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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, March 16, 2013

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering why all good things must come to an end...

• While the overall mood was a little somber, there weren’t too many people I spoke with who were lamenting the demise of the “old Big East.” Many of those folks – some from Catholic schools – said they were just ready to move on. Rumors continue to swirl about the “new Big East,” the commissioner and office staff…but there was one outlandish report that really got my goat…

• I consider Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel a friend, and he certainly has tremendous journalistic credentials in the industry. However, his piece this week on how the ACC should “bludgeon” the Catholic 7 was a shining example of what is WRONG with college sports today. What we need are administrators and coaches who actually put the needs of student-athletes (not to mention students and fans) first. What we don’t need are ideas from disgruntled alumni upset with their school ruining an annual March trip to New York…

• You can read his idea(s) for yourself, but I will say this…there’s a cheap shot or two in there that are totally uncalled for. Some perspective is needed here. One, the “new Big East” needs the chance to get off the ground and make a name for itself…just as it did in 1979. If the Big East doesn’t succeed then, Syracuse fans don’t have success either. Two, Thamel is a Syracuse grad…and I don’t know a single Syracuse grad that is happy with having to go to Greensboro, NC for future post-season conference tournaments. Right Scott Cordischi

• Loved the fact that Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin “went off” on the whole college realignment picture this week in New York. That’s fine. But if you really wanted to make an impact, coach…you should have named names. And schools. Call it as you see it, and stand up to it. Before your team gets squeezed out of the picture, as it apparently has been…

• Providence College President Father Brian Shanley said this week that the actual formation of the new league would be up to the respective athletic directors at the “Catholic 7” schools. Those meetings began Tuesday, and the top item on the agenda was expansion. Expect an announcement in the next seven to 10 days on three newcomers…

• A report in the New York Post has Dayton as a likely addition for this year, along with Butler and Xavier, rather than Creighton out of the Missouri Valley. Creighton and Saint Louis would still be targeted for inclusion in 2014-15.

• Here’s another name to consider as a candidate for commissioner – Tom McElroy. The former Big East Associate Commissioner and URI athletic director shared plenty of his thoughts on the new Big East early in the week, and how he could help the league thrive. He knows the territory, I’ll give him that. But I get the feeling, just from talking and listening to what was said, that the new Big East will stray from its Providence ties, at least at the start…

• If not Providence, where will the new Big East eventually call home? Consensus seems to share likes and dislikes equally for New York and Washington, DC…but the conference office will start in Providence, alongside the yet-to-be-officially-named “old Big East…”

• Best line I heard/saw all week? ESPN’s Andy Katz spent more time with President Bill Clinton (by interviewing him on TV) than Hillary did in four years…

Friar fans, I get your disdain for the NIT. It’s a secondary thing. It’s not the big dance. It’s not even the halftime show. But for this PC team, it’s perfect. Ed Cooley has said countless times (and said again this week) that his team isn’t ready for the big stage – yet. What better way to get them the experience they need, than a chance to return to the biggest stage outside of the Final Four – the Big Apple?

• The players feed off of the energy of the coaching staff, as well as the fans. If the staff thinks winning in the NIT is a big deal, so will the players. If the Friars get a home game and you don’t care about it, frankly, you’re showing your true colors. Just sayin’

Bryce Cotton had a tremendous season…it goes without saying (even if I said it, anyway). First-team all-Big East? But having to continually face bigger, stronger and more physical defenders has worn him down. Love to see, if they’re still playing, more double-screens set for him in an effort to get him more clean looks at the basket…

Kadeem Batts’ improvement was rightfully recognized by the coaches with his being named a co-winner of the league Most Improved Award, along with St. Andrews product Michael Carter-Williams at Syracuse. With all due respect to both players, Batts’ rise wasn’t necessarily predicted or expected. Carter-Williams is simply taking his place in a long Orange line of success stories…

Otto Porter, Georgetown’s super-forward and the Big East Player of the Year this season, is a pro. But I’ve heard he’s considering sticking around for another year, which could make the Hoyas a sure-fire national title contender next year. What do you think, Ricky Ledo?

