Thinking out loud: Providence basketball on a roll

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E

Thinking out loud…while wondering if anything can beat a good mistake, if you want to gain maximum attention…

• There’s an oft used saying once touted by legendary Hall of Fame Texas football coach Darrell K. Royal: “I’d rather be lucky than good.”

• Does that mean you’re giving up skill – something you can control through your own means – over arbitrary good fortune, which no one can control?  Not exactly.  Luck automatically implies good fortune, even if there is such a thing as ‘bad luck.’

• What Coach Royal – and many others who say this (including myself) generally mean here…is that you’ll always take a dose of good luck to go along with whatever skill you possess.

• Don’t overthink this, you’ll hurt yourself.

• And Providence’s 2021-22 basketball Friars have probably had a little luck to go along with the skills they possess this season.  No doubt, beating teams with injury or illness, not playing games on an opponent’s home court.  Can’t do much about the repercussions of a pandemic.

• Does that make them ‘luckiest’ in America, as some in the regional and national media have proclaimed?  Even the noted statistical guru/geek Ken Pomeroy had PC rated as the ‘luckiest’ college hoop team in the country.

• It’s not a bad thing, even if it implies there’s no skill involved.  C’mon now.  If there were no skill involved, the luck they (or anyone else) generate would be next to nothing, because there isn’t any skill in the first place!  You can’t create good luck without at least some ability involved.

• The better phrase here, with all due respect to Coach Royal: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  Perhaps he meant his teams were always prepared for opportunity…like these have Friars been?

• With the extra year of eligibility awarded to current college student athletes due to last year’s Covid-encrusted calendar, plus the transfer portal opening wide to all sports for a do-over…some teams and their coaches have figured out college athletics’ future in short order.

• Ed Cooley has figured it out.  Seasoned teams, experienced teams…always have the upper hand over less-experienced teams.  Finding experience through the transfer portal that can contribute right away is like a miner panning for gold and finding a nugget.

• Finding experience that can contribute and be a star?  That’s like shootin’ at some food and up through the ground comes a bubblin’ crude.  Beverly Hillbilly reference.  Google it.

• The transfer portal…even with the one-time immediate eligibility rule in place – won’t replace recruiting high schoolers or prep stars entirely.  But it certainly will change the way coaches approach recruiting for the foreseeable future...and force prep stars to seek other options, too.

• That’s not bad for the sport.  Spread the talent, spread the wealth.  It might even trickle UP and help the pro game…which could certainly use an infusion of maturity.  And luck.

• Providence isn’t just lucky.  You can’t be just lucky to go into a place like Xavier and control a game for 39 minutes, give up the lead for a few seconds, then snatch victory from the jaws of defeat like they did if you’re just ‘lucky.’

• Two of your top three scorers didn’t score.  And you still beat a nationally ranked team on the road.  Sez something for talent, doesn’t it?

• And if you beat a Marquette team this weekend that pantsed you by 32 the first time around?  That’s not lucky, either.  That’s karma levelling the universe.

• Marquette’s Justin Lewis not only torched Seton Hall for a career best 33 points in a Wednesday win, he wrapped up a 70+ point scoring week by claiming the US Basketball Writers Association National Player of the Week honors.

• The Friars will get another big dose of Lewis this weekend.  As Ed Cooley likes to put it – they’ll be on ‘high alert’ for Lewis.  Right now, he’s the Player of the Year in the Big East.

• Maybe Dr. Naismith – or his national basketball watch committee – doesn’t really know what he’s doing anymore?  The National Defensive Player of the Year watch list released this week doesn’t include the best defender I’ve seen – bar none – this season.

• That would be Providence’s Justin Minaya.  The numbers back it up, too, as he leads the Big East in opponent shooting percentage…when Minaya is guarding, opposing players shoot just 26%.

• Minaya is one of the few players we’ve seen in recent years who can “lock someone up.”  Kris Dunn could do that, but he also gambled a lot more on defense.  That’s what St. John’s Posh Alexander (who is on that watch list) also does, and he is very good at it.

• But Minaya doesn’t gamble.  He doesn’t need to.

• Hey, Dr. Naismith’s committee?  Fix this.

• Hey Rhody?  Just when we were starting to like your style again, you throw a couple of stinkers into the pot (GW, Richmond) for us to stew over.

• There’s time to fix issues, but it starts with scoring the ball.  Gotta outscore the other guys to win.

• Those new unis with “Ocean State” on the front in gray and Rhody blue?  Boss.

• In the meantime, Rhody’s women’s team has set a program record with a ninth straight win, beating UMass Wednesday.  URI is 16-3 and tied on top of the A-10 standings with Dayton at 6-0 going into a Sunday game against VCU.

