The Inept Axis is plotting

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The Inept Axis is plotting

By Adam Hart
CSNNE.com

Location: A secret underground lair in the outskirts of Indianapolis. Eleven men sit, gathered around an oblong table in a surprisingly well-lit room; it being underground and all. Come to think of it, a work order for new LED lights was filed last -- shhhhh, they're starting.

Bill Polian: Gentlemen, you all know why we're here: the Patri-oughts. They've beaten us, beaten us real bad. For some, it only inflicted minor damage. Others suffered catastrophic derailments.

Marv Lewis: Tell me about it. Twelve games later and we've only got two wins. TOcho doesn't deserve this.

Mike Tomlin: What TOcho doesn't deserve is Carson Palmer. He's about as accurate as the NFL investigation into my boy Big Ben's social outings. Am I right?
Crickets: This noise, unimpeded.

Rex Ryan: So what d'ya propose we do there old BPol?

Bill Polian: It's Bill.

Brad Childress: I say we exact cold, calculated revenge.

Ozzie Newsome: Sounds like a good idea.

Brad Childress: Seriously? You mean you guys are willing to actually listen to me?

Tony Sparano: Who wouldn't listen to you? You wear glasses. They're like ear magnets.

Chan Gailey: Wanna hear something crazy? With my glasses on, I kind of look like Steve Nicol, the New England Patriots' soccer coach.

Rex Ryan: That's some great insight there Channy. Remind me to call you next time I'm having trouble falling asleep.

Jim Schwartz: Wait, maybe he's on to something. He can probably waltz right into their offices, if he knows how to dance a waltz. And if he can pick up an English accent.
Chan Gailey: Well, I have been watching a lot of Michael Caine movies lately during our team film sessions. Maybe that'd help.

Bill Polian: But we can't stop there. These Patri-oughts -- that's how you say it, right? -- are primed to go on another of their Super Bowl runs if we don't stop them. For some reason fans value those silver trophies over regular-season greatness. I blame the media and it's love for shiny things.

Mike Martz: We'd all be fine if the NFL would just force all teams to move into domed stadiums. Everything would fall into place for us.

Brad Childress: Yeah, except for when that Wrangler-wearing, no-good Brett Favre isn't standing where he's supposed to when the roof collapses.

Ozzie Newsome: Umm, what?

Brad Childress: Nothing.

Mike Martz: I just can't believe the league is actually allowing a Super Bowl to be played in New Jersey -- far from tropical temperatures and wind-free domes.

Rex Ryan: Super Bowl? The Jets are going there!

Tony Sparano: . . . Right. You'll be tending to your pigskin graveyard.

Philip Rivers: Well, what if our only problem is having an inept coach? I think firing Norv would solve this problem pretty quickly.

Everyone else: No!

Rex Ryan: Hey, Phil, why don't you and your angry eyebrows hit the road? But if you decide to come back to apologize for bringing up the 'F' word, grab me a Chalupa or something . . . Ah, what the hell. Make it two.

Mike Tomlin: Can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm with Rex. Let's grab some gosh-darn lunch.

Jim Schwartz: Yeah, I'm happy with our progress.

Tony Sparano: Lunch it is.

Mike Martz: I don't know about this guys. My regular lunch time is 12:15. I have problems adjusting to pretty much everything.

Rex Ryan: Bet you even have a hard time adjusting yourself. Hehe.

Bill Polian: Ahem. Then we're agreed: we'll do something in the near to future to stop the Patri-oughts.
Brad Childress: Ok. But once we settle on a plan, no audibles. I can't take any more audibles.

Meanwhile...
Location: Gillette Stadium.

Bill Belichick: Alright guys. It's on to the Packers. We've got a big week ahead of us. They're great on offense, defense, special teams. Let's get to work.

NCAA TOURNAMENT: South Carolina headed to Final Four, beats Florida 77-70

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NCAA TOURNAMENT: South Carolina headed to Final Four, beats Florida 77-70

NEW YORK - It's only right that South Carolina's first trip to Final Four was earned through its defense.

A team known for a swarming zone used it effectively down the stretch to beat Florida 77-70 on Sunday and win the East Regional at Madison Square Garden.

Sindarius Thornwell scored 26 points for the seventh-seeded Gamecocks (26-10) against the fourth-seeded Gators (27-9) in the all-Southeastern Conference matchup.

South Carolina will face Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed from the West Regional, in the Final Four on Saturday at Glendale, Arizona.

"Gamecock Nation, we heard you loud and clear," coach Frank Martin roared as the team prepared to cut down the nets. "We'll see you in Phoenix."

The game was as close as expected until the final minute. There were 14 lead changes and 10 ties. The last lead change came on two free throws by Thornwell with 2:24 left that made it 65-63. Florida managed just three field goals over the final 3:55.

Thornwell, the regional MVP, followed the deciding free throws with a nice assist to Maik Kotsar for a 4-point lead. It seemed Thornwell, who scored eight straight points for the Gamecocks, was always where he needed to be including making a steal with 40 seconds left that turned into a 73-68 lead.

"I just made plays," Thornwell said. "Plays needed to be made down the stretch and I stepped up and made plays."

"Thornwell was just being Thornwell," Florida coach Mike White said of the SEC player of the year. "He's one of the best players in the country."

PJ Dozier added 17 points for the Gamecocks, Chris Silva had 13 and Kotsar 12.

It all totaled to a Final Four trip for Martin, he of the booming voice and terrifying faces.

Justin Leon had 18 points for the Gators who managed a 40-33 halftime lead on 7-for-12 shooting from 3-point range. But that was it. Florida was 0 for 14 from beyond the arc in the second half, a lot like the 0-for-17 effort the Gators had in their first meeting with South Carolina this season.

South Carolina, which forced Florida into 16 turnovers, finished 23 for 31 from the free throw line, including a 9-for-10 effort from Thornwell.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.