* It makes me mad when I read that the doors to the Heights gym had to be closed at 5:50 p.m. – 10 minutes before the start of the girls game, for crying out loud – Thursday night for the Heights-North basketball game. How many people in town wanted to be there for the game, which matched up – potentially for the final time in their high school careers – Kansas recruits Perry Ellis and Conner Frankamp? Yet Heights didn’t want to move the game to a larger venue because it was the final game ever to be played in the Heights gym. Listen, I have nostalgia for the Heights gym, too. Some great players and great teams have played there. But when you’re turning away hundreds, and hundreds more who might have attended the game stay at home so as not to fight the crowd, you’re dropping the ball. Around 1,200 got to see North and Frankamp beat Heights, 47-38. But to do so, they had to arrive at least two hours before the game. Silly.
* Kudos to Cox 22 for broadcasting the game on local cable television. Cox does a great job with high school sports in the area. So at least most of those who didn’t get into Heights or didn’t try had a Plan B.
* Can’t wait for Missouri-Kansas on Saturday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse. I’ve been chided some, I hear, for picking this game to go to instead of Wichita State’s home game against Drake. There are those who believe the sports columnist for The Wichita Eagle should be about Wichita first and foremost. And I agree with them, under most circumstances. But this could be the final Missouri-Kansas meeting ever. And it’s a huge game with great implications. WSU, meanwhile, has wrapped up the regular-season championship in the Missouri Valley Conference. It’s a no-brainer for me.
* I can’t believe the great Meryl Streep has won only two Academy Awards. Now Streep, who is up for the lead actress Oscar for her role in “The Iron Lady,” has been nominated 17 times. But only two wins? That amazes me.
* I love Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars? He should have been hosting every year.
* My top five favorite television shows of the season: 1) Justified; 2) The Walking Dead; 3) Parks and Recreation: 4) The Office; 5) Modern Family. Just missing out: American Idol, The Middle, The Voice, Smash.
* Another country act, Miranda Lambert, is set to perform at the Intrust Bank Arena. This is getting ridiculous, folks. I know we’re a country and western town, but when the doors opened to the IBA just more than two years ago, I didn’t envision 80 percent of the shows being country.
* I’m going to write more about this at some point, but how much consideration, if any, should Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall get for national coach of the year? I’m thinking he should at least be mentioned.
* I wrote about former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa the other day. La Russa is in town today and will speak at Wichita State baseball’s First Pitch Banquet tonight in the Multipurpose Center at Koch Arena. You know how much I love the Cardinals, so it was a treat to visit over the telephone with La Russa, who is in camp this spring with the Detroit Tigers as he transitions to life after managing baseball. He was engaging and friendly and we chatted a lot about the Cardinals. I’m happy that La Russa, one of the game’s legendary managers, left on such a high note after it appeared St. Louis was dropping out of sight in the National League wild-card race in late August. But instead of folding, the Cardinals got hot while the Atlanta Braves wilted. It’s a great story and La Russa told me a book recounting the season is on the way, written by long-time St. Louis Post-Dispatch baseball writer Rick Hummel.
* I just finished my Lutz Live Chat (LLC) on Kansas.com. Normally I do those on Tuesdays, but that day didn’t work this week. Is it strange that it’s one of the highlights of my week. I have a great group of live chatters who seem to genuinely care about my well being.
* We’re going to try Jose Pepper’s tonight for dinner. It’ll be our first time. Thoughts, anyone?
* As I write this, I have a stack of newspapers nearby. I can’t imagine not having a newspaper in my hands. I’m all for technology and I think it’s great that Kansas.com exists because it’s affords us so many more platforms to share information. But I hope the newspaper never completely goes away.
* I believe the Intrust Bank Arena has helped the music scene in town, but perhaps not in the way you would imagine. I think other venues are bringing better acts to Wichita as a way to compete with the IBA. And the Stiefel Theater in Salina has been a great addition to the state’s music scene. I’m tempted to drive to Salina for the upcoming Bruce Hornsby and Foreigner shows.
* Thanks for reading. The college and high school basketball posteason is one of my favorite times of the year. Not that we’re there yet, but it’s close. I’m looking forward to being in Lawrence tomorrow and to being in St. Louis next weekend for the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Have a great weekend, everyone. And check back on the blog this weekend.