Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Thoughts from Big East media day

John Rooke
October 26, 2018 - 1:00 pm

Thinking out loud…while wondering what I would really do with $1 billion…

  • Yeah, yeah, World Series…Patriots…Celtics…Bruins are all in play.  But Big East Media Day Thursday in New York also thrusts a spotlight onto college hoops, in a good way considering the FBI investigation of the sport, and on Providence’s quest for a 6th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. 

 

  • The prevailing thought - what have you done for us lately, Friars?

 

  • PC’s pick for 3rd was a bit higher than expected, especially since Ed Cooley told me earlier in the week he picked his own team ‘about 7th or 8th.’  But clearly, his fellow coaches in the league think a lot of these Friars.

 

  • Initial impression of the coaches’ picks?  I would have placed Providence 4th (behind St. John’s), Butler is a bit high (5th), Georgetown is too low (7th) and there’s no way Creighton finishes 9th. 

 

  • That Friar junior forward Alpha Diallo was named 1st team all-Big East shouldn’t come as a surprise. What might come as a surprise is Diallo may be the best on-the-ball defender in the league.  And if his outside shot has improved, whoa.

 

  • Tough to put expectations on a freshman.  But Providence native and ex-Classical High School star David Duke has ‘em, as the league’s preseason co-Freshman of the Year (with Villanova’s Jahvon Quinerly).  He’ll have ups and downs, but there’s little doubt – he’ll run the show if the Friars want to be at their best.

 

  • Bowie State is the next exhibition game, Saturday afternoon at 4:00 in the Dunk.  Expect much like Game One against Bridgeport – but hopefully, fewer turnovers.  Lots of combinations to play through.

 

  • Ed Cooley made an appearance on FS1’s morning show “First Things First” Wednesday and represented PC and the Big East very well, as you might expect.  Got invited back on the show, too, by Cris Carter for not being afraid to speak his mind. 

 

  • Joe Hassett and I get that first-hand every game, in and out of the team’s huddle and with the, um, refs.  Not much of a filter on the guy.  Just sayin’.

 

  • Redshirt senior forward Emmitt Holt made an appearance on Cooley’s coaches’ show this week and continues his return to form from two seasons ago prior to his illness that cost him all of last year. 

 

  • Holt estimates he’s about 65% where he was two years ago and wants to add another 15 pounds to his current 6-7, 220-pound frame. 

 

  • The Big East and Big 12 this week officially announced their anticipated schedule challenge, starting next season.  Like the Big 10 and ACC, it will give teams in both leagues a minimum of 20 high-major games on their schedules, which should help with the overall NET rating for possible postseason play.

 

  • Texas at Providence, the return of this season’s home-and-home, is already one of four (out of 10) scheduled matchups for 2019-2020. 

 

  • The Friars will have a L-O-A-D-E-D schedule for 2019-2020, including the Big Ten-Big East Gavitt Games matchup and a spot in the Wooden Legacy in Anaheim.  PC played in the event in 2015 and defeated Arizona in Fullerton, CA…and the Wildcats will also return to the tourney next year.

 

  • After thumping St. John’s in one of those dumb, secret (shhhh!) scrimmages, URI defeated Pace 80-65 Thursday night in their exhibition opener.  Fatts Russell scored 19 points with three steals. Jeff Dowtin had 18, Cyril Langevine 16.  These guys will need game-in and game-out consistency for the Rams (picked 5th) to be a factor in the A-10.

 

  • ICYMI, Kansas was the pick this week at the Big 12 Media Day (big surprise, right?), and Duke took top honor at the ACC Media Days (another shocker).  Kansas has won 14 straight regular season titles in the Big 12.  Friar foe Texas (December 20th in Austin, TX) was tied for 4th.

 

  • Boston College was selected 12th (out of 15) in the preseason ACC basketball poll, way behind Duke, Virginia, North Carolina and Syracuse.  Senior guard Ky Bowman was picked as a 1st team all-ACC player, as the Eagles try to build on a 19-16 record and finish in the NIT last season.

 

  • Could the NBA’s G-League really lure kids from playing in college?  Offering a $125K contract to an 18-year-old might sound enticing, but the number of one-and-done’s in college shouldn’t change much.  Those that opt this direction for an early shot at the pros won’t be lottery material.

