Bucks hope for Hollywood ending in LA

Nobody asked me, but…..

DON’T the Buckeyes have a yellow brick road to the Final Four?

Though taking out Arizona, coached by Pittsburgh native Sean Miller, may require close to a full 40-minute effort, Thad Matta’s club is playing as well as anyone out there – including amazing Florida Gulf Coast which I previously thought was a resort destination before the Eagles shocked Georgetown and San Diego State this past weekend in Philadelphia.

Ex-Hoyas’ head coach John Thompson, Sr., calling the action in Wells Fargo Arena for satellite radio, proclaimed Gulf Coast no way resembled a 15 seed. An elite eight berth awaits the Eagles providing they knock off still heavily-favored and in-state rival Florida, Friday in Arlington. Tx.

A win over ‘Zona at Staples Center, meanwhile, means OSU plays the winner of Thursday’s other west regional encounter between upstarts LaSalle and Wichita State. I like OSU’s chances to survive and advance to Peachtree Lane (Atlanta), site of this year’s Final Four…

Ohio State and Arizona tip off Thursday evening at 7:47 on TBS. Kevin Harlan handles play-by play with Len Elmore and Reggie Miller serving as analysts….

AFTER Pitt made its annual early exit from March Madness, the school extended Jamie Dixon’s contract. Not so fortunate for ex-Panthers’ boss Ben Howland at UCLA nor Minnesota’s Tubby Smith both of whom were shown the door…..

WEST LIBERTY has been favored in all 32 of its previous starts but that’s no longer the case with Jim Crutchfield’s 31-1 club competing a third straight season in the NCAA D-II Elite Eight.

Talk about taking a team for granted, area hoop fans have been ultra-spoiled by Crutchfield and his fabulous program which has set a standard second to none in small college hoops. That being said, all bets are off in Louisville where the field is loaded with top end talent…..

HOW bad do you you think Penguins’ GM Ray Shero covets a Stanley Cup? Despite his hockey club on a big-time roll (12 straight wins) going into tonight’s home skate vs. Montreal, Shero is wheeling and dealing, bringing in a pair of high profile players who should do nothing but enhance an already outstanding unit. And consider Sid the Kid and company are thriving despite the absence of injured 2012 MVP Evgeni Malkin…

THE Nailers should be as fortunate. I’ve said it for years, the sport of hockey is all about qualifying for postseason play. The regular season is merely an exercise in jockeying for position.

Yet another season under Clark Donatelli and Wheeling players are already scheduling tee times. What a disappointment!

GOOD luck to area baseball and softball coaches and groundskeepers attempting to prepare area diamonds for regular season play in Ohio, scheduled to start this weekend for some teams. Unfortunately, there’s little to suggest things are going to improve anytime soon in the extended forecast…

OVER a 30-year career in this business, I’ve had the good fortune to run across dozens of exceptional coaches , players, school administrators and high quality people.

At the top of that list were Ray and Bette Anne Ponzo. I always, good-naturedly of course, referred to them as Shadyside’s most notorious tag team. Two finer human beings you could not meet. Frankly, I went out of my way to schedule myself to staffing Tigers’ hoop games over the years. You never knew what Bette Anne would come up with at the scorer’s table. Ray, meanwhile, possessed an unending passion as SHS’ storied band director. Was there ever a more enthusiastic and entertaining pep band in the valley? Not a chance.

Though Ray’s health had deteriorated somewhat, he never failed to flash that broad, enthusiastic smile whenever our paths crossed.

Today is a time for mourning as we say a final goodbye to Ray. Tomorrow, I’ll celebrate his life and ultimate reunion with Bette Anne in the Great Beyond. A life well lived, dear friend…

Gibson may be reached at rgibson@timesleaderonline.com