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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, February 01, 2014

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering just where in the world IS Waldo, anyway?

• Is the new Big East a “better” Big East? From a PC-perspective, it certainly appears to be. And from an aesthetic point of view, it probably is as well. Games scored in the 80’s and even 90’s thus far are a bit unusual when comparing offensive games to the “rock fights” of old. There will still be some of those knock-down-drag-out affairs on occasion (like Thursday night in Milwaukee), but the new rules in college basketball this season limiting contact have allegedly allowed teams with the ability to create and shoot to flourish…

• The old Big East was a poster-child for the college game as a whole – average points per game were down last season to 67.5 in Division I, which was the lowest total since 1951-52. With a physical, demanding style predicated on defense, conference games were officiated based on the style of play within the league. Now that the rules have changed and are being enforced differently – on occasion – scoring in Division I is up almost five points per game. Not coincidentally, scoring is also up in the Big East, from 64.2 per game a year ago to 73 points per game this year…

• Last year, only one team managed to average more than 70 points per game in league play – Louisville. And they went on to win the national title, thanks to the unique mix of strength and talent on their roster. This year, four of the top five defensive teams from a year ago are gone, and six teams (including Providence) are scoring 70+. There may not be a national title contender in the remaining bunch, but the newcomers to the league have added to the offensive-mindset with their ability to shoot the ball. Teams will probably still win with defense first. But at least for this season, an offensive awakening has occurred…

• Except for what happened Thursday night at the Bradley Center. The video of PC-MU should be sent to Big East Supervisor of Officials John Cahill, because the three officials on the floor – Roger Ayers, Doug Shows and Joe Lindsay – had little clue as to what a foul is supposed to be. While Marquette deserves great credit for their effort, they shouldn't have been allowed to MAKE more free throws than the Friars ATTEMPTED. Yes, the Golden Eagles’ were the aggressor, they initiated most (if not all) of the contact, and they ended up at the line more often. The Friars didn't answer the bell.  The problem, however, was the same physicality wasn't called at the other end. Terrible inconsistency…and the game showed we still have a way to go before we get a “better” Big East, or a better game overall…

• If you’re wondering what the coaches and players think…for the most part they like what they see of the game’s evolution thus far. Interesting to note, however, that most of the players on the three newbies (Creighton, Xavier and Butler) feel that conference games are much more physical than they’ve been used to, while returning league players feel differently. All expect games to become much more physical – and intense – as we near tournament time. Looking forward to that…as long as the officials understand what a real “foul” is supposed to be…

• I am certain to be called a “homer” for this, but hear me out – Bryce Cotton deserves a piece of the Big East “Player of the Year” honor every bit as much as Creighton’s Doug McDermott does. Yes, McDermott scores more points. But Cotton leads the league in assists, and is #2 in scoring. McDermott can create his shot anywhere on the floor. Have you seen Cotton’s penetration to the basket and high-arcing layups fall into the hoop when he drives to the tin? And when he goes low, he gets fouled and goes to the line. How is that NOT creative? Both hit big shots. Both shoot free throws with fantastic accuracy. Neither one is a particularly dominant rebounder. Both can defend decently when called upon to do so. One has had coaching and tutoring from his Dad, while the other has had to learn how to be a point guard because there’s no one left to play that position. With all due respect to the other players, take one away from his team and what’s left? You’d be cutting the heart out of the chest of a contender…

Bryce Cotton

• If there was ever a year for the "Player of the Year" honor to be shared, this is it. But I doubt it will happen. McDermott is the de-facto national POY as well, and that looks to be deserved, so the league coaches will definitely sweep him in…not wanting to look like fools. McDermott is 6-8; Cotton might be 6-1. Instead of being an impressive stat, that’s a handicap. Cotton is a sure-fire POY candidate in any other situation. And he should be this year as well…

• Growing pains…Xavier’s freshman forward Jalen Reynolds had a pretty solid game last week against the Friars, but he won’t be playing that way again anytime soon. Head coach Chris Mack suspended him indefinitely for not fulfilling “responsibilities greater than basketball.” Reynolds was an academic non-qualifier last year…

