Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; April 5

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning...

The moment Kris Jenkins’ 3-pointer hit the nets to give Villanova a 77-74 win over North Carolina for the NCAA championship, all I could think of were the words of the late, great Jim McKay, who immortalized ABC’s Wide World of Sports with the words, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat … the human drama of athletic competition.”

For Villanova, there was the thrill of victory as Jay Wright designed the perfect end of the game play on the sideline then watched as his Wildcats executed it flawlessly. For North Carolina, there was the agony of defeat as their comeback from 10 points down to a tie on Marcus Paige’s acrobatic 3-pointer was negated by the Jenkins shot.

And human drama? Consider this. North Carolina had all the McDonald’s All-Americans, better size and from top to bottom of the roster a huge talent advantage, but someone forgot to tell Villanova that it didn’t belong on the same stage with the blue blood Tar Heels from the ACC. Just call Villanova the sum of all its parts. One-on-one the Wildcats don’t measure up to Carolina but five-on-five they can play with anyone and certainly deserved to walk away with a national championship. Villanova might be the best coached team to win the NCAA title since the Billy Donovan-coached Gators won it all in 2006-07 and before that Indiana 1987.


Isn’t it about time Jay Wright was given his due? He runs an elite program, ha a national championship under his belt and graduates 100% of his players. He is a total class act who should be mentioned in the same sentence with the best coaches in the college game.

* Two things that Villanova did best: (1) Eliminate Carolina’s transition game and (2) force the UNC guards to kill their dribble instead of letting them get into the paint. Without the fast break points the Heels were forced into a half court game, and once in the half court, Marcus Paige and Joel Berry II couldn’t get the ball consistently to the big guys. That’s just superb coaching and game preparation on the part of Villanova.

* There are doing hard time in Raiford for less than what Villanova did against Kansas, Oklahoma and North Carolina. I haven’t seen defense that physical since Ben Howland was coaching UCLA and before that when John Thompson (not his kid) was coaching Georgetown. For a moment, I expected to see Michael “Crack’em” Graham dislocate someone’s shoulder with a body slam. I don’t blame Villanova or Jay Wright. They simply do what the zebras let them do. I love the athleticism and speed of today’s players, but I would much prefer to watch the game the way it was designed and that’s with a whole lot more finesse and a lot less of the wrestling in the low post and all the hand checking.

* Okay, one more comment about the officiating and I’m through for the night. Was it my imagination that Villanova was mugging people in the first half and Carolina was getting called for touch fouls? At the end of the first half, UNC was called for eight straight fouls and there wasn’t a physical foul among them.

* The NCAA is all about the money so stadium basketball is here to stay but I think the game is better when it’s played in arenas designed for basketball instead of football.

* Watching Josh Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono play for Villanova, I understand why Billy Donovan recruited both of them so hard. I don’t know if either one will ever play in the NBA, but they are consummate team guys who lead by example at both ends of the floor.

* If they gave awards for best-dressed coach, Jay Wright would win hands down. His tailor deserves a shout out.

* The stadium where the Final Four was played is next door to the Astrodome, which sits crumbling and empty. I remember the Game of the Century in 1968 when the Astrodome was filled to capacity and a national television audience watched Elvin Hayes and Houston knock off Lew Alcindor and UCLA.

Just call Villanova the sum of all its parts. The Wildcats have a lot of good players who understand their job at both ends of the court and then go about getting it done without a whole lot of emotion. They might be the best-coached team since the Gators went back-to-back in 2006-07.

* Watching Josh Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono play for Villanova, I understand why Billy Donovan recruited both of them so hard. I don’t know if either one will ever play in the NBA, but they are consummate team guys who lead by example at both ends of the floor.

* Roy Williams doesn’t think North Carolina will get slapped with any sanctions from the NCAA even though it’s obvious UNC basketball players on both the 2005 and 2009 national championship teams were up to their ears involved in the academic scandal that threatens to shake the entire UNC athletic department to its foundations. If Carolina isn’t sanctioned then the people who run the NCAA are cowards.


Canyon Barry, Rick Barry’s youngest son, will graduate from Charleston and transfer to either Florida, California, Kansas, Louisville, Miami, Northwestern or Ole Miss. He is a perfect 4.0 in the classroom and will pursue a graduate degree in either nuclear or mechanical engineering or possibly physics. He’s not a bad basketball player, either. Barry averaged 19.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game for Charleston before a midyear shoulder injury ended his season. Barry scored 893 points in what amounted to 2-1/2 seasons at Charleston.


Florida’s absence from the #1 position in the college baseball polls was short-lived. After taking all three games from Texas A&M, which spent one week at #1, the Gators (27-3, 7-2 SEC) received 28 of 31 #1 votes to reclaim the top spot in the USAToday Coaches Poll. Just behind the Gators are Miami (23-4), which got two first place votes, and Vanderbilt (23-5, 6-3 SEC), which got the other #1 vote. Other SEC teams in the top 25 are (5) Texas A&M (22-6, 4-5 SEC), (7) South Carolina (24-5, 7-2 SEC), (10) Mississippi State (20-8-1, 6-3), (14) LSU (18-9, 4-5 SEC), (15) Ole Miss (21-7, 3-6 SEC) and (21) Arkansas (19-9, 4-5 SEC). Also ranked are (8) Florida State (19-6) and (13) Florida Atlantic (21-4).

