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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, March 15, 2014

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering whatever happened to Cal Foster?

• Visions of basketballs dancing in your heads? If you’re a high school player, or you know one, here is your sobering dose of reality – only 0.03% of you will make it to the pros. The NCAA released an updated “form chart” this week, based on the numbers of high school athletes they have actively participating, and the number of pros currently playing. Pipe dream? More like pipes bursting…

• Early front-runner for father-of-the-year…must be something about the hunt for wild baseball’s being hit into (or out of) the confines of ballparks that cause grown men to completely lose their minds. And this dude to completely forget he had a kid in a stroller…

Tweet of the Week I – from @ESPNStatsInfo: “UConn women will enter the NCAA Tournament without a loss for 6th time. No other school has done so more than 2x…” That’s impressive, even if you’re playing tiddlywinks…

• Undoubtedly it was a scary moment for the fans in attendance at the Dallas Stars-Columbus Blue Jackets game this week, when former Bruin Rich Peverly collapsed on the bench suffering from what was termed a “cardiac event.” Unprecedented that the game was postponed, but understandable that it would be very difficult to continue for players to continue, knowing what had happened. A sport known for its brutality shows us a human side after all…

• I have Clay Pell’s Prius. And he can have it back for a case of beer…

• Reported this week from New York that Madison Square Garden folks have stayed in touch with the ACC about the possibility of bringing the event there, and the Garden has been insistent upon a multi-year deal, if any movement were to occur. Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated reports the ACC is finalizing a two-year deal to bring their post-season tournament to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn starting in 2017, after another year in Greensboro, NC and one in Washington, DC. Still to be determined is how they’ll share the building with the Atlantic-10 in 2017, which is the final year of their deal in Brooklyn. But that’s great for college hoops, great for New York, and still great for the Big East – for now. All possibilities remain on the table, however…but the Big East’s deal with MSG is secure…

• Don’t think for a minute the Big East will be comfortable with this arrangement. The ACC’s presence in Brooklyn, potentially stealing the spotlight away from the Garden with seven former league schools involved, will be a headache to handle. The Big East will need to confront this head-on, and make certain they still have their own cache in place when the two leagues collide in a few years…

• What the Friars have accomplished this season under Ed Cooley has been nothing short of amazing, really. For a team to crawl through adversity like this one has, lose key players through injury, suspension and transfer, and then to reach a title game with a short bench? Who’s the real Big East Coach of the Year? He resides in Friartown, without a doubt…

• And if the Friars can pull off an upset over Creighton for a 2nd Big East title in school history? Forget Buddy. Run for mayor, Ed. Or Governor…

• Don’t look now, but that hunch you have about Kansas winning it all? It just took a major hit as star forward Joel Embiid had to meet with an orthopedic spine specialist last week. Reportedly, he has a spinal stress fracture that will keep him out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, at least…

• Friar fans must have surely noticed that Appalachian State fired head coach Jason Capel last week…which means Devonte Graham’s tenure as an App State signee could finally be short-lived. Capel’s largely unremarkable tenure (he was 53-70 in four seasons) as head coach was notable for his refusal to let Graham out of his National Letter of Intent that he originally signed with the Mountaineers. If he gets his release, Providence is VERY interested in his point guard skills for next season…

• Former Bryant head coach Max Good was fired at Loyola Marymount this week, after a 13-19 season. Good’s teams have been besieged by injuries since he took the reins in 2009, replacing Bill Bayno. He had two freshman players on the WCC all-rookie team, but at age 72, how much more rebuilding did he have left? LMU, it seems, made the decision for him…

• Did anyone else notice that former PC assistant Louis Orr was let go at Bowling Green? Life for former Pete Gillen assistants has been up-and-down, with Tommy Herrion still a head coach at Marshall, and Mike Malone moving on in the NBA at Sacramento

• I’m not sure how he really does it, but the guess is he’s simply clued in…if you’re a fan of the NFL free-agent frenzy, there really isn’t anyone else close to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. From front office personnel to agents who represent the players…to the players themselves, if someone wants something out there…they know who to call. Or text. Or tweet…

• Is anyone really surprised Aqib Talib left the Patriots? No question he would have been re-signed, if Denver hadn’t thrown money at his feet. Who can blame him for taking it? The Broncos are in the process of doing what Patriots’ fans have been hoping Bill Belichick would do…and that’s surround Peyton with as much as they can, salary-cap-be-damned. Sorry kids, that still ain’t happening here…

• This being said, I am a little surprised that Darrelle Revis has become the defacto replacement for Talib with his one-year deal. That it’s one year I’m not surprised with…it gives both sides a chance to prove worthiness, since Revis is coming off of a knee injury. But if he has the kind of year Pats’ fans hope he has, there is NO way he’ll go multi-years to stay here. One and done…

• I hear the rumble all the way from the Garden from St. John’s fans wondering why the Red Storm didn’t pressure the Friars sooner than they did in PC win last Thursday. This is the knock on Steve Lavin, and always has been the knock on him – no real game instincts. He’s a superior recruiter and judge of athletic ability, but as a coach? Meh. With Bryce Cotton in foul trouble, that SJU didn’t slap on a full-court press and force the Friars to cough it up is pretty surprising…

• Kudos, however, to the rest of the Friars for picking up the slack. Henton, Fortune and Desrosiers were the heroes in my eyes. Carson, for one, had his best game in a PC uniform as a true force in the post…

• Crowds at MSG were down, yes.  But the Creighton fans - and maybe they were reacting to New York sticker shock - were loud.  They brought big numbers, resembling Syracuse and UConn numbers.  We'll see if they can sustain the enthusiasm after a few years of traveling eastward.  What would be nicer...is if other teams could match their enthusiasm...

