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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, May 03, 2014

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering if anyone could be as “unreliable” as Kevin Durant

• Much has been said – some of it shockingly so – about LA Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments to a girlfriend last week. Here are the facts as I see them: 1) Sterling is the longest-tenured owner in the NBA; 2) he’s made racially-charged comments in the past; 3) no one has paid him much attention previously, since his teams usually stunk; 4) Now that his team is competing for an NBA title, his words are heard, all of a sudden…

• Somewhere, former NBA commissioner David Stern is thankful he didn’t have to make this call. And that was the problem here, as I see it. Sterling has been bad for his team, his city and the league for a long, long time…but no one in the NBA has ever done anything about him because the team was irrelevant. That’s not an excuse – it’s fact. The Lakers used to carry LA, while sweeping Sterling and the Clips under the carpet. It’s not that way anymore…

• While we should all be shocked and appalled at his apparent attitude in this day and age, I can’t see “firing” an owner from his franchise. But new commissioner Adam Silver did just that, by banning Sterling for life. It was a bold stroke of leadership, one that MLB and the NHL could learn from. Perhaps now, forcing him to sell could take care of some of the bigotry within the league, but keep in mind that free enterprise still carries the day in this country, and free speech – no matter the level of insensitivity or stupidity – still reigns. I sense some serious legal issues forthcoming…for instance, what about a person’s right to privacy? The bird has already flown the coop here on that one, it’s true…but when private comments are recorded for public consumption, we’re an actual step closer to becoming a “Big Brother” society, like the one portrayed in the movie “1984…”

• Actually, we finally have “Big Brother.” It’s called social media. And TMZ

• Here’s the real problem. Sterling’s fellow owners in the NBA, and the league itself, could have done something about him a long time ago, but they failed to do so because it just wasn’t a priority. Adam Silver did the right thing? Of course he did, but don’t fool yourself. It was the ONLY thing he could do…

• Wonder if Doc Rivers has thought much about his off-season move from Boston to the left coast lately?

Tweet of the Week I – from NBA Legion (@MySportsLegion): “I brought a black guy to the game.” – Awesome sign by a Warriors fan.

• And now we have such luminaries as Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Oscar de la Hoya and Dr. Dre wanting to buy the Clippers if Sterling is forced to sell. Here’s an idea – put ‘em all in the ring, and conduct a steel-cage death match. Winner takes all. Or the basketball team…

• RIP, Dr. Jack Ramsey…who epitomized everything good about basketball, whereas others do not. The Hall-of-Fame former NBA coach and longtime broadcast analyst passed away early this past week at 89…I always admired Dr. Jack for his energy, especially as he got older. He enjoyed the game about as well as any coach or former coach I ever spoke with…normally, former coaches are happy to get out of the game and a lifestyle that can certainly run you ragged. Not Dr. Jack. He loved his hoops, and it showed whenever he was calling a game. Smart, articulate, funny…he made you care. That’s what I’ll miss most…

Bryce Cotton

• I read an NBA Draft scouting report last week that said PC’s Bryce Cotton “lacked athleticism.” Right. And I lack the ability to be long-winded. Just goes to show you, you shouldn’t believe everything you read – present words excluded, of course…

• Cotton’s chances of reaching the NBA – as of this moment – are small. That doesn’t mean they can’t improve over the next two months until we reach draft day. As I’ve always believed, Cotton can clearly help someone, probably a playoff-caliber team, right away by providing quality depth and the ability to be a “glue guy.” He can shoot, has great quickness, and has learned to create shot opportunities for himself over the past couple of years. He’s also learned to be a leader, which is an often-undervalued trait. If he can get into the NBA Draft combine, watch. His stock will climb…

• I had to miss the end-of-season basketball banquet at PC last week due to a work conflict, so forgive me for the lateness in addressing the Friar senior class. One of the very great pleasures I have as the 25-year Voice of the Providence Friars is watching kids grow into young men. Watching their maturity level rise on and off of the court is truly fascinating, and a credit to those coaches and teachers who helped them realize their potential. Lee Goldsbrough, Brice Kofane, Ted Bancroft, Kadeem Batts and Bryce Cotton all had their moments on and off of the floor, and all were part of something very, very special this past season that few people saw coming. Considering how they arrived at PC and how they finished at the school are two wildly different stories, well…let’s just say I’ll wager they’ll have great stories to tell someday…