• Bryant is making a quick climb through the ranks of the NEC, at 8-1 in league play for the first time in school history.  Peter Kiss is 6th nationally in scoring, leading the NEC, and has scored 25 or more points in five of his last six games.  He’s ballin’.

• Did you see where Gonzaga suspended the season tickets of perhaps its most famous alum, Hall of Famer John Stockton?  Because he refused to wear a mask and is unvaccinated…in addition to his spouting unfounded stories about pro athletes dying after receiving the vaccine.

• It just isn’t true.  One-time rival Detlef Schrempf called him “bat s*** crazy.”  Fellow HOFer Kareem Abdul Jabbar says his comments make athletes look like “dumb jocks.”

• What is most disappointing is his position as a role model.  He has failed it – miserably.

• Not for nuthin’, but take note of those who scream the loudest and bark nonsense because of being told to mask up or get vaxxed, or both.  They’re part of a ‘vocal’ minority.  And unquestionably, undeniably selfish.  It’s their choice to be that way, too.

• Did you also see where Novak Joke A Vich sez he will take legal action against Tennis Australia and the Aussie government for the way he was treated when his visa was rejected and he was deported?  The same visa he admitted he lied about?  Speaking of bat s*** crazy.

• Joke A Vich is also a majority owner in a biotech company currently developing a Covid treatment.  Wonder if he knows that?

• Oh, here’s another example of nuttiness:  Rock ‘n roll Hall of Famer Eric Clapton thinks we’ve all been hypnotized.  I (bleep) you not.  This comes from a guy who famously wrote, sang and rocked out to a song entitled “Cocaine.”  Good tune, though.

• Clapton said this week he’s running out of friends.  Maybe not, Eric.  Maybe they just don’t want to catch your stupid.

• Singer/songwriter Neil Young asked the streaming audio service Spotify to pull his music because of their spreading false information on vaccines, primarily through their carriage of Joe Rogan’s podcast – which is currently their most popular podcast.

• Hmmm…what do you think Spotify will do?  I hope Neil Young will remember…a southern man don’t need him around, anyhow…

• As bad as the first weekend of NFL Playoffs might have been, the Divisional Round last weekend was stellar.  Superb.  Sublime.  All ‘walk off wins.’  And a little bat s*** crazy.

• But even Patriots fans should agree here – the current overtime rule has gotta go. Games and people evolve.  And TB12 ain’t coming back to play here.

• Solution?  Here’s how to fix it.  Keep a clock, but it isn’t necessary.  Each team gets one possession.  If the game is still tied afterward, it becomes sudden death.  Make this for playoffs only if there’s still concern over player safety.

• Strategy would remain a big part of the equation, and a defense would still need to make a stop – because as it stands now, 90% of the time in the playoffs, the team who wins the coin toss in OT wins the game.

• Too simple?

• We could just have the teams line up and go for two, like they do after two OT’s in the college game.  Or would that cheapen sixty minutes of competition like shootouts do in soccer and hockey?

• Rookestradamus told me this week if Josh McDaniels doesn’t get another chance at a head coaching gig, like he originally predicted, he won’t get another one.  Outside of New England, that is.

• My buddy Eldred in North Carolina can’t be happy that BB was chosen – by WRITERS, no less – as this year’s NFL executive of the year.  But last year’s rebuild certainly put the Pats back in the mix, didn’t it?  Hard to believe it’s the first time he’s won that award.

• Seven NFL teams are still looking for head coaches, after Denver and Chicago chose their next victims.  Is it just me, or do things seem a bit unsettled in pro football right now?

• Did we really think the Patriots had rookie’s worth rookie-of-the-year mention?  For a while, perhaps.  But ultimately, both Mac Jones and Christian Barmore proved to be capable additions for a team that NEEDED to have a high draftee play like he was worthy of his selection.

• Now BB, do it again this year.  Please, and thank you.

• Needs?  Love it if the linebackers could get younger and faster.  Mostly faster.

• And major kudos to a RI product and one of Bishop Hendricken’s own, Kwity Paye – also named to the NFL all-Rookie team (as were Jones and Barmore of the Patriots).  And this coming just a few weeks after another Hendricken Hawk won a natty at Georgia – Xavier Truss.

• On the home front, local TV ratings for the NFL are mostly on an upswing.  In Dallas and Fort Worth, Cowboys’ games were up 23% over last year; in Buffalo, up 12%.  In Boston – it was a 17% increase in viewership over the pandemic season.

