Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Providence basketball is back

John Rooke
October 20, 2018 - 12:08 am

Thinking out loud…while wondering if Keith Foulke has any gas left in his tank…

  • What an incredible week this has been, with everything happening seemingly at once. The magnitude of the stories and teams involved, with what’s at stake, has been fun to follow.  There simply is no better place on the planet to be a fan – or a writer and broadcaster.  I’ll try to keep up!

 

  • Happy hoops season!  The NBA tipped-off this week, and the local five’s launch into their exhibition slates as well.  The madness won’t be here for another five months or so, but the build-up should be delicious.  That’s right, I said delicious.  I savor the new season, as I savor the flavor of a freshly-made street taco.  Or burrito.

 

  • It was mighty sloppy with 31 turnovers, but the Friars’ 96-57 exhibition opening win over Bridgeport did provide a solid glimpse of future success – namely from A.J. Reeves and David Duke.  Smooth and talented, both of these guys.  Wouldn’t be at all surprised to find both as Big East all-rookie this season.

 

  • Nate Watson led the way with 15 points and eight rebounds – which is much better in the board department.  Emmitt Holt is not what he once was, but he provides energy, leadership and toughness – can’t underestimate those qualities with freshmen by his side. 

 

  • It was the only move to make, cancelling the traditional celebration of Late Night Madness at PC.  The death of a 19-year-old student (Augustus Cardello of Westport, CT) should give us all pause for a moment, with gratitude for what we have – without complaint over what we don’t have. 

 

  • If you’re wondering, Big East Media Day is Thursday, Oct. 25th.  Expect the Friars to finish anywhere from 3rd to 7th in the preseason poll.  But also know that the Friars have finished higher than they were predicted to finish every year under Ed Cooley.

 

  • Remember a while back when I told you not to sleep on St. John’s?  Now would be a good time to wake up on the impending Red Storm.

 

  • Auburn transfer Mustapha Heron is eligible to play right away, receiving a hardship waiver from the NCAA to be nearer to his mother, who is seriously ill.  The all-SEC 2nd team guard last year is a newly-minted Jerry West candidate for the nation’s top shooting guard this year, too.

 

  • And Shamorie Ponds, a likely preseason Player of the Year candidate, is also on the Bob Cousy list as the nation’s best point guard.  That’s a power-packed, one-two punch in the Red Storm back court.

 

  • Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman this week was presented with the Women Leaders in College Sports ‘Adminstrator of the Year’ honor. 

 

  • The USBWA (United States Basketball Writers Association, of which I am a member) will honor Temple’s Fran Dunphy as the winner of the 2018 Dean Smith Award, which recognizes coaches who represent the game with honor, honesty and integrity.  This season will be Dunphy’s 30th – and final – season, and his 13th at Temple.

 

  • Rhody gets the 5th spot in the Atlantic-10 preseason poll out Thursday, behind George Mason and ahead of Dayton.  Saint Louis is the favorite, with UMass 8th and possible PC opponent George Washington 13th (out of 14).  Junior Jeff Dowtin was named 2nd team all-A10 at guard, with junior forward Cyril Langevine named to the preseason all-defensive team.

 

  • URI will take part in one of those “secret scrimmages” (shhh!) against St. John’s Saturday.  The Rams will have the chance to see where they stack up against a Johnnies’ team that should be a Top 4 finisher in the Big East.  Let’s hope a few moles get out and let us know how it went.

 

  • Brown has 93% of its scoring back from last season, and the Bears are a preseason pick for 5th in the Ivy League.  Mike Martin’s team should have a legitimate shot at reaching the Ivy postseason tournament (Top 4 get in) for the first time next March, this year held at Yale.

 

  • In case you were wondering, UCF is the preseason pick to win the American, coached by ex-Duke Blue Devil Johnny Dawkins, with UConn pegged for 5the (out of 12) in Dan Hurley’s first season on the Storrs campus.

 

  • Speaking of Duke – the on-going federal trial touched the Blue Devils’ this week, if only because Mike Krzyzewski said he’s not paying any attention to it.  “It’s not what’s happening,” Coach K said this week.

 

  • Well coach, since your uber-recruit Zion Williamson’s named was dragged through the muck this week (his father allegedly asked Kansas for money, housing and a job) and then suddenly he decided on Duke ‘for free,’ maybe it is what’s happening?

