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Thinking out loud: Chalk has prevailed in NCAA Tournament

John Rooke
March 29, 2019 - 4:04 pm

Thinking out loud…while wondering if the Red Sox can wipe that smirk off of Yankee faces – and repeat this year?

  • Got brackets left in good standing?

 

  • Thought this might be coming.  With the unpredictable nature of the college basketball regular season being what it was, “chalk” was likely to prevail in this NCAA Tournament. 

 

  • And so far, it is.  The Top 12 seeds advanced to the second weekend for the first time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams, back in 1985.

 

  • But did I pay attention to that?  Not. For. One. Minute.

 

  • Was Duke lucky against UCF? Is water wet?  Teams need a little luck to win – but it says here, after watching Houdini Coach K worm his way out of that one, Duke won’t.

 

  • With seasons’ ending all over the country, the mad chase for newcomers is well underway.  Transfers.  Roster turnover.  And it especially hits home for the Friars. 

 

  • Tweet of the Week I, from @HentonBuckets23: “For all of the guys looking to transfer schools it doesn’t get easier, no matter where you play at you have to put the work in for success! You get what you put into it! Respect the Game! #pcbb”

 

  • Coming in – Luwane Pipkins, the UMass Friar-killer of the past couple of years.  What kept you?  Going out – Drew Edwards and Makai Ashton-Langford.  Thanks fellas, and best of luck to you.  Just be aware, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

 

  • Speaking of going out – did anyone else notice Mike Anderson’s last win for Arkansas came against PC in the NIT?  He was fired by the Razorbacks after losing in the 2nd round at Indiana.  By three points, and without his best player who declared for the NBA draft.  Rough biz.

 

  • Oh, sorry.  Anyone still following the NIT?  Didn’t think so.

 

  • Might have been worth it to follow the Women’s NIT, where Providence reached the 3rd round (in a field of 64) before bowing to Georgetown.  A G-R-E-A-T season for Jim Crowley’s Friars in a return to the postseason, and a return to relevancy within the Big East.

 

  • Major shout out to the Providence Friar basketball managers, who advance (thanks to their social media prowess) to the Manager Games’ Final Four in Minneapolis.  Go win that ‘ship, boys.

 

  • Those guys are the unsung heroes for any basketball team.  And, they help me keep my head on straight when traveling with the team and juggling 15 things at once during the season.  Thanks, fellas.

 

  • No surprise here – St. John’s Shamorie Ponds has declared for the NBA Draft and will hire an agent, even though he does have a year of eligibility remaining.  Ponds is a two-time 1st team all-Big East guard, he can break guys down and score with the best of ‘em, and he can defend, too. 

 

  • His coach, Chris Mullin, is the only other player in school history to rank in the Top 10 in scoring, assists and steals. So why did his team take a nose-dive like it did late this year?

 

  • Despite this season being the first time since 1993 for the Big East to have zero teams advance to the second weekend, all is not lost.  What goes down, always comes back up.  Provided it’s made of rubber, of course.

 

  • Show of hands.  Who had DePaul as the last team left standing in the league this year?  The Blue Demons are in the best-of-three championship series of the CBI…against former Big East member South Florida, which knocked off Brown-conquering Loyola Marymount.

 

  • Brown’s success this year was unprecedented, sure.  20 wins for the first time.  Winning a postseason game for the first time.  Seems to me, if you’re gonna call a state champ for this year, the Bears have it.

 

  • Ex-Friar coach, Tennessee’s Rick Barnes, was named the USBWA Coach of the Year this past week.  Invoking my best Bob Lobel – “how come we can’t get coaches like that?”

 

  • But we do have Nate Leaman as the hockey coach at PC.  Six straight NCAA appearances for Friar hockey, unprecedented at Providence and the second longest current streak in the country.  The next question may be – “how can we keep coaches like that?”

 

  • Who else thought it very, very strange to see PC come up in the regionals held at the Dunk against Minnesota State?  Brown is the host school – and the Dunk isn’t PC’s home ice, as we know.  Shhh.  Don’t tell the Screaming Eagles.

 

  • Will Coach Hayden Fox show up to root for his…oh, forget it.  This is a ‘90’s TV sitcom reference that absolutely flies over everyone else’s heads around here.  Well, most everyone.  ‘Cept mine.

