DECC funding: Moving on. Kudos to DECC executive director Dan Russell, who eschewed the prospects of being bitter at the fact that his expansion project didn't get the requested funding from the Minnesota Legislature. Russell instead decided to take what is probably the right angle: He knows that he will need to ask these same people for money next year or the year after, so let's not start a urination contest with them right now.
I'll do the same thing from here on in. Am I bitter that the DECC didn't get funded? Sure. Am I bitter that the Twins got a ballpark funded without a tax referendum, while we passed a tax referendum and still didn't get the funding? Yes. Am I bitter that it appears the DECC was used as a political pawn by the governor and the DFL? Absolutely.
But it's time to move on. What will UMD do from here? Is it best to continue pushing for a new DECC, or should UMD begin the planning process for a new arena on campus?
I think the best move for UMD right now is to at least begin exploring the prospect of building on campus. The university probably can't afford to sit around and wait, assuming that the state will fund the DECC in 2007 or, worse, 2008. I'm not sure that it's fair to the state to begin the process, but they had their chance to help. I know it's not fair to the DECC to begin that process. Russell and his staff worked hard to develop the plans for this new arena, and they deserve a shot to see this work through to the end. But at the same time, UMD needs to strike while the iron is hot, even if that means moving away from the DECC.
The king is dead. Despite a valiant comeback from a 20-point deficit and a late lead at home, the San Antonio Spurs' season is over. Dallas had too much speed on the perimeter for the Spurs, who used Tim Duncan inside to get a comeback going in the second half, but couldn't rely on Duncan to consistently beat the double teams down low. The Mavericks are going to be a tough matchup for Phoenix in the Western finals starting Wednesday. Dallas has an inside presence with Erick Dampier and Desagana Diop, along with Dirk Nowitzki. The Suns have no inside presence whatsoever, but they will push the floor and always be dangerous with their outside shooting (15-27 on threes in their Game 7 win over the Clippers). I like Dallas in this series, but the Mavericks will have to be a little tighter defensively than they were against San Antonio. This could rate as one of the most entertaining playoff series in 20 years.
The Eastern Conference will be a different story. Detroit and Miami will probably play a six- or seven-game slugfest. The games won't be pretty, scores won't be high, and the two teams won't come out of it liking each other. This one depends on a couple of unpredictable factors. If Detroit shows up and plays to their talent consistently, they will win the series. But if the Pistons fail to show up a couple times in the series, as has been their custom as of late, they're in trouble. The Heat need to stay healthy and maintain their poise defensively. Detroit is beatable, and the Heat have the talent to get the job done, but both teams have suffered at times from a lack of focus and energy in these playoffs.
I'm not going to judge just yet...But the NHL playoffs have taken an undesirable turn. The first four games of the conference finals have been littered with clutching, grabbing, hooking, and holding, both in the offensive and neutral zones. Edmonton, of all teams, resorted to some of these tactics (in their defense, so did their opponent, Anaheim). Carolina got away with some startling stuff last night, including a play near the Hurricane net where a Carolina defenseman literally ripped off the helmet of Buffalo Sabre Daniel Briere and threw him face-first to the ice. No penalty was called, but a ticky-tack hooking penalty was called on Buffalo off the ensuing faceoff, a call that nullified a Buffalo power play.
I hope that I'm wrong. I hope that the officials are going to resume calling this stuff. But the first four games of the conference finals were not promising.