Next up for the Gators is #10 Mississippi State, which comes to Gainesville on Friday for a 3-game series.  


Alabama: The Tuscaloosa News is reporting that cornerback Tony Brown could be suspended indefinitely by the NCAA for an unspecified reason ... WR Calvin Ridley was cleared of involvement in his high school coach’s identification fraud scheme. The coach requested a fake ID so that one of Ridley’s teammates could take the ACT for him in December of 2014.

Arkansas: Junior Austin Allen and sophomore Rafe Peavy were clearly the best two QBs when Arkansas finished its first week of spring practice with a 61-play scrimmage.

Auburn: Safety Marshall Taylor has joined Auburn as a graduate transfer. Taylor was scheduled to visit Michigan State and Florida, but shut down his recruiting and committed to Auburn ... John Franklin III continues to take charge of the quarterback battle.

FLORIDA: That Luke Del Rio is running #1 at QB and Austin Appleby is #2 should come as no surprise to anyone. That unheralded Kyle Trask seems to be ahead of Feleipe Franks is a bit of a shock although you wouldn’t know it by the way Jim McElwain talks about him. McElwain almost nonchalantly stated, “It’s not too big for him (Trask).” In other words, even though Trask didn’t even start for his high school team, he’s not at all uncomfortable competing on the field … OL Brandon Sandifer had arthroscopic surgery so he’s out for the rest of the spring.

Georgia: Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey shared the snaps at Georgia’s first scrimmage. It’s probably foolish to think either one of them will emerge from the spring ahead of freshman Jacob Eason.

Kentucky: OLB coach Andy Buh is leaving Kentucky to become DC at Maryland … No surprise here, but Jamal Murray is declaring for the NBA Draft after one year at UK.

LSU: Antonio Blakeney says he will test the NBA Draft waters but will not hire an agent, leaving the door open to return to school if he doesn’t like what he hears. Blakeney is likely a mid-to-late first rounder.

Mississippi State: Wide receiver Donald Gray will miss the rest of spring with a hyperextended knee … Dan Mullen says he’s looking for consistency from quarterbacks Damian Williams, Nick Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley.


Ole Miss: QB Chad Kelly will miss the rest of the spring after surgery to repair a sports hernia. That actually works well for the Rebels who have two untested scholarship QBs for backups. Freshman Shea Patterson and redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin will get all the reps the rest of the spring.

South Carolina: Of the five players Frank Martin suspended from the basketball team prior to the NIT, freshmen Eric Cobb and Jamall Gregory will not return to the team. TeMarcus Blanton, Marcus Stroman and Chris Silva remain with the team but their suspensions continue.

Tennessee: There was a time when Tennessee and Pat Summitt ruled women’s basketball but the last time the Lady Vols won a national championship or even made the Final Four was 2008 when Summitt won her eighth and last title … Tennessee spent $1.4 million for its Outback Bowl trip and made a profit of $15,687.

Texas A&M: Billy Kennedy is going to have to find a couple of recruiters in a hurry. Last week, Rick Stansbury left his staff to become the new head coach at Western Kentucky, and Monday, Stephen F. Austin hired Kyle Keller off the A&M staff to replace Brad Underwood, who left to become HBC at Oklahoma State.

Vanderbilt: Bryce Drew, who won 30 games and got Valparaiso to the NIT championship game, is the new basketball coach at Vanderbilt. Drew compiled a 124-47 record at Valpo. He is Valpo’s all-time leading scorer and a former #1 draft pick of the Houston Rockets.


The 10-member class for the Basketball Hall of Fame consists of Zelmo Beaty, Darrell Garretson (refeee), Allen Iverson, Tom Izzo, John McLendon, Yao Ming, Shaquille O’Neal, Cumberland Posey, Jerry Reinsdorf (owner Chicago Bulls) and Sheryl Swoopes (women’s player).

UAB promoted assistant Robert Ehsan to replace Jerod Haase, who left UAB for the HBC job at Stanford.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick won’t take a pay cut to facilitate a trade from the San Francisco 49ers to the Denver Broncos. Kaepernick has a $14.3 million contract of which $11.9 is guaranteed money.

Brandon Ingram is leaving Duke for the NBA after one year. He could end up as the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. He’s talented but I’m not sure I’d waste the #1 overall pick on a kid who’s that skinny and needs three years in the weight room to look like he’s not a victim of scurvy.

Now that Bryce Drew has taken the Vandy job, Georgia Tech is down to its fourth choice and that could be former Tech All-American Mark Price, who was 14-19 in his first year as a head coach at Charlotte.


Roy Williams says he doesn’t expect UNC basketball to get hit with sanctions. Do you think the NCAA caves and lets the Tar Heels skate or will there be at least some scholarship losses?


The music choices were this: If North Carolina won it was going to be James Taylor, whose dad was once the dean of the UNC med school. Since Villanova won, today’s music is all about Philadelphia. The choices were The Delfonics, the OJays or The Stylistics. I held a sing-off at YouTube and the Delfonics won by a whisker.




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