Friday, March 24, 2017

Here's What I"m Hoping for Tonight


Here's the schedule for tonight's NCAA men's basketball tournament and how I hope the games turn out:

6:09--Butler vs. North Carolina. I like any team called the Bulldogs and I don't have much time for an outfit whose nickname is the Tar Heels and is coached by Roy Williams. North Carolina has already won 5 national championships, and that's enough. Consequently, I'm on Butler's bandwagon, at least when it comes to this game.

6:29--South Carolina vs. Baylor. Just to prove I have nothing against a basketball team with Caroliha in its name, I hope South Carolina wins. I know I'm disappointing my friend, Baylor and coach Scott Drew fan Paul Delger. But Paul and I have known each other long enough that he is aware it's nothing personal and it's all in fun. I'm going with Frank Martin, the South Carolina coach who is the son of Cuban political exiles. Besides, ol' Frank is just a little bit goofy in my estimation.

8:39--UCLA vs Kentucky. Both schools have had more than enough NCAA basketball success. UCLA has won 11 national championships and Kentucky has won 8. The fact that I'm not particularly fond of either coach [Kentucky's John Calipari and UCLA's Steve Alford] also influences me. I hope both teams lose, and I've got a call into NCAA headquarters to see if such a bizarre thing can happen.

8:59--Wisconsin vs. Florida. I hope the Badgers win the national championship. To accomplish that, they can't lose to Florida or any other opponent that confronts them in this tournament. So don't
screw it up now, Wisconsin. I'm a Greg Gard fan. He's the Badgers' coach who waited a long, long time to finally get a head coaching job, and now is making the most of it.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Drake Gets Screwed Again


A 44-year-old guy with no hair [at least on his head] is the latest person to pull the wool over the eyes of people overseeing the athletic department at Drake University.
His name is Craig Smith, and he resorted to the oldest trick in the coaching manual to get a pay raise at the University of South Dakota.
Smith [or someone working for him] let it "leak" a few weeks ago that he might be quitting at South Dakota and taking charge of a hapless Drake men's basketball program.
I heard the rumor a while back while eating blueberry pie on free pie day at Village Inn.
I almost choked on a blueberry,
I didn't believe it any more than I believed Bobby Knight would come out of retirement and coach at Drake because he didn't want Maury John to be the only Bulldogs coach to take a team to the Final Four.
Smith, who is pictured, was no more going to take the Drake job than he was going to be a Supreme Court justice.
He wanted to let his bosses at South Dakota know that he might be looking for employment elsewhere so they'd pay him more than the $196,000 a year he was already making.
Smith got exactly what he wanted.
Now he's got a sweeter deal at South Dakota, and the naive people at Drake are still looking for a coach.
Drake has known for months that it would need a new coach. One guy quit after the first few games of the 2016-17 season. His supposedly temporary replacement lost his last 10 games.
Other universities are hiring new coaches a day or two after the old one either quit or was fired.
The whole deal about folks at Drake continually dragging their feet makes me sick.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Like I predicted, retired Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross came out swinging last night in his premier appearance on ABC-TV's "Dancing With the Stars."
Ross turned 40 years of age Sunday and was known as Grandpa when the Cubs won the 2016 World Series.
His dancing partner is professional Lindsay Wagner, and they scored 28 out of a possible 40 while doing a cha-cha version of the Cubs' theme song "Go Cubs Go!"
“That was one of my favorite dances of the night,” judge Carrie-Ann Inaba said.
I was doing something else and wasn't able to watch the show, but I've talked to some veteran "Dancing With the Stars" viewers and read enough stuff on the Internet to draw a few conclusions.
The fact that each of the four judges gave Ross and Wagner, dressed in Cubs uniform-type sequined outfits, an identical 7 score provided further proof to me that "Dancing With the Stars" and all of those other TV shows like it are scripted.
In other words, fixed.
And "fixed" is not a word you want to use around professional baseball.
Ask Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Chicago Black Sox about that.
I mean, how and why would all four judges give Grandpa and Wagner 7's?
I'm predicting Ross and Wagner will stay on the show only as long as ABC wants them to stay on it--regardless of how many votes they get from viewers.
When the network bosses feel and Grandpa and Wagner aren't doing the TV ratings any good, they'll be [in baseball terminology] released.
I also pretty much feel the network bosses already know who they want to win.
But what the heck, as long as Ross and Wagner keep looking good and keep bringing some game to the show, it's fun watching 'em.
People thought it was fun watching Ross's young daughter on the program, and hearing him say, “My goal is to show my kid it’s OK to try something you’re afraid of.”
Great stuff, Grandpa.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Quandary


I'm in a quandary.