• Wait a minute…the ACC blue-bloods in the south are upset because Duke and Carolina aren’t ruling the roost any longer? Morons. What the heck did you think you were getting when you helped break up the best college basketball conference EVER by prying Syracuse and Pitt away from the Big East? Duke’s beating Pitt this week puts a temporary reprieve on something that has NEVER happened in the 60-year history of the ACC…Duke or UNC not finishing in the top 3. With the win, Duke is now tied for 3rd, behind Syracuse and Virginia. There’s still time, basketball fans, for justice to prevail…

• Oh, and don’t look now, but that’s a red rush from Louisville coming hard at you in time for next season. Make those post-season plans now, you might not have the chance later…

• The ACC has already seen a change, as Miami upset the apple cart last year by winning its’ first basketball title. Through 51 of the 60 seasons, Duke, UNC, NC State or Wake Forest have won the regular season championship, and Syracuse is poised to make it two straight years that Tobacco Road is relegated to also-ran status. How’s that working for you, Coach K?

• Congrats to St. Andrew’s basketball coach Mike Hart, who won his 400th career game at the Barrington, RI school this past week. Operating in the prep school ranks, the Saints’ program doesn’t often receive the attention that RI public and private schools in the RIIL receive, but hoop fans know the place. From Tony Robertson (UConn) to Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse and now, the NBA) to Bonzie Colson (headed to Notre Dame next year) over the past couple of decades…college coaches know it, too…

• While we don’t yet know how the NCAA will allow (or not allow) the Power Five conferences to self-legislate, this bears watching…Northwestern Wildcat football players have filed paperwork to be represented by a union. So…this means they are also requesting to be considered “employees.” This could affect all college athletes, not just football players. Revenue generation > athletes’ compensation? We may soon learn the answer to this question…

Tweet of the Week I – from @InsidetheNCAA: “Union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education.” Um, really? What is it then when “college,” under the veil of “education,” uses student-athletes for overall gains that don’t get returned at the same rate to those same athletes? Maybe “college” taught them too well. Stupid is as stupid does

Tweet of the Week II – from @CasualHoya: “Which had more cocaine in it: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ or Nova’s locker room in ’85?” 

• Getting itchy for baseball spring training yet? If you need a little pick-me-up while waiting for pitchers and catchers to report…and the weather to thaw just a little…MLB.com released its list of top 100 prospects last week. You’ll be pleased to know, Sox fans, that Boston has nine players on the list – more than any other team. Xander Bogaerts is #2 overall, behind Minnesota’s Byron Buxton

• I am happy to see Jerry Remy return to his job on Red Sox NESN broadcasts this season. Certainly, he will have to endure a fair amount of criticism for a return to the public eye, in light of the impending murder charge against his son Jared in the death of girlfriend Jennifer Martel, but to be truly understanding of what he might be going through…you need to walk a mile in his shoes. Could he be seen as insensitive to her death by “having fun doing baseball games?” Maybe. But the man has a right to make a living. Jerry Remy didn’t do anything wrong – his son did…

• It will probably be awkward at first – for Remy, for his partner Don Orsillo, for a lot of people…including the Martel family. That’s part of the reason he has begun surfacing in the public, most recently bringing his grandson to a PC game at the Dunk. Most of Red Sox Nation seems glad to have him back so far. I hope that continues…there’s a lot of healing that needs to happen, and for his sake, I hope the public allows him the chance to heal, to feel normal again. Even if that might be Mission Impossible. If you were in his shoes, wouldn’t you want that?

• Let the posturing begin. David Ortiz said last week in a TV interview on Boston’s WBZ that he wanted to retire as a Red Sox player, but that if a contract extension wasn’t going to happen, “it’s time to move on.” This is more than just tiring…it’s already old. So is Papi, he’s 38. But for whatever reason, he continues to produce. All he did last year was win the World Series MVP. So Red Sox, time to step up and add a year. Or two. Or, pull a “Patriot Way” and move on. Either way, let’s stop the madness…

(yahoo.com)

• Not sure this will be received with much fanfare in the Major Leagues…but it may be in the Youth Leagues. A protective cap has been developed and approved by MLB that may offer some protection to pitchers in guarding against serious injury from line drives. The new caps will afford some protection for the front and side of a pitchers’ head, while weighing approximately seven ounces more than an ordinary game cap. They’ll be made available for use in spring training, and will be optional…but I doubt many – if any – will wear them, unless they’ve been struck before. If the expense is kept down, I would expect youth baseball organizations to be very interested…

