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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, March 01, 2014

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering whatever happened to Rotnei Clarke?

• Very saddened to learn of the passing of Harold Ramis this week. From the old “SCTV” troupe and television show to writing, directing and acting in some of the funniest movies of our time, Ramis will truly be missed. The ability to make someone laugh is a gift that cannot be understated…and Ramis had that gift. Through Animal House, Stripes, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, Caddyshack and more – movies from the ‘70’s, ‘80’s and ‘90’s that are still famous for their one-liners – Ramis either wrote or voiced some of the greatest lines ever delivered. All had his comedic wit stamped on them. He was one of the few actors, to me, that could give you a dry, bemused look and cause you to LOL…

Who ya’ gonna call? Not sure how the production of Ghostbusters 3, which was in the formative stages, can go on without Dr. Egon Spengler

Bryce Cotton took his second Big East Player of the Week award this week, in a week where Creighton’s Doug McDermott actually outscored him. But there’s just something about Cotton’s play of late that is finally causing writers, broadcasters, fans and coaches to stop and notice – his athleticism. It’s off the charts. He leads the world in minutes played, and except for a rare moment or two, never looks like he’s tired…

• In the post-game aftermath of the win at Butler, a reporter from New York in attendance asked Bryce what schools he had considered, since apparently he thought it strange that a kid from Tucson, Arizona ended up in Providence, RI. Cotton told the reporter that Providence was his only Division I offer, so he took it. Friar fans are glad he did…

Bryce Cotton (friarbasketball.com)

Be…the ball…Cotton is so easy to root for. He’s a good student. He’s a likable kid. He fits in well with his teammates; the coaches’ love him because of his work ethic. The one fault anyone has been able to find? Sometimes he’s too unselfish. There are certain times during games that he needs to take over…and if he can recognize this, the Friars can be in the NCAA Tournament. With a chance to actually win…

• The NCAA Tournament is a tournament where superstars come out to play, and usually shine very bright. It would be a shame of Cotton’s star can’t shine on that stage. One shining moment?

Back off man, I’m a scientist…Speaking of stars…if PC can sneak into the 3rd or 4th spot for the upcoming Big East Tournament…Ed Cooley should be Coach of the Year for what he’s done with a shell of the team he thought he would have. The guess here is that Villanova’s Jay Wright or Creighton’s Greg McDermott will win, because their teams have. But for pure coaching/cajoling/conniving? It’s not even close…

• Interesting take on the college basketball rules interpretations under so much scrutiny these days, from old friend and Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Jimmy Burch. Burch spoke with former PC assistant coach, Bryant athletic director and Big East administrator Dan Gavitt – who now runs the NCAA Tournament – and Gavitt is very happy with the “trending” taking place. Foul calls seem to indicate there’s a different interpretation of the rules out there, but the emphasis on increased offense is working. Scoring is up, field goal percentage is up, turnovers are down… 

• Which means, of course, that the teams who currently like to engage in clutching, grabbing and bumping are likely to be severely penalized come tourney time…

• I think most can agree it has been, at the least, a solid year for the new Big East Conference. How things play out into March, however, will probably be how the first year will be remembered overall. If you’re still in mourning over the mess that college football’s “cash scramble” left the league in, make sure you’re watching ESPN at 9:00 pm on Selection Sunday. The “30 for 30” film series will present “Requiem for the Big East…”

• And if you want to add fuel to the “ESPN helped kill the Big East” conspiracy fire, started by erstwhile BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo…the sports network isn’t doing itself any favors by letting this nugget slip in an espn.com story about the Duke-Syracuse game, where Jim Boeheim was ejected: “Syracuse joined the ACC in basketball this season, coming over from the now-defunct Big East. The two Duke-Syracuse games have garnered a lot of attention for the ACC in what is a budding rivalry.” Now-defunct Big East? Are we to gather since they no longer carry the games, that the league doesn’t exist?

