New Castle News

March 18, 2014

Greg Huston: The Buccos, March Madness and Miller time

Greg Huston
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — •We’re getting closer and closer to the 2014 opening day for the Pirates, and for the first time in forever, there are big time expectations for the Buccos. While there may be some serious holes in the lineup, particularly in right field and at first base, at least the losing season streak is in the rear view mirror. Players win games, but you really can’t say enough about the job that manager Clint Hurdle has done in turning things around over the past three years. He took over a team that had lost for 20 seasons straight, and immediately changed the culture. While the Pirates finally got over the hump this past season and made the playoffs, don’t forget that they competed well into the summer of the previous two seasons, before late seasons collapses did them in. But the point is that in all three seasons, there were reasons to believe that the Pirates were headed in the right direction and that still seems to be the case.

•The brackets are set, the pools have formed and all that’s left is for the actual games to be played. Yes, March Madness is upon us and with all that said, I hardly have any patience left for this tournament. I don’t know why, but I just can’t seem to care about filling out a bracket, at least with my heart in it anyway. My neighbor invited me into a $10 per entry pool, so I filled out a bracket online, but I think it took me less than a minute to do so. I think the problem is that there are really only about four or five teams that “should” win, so everything else is so arbitrary.  Picking winners has always been about lucky guesses, but even more so over the last few years, which makes it all the more boring. Or maybe that should make it more exciting, but it’s hard for me to see it that way. Anyway, go Florida!

•Even though I’ll barely be watching, I will be rooting for my Florida pick, but also cheering on the Arizona Wildcats. Arizona has always been my favorite team, ever since the days of Lute Olson, Miles Simon, and even Luke Walton. This year’s team did get a number one seed and was ranked number one almost all year long before falling a bit recently, but I don’t know if they have enough offense to win the whole thing. I do have them in the Final Four and I’ll actually be thrilled if they win the championship, because they do have a chance. I’m not going to pretend like Arizona coach Sean Miller and I are best friends or even acquaintances, because we aren’t, but his father John Miller was my high school basketball coach at Blackhawk and I still work his camps and tournaments to this day. Sean’s brother Archie is the head coach at Dayton, and they open the tournament with Ohio State. Whatever your feelings are on the Millers, it's hard to deny that they are the first family of hoops in our area.