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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, March 22, 2014

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering what plans my good friend Warren Buffett might have for that Billion Bucks he still has in his pocket…

• Sorry for the delay this week…but somehow, intelligence travels to the south as well, when it comes to flight security. How anyone could expect 150+ people in a chartered travel party (the Providence team, administrators, band, cheerleaders and media) to be served by three security officers – and have things proceed in a timely fashion – is beyond my comprehension. But maybe that’s just me…

Not for nuthin’…but Jim Calhoun’s alleged interest in going to Boston College is a bit shocking, considering BC has done all it can to keep UConn from moving to the ACC. Still, it shows the coach might have the “itch” to coach again, after a couple of years off from handing the reigns over to Kevin Ollie. The Eagles screwed up royally when they let Al Skinner go. Hiring a Hall-of-Fame coach – no matter how much he has left – immediately makes BC relevant again. Just look at what Larry Brown has done for SMU…

• I also think Calhoun misses the spotlight, and likes the attention. But, the New London Day’s Gavin Keefe spoke with him Friday, and he denied wanting to coach again. Hmmm, deflecting that spotlight a bit? Just sayin’

Tweet of the Week I – from @NoEscalators, on Calhoun: “Look, he's college basketball Brett Farve. We know this. It's not going to happen…”

Ed Cooley’s name has also surfaced this week as perched right on top of the BC wish list. Doesn’t mean he’ll go, but he’d be remiss if he didn’t kick the tires, should the Eagles come calling. You would. I would. I do wonder, however, how much Ed really knows about “the dark side” in Chestnut Hill thanks to his relationship with Skinner? Have to think Bryant’s Tim O’Shea would get consideration here, as would Bill Coen at Northeastern…and maybe even Pat Duquette at UMass-Lowell. They’ve all worked at the Heights, though, under Skinner…

• Not sure that there’s anything more that can be said about last week’s unbelievable run through Madison Square Garden that hasn’t already been said. What Cooley has done for the Providence program – the school, the community and the state as well – has been nothing short of phenomenal, when you consider the adversity overcome just this year alone. No matter what happens from here on out, 2014 will be remembered just as ’94 and ’97 were for certain…and right up there with the Final Four years, too…

• And let’s make sure credit is given to the players, who all finally “bought in” to what the staff had been trying to get them to do. Clearly, some players bought in more quickly than others, and that’s only natural. But to have them all pulling in the same direction – that’s how championships are won…

• While there is no question the Friars will miss Bryce Cotton next year, the early leader in the clubhouse for “MVP” has to be “Buckets” Henton. LaDontae’s Big East Tournament play was impactful – if he can develop a little more consistency in his decision-making, and his short range jumper, he’ll be very hard to stop. Harder to stop than he is now…

Bryce Cotton (friarbasketball.com)

• If he had to go out, that was a helluva note for Cotton to go out on in San Antonio Friday night. A career high in your final game? The only thing more perfect, of course, would have been for a win. Bryce was more than Superman for the Friars this year…he helped bring back relevance, and swagger, to the Friar program.  Reminded me of Eric Murdock's play some 24 years ago...

• Can we also bring back a few more big bodies as well, so teams like the Tar Heels don’t beat the Friars like they were playing volleyball off of the backboards? That was a rare occurrence, of course. But it just so happened on the biggest of stages…

• Condolences to the family of Dan Petronella, a long time Friar fan and hoop follower, who had the confidence of several PC coaches within recruiting circles. Petro was definitely one of the good guys, and I’ll wager he’s already hooked up with Chris Clark, Joe Mullaney and a few famous Friars from our past…

Yahoo Sports reported Friday that Marquette’s Buzz Williams is on his way to Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech? Other than being one of the few coaching graveyards among big time schools, I figured Williams for better than that, if he ever decided to leave Milwaukee. He can flat out coach, and is a good recruiter…but will have his hands full in Blacksburg. Apparently, Williams decided he didn’t like the direction the new school prez, who isn't in place yet, or the new AD (an interim holds the job at present) could be taking. Nice knowin’ ya…

• Heard from more than one source that former Pittsburgh and UCLA coach Ben Howland wants back in the Big East.  Marquette, maybe?