 

  • Congrats to Brown’s Tommy Marchin, who stepped from one sheet of ice at Meehan Auditorium onto the ice at the Dunk…within hours of each other.  Mark Divver of the ProJo reported this week the senior left-winger signed with the Providence Bruins and has already begun skating as a pro.

 

  • Speaking of the P-Bruins, they announced a 10-year extension of their working agreement with Boston this week, as their AHL affiliate.  Has this ever been in doubt after 27 seasons?

 

  • The ProJo’s Divver also tweeted he’s heard Brown has extended hockey coach Brendan Whittet – following the Bears’ season which ended in the ECAC semifinals this month to Cornell.

 

  • Bryant baseball is off to a 14-9 start after a home-and-home sweep of Brown this week. Head Coach Steve Owens recently won his 300th game and has already had his Bulldogs play at then-#1 LSU and win two-of-three at the ACC’s Virginia Tech this season.

 

  • Tweet of the Week II, from @KevinRDuffy: “How hard would it be for a player (like Gronk) to come back after retiring? Larry Fitzgerald – ‘Have you seen that guy? I think he’d be just fine.’”

 

  • We knew it was coming.  It’s just the finality of Rob Gronkowski retiring that seems so, so final.  Does this mean ‘no soy fiesta?’

 

  • There is a list of 8-10 tight ends in NFL history that you could consider, at least, as the ‘best ever.’  If Gronk isn’t on that list, then the list isn’t real. 

 

  • Here’s the thing that puts him at the TOP of that list, for me at least.  Only Randy Moss and Jerry Rice had more career TD catches by the age of 30.  They’re both already HOF wide receivers, too.  Not tight ends.  And Gronk isn’t 30 – yet. 

 

  • Anyone else think Jerod Mayo is likely to get a ‘talkin’ to’ by his new boss, for releasing via social media that he HAS a new boss?  The former Patriot linebacker announced on Instagram (or was it Snapface?) that he is joining the Patriots’ coaching staff as LB coach, replacing Brian Flores.

 

  • Greg Schiano.  Undefeated as a defensive coordinator.  Helluva way to go out, I suppose.

 

  • So pass interference can now be challenged by coaches in the NFL, on calls and non-calls.  Call it the “Nickell Robey-Coleman” rule after the Rams’ defensive back who plowed into the Saints’ Tommylee Lewis last January.  Something tells me we’ll be revisiting this one again, and maybe too soon.

 

  • But no overtime rule changes – at least not yet – from the owners’ meetings this week.  So sit down and shut up, Chiefs.  Stop complaining over “it’s not fair” that you didn’t get the ball in the AFC title game.  Learn to play defense and stop someone.

 

  • Tweet of the Week III, from @jeffphowe: “Bill Belichick is getting ready for his 45th season. I asked him if he’s got another 45 more in the tank. “Probably not.” So we’ve established his window.”

 

  • ICYMI from the owners’ meetings this week, the Patriots will open the season on Sunday Night Football, not Thursday Night Football, as is traditional for the defending champ.

 

  • Or at least it was traditional.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a direct response to the Patriot-hangover forced upon the rest of the NFL, by the NFL.  Green Bay and Chicago is more attractive than the Pats and say, Cleveland?  Kansas City?  Pittsburgh?  Dallas? 

 

  • Each one of those is better than Packers-Bears.  C’mon man.  Snooze-fest.  Rookestradamus says the ratings will prove it.

 

  • Five former Heisman Trophy winners have played for the Patriots.  One of them, ex-Navy RB Joe Bellino, passed away this week at age 81.  Can you name the other four – without cheating?

 

  • My buddy “Big E” sez his granddaughter is pretty smart in her schoolwork, but she does have a talking problem in class.  After seeing her report card, there was a note written across the bottom telling her parents she’s “a great student, but she has one fault. She talks too much in class. I have an idea I’m going to try, which I think may break her of the habit.”

 

  • “Big E” gave the card back to his son, and told him “let me know if the teacher’s idea works on her?  I’d like to try it out on your mother.”

 

  • When is winning really losing?  Looks like the joke is on us. WPRO says the State Lottery reports casinos lost $900K on sports betting in February…which means Rhode Island collects only about $150K for the month. The state projection was $11.5 million for the fiscal year. 

 

  • Didn’t realize we had so many ‘educated’ gamblers around here.  Did you?  Neither did Lil’ Rhody’s gov’ment.

