TOP OF THE TOWN – I can’t see Gonzaga getting beat, not by UCA for sure. Maybe Baylor has a shot at it if can get past Houston in the semifinals. The Bears have great guard play and that will be different for Gonzaga to defend. Not that the Zags can’t, but it will be a difficult challenge. I thought USC’s height – the Trojans were the tallest team in the country, averaging just a tad over 6-foot-7 – might be trouble for the Zags. Not that the Trojans were a great team. They weren’t. But that height was something different. But the Zags exposed the Trojans for what they were – tall but no trouble after that. … You know, of course, that the women are also competing in March Madness and while attention is centered on Stanford and Connecticut and Connecticut’s star player, Paige Bueckers, perhaps the top player in the country, there is a player at Arizona who is really good. That would be Aari McDonald, a 5-6 point guard who is unbelievable. McDonald has scored 101 points in the Wildcats’ first four tournament games, including 64in her last two games. McDonald scored 33 in Arizona’s 66-53 win over Indiana that got the Wildcats into the final four. They now face Connecticut and Bueckers in a Final Four game on Friday. The reason I’m mentioning McDonald is because she played her freshman year as a Washington Husky before transferring to Arizona when Mike Neighbors left in 2017 as Husky coach for Arkansas. … I’m sure you know the Washington Huskies softball team is 24-4 and 3-2 in the Pac-12 with a four-game conference set against California at home starting April 1 (Thursday).  As you also know a good, if not great, pitcher in softball can lead to team greatness and the Huskies have a good one, if not great one, in Gabbie Plain, a 6-foot senior from Australia. Plain is 14-0 with a 0.91 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 100 innings for a WHIP of .69. The team is batting a collective .362, which is a wow factor plus.  Superstar shortstop Sis Bates, probably the best in the country, is leading the way with a .462 batting average with a team-leading 42 hits. Junior infielder Baylee Kingler has hit 10 home runs and driven in 30 runs to lead the Huskies. She also is hitting .446. Morganne Flores, a 5-9 catcher and grad student, adds eight home runs. Washington is ranked sixth in the country behind No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 UCLA. 3. Oregon, 4, Alabama and 5. Florida. Two other Pac-12 teams are in the top 25.  Arizona is No. 8 and Arizona State 14th. The Huskies beat Arizona twice and split four games with ASU, winning the last two 14-7 and 11-1 in five innings. … The prognosis for the Mariners is not good, but then you knew that too. They open at home Thursday against the San Francisco Giants with a roster that does not include their future stars – outfielder Jarred Kelenic, pitcher Logan Gilbert and outfielder Julio Rodriguez. It is my opinion that you play the guys who are the best. Baseball people usually don’t like to rush their future stars for fear they will ruin them. I say hogwash, if the player is capable put him on the roster and let’s go. I understand the business side that wants to maintain control of their young players as long as possible so they hold them back even when they are ready (Kelenic is a prime example). By holding him back until May he won’t be eligible for free agency until 2027. Look at it the other w ay. If you play him now and he helps the team make the playoff and puts fannies in the seats that offsets the loss of an extra year of player control. My thing is you support the baseball side and screw the business side.  Gilbert, Rodriquez and Kelenic will get you an extra 30 wins. So do it…  Remember that somewhere along your life trail you ran into somebody that could get you what you wanted because he was that good? That was Elgin Baylor. If what was Needed was a key basket, a key rebound, an important pass. Elgin got it for his teammates. We may never see another like him, both on and off the court. Elgin forced the committee that organized the annually Oklahoma City basketball tournament to drop its racist housing plans. Teams like Seattle University with black players were told they were to stay in college barracks far from the maddening crowd. Baylor said hell no. I’m not playing. The committee backed off and Baylor and Seattle U. played. When College of Idaho, where Baylor played one year, decided to fire the coach who recruited him and two other blacks from Washington, D.C. Baylor looked for welcoming place to play basketball. He found it in Seattle U. Can you believe perhaps the best to ever play college basketball was not recruited because of skin color? He set high school records in D.C. that still stand. Yet recruiters for major white colleges would not give him the time of day. Of course, you knew that, too. Enough for today. Be safe.

Be well pal

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.