James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Thinking out loud: What a run for Boston sports

John Rooke
May 17, 2019 - 3:28 pm

Thinking out loud…while wondering how many Friars have their names etched on the Stanley Cup…

  • Honestly, it’s almost criminal – and comical – at the same time.  18 finals’ appearances for Boston/New England teams since 2001.  And before you commence hatin’ again, consider what we went through to get to this point?

 

  • Mark Daniels of the ProJo tweeted out exactly what I was thinking right about the time the Bruins were putting the finishing touches on their four-game sweep of the not-so-worthy Carolina Hurricanes (nee Hartford Whalers).  So he gets the credit for his faster fingers.

 

  • Tweet of the Week I, from @MarkDanielsPJ: “Imagine growing up watching Roger Clemens/Wade Boggs win the World Series with the Yankees, Ray Bourque win the Cup in Colorado, Parcells/Curtis Martin leave for the Jets and the Celtics lose the Duncan lottery/hire Rick Pitino.”

 

  • I mean, THAT was almost criminal to take as a fan.  And it came after Bill Buckner, the Super Bowl shuffle (which was soon followed by the 1-15 nadir season in ‘90), getting pummeled by Montreal seemingly every year and the Celtics’ crash and burn of the ‘90’s. No wonder we b*tch so much around here. 

 

  • Those were just the finishing touches on decades of not just winning – but losing in spectacular, flame-out fashion. 

 

  • I’d say now, however, that we’re making up for lost time and opportunity.  Nine Super Bowls, four World Series’, three Stanley Cups, two NBA Finals.  All since 2001.  Yeah, go ahead and hate all you want. 

 

  • But to this point of view, it’s sweet, sweet payback for that cruel and unusual punishment.  There is one Titletown today, and it ain’t in Wisconsin. 

 

  • Now, if Jerry Jones could finally get off the deck and do something non-stupid about my beloved boyhood heroes in Dallas after 25 years of abysmal failure, I’ll really have it made.

 

  • I don’t know about you, but I need a ride on Bear Force One.

 

  • Tweet of the Week II, from @NBCSportsPR: “Through Sunday, the 2019 #StanleyCupPlayoffs have averaged a total audience delivery of 1.121 million viewers (72 games) across the networks of NBC Universal, still ranking as the BEST ON RECORD.”

 

  • Was this a bad week for college basketball?  Perhaps, but I would suggest it’s been a poor couple of months, really.

 

  • Sure, the FBI-led college basketball scandal may yet still have the opportunity to clean up the mess in the sport – but only if the NCAA is willing to go along for its’ share of the dirty work.  I mean, the NCAA likes its’ money, its’ notoriety, its’ share of the spotlight and headlines, too. 

 

  • And they’ve had plenty, lately.  Greed and corruption almost hand-in-hand with the excitement of March Madness.  So much so, you have to wonder if 66-year-old John Beilein leaving Michigan this week to take over the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers might be the first example of a coach to make the leap from a listing boat.  Or a sinking sport.

 

  • Maybe, he’s the first of several who finally decide they’ve had enough of the college game.  Why?  Because the game is dirtier than many imagine – maybe too much like the pros already, so why not go to the pros and get paid like a pro?

 

  • Beilein has a reputation as a squeaky-clean, do-things-the-right-way guy.  And if HE thinks something smells in the college game, well then…doesn’t it?  Just sayin’.

 

  • It also could simply be a matter of wanting a new and different challenge.  One-time Beilein player at West Virginia, Mike Gansey, is a primary reason why Cleveland came into play as a possible NBA landing spot.  Gansey is the assistant GM of the Cavs.

 

  • When he played for Beilein in the mid-2000’s, they went to an Elite Eight and a Sweet 16; the year after Gansey left, Beilein’s team won an NIT title.  Old Big East fans will certainly recall his transformation of a program that had taken a step back in the latter years under Gale Catlett.

 

  • After Gansey graduated in ’06, what many don’t know is he became seriously ill with a life-threatening staph-infection, and Beilein and his family helped nurse him back to health and a continuation of his career playing overseas and in the G-League.  This could also be a case of “thanks, Coach, for all you’ve done for me.”

 

  • Beilein’s climb up the coaching ladder began in 1975 at Newfane High School in New York. He coached at Erie Community College, then moved to Nazareth and on to Lemoyne, Canisius and Richmond, and finally to West Virginia in the Big East and Michigan in the Big Ten.  That’s some steep climb, amiright?

 

  • At each stop along the way, his goal was to coach and mold young men in their teens and 20’s. He did that and did it successfully, everywhere.  So before you count him out as an NBA coach, it sounds to me like he’s plenty qualified to coach in today’s league.

 

  • Which is exactly why – if it ever happens – I could see a coach like PC’s Ed Cooley moving onto the pros before I see him take a crack at another college program.  Someday.

 

  • That goes for Jay Wright and Kevin Willard, too.  Again, if it ever happens.  I’m happy that Ed seems happy right now, right where he is.  History generally hasn’t been kind to coaches making the college-to-NBA move, right Rick Pitino?