 

  • Giveth, and taketh:  Congrats to former-Friar-now-Chicago-Bull Kris Dunn, who became a father this past week.  He then sprained an MCL and will miss the next 4-6 weeks of NBA play.

 

  • PC’s women’s team has a player on the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award List for the nation’s best shooting guard – Jovana ‘Yoyo’ Nogic.  Drysdale played at UCLA and was the first woman to attend an NBA training camp.  Yes, she was married to former LA Dodger great Don Drysdale, too.

 

  • Tweet of the Week I, @ESPNStatsInfo: “Home teams that win the first 2 games of a best-of-7 postseason series have gone on to win the series 82% of the time (46-10).”

 

  • Did you hear Bill Belichick batting lead-off to Fox’s World Series coverage?  There may be Hate for the Hoodie in other NFL locales, but not at the network level.

 

  • Game One time, 3:52.  Game Two time, 3:12.  Better, but not perfect.  If you love baseball, you should care.  It’s. Too. Damn. Long.

 

  • When the Sox score first in the postseason, they are 9-0 heading into Los Angeles.  And 0-2 when they don’t.  Let’s see, keys to the game, anyone?

 

  • Does this mean we have to “like” David Price now? 

 

  • Credit is deserved where it is due for Price.  But I’ll be damned if the Sox don’t have a horse shoe fitted squarely up their --- backside right now.

 

  • And the bullpen is a big reason for it.  Between Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi and Craig Kimbrel, the three averaged 98.6 miles per hour, per pitch, Wednesday night. 

 

  • Mookie Betts will probably be the A.L. MVP.  But he got an early jump on the Series’ top honor by winning the entire country a free taco this week, amiright? 

 

  • Drew Pomeranz over Brandon Workman for the final World Series roster spot?  I see the lefty thing – but Pomeranz’ finish to the season was so abysmal, he’ll likely need a little of that horseshoe-luck from Alex Cora to rub off on him.  If he pitches at all.

 

  • Dave Roberts’ decision to pull Pedro Baez with two outs in the 7th of Game One?  Probably the right move to make if you play the odds.  But the best managers in the game can defy those odds, and win.  Roberts did neither and goofed again Wednesday when Ryan Madsen suddenly lost sight of the strike zone.

 

  • Defining ‘clutch’: 36 of the 68 runs scored by the Red Sox in the postseason have come with two outs.  That – is amazing.

 

  • Defining ‘petty’: The Red Sox organization for not inviting 2004 World Series hero Curt Schilling to Game Two for the ceremonial 1st pitch.  I mean, really.  What are we, in junior high school around here?  Like him or not, he’s the primary reason the Curse of the Bambino lies in a grave with Babe Ruth.

 

  • Woonsocket native and ex-Hendricken Hawk Rocco Baldelli’s hiring as manager of the Minnesota Twins, at age 37, is more than just a good story.  It’s definitely feel-good.  But it’s also just.  It’s right.  It completes a life-cycle that all-too-often ends in disappointment or unrealized dreams.

 

  • Considering the muscle disorder that helped hasten his playing career, it’s also proof that you can still accomplish just about anything.  The ‘Woonsocket Rocket’ blasts off on another great adventure, even if it is the Twins.

 

  • Tweet of the Week II, from @MikeGiardi: “With Derek Anderson slated to start Monday, that will mark the 13th different starting QB the #Bills will have deployed since Tom Brady entered the league in 2000. #Patriots”

 

  • I was saddened to learn of former Patriots’ head coach Rod Rust passing away this week, at age 90.  Rust’s only season as head coach was in 1990, when the team finished a franchise-worst 1-15.  I hosted his show on WPRI Channel 12 that year, and when we asked for permission to do the program he was more than willing to accommodate.  In fact, I think he was shocked.

 

  • Rust was one of those coaches who was smart as a tactician, but not great at playing the role of CEO.  He was the defensive coordinator for the Patriots during their SB XX season, and his last coaching gig was in the CFL in 2005 at age 77 – as a defensive coordinator. 

 

  • The Patriots had good defensive personnel in that 1-15 season (Andre Tippett, Vincent Brown, Ronnie Lippett, Fred Marion) but had troubles with the offense – they played with three quarterbacks.  Who remembers Marc Wilson?  Tommy Hodson? 

