Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

A List I’ve Yet to See Published

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Congrats to Sergio Garcia on winning the Master’s. As soon as he did, fans read the inevitable comment: who’s the best golfer never to have won a major?

The early leader is Rickie Fowler. How can a guy with all that talent not win a major? After all, he’s already 28 years old! As if winning a major – against an entire field of professionals – ought to be something that should be accomplished. At any age. It’s not as if players aren’t trying. Or guys who haven’t won majors but have a boatload of tour event championships can’t handle the pressure.

In the past fans have seen – and now that social media has become a part of our culture – have posted, their own version, independent of how uneducated, of the best to have never won a …

Charles Barkley, John Stockton and Karl Malone are always mentioned when discussing “rings” and uber-talented players who never earned one. The facts that 1) only one team per season can do so and 2) those guys played during an era when Michael Jordan and the Bulls had a stranglehold on NBA titles is often mentioned – as an afterthought – still doesn’t seem to let them off the hook.

Similarly for Dan Marino. Winning a championship in a team sport, when there are so so many teammates involved who have a large say in the success of the team, is simply something that even some of the most talented athletes are able to do. Just like winning one in an individual sport – when the competitor is going up against the whole field – is a cakewalk.

Women aren’t exempt from the list. During a recent tennis broadcast, I heard a commentator refer to Pam Shriver as the best female tennis player never to have won a Grand Slam event. Anyone who knows even a little tennis history understands that Shriver played in an era of a couple of competitors (Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova) who showed no mercy against their opponents.

Nor are coaches excluded from such scrutiny. Now that Mark Few was in the Final Four, Sean Miller has been anointed “best coach never to have led a team to the Final Four.” If you know anything about playing or coaching such mention ought to be a badge of honor more than an albatross.

Not surprisingly, the one list that has escaped the fans’ eyes is:

“The greatest sportswriter to never have won a Pulitzer.”

My (Most Likely) Unpopular Take on the National Championship Game

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

The season of NCAA hoops culminates with the NCAA championship tilt. This year’s entry was a pretty brutal game to watch. One team shot 36% from the floor, 15% from three and 58% from the free throw line. The winning team. The University of North Carolina won their sixth national championship (third under its Hall of Fame coach, Roy Williams), denying Gonzaga their first which would have been a historic victory – a national championship by a school from a non-power basketball conference. Not since Jerry Tarkanian’s UNLV Runnin’ Rebels managed the feat in 1990 has that occurred – and it may never. Gonzaga was not only a #1 seed (mostly due to their gaudy 37-1 record) but, for all intents and purposes, as strong a club as was in the tourney.

The biggest guy on the floor, the one the Zags relied on all season, had no points on post ups, even though he had several opportunities. The other two guys they count on also had subpar outings. It wasn’t much prettier for Carolina. The game’s most outstanding player shot 7-19 and their sharp shooter took a schneider from three, missing all of his nine attempts, some of them badly.

There were 44 fouls called, 22 on each team. Although both teams played incredibly hard, possibly the pressure of all that was riding on the outcome of the game made the participants perform in a manner uncharacteristic to what everyone had come to expect after watching both throughout their sensational seasons. Naturally, in a contest with so much on the line – even with the play less than stellar – there was criticism of the officiating crew. ESPN’s Jay Williams claimed, “That was one of the worst officiated national championship games I’ve seen in a long time.” Yeah, in about a year. When the game is poorly played, blame the referees.

Besides the announcers and commentators, others chimed in via the internet. Notably, the (arguably) best basketball player in the world posted what has come to be the refrain heard whenever there are an excessive amount of whistles in a game. “Man I can’t watch this anymore man! I would like to see the kids decide who wins the game! I mean Bruh!! Smh,” said none other than LeBron James. His former BFF posted this remark. “Let these kids play. Put the whistles away,” said Dwyane Wade. Just the advice regarding referees we need – two NBAers bitching about the officials. Check those two the next time they drive to the bucket and the refs don’t call a foul. In fact, check any NBA player when he takes it to the hole and there’s no fouled called. Or when a call goes against him. Make the NBA game one of “call your own fouls” and let’s see how pleasant that scenario would be.