• I think the Celtics are losing the “tanking” war with the Sixers…

• Thoughts on the Patriots’ free agent signings? I can sum them up in two words: ‘Bout. Time. Did anyone really think Bill Belichick was going to just stand and watch John Elway pull away from the rest of the pack in the AFC after signing away Aqib Talib? Finally, smoke signals from Camp Foxboro that the Pats plan to compete – and win, again…

• Although, I am greatly disappointed in Vince Wilfork. I understand why he would be “miffed” with the team, after throwing a little cash toward guys like Darrelle Revis…then asking him to take a pay cut. Take one for the team, Vince? Nah, he’s done enough of that. And that’s why I’m disappointed. Since when does ‘taking one for the team’ ever stop? You are who you are. This is a business. You should have enough money. Principle? Maybe, but this is about winning, dude…

• Fans remember two things about a player: 1) Did he win? 2) Was he a jerk? Which one do you want to be, Big Vince?

• I still would not be shocked to see Brandon Browner moved to safety, eventually. But a cover corner (Revis) and a 6-4, physical presence on the other side? Be still, my beating football heart…

• Zen question of the week: Does Darrelle Revis still think Bill Belichick is a jerk?

• Two things I’d still like to see the Patriots accomplish here: 1) achieve peace with Wilfork. 2) re-sign LeGarrette Blount.

• The Patriots are going to propose these rules changes next week in meetings in Orlando, FL…according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss…1) Extend the goal posts over the crossbar by another five feet for more definitive rulings on FG tries. That’s fine. 2) Move the extra-point line of scrimmage to the 25-yard line. Like it. 3) Place fixed cameras on all boundary lines. Don’t like it…Big Brother should not be the NFL. 4) Coaches can challenge ANY officials’ decision, other than scoring plays. Nope, it’ll drag things out even more than the current replay system does now. Do we really want that?

• The newest Patriots’ wide receiver, Brandon LaFell, says he began thinking about the Pats last season when his Carolina Panthers were preparing for TB12. “When you have a guy who can pinpoint the ball like he does, it’s great.” LaFell had a good game against New England last November, as the Panthers beat the Patriots in the final seconds…

• Lost somewhat in the shuffle of the NCAA Tournament “Big Dance” are the PC Hockey Friars, even though they lost to UNH in their 3rd straight year of reaching the Hockey East semis…the NCAA’s, hopefully, await a deserving team…

• You know baseball season is near when the teams start marketing their new food stand creations – like the “D-Bat Dog” in Arizona. 18 inches of corn dog stuffed with bacon and cheese. On a stick. Yes, please…

• And a diet soda with that, too…

Forbes listed college basketball’s most valuable teams for 2014 this week, and to no one’s surprise, the Louisville Cardinals are still at the top of the list, thanks to the existence of their KFC Yum! Center. Net worth? $39.5 million. The Cards have been among the top 3 on this list since the rankings began in 2008. Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina – your Friar foes Friday night – round out the Top 4. That’s what you’re up against, people…

• Some of the other familiar names on the Most Valuable list: Syracuse places at #9, Texas (under former PC coach Rick Barnes) is 16th…and Xavier (I kid you not) is the most valuable of the current Big East programs, ranking 17th at $13.4 million. Not exactly mid-major. Marquette just missed making the Top 20. The criteria are based on ticket sales, contributions to the program and brand worthiness in the marketplace…

• Anyone found truTV yet? Took me an hour to find it, and I remember watching it last year, too. Don’t think I’ve been back to it for the entire year…

Tweet of the Week II – from Dan Wolken of USA Today (@DanWolken): “Here’s why the play-in isn’t the NCAA Tournament: I’m in a sports bar with 50 TVs and not a single one is on truTV…”

• Like (grand) father, like son…wanna good March Madness story? Phillip Martelli, the 4-year-old grandson of St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli, has gone viral with http://collegebasketball.ap.org/article/st-joes-coach-takes-back-seat-grandson">his mimicking antics of his grandfather on the sidelines. He’s adorable, and he does a heckuva job imitating his “Tug…”

• Want a good example of why we should care about what’s going on in Russia and Crimea? Here you go. When did bullying become in vogue again?

• Hit of the Week – it’s a beauty, too…who says soccer isn’t a physical sport? Ask this television cameraman what he thinks of the German Bundesliga

• Shocker…a FIFA executive received millions from a Qatari soccer official after the Middle East country was awarded the World Cup for 2022? What’s the font used for sarcasm again?

