a second round pick.

The Trevor Ariza trade which was made previously… I didn’t even note on my blog because it was of such little consequence.

I would think Mike Muscala could be moved today as well despite how well he’s played this season. Hope he lands on a roster of relevance because he was a true professional this season. Good luck…Mike Muscala.

With Big Al Horford’s large contract I’m not sure what will be done with Big Al today if anything as Shai Gilgeous Alxander needs someone on the bench to talk to now that it appears Presti with 28 games remaining in the regular season may finally get serious about tanking.

It appears Shai has some sort of mysterious injury which will require him to sit for awhile. The injury is called fiduciary malpractice…as in if Sam Presti doesn’t come out of this draft with a top five pick it will be fiduciary malpractice on a par with OU hiring John Blake to be their head football coach back in the day.

The Thunder club level scrimmage team now stands at 19-25 with 28 games remaining since the league is only playing 72 regular season games this year. Shai is playing at too high of a level to keep putting him on the floor. He keeps winning too much. You can’t tell Secretariat to run slow…so you make up the seriousness of an injury and sit him. No one is buying tickets in Oklahoma City this season and this is worse than pro wrestling….so you sit him.

I would assume if Presti got lucky enough to get a top pick at this point…either Cade or the trending Evan Mobley would be at the top of his list. But who really knows…maybe Poku has a second cousin in the Greek C League or a lost brother on the Serbian Discovery Team.

The Thunder last night in Oklahoma Cty got blown out by the Memphis Grizzlies after leading by as many as ten points midway through the third period. It appeared to be a classic tank maneuver… a rollover at just the right time or else the Thunder would be standing 20-24 as I write this morning….and still foolishly in contention for a spot as the 10th seed in the West.

That’s it for me. I don’t recap scrimmages on my blog….only real sporting events. Maybe the hapless Little Nick Gallo and the millenial sychopants at the Daily Thunder will continue to cover the rest of this nonsense on a game by game basis… but they have to do it as they’re being paid by Presti to do so. I blog for the pure joy of blogging about real competition. Sam Presti…like me, was a double major with a history degree—so at some point he should start reading my blog.

Anyway…March Madness and the glorious Sweet 16 gets in gear starting tomorrow. My feature game of course will 15 Oral Roberts vs. 3 Arkansas. I saw both of these teams play other opponents during the regular season and this should be an interesting game.

I have ho idea who’s up next for the Thunder, but I know this—they need to lose the game. and I won’t be recapping it. But I will occasionally feature highlights from one of the youngters if they have a good night on the hardcourt.

Gonzaga Ends OU’s Season, 87-71

OU played hard and well against top-ranked and unbeaten Gonzaga as the final score of 87-71 doesn’t represent this was basically a 9-11 point spread for most of the last eight minutes of the game.

Considering Devion Harmon didn’t play and Brady Manek went 1-8 and scored an invisible total of three points–it’s impressive the other OU players kept this game close and entertaining to watch.

Austin Reaves was superb scoring 27 points on an 11-17 shooting game. His toughness and competiveness is never an issue. If Brady Manek had Austin’s snarl—the Sooners would possibly still be playing in this tournament. I hope Austin can find a niche for his game at the next level as his game in some regards reminds of the rookie Ty Jerome who’s trying to carve a role with the Thunder. It has been a pleasure watching Austin these past two years after he transferred to OU from Wichita State. He’s got that Tyler Herro smirk I just love in a player. Good luck, Austin.

Elijah Harkless played his ass off as he always does. Seven points, nine rebounds, and two assists coupled with his toughness and smarts all over the court. I love EJ’s game. Lon Kruger has a running mate for Devion Harmon next year which will make the Sooners interesting to watch. Shoot more next season, EJ.

Alondes Williams played at a high level in my view. He scored 15 points and was key in keeping the Sooners in the game. Alondes is a senior, but I would think since the NCAA isn’t counting this Covid year eligibilty wise…Alondes would be a classic example of a player who should come back to refine and improve his game. His game is one of the most athletic on the team and his own case of Covid was a genuine detriment to his season. Alondes…hope you come back. Your game has a high ceiling if you keep working. Love watching you play when your confidence is in place as it was today.

Jalen Hill played well at the small forward slot and scored 11 points. It was good to see Jalen play well in the two NCAA Tournament games because he’s going to be a huge part of the Sooners’ season next year. He’s smart, tough, competitive and a guy who should shoot more from the perimeter given the fact he should get Brady Manek minutes next season.

Kur Kuath played well. He gave the Sooners rim protection and helped keep OU in the game with his energy. I love watching Kur play because he has a boundless joy for playing the game. Kur is a senior and has said he’s moving on next year. I think this is a mistake personally because if he developed a shot he could be an interesting player. But I wish Kur the best because he did whatever he could this season to make the team competitive.

Moj Gibson only played 21 minutes in this game which I think was a bit of a mistake by Coach Kruger given Moj went 2-4 shooting the three ball in the first half. OU did not make a three in the second half and this was key. You gotta score the three ball to hang Gonzaga. Moj’s confidence seemed to slump down the stretch this season, but for most of the year he was a difference maker after transferring to OU from North Texas. I would think Moj being the third or fourth guard next year for Lon Kruger is a big part of the Sooners’ plans.

As far as Gonzaga…they have a nice team with Timme, Kispert, and Jalen Suggs. I’ve now seen OU play both Baylor and Gonzaga and I would say that could be a helluva game. I would give Gonzaga a slight edge.

