Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:46 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 9:54 pm
By Gary Parrish
USS CARL VINSON -- An official had just made another questionable call, North Carolina had just taken a double-digit lead, and Tom Izzo, who was happily signing autographs for military personnel five minutes before tip, was now in midseason form and fuming.
"Stop helping them!" Izzo yelled. "They don't need any help!"
In other words, they're the top-ranked Tar Heels.
They'll be fine on their own.
And they were -- proof being Friday's eventual 67-55 victory over Michigan State in what was the most unique basketball game most of us have ever witnessed. It was played aboard the USS Carl Vinson with President Barack Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama seated at midcourt, and with a host of celebrities (Brooklyn Decker, Pam Anderson), former Tar Heels (James Worthy, Tyler Hansbrough) and former Spartans (Magic Johnson, Shannon Brown) sprinkled throughout the massive aircraft carrier.
Was it a perfect night?
The court was slippery.
And it got really cold during the second half.
But strictly in terms of pageantry and patriotism, I can't imagine you can do better than watching two high-profile programs and Hall of Fame coaches participate in a basketball game on Veteran's Day atop the ship that buried Osama bin Laden's body, while the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean and American flags flap in a typical November breeze. It really was special and beautiful. Cold. But special and beautiful.
"It's the neatest thing," UNC coach Roy Williams said, "that I've ever been a part of."
Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:19 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 9:25 pm
By Gary Parrish
Rick Pitino won his 600th college game Friday night.
That's remarkable for two reasons:
So, again, Pitino spent eight seasons in the NBA.
And he still had 599 career victories through 25 seasons as a college coach.
Now let's do some math.
Pitino accumulating 599 wins in 25 seasons means he's averaged 24 wins per season -- or one more win per season than the average of Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, the man on the verge of becoming the winningest coach in men's Division I history. If you use Pitino's average wins per season (24) and multiply it by the number of seasons he spent in the NBA (8), then take that number (192) and add it to his current win total (600), what you'll find is that it's reasonable to assume Pitino could be approaching 800 victories before the age of 60 and thus considered a real threat to break the record Krzyzewski will soon set given that he's five years younger than the Duke coach.
Did you realize that?
I didn't realize that until this afternoon.
So while I know it's easy to make Pitino jokes, and I know some of you will, the truth is that one of the nation's very best coaches reached a milestone Friday night. It didn't happen on an aircraft carrier so it won't get the attention it deserves. But the win is worth noting, and there's probably lots more to come.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:10 am
Edited on: November 11, 2011 11:23 am
By Gary Parrish
John Calipari has long preached that "nothing good happens after midnight."
Because some of the very best things that ever happened to me happened well after midnight, and I wouldn't trade those memories for all the Final Fours in the world. That said, I do recognize the point the Kentucky coach is always trying to make, and I'll bet you five bucks Calipari repeats that motto at least 47 times between now and when the Wildcats open the season tonight against Marist.
Yes, UK opens tonight.
And yet Terrence Jones -- the preseason SEC Player of the Year -- was out and about in Lexington at 2:30 this morning, which is around the time he was, along with teammate Stacey Poole, involved in a traffic accident that sent both to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. To be clear, there's no indication Jones and Poole were at fault; they were apparently hit by an intoxicated driver operating on the wrong side of the road. Calipari posted on his website that no evidence of drugs or alcohol were found on Jones or Poole (or in their vehicle). So it appears this is simply a case of two people being at the wrong place at the wrong time -- although Jones needs to explain why he left the scene of the accident because the only public explanation given to date doesn't make much sense to the rational (and unbiased) mind.
Calipari said Jones left the scene out of "fear of an altercation with the driver of the oncoming vehicle," but who does that? Seriously, who has ever done that? Have you ever done that? I know I've never done that. I can't tell you I've never had friends or heard about people leaving the scene of an early morning accident, but they've always had a reason to do it, and their reasons are usually along the same lines. Never once heard about somebody leaving the scene -- and leaving a friend, much less a teammate -- out of fear of an altercation, especially when that somebody is 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds. But I guess there's a first time for everything. Perhaps this is that first time. Perhaps.
Either way, what was Terrence Jones thinking?
Not about leaving the scene.
About being out so late the night before the season-opener.
When literally the only thing anybody questions about you as a basketball player is your ability to be mature and lead, it seems like you'd want to start eliminating those questions heading into your sophomore season, and being out in the middle of the night less than 24 hours before the opener doesn't do that. It only validates the questions and makes things worse. Jones, simply put, has to be smarter.
I still think he's a terrific talent.
I still think he'll be an All-American.
But popping around town at 2:30 a.m. the night before a game with a guy who is reportedly close to leaving the program can't possibly be a good sign, and it's a helluva way to start what could be a helluva season. Nothing good happens after midnight? Again, I disagree. But if I were a basketball coach, I'd probably say that a bunch, too.
Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:09 pm
By Gary Parrish
Miami announced Thursday that DeQuan Jones will not play this season while it continues a joint investigation with the NCAA into allegations that Jones' commitment to the school was essentially bought in violation of NCAA rules while Frank Haith was the head coach.
The investigation is rooted in claims made my Nevin Shapiro -- a former booster who has said he gave former Miami assistant Jake Morton $10,000 to help secure Jones' commitment. Jones and his mother have both denied the allegation, but the investigation continues. Haith, now the head coach at Missouri, has also denied the allegation.
Jones, a senior, averaged 4.5 points per game last season.