When all was said and done, the players were the ones who decided the game. Check out the foul calls. If someone was truly impartial (OK, that group seldom exists in a game), the foul calls were legit. Many were of the foolish variety, but fouls nonetheless. Sure, some might be argued but, had they not been blown, people would be complaining the officials were losing control of the game.

There actually was a play – late – that will be discussed for years. During a scrum under the basket, a tie-up was called. The referees missed that the Tarheel player had his hand out of bounds while the ball was touching him prior to the whistle being blown. However, let it be known that none of the three man broadcast crew mentioned it – even after showing two replays! Also, with the less than stellar play by nearly every player on both squads, can we not allow one blown call by the trio of officials? The other judgment calls? Either way the guys in stripes would catch hell. And this commentary is coming from someone who is no big fan of referees (check precious blogs).

Could it just be the feeling of disappointment everyone (minus the UNC supporters) has is:

“Why couldn’t the season’s final game been better played?”

 

 

A Year When “Co-” Is the Way to Go

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Tony Kornheiser, on the award-winning PTI show, went on record as stating that this year’s NBA rookie-of-the-year award should be vacated because no one is deserving, whether the reason be lack of production or lack of games played. Kornheiser also feels that, under no circumstances, should the NBA have co-MVPs. Yet, if ever there was a year that the difference between two guys was oh-so-razor thin, this is it.

Unless Russell Westbrook completely flames out down the stretch, he will average a triple-double for the season. Oscar Robertson did it. No one else has. Westbrook is currently at 31.8 points (best in the NBA), 10.8 rebounds and 10.4 assists (third in the league) with six games to go. He’s had 39 triple-doubles thus far. In order to beat The Big O’s record of 41, he’ll need … (I won’t insult you, you do the math). Recently, Russ posted one in which he had 13 rebounds and 11 assists – to go along with 57 points - for the most points in a triple-double in NBA history. By far, this is best season any Thunder player has ever had, and in all likelihood, the best any Thunder player will ever have. Maybe the best numbers any NBA player will put up from here on out.

After losing Kevin Durant to free agency, OKC has a 43-32 record, sixth best in the Western Conference. An impressive statistic, especially for those skeptics who feel Westbrook simply chases stats, is that the Thunder win nearly 80% of the games in which Westbrook has a triple-double but only a third of those when he falls short of that mark.

Another NBA baller, also playing in the Western Conference, is putting up ridiculous numbers. James Harden, a former teammate of Westbrook’s (think OKC’s brass doesn’t regret not locking up Harden – when they also had KD in the fold), is crushing it this season, posting per game averages of 29.2 points (second in the league), 8.1 rebounds and 11.2 assists (first). The Beard has had a couple triple-doubles this season with 50+ points, one a 53/16/17 performance and another, about a month later, in which he accumulated 51/13/13. So far this season, Harden has posted 20 triple-doubles.

What’s more impressive is that Harden has completely made over his game. Head coach Mike D’Antoni took over the reins in Houston and brought his mega-offense philosophy with him, telling Harden he’d be the club’s point guard, a la what he did with Steve Nash when the two were in Phoenix. The word is Harden questioned his coach but was willing. The Rockets climbed the standings – from last season’s eighth place finish, having split their 82 games – to this year’s 51-25 mark, third best in the entire NBA.

Neither guy might never have such sensational statistical years again. To Tony Kornheiser and all those fans who share his view, I say, put yourself in their shoes. If you had a season doing whatever it is you do – and your profession gave an award for the best in the field – wouldn’t you be crushed if, after the season-long effort like either Westbrook or Harden has had, you didn’t win that honor? And, if you did win, unless you have no heart at all, wouldn’t you feel an incredible amount of empathy for the guy who came in second?

After two such record-breaking seasons:

“Would it really be so awful to buck tradition and have co-MVPs this year?”

The Two Sides of Lavar Ball

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

One theory is that Lavar Ball is one of the most polarizing people on earth. That can’t be true because in order to be polarizing, there needs to be folks on both sides of the issue and it appears one side so heavily outweighs the other, that annoying is a better description that polarizing.

During the past 20 or so years of my life, I have taken pride in trying to see both sides of an argument or a person. Nobody can be all good (with the exceptions of Gandhi and Mother Teresa) and nobody can be all evil (Adolph Hitler and Charles Mason made/is still making a good run at proving that assumption invalid). Most people have both decency and discourtesy somewhere in their DNA. Lavar Ball, for all his LOUD brashness and inappropriateness, should be congratulated on several accounts.