 

  • Back to the NCAA for a moment…as they announced this week Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith will head up a 19-member ‘working group’ to consider how current NCAA rules might be modified to allow athletes compensation for the use of their names, images and likenesses. 

 

  • Cha-ching for the players?  It’s a start.  At least it’s being acknowledged, with a report due in October.  The gorilla in the room is no longer 800 pounds, but he’s still a pretty large dude.  And they’ve still got a lot of crap to clean up.

 

  • Congrats to Providence athletic director Bob Driscoll, announced this week as an inductee into his alma mater’s 50th Athletic Hall of Fame class at Ithaca College.  Driscoll was a three-year captain and two-time team MVP playing hockey, leading his team in scoring all three years, and he also played two seasons on the Ithaca baseball team.

 

  • A couple of weeks ago, his sights were much different.  Not lesser, just different.  Now, ex-Friar star guard John Linehan – the NCAA career steals leader – is joining Tom Crean’s staff as an assistant coach at Georgia – after working at Brown and Hartford and originally contemplating a position for next season at Fairfield. 

 

  • St. John’s L.J. Figueroa announced this week he’s staying on with the Red Storm, after originally saying he’d transfer following Chris Mullin’s departure as coach.  Big win right there for new coach Mike Anderson.

 

  • Ex-URI guard Christion Thompson announced he’s transferring to Tulane for his final year of eligibility next season…in a ‘coming home’ arrangement.  Thompson played his prep ball near New Orleans, leading his team to a Class 1A Louisiana title.

 

  • And the Green Wave has been busy lately, also picking up Kansas transfer K.J. Lawson for new coach Ron Hunter to work with.  Hunter had been at Georgia State for eight previous seasons.

 

  • Did anyone notice that the sons of former NBA stars Kenyon Martin and Scottie Pippen are BOTH heading to Vanderbilt to play for Jerry Stackhouse?  Whoa.

 

  • Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen stepped down this week, shortly after signing a contract extension.  Rumor has it he may be trying to stay ahead of the posse coming to town.  Penny Hardaway’s basketball Tigers are a hot pick as a Top 10 entity next season, which may also invite a little scrutiny, if not a visit, from said posse.

 

  • Congrats to St. Andrews head coach Mike Hart, and former players Tony Robertson (from East Providence) and Josh Odugbela (Class of ‘99) for their upcoming induction into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.  Building blocks, indeed, at the beginning of a 20+ year run of excellence for the Barrington, RI school.

 

  • Can’t help but think the NBA Draft Lottery is somehow ‘weighted’ in favor of the poor, undeserving wretches of the pro basketball world.  And then, there are this era’s New York Knicks – the very poster children for poor and wretched – who can’t catch a break to save their pitiful lives.

 

  • Tweet of the Week III, from @KirkBohls: “How long before Zion demands a trade from New Orleans?”

 

  • The Pelicans’ fate is similar to the one facing San Antonio in late ‘80’s with drafting then-savior David Robinson as the #1 pick and hoping to sign him.  Robinson was originally reluctant to move to South Texas, but as history played out – it turned out pretty well for him and the franchise.

 

  • The Celtics?  Terry Rozier is merely a role player in the s*it-show that transpired this season, only he doesn’t realize he’s a role player in that show, either.

 

  • Not for nuthin’, but I’m thinking this week was as good a week for the Kraft’s as they’ve had in a while.  N’est ce pas?

 

  • Ok, keep up with me here, don’t go to sleep.  Bruce Arena is in, Mike Burns and Brad Friedel are out for the New England Revolution.  I suppose some supporters will never be happy until a soccer-specific stadium is built – but Arena’s hiring is a start, isn’t it?

 

  • The Revs, ICYMI, are off to their slowest start in 24 years of existence.  So hiring the most successful American and US coach in history to run things in Bill Belichickian-style at least sounds like the right thing to do. 

 

  • But after a major flop leading the USA in the 2018 World Cup, has today’s game passed him by?  We’ll find out.  His last full-time gig in MLS, with the LA Galaxy, was a success with three MLS Cup titles in four seasons.

 

  • Meanwhile, more of the same on the pitch this week, albeit in a ‘friendly’ against EPL stalwart Chelsea FC this week.  Three-nil.  Not too surprising.  But the “Final Whistle on Hate” promotion and fundraiser is/was a great idea, raising $4 million in front of more than 27,000 fans.

 

  • Gronk turned 30 this week.  Thirty.  And he’s retired, so we think.  Life’s good, huh?

 

  • The reveal of the Patriots coaching staff and their respective duties this week is a sure sign of time passages.  And the more things change, the more Bill Belichick stays the same and in charge.

 

  • BB will apparently call the defensive plays.  Like there was really another choice here?  He had the final call over Matt Patricia and Brian Flores, too, in case you didn’t know.

 

  • Jamie Collins’ return to New England after trading him away to Cleveland three years ago is a no-brainer.  Why?  You can never have enough good players at a particular position is one reason.