• Three takeaways from the banquet and coaches’ show you may have missed: 1) Ed Cooley will be with USA Basketball for much of June, coaching with Billy Donovan and Sean Miller on the U-18 National Team in Colorado Springs, CO…and then at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship; 2) Still looking for one more high-major non-league opponent for next season (as we reported here previously), with Michigan, Kansas and Gonzaga all in the mix as possibilities; 3) Three or four games will be played during the Italian tour the team will take in August, and the younger players will play a lot. Kris Dunn, in an effort to keep him healthy, may not…

• Scheduling was finalized this week for the exempt Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame tournament at Mohegan Sun that the Friars will take part in next November. PC will open at home with Binghamton at the Dunk on Monday, November 17th, and play Navy at the Dunk on Thursday, November 20th. Then, the Friars will face Florida State at Mohegan Sun Arena two days later – on Saturday the 22nd at 2:30, and finish with Notre Dame the next day (Sunday the 23rd, with the Patriots at home against Detroit the same day) also at 2:30. That’s four games in seven days, three games in four days…and back-to-back games against ACC teams. That should jump-start the season…

• Old friend Rick Barnes came up with a recruiting coup this week, securing the consensus national #2 recruit in 7-foot center Myles Turner. It’s been awhile since the Longhorns made an impact with a highly-ranked in-state player…probably because whenever they seem to get them, they end up one-and-done. And that almost cost Barnes, the former PC head coach, his job at UT last year – until a bounce-back 24-11 season, and reaching the NCAA’s 3rd round…

• Turner’s addition to Texas pushed the Longhorns’ recruiting class for 2014 up to 19th nationally, according to ESPN.com…and pushed Providence down (with four commitments) to #25 overall. Georgetown is 7th, Seton Hall 12th and Xavier 21st in those highly-subjective rankings. Interesting to note that two of Buzz Williams’ former commitments at Marquette have now joined him at Virginia Tech after receiving releases from MU, and the Hokies’ class has gone from unranked to 18th nationally…

• Also interesting to note this week on the recruiting trail – former PC target Jared Terrell is back in the mix for the Friars, after originally selecting Oklahoma State over URI and Providence. A coaching change (with the lead assistant in his recruitment) at OSU led to his release from a National Letter of Intent. I wouldn’t be surprised if Boston College swoops in here…especially with former URI assistant (and his lead recruiter at Rhody) Preston Murphy now at the Heights. The question is – does he want to win now (at PC), or perhaps eventually (at BC). Playing time will be found in both spots. And one-time Friar point guard target Naadir Tharpe is transferring from Kansas to be closer to home (MA).  He has one year of eligibility left, and if he gets a waiver to play next season, PC could be a landing spot...

• Ok, I’m all done with the female Bruins fan running against the female Flyers fan-on-the-treadmill-Geico TV spot. Besides, Philly lost. Next

• True confession: I don’t follow regular-season hockey as much as I used to, for two reasons – 1) my eldest son doesn’t play anymore like he did when he was younger, so we don’t follow it together like we used to; 2) it coincides with basketball season, which is my primary job during the winter months. But that doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to the post-season, because I do…and I can’t remember looking forward to any game or series more than I am with Boston-Montreal

• That being said, why did it take so freakin’ long to get started??? I know about Northeastern’s graduation ceremonies at TD Garden and all that…but could someone (Gary Bettman? NBC?) show a little leadership, please, and make a decision so we’re not playing hockey in July?

• What a series the Bruins and Canadiens is likely to turn out to be. The optimist in me says ‘no big deal,’ Boston lost Game 1 of their series with Detroit and then won four straight. The pessimist says ‘uh oh.’ The Habs flew to the puck Thursday night, back checking was outstanding, and Carey Price was much better in goal than Tuukka Rask. Here’s the thing – the B’s missed out on WAY too many goal opportunities. Game 1 should have never reached OT. If they don’t start cashing in now, they’ll be cashing out soon…

• Just randomly searching through Twitter feeds this week, I almost choked when I saw a Patriots’ handle that said “Brady traded to Texans for JJ Watt and 2014 and 2015 1st rounders, will draft Johnny Manziel.” Upon further reflection after regaining consciousness, I like the first part…not so much the second…

• Ok, ok…don’t jump me here. I love TB12 as much as any Pats’ fan. And no, I don’t believe for a minute that the organization would actually trade him away. Brady is as close to a Patriot-for-life as any player has ever been. But in a football sense, and keeping with the mindset and tradition of what Bill Belichick has established philosophically in New England, the move does make sense. Would Houston part with Watt and TWO first-round picks for a soon-to-be-37-year-old QB? My senses say no way, but sometimes you gotta shake things up to get moving in the right direction…