 

  • Yes, soccer is a global game.  But basketball is getting there, too.  On NBA opening night rosters there were 108 international players from 42 different countries.  Canada tops the list with 11.  Dallas has an NBA high seven international players on its’ roster, with the Celtics having five.

 

  • Thoughts on the Celtics’ opening?  YAWN.  Wake me after Christmas.

 

  • We’ve been most fortunate to have two very real people serve as reluctant heroes when it comes to fighting ALS.  Pete Frates continues his fight, and sadly, we lost NESN cameraman John Martin this past week.  Rest assured, Café Martin and everything it stood for – and still stands for – will remain open.  

 

  • I will pilfer a phrase from a New York Yankee great, Red Sox fans: “It ain’t over, ‘til it’s over.”  Yogi Berra said that.  Take it to heart before the World Series starts.

 

  • But the days of dogging David Price could be nearing an end, after his Thursday night performance in the ALCS clincher at Houston.  Does his first postseason win make up for all the angst he’s caused?  No. 

 

  • But for the first time in three years, I feel as if Price has earned his (rather large) paycheck.  Just sayin’.

 

  • Jackie Bradley’s granny in Game Three almost makes up for the part of his regular season spent below the Mendoza Line.  Almost.  And the two-run dinger in Game Four?  It begs the question ‘where ya’ been?’

 

  • But ALCS MVP?  That qualifies as a ‘wow’ moment.  Down is up, left is right, bad is good.  It appears the Sox are pre-ordained for something special, doesn’t it?

 

  • I appreciate the back-and-forth nature of Game Four Wednesday night.  But four hours and 33 minutes, for a 9-inning game, is simply ridiculous. I don’t care how controversial the game is, or how many big, game-saving, life-altering plays occur, either.  If there was ever any doubt as to why kids are running away from baseball, this is one big reason why.

 

  • The rule book says it was an “out.” Fan interference.  Steve Bartman, Part Deux.  It didn’t go Houston’s way, but it was an out.  Sucks to be you, Jose Altuve, but them’s the breaks.

 

  • I am absolutely going to demand we devote the next year of sports talk radio programming to “Astrogate.”  Except, it’ll be for the City of Houston.  Someone else needs to experience our collective psyche damage and misery.

 

  • Stealing signals?  Really?  Checking to see that the Red Sox weren’t cheating?  Don’t these dopes know that teams change these things out now to prevent this from happening, or even mattering? 

 

  • And all I want to know is, if this Kyle McLaughlin character - who was aiming his cellphone into the Sox dugout to see if the Sox were stealing THEIR signs – just who is the paranoia king that ordered the deed done?  What was his game credential for, exactly?  Sign-stealer spy? 

 

  • Where there’s smoke, there’s usually a fire.  All I know is, since this ‘plot’ was revealed, the Astros lost four straight.  And not for nuthin’, but there’s no rule against stealing signs.  Except that it is considered cheating, kinda.  Baseball’s ‘old school’ culture created this issue.

 

  • Thursday’s close notwithstanding, Craig Kimbrel’s rough postseason ride couldn’t work him out of town any faster unless he decided to hop in a cab outside of Fenway before next Tuesday night.

 

  • Nathan Eovaldi is going to make some money next season, somewhere.  And maybe the next few seasons after that.  I’m not against the Sox deciding to pay him, reasonably, and passing on re-signing Kimbrel.  But would an offer be enough to entice Eovaldi to stick around and be a 3rd or 4th starter?

 

  • Want a true, unsung hero for these Sox?  Meet Steve Pearce.  Quick – and no cheating – who did he play for before he came to Boston?

 

  • Tweet of the Week I, from @ChrisMCameron: “Beating the defending World Series champions in the #ALCS & 1 of 2 remaining NFL unbeatens on the same night: just so Boston.”

 

  • Ok, show of hands.  Who is surprised the Patriots’ win over the Chiefs dominated in head-to-head TV ratings with Red Sox?  The numbers – a 34.3 rating and 51 share locally for the Patriots against a 20.6 rating and 30 share for the Sox.

 

  • What this means, of course, is that 81 percent of ALL television households around here were tuned to either football or baseball Sunday night.  Yeah, sports don’t matter much, do they?

 

  • Additionally, the Patriots-Chiefs game was the highest-rated Sunday Night game since Week 1 of the 2017 season – which was also Patriots-Chiefs – and a 34% jump over Week 6 last season.

 

  • ICYMI, that’s now 12 straight wins for the Patriots against teams holding better records than they had going into the game.  Tomato cans?

