Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Sports Columns

April 10, 2014

Oh Good Greif: Spring in full swing with Masters under way

CROSSVILLE — With "March Madness" over and the Masters golf tournament under way in Augusta, GA, you know spring has sprung.

For the first time since 2004, both the UConn men and women won NCAA championships, as the Huskies defeated Kentucky 60-54 79-58 Monday night and the Huskie women beat Notre Dame Tuesday night.

I hope the next time two teams  from the same school win championships, the two winners will come from somewhere in the Volunteer State — Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Chattanooga, MTSU, etc.

Kentucky went further in the tournament than Florida and Tennessee, but now we must wait to see how many of those young men will be heading into the NBA. At least six Wildcats could use the "one and done" rule, while Tennesse loses five seniors and may be junior Jarnell Stokes, as well

Stokes is going to be the glue that keeps the Vols hopes for a return to the NCAA Tournament alive and Coach Cuonzo Martin's job. The status of Martin's contract extension and potential pay raise has not been announced, but UT Athletic Director Dave Hart needs to do something positive to make the Vol faithful happy.

Former Coach Bruce Pearl, now at Auburn, is going make the remaining 13 SEC teams get better or the Tigers are going to take control of the SEC very quickly.

There was a lot  of "string music" going on at Bridgestone Arena Tuesday night, as UConn went undefeated (40-0) to win its ninth national championship, one better than Pat Summitt's eight at Tennessee. Geno Auriemma needs one more championship to tie legendary UCLA coach John Wooden (10).

UConn loses just two players in Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley, and will be centered around Breanna Stewart for another run at a national title. The seniors finished their careers with a 46-game winning streak and back-to-back national titles.

The other 63 teams who competed in the "Big Dance"  must find a way not to be intimidated with UConn and face the fact they are going to be dominant for at least two more years. The rest of women's basketball are going to have to deal with  Auriemma for years to come.

••••

As this column goes to press, the 2014 Masters golf tournament is under way at Augusta National in Augusta, GA, with 97 of the best players in the world, minus one - Tiger Woods.

My colleague from the Chattanooga Times Free Press pointed out something interesting. Thirty-seven of the 97 golfers in this year's field have played in events in the Chattanooga area.  Those include Woods, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kucher, and Bubba Watson, and I venture to guess many of them have played the Web.com's Knoxville Open. Many of the professionals will be returning to Memphis for the FedEx Tournament.

Who is going to put on the green jacket for winning the first major of the year? Will it be one of the above or one of the upcoming stars on tour like Jimmy Walker, Jordan Spieth, Scott Stallings, etc.?

Will the other majors — the U.S. Open, PGA and British Open — and the Players Championsihp — be as good without Woods? We'll see as the season goes on.

There are always a few locals who make the trip to Augusta for the annual tournament.

••••

When the Tennessee Vols open their 2014 season Aug. 31 against Utah State, the longtime voice who uttered these words, "It's football time in Tennessee" and "pay these prices and pay no more," Bobby Denton,  passed away Wednesday.

Bobby was a fixture at the annual Johnny Majors Invitational at Lake Tansi for many years and always introduced the former Vol coach during the weekend activities. He always took time to visit when he was in town.

I hope his passing doesn't take away the enthusiasm Coach Butch Jones and his staff will have Saturday for the Orange and White game. He would not want that any way.

Family members and friends of Denton are establishing a scholarship fund in his name at the University of Tennessee College of Communications and information.

The goal is to fund a scholarship endowment which would support an award each year to a deserving broadcasting student in the college's School of Journalism.

Anyone interested in contributing to the endowment may contact Patrick Powell, director of development for the college at (865) 974-3211 or by email at  ppowell@utfi.org.

(Ed Greif is the Chronicle sports editor and his column appears regularly.)

 

 

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  • Oh Good Greif: Spring in full swing with Masters under way

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