As a Caucasian, I need to step gently when discussing the shortcomings of my black brethren but, it’s my firm belief – and I imagine others of all races will agree – that the biggest problem in the black community that they have in their power to correct is the absentee father. They can’t solve poverty, crime, lack of opportunities or certainly, racial profiling without assistance from other groups, most notably whites. But the high rate of fathers not being in their children’s lives is well within their capability to correct.

And on that subject, Lavar Ball should be applauded. As opposed to being absent, he has been a dominating presence in the lives of his three boys. In a world in which there seems to be a story on domestic violence (within all races) on a daily basis, his and his wife’s marriage seems to be one of mutual love and respect. In addition, he has provided a beautiful home and life for his family, as well as being a powerful factor in all their lives. Some may say a little too powerful but the fact remains his is as tight knit a group as any family.

Not only has Ball been a strong influence in his kids’ upbringing, he has truly had quite an impact in making them the talented young men they are. Beginning with his “choice” of spouse – many times he’s (jokingly, we think) referred to his selecting his wife because of her genes – to the fact that he didn’t want to cease control of their basketball fortunes to someone else. Independent of one’s beliefs regarding summer basketball – and there are altogether too many horror stories – he decided the best person to train and coach his boys was him. He didn’t complain about the coach(es); rather he formed his own team. Many parents complain, few take the drastic, costly and time consuming task of putting together a squad. Some might criticize his charging other youngsters to be a part of his team but, judging from his three, he has produced a trio of good players (one of which might be the overall #1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft).

Now, he’s never going to be compared to Ozzie Nelson but that was never his goal. Unquestionably brash, with an ego as big as all the outdoors, people say he is putting too much pressure on his sons yet that remains to be seen. Judging from the eldest son, Lonzo, he doesn’t seem to be adversely affected at all. His less than stellar play in UCLA’s loss to Kentucky was more due to injury or just a bad game than to someone wilting under the pressure of a brazen dad.

Of course, Lavar Ball is by no means a saint. His pomposity has been chronicled ad infinitum – which he appears to relish. He is either living vicariously through his children or is a master marketer. He has been called obnoxious (with good cause) but, in his defense, he says that people who’ve known him realize he hasn’t changed his manner; it’s just that he now has a podium. He maintains he has always been true to himself – which ought to be considered an admirable trait.

No one can contest his making some of the most asinine statements (no need to list them here as they’ve received as much coverage as any topic in March Madness). In the end, he needs to live with all his braggadocio. Whether his act actually sells merchandise (other than him, I have yet to see anyone wearing his apparel) or his brand takes off, is yet to be determined. The negative pub he’s brought upon himself is well-deserved. One example is when Stephen A. Smith asked him why a company needed to give him a billion dollars up front, that every player who has a brand performed to a level to deserve it first, so why not show a reason someone should fork over that kind of cash, his reply was to shout over Smith, yelling, “Up front, that’s right – up front!”  He never answered the question and the only reason he stopped was because the show’s host moved on.

Rating individuals’ qualities from 0-10, 10 high, most people are 3’s and 4’s (bad qualities) or 7’s and 8’s (good ones). Lavar Ball’s qualities are 0’s and 10’s. In all:

“Lavar Ball is outspoken – by no one.”

 

A (Not So) Comedy of Errors in Gonzaga-Northwestern Game

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

After watching the first ten or so minutes of the Gonzaga-Northwestern NCAA round of 32 game, no one would ever have thought there would be a controversial call that might have decided the outcome. The Wildcats couldn’t score and, after the Zags jumped out big early, they, too, had trouble finding the bottom of the hoop. The end of the first half saw Northwestern creep a little closer.

Then, as the Cinderella kids (there was a time when the WCC team playing against a Big 10 squad would have been the underdog) kept on keepin’ on, the lead closed to five. Normally, the argument after a blocked shot is about whether the block was clean or if the shooter was fouled. This is the well-documented first ever appearance for the Wildcats if there was to be controversy, you almost knew it was going to be a play that’s seldom seen – like the defender cleanly blocking the shot but putting his hand and arm through the rim to do so. What was so odd was that Chris Collins, the ultra-passionate Northwestern coach, clearly saw the play, while the none of the three guys paid to do so, did.

