Marek Warszawski

Warszawski: At this year’s Big Dance, Cinderella stuck outside the velvet rope

Syracuse's Michael Gbinije celebrates after making a basket during the first half of a second-round NCAA Tournament game against Middle Tennessee on Sunday, March 20, 2016, in St. Louis.
Syracuse's Michael Gbinije celebrates after making a basket during the first half of a second-round NCAA Tournament game against Middle Tennessee on Sunday, March 20, 2016, in St. Louis. AP

Enter the Warzone, Zika virus breeding ground.

▪ If only Stephen F. Austin had gotten that last-second tip-in instead of Notre Dame.

If only Northern Iowa had rallied from 12 points down in 44 seconds rather than Texas A&M.

Then we’d have true March Madness. Then we’d have a real Cinderella instead of … Syracuse.

▪ Nothing against Syracuse, a No. 10 seed, but teams that play in the Atlantic Coast Conference and draw more than 21,000 fans in a down year cannot be Cinderella in any way, shape or form.

And neither can No. 11 seeded Gonzaga, which has been to the NCAA Tournament 18 straight years.

Cinderella? Uh-uh. More like Anastasia and Drizella.

▪ What does Fresno State need to return to the NCAA Tournament next season?

Here are our top three: 1) A point guard. 2) Someone to pick up Marvelle Harris’ scoring slack. 3) Another big man unafraid to bang inside.

We didn’t end anything. We started something. We’re going to continue to make progress.

Bulldogs junior forward Paul Watson, on next season

▪ Could that extra big man turn out to be Torren Jones? Wouldn’t count on it.

At one point in February, Jones was privately telling people he would soon return. Then the 6-9 forward stopped attending practices and games. With Fresno State keeping mum, this one probably slips into the “Unsolved Mysteries” file.

▪ Utah 7-footer Jakob Poeltl certainly looked like an NBA center while dominating the Bulldogs in the first round. But against Gonzaga’s 6-11 Domantas Sabonis, Poeltl looked more like a rec leaguer.

Guess it depends on your perspective.

▪ Does anyone watch TruTV more than four days a year?

False.

▪ Members of the 2015 Fresno Grizzlies received their Triple-A/Pacific Coast League championship rings Monday in a ceremony in Kissimmee, Fla.

Yeah, we found that a little odd as well.

▪ Turns out it’s mostly about logistics. All (or at least most) of last year’s players are in Kissimmee, the Astros’ spring training home. They may or may not be back in Fresno.

That’s why Grizzlies General Manager Derek Franks made the 2,700-mile trip.

“Astros preference was to do it here,” Franks said via text.

Astros’ preference was to do it here.

Text from Fresno Grizzlies GM Derek Franks, explaining why championship rings were given out in Florida

▪ Feeling left out, Grizzlies fans? Don’t be. The team still plans to hold a championship banner-raising ceremony before the April 15 home opener at Chukchansi Park.

▪ After congratulating Lemoore High School product Isaiah Martinez on Twitter for winning his second NCAA wrestling title, Fresno State President Joseph Castro added, hopefully, “Local talent can stay home!”

Can but won’t.

▪ Wrestlers such as Martinez who capture three high school state championships are about as likely to sign with Fresno State as all the Valley’s four- and five-star football prospects. You know, the ones who end up at Oklahoma and USC.

▪ After starting the season with 11 straight wins, the Fresno State baseball team dropped its next seven games before taking the final two of a weekend series against UNLV.

Sure hope coach Mike Batesole’s medical plan covers whiplash treatments.

▪ Can hear the retort now: Well, five of those seven losses came by one run. True, but so did five of the 11 wins.

That’s baseball.

No matter how deserved the honor, Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium is way too much a mouthful for everyday use.

▪ No matter how deserved the honor, Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium is way too much a mouthful for everyday use.

Kinda like Jim Sweeney Field at Bulldog Stadium. Or is it Mankins Family FieldTurf on Jim Sweeney Field at Bulldog Stadium? Gets a little confusing sometimes.

▪ For no particular reason: Omar Samhan

▪ Spring training stat that Giants fans better hope is meaningless: Through Monday, the projected starting rotation has allowed 83 hits over 46 1/3 Cactus League innings.

▪ White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton called Adam LaRoche’s 14-year-old son a clubhouse “leader” during an interview with a Chicago radio station.

Possible explanation: Eaton stands 5-foot-6 and perhaps does, in fact, look up to Drake LaRoche.

If the Warzone had 13 million reasons to retire, he’d walk away too. Grease the skids at 559-441-6218, marekw@fresnobee.com, @MarekTheBee

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