THESE early spring conditions are not always a joy to be out in the woods and fields or on the open water, but there’s something magnetic about the pull to do it that will only be satisfied by getting out there. And with the added responsibility of having a column deadline, it’s not an option.

MINNEAPOLIS — When Aubrey Dawkins’ tip rimmed out at the very last second, it was easy to wonder if Duke was a team of destiny, that narrow escape against Central Florida the close scare so many eventual champions survive.

AS A YOUNGSTER who was very avid about trout fishing when the weather was warm, but sad that the trout season didn’t start “officially” until May 1, I and my band of merry early-teen enthusiasts often just couldn’t stand the wait so we’d sneak into whatever trout water was ice-free and, using a unique set of advanced stealth methods, were able to avoid being caught most of the time, and never by a game warden.

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