Clay Pell’s announcement this week that he’s running for RI Governor means just one thing to me – his wife, Michelle Kwan, could become RI’s First Lady. Having the former Olympic figure skater as one of the state’s most prominent people can only improve things, in the looks and class department. But can she create jobs, and/or lower the chokehold that taxes have on us all? Now THAT would be something…

Tweet of the Week III – from ESPN’s business reporter Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell): “Last Sunday, the median price paid for a Super Bowl ticket on @StubHub was $3,335. Median today down to $2,495.” And dropping. Who wants to be in the cold, when the big screen at home (or someone else’s home) beckons?

Richard Sherman may be articulate, intelligent and a sometimes-jerk…but whatever. Marshawn Lynch, however, is a bigger donkey than Sherman. Terrific running back, he certainly could be a difference-maker for Seattle Sunday. But the fact that he avoids the media only tells me he’s simply not interested in doing his job…and speaking to the media is part of his job, whether he wants to realize that or not. He was on his Media Day podium less than seven minutes this past week…which means he could care less about you, me and everyone else. Boss, you don’t have your gig if we didn’t care…

(elitedaily.com)

• Lynch was interviewed by NFL Network’s Deion Sanders after he tried to “hide out” at Media Day held in the Prudential Center…and when he started talking, uttered a profanity on live TV. Guess he didn’t realize what Deion was there for? “BeastMode” could only spell “class” if you spot him the “C” and the “L.” But I certainly give Sanders credit for working him during the interview. The rest of the NFLN crew made excuses for his behavior. Look, if Lynch has trouble with media, someone on the Seahawks’ staff needs to get with this guy and help him out. “I’m just not about that action, boss,” was his exact quote to Sanders. Here’s a prediction…if he plays well, and especially if the Seahawks win…he’ll figure out a way to talk, so long as it suits his purposes…

Not for nuthin’…but noted Patriot-hater Marshall Faulk also said on NFL Network that players shouldn’t be required to talk to the media. Yeah Marshall, that would work real well. No more quotes. Which would mean no more publicity. Which would mean less interest. Which would mean lower ratings. Which would mean less in your paycheck, boss. As the ever-wise Bugs Bunny once said, “what a maroon…”

Pete Carroll is the most popular coach in the NFL? ESPN.com asked the question “which head coach would you most like to play for?” Carroll out-polled Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Denver’s John Fox and even the Jets’ Rex Ryan – who all out-polled Bill Belichick. Why can’t we get coaches like that?

• But we do have quarterbacks like that…another ESPN NFL poll asked what QB players wanted on their side with two minutes to play and the Super Bowl on the line. Your hero, TB12, finished numero uno…

Warren Sapp (tvguide.com)

• Pro football HOF’er Warrren Sapp opened fire on former Giants’ DE Michael Strahan this week, letting everyone within earshot of NY know “ya’ll have got to get off your high horse in New York and speak about the real.” He told NFL Network “when you measure him (Strahan) up, he comes up short,” and that his current TV personality and good-guy image gains him more favor than his football career did. Maybe, maybe not. But now that he’s in the HOF himself, the mold has been broken and no one else can get in. Is that about it, Warren? Or maybe you’re tired of kissing butt now that you’re in yourself, and it’s time to be an a** again like you were as a player…

Bonus Tweet of the Week – from NFL writer Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre): “don't know how NFL can fine player like Lynch for saying little when they let "media" in who ask questions about farts…”

• Itching to see some of those Super Bowl ads (clever or not) a bit early, so you can sneak away to the fridge more often? GoLocalProv gave you a peek at some of the new offerings earlier this week. Here they are

• My buddy Statbeast sez his dear wife, Mrs. Statbeast, always gets angry when he goes to the fridge. Why? Because Statbeast explains “the powers above” automatically turn the lights on and off for him whenever he gets up to go…and Mrs. Statbeast yells “Wait a minute! How many times do I have to tell you to NOT pee in the fridge!”

