Throwdown Thursday: Those Darn Playoffs

b-ballI’ve always had a theory about basketball players.

Essentially it boils down to this. Winners win.

To elucidate a bit further, I’ve always loved when my Louisville Cardinals recruit a kid who has played for a state champion. I’ll settle for slightly less talent, and slightly more know how to close the deal when it matters.

Okay, I admit, it didn’t really work out so well with Elisha Justice. But that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

Which I thought of last night, when Al Horford made the play that’s going to be the pivotal one, when Atlanta finally finishes off the Wizards and advances to the Eastern Conference finals.

That German PG of the Hawks, you know, the one with that slight streak of blonde hair, stormed to the bucket on Atl’s last possession, but his layup rolled off the rim. At which juncture, Horford made a winners win play, leaping over and through the phalanx of other potential rebounders, fellows from both squads, securing the rock, then dropping it through the twine for the deciding deuce. Continue reading

Hump Day Hoops Report: Will Coach Cal Ink New Contract?

b-ballI had some funky dreams again last night. Got to stop that late night snacking.

But, hey, they’re nothing like the recent nightmares of UK AD Mitch Barnhart. Who, I must suppose, is waking up periodically in a cold sweat.

Dreading this scenario:

John Calipari is in his office, pen in hand, getting ready to sign that new contract for $8 mill/ season until death do us part, plus membership at Valhalla, Augusta National and Tiger’s new course in Dubai, a Rolls, a Bentley, Donald Trump’s slightly used private jet and mineral rights in his choice of 20 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

Cal’s smiling. Mitch’s smiling.

Then, before ink hits paper, Cal’s phone rings.

Mitch hears this: “John, Tom Benson here. You know, we just fired Monty Williams. I was talking with Anthony — he’s our future — and he sure would love for you to come down to New Orleans and coach the Pelicans. I’m ready to make a deal you can’t refuse.” Continue reading

Sports Showdown Saturday: A Damon Runyon Day

reporterSo it’s early Saturday morning, and I’m jogging through Seneca Park and part of Saint Matthews, as I regularly do, given my normal routine that day of the week.

It’s Derby Day. So there are fewer exercisers, doing the loop, and more groups of folks, standing about in their finery, getting ready to be part of the throng at the track.

While I’m huffing and puffing my way down Nanz, out of the corner of my eye, I see a couple of twentysomething fellows on a porch. One of them calls out to me.

“Excuse me, sir. Do you know how to tie a bow tie?”

Never having been a bow tie kind of guy, I can’t help him.

* * * * *

True vignette. The closest I came really to being part of those assembled at Churchill Downs.

Shared in the present tense to honor Damon Runyon, chronicler of the American scene in the mid 20th century. Continue reading

Sunday’s Sports Musings: Lots of U of L & More

reporterHoops that matters is back in the form of NBA playoffs.

It’s a good thing.

It’s also early, since the opening slate of first round games isn’t even complete as I write this, early Sunday evening.

I do have one observation.

I took note to check out Brad Stevens. He who is formerly of the Butler Hinkles, currently with the Boston Celtics, and forever topping the wish list of every college basketball fan, whose favorite team is ready for its next coach, the one that will surely lead them to One Shining Moment.

My observation. Stevens looks awfully comfy in front of the Celtics bench.

He does not appear to be a guy ready to jump back to college, so he can try to rah rah sis boom bah for some fat cats’ alma mammy.

* * * * *

Also in the category of Coaches Every Fan Wants Roaming His School’s Sideline, is, or actually, was, Shaka Smart. Continue reading

Monday Morning Sports Shots

allsportsNo. I do not have any reports from spring practice.

I don’t do spring practice.

In fact, I don’t do practice at all. I haven’t enough expertise to discern who is playing better, and who worse?

Allow me to remind you, I’m the guy who did go to practice when Teddy Bridgewater was a rookie. I watched him tossing the ball in drills, and thought the other QBs, guys whose names are long since forgotten, had stronger arms and were more accurate.

Which is why, allow me to reiterate, I don’t do spring practice.

In fact, I don’t do practice at all.

I leave it to the good ol’ boys, the wannabe JV assistants, in their double knit shorts. Continue reading

Shaqquan Aaron Transferring from U of L

cardsThe official announcement:

Louisville’s Shaqquan Aaron Will Transfer
 
               LOUISVILLE, Ky. — University of Louisville freshman guard/forward Shaqquan Aaron will leave the Cardinals’ program at the conclusion of the spring semester.
 