One thing coaches tell players is – don’t compound your mistake. Make one mistake at a time. So, if a referee misses a call, don’t make a second one by slapping a complaining coach (or player) with a technical. In this case, however, that “rule” really didn’t apply. The official did not know he kicked the call. So when Collins vehemently argued, charging at the official (only to alert him of what he missed), gesturing with his arms what had occurred, the ref had no choice but to T him up. Collins was several feet onto the court and his actions did merit the technical foul. The lack of two points, plus the free throws awarded to Gonzaga and their subsequent bucket more or less ended the fray.

Collins’ post game explanation, which he made after hearing the NCAA’s explanation that 1) the call should have been goaltending, awarding his club two points and cutting the Zag’s lead to three but 2) that the technical foul was warranted because of his actions, was that he was human and emotional, plus “We’re coming back from 20 down.” On that, everyone would be in complete agreement. However, while it is true that emotions run high during NCAA competitions, another item coaches preach to players is to not let your emotions get the better of you – to, instead, keep your emotions in check and show poise. 

Unfortunately, that call is not reviewable. I’m unsure why not since so many others are and, in this case, it’s such an obvious violation. If, as the NCAA claims, the major purpose of reviewing calls is to get them right so that a bad call doesn’t influence the outcome of a contest, could a change be in store? It was so sad to see as compelling a story as Northwestern’s maiden voyage into the NCAA tourney end in such disarray.

As happened to Jud Heathcote and Michigan State in 1986 (see my 11/28/16 blog), Collins’ most likely response would be:

“Is your apology – and that call – retroactive?”

Do Sports’ Critics Ever Look Inward?

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

If you happen to be a frequenter of this blog, you undoubtedly have read of my dislike of those talking heads and columnists who feel compelled to criticize players or coaches who fail to live up to their self-proclaimed standards. If Jim Rome has a legacy, it’s that he created such an industry. He knew, well before others, that a large section of the American public can be made to feel better about themselves when others, whose lives seem infinitely more successful, are ridiculed for something they’ve done or haven’t done. Although the latter group’s accomplishments in their chosen fields far surpass what most of society can lay claim to, still it is comforting to point out the “superior” groups’ shortcomings.

While we’re not dinner companions, I count Bill Self as a friend of mine. We became acquainted when he was the coach at Tulsa and I was on the staff at Fresno State. One year, his Tulsa team lost four regular season games and three of them were to us – by one at Tulsa, by two at Fresno and by three in the WAC tournament (the one year it was held in Fresno). I coached for 35 years so I feel I can comment intelligently on what makes a good, even a great, coach and what doesn’t. This year, Bill Self led Kansas to a Big 12 regular season championship – for the 13th consecutive season! As far as defining coaching greatness, that definitely qualifies.

Yet I came across a piece, written a year ago following the Jayhawks’ first weekend loss to Wichita State, in which Bill was blasted for his underachieving NCAA tournament record. Certainly, losing during the first weekend of March Madness – which his KU clubs have done three times – is no one’s idea of a successful conclusion to a season. But to dismiss his 2008 national championship (KU’s first in 20 years and, by the way, the only Final Four to feature all four #1 seeds) as the only national championship he’s won, is downplaying an overwhelmingly successful career.

The author of the article compared seven coaches’ post season records: Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan and Bill. Self’s record was the weakest of the seven, having reached the Sweet Sixteen 10 times, the Elite Eight seven times and the Final Four twice. My answer to that is that somebody had to be seventh out of that list – and it’s not like the group is a bunch of shlubs. In fact, if Kansas were to win it all this year, he’d still rank seventh of that septet. Was the point that Bill Self is just an outstanding regular season coach but, when it comes to the postseason, he forgets how to coach – or, worse, he chokes? If so, what is the explanation for the 2008 season? Or his appearance in the title game in 2012? Luck?

Earlier in the week, I caught the end of a rant by Bomani Jones regarding Self’s poor NCAA tournament coaching record. Jones has strong opinions and expresses them eloquently. He’s obviously incredibly bright guy. But to hear him refer to the NCAA tournament as the “Bill Self-gag tourney” (or a some such term – the exact terminology escapes me now), makes listeners think there’s a hidden agenda of some kind here. As for the list of awards Jones has to his credit, in January 2014, he won three consecutive Around the Horn episodes and, as of October 30, 2014 (sorry, my search to find the updated Around the Horn stats proved more difficult than finding NCAA champions), has 104 wins in 373 appearances on the show. When it comes to winning actual awards, his greatest claim to fame is his sister is an award-winning novelist.