Don’t sell yourself short Judge, you’re a tremendous slouch…no story on the breakup of arguably the greatest basketball conference ever created can be complete, however, without the truth. It will be interesting to see if the film exposes the greed – and many of the back-stabbing, power-grabbing political ploys – several administrators became enamored with during the implosion. Wonder if guys like Chancellor Mark Nordenberg at Pittsburgh, or ex-BC AD DeFilippo will be watching?

Big win on the recruiting trail for URI this week with the verbal from Notre Dame Prep’s Jarvis Garrett. Rhody wins because they allegedly beat out Marquette and Indiana for his services…Garrett wins because he figures to get plenty of PT with Biggie Minnis at the point next season…

• Bang for your buck…25 years ago this week, Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys for $140 million. Think about that for a minute. What are the Cowboys worth today? More than $1 billion. Laugh or scream at JJ all you want – and as a longtime Cowboy fan, I have – but the man made a shrewd investment…

That’s the fact, Jack…I love pro football, don’t get me wrong here. But I just don’t see the attraction of timing 40’s, measuring standing long jumps and analyzing Wonderlic exams. I suppose I understand why scouts, coaches and execs flock to the NFL Combine to check out the produce and weigh the sides of beef…but to me, a player simply has to pass the “eye” test. Can he play?

• In this day and age with athletic budget cuts and Title IX crushing mostly men’s college teams across the country…some good news to share. Furman University, located in Greenville, SC, had announced they would be dropping their men’s golf team…so up stepped Brad Faxon (Class of 1983) and several other influential (i.e. money guys) alumni to provide short term operating funds and establish an endowment for scholarships. The golf team will live on. So…who wants to step up and revive PC baseball? Oh, and throw in a baseball field too, while you’re at it…

Michael Sam (bookwormroom.com)

No, we’re not homosexual, but we’re willing to learn…Washington, DC lobbyist Jack Burkman says he is drafting legislation to ban gay athletes from playing in the NFL…

Tweet of the Week – from @MikeSamFootball: “Jack Burkman is going to need a Delorian, not some bogus bill, if he wants to prevent gay athletes from being in the locker room…

What the hell we s’posed to do, you moron? Twitter…where sometimes innocuous thoughts grow into pure stupidity…pro golfer Steve Elkington stepped into the morass this week, just a week after NBC’s Christin Cooper was lambasted for her Bode Miller interview at the Olympics. Elkington’s target was Michael Sam

Lighten up, Francis…I’m all for being sensitive to the plight of the disadvantaged, but you can’t tell me that the NFL’s attempt to crackdown on players using the “N” word is anything but political grandstanding. League officials just want to look good, and to be as Pee-Cee (as in politically correct) as they can be. Are we really going to ask referees to throw the flag on this? The only way we get insensitivity out of an emotionally-charged game like pro football is for the players themselves to take the lead. And you know what? They won’t do it. They can’t. It’s too ingrained in their locker room culture…

• Olympic leftover…did anyone see what the Dutch speedskating coach said about the American performance on the ice oval? Jillert Anema said the US could improve on the Olympic O-fer if they stopped playing sports like football. "You have a lot of attention for foolish sport, like American football...(The US) is so narrow-minded, and you waste a lot of good talent in a sport that sucks." Ok, Coach Anemic. How much money does Dutch speedskating bring to the GNP of the Netherlands? I’ll wager, at the very least, the Dutch national speedskating championships aren’t broadcast in the same number of countries as the Super Bowl. Cue Bugs Bunny

Jim Lange (digitalspy.com)

• Anyone remember Jim Lange? If you’re a fan of TV game shows, you’ll recall Lange hosted one of the most popular shows of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s – “The Dating Game” – and continued hosting shows like “Name That Tune” and “The New Newlywed Game” well into the ‘90’s. Lange achieved fame with his TV work, but cut his teeth in LA and San Francisco radio as a DJ, after starting his career in the Midwest. He passed away this week at age 81…

• Lange was once quoted as saying "good radio is still the most fun. It always will be. Plus, you don't have to wear makeup and you don't have to shave." Truer words have rarely been spoken, and that’s good enough for me to live by. Especially the not having to wear makeup part…