 

  • Want another beauty?  How about New England is 70-0-1 when they score 40 points or more in a game.  The tie happened back in 1964 against Oakland, 43-43. 

 

  • TB12, with 227 career wins (including the postseason), now has the most wins of any NFL player, ever.  Might be tough to top this one.

 

  • Defense in the NFL today = a large piece of swiss cheese.

 

  • But a defense still needs the ability to make plays when the field shortens itself in the Red Zone, limiting the “wide” in a wide-open offense.  And the Patriots apparently still have that.  Barely.

 

  • Beergate?  Look, fine the kid and take his tickets away.  But criminal prosecution for throwing a beer on Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill is a waste of time and my tax money.  Stupid is as stupid does.

 

  • Can you imagine this exchange in jail?  “Hey kid, whaddaya in for?”  “Uh, I threw a beer on a football player.”  Ridiculous.

 

  • Khalil Mack plays for the Bears this weekend, the Patriots will find themselves in a battle.  He doesn’t play?  The Patriots roll.  Mack is one of the few game-changers, especially on defense, in the NFL today.  But he’s no Lawrence Taylor, right Bill Belichick?

 

  • Tweet of the Week II, from @chatham58 – filed under The Mysteries of Life: “I don’t think I’ve ever had a greater 180-degree food turn in my life than with Brussels sprouts. Vomit inducing as a kid, now I’ll eat a pile of roasted ones like candy. Same tongue/throat/belly...makes no sense.”

 

  • URI football took a tough one on the chin last weekend in a battle of nationally-ranked teams at Meade Stadium, losing to #20 Maine on a last-second kick.  But you know you’re making progress when you still manage to keep your seat at the Top 25 table, which the Rams did this week, at #22 despite the loss.

 

  • And Rhody has a second straight Top 25 opponent to tackle, at #17 Stony Brook Saturday night.  How Ram-tough are these guys?  They’ve never beaten Stony Brook.

 

  • Bryant tries to bounce back after a loss to Central Connecticut at Fordham Saturday afternoon.  The Bulldogs are 4-2, and the game against the Rams is the first of 3-straight away from home.  Pretty easy to see the Dogs need a better “D,” as CCSU rushed for 442 yards last weekend.

 

  • Thoughts and well wishes go out to UConn linebacker Eli Thomas, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered at practice this week. 

 

  • After getting a little lesson taught to them by an experienced (and #2-ranked) Fighting Irish team last weekend, PC hockey returns to the ice for the Hockey East opener against UConn at Schneider Friday, then at Sacred Heart Saturday night. 

 

  • Providence is ranked 5th in this week’s polls, and with a win Saturday night the program notches its’ 1000th victory, all-time.

 

  • My buddy “Big E” sez he set up his friend Doug to go on a blind date with a friend of Mrs. E’s. Doug was a little worried about going out with someone he had never met before. “What do I do if she’s not pretty?” Doug asked.  “Big E” replied, “Just go up to the door to meet her and be polite. If you don’t like what you see, then shout ‘AAAARRRGGGHHH!” and pretend to have an asthma attack.  It will work.”

 

  • So, Doug walks up to the door on the night of the big date.  He knocks and is immediately awe-struck by her beauty.  As he begins to introduce himself the beautiful girl then shouts, “AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!”

 

  • You remember Keith Foulke, of course.  The man on the mound when 86-years of futility finally ended in 2004, Foulke retired from baseball officially in 2009, after a final stab at closing in Oakland and a comeback attempt for the independent Newark Bears.  He’s been increasingly active on Twitter during these baseball playoffs – which has been interesting, even responding to one of my tweets during Craig Kimbrel’s ‘issues.’  Foulke was hired by the Sox two years ago to work with minor league pitchers, hoping to develop (at least some of) them into major league relievers.

 

  • A fellow J.R. from Virginia posted on Facebook this week: “Listening from work to you talking about the World Series being on during the day. I remember well, John, our teachers used to let us watch on TV and we would run from class to class so we didn’t miss any of the game.”

 

  • J.R.:  Those were the days, huh?  I remember well the ’69 Series with the Orioles and the Mets, and I took a transistor radio into school.  When my teacher saw it, she said I could listen to the game being played that day during recess – and then she joined me on the playground to listen, too!  Sadly, these are the kind of memories I wish today’s kids could experience.  Especially the “day baseball” experience.

 

  • 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 Southern New England Sports Saturday!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

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