 

  • And another (larger) reason – he costs less money than he would have as a free agent three years ago.  The Patriots can afford him, or at least, are okay with paying him what he’s currently worth.  It’s a minimal money deal, with little guaranteed.  He’ll have to earn his roster spot, so if there’s any “freelancing” going on out there, he won’t be around long.

 

  • The signing of receiver Dontrelle Inman is a sneaky-good one, if ya’ ask me.  Another guy with size, can go over the middle, can replace largely what Chris Hogan did for you previously.  But the Patriots are also his fourth different team in the past two years.  He’ll have something to prove, too.

 

  • Oh, J-E-T-S.  Never, ever change, please?  Firing the GM after allowing him to scout and draft your latest class and spend your money to sign free agents – then replace him with your new head coach (Adam Gase) with little-to-no track record of success – is simply too good to be true.

 

  • Apparently, Gase and Mike Maccagnan weren’t in lockstep over bringing in Le’Veon Bell or signing C.J. Mosley to his big deal.  Whatever.  As long as we can count on the circus continuing its’ run in Gotham, I’m good.

 

  • In the face of this week’s PGA Championship, comes the news that Tiger Woods – after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom less than two weeks ago – is facing a wrongful death lawsuit after an employee at his Florida restaurant was killed in a drunk-driving accident. 

 

  • That Tiger didn’t immediately offer some kind of settlement to the case tells me he thinks he can beat it.

 

  • The CVS Charity Classic – showcasing PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour stars – returns for a 20th year next month at Rhode Island Country Club, having raised more than $22 million for local charities – but the announcement this week came without Billy Andrade’s presence.  Brad Faxon was there, but Billy?

 

  • He was busy playing on the Champions Tour, finishing tied for 2nd at the Regions Tradition in Birmingham, Alabama behind Steve Stricker.  Git ‘er done, Billy.

 

  • My buddy “Big E” sez he had no trouble gettin’ to the golf course last week, while his two golf partners had a lot of trouble.  One said he had to buy his wife jewelry to get to the course, while the other said he actually bought his wife a new car in order to play.

 

  • “Big E” called them both out.  “You guys are wimps.  I simply told my wife, ‘Honey, golf course or sex this weekend?’  She threw me my sweater and said, ‘Take this, it might get cold out there.’”

 

  • Red Sox pitching strikes out 24 batters in one game this week against Colorado, and they still lose.  How did the Rockies get on base enough to win?

 

  • Speaking of Colorado – former Pawtucket St. Raphael Academy star Chris Iannetta is still behind the plate catching, now in his 14th major league season. 

 

  • Rafael Devers led the American League in hitting this week at one point and going into the weekend he’s 5th overall.  He’s also making (at the least) routine plays in the field seem, well, routine.  Whatever he’s eating or drinking now, it needs to become a staple in his diet.

 

  • More than 800,000 “Game of Thrones” fans signed a petition for a ‘do-over’ to remake Season 8?  That is so, so…so millennial.  Don’t like something?  Do it again!  I weep for the future.

 

  • There were two legendary losses in the entertainment world this week.  Doris Day and Tim Conway were both titans in their respective film and comedic careers.  Day was truly one of the first “girls’ next door” for America to fall in love with.  In the middle of the 20th century, she was also one of the most popular and acclaimed singers of the time.

 

  • Conway was simply one of the funniest men I’ve ever seen perform.  His talent was a huge reason behind the success of the old “Carol Burnett Show” on TV in the ’70’s, and the comedy “McHale’s Navy” in the ‘60’s.  Of late, he was the voice of “Barnacle Boy” on the SpongeBob Squarepants cartoon series. 

 

  • The world is a little less sunny, and a lot less funny today without those two.

 

  • Watching ex-PC and Rhode Island native Noel Acciari celebrate winning the NHL’s Eastern Conference crown on the ice this week with his Bruins’ teammates, I immediately wondered how many former Friar players have had their name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup?

 

  • According to collegehockeyinc.com – and thanks to @BWMcGair03 for tweeting it out – there are four Friar players who have had their names permanently carved into the Cup a total of six times:  Steve Rooney (1986, Montreal), Peter Taglianetti (1991 & 1992, Pittsburgh), Chris Terreri (1995 & 2000, New Jersey) and Hal Gill (2009, Pittsburgh). 

 

  • Former Providence coach and athletic director Lou Lamoriello, who is currently the GM of the New York Islanders, won three Stanley Cup titles running the NJ Devils.  Acciari’s addition, should it occur, would make it five former Friar players’ names and seven times total.  And it could happen on the same ice as he and the Friars won their 2015 Natty, too.

 

  • My friend Edward in East Providence posted on Facebook this week: “I don’t support Trump, but in respect to the Office of the President of the United States, I would definitely accept any invitation I would get (to go to the White House).  Now I’m getting French Open fever.”

 

  • Edward:  Just like the Jets, don’t ever change.

 

  • 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 ...

 

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