Written by John Giffin Tuesday, 02 February 2010 20:10
January is over and we are entering the most wonderful tme of year for sports, at least to me.
The Super Bowl kicks off on Sunday, college basketball is in the midst of conference play, teams are battling for the best possible position for March Madness, the high school basketball playoffs are coming up, and baseball is right around the corner.
With this hodge podge of sports in my brain I?have a few muddled thoughts on recent and upcoming events in the world of sports.
Sunflower Showdown—Kansas and Kansas State played a historic game Saturday night in the recently named “Octagon of Doom” (Bramlage Coliseum). Saturday’s game marked the first time since 1958 that both school were ranked that high nationally.
The game was competitive, with the Jahawks winning in overtime 81-79. However, I?find it ironic that the “Octagon of Doom” tag surfaced right before the Sunflower Showdown.
Recent history must not be part of the course schedule at K-State. Since the opening of Bramalge Coliseum in 1988 Kansas has a 20-1 record with the Jayhawk’s only loss at the “Octagon” in 2008. That was the one-and-done year for Michael Beasley, who declared K-State would beat KU in Lawrence, Manhattan or Africa. The wins in Lawrence and Manhattan never happened. Or in Africa.
I’m all for the resurgence of the K-State basketball program, but don’t count “the chickens” before they’ve hatched. Sure K-State had a big victory earlier this season at Bramlage against Texas, but Texas is not KU. And in recent history the only “doomed” team that has played in the Sunflower Showdown at Bramlage has been K-State.
Note to Wildcat fans: Get a few more big wins before you give your building a nickname.
Super Bowl XLIV— I can’t wait for Sunday. The Patriots’ dynasty appears to be over, Brett Farve may just hang it up for good, and two high-powered offenses will square off for an NFL title game that is sure to be entertaining.
Entering its first Super Bowl ever, the New Orleans Saints will look to take out the AFC?giants Indianapolis Colts. I?can’t help but root for the Saints in this one due. New Orleans has overcome a lot since Katrina and deserve a reason to celebrate—not that they don’t anyway.
Quarterback Drew Brees is one one of the good guys in the NFL and has done more for Hurricane Katrina victims than the past two presidential adminstrations combined.
My prediction: New Orleans 36, Indianapolis 21.
Then there’s the commercials. Of course there will be the familar over-the-top multi-million-dollar spots, but the advertiser that has grabbed my attention this year is Miller Brewing Co.
Unable to buy national spots during the Super Bowl because of an agreement between the networks, the NFL and Anheuser Busch—now a Belgium beer company—not allowing any other beer company to buy spots, Miller will buy ads with local affiliates in Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix and Los Angeles and will feature local businesses.
The ads will probably not be shown in Kansas but I will sure hit the Web next day to watch them.
Marion and Hillsboro girls’ hops—Two local high school teams appear poised to make a run for the state tournament.
Hilsboro and Marion have seen a lot of success in 2010 with each team only losing one game this calendar year. Marion and Hillsboro are undefeated in the MCAA and share the top spot with perennial powerhouse Wichita Collegiate.
It will be interesting to see how each team fairs during the stretch run of the regular season and the matchups will be for sub-state. One of the streaks is sure to end Feb. 19, if not before, when Marion hosts Hillsboro.
Kansas City Royals—Spring training is still a month away, but part of my mind has already wandered to the condition of the Kansas City Royals.
“Why would you put yourself through that misery?” many may ask. But, spring brings new hope.
Dayton Moore and the Royals have giving me reason for hope with the off-season acquisition, of centerfielder Rick Ankiel.
Ankiel will bring a .251 career batting average to the Royals as well as experience in the outfield and potential power. Ankiel knocked 25 home runs in 120 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008.
Add that to a Cy Young winning ace pitcher in Zach Greinke and another year of experience for the Royals young players, Kansas City could make a run in the weak AL Central.
So far, Dayton Moore has fulfilled his promise not to not let the team’s young talent get away. In in the next couple years Moore could see some better returns from the young prospects aready in Royals uniforms and some coming up through the farm system.
So, to start the season I’ll be wearing my blue Royals hat, hoping I don’t have to change to my brown one—worn to match the color of an adjective for the Royals’ play in the past 20 years.
Be assured, though, I won’t be putting my brown Royals hat in storage, at least not this season.
More college basketball—This may be the first season since 1988 that the state of Kansas sends all three of its Division I schools to the NCAA Tournament.
Beyond the exploits of KU and K-State, Wichita State (19-4, 8-3) has emerged as one of the top teams in the Missouri Valley. After a 55-54 win at Southern Illinois on Sunday, the Shockers sit in second place in the conference and appear to have enough quality wins to enter the big dance with an at-large bid.
With seven Valley games remaining on the schedule and a bracket-buster matchup with Utah State on Feb 19, the Shockers control their destiny.
The last time the Shockers entered the tournament in 2006 under then coach Mark Turgeon, they “shocked” the nation by defeating Tennesse in the second round advancing to the Sweet 16. The Shockers lost to the season’s cinderella George Mason to end the dream.
A tournament trip would quiet critics of Gregg Marshall, who has previously directed Wichita State to good non-conference records but has struggled at the helm in the Missouri Valley.
Wichita State will have a chance to move to within one game of the Missouri Valley lead on Thursday as they host (19-2, 10-1) University of Northen Illinios at Koch Arena on Wednesday.