• Would you really like to know what was said between the Patriots and Wes Welker’s agent this past week? Me too. But here’s a guess, from the Welker side – “No thanks. I’m still mad about the franchise tag last year.” To which the team said “Then don’t let the door hit you on the way out…”

• Should have just stuck with the gut instinct on this one. Remember Adam Vinatieri being upset when he was tagged a few years back? He couldn’t wait to get out and stick it to New England. Once the tag was applied to Welker last year…it was Vinatieri, all over again…

• There was a great piece on Grantland.com this week explaining the shrewd nature of the Welker-for-Amendola switch. The highlight? Danny Amendola has a far better resume at this stage of his career, than Welker had at a similar stage of his. And right now? He’s four years younger than Welker. Is he injury prone? Perhaps. Let’s get him in here and see what develops before you write this off as a bad deal…

• I’ll miss Wes, too. Fair or not, I won’t miss his sudden penchant for drops…

• Did Leon Washington’s arrival spell the end for a guy like Danny Woodhead? Might have. Woodhead signed a new deal with San Diego…

• Did you see or hear about the prank pulled on two NFL general managers? The Bills’ and Bucs’ GM’s were recorded (yes, it’s illegal) talking shop & NFL free agency rules… 

• Guess the conversation didn’t change Buffalo’s thoughts about QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Or did it? They cut him anyway…

Tweet of the Week – from @CanesHoops: “President (Donna) Shalala is watching film with the Canes, prior to tomorrow's #ACCTourney matchup with Boston College.” Why do I get a sleazy, unclean feel when I read that?

I need this – and where can I get one…or several? 

Villanova beat three teams ranked in the nation’s Top 5 this season, which is quite the feat. They also committed 18 FIRST HALF turnovers Thursday night against Louisville. Now I ask you, on the surface – is that really an NCAA tournament team?

• The World Baseball whaaaat?

• Just like a true World Series, the only way that anything involving “the world” works is if you have all of the teams playing, and all of the good players playing on all of those teams. Which is pretty much impossible. Just ask the Olympic Games

• So let’s just invoke the “youth soccer” rule (give everyone a trophy), shake hands and get back to real baseball…

• I will say this, however. When Canada and Mexico mixed it up a week ago and Larry Walker said this about Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves – “I had ahold of him and I think I saw Satan in his eyes" – I think I’m going to make it a point to pay closer attention when Aceves gets into a jam this season…

• Already I’m concerned about Stephen Drew. I know concussions are no laughing matter…but why is it the Drew Boys and Boston just don’t seem to mix?

• The NFL might abandon the “tuck rule?” That comes only 11 years, one month and 25 days too late for the Oakland Raiders…but who’s counting?

Donald Jones? A nice player…had a good game for the Bills against the Patriots…but he doesn’t quite have the sizzle you’re expecting now, does he? That’s the Patriot way…

David Ortiz has bad heels. Franklin Morales has a bulging disc. And so it begins…

• Had one of those David Letterman “brushes with greatness” while walking in Manhattan this week – ran right into Jerry Orbach, an actor who starred in the TV series “Law & Order” as Lenny Briscoe. I actually said “oh, excuse me detective.” Then realized what the heck I had just done…stupid is as stupid does

• My buddy “Big E” sez he bumped into an ex last week, and it wasn’t exactly great either…at the drug store buying Gas X and bunion pads. He was like “Hey you, how are you? These are for my grandmother.” She caught him though, when she said “I thought your grandmother had passed?” His only response? “Well, she’s back, and she needs this stuff…”

• I could see Dwight Freeney as a Patriot next season. Not sure I really want to see Kyle Arrington, but he’ll be back anyway, after apparently agreeing to a new 4-year deal. How great would that be to have Freeney (Peyton Manning’s former teammate in Indy) chasing down Manning in Foxboro next year? Turn about fair play, since Wes Welker will be catching passes from Manning…

• Did the Big East as we know it come to an end this week? The general consensus among those covering the tournament at Madison Square Garden was that while it’s disappointing, sure…the Big East will most assuredly live on. The pressure to succeed right away will be evident, however…since the new league will be compared to the other power conferences – most notably the ACC – in terms of post-season worthy teams. What’s fair is to let the league grow and mature a bit…before criticizing. Remember, it took the old Big East from 1979 to 1983 before a guy named Patrick Ewing helped the league become a mainstay on Broadway…

• Our mailbag question/comment this week comes from Paul in East Greenwich, RI via Facebook, on the news that RI Radio Hall of Famer Chuck Wilson is out after 17 years at ESPN Radio: “Chuck caused me more than a few letter grades when I was a kid. My mom would make me go to my room to study for two hours a night. I would lay on the floor and listen to Chuck Wilson on Sports on my radio under the bed so she couldn't hear. I always knew the trivia answers but was too afraid to call in.” Paul: Chuck is a dear friend, and has taught me much about the business…from interviewing techniques to preparation habits to handling callers on talk shows…and probably more. ESPN Radio said they were moving in a new direction, as a reason behind the move to not renew his contract. I’m not too comfortable with any direction ESPN is traveling, after hearing this news. What we need is more intelligent talk, and a little less bluster. There’s a place for energy and emotion, of course. But Chuck also brought “class” into the equation…

• 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 37937…and send email to the show - golocal@weei.com .

• The recently released “Rhode Island Radio” from Arcadia Publishing is 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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