This and that
Dick VitaleSPECIAL TO ESPN.COM
Each week I'll talk about the world of sports…
The Giants and the Patriots are getting ready for the Super Bowl. Let me tell you, this game is such a big-time affair, but I don't like having two weeks before we play the game. I understand that it is difficult logistically to have the NFC and AFC champions ready the week after they make it to the Super Bowl, with ticket requests, hotels and other preparation. I find it amazing the way things are analyzed and over-hyped for the game. I mean, are you serious showing video of Tom Brady with flowers and a walking boot, visiting his girlfriend in New York? Do you really think he is not going to play in the biggest game of the season, with his team going for a historic 19-0?
Tiger Woods came back to the PGA Tour in fine fashion. In his first tournament on the year, he was simply dominant again. Granted, Tiger has had great success at the Buick, but he was so, so sharp in blowing away the field. That is why he is numero uno in the world, a special player that fans should truly enjoy. He is like an artist painting a pretty picture, putting together masterpiece after masterpiece on his 18-hole canvas.
It was a special time for the 20-year-olds down at the Australian Open. Maria Sharapova was absolutely brilliant in an earlier match against No. 1 Justine Henin. Then she finished off a tough opponent in Ana Ivanovic in straight sets to capture the singles title. Sharapova has now won three Grand Slam singles championships in her career, with the French the lone obstacle from a career slam. Sharapova did not drop a set down under, facing difficult competition. I know Nick Bolletieri was thrilled with his pupil; her hard work and effort really paid off in a big way as she played outstanding tennis through the two-week event. Work ethic is often rewarded, my friends!
Then there was Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the number three player in the world. He put on a great show by beating Roger Federer in the semifinals. That snapped Federer's streak of making it to a Grand Slam final at an amazing 10. Djokovic wrapped up his first Grand Slam singles title by beating a tough challenger, France's Jo Wilifred Tsonga, in four sets. Tsonga had a great tournament run in his own right, beating Andy Murray in a first-round upset, while also defeating Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal along the way. Djokovic has made a name for himself and he should win a few more Grand Slam events in years to come. Now we have to see how Federer and Nadal respond in the future.
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun believes in discipline, so starting guard Jerome Dyson and reserve guard Doug Wiggins were suspended for the big game at Indiana Saturday. Other Huskies players responded to the challenge as Calhoun's squad came away with a satisfying upset of the Hoosiers. Dyson and Wiggins will also sit out Monday night's Big East showdown against Louisville. Calhoun has not discussed the actual infractions or the length of the suspension, but it is clear the actions did disappoint the veteran coach.
Clemson suffered a blow when starter Trevor Booker suffered a high ankle sprain that could sideline him for a while. The Tigers lost a heartbreaker at Miami, and Oliver Purnell's team is in the midst of a tough road stretch. Four of the next six games are away from Littlejohn Coliseum, including visits to North Carolina, Virginia, NC State and Florida State.
It was great to see Oklahoma's Blake Griffin back in the lineup less than two weeks after suffering a major injury. He was sidelined with a sprained knee and was not expected back so soon. Jeff Capel was happy to have him in the lineup as he scored 17 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and played 22 minutes in a win over Baylor.
How about a salute to the newest youngster to win gold in figure skating. At age 14, Mirai Nagasu put on a show to win the gold at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. She became the second-youngest woman to win the U.S. title.
I wanted to thank the fans, members of the basketball community, the writers and the great people of ESPN. I am really looking forward to returning, starting with an appearance on Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio on Tuesday, April 5, following the Super Bowl coverage. Then it is off to Duke vs. North Carolina the next day!
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.