Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Could Wes Johnson be 2010's Carmelo?

I didn’t think Syracuse could win it all without Arinze Onuaku, but after watching Wesley Johnson toy with Gonzaga Sunday, I’m thinking otherwise. If he continues to play like that, he just might be able to pull a Carmelo Anthony and carry the depth-challenged Orange men to the national championship.

Of course, it will require more than a one-man show. Just as Anthony had Gerry McNamara, Johnson has Andy Rautins – two sharp-shooting, hard-nosed, intelligent, big-game players. It won’t come easy, especially Thursday night when the Orange face a Butler team riding a 22-game win streak. But it should be fun watching this next chapter unfold.

* Glad to see the national-coach-of-the-year honors continue to pour in for Jim Boeheim. Hard to believe it took 34 years for this to happen, but if ever there was a season the Syracuse basketball legend deserved it, it was this one.

* I’m also looking forward to Cornell’s Carrier Dome matchup vs. Kentucky. The Big Red obviously doesn’t match up, talent-wise, but they are more experienced and play tremendous team basketball. And they should have the crowd behind them, though it will sound strange hearing chants of “Let’s Go Red’’ instead of “Let’s Go Orange.’’

* Toto, we're not going with Kansas any more. I guess I wasn't alone in watching my brackets go up in smoke when the Jayhawks went down. Oh, well, I wisely, didn't wager any money on it.

* I’m glad to see the NFL adopt the new overtime rule, where the team that wins the coin toss can no longer win the game on a cheap field goal. But I don’t understand why the rule isn’t being used during the regular season. This is kind of like baseball, where one league has the designated hitter and the other doesn’t.

* Kudos to the Red Wings for their decision to immortalize Rochester’s “Mr. Baseball,’’ Joe Altobelli, with a life-sized statue this summer. Alto is one of the nicest and classiest people I’ve dealt with in my 37 years in the sports journalism business. Just a fabulous, down-to-earth guy. As far as Rochester baseball is concerned, he has done everything but mow the grass at Frontier Field.

* Today marks the 56th anniversary of one of the greatest moments in sports history – Roger Bannister’s breaking of the 4-minute barrier in the mile. We take sub-four-minute miles for granted these days, but in 1954, it was a ground-breaking achievement that made folks think about the possibilities rather than restrictions.

* GETTING PERSONAL: Please keep the following friends in your thoughts and prayers:
• Kathy Robertson, a beloved Brockport elementary school teacher who will be undergoing surgery Thursday;
• Tony Liccione and his mom, who suffered a series of strokes earlier this week, and
• Blaise Lamphier, whose dad, a gifted Connecticut newspaper cartoonist, recently passed away.

On a happier note, I’d like to wish my Rome, N.Y. paisan, David Smith – better known as “Smitty” – a Happy 55th Birthday tomorrow. Where did the time go, my friend? Seems like only yesterday we were playing Little League baseball on a diamond on the banks of the Mohawk River. And on Friday, say Happy Birthday to my Bills Brother, John DiTullio.


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