Miami opens the regular season Friday night against Tennessee Tech.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 12:54 pm
By Gary Parrish
The Carrier Classic is just a little more than 48 hours away.
I can't wait.
And that's rare for me because, in my jaded eyes, most basketball games are, at this point in my career, just basketball games -- 40-minute contests that come and go. Somebody plays well. One coach messes up. A kid hits a big shot. Whatever. I watch. I write. I forget about it shortly thereafter with few exceptions. But this is different. I'm genuinely anxious to get to San Diego and board the USS Carl Vinson. It's the same carrier that was used to bury Osama bin Laden's body at sea earlier this year. On it I'll watch two Hall of Fame coaches and the nation's top-ranked team. President Obama will be there, too.
Simply put, this is pretty neat.
But, I must say, it's really not as complicated as some seem to think.
I've gotten lots of questions about this game from friends over the past few weeks, and some are dumbfounded by how this will work. Among the things I've been asked is whether they can put stands on an aircraft carrier. My reply: "They put aircrafts on aircraft carriers! Yes, they can probably put some bleachers on there, too." And in the spirit of clearing things up, let me tell you that no players are going to fall into the Pacific Ocean chasing a loose ball. And the game won't be rained out, either. If it rains -- and there's only a 10 percent chance of rain, according to weather.com -- the contest will simply be moved inside of a hangar that is also on the aircraft carrier. Not sure why this is so hard to understand, but aircraft carriers are massive; this one has a flightdeck area that spans 4.5 acres. Again, they land planes -- lots and lots of planes -- on these things. Putting a couple of basketball courts -- one outside and another inside -- really isn't that big of a deal.
Don't believe me?
Click this link to checkout the setup, courtesy of USA Today.
It looks pretty cool.
I'll be Tweeting from there soon enough.
Graphic via USA Today
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 4:20 pm
By Gary Parrish
Gonzaga's Elias Harris enters this season 11 pounds lighter than he was last season.
How'd he do it?
“Just eliminate my American eating habits, stay away from bread and burgers, hot dogs and especially the pop, all the sugary stuff," Harris, a native of Germany, told the Spokesman Review newspaper. "I drank a lot of water.”
This is funny to me because I hosted an exchange student from Germany last year. Her name is Dajana. She's a sweetheart -- one who gained 10 pounds within one month of moving to the United States based on nothing more than the way we eat in this country. I remember the first time we ever went out for lunch. She was blown away by the portions, grossed out by the quantity of food available, and she never could understand why the waitress kept filling everybody's glasses with Coke or Pepsi or whatever without anybody asking.
"They don't do that in Germany," she said. "You have to pay for refills there. They don't just bring you drinks."
Anyway, I Skyped with Dajana this past Sunday.
She looked noticeably thinner.
"I lost 10 pounds the first week I got back without doing anything," she told me. "I lost it by just not being in America."
In other words, Dajana knows exactly what Elias Harris is talking about. She experienced it first-hand. So I guess it's just tough being a German and living in the United States. What can I say? We like unhealthy food here ... and the culture is to eat lots and lots of it.
Posted on: November 8, 2011 9:13 am
Edited on: November 8, 2011 9:18 am
By Gary Parrish
You think John Calipari is relying on freshmen more than everybody in the country?
He's not even relying on freshmen more than everybody in Kentucky.
"We're the least experienced team in the [Sun Belt] and we lost the most production, but I love going to work each day," Western Kentucky coach Ken McDonald told CBSSports.com by phone. "There's no resistance. Just positive energy. It's pretty cool to be around. So I'm optimistic. But they are just freshmen."
McDonald started three freshmen and played a total of six -- plus one JUCO transfer -- in the Hilltoppers' 73-61 exhibition win over Xavier (La.). The lone senior on the roster (Kahlil McDonald) got 11 points in 13 minutes. But it was the newcomers who stood out -- specifically Derrick Gordon, a 6-foot-3 guard who played high school basketball at St. Patrick's in New Jersey alongside UK freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Gordon had a team-high 17 points in the exhibition. He was one of three freshmen to reach double-figures for Western Kentucky. The others were T.J. Price (12 points) and Nigel Snipes (11 points).
Western Kentucky opens Friday with Saint Joseph's.
Expect the freshmen to get a lot of run.
"We are going to throw these guys into the fire," McDonald said. "Everyone knows it."
Posted on: November 5, 2011 8:50 am
Edited on: November 5, 2011 11:36 am
By Gary Parrish
Is Derrick Rose's older brother part of another NCAA investigation?
Yes, according to a Connecticut newspaper.
The Danbury News-Times reported Saturday that Ryan Boatright's eligibility at Connecticut is under review because of a plane ticket once purchased for the freshman point guard by Reggie Rose, brother of NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose. Boatright spent his high school years playing summer basketball for the D-Rose All-Stars. Reggie Rose coaches the D-Rose All-Stars.
CBSSports.com's attempt to reach Reggie Rose for comment early Saturday was unsuccessful.
Connecticut announced Wednesday that Boatright, a freshman from Illinois, would be held out of games until the NCAA concluded a review of his eligibility, but the school offered no further details at the time. The News-Times reported Saturday that Boatright could be suspended for three to six games once the NCAA's review concludes.
This isn't the first time Reggie Rose and improper travel have been a part of an investigation. The NCAA found that Reggie Rose incurred $2,260 worth of unpaid expenses while traveling with the Memphis basketball team during the 2007-08 season. That season was later vacated once Derrick Rose's SAT score was invalidated.