Meaning Coach K and Coach Cal have once again corralled enough Golden Arches superüberduperstars with enough free burger coupons to sate every fan that will be in the Alamodome for next season’s Final Four.
The question of course is, will the Blue Devils and Wildcats actually be there to participate themselves?
I know stuff happens, kids don’t pan out like they’re supposed to, extraneous diversions affect team performances, etc, etc, but, given how they’ve harvested talent in the last decade, shouldn’t UK and Duke make it to the last weekend of the season every season? And win the dang thing more than they do?
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There’s a NBA Game 7 tonight. Boston and Washington shall battle to see which gets whipped by the Cleveland LeBrons in the Eastern Division finals.
It ought to be an exciting tilt. The squads are pretty even, if flawed.
My sense is the Wizards shall prevail, even though the game’s in Beantown. But that’s not why I bring it up.
Which is that I’m as mesmerized as the next hoopaholic about Celtic Isaiah Thomas’s offense. The guy can score. The guy can score at crunch time. From inside, despite his diminutive stature. From outside, even when closely checked by leaping bigs with a huge reach.
(We shan’t mention Thomas’s D. Because I could guard guys better than he does. And there are analytics to prove that. At least to provide evidence how bad he is. I haven’t seen any statisticians checking out my footwork recently.)
Now my point. When I see Isaiah Thomas play, I see Russ Smith.
(Except Smith knows how to play D.)
They both have the panache to wend their way through the lane and find an angle to shoot. Plus the ability to make some space and bomb away and connect.
So I shall reiterate what I’ve opined before. If some team were to give Russ Smith a legit chance to play in the league, they would be rewarded. Smith has the ability to be as effective as Thomas.
And, he’s got way more personality.
Apparently no team is willing to make such a move. More’s the pity.
Meanwhile Smith’s career has been woefully mismanaged. I suspect it’s the undue and misguided and delusional influence of his father.
Beyond the comparison with Thomas, the other guy I’m reminded of is Stephon Marbury. Were Russ to accept that no NBA franchise is looking his way, and settle in with a top foreign team — and I mean in a place more stable than Turkey — he could own the country within a season in the same way that Marbury is a Hoops Deity in China. With Smith’s flair on the court, and personality off it, he’d be a lock for stardom. One guy’s opinion.
Instead he’s toiling to no future with the North Steubenville Cat Scratch Fevers in the NBDL.
What a waste.
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A few words about the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Feel free to skip this section if you must. It is short though.)
Like my namesake, Chuck Barkley, I pay attention to hockey this time of year. It’s too damn exciting. Even when my Red Wings don’t make the playoffs, like this season for the first time in almost three decades.
Anyhow, I’m for Ottawa. Simply because the Senators are a Canadian team. It’s their sport. They deserve a title, which they haven’t had for a good while.
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During a break in Golden State’s comeback against the Spurs yesterday, I flipped over to the golf tournament for a nanosecond. After all, the Players is the “fifth major.” Or, so sayeth Johnny Miller.
When I tuned in, J.B. Holmes was among those at the top of the leaderboard, though he’d just put one in the drink as I surfed over.
So I checked the leaderboard this morning to see how he finished?
Not well, actually.
Shot a final round 84 and was way back in the pack by the time he holed out on the 72d.
* * * * *
Speaking of the Dubs and San Antonio, it’s just a damn pleasure watching these two teams ball.
I don’t see how the Spurs can overcome GS without a fully functional Kawhi Leonard, but they’re not going to lay down.
The Game 7 smackdown they laid upon Houston in the last round was one for the ages.
* * * * *
The University of Louisville nine continues its late season rampage.
Over the weekend, the second ranked Cardinals swept #7 Clemson on the Tigers’ home diamond.
I watched a bit of their victory yesterday. (It was way too pretty outside to sit in front of a TV all afternoon.)
During the interlude I saw the announcers were over the top in their praise of the program and the job that Dan McDonnell has done.
So I gotta ask again, as I did last week when reporting on the Cards W over Vandy: Is this the year?
— Seedy K