Chips Shots – Car Ride

by Jim Buzzerd

Monday was a travel day for me and the 480 mile drive cut into the time usually set aside for this column, but over seven hours of listening to sports talk radio gave me a few topics to make quick comments on. One of the first topics that came up was Cleveland Cavaliers’ forward LeBron James having played the final three games of the NBA finals with a broken hand after trying to punch out a blackboard in the locker room following their game one loss to Golden State.

The Warriors ultimately swept the Cavaliers in four games, but game one was one the Cavaliers probably should have won. The Warriors benefitted from questionable officiating and a mental error by J.R. Smith to prevail 124-114 in overtime. Never mind the officiating, which seemed slanted toward Golden State, Cleveland had a chance to win it in regulation, but they missed a free throw with four seconds left and the score tied at 107. Smith rebounded the miss, but instead of trying for a put back for the win, he dribbled the time off the clock.

James, who had a magnificent game with 51 points, stared in disbelief; visibly perturbed. Apparently the frustration led to the encounter with the blackboard. The talking heads weren’t so much opining on the merits of attacking a blackboard as they were debating why James bothered to make this all public in the post game interview of the game four loss.

Then came breaking news that the NCAA would likely be approving three new bowl games for 2020 some time this week. One would be in Chicago at Wrigley Field the other would be in Myrtle Beach, presumably at Coastal Carolina University, which is actually in Conway, and another one at an undisclosed location. If approved, that would mean the number of bowl games will swell from 40 to 43 and open the door for teams with 5-7 records becoming bowl eligible.

Most folks already believe there are too many bowl games and that is an easy argument to make. I’m not opposed. If the parties involved can raise money to pay the teams, why not?

College baseball was a fairly hot topic on Monday. Four teams had already qualified for this weekend’s College World Series in Omaha with four games scheduled for Monday to determine the rest of the eight-team field. I took note of Monday’s games because two of West Virginia’s Big 12 Conference mates, Texas and Texas Tech, were involved in games to advance to Omaha.

The Longhorns and Red Raiders each won on Monday, so the Big 12 will have two teams in the final eight. WVU had a 29-27 record this season and weren’t in contention to make the tournament despite a solid RPI. One reason for the solid RPI is that the Mountaineers took two of three games from Texas this season and split with Texas Tech going 1-2 in the regular season and winning a game in the conference tournament. So, a 4-3 record against the World Series field could be seen as a positive, four or five more games in the win column should have landed them in the tournament.