This and that
Dick VitaleSPECIAL TO ESPN.COM
Each week I write about the world of sports...
Memphis survived a real scare at UAB on Saturday night. Remember, Mike Davis' Blazers entered that game 11-0 at home, and UAB had a seven-point lead late. Chris Douglas-Roberts and Antonio Anderson would not allow Memphis to lose as the duo combined for 59 points. My friends, I believe the Tigers will go undefeated through the regular season and Conference USA tournament, going 34-0. Tennessee will have something to say about that when the Vols visit Memphis next Saturday night. I am really looking forward to calling that game!
It was a strange situation in Bloomington, Indiana, calling the Michigan State-Indiana game. It is sad to see what is going on with Kelvin Sampson and it is going to be tough for him to survive as head coach. To the team's credit, the players are resilient and once the ball was thrown up at the opening tip-off, it was all about the game. Eric Gordon was super, scintillating and sensational and Indiana survived an injury to DJ White. I feel White is a lock for Big Ten Player of the Year, and the Hoosiers did a great job in the zone defensively when the big man left the game. For Tom Izzo, his team has to cut down on turnovers. It is not easy to win on the road in the Big Ten, and the Spartans are 2-5 in league games out of East Lansing this season.
Congratulations to Ryan Newman on his first Daytona 500 victory. It really came down to the home stretch with Newman beating out Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart. It was great to see Roger Penske's team get to the winner's circle.
Dino Gaudio had to be thrilled with his young Wake Forest squad. It was shock city as Duke saw its 12-game win streak end in a 86-73 stunner at Lawrence Joel Coliseum. I was so impressed with the play of Jeff Teague and James Johnson. It was also strange to see all five Duke starters foul out of the contest, but Wake Forest made some noise and now the team is 16-8 and a tourney candidate. If the Demon Deacons can stun North Carolina in their next game, that would be a major statement.
NBA All-Star weekend in New Orleans was special. It is always great to showcase the premier athletes of pro basketball. Dwight Howard of Orlando had a great Saturday night, winning the slam dunk contest. Jason Kapono rallied to win the three-point shooting contest. It was great to have the game in New Orleans as that city continues to bounce back from the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.
Oklahoma City is jubilant, while Seattle fans have to be disappointed. The Sonics move out of the west coast seems like a reality now, and it is never easy for fans to lose their team. There is pride, history, past success, and it all goes away oh so quickly. It is sad to see.
Spring training is here and it is an exciting time. Every major league team is 0-0 and there is great anticipation. It really is a great time for fans who go to Florida and Arizona to see the players preparing for the upcoming season. There are new faces in new places and I just love it.
The soap opera that was the Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee show on Capital Hill was really sad as well. It is obvious that someone is lying, and did we really need that show to figure that out? I am really tired of hearing about it.
Michael Beasley continues to put up the kind of numbers fitting of a national Player of the Year. All he did was score 40 points and grab 17 boards as Kansas State won an M&M'er (mismatch, baby!) against Missouri. Talk about consistency, Beasley has 21 double-doubles in 24 games this season.
Remember the name Kelly Pavlik. He is a hard-working boxer out of Youngstown, Ohio, the same city that brought us Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini. Pavlik showed that his first win over previously-unbeaten Jermain Taylor was not a fluke. A 12-round unanimous decision over Taylor proved that we should keep an eye on Pavlik for the future. This guy can flat-out punch and he has a lot of heart. He is the kind of fighter people can relate to, a blue collar guy, lunch pail city, baby! Fans will enjoy watching him in the future.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.