Shawn Jansen: Huddleston revels in his pick 'em power

Shawn Jansen
Shawn Jansen

What is the greatest rivalry in sports?

It's an impossible question to answer.

Yankees vs. Red Sox? Duke vs. North Carolina? Michigan vs. Ohio State?

It's hard to pick just one.

Now picking the greatest rivalry for the Sun-Star Coaches Bracket Challenge, well, that isn't as difficult.

It's no contest.

It's Huddleston vs. Crosby.

There aren't two coaches in the area who talk more trash to each other.

Le Grand girls basketball coach Danny Crosby has done most of the talking in recent years. And for good reason -- Crosby won the contest in 2006 and 2007.

Nobody heard more about Crosby's success than Merced College women's basketball coach Allen Huddleston.

Now it's Huddleston's turn.

The Blue Devils coach is tied with Livingston boys basketball coach Angelo Naldi and Sun-Star copy chief Jesse Chenault at the top of the standings.

It didn't take long for the chatter to start.

"He texted me a picture of him pointing to the standings in the newspaper with his name in first place," Crosby said.

"Needless to say, I didn't respond. He sent me a real good picture of it.

"I just hope he doesn't get too comfortable where he's at, because he won't be there long."

Huddleston correctly predicted 15 of the Sweet 16 teams.

"By far, this is the best I've ever done," Huddleston said. "My wife was laughing at me because each time one of my teams won, I was yelling and pumping my fist."

On Monday morning Huddleston put his cell phone camera to work.

"I had to try to get creative because Danny talks so much trash," Huddleston said.

"I just went by that old saying that a picture is worth a 1,000 words. That was the best way to make my point."

It wasn't a good start for everybody.

Los Banos boys basketball coach Joe Barcellos found himself at the bottom of the standings.

"My mom pointed it out to me on Saturday when the first standings came out," said Barcellos, who is the only one in the contest to pick Connecticut to win the championship. "I guess I'm riding the UConn Huskies the rest of the way."

North Carolina was the favorite with nine of our local experts picking the Tar Heels to win it all. Memphis (seven votes) and Pittsburgh (six) were also popular picks.

Crosby can only hope Huddleston's stay at top doesn't last long.

"If he's still there next week, he'll probably send me 60 pictures with a whole lot of phone calls to go with it," he said.

"Allen has always got something up his sleeve. If he keeps winning, I'll probably have to avoid him until next basketball season."

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at