Like most NCAA Tournaments there have been upsets galore in these first two rounds…but for most of this Covid ridden season we thought Gonzaga, Baylor, and Michigan were the top three teams…and you know what—those are those three teams standing along with thirteen others who are chasing the same dream.

As far as the Sooners—they finish at 16-11 and gave me as a fan some great fun this season. OU and Cade Cunningham filled a void for me because I don’t watch tanking teams game in and game out. It’s not legitimate competition. Pro wrestling has more integrity….seriously. Obviously…Adam Silver agrees with me because he added two play-in rounds this season because he’s tired of watching this bullshit in his own league.

Oral Roberts played OU this season and lost to the Sooners by a 79-65 count if my memory serves me right. Who would have thought they’d be the team from Oklahoma in the Sweet 16? I think I’ll follow Oral Roberts and see where that leads coming out of the Sweet Sixteen.

But here’s the thing, Oral Roberts has a point guard and a forward who can dominate the game…and that makes this an interesting proposition moving to the next round as sixteen teams are still chasing the same dream.

(8) Heartfelt postgame message for resilient Cinderella squad – YouTube

Oregon State Ends Cade’s Season, 80-70

Upstart Cinderella Oregon State put an end to Cade Cunningham’s one and done season with a 80-70 win inside of Butler Fieldhouse on Sunday night.

Cade C finished with 24 points, but Oregon State’s Ethan Thompson was the best player on the floor with 26 points and a clutch performance worthy of Jimmy Chitwood in the classic hoops flick Hoosiers. Maybe Sam Presti will draft Ethan since his semi-tanking Thunder have won too many games to get a top three player. That would be the ultimate epilogue to the James Harden trade.

Oklahoma State pulled to within three at 70-67 with 3:39 left, but then for some reason forgot what got them to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. That being, getting the ball in Cade Cunningham’s hands and Cade getting to the free throw line.

It was an array of bad shots by the wrong players in the wrong situations. It was ugly is what it was and a cruel ending for those of us in Oklahoma who have enjoyed watching Cade’s ‘one and done season’ in Stillwater since we haven’t had a legitimate Thunder season of basketball or tanking.

When I looked at the box score after the game I was stunned. Oregon State out-rebounded the Cowboys 52-32. The Beavers blocked 11 shots and they lived on the free throwline. In retrospect—it’s somewhat amazing Mike Boynton’s team was even in this game at the end.

Avery Anderson with 16 points and Keylan Boone with 13 points were Cade’s only help on a night when Issac Likekele, Kaleb Boone, Rondel Walker, and Bryce Williams didn’t pull their links on the proverbial chain.

I’m sad because there’s that hoops romantic in me who wanted to see Jimmy Chitwood take Coach Sutton’s program back to glory on Championship Monday.

But it was not to be because on this night in storied Butler Fieldhouse…Ethan Thompson was Jimmy Chitwood and the Oregon State Beavers along with Abilene Christian, Buddy Boehiems’s Syracuse team, and Oral Roberts still have that hope alive in me we’re going to see something truly remarkable as we head towards One Shining Moment.

Mike Boynton, dude…I love you. But when you have Jimmy Chitwood—you put the ball in his hands the last 3:39 and let someone else run the picket fence play. Just saying.

OU Beats Missouri To Advance, 72-68

A gutty win for OU over Missouri without Devion Harmon on Saturday evening by a 72-68 count.

As is always the case with OU the game went down to the end with Jalen Hill hitting two clutch free throws to ice the game.

It was a very even game throughout as OU held on to advance to the NCAA second round for the fourth time since 2015. With a win over top ranked Gonzaga the Sooners could make it to a Sweet 16 for the third in that time period.

Austin Reeves led the Sooners with 23 points while Brady Manek addded 19 points.

Elijah Harkless double doubled and contributed 16 much needed points.

Olandis Williams played one of his best games in a while and along with Jalen Hill and Moj Ginbson will be critical if the Sooners want to hang with No. 1 Gonzaga on Monday.

A nice win for these guys who’ve been affected by Covid throughout the season.

This is where it would have been nice to have a 6th or 7th seed because OU is as good as anybody on that side of the draw. Gonzaga will be especially tough without Harmon playing because they’re going to make it tough on Austin Reaves I would think. Gibson has to step up.

Big 12 went 6-1 in the first round with the only casualty being Texas who somehow found a way to lose to Abilene Christian on the big stage after getting that semi-final bye which led to them winning the Big 12 Tourny.

All three teams from Oklahoma are alive in the second round which is extremely cool. Good luck to all three teams.

Virtual Boomer Sooner – YouTube

O State 69 – Liberty 60

It was a good day for Mike Boynton’s team on multiple fronts as they overcame a pesky Liberty club on an evening in which Cade struggled from the field going 2-14.

The silver lining was Avery Anderson, Issac Likekele, and MA Moncrief all stepped up and put the Cowboys in a position to close the game with Cade hitting a big three and then getting to the line as he always does at the end of close games.

From the 2:52 mark to the .55 second mark — Cade did his thing scoring nine straight points for the Cowboys at winning time in close games. On the game even despite the 2-14 from the field… Cade still finished with 15 points.

Tennessee got handled rather easily by Oregon State so the Beavers will be O State’s next opponent in the second round and I would think Mike Boynton feels good about this evn if he won’y say it publicly.

The Big 12 went a collective 4-0 on the first night of the tournament, whereas the Big Ten has so far lost Michigan State, Purdue, and Ohio State. Congrats to Oral Roberts for the upset win over Ohio State.

It was nice seeing March Madness back in place. Seeing those Rutgers kids win an NCAA game for the first time in over thirty years was a fun moment.