Virginia shakes off Purdue 80-75 in OT to win South Region

Virginia's Jack Salt (33) goes to the basket against Purdue's Matt Haarms (32) during the first half of the men's NCAA Tournament college basketball South Regional final game, Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Louisville, Kentucky. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head. I’d like to introduce you to a writer with charm, talent and wit. Unfortunately, he couldn’t write this column so you’ve got me instead.

Welcome, Matt Haarms

There are a lot of reasons why Haarms coming to BYU is a good thing.

Let me name a few.

1. He’s a 7-foot-3 rim protector.

2. He chose BYU even though some other pretty big schools (Kentucky, Gonzaga, Arizona) were after him.

3. He’s a skilled senior who has been through the Big Ten wars three times. Alex Barcello is the only other senior on the roster, so experience matters.

4. He gives BYU more versatility in the lineup, and college basketball is all about matchups.

5. He plays with a lot of emotion. In fact, BYU coach Mark Pope compared his approach to the game to the way Zac Seljaas played last season.

The “BYU Way” under Pope is pretty simple: How do you fit and what role are you willing to play for the team to be successful? Pope bragged about having the best locker room in America last year and admitted that might be difficult to duplicate. But if Haarms is willing to work and fill a role, another really good season could be on the way.

Pope and his coaching wowed Haarms during the recruiting process with a statistical breakdown of his game and how they plan on helping the big man improve.

I could see Haarms averaging in double figures and blocking two or three shots a game, sharing time on what is a deep but young front line.

Plus, he’ll give headline writers an nearly endless variety of “Haarms” puns.


Did I mention Haarms is left-handed? Everyone knows all the best people are left-handed.

From the grapevine

Hearing good things about Jesse Wade finally getting healthy. The former Davis star and Gonzaga commit could really be a wild card when it comes to the 2020-21 season.

Let’s get rich

My idea to make a million: Silent buzzers to place on teenagers and young adults who are so wrapped up in their devices or wearing headphones that they don’t hear Mom or Dad call for them from another room. Push a button and the buzzer goes off to let them know they are needed.

Patent pending.

The best

BYU’s Gabi Garcia Fernandez was named the AVCA Player of the Year in men’s volleyball last week and the award was rightfully earned. The improvement the already supremely talented opposite hitter made between his sophomore and junior season is pretty remarkable. He raised his hitting percentage (from .281 to .343) and was much more consistent with what is one of the best jump serves in the world.

The good news is he’s coming back next season.

Spring sprang

Did you miss being able to watch the BYU spring football game?

Over the years the BYU spring game hasn’t really amounted to much. One year, Bronco Mendenhall didn’t even hold one because he didn’t feel he had enough healthy offensive linemen. Kalani Sitake generally holds out most of the key players during his spring games, so you get good looks at athletes who likely won’t get any playing time during the regular season.

The Nebraska athletic department decided to present a virtual spring game last week with play-by-play announcer Greg Sharpe and color man Matt Davison providing commentary.

The lineups included all-time greats from Husker history, guys like Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier, Irving Fryar, Tommie Frazier, and Eric Crouch.

Nebraska generally gets upwards of 80,000 at its spring game and the Husker fans showed up digitally for the virtual version: 281,350 unique viewers, 24,320 peak live viewers, 525,740 total views and a million total people reached.

The White team won 60-57 in overtime.

Fun fact: I was working at the Lincoln Journal Star in 2012 when the Nebraska spring game was canceled because of bad weather. Aside from 2020, it’s the only other time in school history without a spring game.

Good news

There is at least one movie star who is doing something productive during the coronavirus outbreak. John Krasinski is hosting a home-produced program on YouTube called “SGN” which stands for “Some Good News.”

He highlights good news coming from acts of kindness and sacrifice to counteract all the bad news we’re hearing and reading these days.

He held a “Prom 2020” event with surprise Zoom visits from the Jonas Brothers and Billie Eilish while high school seniors in prom outfits danced in their homes.

There was another story about a young girl who had tickets to see “Hamilton” in Florida but the performance was canceled due to the coronovirus. Krasinski and his wife, Emily Blunt, called the girl on Zoom and told her they were sending her to New York to see a production of “Hamilton” on Broadway when the crisis was over.

But that wasn’t all.

“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda came on the call and started singing the opening number. He was eventually joined by the entire cast of “Hamilton” on the Zoom call.

It was electrifying and a lot of fun.

Smart and strong

Lest we forget that they are also students, 91 BYU student-athletes received degrees this spring. There are plenty of exercise and wellness and exercise science degrees, along with a few for finance and economics. Addison Pulsipher (BYU football) received a mechanical engineering degree and Miki Jauhiainen earned one in computer science.

The one and only

If you’re former BYU star Taysom Hill, you know you’ve arrived when you sign a big NFL contract — and during the NFL draft, pundits keep referring to other athletic quarterbacks as “Taysom Hill” types.

A glorious run

comes to an end

The virtual NCAA Tournament on YouTube (sponsored by Reddit) ended last Monday with BYU falling short in the championship game to Seton Hall 79-77.

It was kind of a crazy game. BYU led by double digits in the second half but trailed by seven with less than a minute to go. The Cougars somehow cut the deficit to two and had the ball with seconds to go. Jake Toolson missed a contested 3-pointer from the top of the key and Seton Hall hung on for the win.

Mark Pope will take a lot of grief for keeping Toolson on the bench in the second half due to foul trouble even though the Cougars were struggling to score. And Yoeli Childs fouled out as well, though he wasn’t getting nearly enough touches.

There is a very emotional “One Shining Moment” at the end of the game, too. Make sure you watch that one.

That’s all for now, but for this: Remember to be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.

Have a great week and stay safe.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at