GLENDALE, Ariz. - The Final Four is where you get to see the end of the road for college basketball every year, but more often than not, it isn't the place to mark the start of the journey to the NBA for players who will make that jump.
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The shot only hung in the still air of the stadium for a few seconds last April, the shot that Kris Jenkins took at the very end of the last college basketball game of the season. If it seemed a longer time when it took place, before it fell slowly to earth, straight through the rim to make Villanova the national champion, imagine how long the shot has continued to hang over the North Carolina Tar Heels.
When Dylan Ennis asked to meet with Jay Wright in the Villanova coach's office soon after the 2014-15 season, Wright could have probably listed a few possible reasons for the request from the 6-foot-2 guard who would be one of his three senior captains the following season.
My favorite Dallas Green story, and one that accurately illustrates his personality, on and off the baseball field, took place when he was pitching for the University of Delaware, and the Blue Hens played an exhibition game against a traveling team of former major-leaguers that included Bill Nicholson, the enormously strong slugger from Maryland's Eastern Shore who had finished his career with the Phillies.
BUFFALO - In the quiet locker room after the game, as the players sat in their places staring straight ahead into nothing, the assistant coaches gathered in a huddle to the side, looking at box scores and replays, trying to pick apart what separated winning from losing for Villanova on Saturday night. At the locker stall on the end nearest the door, a dark blue suit coat rested on a hanger, waiting for its owner to return from analyzing the very same things for public consumption.
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BUFFALO - When Ethan Happ began playing basketball, he was a point guard, and he was fairly certain he would remain a point guard. Every day in the driveway, he did ball-handling drills for an hour, twice as much with the left hand as the right hand. He could change direction, he could go behind his back, he could crossover. He was tough to defend.
Being selected as one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament is a great reward for an exceptional basketball season, but history says the only guarantee that comes with the honor is a single win - and that guarantee will also expire one of these days.
It is 7 p.m., or as close to 7 p.m. as Jay Wright can reasonably cut it, when the back door of JD McGillicuddy's, a bar/restaurant near the Wayne train station, pulls open and the coach of the defending national champion college basketball team enters the kitchen to say hello to all the dishwashers, prep staff, cooks, and waitresses who swarm there on a very busy Monday night in March.
NEW YORK - In college basketball, the senior classes roll past quickly, with one season's heroes quickly becoming next season's alumni. It lasts only a moment, and the classes are remembered most for what the team accomplished with them as the senior figureheads at the front of the line.
NEW YORK - When the game ended and Seton Hall forward Angel Delgado slumped to the floor, a victim of some cruel twists at the finish of the Big East conference tournament semifinal game against Villanova, it was Josh Hart of the Wildcats who leaned down to comfort him.
NEW YORK - When Jay Wright planned his most likely Villanova playing rotation last summer, he figured on having freshman Omari Spellman available for significant minutes at power forward and on slotting junior Phil Booth along the perimeter as part of the guard rotation.
Incredibly enough, after all that has transpired, Jahlil Okafor is the last center standing for the 76ers, the only one of the Big Three available to take the court in the final month of the season. Now that he has survived being out of the rotation, the question becomes whether he can survive being part of it.
If it's any consolation to Flyers general manager Ron Hextall, who was unable to propel the becalmed team much closer to its future on Wednesday, his was still only the second-most disappointing trade deadline performance in the city this year.
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The NFL scouting combine begins Tuesday in Indianapolis with approximately 250 draft-eligible players invited for the league's franchises to observe and evaluate at close range. That's not a random number. A total of 253 players were taken in the 2016 draft, including supplemental picks, so the idea is to have very nearly every likely draft prospect on hand for inspection.
It was another great week for Sam Hinkie, the former 76ers general manager who devised the franchise's "Tank, Then Crank" strategy - well, at least the first part - but didn't stick around for the second act after a ritual deveining by owner Josh Harris.
A rather remarkable thing happened on Jan. 23, 1973, in old Chicago Stadium when the NBA held an All-Star Game and one of the teams failed to score 100 points. In fact, the West squad didn't even score 90 that day, losing 104-84 despite possessing a starting lineup of Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Sidney Wicks, Spencer Haywood, and Tiny Archibald.
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Bob Ford is an award-winning sports columnist for the Inquirer. He is a four-time Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year, as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. His work has been cited numerous times by Associated Press Sports Editors judges, and he won an Eclipse Award for outstanding coverage of horse racing. Prior to becoming a columnist at the Inquirer, Ford was the 76ers beat writer for six seasons and then a general assignment feature writer with a specialty in Olympic sports. In 1995, he was designated a fellow of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. Ford has written sports in the Philadelphia area since 1981, when he served as the Phillies beat writer and later as a general sports columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times.