GURT'S BLOG: HOPE SPRINGS ETERNALBlogs | 3/25/2011 12:58:12 PM | John Gurtler
Just back from pushing the ball racks back in place from last week’s coast-to-coast, wall-to-wall, tree-top-tall college hoops expo. All nice and neat for the next rounds.
How did you do in your brackets? What, busted? Just as well, I saw more pick and rolls, threes and last-second shots in four-days than in all the 2,567 college basketball games on ESPN this season.
What did you do during the Bandits’ bye week?
It was a good break in the B-ball and Sabres action to watch the reply of the Bandits/Blazers game on Versus Sunday afternoon. I thought the “Banditland-sound mix” really came through nicely and the camera shots of everybody in the stands were perfect, reflective of the incredible support the team receives season after season.
Yes, I am glad the Bandits are back in action in what is the most exciting time of the sports calendar, which includes the hardwood madness, strong play by the Buffalo Sabres in their quest for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the final six regular season games for the Bandits.
And it’s going to be exciting.
With a 7-3 record and a three-game winning streak, the Bandits have solid footing in the Eastern Division standings – at least right now. Let’s check back in a month and find out which team is where. But I’ll tell you what - this team is just starting to reach synchronicity and the system that makes Bandit ball is being played quite well.
There was nary a tinker with the trade deadline and extended free agent signing. Darris Kilgour and staff seem to be very content with this group of players. And the next six should be the right primer for the playoffs.
Every game is important, starting with the Sunday matinee in St. Paul, Minnesota with the hardest-working team in the NLL, the Swarm. While the Bandits dominate the regular season series, and most notably in the Xcel Energy Center, the Swarm work right to and through the whistle and that includes the final buzzer. Lead by Ryan Benesch, 27 goals and 52 points, this team will be a handful. The Swarm plays in Edmonton Friday night.
Not to look ahead, but for more of a peripheral view of the remaining Bandit games, the team returns home to meet the reigning NLL champions, the Washington Stealth, on April 2. Loaded with a stable of talented players in the form of the dominant Paul Rabil, third-year pro Rhys Duch (pronounced Reese Dutch), who is in the top five in scoring, and right next to him in NLL scoring, veteran Lewis Ratcliff. This is must-see game.
Then there is the double-header weekend April 8 in Toronto and April 9 in Rochester. Series tiebreakers, and then some.
After that comes another match with Boston on the 16th and Rochester, to close the regular season, on April 23.
April come she will and let the cards fall where they May. Get your bracket ready.
The game Sunday will be on Versus television, live and in HD, starting at 2 p.m. The radio pre-game on WWKB 1520 AM will start at 1:30 p.m., followed by the radio play-by-play of the game, just in case you are out and about.
NLL playoff dates are set. Divisional Semifinals will be on the weekend of April 29 through May 1. The Divisional Finals will be May 6-8. And the Champions Cup Final will be the weekend of May 13-15, on one of those days.