Random thought before the Madness begins !
Time to take care of some unfinished business before post season basketball commands all of our attention. Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft is obviously still stinging from the slings and arrows he and coach Bill Belichick suffered over the departure of wide reciever Wes Welker to Denver. An emotional Kraft yesterday claimed the Patriots offer to Welker was better than the one he took from the Broncos, two years, $12 million. Kraft says the Patriots $10 million, two year offer, included eight million in the first year and a shot at 12 million over two years if Welker met incentives, so, with no guarantee there will be a second year in Denver, it’s possible Welker could have made more money with the Pats. Left unsaid is that Welker, then, was just doing what owners often profess players should do when negotiating contracts, don’t overvalue themselves, base their demands on what they honestly expect from themselves. In this case Welker expects at least two more productive years and he signed a deal that will reward him for that. The morning after the University of Hartford men’s basketball team was upset by UMBC in the first round of the America East Tournament the players were still in Albany, in the stands, cheering on the University of Hartford women in their semi final win over Vermont. If the Hawks didn’t have another game to play coach John Gallagher might not have risked keeping a bunch of 19 year old kids on the road with no more games or practices on their schedule. Tonight the Hawks open play in the College Insider.com Tournament, the program’s first ever post season game. That Sunday in Albany Gallagher said the team being visible at the arena the day after the loss was a life lesson, teaching them that when you have a bad day at work you can’t run and hide. I know, I have a drawer full of e-mails that are proof of that. Taking one last look back at the history of the men’s Big East basketball tournament, now that it is history, here’s my personal all time team from the Madison Square Garden years. Chris Mullin of St. John’s and Patrick Ewing of Georgetown should top everyone’s list, with Ray Allen of UConn and Pearl Washington of Syracuse likely to show up on most of them. Rounding out my team, Kemba Walker. You shouldn’t have to ask why. My personal favorite moment of the tournament after all these years, not involving our favorite local team, was the final play in St. John’s one point win over Syracuse in 1986, the one that led Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to throw a chair across the post game interview room, a Ron Rowan driving layup off an inbounds back and forth with Mark Jackson. “I inbounded the ball to Mark”, said Rowan of the play that started with fifteen seconds left, “He passed it back to me. I gave it back to Mark and he gave it back to me. I looked at the clock and it was time to go.” Speaking of our favorite local team, this from the notebook, following the tough loss to Georgetown. “This team has heart”, said the coach, “Whenever you all write about this team, write they have heart.” Ready to move on to the post season tournaments, I’m Scott Gray.