• An update…remember last spring, when one-time Celtics’ forward Jason Collins revealed he was gay? He still does not have a job, as a player or otherwise, in the NBA…

• Oh Missouri. Your foul smell is wafting all the way up here to the Northeast. Not that other schools aren’t down there in the tar pits with you…they may be. But you? What separates your actions (or non-actions, in this case) in the death of swimmer Sasha Menu Courey from, say, Penn State’s in the entire Jerry Sandusky ordeal? Apparently, you turned the other cheek…just like Penn State did. And in your case, someone died. ESPN’s Outside the Lines investigated the story, and it seems the school is backpedaling its’ way into an almost certain lawsuit…

• With all of these so-called PR agencies who allegedly specialize in “crisis communications,” why does it seem when crisis occurs, no one knows how to climb out of a hole? I have yet to see an example of a crisis being handled “properly” by a school, or individual, in a controversial situation. And there have been several examples in recent months. Why? Because the term “crisis communications” is a sham, a fraud. Our system of personal rights and laws gets in the way of the truth, and no one assumes responsibility. The buck always gets passed along…

• Anyone catch the Twitter war recently between WEEI’s John Dennis, and 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Jon Wallach and Fred Toettcher? Whoa. Actually, it was Dennis doing most of the childish ranting, threatening violence on Wallach, of all people…who I worked with in the ‘90’s on Brown football broadcasts. Dennis is 61 years old, and perhaps he’s simply trying to remain relevant in a world that continues to skew younger? Dunno…but the verbal bombs tossed back and forth between him and Toettcher (of the Toucher & Rich morning show) were eye-openers. Maybe he knows what he’s doing. And maybe not, if the ratings don’t improve…

• Anyone else have an uneasy feeling about security for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia? 50 thousand police and soldiers will be on hand, which is a monumental shame in its own way…and just one of the reasons why plenty of tickets still remain for most events…

(athlonsports.com)

Found Waldo. He was in New Jersey this week for Super Bowl media day. And in case you missed the annual cast of characters that all try to grab a share of the global spotlight…here you go. I’ve never been much into the circus of SB media day, but sometimes, it will make you laugh. Or other stuff…

• From the mailbag this week – Edward from Johnston, RI via Facebook, on last week’s column: “Again a nice column, but major grand slam tennis still a non-event unfortunately. I cannot wait for The French Open. Go Friars.” Edward: Thanks. But you know as well as I do that major pro tennis is WAY down the charts around here, especially at this time of year. And when the first major is on the other side of the planet, in the heat…very few (except you) can relate. Them’s the facts. I give you credit for keeping it alive, however…and you have me paying attention!

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

 

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Comments:

Marty C

JR Great point on Collins - all the hoopla and the guy was king for a week but when it came time to put him in a uniform every NBA team passed.... hmmmmm.


PC/MU - I watched on TV so you were miles closer in many ways but the officiating didn't look too bad nor did the FS1 commentators note any objections. Understood they are neutral (as technically you are) but what I saw was PC a step slow on the night - may that be reversed today in Chi town.

Falk - media - Agree that its not to much to require that in the postseason you have to talk. You don't have to actually say anything but suffer the 20 minutes for the good of the league.

Remy - the decision to let him work is NESN's (and therefor the Red Sox) to make - certainly McDonnough and Marv have come back after lesser incidents that more directly affected them - but I am boycotting the whole Rem-Dog empire during a time when my money going into Jerry's pockets helps defend an accused murderer.

As to the Jerry did no wrong angle - wait til the defense puts on their show that Jared was a neglected kid whose parents enabled him leading to this tragedy. Jerry is not on trial but his name is going to get dragged thru the mud big time and some ugly truths are going to come out about the patterns in that HH.

John Rooke

Marty - you make some valid points. But Jerry didn't commit the crime. Say what you want about his ability to parent...but still, a parent can go only so far. At some point, an adult must take responsibility for his/her actions...regardless of what transpired in his/her past. You can lead the horse to water...

Jerry didn't commit the crime, his son did. No matter what you think of him personally, he has a right to continue working if he so chooses. Personally, I think it will be very hard to be as jovial with Don as he has been in the past, and I'm certain there will be those who think his return is inappropriate. Let's see how it goes. And one more.

Judge not, lest ye be judged. Not preaching...just a fact.




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