• It’s amazing to me anyone can afford to live in Rhode Island, the way consumers are nickled-and-dimed-to-near-death. National Grid is asking for another rate hike, which will add another $10 a month to your bill. What if everyone just said “no?” Can’t businesses also “do without,” like everyone else? Or will there be a catastrophe if a certain profit-margin isn’t reached? Stupid is as stupid does

• Happy birthday, World Wide Web. You’re now 25 years old and still growing up. Here’s how far we’ve come in the last 25 years…in 1995, 42% of Americans had never heard of the “internet.” Today, 87% of Americans use the internet – daily…

• And this bit of info, courtesy of NBC News: More Americans today (46%) think it would be harder to give up the internet than television (36%). Frankly, I’d have to put myself in the majority of that one. Know what the next “big thing” is to come? “Smart” devices (like my current phone) that “talk” to each other…

You know what we gotta do? Toga party…in celebration of spring coming around the corner (it’s still in the rumor stage, right now), an interesting item in USA Today appeared this week on the actual circulation of a petition to make baseball’s opening day a National Holiday. Why not? Toh gah! Toh gah! Toh-gah!

Well? We’re waiting…are we putting too much pressure on Xander Bogaerts before he assumes the role of starting SS/3B/3-hole-hitter/next-Boston-superstar? I’m as anxious as anyone to see him play regularly and looking forward to hopefully watching him for years to come, but let’s settle down people. Two words – ROOK-IE. Just sayin’

• And not for nuthin’…but isn’t Jon Lester’s decree that he’ll stay and play in Boston for a “hometown discount” a little like playing Russian Roulette with a single bullet in the chamber? We all know that somebody – somewhere – will cough up the cash and overpay to get pitching…

• Did anyone notice who one of the pitchers for Boston College against the Red Sox Thursday happened to be? Former Hendricken stand-out Mike King took the mound for the Eagles, for an inning, to stand-in against the pros. King is a freshman pitcher at BC…

• I haven’t ever really considered myself a fan or follower of Buck Showalter in the past…but he got my attention this week with the story from Orioles’ camp that he asked prospect Josh Hart if he knew who Frank Robinson was. When Hart said he didn’t, Showalter told him he wanted a one page report on Robinson by tomorrow (which was last Tuesday). Now, you’d think that young players entering an organization would WANT to have some knowledge about the players who played before them. But kudos to Showalter for insisting the players on his team KNOW who came before them, and who blazed the trail they now tread upon…

• The Elmwood Little League is one of the largest volunteer-run youth programs in RI, serving over 500 inner-city boys & girls from age 5 to 16. Most of these kids are minorities from the poorest sections of Providence’s south side…and they’re looking for Little League coaches to help in the upcoming season. A chance to influence a future Ed Cooley, Deon Anderson or (Cranston mayor) Allan Fung? They’re all Elmwood LL grads. Call Dave Talan at (401) 941-3662(401) 941-3662 or send email to DaveTalan@aol.com...

• Already, the rumors of Oliver Purnell’s impending demise at DePaul are taking shape, even though they did snap a 10-game losing streak with a win over Seton Hall this week. Chicago area reports have said Purnell will finish this season, and the school will then target former UCLA and Pittsburgh head coach Ben Howland as a potential replacement. That might be good for the school, but what about for Howland?

I think this situation requires a futile and really stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part…Did you see that construction on the new UConn basketball practice facility has stopped? Perhaps someone didn’t get included in the contracting jobs handed out. Sheesh, politics…

• This week marked the 50th anniversary of one of the world-changing sporting events of our time, and the emergence of perhaps the best-known athlete in recorded history. Know which one I’m talking about? 50 years ago this week, a then-22-year-old virtual unknown boxer by the name of Cassius Marcellus Clay stunned the sports world with his defeat of heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Clay would declare his Muslim faith, change his name to Muhammad Ali and defend his title nine times before he was stripped of the crown for his refusing induction into the US Army. He couldn’t fight for 3 ½ years, and when he did fight again…after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of his appeal…he won. Big. Ali reclaimed his crown by knocking out George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. And the rest, as they say, is history…

