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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, March 30, 2013

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering just who this “World Wide Wes” is making the rounds at basketball games everywhere…

Friar fans have a rightful anticipation toward next season. With everything that is in place, and considering everyone who should return, the ingredients are there for a special year. However…there is also such a thing as over-inflated expectations, and having those wouldn’t really be fair to the players or coaches. It’s like they’d be paying for the “sins of the past.” It’s ok to be excited, but to have expectations completely out of whack? Relax

Ricky Ledo is still a freshman. A talented freshman, but a freshman. Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris won’t have played competitively in more than a year. Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock will be freshmen. That’s an awful lot of raw ability to have to count on. Fortunately for the Friars, they don’t have to. The new Big East will still eat its’ young…

• I got the real sense there wasn’t much disappointment over the loss at Baylor this week. Not that players and coaches weren’t upset over losing – but that because of what lies ahead, most everyone will be ready to get back to work in short order. And kudos to Vincent Council for coming up with maybe his best overall game of the year, in the final game of his PC career. Council finishes #1 in assists and in the Top 15 in scoring in the Friar record book…

• Speaking of Baylor…that team underachieved, without question. Tremendously talented – probably the best offensive team Providence faced this year – maybe the Bears are putting it together for this post-season run into NYC? Cory Jefferson is a pro, and Pierre Jackson – who is listed at 5-10 but doesn’t look that tall – turns on his motor at will. Maybe that’s the trouble with a 21-14 team…the motors aren’t all turned on together…

• I had not had the chance to return to Waco, TX to cover a Baylor basketball game since I left the NBC station in the city 31 years ago. Honestly, not much has changed. Oh, the campus has certainly grown, and there are new businesses around…but the people are ultra-friendly as always. The chicken fried steak is as good as I remembered it. And there’s a swagger that comes with winning that most Wacoans seem to be carrying now…

• Think about this. In the 2011-12 academic year, Baylor’s 19 athletic teams – men and women – all reached post-season play. Every one of them. That's extraordinary. Men’s basketball reached the Elite 8, the women went 40-0 and won a national title…and RG III (referred to as “Robert” by the Waco faithful) won a Heisman Trophy…

• Say what you want about CBS’ Doug Gottlieb. He’s brash, irritating and certainly comes off as a know-it-all. I worked with him at ESPN Radio for several years, did a couple of TV games with him on ESPNU as well…and while he was never harsh off the air, his demeanor on the air could get tiresome. That’s the biz, and that’s what his bosses want. Yet – he’s polarizing. Some hate him. Others must love him. Why else would he be where he is?

Courtesy: CBS

• Did you hear Gottlieb say last week, in the middle of Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley on the set that, in essence, he was there to “give the white man’s perspective?” Twitter blew up. Barkley came to the rescue. “I want to say something about Doug Gottlieb,” Barkley said. “He made a joke earlier tonight and people are going crazy, all those idiots on Twitter, which I would never, ever do. Listen — me, Kenny, Greg Anthony and Greg Gumbel did not take that personally, so all you people at home who got no life who are talking bad about Doug Gottlieb, get a life. It’s over with and it’s no big deal.”

• If you thought that Gottlieb’s gaffe was a good one, try these on for size. It seems Billy Packer is prominently placed within…

• Sign of success: A battle over trademarking the phrase “Dunk City” in Fort Myers, FL…between a music producer and Florida Gulf Coast University. The producer went to court for the trademark the day after FGCU became the first 15-seed to advance to the Sweet 16. Uh huh

Here’s a story you might not have seen about Marquette’s Chris Otule…and it’s a pretty good one. Otule has had trouble seeing things, too…

• How far the mighty have fallen…UCLA, the once-iconic basketball program under the late, great John Wooden, can’t find anyone to coach them. Butler’s Brad Stevens is the latest in a series of high-profile names to say “no,” which tells me this is no longer such a great job, is it? Expectations outweigh reality?

• The first win for the new Big East might have come from Stevens turning down the Bruins’ job. Just sayin’

• Didn’t the media basically kill off the Big East at the Garden party a couple of weeks ago? And didn’t national “experts” point out a 3-5 start for the league in the NCAA tournament? Yes and yes. Do you think any mea culpa’s will come from these same smart guys now that the Big East is responsible for three of the final eight remaining teams in the tourney? No and **** no…

• By the way…Marquette, Big East co-champ > Miami, ACC regular season and tournament champ…

• Reportedly, Tyrann Mathieu (aka the Honey Badger) from LSU…kicked off of his college team for violating team rules…will visit with the Patriots and San Francisco 49ers in advance of the NFL Draft at the end of April. Mathieu is only 5-9, and is viewed as a slot corner…where the Pats just re-signed Kyle Arrington…but the former Heisman finalist is viewed as an extremely versatile player and likely to slip into rounds 2, 3 or 4. These are the kinds of players Bill Belichick loves…

Michael Jenkins? Didn’t really see that one coming. Jenkins may be, literally, on his last legs as a player…coming from Minnesota after spending his best years in Atlanta as a wide receiver. You might need a sun dial to time his 40…

• Don’t look now…but the “rexodus” from New York now counts six starters leaving the Jets from last year…offensive lineman Matt Slauson signed with the Chicago Bears this week. Keep those quips coming, Coach…

• A couple of story lines for Red Sox fans to follow this season…one, the pitching rotation. Can it get any worse than what we saw last year? ERA-wise, it was the worst in franchise history. Some great questions remain – about Jon Lester, can John Lackey pitch and behave (not necessarily in that order) and is Clay Buchholz’ strong spring an aberration or his real persona? As always, depth will be a factor, probably sooner rather than later in the summer…

