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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, January 12, 2013

 

Thinking out loud…but feeling very much like I’m living in a cave this week…

• So Texans’ running back Arian Foster used Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy’s column as a Twitter avatar this week? Listen, if a professional athlete needs to get his motivation from a columnist who admittedly loves to tweak his readers the wrong way…well, I question his professionalism. Please. If playing New England isn’t enough to get you going…you’re in trouble…

Pardon me, FDR…the one thing the Patriots have to fear this week – is fear itself. Overconfidence from the 42-14 thrashing of Houston five weeks ago, however, won’t be the problem. Turnovers are the great equalizer…

• If Houston manages to win, it will be because the Patriots “lost.” The Texans’ J.J. Watt says he’s driven to “avenge” December’s defeat. That’s nice, but he can’t do it alone. Foster and the offense will also have to move against the Pats’ defense for Watt to achieve redemption…

• If New England manages to win, it will be a record-setting day for Tom Brady. Beating Houston will give him a record 17 career playoff victories…one more than his childhood hero, Joe Montana

• In case you were wondering…if you think everyone outside of Texas believes New England will advance to the AFC title game…think again. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is the lone voice in the wind calling for a Houston victory. And he was 4-0 picking the wild card games…

• The final word – belongs to the stat geeks. The Elias Sports Bureau says teams that lost in the regular season by 28 points or more (like Houston did in the regular season) are 11-11 in rematches in the postseason. Just sayin’

• Prior to Alabama’s whupping of Notre Dame in the national college football title game this week, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban got ESPN pulled from TV’s in team hotel, thus saving impressionable minds from the “First Take” program. And other programs that contain mostly (bad) opinion. Wow. What have YOU done for America today?

• While ABC/ESPN play-by-play man Brent Musberger’s reaction to Alabama beauty queen (and Tide QB A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend) Katherine Webb during the game was creepy…did ESPN really need to apologize on Brent’s behalf? I mean, if it was warranted, shouldn’t Brent have done that himself?

• Actually, Webb says she didn’t mind the attention – creepy or not. Grandpa Brent was largely responsible for her Twitter account exploding from 2K to more than 200K followers…just for his on-air slobbering over her looks…

• And let us not forget Webb STILL got beat by our own beauty queen, Olivia Culpo. You remember her, right? Cranston girl? Won Miss USA. Also won Miss Universe and kicked Webb’s – ahem – butt in the process?

• Only in America…can a major company take advantage of a faux pas like Musberger’s and turn it around to their advantage…

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly said last week he had the “best job in the world.” Then, he promptly went to talk with the Philadelphia Eagles about their head coaching position. Can we really believe anyone – anyone – anymore when they constantly say one thing, and do another? Remember, actions do speak louder than words…

• Syracuse football coach Doug Marrone took the Buffalo Bills job - "I'm dying to go to work. We have a lot of work to do," he said. I like Coach Marrone, he’s smart, personable and very knowledgable. Yes, there is a lot of work to do in that organization. But he needs to choose his words more carefully. “Dying” to go to work in Buffalo? In a football sense, that might be arranged…

Tommy Tuberville’s time as the Cincinnati Bearcats’ new head football coach is off to a rocky start. Recruits who committed to the school – under former coach Butch Jones – say that Tuberville is pulling those offers, but not telling anyone. That leaves them scrambling less than a month away from signing day. Not exactly the way to win friends and influence other recruits…

ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell has reported this week that Fox is hot for the “Hoop Seven,” with the assumption that 12 years and $500 million is a realistic television contract offer...provided the group adds five new members to get to 12. That’s great news, considering the remaining schools in the current Big East – the football schools – might be lucky to get that number for themselves. Where football seemed to be driving all college media rights, now it appears that carving a niche could be making a comeback…

• We said here last week, and we’ll say it again…Butler and Xavier are at the top of the recruiting list. Dayton should follow. Creighton and Saint Louis also make plenty of sense, and while VCU has been mentioned, and would certainly be a good basketball addition, it isn’t the institutional fit you might think. And isn’t that part of the reason the “Hoop Seven” pulled out of the current Big East in the first place?

