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SportsMonday

By Jim Coffman

The Bulls just missed pulling out an improbable win after a great comeback in Toronto (nice shot to tie it over towering Chris Bosch at the end of regulation Ben Gordon!). Later, the Canucks took the Hawks to the woodshed (on their way to a 4-0 win) but at least there was an almost-brawl that included bloodied faces, shredded undershirts and hair-pulling. Oh, and there were two not exactly dramatic NCAA men's tournament games.

But the best part of this sports Sunday was Tiger Woods' charge at Bay Hill. The only other competitor who compares to this guy in terms of willing himself to wins in the last quarter century is that character who used to play for the Bulls, the one who's been statue-ized. I know it's tricky to compare competitors in team sports and individual sports but the Bulls' championships were about one individual as much as any team championships have ever been. There were plenty of stellar supporting players but the Bulls' won because of Michael's indomitable will.

On Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods rallied from five shots down at the beginning of the round. He slipped past a guy, Sean O'Hair, who didn't play great but who played well enough to win against anyone else. Tiger, who was competing in only his third event since major knee surgery, capped it off with a slam dunk birdie putt on the 18th hole for his sixth API championship. My wife and I have played golf maybe twice since my oldest child was born almost 10 years ago. We are hardly golf fans. But we are competition connoisseurs and Woods delivers, dramatically, almost every time he has a chance.

Izzo F'Shizzle
Before we turn away from boring college basketball for good this week (except for that Villanova-Pitt regional final - that was a great game even if I could not possibly have cared less which team won), some kudos must be bestowed . . . mazel tov to Tom Izzo - without you (and Bill Self's Illini recruits charging into the national final a few years after Indiana somehow did the same under the coach who replaced Bob Knight) this would have been an absolutely lost decade for the Big Ten.

Sunday's regional championship makes five times in the last 11 years under Izzo that the Spartans have made the Final Four. And if they could thump Louisville on Sunday, they can certainly knock out their next opponent, a Tar Heels team that was never tested by an Oklahoma squad afflicted by woefully inexperienced and underqualified guards on Sunday. And did we mention that the national semifinal will be played at Ford Field? Just 90 minutes down the road from East Lansing?

Even if Michigan State doesn't bring home a championship, who is a better college coach than the Michigan State man? After Sunday's result, Rick Pittino is out. Roy Williams at UNC? Jim Calhoun at UConn? I don't think so. Kshyshefskzkzi? Not any more. Izzo wins.

Bulls Run
I had a chance to take in the Bulls' big win over Indiana on Saturday at the UC (the one that pulled them within two wins of .500 only a couple weeks after they had flirted with 10 games under) and it was just a great show from start to finish. Los Toros (how stupid was it that the NBA had the Bulls put "Los Bulls" on their uniforms for Wednesday's win over the Miami Heat supposedly in honor of Latino American month or some such silliness - it was such a dumb-assed American move - something I wouldn't have expected from David Stern's NBA) played hardly any defense over the weekend. But they scored enough to knock off the Pacers 112-106 in the first afternoon game and then couldn't quite get the one last basket that would have put them over the top in the 194-189 overtime loss in the second at Toronto (OK, I think the actual score was 134-129 but you get my point).

At this point this team can flat out light it up on offense. Can you imagine if Mike D'Antoni was the coach? Since the John Salmons (two beautifully cold-blooded threes in crunch time against the Pacers) and Brad Miller trade they'd be averaging 150 points per game. It is becoming clear that transaction saved John Paxson's tenure as GM - that and the fact that angry young Tyrus Thomas (the team leader in trash-talking versus the Pacers) is improving and improving and improving. Thomas' blocked shots alone on Saturday (he had seven) were worth the price of admission. And his final block - on Pacer stud Danny Granger - was gigantic.

White Sox Gift
Hey, White Sox, just a thought, here . . . How about Alexi Ramirez in center and Gordon Beckham at short? I have no clue who would lead-off in this scenario (Ramirez doesn't get on base often enough and it would be awfully tough to put someone as raw as Beckham in the top spot) but this would be the way to get the best eight position players in the organization on the field and in the lineup at the same time. And here I am, just giving it to you. Some day I'm sure you'll thank me.

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Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday. Comments are welcome.

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