• And another story line that I’ll be watching…the continued transformation of the team from the World Series-era roster and mindset to younger players. Let’s face it – the Sox have needed to turn the page on the 2000’s for a couple of years now, and probably should have taken a “bridge year” to do it. But because the payroll is high, the demands are higher, and Fenway has had more facelifts than Joan Rivers…there’s been a real reluctance to move on. If Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Allen Webster make their appearances – and stick around – you’ll know the mindset is actually changing…

• The Superman building is going dark? Bank of America is moving out its’ last employees as the lease on 111 Westminster Street has run out, and now the city and state are pondering historic tax credits in order to convert Rhode Island’s iconic landmark into downtown apartments. Can’t blow it up…can’t rent out more office space for fear of bloating the landscape…can’t risk another Curt Schilling-38 Studios fiasco…don’t know if Superman himself could leap over this problem in a single bound…

Tweet of the Week – from @darrenrovell, ESPN business reporter – “Justin Verlander will earn an avg of $140,515 per in-season day over the next 7 years. Avg Michigan resident earns $37,497 a year.” Whoa

Tweet of the Week II – from @ESPNStatsInfo – “From 2009-12, Verlander threw 170 pitches at least 100 MPH (including playoffs), more than all other starting pitchers in that span combined” Whoa, again

• There’s a couple of different takes out there on reports that a current NFL player is considering “coming out” of the closet to announce he’s gay. Patriots’ TE Rob Gronkowski has been asked that question and says it wouldn’t matter to him. Cleveland LB Scott Fujita says the NFL is ready for an openly gay player. And then there is Seattle’s Chris Clemons, who says he has no problem with a gay player, but that his announcement would be a “selfish act,” putting him above the team. I hear you, Chris…but really, isn’t intolerance also a bit selfish? Stupid is as stupid does

Turner Sports released news this week that NCAA basketball tournament viewership is up eight percent over last year, giving the annual event its highest rating in 15 years. I know the NCAA Ice Hockey Regionals are at the Dunk, and it’s a great event…but could someone please put a bid in on the hoops tournament again? Please?

Quick. Name the four schools in the NCAA hockey tournament at the Dunk. Yup, gotcha

• Not sure I really understand the uproar over Jarome Iginla’s deciding on Pittsburgh over Boston. It’s his decision. He said he wanted to play with Sidney Crosby, and really, who can blame him? Just because the Bruins wanted him, doesn’t mean he wanted the Bruins. I guess New England fans just take it as a personal affront when someone jilts them at the altar…

Not for nuthin’…but the new deal that Dallas Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo signed this week, making him the highest paid player in franchise history ($108 million extension for six years, getting more guaranteed money than Joe Flacco) is just no big deal. First, it’s what the market will bear. Second, it’s because Romo is secretly Jerry Jones’ love child, and the father is simply taking care of his son like any good parent should…

• Here’s one for you…if Romo is worth $108 million, and Flacco is worth $120 million, what is Tom Brady’s true worth? Eleventy bazillion?

• Although in truth, Brady’s guaranteed money is still right there with what Romo, Flacco and Drew Brees will earn. And perhaps deservedly so…

Jim Calhoun is back. At UConn. No, this is not an April Fools’ joke. Less than a year after retiring from coaching basketball, Calhoun has a new personal services deal in place with the University that will pay him $2 million over the next five years. Also no joke – Calhoun, who has made donations to the school in the past – is expected to make another donation that could equal or surpass what the school pays him, according to sources…

• Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is banning himself from Twitter, because he says he thought the “attention would die off” and he wants some privacy. On the other end, Baylor basketball star Brittney Griner tweeted during halftime this past week, as her Bears were romping over another overmatched foe. Has social media gone overboard? When will anyone in the spotlight learn that maybe, just maybe, Twitter is not their friend?

• My buddy Statbeast sez he takes everything, like social media, in moderation. Including moderation…

• But was it a clean hit? Maybe too much March Madness for this hockey announcer. A warning - turn down your computer sound…

William “Wes” Wesley, aka World Wide Wes, was recently hired by the Creative Artists Agency as a consultant to their basketball-related clients. Wesley has been considered a power-broker in the game, due to his relationships with notable players and coaches alike. It was ESPN’s Jalen Rose who apparently coined the nickname “World Wide” for Wesley. Apparently, however, the NCAA is not impressed. They distributed photos of Wesley at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to security, to keep him from gaining access to media and team areas without proper credentials. So much for being called the “most powerful man in sports” by GQ Magazine

• Our mailbag question/comment this week comes from Tim in Rhode Island via email, in response to a question I asked last week about an NFL Red Zone-style channel for the NCAA Tournament: “John, why couldn’t Cox Cable take their cable channel 988 (aka Sports Zone) that has the 6 split screens and broadcast all the NCAAs hoops games over this weekend instead of setting up 4 TV sets in your home or DVRing a few games on a TV set to watch later. Or one could sit at a sports bar all day Thursday, Fri, Sat, Sun but that may be too tempting.” Tim: Forward thinking has never been the strong suit of our public utilities, including the cable company. Frankly, what you’re saying makes too much sense. Why would cable want to make things easier on the customer, while raising your rates?

• 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 .

• Congratulations to the Class of 2013 for the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame, announced this week. Good friend John “Coach” Colletto is a new inductee, having plied his trade over the past 30 years on the Salty Brine Show, as a Providence Bruins analyst and as a show host on the former WSKO “790 The Score.” Also in the class is former Providence mayor and current WPRO afternoon host Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci, and former WHJY DJ Mike "Dr. Metal" Gonsalves, who passed away in the Station Night Club fire. The induction ceremony and dinner are open to the public, and will be held May 9th at Twin River. For more information on the Hall of Fame and to purchase tickets, visit the Hall website at www.rirhof.org. Proceeds from the event will benefit Special Olympics Rhode Island.

• Speaking of radio...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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