Wonder how he’d feel if someone went on the air with a, “Yeah but …” rant regarding her writing career? As in, “sure she won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction and the Lillian C. Smith Award for New Voices but where is her name when Pulitzers are handed out?”

Although I fully understand that a large segment of sports fans enjoy listening to shortcomings of those more successful than we are, I still have to think:

“Isn’t it a sad commentary on America?”

The Wisdom of Warren Buffett

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

One thing about being retired is you have plenty of time to do … whatever you want. My friend, mentor and former boss, George Raveling (whom I’ve known nearly 45 years), is the greatest dispenser of knowledge of anyone I’ve ever met. Never does a day go by in which I don’t receive an email from him. Maybe one percent – and probably less – are of a personal nature. Rather, they deal with life – leadership, general people skills, business topics (many of those he sends because he knows my two sons are interested in that area – Andy because he recently received a promotion to senior account executive at Salesforce, Alex because he is about to enter the workforce after  graduating from college and finishing his basketball playing career (including a year hooping for fun and money in Australia).

A good deal of Rave’s emails are for them but, having been a student of people and life, many of the correspondence is quite interesting to me. One, in particular, was about different successful people and their tips on how to be successful. Granted, I wish I’d have seen these 50 years ago, when I was just graduating from high school, but nonetheless the information – and the attached links – were absolutely fascinating.

While I have not yet watched all of the links, the person whose thoughts are so illuminating is Warren Buffett. I say this because, having been a math major, logic is at the center of most of what drives me and I am amazed at the common sense approach Buffett, who is regarded as the single most successful investor of the 20th (and probably 21st) century, takes on almost every topic. What follows are just a few of his quotes. See if you don’t agree with me.

On whether or not to further your education (which doesn’t necessarily mean going to college): “Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. If you’ve got talent and you maximize that talent, you’ve got a terrific asset.”

On choosing a job: “Take the job you would take if you were independently wealthy. You’ll do well at it.”

On assuming risk: “Don’t drive a truck weighing 9900 pounds over a bridge that says, ‘Limit 10,000 pounds’ because you can’t be sure about it. Go down a little farther and find a bridge that says, ‘Limit 20,000 pounds.’ ”

On overwhelming odds: “How do you beat Bobby Fisher? Don’t play him in chess.”

On continuing to succeed in business: “The  biggest thing that kills a business is complacency … you always want to be on the move.”

On having limited knowledge: “It’s a terrible mistake to think you have to have an opinion on everything. You only have to have an opinion on a few things.”

On how to know if you’re in the right business: “If you have a good person running a business and it isn’t making any money, you’re in the wrong business.”

On what to look for in an employee: “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

On cash vs. assets: “Cash is a bad investment. Its value is sure to decrease. But it’s a good thing to have – like oxygen. You want to make sure you have enough but you don’t need an excessive amount.”

On parenting advice: “There is no power like unconditional love.”

On his childhood idol, Ben Graham: “He looked at the people he admired said, ‘I want to be admired so why don’t I start behaving like them?’ And he found that there was nothing impossible about behaving like them.”

On his incredible success: He quoted Thomas Wolfe who said, “I’m no genius but I’m smart in spots – and I stay around those spots.”

Listening to the simplicity of Warren Buffett, I came to the conclusion:

“Common sense is not so common.”

Lonzo Ball Knows What Pressure Is

Monday, February 27th, 2017

After coaching for 35 years, I can attest that a player’s parents are his biggest supporters (I imagine the same holds true for the distaff side but my entire experience was limited to boys). Even for superstars, the odds are against them. Although high school is so far away from the NBA, still, kids – and their parents – dream.

The collective bargaining agreement that was just signed means even the lowest paid NBA player will be a millionaire. Several times over. The problem is that – and these numbers are from years ago but you’ll still get the gist – there are 720,000 high school players, 18,000 college players and 450 NBA players.

