Summer Hoops, Last Season’s Hoops & Other Stuff . . . OK, Soccer

sportsnewsSo, I was going to spend my July Friday night the way my generation has been doing it for decades. I was  headed to the movies. The Film Noir Series at the Palace, if you must know specifics, to watch breathtaking Rita Hayworth in “Gilda.”

Don’t get me started about that opening shot of her, when rises up from a sofa and flips that glorious mane of hair. Calm down, son.

Anyway, I had a few minutes to kill, so I turned on the USA vs. Canada Pan American Games basketball semifinal just at the beginning of the second half.

Such a scintillating contest it turned out to be, I stayed until the end. (Sorry, Ms. Rita, my next viewing of your flick, which I’ve already seen several times will have to wait.)

Anyhow, the tilt was back and forth. The US was behind until about midway through the 3d, then went up 5, maybe 7. Then the Hosers came back, took a lead by 5, at least. And the Americans fought back.

It was tit for tat.

Of local interest, Kentucky Wildcat recruit Jamal Murray missed a floater on the end of regulation that would have ended it. It was, to be fair, about the only gaffe of his in the last quarter and extra time.

Murray, a guard who loves to crossover to his Brooklyn side, as Fran Fraschilla mentioned about 72 times, but who is also mighty effective going right, was clearly the star of the evening.

He was scoreless through the 3d.

He finished with 22. Along with six assists. And the final rebound of an errant US trey, which sealed the deal in OT.

Canada 111, United States 108.

Star of Show: Future ‘Cat Jamal Murray.

The BBN is smiling today.

You want highlights of Murray? Well, do your own search.

You want highlights of Rita Hayworth? Your wish, my wish, is my command.

* * * * *

Rick Pitino, who, for some odd reason, is all of a sudden more open about the flaws that plagued last season’s Elite Eight squad, has now admitted such.

“We may have been dysfunctional and there were a lot of distractions last year.”

Of course, close followers of the team knew something was up during the campaign, when Montrezl Harrell “voluntarily,” and ostensibly, of his volition — Right — gave up his team captaincy mid year.

Chinanu Onuaku shared recently about cliques on the team last year, a lack of cohesion.

The Rick has now confirmed that to be the case.

Essentially there were no leaders. In previous seasons, Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng and Luke Hancock led the old fashioned way, with hard work and maturity. When they were gone, Russ Smith led in a different, somewhat less effective manner. By being the go to, get ‘er done guy.

Last year, none of that was to be found. Terry Rozier and Chris Jones never developed into a symbiotic tandem. Harrell, as he always has been and always will be, is an adjunct player with specific skills that help round out a team, not lead it. Wayne Blackshear didn’t lead either.

Only after Jones was gone, replaced by Quentin Snider’s calming presence, and game by game improvement, did the Cardinals steady. And advance to a shot away from a spot in the Final Four.

Which success is all that more remarkable, all things considered, given the team’s psychological makeup.

Of course, this summer, according to those talking, all is different. The players, young and old, are connected. There is leadership. There is listening.

We’ll find out.

* * * * *

Barça is playing Man U. now1 in a game, somewhere here in the States.

Which I’m not watching, because Lionel Messi and Neymar have taken a pass on their team’s US tour.

I do have the USMNT’s game turned on. Their road to the CONCACAF Gold Cup title was waylaid in the semis against Jamaica. So the foe in the Consolation game is Panama, who were hosed in it semi by the ref, losing to El Tri (Mexico), 2-1.

It’s nil nil at the break.

United States soccer remains way less than.

Lots of kids have been at the game for decades now. But there still aren’t enough to make it a world class squad.

Is the lack of skilled coaching? Lack of commitment?

Whatever, the formula for success that has American women riding high as the best in the world hasn’t been seen for the men.

Whatever is going on isn’t working. Ah, but just envision this. Young LeBron James from Akron, Ohio choosing to play goal in soccer, instead of hoops. Which dream scenario is kind of the whole issue in a nutshell. Soccer still matters less here to the most elite of athletes.

Oh well, so it goes. Panama easily controlled this match, and prevailed. Sigh.

— Seedy K

One thought on “Summer Hoops, Last Season’s Hoops & Other Stuff . . . OK, Soccer

  1. will Murray play without the ball in his hands the majority of the shot clock and will his fellow ‘Cats oblige. From the segment of the Pan Am game I saw, he looked really good, but also like he looked like the kind of player who wants to “be the man” like both C Jones and T Rozier last year; teams can succeed but without chemistry, not optimally

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