"The Shot." Or to some (with deference to Christian Laettner) "The Shot Part 2." North Carolina slayed a feisty young Kentucky team on a last second jumper that ended a wild sequence just after Kentucky had tied it up. The shot sent the Tar Heels to the Final Four. Sportsman of the Week Luke Maye did the work in his last second (well, 0.3 left) bucket to slay the Wildcats and break the hearts of the Bluegrass faithful. But really, the entire regional finals, Maye was a portrait of efficiency. Coming off the bench for the two games (first one a win against Butler), the 6'7" sophomore tallied just 45 minutes, one full regulation plus overtime game. In that time, he netted 33 points and 15 boards, more than 0.75 points per minute of action, and 1 rebound every 3 minutes. No other Tar Heel was so efficient in scoring. But make no mistake, his winning Sportsman of the Week is about the clutch. He'll be ready to tangle in the desert in the next round. A round North Carolina may not make without his heroics.
March Madness (c'mon NCAA, sue me) was in full effect this week. For a tournament that features 67 games, 52 are already in the books. And while there weren't any impossible upsets, a lot of favored teams went home. Like the Duke Blue Devils. Duke was a vogue pick for the Final Four until they ran into a buzz saw in South Carolina. Led by Sindarius Thornwell, the Gamecocks took advantage of a partisan home crown (and maybe just a few North Carolina Tarheels fans joining the bandwagon) in Greenville, SC, to oust the favored Devils 88-81. It was never competitive the final 10 minutes. Thornwell 24 points, 6 boards, and 5 assists in the stunner. Combine this with a 29 point, 11 rebound game in a 93-73 demolishing of Marquette in the first round (in what was a pick'em game). Did we mention that the senior Thornwell was the SEC player of the Year (in a league that features pretty good Kentucky players). Playing a full four years and leading your school to their first tournament victory since 1973, that's big. Worthy of our Sportsman of the Week!
Shifting gears a little bit (before March Madness jams our airwaves), our Blog has always loved first time winners. And underdogs. PGA Tour winner Adam Hadwin fits the bill. Yes, PGA Tour winner, in his first Tour victory this week. Hadwin edged Patrick Cantlay, also seeking his first PGA tour win. The Canadian edges Cantlay on the final hole with a birdie, after blowing a two shot lead with a water shot on 16. Never has a golfer been so happy to skip his honeymoon. You see, he had planned it during The Masters, figuring he would need a miracle to make it. Enter miracle. Except this golfer is talented. And he is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
The Columbus Blue Jackets have the second most points in the Eastern Conference, and are poised to make their third Stanley Cup Playoffs in team history, and only the second in the last eight years. Good hockey starts between the pipes, and Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has provided that in spades. Bobrovsky is currently in the Top 5 goalies in wins, goals against average, save percentage, and shutouts. This week, he was nothing short of spectacular. In three full games of regulation, he allowed no goals. Unfortunately in one of them, he lost in overtime, but the shutouts in the other two netted his team five total points for his team. His goals against average of 0.33 and save percentage of .989 was tops for the week. A hot Bobrovsky could propel the Blue Jackets to a deep playoff run, and he is a worthy, Sportsman of the Week!