Today in the bag, I've managed to condense all that action into a few quick blurbs on UConn's double, CU's Spring Game and stadium expansion, and the Masters.
Click below for the bag...
UConn owns the basketball world -
Going all the way back to last Monday night, the UConn Huskies and the Kentucky Wildcats played in an NCAA Final that carried with it the highest combined seed total ever (15). While normative basketball powers, the two schools had been tabbed as underdogs after inconsistent regular season efforts, earning a 7- and 8-seed, respectively. Your seed doesn't determine your fate, however, and the two squads defied the Committee by skirting into Championship Monday.
Whereas Kentucky had continually been getting by via late-game heroics from freshman wing Aaron Harrison, UConn was, once again, riding an all-encompassing performance from one of their guards. This year, it was Shabazz Napier, and with him in top form, Harrison never had a chance to put his stamp on proceedings. Dropping 22/6/3/3 on the college game's greatest stage, the senior point guard claimed his throne, pulling his Huskies into a 60-54 win for the program's fourth title in the last 15 years.
|Napier leads the charge for the Huskies. From: USA Today|
Of course, for Connecticut, the celebrations would continue, as their women's team was steamrolling towards their ninth national title in the last 20 years. Completing the hardwood double, and notching a perfect 40-win season, they predictably rolled Notre Dame the night after the men claimed their title. While no where near as dramatic, combining the championship stories does make for an interesting tale.
|A familiar sight.|
Wrapping the Spring Game and the expansion announcement -
No, I didn't go to the Spring Game on Saturday. Exhibition football is enough to numb the mind, and I will have nothing to do with it, certainly when there are other things to do with a beautiful spring day. Catching the action via replay on Pac-12 Network, I can report that QB Sefo Liufau will have a lot of fun throwing it up to freshman wide receiver Bryce Bobo this season. The redshirt wideout took his first chance on Folsom's turf, and turned it into five catches and 132 yards, including a 67-yard scoring strike from backup QB Jordan Gehrke. I can also report that CU's first meaningful junior college acquisition in years, Ahkello Witherspoon, looks like a solid pickup after a four break-up, one interception day against Liufau. Still it's April, and it was Buff on Buff action today, so take all the results with a massive grain of salt.
|Bobo turned some heads on Saturday. From: The BDC|
I don't for a second, however, buy the idea that CU is all that close to the money required, yet. The target set was about $48 million in order to start construction, and nothing I've heard from the athletic department leads me to believe that sum is anything other than hoped for at this point. We can argue about the definition of close, but it's not there. In that light, I look at Saturday's announcement as another effort from Rick George and crew to push potential high-value donors into action, as many have been staying away, waiting for others to make the first move. It's George putting his nuts on the line, and, honestly, his job on the line in an attempt to push CU into the end zone. Some strong poker from the man, if you ask me.
|A look at the NE end of new Folsom. From @TMurray22|
I will say though, the renderings of the renovations publicized over the weekend look fantastic. It's a vision Mike MacIntyre and crew can sell to recruits, and one Rick George should be able to sell to donors. When these guys use the word 'transformative,' they mean it.
The Masters -
Without Tiger, the Masters was already facing an uphill battle for the national consciousness. When Phil Mickelson and a host of other big names missed the cut on Friday, it was looking like a quiet weekend from the world's most interesting tournament. Then, a new face and an old familiar took charge over the weekend, and the notable absences were quickly forgotten.
Enter: Jordan Speith and Bubba Watson. The pair opened Championship Sunday tied for the lead. Most headlines were going to Speith, as the 20-year old was in position to become the youngest Masters champion ever. Almost heeding the calls, he started the final round out red-hot, taking a two-shot lead over Watson after the third hole. That lead would carry through 7th hole, and many were starting to believe that the youngster might have what it takes. A three-putt on eight, combined with a surge from Bubba, however, flipped that lead on it's head, and all of a sudden the dream was dead. Watson would roll from there on out, riding a surge from the adoring southern crowd to his second title in three years.
|He's back. From: CNN.com|