Mar 252004
 
Authors: Joshua Pilkington

Quick, sports fans, name the only Colorado-based college

basketball program still competing. Air Force? No. The flying

Falcons were ousted from the NCAA Tournament a week ago in

Denver.

Colorado? Sorry. The Buffaloes took a quick, unsightly exit from

the National Invitational Tournament, getting blown away by Oregon

in Eugene.

Colorado State? Nope. The Rams saw their postseason hopes washed

away in the waning moments of a loss to UNLV at the Mountain West

Conference Tournament two weeks ago.

So who remains? Try Metropolitan State College of Denver. Yes,

sports fans, the Division II Metro State Roadrunners located on the

Auraria campus in downtown Denver are still running this postseason

and continually earning praise from Colorado media. At the MWC

Tournament two weeks ago, the Denver Post’s Woody Paige told us he

honestly believed Metro to be “the best team in the state hands

down.”

The columnist of ESPN’s “Around the Horn” fame may be onto

something.

Since 1984-85 (prior season records not available) the

Roadrunners have posted one losing season (6-21 in 1994-95), and

under seven-year tutelage of head coach Mike Dunlap, the team has

never finished worse than 23-7.

Add to that a string of seven consecutive appearances in the

NCAA Division II Tournament, including a pair of titles in 2000 and

2002 and a runner-up finish in 1999, and we’ve got dominance in

Denver. The Roadrunners are back at it this year, making it all the

way to the D-II Final Four before losing last night 83-81 to

Southern Indiana… Those who doubt our praise of Metro should take

a look at this team next season. Chances they’ll be making another

postseason run a year from now…

Speaking of college basketball, how are those brackets shaping

up?

Our experts predict an all-Big East match-up in the Phoenix

Regional semifinal and our old high school friend Daniel Bobik

(Timpview 1994-95) and the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the

championship game…

The best final, however, would be Kansas’ first-year head coach

Bill Self going against his former team Illinois, with Self

accomplishing what his predecessor, North Carolina’s Roy Williams,

never could: winning a national title…

True, we hate Kansas, but we hate Roy Williams even more, and

watching his former team win “the big one” the season after he

leaves them for Chapel Hill, would be hermoso…

So much for that talk about the Rockies having a chance this

season if Larry Walker is healthy. The rightfielder is on the DL

with a groin strain and will miss at least the first week of the

season. Guess those 20 pounds he lost in the off-season will put

less strain on the dugout bench, because that is where he’ll be

parked all season…

Finally, a quick vote of confidence for Jerry Sloan, head coach

of the Utah Jazz, for the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. Who would

have thought that a team composed of afterthoughts and

developmental league players could be within a half game of the

eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Denver

Post’s Nuggets beat writer and close friend Marc J. Spears gave his

endorsement for Sloan, saying the coach “has had nothing but

garbage to work with all season. Keon Clark’s been hurt all season,

Matt Harpring hasn’t played since January and (the Jazz) are still

in (the playoff race).”

Spears even said Sloan offered him a job with the team, “He

asked me to suit up, but I told him I already had a job.”

Too bad, the Jazz could use another … whatever position a

5-foot-nothing sports writer plays.

Asked if he thought Sloan, who in his remarkable career has

never won a coach of the year award, could receive the award even

if the Jazz don’t make the playoffs, Spear responded: “I think a

lot of sentimental votes will go out to Hubie Brown for the job

he’s done with the (Memphis) Grizzlies. But Sloan could get some

votes, too. It’s a tough call.”

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