On Final Four weekend, no matter what city it’s held in, one is surrounded by tall people. Basketball players, former basketball players, and other basketball people are just about everywhere. However, this was not the case at the breakfast I attended Saturday morning. It was a meeting of Jewish Coaches. To complete the stereotype, the Jewish Coaches Association breakfast was held at Katz’ delicatessen.

I was there with my friend, Joe Landon, whose son Aaron is the head basketball coach at South Puget Sound Community College. The M.C. was Bobby Schwartz, the National Director of the Association. Schwartz isn’t only a basketball coach. He also happens to be a Rabbi. In fact, he officiated at the wedding of one of the guys at our table. Not yesterday, but when they got married.

The Red Auerbach Coach of the Year award went to Eron Ganot, head basketball coach for the University of Hawaii. In his acceptance speech, Eron spoke of his family, starting with his grandparents who were Holocaust survivors. He talked about his being embraced by the multiethnic, multicultural people of Hawaii, and expressed his amazement that he was getting an award from this organization.

The breakfast was truly an extraordinary event. And it was an obvious basketball omen to eat at a place called, “Katz’” just hours before the Villanova ‘Cats would play. To complete the foreshadowing, I guess I should have ordered the Nova lox.



FIRST GAME: Villanova 95, Oklahoma 51

I’m a stupid gambler. I was smart enough to bet on Villanova, but I gave 45 points. Just kidding. Everyone knows there is no betting in college sports.

The only thing I have to say about the Villanova-Oklahoma game is a plea to the NCAA: please abolish the mandatory press conferences with the losing players of an embarrassing blowout. In fact, why must there be interviews with losing players regardless of the score? What could those Oklahoma players who were forced to be on the podium say that could possibly be news? “We stunk worse than I thought we’d stink?” “It was all the idiotic coach’s fault?” “My mom told me that sports were bad for me?” It’s sadistic to make these teary-eyed, deflated kids answer questions from bleary-eyed, inflated adults. And while we’re at it, NCAA, stop making everyone refer to players as “student-athletes.” Half of that term destroys all credibility.


SECOND GAME: North Carolina 83, Syracuse 66

This game seemed close for a while, but that was only because it followed the Saturday Night Massacre. These two teams were completely different in every way – even the way the coaches dressed. Williams always looks like he’s wearing clothes that his wife bought him to wear at a country club for very white people. Boeheim obviously buys his own clothes, but he denies having “direct knowledge,” of what store they were purchased from.

Syracuse employed its excellent full-court press in the middle of the second half and seemed to be making yet another exciting comeback. However, North Carolina is not Virginia. (Every school kid knows that). The Tar Heels did not panic.


So Monday night, it’s Villanova vs. North Carolina. Neither of those teams is going to panic. It should be a great game, and probably closer than 44 points. I just hope that people tune in to watch it, considering the other important sports event going on at that time: The Cubs open the season against the Angels.


It’s time to settle down to business and talk about tonight’s games—and I’m not talking about the beer hockey tournament at the Sheraton.

Let's look at the second game first.  Basketball blueblood North Carolina takes on Syracuse which just might be the hottest team of the Final Four. The defense of Syracuse, that swarming press for those few minutes, is what got them here when they bedazzled and befuddled Virginia. However, North Carolina demonstrated a defense so amazing that it will definitely go down in history. In August, just four days before UNC was to formally answer the NCAA’s charges against them, they pulled a defensive switch for the ages: they said that the school’s own internal investigation had turned up some new possible violations in women’s basketball. That mean the NCAA had to amend its charges and start the investigative clock all over again. They turned Dean Smith’s four-corner offensive stall into a brilliant defense, and here they are in the Final Four. Sorry, Syracuse. ADVANTAGE: NORTH CAROLINA.


The opening game – Oklahoma vs. Villanova -- shapes up as an up-tempo sharp shooting match. OK’s Buddy Hield won the Oscar Robertson Award as the nation’s top college player. Villanova’s gritty guard, four-year captain Ryan Arcidiacono is their obvious leader and … wait a minute. I can’t do this. I know I’m supposed to be impartial, but with full disclosure, I must admit that I have a rooting interest in this one. Throw out the stats, even the important one that shows Villanova’s average player weight of 214.1 pounds outweighs Oklahoma by a full two pounds. I confess. I want Villanova to win. I want them to win for one reason and one reason only: I desperately want to hear the on-air guys – including Kenny and Charles – to continue to struggle to pronounce Arcidiacono for two more games. ADVANTAGE:VILLANOVA.