March 24, 2004
Martin Brodeur:
400 NHL wins is performance/endurance comparable to MLB's 550 HR; but Patrick Roy's all-time W record of 551? Prediction: Brodeur shatters it.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
SECOND.  CHANCES.

Time for some "bracket bran:

Every year, some study comes out that rips Sweet 16 teams for low academic performance of players. This year, yesterday's report was headlined with only four schools having grad rates higher than 50 percent. Wait, wait ... don't yawn and skip to the next item yet.

The NCAA wrings its hands, explaining that a proposed "incentive/disincentive" plan will punish teams -- limiting scholarships, no Tourney participation -- for not meeting academic requirements or graduating players.

WHAT STAGGERING CHUTZPAH. To pull players out of class for basically a month, to reap billions of dollars in corporate sponsorships, to leave players' scholarships each year at the mercy of coaches with no real incentive but their own personal welfare ...

It's so easy to blame players, coaches, ADs and school presidents -- when, exactly, is the ultimate scrutiny going to be turned on the NCAA's executive organization itself?

Related: Today's must-must-read is Bob Lipsyte's Writers' Bloc column on NCAA reform.

All-Americans
No major quibbles with the AP first-team All-Americans: Nelson, Okafor, Roberts, Childress, Gomes. But once again, there's a ballot bias against freshmen.

Wake Forest PG Chris Paul, the top player this March, only merits "Honorable Mention" after a Freshman of the Year season?

Meanwhile, Duke PG Chris Duhon gets a "lifetime-achievement" third-team spot? He isn't even the third best player on his team. Give me Duke frosh Luol Deng in that spot, rather than just an H.M.

Frankly, I'll take the "frosh team" over the above-listed "first team," period.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
T'wolves: Edge Spurs, extend division lead to 3 games
Texas A&M: Close to recruiting away UTEP hoops coach
Zombies: "Dawn/Dead" is, uh, killing at box office
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Auburn: Explain why they haven't given UAB coach an offer
Mark Prior: DL? Same with Cubs' playoff chances
Kobe's fashion: Ranked No. 3 on PETA's worst-dressed list
 
Prep to Pro?
Moving on to guys who will never make an "All-Freshman" team ...

Reportedly, up to half of the all-star preps participating in tonight's Roundball Classic in Chicago are mulling over the NBA Draft. No, it's not the end of the NBA as we know it. Get over it.

Top 3 Players to Watch:
Dwight Howard, 6-11, PF
At best: next Kevin Garnett
At worst: next Kwame Brown

Shaun Livingston, 6-7, PG
At best: Early-career Penny
At worst: Late-career Penny

Josh Smith, 6-8, SF
At best: D-Miles
At worst: D-League

Fehr Blinks
Face it: The MLBPA will only accept changes to drug testing when honcho Don Fehr lets it happen. So don't let Fehr's subtled, door-cracking phrasing Tuesday throw off the gargantuan foreshadowing that the rules will change.

Anyone else notice that his updated rhetoric came after a meeting with the Red Sox?

Hmm ... think Curt Schilling had anything to do with that?

Rivera: Best Ever?
As superlatives are my specialty, I'll agree with Yanks GM Brian Cashman: Mariano Rivera is the best closer in baseball history. But along with that wicked cut fastball, you better credit kismet. (On the Brewers, he's merely great.)

Women's Tourney
The must-read daily coverage of the women's NCAA Tournament? Check out the "Tourney Dish."

Covers everything you need to know to enjoy the Women's NCAAs. Today: Why No. 7 Minnesota over No. 2 K-State -- the biggest paper upset of the tournament so far -- isn't much of one.

Indiana U.:
Reportedly going to make students pay $30 extra in tuition to limit the school's athletic department deficit. Maybe if they made the Dance ...
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2: Remedial Bracketology 101
Maisel: Politics at the White House
Women's Tourney coverage
 
Top 5 Sweet 16 games
UAB-Kansas
Will Cindy roll on?
 
Duke-Illinois
Two great backcourts
 
St. Joe's-Wake
Off-court rivalry bigger
 
Texas-Xavier
Horns could be surprised
 
Okla St.-Pitt
Won't be pretty (Exactly.)
 

Kobe case: His accuser testifies (in close courtroom) today about her past sexual history ...

Don't read too much into the Hornets snapping the Pistons' 8-game W streak; Detroit is still the team to beat in the East ...

As Mike Price's career is shattered, he seems to have nothing better to do than continue to sue people involved in his ouster ...

What to make of this, if you're Warner/Bulger: The Rams signed Chris Chandler to be the backup of the backup (whoever it may be) ...

Is Bobby Taylor the missing piece in Seattle? Not quite, but his signing will help: Hawks were 28th-ranked passing D in '03 ...

Eye on the Ball(ot) -- more politics/sports crossover: Ivan Maisel has a must-read dispatch from the White House ceremony for USC, LSU ...



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