While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. Texas’ women’s basketball team has “pushed the reset button” after losing to West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals and will open with defensive-minded Central Arkansas on Friday. Coach Karen Aston gave the Longhorns four days off, “but not in a row. Trust me. The practices we had in between caused them to need the days off. I tried to get back a little of our edge. Our kids have been great when they’ve stayed absolutely in the moment. We didn’t understand the sense of urgency that West Virginia had.” Lashann Higgs and Ariel Atkins have to score big if defenses double-team Brooke McCarty, and Joyner Holmes has to bring it on both ends.
2. Danny Willett’s game hasn’t been on fire since he won last year’s Masters, the first European to do so since 1999. He’s nursed a sore back and enjoyed his new son, Zachariah. He’ll be here in Austin for next week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play tournament as the world’s 14th-ranked player. He still hasn’t revealed the menu for the Champions Dinner at Augusta for Masters week although some have wondered if the 29-year-old Englishman will serve something called Toad in the Hole. I don’t think that’s the TexMex special. Since he overtook Jordan Spieth on the back nine to claim the green jacket, he’s enjoyed showing it off in some unique places. “To be able to wear it in the Royal Box at Wimbledon was pretty cool,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t suppose there’s been loads of people there that have been able to do that.”
3. If you saw Paul McCartney or George Strait perform at the Erwin Center over 28 of the last 40 years, you can thank John Graham. As the retiring director of that facility, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Graham signs acts to come to Austin. Whom didn’t he land? “No question, it’d be the Rolling Stones,” he said. “I used to have a poster of the Rolling Stones in my office. It turned into frustration.” The biggest regular? That would be Strait, who also was the first singer Graham brought to then-named Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill., where he worked after graduating from Illinois. Strait performed at the Drum more than any other act. “I want to say we’ve had him 18 times, 14 in my time.” And his most memorable basketball game there? The strollin’ Nolan game in 1990 where an irate Richardson stormed off the court without getting T-ed up and returned to see Arkansas beat Tom Penders’ Longhorns in OT. “That was the only time I thought we were going to lose this building and be unable to control the crowd. Nolan came back out and was greeted with 16,000 people booing as loud as they can. It was like a single, big animal.”
4. Congrats to Rob Penders for posting his 400th career win as head baseball coach at St. Edward’s. His Hilltoppers, who are tied for first in the Heartland Conference and lead the league in hits, runs, home runs, RBIs, stolen bases and ERA, have advanced to the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament five straight years. He’s 83 wins ahead of the next most successful coach in program history. “This team has a lot of new players who are feeling out their roles,” Penders said. “Once they buy into those roles, we will be a really good team with talented players.” Senior catcher-outfielder Gable Whitacre, a Bowie product, leads the league in slugging, RBIs and home runs.
5. Was great listening to “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd when he stopped by the American-Statesman on Monday for a round-table discussion. Todd’s an avid runner at 4:30 every morning. “When else are you going to find time to run?” he told about 20 of us. The Miami native is a big-time Hurricanes fan and kidded around that Texas should join the ACC and keep the Longhorn Network. OK, maybe he wasn’t kidding. By the way, Todd said, “Oh, we love Manny Diaz at Miami. He’s been great.”
6. Willett isn’t the only one excited about going to the Masters. So is Austin’s Jackie Feldman, who qualified for this year’s finals of the Drive, Chip and Putt competition for girls 14-15 on April 2 by winning the regional finals at Southern Hills in Tulsa. She has played in multiple Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego since she was 8 and played in the U.S Kids Golf World Championships in Pinehurst every year until age 12. She was the only participant of all boys and girls to hole a chip. She has been playing golf since age 4 and hopes to play in college.
7. Dan Wallach, a sports and gaming law expert, is optimistic that legalized sports betting is coming maybe as early as next year. He envisions a near-future scenario where a fan at a stadium can place an in-game bet at kiosks inside the arena. Wallach, part of a SXSW panel, said to keep an eye on whether the Supreme Court decides by June to accept an appeal from the state of New Jersey over a law passed in 2014 that allowed residents to gamble on games inside a racetrack or casino. The law has been overturned in lower court rulings. The plaintiffs are the NFL, NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA and the U.S. Department of Justice. Wallach believes President Trump, a former New Jersey casino owner, would favor legalized gambling on games. He should. No reason why the government shouldn’t tax gambling monies amounting to a staggering $150 billion a year.
8. Why does anyone trade with Bill Belichick? The Patriots scored big again and get better and younger with studs like wide receiver Brandin Cooks, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive end Kony Ealy. Who wouldn’t give up a first-round pick for Cooks, a proven, vertical threat? Drew Brees may need to have a word with his general manager.
9. “Logan” lasts forever. I like the series, but this one was overly violent. The movie really drags in the last half hour. Gave it 6 ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: In 2017-18, Texas wins a bowl game, goes to the Sweet 16 in basketball and the College World Series in baseball.
BOHLS, GOLDEN PODCAST
Catch columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden for their weekly “On Second Thought” podcasts on Thursdays. This week’s guest is Texas women’s basketball coach Karen Aston.
HOW CRAZY WAS HE?
Looking back at Kirk’s crazy prediction from March 16, 2016 — that UTSA would seriously look at hiring Memphis’ Josh Pastner. One year later, how did that work out? It didn’t. UTSA hired Steve Henson about two weeks later, and about a week after that, Pastner was hired at Georgia Tech.