Some thoughts from a busy Monday morning. . .
Is Tennessee the March Madness frontrunner? I'm not so sure. . . yet. When North Carolina is healthy they are a match for anyone. The question is whether Roy Williams' team will ever be completely healthy. Duke has looked really good at times this season, and few coaches have a way of helping their teams get better as the season progresses than Coach K. Despite their last second loss on Sunday to Oklahoma State, I think Kansas has played very complete basketball at times this year.
But the thing that Bruce Pearl's squad is doing this season that they haven't always done in the past is win games even when they're not shooting lights out. And Memphis continues to shoot free throws at a Steve Newman-esque clip, which tends to catch up to you in the tournament. By the way, what was up with Bruce Pearl's bearhugging Erin Andrews during that halftime interview? Will someone up his dosage please? Has he been hanging out with Joe Namath or something?
NaDerris Ward transferring? Apparently sophomore tight end NaDerris "Duke" Ward is considering a transfer to a PAC-10 school to be closer to his family. His high school coach is advising against it, but indicates that there are some family issues which are pulling Ward home. It would be a shame to lose NaDerris. Some message board types have seized on the news to say that Ward doesn't want to compete with Bruce Figgins for time at tight end. I'm not so sure about that. He saw snaps last season, and has 3 years of eligibility left. That's plenty of time to work your way onto the field, especially if (as reported) Aron White is still a couple of biscuits shy of 230, even after a redshirt year. I have no doubt that Duke is a little discouraged, especially after coming in with so much fanfare, but I think he can still have an excellent career at Georgia. I'm also looking at our depth chart and thinking that it would be nice to have a guy with some snaps under his belt backing up Chandler and Figgins.
Why do guards run the 40 at the NFL Combine? I thought former Falcon Jamie Dukes said it best during the NFL Network (call your cable provider now !!!) coverage: "If an offensive lineman runs more than 20 yards, he's already missed his block." Bravo, Jamie. Bravo.
Not a lot of 'Dawgs at the combine, though I did get a chance to watch the running backs coverage. If you missed it, Thomas Brown ran a 4.55 forty (which isn't very good, NFL tailback wise), and Kregg Lumpkin ran a 4.6 followed by a 4.7 (which is, well, let's be honest, really, really bad NFL tailback wise. TB showed pretty good acceleration and change of direction in the drills, and Lumpkin looked sorta stiff. As befits a guy built like a Brunswick bowling ball comprised entirely of fast twitch muscle fiber, Brown did well in the vertical jump ("36, if I recall correctly) and the bench press (25 reps of 225 lb.).
All of which is to say that barring an exceptional on campus workout, Kregg may have to go the free agent route, while Thomas will likely get a look from somebody in the middle rounds. The NFL goes through tailbacks like your iPod goes through batteries. Well, except that there's a lot less Shakira in the NFL than in your iPod.
I'll be back later to make fun of Bill Curry. Until then . . .