I am thankful.

Why?

Because no one wrote in to ask about how my bracket turned out, so I don’t have to write in detail about the disaster that it became over the last two weeks. There were some basketball questions this month, but nothing focused on this year’s tournament.

Thanks for sparing me.

Now, how about some answers?

When did the NCAA quit the consolation game for third place?

—Phil Ford, Dunkirk



The final year for the consolation game was 1981, ending a 36-year tradition.

The last third-place “winner” was Virginia, which defeated LSU 78-74 during the same year that the Isaiah Thomas-led Indiana Hoosiers topped North Carolina in the title game. Those games were played at The Spectrum in Philadelphia.

Purdue had won the third-place game the previous season, defeating Big Ten rival Iowa.

In those days, when the tournament was limited to 32 teams as opposed to the current 68, there were also consolation games at each of the four regional sites.

••••••••••

Do you place more value on championships or sustained regular-season success over a longer representative sample?

—Adam Gray,

Fort Wayne



Obviously a championship is the ultimate goal. But if I’m judging the ultimate abilities of a player, coach or team, I’d prefer sustained excellence over an extended period to a one-time run to the title.

Winning a championship takes a certain amount of luck. We’ve all seen less-than-great players and coaches win titles.

For instance, is Trent Dilfer a better quarterback that Dan Marino just because an all-time great defense dragged his 2000 Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl win? Certainly not. Marino never won the big game, but he remains one of the best to ever play the position.

The same can be said for guys like Charles Barkley in basketball or Ernie Banks in baseball.

My favorite example of this phenomenon is coach Marty Schottenheimer. 

He never coached in a Super Bowl, but is seventh in career wins behind Don Shula, George Halas, Tom Landry, Bill Belichick, Curly Lambeau and Paul Brown. Over a 21-year career with four different teams, he had just one losing season.

I’ll take sustained success over a one-hit wonder any day.

••••••••••

Who is the the coach that has won the most games/matches/meets in Jay County High School history?

—Nick Leonhard, 

Portland



This question was answered last month. But it turns out, it wasn’t quite as straight-forward as it seemed. 

Lea Selvey, with a combined 513 wins in baseball and girls basketball and an unknown additional number in cross country, topped the list. But a name was left off.

Brian McEvoy, the Patriots’ current girls track coach and former girls cross country coach has 378 and 360 wins respectively in those sports for a total of 738.

How did he manage to rack up those totals in just 10 years of coaching?

Well, it has something to do with how cross country and track records are tallied. If JCHS wins a 10-team invitational, it’s record for that meet is 9-0, having beaten every team in the field. If it finishes second, it is 8-1, and so on.

Cross country meets can have even more teams.

As McEvoy said, “It helps when you can compete against 30 schools at once.”

(It’s also worth pointing out that swim and gymnastics records mentioned last month are from dual meets only. Those win totals would have seen a bump too if invitationals and sectional meets were included.)

Still, McEvoy’s marks — winning percentages of .921 in track and .831 in cross country with a combined 13 sectional titles to go along with three cross country regional championships — are definitely worthy of the place on the list.

••••••••••

How many Jay County High School girls have gone on to play collegiate basketball? Who were they, what year did they graduate and where did they go to college?

—Shannon Freeman-Frogge,

Heber City, Utah



Freeman-Frogge specifically asked about those who came after she graduated in 1986 and went on to play at the University of Kentucky and then Ball State University.

Record-keeping on this topic is not great, but I can cover most of the time since I became sports editor here in 2001 and try to track down the rest for a future column.

Here’s what I have so far:

•Joanie Muhlenkamp (2002), Taylor

•Kristina Link (2003), Tri-State (now Trine)

•Pazia Speed (2010), Huntington

•Lindsey Wellman (2010), Ball State

•Erin Hunt (2011), Bethel

•Catherine Dunn (2015), Brescia

•Abby Wendel (2016), Rio Grande

Of that group, Speed, now an assistant coach for the Patriot girls, had the best collegiate career. She finished 12th on the Foresters’ career scoring list at 1,469 points and was an NAIA second-team All-American in 2014.