I can't decide if I want Gregg Marshall or
Steve Alford to be Indiana's next basketball coach.
Oh, I know neither guy exactly needs another job.
Marshall is already being paid $3.3 million a year to coach at Wichita State.
Alford's salary at UCLA is $2.6 million a year.
But the names of both Marshall and Alford are significant among those being tossed around to be the successor to Tom Crean, who was fired at Indiana a day after his team lost a game in a postseason tournament no coach wants his team to be in--the NIT.
The reason I'd kind of like Marshall to land the Indiana job is because I think he and his wife Lynn [especially Lynn] need a change of scenery.
I think Lynn has outgrown Wichita, KS.. Or maybe Wichita has seen enough of Lynn.
Let me tell you about Lynn, who is pictured, courtesy of Google.
She had to be escorted out of her seat in the arena after her husband's Wichita State team lost to Kentucky 65-62 yesterday in a second-round NCAA tournament game at Indianapolis.
Two reporters sitting in front of Lynn thought she'd had a couple of adult beverages too many, and that may have been the reason she was throwing the "F" word around so many times during and after the game.
Security people talked with her several times during the game, but that didn't stop her from shouting at Kentucky coach John Calipari to "shut the "F" up, and saying some other things you don't expect to hear a coach's wife saying in public.
Final statistics on the game did not include Lynn Marshall's blood-alcohol level, but I think she is exactly what Indiana University and the city of Bloomington deserve.
If her husband were to get the Hoosiers job, she'd light up the campus and the city the way they haven't been lit up since Bobby Knight was ccaching Indiana.
Indiana basketball needs a kick in the butt, and Lynn Marshall is just the person who can handle it.
Now to Alford, who once had a coaching stint at Iowa [1999-2007], and didn't leave the job exactly on the best of terms. One of his players there was Pierre Pierce. Enough said.
I don't have enough time and space to write about that mess.
After Iowa grew tired of Alford, he took the coaching job at New Mexico. He's been at UCLA since 2013.
Hand it to the guy. He has one of the best teams in America this season at UCLA, and it's one that could win the national championship.
At least one of his freshmen, Lonzo Ball, will be playing in the NBA as early as next season.
Alford played on one of Knight's teams at Indiana that won an NCAA championship, and Hoosier fans certainly are fond of him.
Dan Dakich, the former Indiana player who now is a TV and radio guy and has an opinion on everything, thinks Alford should be Indiana's coach.
If Dakich thinks so, I guess it should happen.
Because Alford still has a team in the NCAA tournament, he thinks it's necessary to be coy when asked about the Indiana job.
“When I quickly trusted God and my faith, my journey has taken me to a place I had no idea that was going to be my journey and I’ve fallen in love with every spot,’’ he told reporters. “I’ve met great people, great institutions. …
“I love Los Angeles. You’re talking about arguably the greatest brand anywhere on the planet, and we got things going at a very high level now and we’re very excited about it. We’re excited about being in this tournament and seeing what we can do in this tournament.’’
“I can’t control what gets talked about....We’re very focused on what we’ve got to do.’’
I think Alford would fit right in at Indiana. People say you can't go home again, but he is something special and he could go home again. Just ask him.
I think it would be great having Stevie-boy bring his Indiana team into Iowa City for a game in the next year or so.
I'll bet the ticket people at Carver-Hawkeye Arena wouldn't have problems getting a full house

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Rave Reviews


I'm sending rave reviews to coach Jennie
Baranczyk and the players on her Drake women's basketball team.
The Bulldogs' season ended today with a 67-54 loss to Kansas State in the NCAA tournament at Manhattan, KS, but they have a lot to be proud as the book closes on a banner 2016-17 season.
Drake won the regular-season championship in the Missouri Valley Conference with an 18-0 record, then seized the league's tournament title, had a 22-game winning streak and wound up 28-5.
Those are some kind of numbers.
I mean fantastic numbers.
What these Bulldogs did was almost beyond belief.
It's hard telling when, or if, another Drake team does what this one accomplished.
Congratulations to everyone associated with the team for an incredible season.

Saturday, March 18, 2017



A bigtime heartbreaker, that's what I'm calling it.

And I'm sure you're not feeling all that great about it either.
Actually, I kind of hate to use a word like heartbreaker because I know there are plenty of people reading these essays who've had coronary bypass surgery or are outfitted with such lifesaving devices as pacemakers and defibrillators.

So I hope all of those folks who watched on TV as Iowa State wiped out a 19-point deficit only to lose to Purdue, 80-76, tonight in a second round NCAA basketball tournament game at Milwaukee made it through all 40 minutes without having to make a trip to the emergency room.
For the Cyclones, for guys like Monte Morris, Deonte Burton, Nazareth Jersey Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas, it was an absolutely agonizing way to lose a game and end the season with a 24-11 record.
They looked down for the count when they fell behind, 58-39, in the last half.
But there's tremendous fight in this team, and it was clearly evident when Iowa State took a 73-71 lead and appeared ready to keep marching down the NCAA trail to perhaps yet another game against Big 12 riival Kansas.
But it didn't happen.
Purdue has a player named Caleb Swanigan, who stands 6 feet 9 inches, weighs 245 pounds and is quite the battler himself, as well as a tremendous basketball player.
Swanigan scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had seven assists for a Boilermaker team that won the regular-season championship in the Big Ten.
Swanigan was named player of the year in the conference, which is quite a tribute to a man who weighed 380 pounds as an eighth-grader, but had the personal discipline to lose more than 100 pounds and turn himself into a likely National Basketball Association player.
While watching the game on the tube, I was texting with a number of people, three of whom were my sons.
It was interesting to read observations and opinions streaming into my iPhone 6S as the dramatic game progressed.
"I told Julie [his wife] at the 12-minute mark when the Clones were down 12 that they were going to win the game," texted my son Lonn.
Steve Prohm, Iowa State's coach, his players and Cyclone fans everywhere wished Lonn had been right.
At another point, one of the kids texted, "Swanigan is unconscious."
Unconscious meaning the guy was doing everything perfectly.
That he was at various stages of the game.
Just think, so-called collegiate basketball experts around the nation have been saying all season that the league's overall strength in 2016-2017 doesn't measure up to what it's been in past years.
Don't try telling that to teams such as Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, Northwestern and Michigan State.
Unfortunately for Iowa State's players and coaches, it will be Swanigan and the rest of the Boilermakers who will be playing in the Sweet Sixteen next week instead of them.

Thursday, March 16, 2017