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First and foremost, wow.
For the women’s basketball team of Kirkwood Community College to cap the first unbeaten season in program history with its seventh National Junior College Athletic Association Division II championship is wow-worthy.
The Eagles won the national title Saturday in Arkansas with a 61-46 win over Johnson County Community College. That game was unusually close by Kirkwood’s standards this season, since it won its 37 games by an average of 30.5 points.
We’ve gotten so used to women’s and men’s basketball excellence at Kirkwood that its achievements get glossed over. That’s unfortunate.
But this is a phenomenal and enduring success story right in our midst. Congratulations to the Eagles.
In global news … It sounds like there never was a groundswell of support in Indiana to see former Hoosier star Steve Alford hired away from UCLA to become the new Indiana men’s basketball coach. Maybe that’s why it didn’t happen.
Speaking for myself, that’s good. I don’t care who coaches the Hoosiers. It’s just that Alford’s return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena — whenever that time would have come — would have been the biggest sideshow in our state since someone on RAGBRAI invented the Maid Rite in the middle of the Iowa State Fair.
The idea Indiana is just waiting for the right person to catapult it over the rest of the Big Ten’s 13 teams with lots of good men’s basketball programs seems a wee bit far-fetched.
Expecting anyone to come in anywhere in the Big Ten and become the boss is ridiculous. Even Michigan State under Tom Izzo has come back to earth a sliver, not having won a regular-season conference championship since 2012.
Indiana has won two regular-season Big Ten titles in the last five years. If new coach Archie Miller equals that, he’ll have done something. If he fails to do what Crean failed to do, which was get IU beyond the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tourney, he’ll be regarded as, well, a failure.
Is Miller a great hire? Probably, maybe. If he does what Crean didn’t and locks down the state’s top prep talents, he’ll certainly give himself a chance.
His record is impressive. You go 102-36 over the last four years at Dayton with four NCAA trips, an Elite Eight berth, and two Atlantic 10 Conference championships, you owe no one an explanation about who you are.
In fact, few of the 13 other Big Ten men’s head coaches had done more before they got to their current jobs than Miller did at Dayton.
But Illinois probably got just as good a coach in Brad Underwood. And is Miller going to consistently outperform Izzo, John Beilein, Matt Painter, Mark Turgeon, Fran McCaffery …?
As for now, the Big Ten has no Final Four team and will be without a men’s national champ for the 17th-straight season.
I, of course, am pulling for Gonzaga to win two more games this season. Give me the West Coast Conference team from the private school in remote Spokane, just to watch so many fat-and-entitled heads explode.
Oh, how they would gripe in envy and bitterness at Kansas and UCLA and the entire Big Ten and the entire ACC and the entire state of Kentucky.
What more could you want from a tournament?