Second Thoughts: Wright State writes one of best stories of March

Wright State’s guard Grant Benzinger, right, celebrates with Cole Gentry after the team’s 74-57 win over Cleveland State during an NCAA college basketball game for the championship in the Horizon League men’s tournament in Detroit, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Combined ShapeCaption
Wright State’s guard Grant Benzinger, right, celebrates with Cole Gentry after the team’s 74-57 win over Cleveland State during an NCAA college basketball game for the championship in the Horizon League men’s tournament in Detroit, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Let the madness begin. It’ll start with the NCAA tournament Selection Show, which will break with tradition tonight and announce all 68 teams upfront. No suspenseful bracket reveals. Too bad. If it ain’t broke …

We were reminded again last week of the beauty of college sports. As Wright State put the finishing touches on its win over Cleveland State in the Horizon League championship game, Raiders senior star Grant Benzinger was subbed out and headed to the bench to a standing ovation. The TV cameras caught his dad, Todd, getting emotional. Is there anything better than watching your kid succeed in sports, or any other competitive venture? Those weren’t participation trophies they handed out in Detroit.

It was fun watching the Raiders win a conference tourney, even if the play-by-play guy couldn’t figure out Cole Gentry’s name. I attended the 2007 Horizon League final at the Nutter Center when the Raiders took down mighty Butler. The place was packed. WSU went on to lose in the first round of the NCAA tourney. That’ll probably happen again, but it won’t ruin the Raiders’ great season.

Wright State is no fan of the First Four. The annual get-together this week at UD Arena includes four No. 16 seeds playing for two spots on the 64-team bracket. That means fewer 16 seeds to feed to the blue bloods as appetizers in the NCAA tourney. The domino effect could mean the Raiders are a 15 seed, even though they play like a 14 or 13.

UD teased the Flyer Faithful taking long lunches at Milano’s and other watering holes in its Atlantic 10 tourney opener. The Flyers showed some fight and rallied from a 10-point deficit to take a late 70-65 lead against VCU. Could they finish? Uh, no. With the game on the line, the Flyers answered with: air ball, air ball, air ball, turnover. Nauseating. VCU and big hair win, 77-72.

The Flyers limp into the offseason with only their second losing season this century. I think Anthony Grant is the right coach for the job, but he needs a more mature group of players. Changing gears: Wouldn’t it be cool to see Josh Cunningham match up against Loudon Love?

The Reds made a great move by bringing in outfielder Ben Revere. He’s a .284 career hitter who has speed and great glove. If Billy Hamilton doesn’t work out, Revere is a solid Plan B. Plus he’s got a great family. I ran into Revere’s mom and sister in a parking garage in Cleveland six or seven years ago when Revere was with the Twins. (My kids got me tickets for Fathers Day.) She talked with me and my son for about 10 minutes, discussing Ben’s baseball upbringing. Very cool.

Trending up: Shaquem Griffin, Phil Mickelson, Troy Apke. The one-handed linebacker from UCF dropped jaws at the NFL combine by running a 4.38-second 40-yard dash. Griffin is a linebacker. A small one, but that's his position. This guy represents all that is good about football. He's a hard-working underdog who made it this far on his own. No handouts. Here's hoping he has a great NFL career.

Trending down: Oklahoma, Kevin Stallings, Middle Tennessee. The Sooners are 3-9 in their last 12 games. Saying they're running on fumes would be a complement. This is a bad team, but they have Trae Young. And we can't get enough of the skinny, ball-hog point/shooting guard, right? OU probably will make the tournament because it had a handful of quality wins … several weeks ago.


Knucklehead of the Week

We’ve seen the last of Aldon Smith in the NFL. Smith turned himself in to police last week and was booked on domestic violence-related charges. The alleged victim was Smith’s fiancée, to whom he proposed in February. The woman reportedly had bite marks on her wrists. Smith reportedly drank two bottles of tequila before leaving the scene of the incident. Smith had a whopping 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons with the 49ers before falling victim to the bottle. He’s been a regular on the police blotter and has been in and out of rehab. A sad tale of wasted talent.

About the Author