Serving a fresh collection of "David’s Appetizers," assorted musings and observations on the sports scene:
Connor Gilmore first got on the radar for the University of Central Arkansas when he came in with a strong few innings as a freshman in a loss to Little Rock in a tight game.
Even though the Bears lost the game, coach Allen Gum and his staff noted a sense of competitiveness and leadership and a special player.
Gilmore later became one of the catalysts in the Bears’ run to the Southland Conference tourney title and an NCAA berth that ended just short of a Super Regional.
Friday night, Gilmore, now a senior, shut out Houston Baptist for his 22nd career victory at UCA, a school record.
From that chilly evening at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, Gilmore has been an anchor for the UCA team.
There is a discrepancy in NCAA women’s. In participating in the first round of the NCAA Division I tournament, the UCA Sugar Bears got an expenses-paid trip to Louisville, nice accommodations and first-class flight.
The NCAA men get all that plus earning $260,000 for their conference for every game the team plays (from TV revenue).
The men’s game is the cash-cow and the bottom line reflects it.
Outside of UConn, parity is creeping into the women’s tournament.
We’re seeing games a bit tighter in the lower rounds and two No. 1 seeds (Notre Dame and South Carolina) were upset in the Sweet Sixteen on Friday night. There are better players and better athletes from top to bottom.
However, it still seems the UConn Invitation. In going for their fourth straight national title, the UConn women after 119-1 in their last 120 games. All the wins, many against the best teams in the women’s game, have been by double-digits.
After watching his team get torn apart, 98-38 (trailing 49-4 in the first quarter), Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer produced the quote of the tournament in describing the Huskies, "They’re like piranhas on a roast. When they go in transition, you can’t get the bone out of the water fast enough."
It’s interesting that two of the lower-seed upsets Friday occurred at the hands of Tennessee and Stanford, traditional No. 1 seeds.
The worst-case scenario, at least for now, will not take place in higher education in Louisiana.
As noted in a previous column, Louisiana colleges face about $70 million in budget cuts that would have possibly temporarily closed some institutions, closed some degree programs and affected the eligibility of some athletes and possibly shutting down some sports.
As the political smoke subsided, there would be no further cuts in education. They health budget, in which legislators found $40 in spare money, will absorb the cuts. Louisiana also benefitted with some cushion in the health budget because the flu season wasn’t as bad as forecast.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)