Sports Guy’s NBA Weekend

You may have read a while back that Bill Simmons was going to host an entire weekend of NBA TV, picking all the games. Well, here is his schedule, complete with descriptions. If the NBA’s not your thing, you can skip this one.
I wonder how he remembers some of these games from 1980 so well? He was ten! At that age, I was just becoming aware of the concept watching sports on TV.
Check out the love he gives to Ralph Sampson and the 1986 Rockets who went to the finals.

Rollie Follies

Gregg Doyel gives a pretty good rundown of the rise and fall of Rollie Massimino. Of course, everyone remembers the great run his underdog 1985 Villanova team had, eventually winning the national championship against prohibitive favorites Georgetown.
Later, it came out (in a memorable Sports Illustrated cover story) that one of the stars of that team, Gary McLain, was routinely high on cocaine that season. Massimino ended up leaving ‘Nova to go to UNLV to take over for Jerry Tarkanian. Frankly, anytime someone takes a job at UNLV, it sends up red flags. Rollie lasted only two years with the Rebels, getting fired after it was discovered that he had an illegal contract.
Massimino eventually turned up at Cleveland State, another school with a sordid history. Just like at UNLV, he did nothing to clean up the school’s rep, getting run off after only moderate success on the court and tons of bad news off of it.
Now, the NCAA is looking to pile it on, investigating claims of academic fraud at Cleveland State.
And after all that, Gregg Doyel defends Rollie. He compares him to Jim Valvano, another coach who everyone seemed to love despite his rather lengthy list of misdeeds as a coach. It seems that to many, including Doyel, a good (or cute) personality offsets shocking faults in personal ethics.
In fairness, Gregg Doyel is usually pretty good in calling out bad behavior, but in this case he’s defending the wrong guy.
(Thanks for the link, Yoni)

Pack Picks Rivers’ Replacement

NC State coach Chuck Amato named Jay Davis as the starting QB to succeed Philip Rivers. Davis is a redshirt junior, so he’s been around long enough to learn the offense. Even better, he saw how Rivers ran it for the last three years. State has a ton of talent at the skill positions, so the potential is there for Davis to have a very good year. Could he pull a Tee Martin? Who knows, but the pieces are there. State after Rivers is the classic setting for the Ewing Theory. Rivers was individually brilliant, but the team never really won much of significance. Maybe now, with more all-around talent and less reliance on one player, they’ll put it all together.
But then, Davis is just as likely to struggle. We’ll see.

Valvano Running

If Duke over Kentucky (see below) was the best college basketball game I’ve ever seen, NC State over Houston was the second best. I remember the ending vividly. I should have hated NC State for how they broke my Ralph Sampson and Virginia-loving heart twice in the previous two weeks. They were impossible to hate though, the way they scrapped and fought and seemed to always get the breaks at the end of the game.
In that game, the perfect Cinderella met the ultimate Goliath (I’m mixing the hell out of those stories, but you know what I mean). Run and gun and win versus shoot and fight and scrap. It’s games like that that turn people into sports fans.

Remembering The Shot

As part of ESPN’s 25th anniversary celebration (have you heard anything about this? They’re being so low key about it!), they are running down the best plays in that 25 years. Not surprisingly, Christian Laettner’s shot against Kentucky made the list at #17. We’ve all seen the replay a zillion times, but if you remember, it was just the last play of an incredible game. It was the best basketball game I’ve ever seen. I can still clearly remember where I was and who I was with when I saw it, even though none of us were Duke or Kentucky fans.
I’m going to post another link in a second to an ever higher-rated ACC play. I bet you can guess what it is.
Update: The SportsProf vividly remembers this game, because he had tickets and skipped it. Maybe the SportsProf is really Robin Williams from Good Will Hunting.

ACC Basketball Recruiting Going Well

Any concerns about the ACC’s shift to a football conference haven’t affected basketball recruiting. At least not yet. So far, the ACC has landed seven of the top fifty players for next year. Six of those seven have picked Duke and North Carolina. Something tells me that no matter what the ACC does, those two giants will continue to be basketball dynasties.

Fighting Fire With (Euro) Fire

I’ve read a couple of articles like this one that put forth the idea that the US should build its next basketball team using non-NBA pros. The idea is to go get the Americans that are currently playing in Europe. These guys are doing quite well and are much more familiar with the international game.
I like the idea, but I don’t love it. It’s a temporary solution. Let’s face it, the world is catching up with us and we exclude the bulk of our best players, we might be able to win for a little while, but not for long. They’ll pass us. The one cool thing about this is that it would bring back some guys we may have forgotten about, like Randolph Childress and Dante Calabria. And can you believe that David Rivers is still playing? How old is that guy?

Long Hair Danger

Cumberland County recently voted to outlaw certain hair styles for high school athletes. The styles that are no longer legal include dreadlocks, cornrows and long hair.
Cumberland officials say that this has nothing to do with race, but is a concern over the safety of the competitors.
Uh huh.
Yeah, you can hardly open the sports page these days without hearing about yet another horrendous dreadlock-induced injury. It’s about time someone had the courage to make it stop. Bravo, Cumberland County. Bravo!

NC State Has Pack Of Backs

With the additions of two highly rated running backs, NC State suddenly has a surplus of quality running backs. Since running back is probably the easiest position to play as a true freshmen, both expect to play right away. Obviously, that can’t happen, at least not the number of carries that each guy expects, particularly when there’s an incumbent like TA McLendon. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. All the preseason happiness could fade quickly once guys start getting itchy to play. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them move to receiver.
Of course, as often as McLendon gets hurt (and he’s already missed some practices), having good backups is a must.