Seton Hall’s magical finish over Villanova is just what college basketball is all about at this time of year, isn’t it? I mean, there was no reason for them to win…but the Wildcats just didn’t appear interested in going through the motions this week…so the Pirates popped them. One person’s misfortune is another’s opportunity, right? Just sayin’

• This stuff on the disappearing Malaysian Airlines flight is just weird, period. It’s right out of the TV series “Lost,” on ABC a couple of years ago. Could you really HIDE a 777? And why would you want to, unless it was for something sinister? Stranger than fiction, really…

Tweet of the Week II – from @DoYouBelieveIt: “Drinking large amounts of alcohol during the Spring Break is one of the possible causes of brain damage in adults.” Well, that explains a lot…

• Kudos to Mike Martin and to the Brown basketball program for accepting a post-season tournament bid to the CIT. The what? Doesn’t matter. It’s only the 4th post-season opportunity EVER for Brown basketball. Crawl, before you walk. Walk, before you run. Run, before you sprint…and the Bears just might do that at some point, if they can find another Sean McGonagill

Barry Bonds (wordpress.com)

• Ok, show of hands here. Who saw this coming? Barry Bonds not only returned to baseball this past week…he did it as a roving instructor for the San Francisco Giants, with a smile on his now-slimmer face, and he actually SPOKE to the media? Whoa

• “I was a different character playing,” was one of his most notable quotes of the week upon his return to a dugout. No kidding Barry. No kidding. ‘Roid rage will do that to a guy. He lost weight because he’s an avid cycler? Umm, maybe he lost weight because he STOPPED cycling…

• Can Bonds actually rehabilitate his image to the point where he becomes a viable candidate for the Hall of Fame? To be determined, but seeing as Mark McGwire began his long road back to respectability a few years ago, a road that Roger Clemens is also traveling right now…it’s not surprising to see Bonds take a cue from fellow superstars to start “playing the game” again. At least in the court of public opinion, if not actually on the field…

• We mentioned here a couple of weeks ago that former Friar basketball player Rick Cordella was largely responsible for overseeing the streaming capabilities for hockey you may have enjoyed on your computer, tablet or smartphone during the recent Olympic games. Now, others are noticing him, too. The Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily have named Cordella one of their 2014 “40 Under 40” executives to watch in the sports industry. Cordella, now 37, is Senior Vice President and General Manager for the NBC Sports Group’s digital division…he was a walk-on for Pete Gillen’s Friars that reached the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament of 1997…

• With all of the hoopla over NFL free agency this week (is that a sports mixed-metaphor?), my favorite line came from kicker Adam Vinatieri, who re-upped for two years with the Colts at the ripe, old age of 41…making him the NFL’s oldest active player: “Still got some lead in the pencil…”

• Rhody fans are a little surprised, to say the least, that star guard E. C. Matthews shared the Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year award with St. Joseph’s DeAndre Bembry…and that Xavier Munford was left off all of the all-conference teams announced this week. It’s really quite simple – just win, baby. Honors and accolades will follow…

• Let’s go viral…this takes sideline celebrations to a new level. Kudos to the Colby Mules for kicking it up a notch…

• Some love him, others not so much. Stuart Scott has always been somewhat polarizing with his hip-hop references and “boo-yah” antics while doing his thing on ESPN for more than 20 years now. What you might not know, however, is that he’s in the fight of his life. Literally…for his life. Dude is strong, hope he stays that way…

Fox is doing what it can to revive some good Big East memories of tourneys past…and shares this collective account of moments from both sidelines in the 2009 6 OT epic encounter between UConn and Syracuse. Included are several comments from the memory bank of current Friar associate head coach Andre LeFleur, who was on the bench as a UConn assistant for Jim Calhoun. I was fortunate enough to call that game on national radio…and to read this account is jarring. Most of the 70 minutes of game time are a blur…

(youtube.com)

• Felt as if I were re-living a huge part of my professional career while watching the advance copy of “Requiem for the Big East,” which debuts Sunday night at 9 pm ET on ESPN. Naturally, other than Dave Gavitt, Mike T. and the Journal’s Bill Reynolds – who all have significant parts in the tale told – the only real PC “highlight” comes from…wait for it”SEND IT IN JEROME!”

• The assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk came from none other than current Arizona head coach, and former Pitt point guard Sean Miller. What you might not remember is who the dunkee was on the wrong end of that play…PC guard Carlton Screen was the unfortunate victim, and forward Cal “Sir Dunkalot” Foster trailed on the play. Foster now lives in Dayton, OH…he was originally recruited by Rick Pitino and part of a class that included Eric Murdock, then watched Pitino leave for the NY Knicks as Gordie Chiesa took over for one season – the season where Lane’s iconic dunk became part of college basketball lore. Known for his own ability, back then, to elevate and throw it down, it’s certainly ironic in PC circles Foster is a part of one of the most memorable plays in league history. It was a signature moment for the Big East…

• From the mailbag this week – Shaun from Riviera Beach, FL: “John, what’s your take on Vince Wilfork and Brandon Browner?” Shaun: I’m a little miffed at Vince, but kinda understand his position. He’s taken it for the team in the past, and I know he’s asking the team to stand by him this time. But this is a business, first. There is no room, or time, for compassion by the Patriots and we all know this. I hope something can be worked out. As for Browner signing on Friday…well, right away, the defense makes a huge improvement. If Wilfork sticks around, the defense could finally be where Pats fans want it – which is at a championship level, or at least good enough to help TB12 try to win another ring…

• 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 [email protected]. 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 - [email protected] .
 

 

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