• As for Manziel, I’ve heard the Patriots really liked what they saw and heard from the first freshman to ever win a Heisman Trophy, when they brought him into Foxboro a few weeks ago as a matter of doing their homework. So much so, they are certainly considering a QB somewhere in the draft mix. But this team, as it presently consists, was built for Brady…not for a mobile, think-on-the-fly QB who is likely to be tested by a myriad number of defensive looks he’s never seen before. Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and/or A.J. McCarron make more sense with their abilities to use the pocket, coupled with their mobility…

• I think I’m ok with this. I mean, a guy’s got the right to party, right? Even after missing most of the last year of his job with knee, arm and back injuries? Gronk being Gronk

Pssst. Hey, Yankee fans? Jacoby Ellsbury’s hurt again. And Michael Pineda, that cheating pitcher you have currently suspended? He’s hurt, too. Don’t get too comfortable in the, ahem, drivers’ seat of the AL East…

Not for nuthin’…but what’s the difference between Yankee fans showering Robinson Cano with boos the other night, in the midst of chanting “you sold out!” when NY played Seattle, and Red Sox fans booing Ellsbury in his Boston return? And some of us hammered Sox fans for doing that? Fans. Root. For. Laundry. Period

• So John Lackey has been better than advertised his last two starts, wouldn’t you say? Then why am I always yelling at the TV when he’s on the mound?

• Did my eyes deceive me, or did the radar gun hit 96 MPH for one of his fastballs last week? Must be the rubber bands for tendons in his new pitching elbow…

• Two keys to the Red Sox getting over the .500 hump this season, if it ever happens: 1) Shane Victorino’s return to the everyday lineup, and his relative health; 2) winning games at Fenway Park. Gotta win at home, even if the weather is cold and crappy. Suck it up…

Mike Napoli isn’t easy to watch at the plate. He seems to have a ton of power potential, and his career batting average is only so-so. While his average is up this year (.300 or so, give or take and OBP over .400), his ability to flat-out wear down opposing pitchers is what’s helping his numbers. And perhaps eventually, helping his team…

Tweet of the Week II – from @ScottLauber: “According to MLB: Replay used 191 times in April. 85 calls overturned, 53 standing, 50 confirmed, 3 record-keeping. Avg. length: 2:06…”

• My new hero – James Nielsen. What did he do? He (allegedly) ran the first-ever sub five-minute "beer mile."  And recorded himself doing it, too…

(yvearl.com)

• Takes me back to my younger days of jalapeno-eating contests while I was in school. Once popped twelve of those suckers into my gullet in a three-minute span…you know, the ones right from the big, rusty industrial-sized can that’s been warehoused in an atomic-bomb shelter with all of the other canned goods? The slimier, the better. That way, they slide straight into your, um, gut. And for the love of God, don’t chew them…unless you want fire to meet brimstone…

• I stepped away from eating contests soon thereafter, only because after kicking butt…my butt finally kicked back…

• My buddy Statbeast sez he needs to turn his eating habits around, and give up some things he enjoys. Under his drivers’ license photo it says “picture continued…”

• What I learned this week: That ESPN is the world’s 5th richest person. That a former fledgling cable company is worth $50.8 billion, that annual cash flow is $4.5 billion PER YEAR, and that with locked-up rights to some of the planet’s most popular sports through 2020…the dynasty won’t crumble anytime soon. Sports – the games people play, people – are no longer just games. Or maybe you’ve figured that out by now…

• Wanna save the newspaper business? Get Hearst to buy it. They own 20% of ESPN (Disney owns the other 80%) and reported record revenue and profits last year – largely on the back of ESPN’s success. Just sayin’

• How have Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network – ok, let’s throw CBS Sports Network in there, too – fared in attempts to challenge Godzilla? While FS1’s Fox Sports Live has beaten SportsCenter in head-to-head ratings on a rare occasion, the battle really being waged is not “Who’s #1?” It’s really “Who’s #2?” FS1 and NBCSN are basically neck-and-neck, with primetime viewers edging to Fox, while the Olympics gave NBC the daytime, big time. College basketball (Big East) drew pretty well on FS1, while the Olympics kicked tail for NBC, and the hockey playoffs should also draw viewers. The biggest drawing cards for each – auto racing on FS1 (their most-watched programming) and English Premier League soccer giving NBCSN a boost in the daytime…