• Seattle and Chicago were down 14% for the Seahawks and Bears, and Pittsburgh’s ratings were down 10% for the Steelers.  Small wonder.  Everyone loves a winner.

• Got an appetite yet for the USFL?  The reincarnation of the spring pro football league will play ALL its’ games in Birmingham, AL.  All of them.  That’s one way to hold down expenses, perhaps.

• And the latest new/old coach to come on board – ex-Titans’ coach Jeff Fisher, who will lead the Michigan Panthers.  In Birmingham.

• If you believe sports are just the ‘toy department’ of life, it’s time to come out of your cave.

• The Top 20 sports “empires” (ownership groups) are worth $124 billion, sez Forbes.  Boston’s Fenway Sports Group, owners of the Sox, Penguins, Liverpool FC, Roush-Fenway Racing and NESN, is 3rd on the list at a value of $9.8 billion.

• Opendorse reports this week THE Ohio State University leads the nation in NIL engagement, with 220 student athletes involved in 608 “activities” at total earnings of $2.98 million.  Don’t think that will be included in their next round of recruiting brochures?

• The University of Louisville is creating a stand-alone NIL department within their athletic infrastructure, to attract “the best talent.”  Their words, not mine.

• Now, if they could do something about that men’s basketball team…they’d be all set.  Like Syracuse, Pitt and BC, the Cardinals are finding Tobacco Road hazardous to their hoop health of late.

• And Ed Cooley has already appeared on a short list of their coaching candidates…but you knew that was coming.

• Legalized US sports betting doubled in 2021.  I’ll repeat that.  Legal sports betting DOUBLED in 2021 over 2020.  Sure, the pandemic hurt things a year ago.  But legal sports betting started in 11 new states, and an extra $52 billion was wagered with local economies benefitting from the new income.

• Except in Massachusetts, where the state senate still can’t find a good enough reason for taxpayers to benefit.

• Well, at least one Mass resident is benefitting.  Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft is investing in WAGR, a new sports betting app that features social chat functions…meaning, you can bet your buddies over a particular game or prop bet.

• Yeah, it ain’t goin’ anywhere.  Can the pols in Boston’s statehouse come out from under their rocks on this?  Just sayin.’

• It’s not just baseball having labor issues – the Athletic reports the NWSL (women’s pro soccer) players won’t report to their clubs on the first day of preseason Feb. 1 without a collective bargaining agreement in place.

• Seems like there are more CBA’s misplaced in this country than pairs of reading glasses missing in my home.

• MLS is discussing expansion, again…this time with Las Vegas about becoming the league’s 30th city.  The Las Vegas Review Journal sez discussions with Aston Villa (of the English Premiership) owners are underway about bringing a team to Nevada.

• The Revs look like they’ll be losing MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Matt Turner to a transfer deal that will have him play with Arsenal in the EPL.  He would start the upcoming season with New England, which would allow him to stay with the US Men’s National Team for World Cup qualifying, then move to Old England later in the summer.

• Anyone believe that the baseball players’ counter-offer to baseball owners will cause owners to say. “Great! Play ball?”  Nah, me neither.  The USFL is looking better every day.

• David Ortiz is a Hall of Famer.  Didn’t we really believe that, deep down, while he was playing for the Red Sox?  One thing Sox fans have always recognized – is transcendent talent.  We’re fortunate enough to have seen a lot of it.

• Which is precisely why the Baseball Hall of Fame has lost its’ sensibilities.  No Roger Clemens?  No Curt Schilling?  And of course, no Barry Bonds?  With former Poobah Bud Selig already in the Hall?

• Please.  That’s a tacit admission that the steroid era took place.  Selig oversaw the whole charade.  So, embrace the horror.  Tell the story on a plaque.  But these guys – and Pete Rose, too – belong.

• Maybe the Veterans Committee will get it right and put these guys where they belong.  If there’s a shred of integrity left in the sport, they will.

• Said it before, so let’s say it again.  BBWAA membership should take note:  The Hall is a museum.  The Hall is not a referendum on character.  If voters are instructed to consider ‘character’ as part of their vote – which they are – then the Hall shoots itself in the foot.

• Leaving the vote to writers is, to begin with, a mistake.  Writers carry grudges.  Writers – many that I know – also succumb to the frailties of human error just as many of these players have.

• The HOF simply will never be what I want it to be, or what it should be.  Baseball writers and voters, along with the Hall itself, have become the story.  Not the players, and not the sport.  That’s the real shame here, the idiocy.  The irony.  The stup…you get the idea.

• I’ll go back and visit the Hall, someday.  When they’re willing and able to tell the whole story.

Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrbroadcaster@gmail.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here!  Would appreciate the follow on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and join in on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.