 

  • Tweet of the Week IV, from @JimDonaldsonJr: “Opening Day should never be in March. Just sayin.’”

 

  • Agreed, Jimbo.  And the Sox open with an 11-game western road trip.  Did we forget – history usually says, “West Coast trip = bad news for Boston?”

 

  • Don’t know if you recognized this or not – but with the start to this season, 2019 marks the first time there isn’t a single player in baseball remaining from the 20th century.  How you feelin’ now?

 

  • Adrian Beltre and Bartolo Colon were the last two remaining ‘remnants’ of 20th century baseball on major league rosters – and they are now, no more.  This makes MLB the first of the four major sports without someone still around who played in the 1900’s.

 

  • Pardon me while I complete my reservation for the old folks’ home.

 

  • The Associated Press reports the last time this happened in history was before the World Series had been invented.

 

  • Still waiting for work – Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel.  I’d take Keuchel over Kimbrel, right now.

 

  • As a reminder - Overall, MLB attendance has dropped for three straight seasons and last year the average fell below 30,000 fans per game for the first time since 2003.

 

  • To combat this, or at least try to increase awareness and popularity, MLB is providing its players with video highlights to “tweet” at fans.  Thanks, but I’m all set with that.

 

  • If you really want to appeal to the younger generation, speed up the pace of the game.  The pitch clock’s time has come.

 

  • Or just send a cattle prod out to David Price when it’s his turn to pitch.  If he goes over the time limit – bzzzzt!  No more problems.

 

  • The last time the Sox had a ‘closer by committee?’  2003, as WEEI’s John Tomase reminded us this week.  How’d that turn out?

 

  • Alex Speier and the Boston Globe had some solid research this week on teams that win 100+ games in one year, and how they fare the next – 26 of 29 teams since 1995 saw an average decline of seven wins the next season.

 

  • The last team to win 105 (or more) in one season and hit 100 wins the next?  1998 Atlanta Braves, who won 103 in ’99 then lost in the World Series to – the Yankees.  The last team to win 105+ and a Series, then do the same thing the next year?  The ’75 Big Red Machine from Cincinnati.  44 years ago.

 

  • It has been 20 years since a team managed to go b2b in winning a World Series.  Yankee fans still have that one over the Sox.  It says here, however – that it might be another 20 years before it happens again. 

 

  • Rookestradamus normally doesn’t make a foray into baseball – preferring football instead – but I coaxed that hardball tidbit out of his overtaxed, underappreciated brainstem. 

 

  • Not for nuthin’, he did correctly call the Gronk retirement, foreseeing his departure last October. 

 

  • Personally, I’m not trying to set anyone up for disappointment.  Love baseball season.  But then again, maybe I am trying to cushion an obvious fall.  Actually, trying to give the 2018 run one last hug-and-squeeze of relevancy before it sails off into the history books.  It was that extraordinary.

 

  • Now, the gloves are off.  Back to being feisty again.  Damn Yankees always bring it out.

 

  • The other four Heisman winners to play in New England for the Patriots – Doug Flutie, Jim Plunkett, Vinny Testaverde, John Huarte – all quarterbacks.

 

  • Chuck from Barrington posted on Facebook this week, inquiring about a couple of items concerning Friar basketball: “John, with Langford leaving do you know of any guards that PC is chasing?  Also, what are the chances of Holt getting a 6th year?  If he doesn’t get a 6th is there a big being looked at?”

 

  • Chuck – all good questions that are hard to answer at this moment.  But I know they’re questions that many Friar fans have, so let’s start with this – changes in this day and age of instant gratification are inevitable, so players who transfer out of a program no longer come as a surprise.  To me, at least. 

 

  • Clearly, Ed Cooley’s move to attract graduate senior Luwane Pipkins addresses one need, but to answer you directly – yes, I believe they’re still looking.  Makes sense to bring in a younger guard that can grow with the program.  Holt has said he has petitioned the NCAA for his medical hardship year, and we’re all waiting on that decision.  It also makes sense for the program to look at other bigs, just in case Emmitt’s situation doesn’t work out.  They are looking. 

 

  • Ed has always said that recruiting never stops, no matter who you have or what your roster looks like.  He’s putting that to the test as we speak, I’m sure.

 

  • 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? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and 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 the newly re-named Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.