Sporting News

Basketball. Since Pitt has let me down (again) in the NCAA tournament, I’ve only been passively interested. I am, however, happy to see Ben Howland’s UCLA Bruins in the Final Four. Howland resurrected the Pitt program several years ago (and his successor Jamie Dixon has followed his blueprint for success, though not in the NCAA tournament), and it’s good to see Howland’s defense-first approach working on the West Coast (final score of the Memphis-UCLA regional final: 50-45). Many folks in Pittsburgh pilloried Howland when he decided to take his dream job three (I think) years ago, but who wouldn’t want to try and fill John Wooden’s shoes?

Rallying. I haven’t written much since the season began, but that’s because I’m not interested. Sebastien Loeb finally has some competition this season, with Marcus Gronholm’s switch to Ford provided the spark the Finn needed to launch a championship bid. Gronholm won Monte Carlo and Sweden, and Loeb has won Mexico and (this weekend) Spain. Gronholm slipped a bit in the standings because of an off in Mexico (to his credit, Gronholm clawed back to a points finish), and turbo issues in Spain (he still managed a podium finish). The Focus has shown great pace on tarmac, and before the turbo issues, Gronholm was holding the lead. Loeb has extened his championship lead a bit, but with a gaggle of gravel rallies coming up, Gronholm should be able to mount a serious challenge.