Welcome to your Ash Wednesday edition of the Grades. WGEM SportsCenter host Josh Houchins and I will gnash these over around 8:20 or so on Wednesday’s show on ESPN 1440. Have a grade? Text us at 217-617-9437 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A — Quincy University men’s volleyball. Yes, the VolleyHawks don’t get much ink, but they’ve had a couple of big wins so far early in the season. They beat defending NAIA champion Lindenwood earlier this season and over the weekend took Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association member Ball State to five games before losing last Friday and then beat the Cardinals in four games on Saturday, their first win over the Cardinals in nine years. The win snapped a long MIVA losing streak for the Hawks. Men’s volleyball is pretty fun to watch. The guys absolutely crush the ball. Maybe the Hawks are starting to turn the corner.
B — David Duval. When David Duval was at his best, I wasn’t much of fan. I’ve always been (and still am) a Tiger guy. But you have to give Duval credit — he keeps battling. Duval, who was in the mix at the U.S. Open last year, wound up finishing second last weekend at Pebble Beach, which will host the U.S. Open this year. He’ll play at Augusta, Pebble Beach and at St. Andrews in the British Open this year thanks to his tie for second at last year’s U.S. Open. Hopefully, Duval, who doesn’t even have a PGA Tour card this year, can make the most of his limited starts.
C — NBA All-Star weekend. At least the game was exciting and set a record for the most people to ever watch a basketball game in person. Other than that, the NBA’s midseason extravaganza was lacking excitement. As always, the celebrity game on Friday was lame. The All-Star Saturday events lacked pop, too. The HORSE contest took too long. The Shooting Stars event has run its course. As expected, the dunk contest was predictably bad with tiny Nate Robinson winning it again.
D — Winter Olympics. They’re actually having more technical troubles in Vancouver than they did over the weekend at Daytona. The Canadian folks were trying to be eco-friendly with some of their zambonies. Unfortunately, they kept breaking down and some gas guzzlers had to be brought in to do the job right. Many of the skiing events have had to be postponed because of a lack of snow. Oh, and there was the fact a terrified luger died on the track during warmups before the Games began. No matter what happens from here on out though, you can bet the organizers will declare the games “a huge success” during the closing ceremonies, just like they always do.
F — Daytona 500. What a terrible start to the NASCAR season. The race gets halted to fix a pot hole for some 2 1/2 hours. How does that happen? Imagine the uproar if the Super Bowl was stopped for turf issues for that long. Toss in the fact that someone few people other than NASCAR die-hards even knew won the race and it was a pretty bad day for the circuit. I realize Daytona is a big deal and all, but in the long run the race doesn’t mean much. Four-time defending Jimmie Johnson hasn’t finished inside the top 25 at Daytona after each of his championship seasons. The only time he got a boost from the Great American Race was in 2006 when he won his only Daytona title and went on to capture his first Chase title.