Nearly every parent I dealt with during my three-and-a-half decade career thinks his or her kid is better than he really is. Hey, if you’re not going to be the president of your child’s fan club, who do you think is? Youngsters who get cut have parents who are flabbergasted a coach couldn’t see the, if not innate ability, then immense potential, their child has. Similar for the kid who doesn’t play as much, or doesn’t start, or starts but doesn’t get as many shots, or is the focus of the team but isn’t featured enough. These parents are appalled at the lack of respect shown for their child’s skills.

Then there’s LaVar Ball. Last season his three sons played for a high school that went undefeated, won the state championship and averaged over 100 points a game. In a 32 minute game, that’s pretty remarkable. LaVar’s oldest boy, Lonzo, signed with UCLA. If you’ve never seen him play, you’re missing a kid who, barring injury, ought to, not only beat the odds and become one of the aforementioned 450, but have a long and prosperous career – beginning next season because if there was ever a one-and-done, it’s LaVar Ball’s son. At 6’6″ he’s perfect size for a point guard (which is actually his best position) and although is shot is unorthodox, he shoots a good percentage and just might be one of those rare types whose technique, flawed as it may be, is better left alone. There are a score of shooting coaches (not nearly as many as there claim to be) who could remake his shot but, most likely, all of them would agree to simply give him a ton of repetitions and overcome the imperfection.

Lonzo’s shot might not be his biggest obstacle however. Just listen to LaVar and it’s apparent who Lonzo’s biggest fan is as well as, in all likelihood, his biggest impediment. The bravado displayed by his dad has no limits. Bragging doesn’t scratch the surface when discussing Lonzo’s future. For starters, after four games LaVar guaranteed that UCLA would win the NCAA Championship – and not because of Steve Alford’s ability to strategize. That wasn’t nearly strong enough. Last week he said, “I have the utmost confidence in what my boy is doing. He’s better than Steph Curry to me. Put Steph Curry on UCLA’s team right now and put my boy on Golden State and watch what happens.”

Now, did he mean that, if Steph Curry were on the current Bruins’ squad, he wouldn’t be good enough to have than solidly in third place in the Pac-12, behind Oregon and Arizona, where they currently reside? Or that, if Lonzo were with the Warriors they’d not only have the best record in the NBA but, … what? Does he mean that Lonzo would have been the two-time defending MVP (last season unanimous) and Golden State would have won more than 73 out of 81 games last year?

He’s admitted to telling his sons, “Somebody has to be better than Michael Jordan. Why not you?” Michael Jordan? Heck, he might not be the best point guard in his freshman class! Is the elder Ball intent on placing so much pressure on his son that he derails his career before it starts? Or does he feel he knows what buttons to push to get the most out of him? Not too many people would agree with LaVar Ball’s behavior. I, for one, think what he’s doing is beyond excessive.

Yet, the last time we heard a parent speak with such braggadocio about his children, his name was Richard Williams.

“How did his kids turn out anyway?”

Monday, February 13th, 2017

During my stay at one of the (nine) universities I worked for, in addition to being on the school’s basketball staff, I was a member of the athletics director’s executive counsel (a group of around a dozen administrators from the department). We’d meet every Tuesday morning from 8:30-10:30 am. As I’ve stated many times previously – on this blogspace and in many conversations – my idea of a meeting clashed somewhat with that of the typical (or at least these) administrators.

During one meeting, I mentioned that I realized there was a difference between coaches and administrators. It was a meeting in which an idea was brought up and the discussion turned to trying to think of every negative impact it might have (mostly from a political correctness standpoint). It got so that minutiae was being talked about for at least an hour. I finally said if we thought it was a good idea and it would help solve a problem, sooner or later it was time to act. I was shouted down.

In a future meeting I recalled how my criticism toward their “lack of action” was received, so I decided to muffle my opinion this time. The looks I received in previous meetings were of a sympathetic ilk, their message conveying, “that’s the difference between coaches and the higher level of administration, i.e. the important decision-makers.” It was quite apparent that they believed that, “coaches were way too impatient, too quick to pull the trigger and, consequently, that’s why so many mistakes were made.” I could understand their feelings. Anybody who’s ever watched (and second-guessed) a coach could see that.

At the end of this particular seesion, surprise! we hadn’t finished. The athletics director asked each of us to see when we had a half hour available to wrap it up. One associate AD looked at his calendar and (proudly) said, “I have 26 meetings this week,” to which I responded simply:

Wow, when do you ever do anything?”