 

  • They also had trouble with ex-TE Zeke Mowatt, who had his infamous sexual harassment confrontation with then-Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson.  After their only win of the season over the Colts, the Pats lost 14 straight – and the mess eventually led owner Victor Kiam to bail out to James Busch Orthwein.

 

  • Who says Dont’a Hightower can’t play?  Maybe he should play on the punt teams a bit more often – his blocked punt that led to Kyle Van Noy’s TD against Chicago led to his being named AFC special teams’ player of the week.

 

  • They needed it, too.  It was the 1st time for two special teams’ scores in the same game in 8 years.

 

  • The Patriot defense took the whole ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ thing a little too seriously in Chicago. And whenever you guys would like to keep the opposing QB from breaking out on a 20-yard gain by rushing BY him in the backfield?  Speaking for myself, that would be great.

 

  • Gronk and Sony aren’t needed right now.  They will be needed, of course.  Gronk will probably play, because he has contract incentives pulling him back out there.  But he shouldn’t go. 

 

  • Did someone say ‘trade?’  Yes, please, with the deadline coming up Tuesday.  If no Patrick Peterson, which would be an incredible gift of good fortune to add a Pro Bowl corner to your backfield, then a linebacker that could, maybe, cover a little bit? 

 

  • Deone Bucannon, also from Arizona, would do nicely.  Or, if Jon Gruden isn’t through throwing away players in Oakland, Bruce Irvin also fits the bill.

 

  • Tweet of the Week III, from @ DeeepThreat: “The Patriots are 4-0 with Josh Gordon in the lineup and have averaged 39.3 points per game. Then again, his pass coverage isn't so good.”

 

  • Not for nuthin,’ but Providence’s Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade won the vacant WBO middleweight boxing title at TD Garden last week.  He’s 26-0 and has been fighting professionally for 10 years.  He’s a former Olympian.  So why is it that no one, outside of a few locals, seems to know who he is – and how good he is? 

 

  • It ain’t exactly the days of Vinny Paz, Peter Manfredo and Gary Balletto any more, for certain.

 

  • My buddy “Big E” sez his minister’s son just got his driving permit, and that he told his son if he brought his grades up, studied the Bible a little and got a haircut they could talk about his use of the family car.  A month later, the boy went to his Dad and asked again about the car.  “Son, I’m proud of you,” Dad said.  “Your grades are up, and I’ve seen you reading the Bible. That’s great.  But you still haven’t cut your hair.”

 

  • The kid, thinking he’d reason with his minister-father, answered. “But Dad, Samson had long hair.  Moses had long hair.  Noah and Jesus both had long hair!”  To which his Dad replied, “you are correct, my son.  And they all walked everywhere they went.”

 

  • Were you caught up in the Mega Millions and Power Ball frenzy this week?  The chance at winning some portion of more than $2.2 billion between the two lotteries – no matter how remote it might be – drives normally sane people into flat-out Nutsville. 

 

  • Maybe you know someone who lined up and spent hundreds – thousands! – of dollars on a 1-in-300 million-plus chance to claim a fortune?  Then there’s the case of 87-year-old Earl Livingston of New Jersey, who fell and broke his hip on the way to buying a lottery ticket this week.  The hospital staff felt badly for him, so they offered him a chance to get in on their pool. 

 

  • He accepted – and the office pool won a million bucks.

 

  • Me?  I bought 10 bucks worth of tickets, and I rarely play.  That was nutty enough.  But as the saying goes, ‘you can’t win if you don’t play.’  So, I did.  And as I’m still writing this column, that must mean I didn’t win.  Otherwise, my Thinking might not be so Out Loud. 

 

  • It might be all to myself, hibernating on a secluded island.  With satellite TV so I can keep up with the Patriots, Red Sox, Friars and Longhorns, of course.  And tacos.

 

  • @AlexFeuz from Franklin, MA tweeted at me this week: “Kershaw > Sale any day of the week.  Also, Kershaw on his way to becoming one of, if not the greatest pitcher of all time.” 

 

  • Alex:  Be careful.  Your Yankee fan is showing.  Here’s a little lesson for you – just because you believe something to be true, doesn’t always make it so.  Clayton Kershaw is very good, but so is Chris Sale.  Who really cares which pitcher is better?  The Yankees don’t have either one.

 

  • 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.