Whether you’re a major basketball fan, or a parttime hoops follower, you don’t need a calendar to remind you of what month we’re in, because you can tell what time of year it is by the sound of sneakers squeeking with sudden stops on the court, the backboards shaking and the nets swishing from balls shredding them.
Of course it’s March Madness in the hoops world as the college seasons wrap up with NCAA tournament mania bringing about hair-pulling and nail-biting rattled nerves, and that’s just the fans.
Imagine the players and coaches.
Actually, they’re all right, or they better be all right, after already playing 30-plus games and, besides vying for conference and league titles, reaching the NCAA Division I championship tournament is the most important goal, because at the end of the major college hoops tunnel is the ultimate prize of the John Wooden Trophy for the champion.
Even for college teams that don’t make the NCAA’s biggest action party, there are other postseason tourneys being held, with the biggest being the NIT, which many decades back was the granddaddy, to fuel the hoops madness.
On the Bay Area collegiate scene, only Stanford’s going to the big dance because looked-to-be-in Cal slumped at the worst time, which is recently, and will be playing in the NIT along with USF, which finally had a major turnaround season, and St. Mary’s, a team that got snubbed last year and fell just short this year.
How fellow conference foe BYU got in over more deserving teams, especially Wisconsin-Green Bay and its 24-6 record, can and will be debated. But that’s the way it annually goes – there’ll always be someone hurting from being denied the dance floor.
One more Bay Area college hoops note that rings closer to home is sending out a giant congrats to the Santa Rosa Junior College men’s basketball team, which won its first state title Sunday in SoCal. It was a great accomplishment and I know SVHS grad, player and coach Casey Rogina is celebrating with the Bear Cubs achievement because he was a former assistant coach for SRJC head coach Craig McMillan.
Back to the NCAA tournament, side from the “who should be and who shouldn’t be in,” the big show will go on with its basketball splendor generated by high-level competition, talent and thrills, along with the commercial overload, and all us hoops fans will go along for the roller-coaster ride.
But madness in March isn’t just for colleges, it also applies to pro basketball, mainly the NBA, where this is a critical month for all those teams, especially in the west, battling to make the postseason playoffs, which is a whole different hoops madness.
It’s a tense time in the Bay Area because the Golden State Warriors are one of the teams trying to survive the brutal Western Conference and be one of the eight playoff teams.
That’s a drag and the postseason playoff alignment should be changed, like maybe years ago, because the Eastern Conference is so weak that only three of its teams would make the west finals.
The Warriors are going to make the playoffs and could be a major problem for opponents in the playoffs.
But we’re going to have to survive professional hoops madness in March, followed by April and May, to see how the Warriors end up.
It’ll be nerve-wracking fun for sure.