Just my luck! This reporter goes away for two weeks and what happens? A college hoops coach gets a buyout from his school after a recruiting scandal, so many NBA players get swapped, a scorecard was needed to keep track, and Roger Clemens opens his mouth only to stick his foot in it (among other things). Well, here's hoping a fortnight off doesn't give way to some rust as we get the AWIR going again...
Hoop it up – on campus
- When last we left Memphis, hopes for an undefeated season were still fresh. However, in-state rivals Tennessee put an end to all that as they overcame 37 points combined from the Tigers' talented backcourt of Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose for a 66-62 upset that had the Memphis faithful singing the blues on Beale Street Saturday night.
- Speaking of young backcourts, Kansas State frosh sensations Michael Beasley and Bill Walker combined for an astounding 75 points – Beasley's 44 being a Big 12 conference record – but it was all for naught as the Wildcats lost their fourth in a row, 92-86, against Baylor. The Bearcats have turned things around in Waco after the morbid affair of five years ago, according to this reporter...
- In the marquee ESPN BracketBusters matchup, Drake upset eighth-ranked Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse, 71-62. It was the Bulldogs' first win over a top-10 team since 1982.
- Of course, the big story over the weekend in college hoops was the buyout resignation of Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson. Sampson walked out of Bloomington, Indiana three-quarters of a million dollars richer, but the turmoil had begun, and it was up to Dan Dakich to contain it before it affected the Hoosiers going into Saturday's game at Northwestern. However, the 14th-ranked Hoosiers regrouped and fought their way back to an 85-82 win at Evanston, Illinois that saw top stars D.J. White and Eric Gordon combine for a double-double (34 points and 14 boards).
- UCLA may have only gotten 15 points and 11 rebounds from freshman big man Kevin Love, but he wasn't really needed that bad in the Bruins' 75-65 win over Oregon. Yes, it was Oregon who made the visit to Pauley Pavilion; who was the wizard in the UO athletic department that came up with the idea to have both the team name and players' last names the same color as the jerseys when they were on the road?!
On to the pros
- Shaquille O'Neal had a rough first weekend as a member of the Phoenix Suns; the Diesel only got four points in a 85-77 win over the Boston Celtics, but even Shaq's seven points (while Amare Stoudamire led the world with 31 points and Leandro Barbosa scored 18 off the bench) weren't enough to survive a 116-86 pantsing at the hands of the Detroit Pistons.
- Ben Wallace, traded the day before to the Cleveland Cavaliers did not participate in Friday night's contest against the Washington Wizards. The Cavs might've used him despite Lebron James' 33 point-15 rebound double-double in a 90-89 dogfight in Cleveland.
Across the Pond
- Tottenham Hotspur partied like it was 1999, because it was the last time before Sunday's League Cup that the men of White Hart Lane won it. Spurs put on a tremendous rally against Chelsea that saw Dimitar Berbatov convert a penalty to answer Didier Drogba's 37th-minute goal and Jonathan Woodgate nail the winner home in extra time, 2-1.
- Meanwhile, in the Premier League, Manchester United pounded Newcastle United 5-1 thanks to doubles by Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. United's deficit grew to three games after Arsenal drew 2-2 away at Birmingham City.
- After being suspended after 87 laps due to rain on Sunday, the Auto Club 500 resumed today and Carl Edwards took NASCAR's second checkered flag of the young 2008 NASCAR Sprint (ex-Nextel, exx-Winston) Cup. Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman came in tenth, BTW.
- That was followed by the Nationwide (ex-Busch) Series race, postponed from Saturday, in which Tony Stewart took the win.
- Open-wheel racing's long nightmare ended on Friday when it was announced that the Indy Racing League and the Champ Car World Series would kiss and make up, putting an end to their 14-year feud. As a result, the IRL will seemingly absorb the CCWS.
Tiger Woods, who won his sixth PGA TOUR event in a row (dating back to last year) on Sunday by beating Stewart Cink 8 and 7 to win the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships. Woods also notched his 63rd career win, passing Arnold Palmer and leaving him one behind Ben Hogan for fourth on the all-time list.
Dope of the Weekend
The NJIT Highlanders: Talk about futility! In its first Division I campaign, they posted a record 29 losses – 29 LOSSES, JERRY!!! – and did not win a single game, the clincher coming on Saturday in a 76-50 loss to Utah Valley State.
It's great to be back
Until next week, let's all be good sports...