David Butler II/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Good and bad week for UConn hoops

John Rooke
July 06, 2019 - 2:00 pm

Thinking Out Loud 7/05/19

Thinking out loud…while wondering if Joey Chestnut is really just a man, or a complete freak of nature?


  • Let’s take the good with the bad this week for UConn, shall we?  Good:  More than 3000 new season tickets – and counting – in the first week following last week’s announcement of re-joining the Big East. 


  • A rejuvenation of the program, reeling in apathy, putting more butts in seats, limiting travel expenses.  This is the good stuff, on its’ way to fruition.


  • Bad:  UConn was slapped with sanctions for violations committed under former coach Kevin Ollie – who is still suing the school for his wrongful termination in the first place.  Wonder how that’s going for him now?


  • Tweet of the Week I, from @PCFriarFaithful: “Reset the clock on ‘Days Without a Big East Team being involved in a scandal.’”


  • Not for nuthin’ – it ain’t exactly a good way to reintroduce yourself to a league that just offered you a life raft. 


  • When we mentioned the Big East presently consisted of like-minded institutions banding together last week…this can’t be what anyone in the league was looking for, can it? 


  • The conference had to know impending probation would be an issue for Connecticut.  To their credit, some sanctions were self-imposed by UConn, anticipating a slap-down from the NCAA.   But the last natty won in 2014 by men’s hoops stays put.


  • Val Ackerman has done a superb job of shepherding the league through its period of re-birth and growth.  Perhaps that’s part of the reason why the exact date of entry or starting play for the Huskies is TBD? 


  • That, and the thousand-pound albatross (aka football) still hanging ‘round their necks.


  • Staying put in the AAC is not an option.  “When a school takes its best product, men’s and women’s basketball, to another conference it’s not going to play football in our conference,” said American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco. 


  • Well then.  In the spirit of Independence Day, Huskies’ football should just go ahead and proclaim it.  Fireworks, anyone?


  • ICYMI, this next school year Merrimack makes it 11 members for the Northeast Conference as a new rival for Bryant, and on PC’s non-conference schedule in hoops.  The Warriors move up in all sports to Division I, with men’s hockey, of course, already a DI member in Hockey East.


  • The PC-Florida clash will be at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, as part of the Hall of Fame Invitational triple-header on Dec. 17th.  Temple vs. Miami and Iona vs. Princeton round out the fight card. 


  • The Gators are likely to be Top 10-caliber once game day rolls around.  This matchup may be one of the big opportunities for the Friars to make a little national noise next season.


  • Former Friar guard Makai Ashton-Langford has apparently decided to continue his career at Boston College with the Eagles.  It’s an excellent landing spot for him, and I wish him well.


  • He’ll sit out and have two years of eligibility remaining – where he should then be able to contribute for Jim Christian.  Plenty of time for Makai to work on his shooting, as it hampered an otherwise improved overall game last season at PC.


  • And good luck to former URI offensive lineman Dwayne Scott, a three-year starter who is transferring to Boston College to finish out his eligibility at “OLine U,” and ostensibly get a closer look-see at NFL possibilities.  


  • Sorry to learn of Jared Lorenzen’s passing this week, at the young age of 38.  Lorenzen was the NY Giants’ backup QB to Eli Manning for the ’08 SB win over the Patriots, and had been hospitalized recently with several health issues, related to his once jovial “Hefty Lefty” moniker. 


  • Colin Kaepernick, either you (and Nike, by proxy, pulling those Betsy Ross sneakers off the market) are extraordinarily shrewd, or completely off your rocker.  Which is it?


  • News Flash:  The Patriots aren’t visiting the White House to celebrate Lombardi Trophy VI.  Think this is a good thing.  Think the time for WH visits by sports teams have come – and gone.  But probably not forever.


  • I think there’s a reason Tedy Bruschi has had the misfortune of suffering two strokes now.  He’s such an incredible spokesperson for awareness, and since suffering the first one nearly 15 years ago, he’s probably saved lives. 


  • And on the Fourth of July, he probably saved his own.


  • Former Celtic great and Hall of Famer Bob Cousy will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a civilian in this country.  This will put the Celtics right up on a pedestal with the New York Yankees.


  • What?!?  Boston and NY are the only two professional franchises to now each have two recipients of the award – Bill Russell joins the 90-year-old Cooz, and the Yankees’ Babe Ruth and Yogi Berra have also been so honored.


  • Wait a minute.  Can we claim two-and-a-half in this deal?


  • Zen question:  What happens if the Nets win an NBA title before the Celtics?


  • Zen answer:  29 other NBA teams and their fans reply, “karma is a b*tch, Boston.”


  • Like the Kemba Walker addition, if for no other reason that he’ll at least try to make others around him better. 


  • Enes Kanter can’t play defense?  Maybe.  But can he rebound?  That’s a definite need for the Celtics, last time I checked. 


  • In last week’s free agent frenzy, former St. Andrews and Syracuse star Michael Carter-Williams found a new deal for the next NBA season, signing for one year with Orlando.


  • Ex-URI star Jared Terrell, who is a free agent after playing on a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves last season, has re-upped for the T-wolves summer team in Vegas.


  • Anyone else think the Brits are probably ready to let us keep baseball for ourselves, after last weekend’s nice, tidy and orderly 9-inning show (taking 4:42) in London?  Not exactly a great example of the Great American Pastime, was it?


  • Tweet of the Week II, from @MarkBergsEye: “If I were England, then I would consider declaring war on the U.S. for exporting this crap.”


  • The only positive result that I can find after that bloodbath, from a Boston perspective, of course – is the decision surrounding the eventual emergence of Nathan Eovaldi as the closer.  Whenever he’s healthy, of course.