               “We are in total agreement with Shaqquan transferring and we wish him the best,” said UofL Coach Rick Pitino.
 
               Aaron averaged 1.3 points and 0.7 rebounds in 23 games as a freshman.  He totaled a season-best 11 points and five rebounds at Wake Forest on Jan. 4, but scored 15 points for the remainder of the season.  He had to sit out the Cardinals’ first nine games of the season due to an NCAA eligibility issue.
 
               The 6-7 wing from Seattle, Wash., led Rainier Beach High School to the 2014 Washington Class 3A state championship.  A two-time first-team AP Class 3A all-state selection and the state player of the year as a senior, he was ranked among the nation’s top 35 high school prospects by most media outlets.

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Duke on the Grassy Knoll

b-ballConspiracy Theorists unite.

You know who you are.

Ye who are sure beyond peradventure that there are covert ops in the NCAA Selection Committee meetings, making sure that Duke gets the easiest path to the Final Four.

Ye who are convinced that the refs who call Duke’s tourney games have an envelope full of cash, awaiting them after the final buzzer sounds.

Ye who demand to know, what does NCAA prexy Mark Emmert know, and when did he know it?

Re-form the Warren Commission. Investigate whether Mike Krzyzewski has ever visited Cuba. Is Jeff Ruby, owner of the premier steakhouse in the epicenter of college hoops, related to Jack Ruby?

Most important, if the refs of Monday’s championship game, Joe DeRosa, Michael Stephens and Pat Driscoll are, as some fervently believe, the hoops equivalent of Lee Harvey Oswald, is Director of Officials John Adams the guy on the grassy knoll?

Coming soon to a bookstore near you, another exposé by the authors of “Duke Sucks, And You Know It,” to be titled “How The Blue Devils Stole Their Fifth Title.” Continue reading

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: 2015’s Last Morning After

b-ballIt is a dark and stormy day.

A real Edward Bulwer-Lytton kind of day.

E B-L’s the British novelist, who opened a novel with the now hackneyed sentence paraphrased above.

Sometimes, even the most overused descriptor is the most appropriate. Which, I suppose, is reason why such are so overused.

Before tipoff of the Badgers vs. Blue Devils title match, I got a text from SmartGuy. “It feels like closing night.”

True dat.

And the end of this college hoops campaign is especially depressing, given that the victor is the most despised of all the programs in the land. When what could have been a season of historic resonance was thwarted in the semi-finals. When a feel good story out of Cheese Country coulda, woulda, shoulda, but wasn’t.

No Cinderella. Nothing to make us feel all goosey inside.

Just Duke. Again. Continue reading

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: One Mo’ @ Final Fo’

b-ballLike, you know, there is still another game to be played.

And, well, if Wisconsin and Duke compete as they have shown is their and their coaches’ combative nature, it ought to be a doozy.

The Badgers and the Blue Devils, both #1 seeds, are the two best teams in the country this year. Should Wisconsin prevail, it will have truly earned its title, having already beaten the nation’s third best school Arizona, in the Regional Final, as well as the fourth best team Kentucky, in the national semis.

The last time two #1s met for the championship was 2008, when the Kansas Jayhawks beat the (Vacated) Tigers. In fact, that’s the only Final Four in the seeding era, contested by all four #1s. That quartet also included UCLA and North Carolina, the latter of which is sooner or later to be a/k/a (Vacated).

Monday evening’s title match will be the first time the two best teams in the country have battled it out for the crown since ’07, when Florida won its second straight championship over Ohio State.

More on the upcoming slugfest in a bit. Continue reading

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Kentucky is 38 +Done

b-ballI fight it every basketball season.

It is a character trait of which I’m not very proud.

Every tenet of the life philosophies I try to follow contradicts the behavior, tells me I’d be a better person if I acted otherwise.

But, as an ardent Louisville Cardinal supporter . . . I simply can’t help myself, when it comes to consideration of my team’s arch rival.

I rooted for Wisconsin.

I rooted against Kentucky.

I, to be honest, am glad UK lost.

I feel for the Wildcat players. At least the ones, who were man enough to shake the hands of the victors after the loss. At least the ones, who didn’t petulantly and immaturely utter racial epitaphs under their breath about Badger players. Continue reading