“Take5” uses a similar format to 5Hundred, without restricting each individual story to 100 words. The length restriction made things unnecessarily difficult at times, while now I should be able to provide my most natural insight.
Among today’s stories, we have my thoughts on the NCAA Title Game, where North Carolina outlasted Gonzaga 71-65, the retirement of one of the NFL’s most discussed players, and an unwritten rule of basketball. While I’ll just be giving my condensed reactions to UNC-Gonzaga, comment below if you’d like to see a full recap of the tournament.
1) March Madness National Championship: What an interesting game. On the one hand, it was a closely contested National Championship, which is must-watch television. However, rather than any incredible moments or spectacular individual performances, the two main talking points were the seemingly absurd number of fouls called and the terrible shooting in the game. The teams combined for 46 made shots and 44 fouls, including 27 second-half fouls, where both teams wasted no time, reaching the bonus in under six minutes. While this made things frustrating to watch for sure, the refs made questionable decisions on both sides. However, Gonzaga suffered more notably, as Przemek Karnowski was unfairly called for a flagrant foul, while the refs missed an out-of-bounds call on UNC on a critical final-minute jump ball.
While this made things frustrating to watch for sure, the refs made questionable decisions on both sides. However, Gonzaga suffered more notably, as Przemek Karnowski was unfairly called for a flagrant foul, while the refs missed an out-of-bounds call on UNC on a critical final-minute jump ball. Overall, I think the tournament saw far too many “cheap” whistles and flagrant fouls- going to the monitors can make anything look worse than it was, and I’ve been seeing this is NBA play as well. Still, congrats to North Carolina on a great run and a well-deserved title.
2) Tony Romo Retires: Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo announced his retirement on Tuesday, signing with CBS to replace Phil Simms alongside Jim Nantz in the commentary booth. During his 14 years in Dallas, which included 127 starts, over 34,000 passing yards, and 248 touchdowns, Romo continually proved himself to be one of the league’s best quarterbacks, especially in the clutch. He always has and likely always will have naysayers who will cite his injuries and lack of playoff success, but to say that Romo, who went undrafted, did anything other than surpass expectations is a gross understatement to the career he enjoyed.
As a Giants fan, I always hated seeing Romo line up on the other side of the field. In particular, I remember the first game of the 2015 season, which ended up being the last game Romo played against the Giants. With just 1:34 left in the game, the Giants made a field goal to extend their lead to 26-20. After the kick, the cameras showed Romo on the bench. I couldn’t believe it- he had the calmest face in the world. His quiet confidence scared me, and from that point on, I knew the Giants were going to lose.
Romo proceeded to lead one of the most perfectly executed final drives I’ve seen, culminating in a touchdown pass to Jason Witten for the win with just seven seconds left. I was devastated, but again, I saw it coming the whole way. Few quarterbacks could get it going like Tony Romo did, and despite how much I hated him on the field, I never had anything but respect for him as a man.
3) Dustin Johnson Withdraws from Masters: The #1 ranked golfer in the world fell victim to a devastating stroke of bad luck Wednesday, falling on a staircase and injuring his back, forcing him to withdraw from the Masters, golf’s biggest event. Both a fan-favorite and the Vegas favorite to win the event, the random chance accident stunned the world, and the close proximity to the first round- less than 24 hours, made it even more shocking. You know there was no way DJ would have removed himself from the tournament if he didn’t absolutely have to, so best wishes to him for a speedy recovery.
In the opening round Thursday, Charlie Hoffman excelled through windy conditions to post a 7-under 65, good for a four-stroke lead over William McGirt. 2-under Lee Westwood is the only other player multiple strokes under par as the field struggled, setting up what could be one of the most difficult tournaments in recent memory. With more wind expected throughout the next few days, Hoffman’s lead is far from safe.
4) NBA Playoffs: The Golden State Warriors clinched the Western Conference 1-seed and the league’s best overall record for the third straight year Wednesday through their win over the Suns combined with the Lakers’ defeat of the Spurs, becoming the first team since the 1983-86 Celtics to accomplish the feat. Now, winners of 13 straight, the Dubs look far removed from their struggles following Kevin Durant’s injury, and with KD slated to return on Saturday, the Warriors have to be considered NBA Title favorites. However, in the East, the Cavaliers have won four straight to take back the 1-seed from Boston, and have found their form as well. I’d say it’s more than likely we see the Warriors and Cavs meet in the finals once again.
A few other playoff storylines: leading MVP candidates James Harden and Russell Westbrook will square off in possibly the most anticipated #3 vs #6 matchup in playoff history. On the playoff bubble, the Trail Blazers are one game ahead of the Nuggets for the West’s 8-seed, while things are far crazier in the East, where only four teams have clinched a playoff berth. The Hawks, Bucks, Bulls, Pacers, and Heat are all within two games of each other with only a few games to play. All but one will make the playoffs, and right now, Miami is on the outside looking in with the hardest remaining schedule.
5) Running up the Score: There have been two incidents recently which have brought up the topic of late-game etiquette in the NBA. First, in the final minute of a Warriors blowout against the Wizards, Javale McGee attempted a three-pointer with eight seconds left and six on the shot clock. Brandon Jennings took offense to the play, shoving McGee, inciting a bit of bad blood between the teams. Just a few days later, Lance Stephenson scored on a breakaway layup with the shot clock turned off in a big win over the Raptors, which nearly resulted in a fight between the teams.
Here’s my take: in the NBA, it’s a bit of an unwritten rule that if the shot clock’s turned off and the outcome of the game has been decided, the team ahead doesn’t shoot the ball. It’s to show respect and sportsmanship rather than just trying to pad stats or run up the score. For that reason, I disagree with Stephenson’s actions, but hey- that’s just the kind of guy he is. If it really matters so much to you, just play defense on him.
However, in McGee’s case, had he not shot the ball, the team would have had to take a shot clock violation and turn the ball over. If McGee’s in the wrong, then by extension, the Warriors really shouldn’t have taken any shots in the last minute or two of that game. I don’t have any problem with teams shooting with an active shot clock. Plus, McGee isn’t exactly a deadeye three-point shooter. Letting him shoot is practically the equivalent of taking the turnover anyway. Personally, if I was a coach, I’d rather have anyone take a shot than unnecessarily turn the ball over.
So, what do you think? Should McGee have been allowed to take the shot, or was it a show of poor sportsmanship? Let me know in the comments. Until next time, thanks for reading.