• Love the fact the Boston Bruins return from the two-week Olympics hiatus and…they announce an increase in season ticket prices for next year. The quote from Glen Thornborough, senior VP of sales: “We want to make sure that our fans are happy every time they walk into this building and watch the Bruins perform.” Um, Glen? I don’t think this’ll do the trick. The cheapest ticket at TD Garden has increased 150% over the past five years…

• The Bruins proclaim, however, they have a waiting list of 5000 for season tickets. So, a ticket is worth whatever the market will bear. Be happy if you’re on that list…looks like some of you will move up and get your shot…

Rajon Rondo

• So Rajon Rondo decided to skip a game against Sacramento to stay in LA and celebrate his birthday with family and friends? A game he wasn’t scheduled to play in, anyway. But he’s the captain, you say? Captain for a team that values his talents so much, they’ve dangled those talents out there for other teams to see…apparently trying to trade him…despite Danny Ainge’s insistence otherwise. Look, wasn’t Rondo on the bench during just about his ENTIRE rehab from knee surgery, supporting his team and teammates? I don’t question his loyalty, and the “captaincy” thing is really kinda dumb, anyway. Captains are for kids. This is the pros. Rondo made a mistake if he didn’t get prior approval for his party plans, and I suspect the Celtics will deal with that. A fine, or something. Move along, people…

• Did you see the report on ESPN.com this week that NBA President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn revealed the league has actually discussed the idea of a four-point shot? I have a lot of respect for Thorn, considering he’s worn just about every hat the league has to offer, short of the commissioners’ fedora. But really? A 4-pointer? Considering that the best three-point shooters in the league can routinely hit out to around 28-feet already, the only thing that makes sense (if it makes sense at all) would be a half-court shot for four points. Then what’s next? Behind-the-back-over-the-head shots worth five points?

• Although, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at the story…even if there’s not much to it. Consider this, however…it has been 34 years since the three-point shot came into play, and the NBA faces increasing competition from other leagues, as well as other sports, for the entertainment dollar. It might not be as silly as it sounds. I’d be happy if they just fixed the slam dunk competition to make it must-see-TV again…

• Also very sorry to learn of the passing of Leo DiMaio, who meant a lot to a large number of people in and around the game of basketball in this state – including many former URI Rams – as a one-time coach at the Zuccolo Rec Center and director of the Talent Development Program at URI. A LaSalle grad, a PC grad, a master’s grad at Rhody…DiMaio helped countless numbers of minority kids get their education, and set them on a path to becoming successful. It is people like this, for whom there is no replacement…

Rotnei Clarke (wholehogsports.com)

• Remember Rotnei Clarke? Dude could shoot – and apparently still can. While at Butler this past week, I couldn’t help but wonder about one of the players helping to put the Bulldogs on the recent basketball map…and helped them get into the Big East in the first place. Clarke transferred from Arkansas before he hit Indy…and he’s now torching the twine in Australia’s NBL, 3rd in the league in scoring. He’s not good enough to help someone, somewhere, in the NBA? Brad Stevens, make a call. Oh, that’s right…sorry, they’re tanking…

• From the mailbag this week – Jack from Westerly, RI via email, on a still-popular subject - officiating: “These refs on the Major college staffs have earned their spots via HS, D2 and D3 leagues plus AAU tourneys, summer leagues and commissioner recommendations. You are correct, however, in your view of officials being overworked. The 3-man crew plus TV timeouts take away some of the physical demands but flying all over the Eastern and Central US with back-to-back games over 4 months must hinder the mental alertness of the refs.” Jack: It’s great that these guys have “earned” their spots…but a bad call is still a bad call, no matter who the call is made against. I’ve seen, covered and even ref’d enough basketball in my time to know the difference. I know many of the current crop of Big East officials, and I’m friends with a couple of them. Good guys. But they still screw up, just like we all do. All I’ve ever asked of an official is to be consistent…even if that means consistently bad. At least that way, players, coaches, fans and broadcasters know what to expect. I fear that the rules put in place for this year leaves too much room for interpretation, making hard calls even harder to call, which is causing officials to “guess.” That ain’t good…

• 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 .  Thanks to dspics.net for photos.

• 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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