• Funny how team chemistry can be so fragile, isn’t it? Or rather, not so funny. As the Friars learned how to overcome the adversity of losing their best player (Vincent Council) in the season-opener, they’ve now suffered because of having to re-learn how to play with him once he returned. It’s just not as easy as it looks…

• Add to the mix two talented but inexperienced players (Kris Dunn, Sidiki Johnson) who have never played at this level…and there’s a lot of indecision on the floor, with angst on the sidelines and in the stands. Has Ed Cooley made all of the right moves? Perhaps not, but if he’s the guy you really believe should move the program forward, he needs to have more than just the last couple of weeks to work out the kinks…

• Hey, even Keno Davis got three years…

Kadeem Batts has worked as hard at improving his skills as any player I can remember in some time…certainly since Herbert Hill went from marginal Division I player to all-Big East. He can be better, though. And he needs to be a leader on the floor, too…

• Two things I’m noticing at the halfway point of the local college hoop season…one, URI can scrap. And that bodes well for the future. Two, Bryant can score. And that also bodes well for the present…don’t look now, but RI’s best team – right now – might reside in Smithfield…

• This is the same Bryant Bulldog team that finished 2-28 a year ago, and 1-17 in the NEC. They’re now 10-4 overall, 3-0 in the same NEC…and made the Mid-Major Top 25 this week at #21. Pretty amazing…

• Remember the kid from Grinnell College, Jack Taylor, who scored 138 points in a single game earlier this year? Hope he enjoyed his 15 minutes. Taylor broke his wrist during a game this week, and will miss the rest of the season…

• The 25 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the college game’s top point guard, include St. Andrew’s product and current Syracuse stand-out Michael Carter-Williams. And he’s still just a sophomore…

• Very sorry to see my friend and colleague Steve Hyder announce a few weeks ago that he’s stepping away from the Pawtucket Red Sox radio booth after nine seasons. Steve and I collaborated on a local radio talk show almost 10 years ago, on the now-defunct 790 The Score, and had the time of our lives. He’s a local guy (Newport born and bred), knows the local scene and the national picture as well as anyone, and it’s a shame he couldn’t elevate his role with the Pawsox. Not that he didn’t try…

• So, do the Red Sox have Mike Napoli, or don’t they? How messed up is this deal? The two sides reportedly are still talking, some 40 days after agreeing to a three year-$39 million contract...

• Mike, you had to know the Sox would ask you to take a physical, didn’t you? And that it would involve more than just peeing in a cup? Stupid is as stupid does

• Congrats to PC goaltender Jon Gillies, as he played a role in Team USA’s Gold Medal win at the recent world junior hockey championships…

• The NHL is back? Where did it go? Seriously, we won’t feel the backlash from the lockout around here as much as they will in say, Atlanta? Or Carolina. Bruins fans are the loyalist of loyal. But will other fans, beyond the Original Six cities, be as loyal?

• A former ESPN radio colleague, Bob Valvano, called it as it sees it this past week – that the self-professed “world-wide leader” could be pushing an agenda, when it comes to public perception of teams and games…or worse…coverage by the media of those same teams and big events. It’s a long rant, but well thought-out. Why can’t analysts who are wrong SAY they’re wrong? Because the bosses don’t want them to? It’s a legit question – and concern – for the broadcast industry…

• Trash talk is just a part of our sports world now. It happens on the field, on the court, on the ice and certainly on the radio airwaves. It gives the very fiber of our business an “edge.” What Kevin Garnett allegedly had to say to Carmelo Anthony this past week might have been crass…but Celtics fans know that KG will do anything – and stoop to any level – to win. KG is the kind of player you hate – unless he’s on your team…

