Saturday, March 27, 2004

Hawk Eyes | There's a good reason why this space hasn't had much new content over the last few weeks. My focus has shifted from baseball to college basketball, and specifically to the Saint Joseph's Hawks, who are but one win away from San Antonio and the Final Four.

It's been my great privilege to attend quite a few games during the Hawks' magical mystery tour of a season. As the postseason began, my day job ramped up, requiring me to travel with the team and giving me precious little time to post here.

I was courtside in Dayton, where Saint Joseph's suffered its sole loss of the year, a trampling by Xavier, whose win last night landed the Musketeers in the Elite Eight as well. So much for the weak Atlantic 10. I was courtside in Buffalo, where the Hawks blasted Liberty and outslugged Texas Tech to reach the Sweet 16. And I've been courtside here in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where SJU was just a hair better than Wake Forest on Thursday to set up tonight's regional final against Oklahoma State.

My talent is in writing and reporting, not predicting, and tonight's matchup is way too close for me to offer a forecast. The Cowboys are big; the Hawks are quick. Saint Joseph's is among the best long-range shooting teams in the country; OSU defends the arc with ferocity. Vegas likes Oklahoma State by two-and-a-half; SJU will have the best player on the floor in Jameer Nelson.

So you pick it. I'll be content to watch, and hope. This is a special collection of players and coaches, a group of guys who like each other and play with passion, precision, and purpose. Amidst the sweat and sneakers, there is beauty in their performance. America deserves to see more of them; they deserve a chance to play on the game's largest stage.


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