• All things are relative, however. The blog Awful Announcing points out that actually neither FS1 nor NBCSN is actually the #2-rated sports network in our country. That honor belongs to ESPN2. Pssst – here’s a secret for you: Mickey Mouse is really one, giant rat…

• Very cool that the CBS Sports Network, as part of its’ new lineup of spring and summer programming, chose Pawtucket and McCoy Stadium this week for the national television debut of its’ Minor League Baseball Game of the Week. It was the first time in 10 years for national TV cameras to give McCoy and the Pawsox the once-over, since the 2004 Triple A All-Star Game…

• Excuse me, but didn’t the NCAA just fix the “sometimes I go to bed hungry” issue for student athletes? Why then, did reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston from Florida State get arrested for shoplifting crab legs from a Florida supermarket this week? You’ll recall, perhaps, that this isn’t Winston’s first scrape with the law. Stupid is as stupid does

• And really now…his “apology” reeks of being written by someone NOT currently in college. “In a moment of youthful ignorance?” If you’re a college kid, do you write that about yourself? Um, no

• Covering women’s sports – it’s a dicey proposition in the media, because die-hards (outside of some in college basketball) just don’t follow them passionately…Title IX equality or not. But the athletic department at Providence College certainly seems to be trending in the right direction…with their women’s teams overall tied for 20th nationally in the Capital One Cup winter standings released this week. PC and Clarkson (which won the women’s Ice Hockey title) are the only two non-football schools ranked in the Top 20, and Providence is the highest ranked school among Big East members (Butler is next at 34th). Comparatively speaking, the PC men’s teams are 78th (of 91 making the rankings), 3rd in the Big East behind St. John’s and Georgetown. UConn is #1 on the women’s side, #2 on the men’s…

Tweet of the Week III – from @Magic Johnson: “Happy days are here again! Mike D’Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn’t be happier!” Tell us how you really feel, Magic. Whoa

• Don’t look now, but that’s the price for success knocking on your door, UConn. Kevin Ollie is high on the list for the Lakers to replace D’Antoni…as is Kentucky’s John Calipari

Cost of attendance. You’ve probably heard that phrase, and if you haven’t yet…you will. That’s what NCAA Division I schools and athletic departments are debating, and whether or not larger programs should be allowed the opportunity to “pay their student athletes” an annual stipend in order to meet the cost of attending school – beyond what their scholarship pays for…

• For instance, a recent DesMoines Register article places personal expenses beyond the cost of education at Iowa State (a Big 12 school) at $2430 per student-athlete. At Iowa (in the Big 10), that figure is $3515. Before paying players – and we are definitely heading in this direction, if you want your college sports teams to remain relevant – some kind of standard figure will need to be established, because every school’s costs are different…not to mention cost-of-living expenses vary wildly throughout the country. And get ready to have the bulk of this added athletics’ cost passed on…wait for itto you

Kevin Durant (bleacherreport.com)

The Oklahoman newspaper ran a headline Thursday – “Mr. Unreliable” – that focused attention squarely on Kevin Durant’s shooting woes in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s playoff series with Memphis. A week ago, he was the likely NBA MVP, LeBron James notwithstanding, leading his team to the #2 seed in the Western Conference. He also made a $1 million donation last year to help tornado relief efforts in the state. Now, he’s “unreliable?” Poor choice of words by an editor, yes. But unreliable?   Hardly.  We could use more players with this kind of “unreliability” in our pro ranks. And KD responded with 36 and 10 Thursday night in an elimination game, no less. The newspaper, by the way, apologized for the error in judgment

• From the mailbag this week – John via email writes: “In four decades of Super Bowls, one team has a win in each decade and one has a loss in each decade. Who are they?” John: I don’t normally do the trivia thing here…but to your question I’ll say this – first, the Super Bowl has been played in SIX different decades, not four. The New York Giants have wins in four straight decades – the ‘80’s, ‘90’s, ‘00’s and ‘10’s. As for the losing teams, the Patriots have losses in four straight decades – the ‘80’s, ‘90’s, ‘00’s and ‘10’s. The last two losses just happened to be to those same NY Giants. Was that your point, Giant fan? Hope that gets you through your sleepless nights with visions of Eli Manning throwing and David Tyree catching in your head…

• 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, or text us at 37937…and send email to the show - golocal@weei.com .

 

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