• I don’t approve of talking trash, certainly, and have never encouraged a player to do it. My generation was brought up on the ideals of truth, justice and the American Way (yes, that’s a Superman reference). Truth is what level of talent you possess. Justice is being able to use that truth to shut the mouth of the trash-talker. And that IS the American Way…

Not for nuthin’…but I hear that while KG’s mouth sometimes gets him in a pickle, it’s no big deal to his teammates or the team itself. Rajon Rondo’s actions, on the other hand…are becoming tiresome. Don’t be surprised to hear Rondo mentioned in real trade talk as this year wears on…

• If I’m Danny Ainge, I might think about re-tooling the Celtics around Avery Bradley’s defensive abilities…

• Bradley’s skills just show you Rick Barnes (his college coach at Texas) can still recruit ‘em…

Rex Ryan lives, which I’m actually happy to hear. Jets owner Woody Johnson knows that while Sexy Rexy might be a little loose with his lips, canning him now sets his franchise back even further than the decision to bring in Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow as QB’s. But all isn’t well in the Family Ryan this week, as brother Rob is axed from the Jerry Jones circus as D-coordinator in Dallas. Could the brothers re-unite somehow? I’m positively giddy at the thought…

• Tweet of the Week, from ESPN.com baseball writer Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick): “Scott Boras on his players still being unsigned – ‘It really doesn't matter what time dinner is when you're the steak.’”

• Mark your calendars - the 37th annual Cranston Sports Collectors Show returns to the West Valley Inn on Saturday, Feb. 2nd. Sponsored by the St. Joseph Men’s Guild of the Immaculate Conception Church, the sports memorabilia show is the oldest of its kind in New England, with more than 1800 dealers and collectors participating…and fans attending. Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen will also once again be in attendance, buying your cards and other sports valuables…if, of course, they’re actually worth something. But let him tell you that, not your Uncle Charlie…

• And a “Night for Newtown” will be held at The Met in Pawtucket Thursday night, January 24th…featuring the music of the local group “The Closers.” All proceeds will go to the Newtown Memorial Fund

• I have been in cell-phone hell this week. I need an upgrade, then I need connectivity, then I sit and wait, then I chat with someone to try and fix the connectivity, then I physically drive to go get “live” help…where I’m told I need connectivity. Again. And then an upgrade. What did we do before we got these things? Did we ever communicate?

• My buddy “Big E” sez communicating with his girlfriend is never a problem. She asked him to be a little more affectionate, and he dutifully complied. He got a 2nd girlfriend…

• Our mailbag question/comment this week comes from Chris (@CBuckGoFriars) via Twitter – “Hi John! Any chance to ask Coach about Kris Dunn? Is his shoulder still an issue? Thanks.”  Chris:  While information on injuries is usually not readily shared (due to privacy rules and regulations on health issues), Kris himself has said this week that his shoulder "just isn't right."  He's had barely two weeks of actual full-contact practice, and his relative inexperience is showing on the floor right now.  This will be a process, physically and mentally, for Dunn and the team as he continues to work himself back into shape.  But they're behind him 100%.  He's a talented kid...

• 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 ...

• You’re up early anyway…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 37937…and send email to the show - [email protected] .

• Looking for your midweek football fix? Jump into the “Patriots Playbook” on Patriots.com Radio, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 2:00-4:00 pm ET. We’re live with commentary, interviews and your calls and questions on the Patriots and the NFL via social media. It’s a great way to break up the day at work! But if you can’t make it for the live webcast, never fear…the podcast will be near…

• Join me for a book signing on Thursday, January 17th…7:00 pm at Books on the Square, 471 Angell Street in Providence. The recently released “Rhode Island Radio,” from Arcadia Publishing will be available for sale, and the book tells the story of the 90-year history of radio in our state through photographs, clippings and memories from many of the personalities who have graced our airwaves. If you’re in search of the gift that says “Rhode Island,” you’ve found it. Or, find it in local bookstores and online right here…  

 

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