• If former Knick player Phil Jackson can actually turn the NY Knicks fortunes around…or better yet, turn Carmelo Anthony into a player that can actually make his teammates better around him, rather than the selfish player he’s become…he truly will be the Zen-master in my eyes…

• The regular season ended last weekend, and it didn’t take long for transfer rumors to start running…Temple’s Anthony Lee has decided to move on for his final year, taking advantage of the graduate transfer rule, after averaging almost 14 points and nine boards per game. Georgetown could be an early factor here, especially with Josh Smith’s ineligibility this past season…

• And in coaching circles, Bruce Pearl’s fall from grace at Tennessee has completed its run…as he landed at Auburn this week. Wanna bet it doesn’t take long for Alabama to make a move on Anthony Grant soon? The Tigers will be more than relevant before too long…

Inside Higher Ed Magazine did their version of the NCAA Tournament bracket-style this week…based on the participating schools’ APR (Academic Progress Report). But how can anyone take the academicians seriously, when they have Providence as a member of the American Athletic Conference? Yup, they sure do. No sign of the “Big East” anywhere. Whoops

• Hey…they had Dayton winning it all. They did beat Ohio State, though…

Tweet of the Week III – from ESPN business reporter @DarrenRovell: “Reported revenue for Mercer's men's basketball team last season: $1.29M. Today's opponent Duke reported revenues of $25.7M…”

• With all of the talk last week about the ACC Tournament moving to New York beginning in 2017, don’t be surprised if the Big 10 decides to do the same thing…and move to the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The same year. The same week. Not a done deal yet, by any means. But it has been discussed. Whoa

• Oh, and did I mention a road trip to see the Diamondbacks play this summer? Especially so I can also hit this bad boy – the “Venom dog,” a foot-long habanero sausage complete with beans and guacamole. Hold the sour cream…I have standards…

• Good for Dale Arnold. One of the good guys in the biz, for the foreseeable future he will be teamed up again with Michael Holley for the afternoon drive slot on WEEI following Mike Salk’s return to Seattle. When the two were ruling middays…it was the easiest listen the station had. This is a good programming move up against 98.5’s Felger and Mazz, who tend to grate on the ears from time to time…

• And former WEEI honcho Jason Wolfe has apparently hooked up with sportstalkboston.com as Chief Content Officer, with Glenn Ordway’s “Big Show Unfiltered” launching a week ago. The shows – and perhaps subsequent programming – will also air on Sirius/XM Channels 108 and 206 beginning Monday…

Grady Sizemore seems to be the man for centerfield at Fenway. It’s a great story, and it will be told countless hundreds – maybe thousands – of times as we get into the baseball season. So why are the Red Sox reluctant to hand him the job, insisting Jackie Bradley, Jr. is still in the mix? Two things: 1) Sizemore could break down at a moment’s notice. 2) The time and investment spent on Bradley. He’s still in their plans, and they WANT him to take the job. He just hasn’t, yet…

• R-E-S-P-E-C-T…Georgetown’s logo was put on the official NCAA tournament T-shirt – not George Washington’s. It has since been corrected, I’m told. And did you hear what Mike Krzyzewski said about the Atlantic-10? Hope somehow, somewhere, those A-10 schools get a crack at Duke and/or the ACC…

(sportn-a-com.net)

• Come on now. Who’s really surprised perfect brackets are going the way of the dinosaur? At least, they’re not registered in the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge. Go ahead, make yourself known out there…you’ll get your 15 minutes of fame, and you’ll go down in history as the dope who blew a billion…

• From the mailbag this week – Edward from Johnston, RI checks in: “I'm sure Ed Cooley is not going anywhere, but I'm sure Boston College will want to give him a call. Also, I wonder why Marquette and Indiana are not in any post season tournaments.” Edward: This is what happens when you experience success in the college game – the coach immediately becomes a target for larger, richer schools. Ed has a past at BC, but I also know Ed is extremely loyal…to Providence and to Al Skinner. However, he’d be foolish not to answer the door if the Eagles knock on it. You would, I would, we all would. As for Marquette and Indiana, they both turned down bids to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). A little surprised they didn’t get invited to the NIT, but loved the reaction from the Indiana athletic department – “We’re Indiana. We don’t do the CBI.” They don’t do the NCAA or the NIT, either…as far as I can tell…

• Interested in having your questions on local RI sports (including the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions and comments to jrooke@golocalprov.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

• Don’t forget to join us for GoLocal Sports on 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am! Call in (401) 737-1287(401) 737-1287, or text us at 37937…and send email to the show - golocal@weei.com .

 

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