UK Fans Have Been Known to Be a Little Much, But This Guy Tops Them All

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Kentucky Wildcat fans are upset. After all, following an embarrassing blowout in Gainesville, their beloved hoops team had lost three of their previous four games (they bounced back with a convincing win over LSU). Let’s review UK’s inexcusable three losses during that time.

The last one was at Florida, against a team that had one of those days where they couldn’t miss. Of course, the arena was packed, loud and somewhat intimidating, i.e. a normal road game for UK. The second L was delivered by Kansas, at the time the #2 ranked team in the country. Second? So what? Wildcat fans don’t care who’s second because they’re supposed to be #1. Always. The game that was unpardonable was the first one of that “streak” – at Tennessee. Granted, the ‘Cats were heavy favorites. Could they have been looking ahead to the KU tilt? Well, let me tell you a little about the UK-UT rivalry.

I was an assistant at Tennessee for seven years (1980-87). During that time we beat them six out of seven times (in Knoxville). The game we lost was by two. After a time out, with seconds to go, we inbounded the ball and had a man-to-man play all set for our leading scorer (who happened to be the leading scorer in the SEC). Our point guard crossed half court, saw UK in a zone defense and we turned it over. For the record it was the only possession of man-to-man defense Eddie Sutton, Kentucky’s head coach, played all year!

Oh yeah, we were 0-7 against them in Lexington. One year we beat them by 17 – which was their biggest loss of the season. A month later they shellacked us by 25 – the biggest loss of ours. And there have been other cases of undermanned Vol teams beating the ‘Cats (in Knoxville) throughout the years.

Excuse me for the walk down memory lane – although I know Kentucky fans won’t. They are the most passionate and loyal, but far and away, the most entitled, group of supporters in the country. For exhibit A, I give you UK fan Patrick Stidham who, the day after the Florida beat down, posted this comment:

I love my Wildcats (fan since 1978), BUT, we might just have another “Tubby Smith” on our hands (“one and done”). Calipari is a “good” Coach and a great Recruiter, but, that’s about it. He seems to value players getting to the NBA over winning Championships. Sorry to tell him this, but, that is NOT what we want at Kentucky!!!

Let’s examine this fool’s post. Next to UCLA, the college with the most titles is Kentucky with eight. The coach for the first four of those was Adolph Rupp. During his first two championship runs (1948, 1949), the entire NCAA field was composed of eight teams, meaning the champion had to win only three games. In order to capture their next two trophies (1951, 1958), the ‘Cats had to win four games, the tourney expanding to 16, then to 24 entrants (they received a first round bye in ’58).

Notice from his post, super (critical) fan, Patrick, has been a fan since 1978 – the year UK won its fifth national championship which (a 48-team field, UK getting a bye once again). Their coach was Joe B. Hall who worked for the Wildcats for 13 years. 1978 was his, in Patrick’s words, “one and done” season.

Another Kentucky “one and done” national championship coach was Rick Pitino (although he’s also won one leading UK’s rival, Louisville to the title). Pitino spent eight years as the ‘Cats leader and managed to get the to the Final Four on three occasions – but only won it in 1996, Kentucky’s sixth title.

During UK’s seventh national championship the head man was none other than Patrick’s object of scorn Tubby Smith – a man considered by everybody who truly knows him (I’m proud to be in that group) as one of the classiest coaches ever to walk a sideline. In his 10 seasons in Lexington he was named National Coach of the Year.

Which brings us to our ” ‘good’ Coach and a great Recruiter, but, that’s about it” current head Wildcat coach, John Calipari. While Cal did manage to win a national championship for Patrick and the UK faithful, it was for heaven’s sake. Meanwhile, “he seems to value players getting to the NBA over winning Championships.” For the record Calipari, in his seven years prior to the current one, has led his team to the Final Four on four occasions.

This blog is plenty long enough but, if you’d like further proof of Patrick Stidham’s lunacy, compare Calipari’s overall record, e.g. total wins, winning percentage, league championships, etc. against any coach Kentucky has ever had.

It seems like the only two solutions to this issue is to:

“Either allow Patrick Stidham to select UK’s next coach or have ol’ Patrick coach the squad himself.”