"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

MARCH MADNESS FINALE ONE FOR THE AGES, NOW IT'S MASTERS TIME

Villanova and Carolina Don't Disappoint: There were a lot of people, me included, that not only hoped that last night's NCAA Basketball Championship game would be a great game, but also felt strongly that it probably would deliver. It certainly did, most likely exceeding a lot of expectations in the process, and possibly becoming the best ever. Even before Marcus Paige's acrobatic three-pointer tied the game with just shy of 5 seconds on the clock, the last six minutes were electric. The Tar Heels crawling back from what looked like an insurmountable deficit by doing something they aren't known for doing well, making three pointers. And Villanova grabbed that lead by dominating in the paint, something no one really expected them to do against a bigger UNC squad. But a play that was as key to the game as the winning jumper by Kris Jenkins was the four point turnaround at the end of the first half. With Carolina up by seven, they had a fast break opportunity that would have ended the half and given them a nine point lead heading to the locker room. Instead, a block and a basket the other way allowed 'Nova to get within five, a much different feel as they headed to the second half. In terms of quality of play, I thought it was outstanding given the difficulty of the venue and the intensity of the game. I like that the officials in this year's version of March Madness almost universally let the kids play, calling what seemed to be fewer touch fouls, giving the games a better flow and leaving the result to the players. Another positive was the preponderance of upperclassmen-laden teams in the Final Four. Despite the lack of close contests in the semifinals, particularly Villanova's historic beat down of Oklahoma, I still think it was a great tournament that resulted in a very worthy champion. Congratulations to coach Jay Wright and his team!

From One Shining Moment to the Green Jacket: Now that the NCAA Men's Basketball Champion has been crowned, it's time to move onto arguably the most storied place in golf. Pebble Beach and St. Andrews might be able to lay claim to that honor, but neither one hosts a major championship every season. The Old Course gets that chance every five years, while Pebble Beach is on more of a once a decade schedule. So Augusta National, as far as the casual golf fan is concerned, gets the opportunity to open the golf season, at least for majors. With the azaleas in bloom and the patrons lining every fairway and filling the space around every green, we tune in with the familiarity of knowing the holes, remembering the shots from the past and expecting drama behind every pine tree. We're not generally disappointed. This year is also the 30th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus' tremendous 30 on the back nine to secure his eighteenth and final major win. It's fascinating that his total is the same as the number of holes on a regulation golf course, an almost random number that was arbitrarily established way back when golf was getting its start in Scotland. One player that won't be providing any fireworks is Tiger Woods, still four shy of Jack's number. He's been idle since August and although he is said to be making progress, a timetable for his return to tournament golf is still unclear. We have a new crop of stars to fill the void, and they're doing a great job. Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler, Dustin Johnson and others are providing wonderful competition while also moving the game forward and showing an appreciation for tradition at the same time. We still have Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson as well, and given the importance of experience at Augusta, you can't count the veterans out. Does it sound like I'm excited for the Masters Tournament? You bet, and with good reason.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.