Is it just me or did the Boston Marathon bombing story almost completely block out the tragic events in West, Texas? Both of them were shockingly dramatic and profoundly sad, you wish neither had happened—but it was interesting to see how the national media prioritized the stories.
The steeper banked track at Kansas Motor Speedway didn’t seem to impress the field yesterday, many of them saying that a second groove for racing didn’t start to develop until late in the race. There was good racing down the stretch with Matt Kenseth and Casey Kahne, it looked as though Kahne was going to make a pass low with two laps remaining—but Kenseth is hot. It was his second straight win in Kansas City, his second win of the young season and it was the third straight race that the pole sitter has won. It was good to see Clint Bowyer finish fifth in his home state, one that he still supports usually as it relates to KU. I do remember, however, his tweeting about the Shockers before their Elite Eight matchup with Ohio State.
Jans’ stock rising—
Funny thing about a Final Four, it not only raises the profile of a head coach—but so too his assistants. Anyone who knows Chris Jans at Wichita State—knows that he’s head coaching stock. Before KU’s Joe Dooley got the job at Florida Gulf Coast last week, Jans was said to be in the mix. I would hate to see Chris go almost as much as I would be happy to see him advance. I always cheer for the good guys in coaching and Jans is one of them.
Did you notice?
Head coach Chris Lamb would be the first one to caution you about putting too much stock into a spring result. But, Wichita State’s whipping of traditional top five power Nebraska over the weekend was notable.
Lamb took his team to the “Sweet 16” last year and returns a lot of firepower from that team. WSU should be nationally ranked to start the season next fall.
NBA playoffs begin---
There really isn’t a lot of intrigue in the opening round, beyond a couple of interesting story lines. The Houston Rockets, lead by former Thunder star James Hardin, are facing those Thunder. OKC won the opening game last night in relatively easy fashion. It was interesting to gage the reaction around the league when Harden was traded before the season, Oklahoma City was widely panned and some claimed that the biggest winners in the deal were the Spurs and Lakers. But the Thunder once again claimed the top seed in the west and the home court advantage that comes with it, Beyond that, they set a franchise record for wins (60) and posted a higher winning percentage that in any of the three years that Harden was in OKC.
The Nets and the Bulls seem to have the best chance for a good opening rounder. It was interesting to see Derrick Rose on the bench with medical clearance to play, but opting not to—while Joakim Noah was hobbling around out there trying to give his team a chance. I don’t begrudge Rose not coming back until he feels comfortable enough on that knee to do, it’s just that the comparison was stark and ironic.
SOP in the SEC---
I worked the Arkansas Spring Football game last weekend in Fayetteville, where over 51,000 fans showed up on a beautiful day. The Southeastern Conference is another world, which is why Arkansas was able to lure Brett Bielema from Wisconsin. I knew Bielema from his two years on staff at Kansas State and he hasn’t seemed to change a bit. Generally easy going and good natured, he’s a welcome change from Bobby Petrino (we won’t count last year under John L. Smith). I had one Arkansas official tell me that, with his personality, if he wins he’ll be the most popular person in Arkansas since Bill Clinton.
Do you think the Wichita Thunder are playing with any focus in the playoffs? They rolled into the Central Hockey League Finals with another series sweep, this time over Ft. Worth and will await the winner of Allen, Texas and Missouri. You know that head coach Kevin McClelland has been gnawing through nails since losing the finals a year ago—I don’t see this team going down.