  • Tweet of the Week III, from @Jared_Carrabis: “This is like thinking about calling the fire department when your house has been on fire for seven hours.”


  • Barrington, RI-born Trevor Kelley’s call up from Pawtucket for his major league debut in Toronto was a bit bumpy, after dominance at the Triple A level.  But someone has to pitch, amiright?


  • As bad as the bullpen has been, the starters have been just as disappointing – if not more so.  The big bucks’ guys have been big flops in the win column.


  • If the Red Sox at the all-star break really believe they can challenge for the AL East crown, they’re delusional. 


  • With obvious, painful reluctance to improve the pen and further expand baseball’s most-expensive payroll, I’m thinking the July 31st trade deadline should be approached – or at least considered – as sellers, if you’re not buyers.


  • Maybe you’re not as appreciative as some, but a shout out to Yankees’ voice John Sterling, who missed his first NYY broadcasts in 30 years this week and weekend…after 5060 consecutive games behind the mic. 


  • Sterling is 81 years old, and the one-time DJ on 63 WPRO-AM is recharging his batteries for the season’s second half.  TV voice Michael Kay is also going to miss about a month, for minor surgery to correct a problem with his vocal cords.


  • And the Yankees will still be in first place when both return to their familiar roles.


  • My buddy “Big E” sez his neighbor is a big-time art collector, but also in a bit of a pickle.  The guy’s lawyer called him this week to tell him his wife invested $5K in two pictures that she figures are worth between $2 and $3 million, each.  E’s neighbor was ecstatic.  “You’ve made my day!” he told his lawyer.


  • “Hold on,” the lawyer shot back.  “The pictures are of you with your secretary.”


  • Three more Hockey Friars (at last count) were selected in the NHL Draft this week – a further sign that your program is where it needs to be on the national level.  But keeping them there will probably require keeping at least a couple of those guys around.


  • Outstanding to see the new baseball and softball complex at Boston College is being named for Pete Frates.  Athletic Director Martin Jarmond’s announcement of the Pete Frates Center, a 31K square foot indoor training facility, does bring the Eagles a little closer to the Joneses of the ACC.


  • But it also puts them miles ahead in the humanity department, for what it’s worth.


  • While we applaud the efforts of Big East commissioner Val Ackerman, thanks to her stewardship over the past six years since reconfiguration and with the addition of UConn to the league mix…somewhat quietly by comparison the Atlantic-10 has also re-upped commissioner Bernadette McGlade.


  • McGlade this week received a vote of confidence from league presidents, who extended her contract to lead the A-10 through 2023-24.  She is the longest-tenured female of the 32 Division I conferences in the country.


  • Took some heat for my Women’s World Cup stance last week on Megan Rapinoe.  Don’t care.  Yes, I’m very aware she has won at several levels.  Why do certain athletes, in this present day and age, insist upon screaming “look at me?!?” 


  • That’s not a ‘team’ player.  And her stance doesn’t represent all Americans, either.  Colin Kaepernick is another one of “these”, and his decision-making has helped him lose a career.  I don’t particularly care for that attitude, or appreciate it, even if their athletic talents are unmatched…no matter what country he or she represents.  If they want to be opinionated, fine, it’s a free country. 


  • Even if they both appear to be unappreciative of those liberties they enjoy.  Open mouth and fire away.  Just be prepared to accept the repercussions.  We have the inalienable right, in this country, to be half-baked and half-witted if we so choose.


  • If you have at least half-a-pulse, you have to be rooting for 15-year-old Coco Gauff at Wimbledon.  15?  My tennis racket is twice her age.  After taking down Venus Williams earlier this week, Gauff gets 7th seeded Simona Halep in the 4th round Monday.


  • And if you’re a Providence guy or gal, how can you not pull for Boo Boo Andrade?  With a unanimous decision last Friday night at the Dunk in front of more than 7000 fans, Andrade appears to be poised for Paz/Manfredo status among the locals.


  • And if his handlers play it right, Andrade should have his sights set on middleweight unification with potential opportunities against Canelo Alvarez and/or Gennady Golovkin.  Alvarez, however, is considering a move up to light heavyweight if you listen to the ring rumors.


  • Joey “Jaws” Chestnut is a machine.  Or a cyborg.  Or simply just not human.  It’s not so much that he won – again – the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest again this year (his 12th title), with 71 dogs and buns incredibly downed in 10 minutes.  It’s what his body consumed in that 10 minutes.


  • If you couldn’t score at home: 20,590 calories, 1172 grams of fat, 2130 milligrams of cholesterol and 781 grams of protein.  The calories alone are the intake for a ‘normal’ human over a 10-day period.  10 days!


  • How this guy is not a 500-pound behemoth is amazing.  He’s 6-1, 230 pounds.  And he fired back at noted NFL writer Peter King, who criticized his ‘sport’ of competitive eating recently.  “It’s easy to criticize something,” Chestnut told TMZ before this year’s event.  “He could easily criticize NASCAR for greenhouse emissions.”


  • For the record, competitive eaters (according to Major League Eating – yes, there is such a thing) regularly donate to food banks.  To each his own, I suppose.  But please hold the ketchup.


  • Ron from Warwick posted on Facebook this week, on UConn’s Big East invitation: “I would have left UConn continue in their death spiral.”


  • Ron:  While your opinion is shared by many on this side of the border, my gut – and my brain – have both told me for some time that this move would be in the long-term best interests of the league.  I get all the reasons for and against.  I understand emotion and fandom are a huge part of the equation.


  • But the bottom line – if UConn has a healthy men’s program, it’s good for the business of basketball in the northeast, and around the country.  It’s good for Madison Square Garden and the Big East spotlight in New York every March.  Face it, the sport needs its’ bad guys! 


  • 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 Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.