Mike Szostak

Sports Blogger

Mike Szostak covered sports for The Providence Journal for 36 years until retiring in 2013. His career highlights included five Winter Olympics from Lake Placid to Nagano and 17 seasons covering the Boston Celtics. His beats  also included tennis, skiing and college sports, especially Brown and URI football.

Ways to Connect

Jordan Spieth did not write golf history this weekend by winning the PGA Championship and completing a career Grand Slam a month after turning 24. With all eyes in the golf world on Spieth as he made the rounds at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., the second-ranked cool Texan demonstrated what every PGA Tour pro, club pro, scratch amateur or weekend hacker knows. Golf can be a maddening, frustrating and difficult game.

Jordan Spieth did not write golf history this weekend by winning the PGA Championship and completing a career Grand Slam a month after turning 24. With all eyes in the golf world on Spieth as he made the rounds at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., the second-ranked cool Texan demonstrated what every PGA Tour pro, club pro, scratch amateur or weekend hacker knows. Golf can be a maddening, frustrating and difficult game.

Professional tennis has returned to Newport this week with the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open, the grass-court tournament known for decades as the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. But instead of focusing on defending champ Ivo Karlovic and two-time former champs John Isner and Rajeev Ram, the headliners, let’s look ahead to, say, 2025, when the greatest player of all time could take his place among the other greats of the game.

The Celtics will win Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals Monday against Washington at TD Garden because of the home court advantage. The home team has won each of the first six games in this series.

Forget about Boston’s franchise history of success in Game 7s. Yes, the Celtics can boast 21 victories against 8 losses in the last game of a seven-game series. And yes, the Celtics are 18-4 in Game 7s played in Boston.

The Impossible Dream. For Red Sox fans who endured the Yankees dynasty of the 1950s or who grew up during the futile years of the early and mid-1960s, those three words mean only one thing: the 1967 Boston Red Sox. The 100-1 long shots who won the American League pennant on the last day of the season. The Cardiac Kids who had us glued to our transistor radios and black and white televisions during that thrilling, electrifying summer.

In San Francisco they wore flowers in their hair in 1967. In Boston, it was baseball in the air.

Ten things you need to know about Gonzaga University to better appreciate its first appearance in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Monday night against North Carolina.

One play doesn’t cost you a game, but one play can win you a game.

They could have won. They could have beaten third-seeded Oregon and earned a trip to the Sweet 16. Victory was so close they could certainly see it, feel it, taste it.

But in the end, victory Sunday night was not to be for the University of Rhode Island Rams. Oregon was a three-point basket better than URI and left Sacramento with a 75-72 triumph in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks (31-5) moved on while the Rams (25-10) came home to reflect on their best season in 18 years.

They can do it. They can win. The University of Rhode Island can beat Oregon Sunday night at Sacramento.

Sure, Oregon (30-5) is seeded No. 3 in the Midwest Regional and URI No. 11. Sure, the Ducks have Dillon Brooks, the Pac-12 player of the year, and Jordan Bell, the Pac-12 defensive player of the year. And they have a former blue chip recruit in sophomore shooting guard Tyler Dorsey, who scored 24 points in Oregon’s 93-77 rout of Iona in the first round Friday.

We weren’t supposed to be there. We weren’t supposed to be there.

Repeat it, PC basketball fans.

We weren’t supposed to be there. We weren’t supposed to be there.

Say those words every four hours – Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, wash them down with a Guinness – and you should feel better.

If you are a college basketball fan in Rhode Island, it doesn’t get much better than the thrills URI provided its long-suffering fans on Sunday. The fourth-seeded Rams stymied a late rally by second-seeded Virginia Commonwealth and won the Atlantic-10 Championship, 70-63, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

As balloons descended from the rafters, Rhody players pulled championship T-shirts over their uniforms, hugged each other and hugged the impressive championship trophy. The real prize, though, was the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

This is how it was supposed to be, back in November when the Rhode Island Rams were ranked nationally and considered a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament. This is how it was supposed to be come the second weekend in March, the Rams playing for the Atlantic-10 Conference Championship.

I really, really hope the University of Rhode Island beats Davidson in the Atlantic 10 semifinals Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh and then defeats Virginia Commonwealth or Richmond on Sunday for the championship.

There, I’ve said it. After close to 40 years of no cheering in the press box while I was a newspaper guy, I can take sides now that I am a blogger.

Two teams from Rhode Island in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament? With a little luck, and another victory or two in conference tournaments this week, it could happen.

Now that the Patriots have established without a doubt that they are THE dynasty of the Super Bowl era, let’s pause to cheer another New England dynasty, University of Connecticut women’s basketball.

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