Daily Archives: Jan. 2, 2014

Shocker Invitational (breaking down Team 4)

Team 4 in the Shocker Invitational has Dave Stallworth.

And four other guys.

But it has Dave Stallworth.

And that, along, makes it a formidable team in the upcoming 16-team Shocker Invitational, which starts

Dave Stallworth (42) was too much for Louisville to handle. Or most others, for that matter.

Dave Stallworth (42) was too much for Louisville to handle. Or most others, for that matter.

in a few weeks after I get a ton of mileage out of talking about the fictional teams and the real players from WSU’s past (mostly) and present (a few).

I consider Stallworth the greatest Shocker of them all, with considerable appreciate for Xavier McDaniel. I think those are the only two players in the discussion for that title, though I would argue for Warren Armstrong to get some consideration. But I won’t argue today because I just don’t have the energy.

Stallworth also happens to be my second favorite athlete of all-time, just a tick behind former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson. Stallworth and his great career at Wichita State, from 1961 to 1965, has a lot to do with my love of basketball, for sure, and loves of sports in general. Because I had a ring-side seat for all of it as just a young lad with wide eyes and a vivid imagination.

My love for Stallworth makes Team 4 one of my Shocker Invitational favorites. But let’s not slight Stallworth’s teammates. They include center Henry Carr, small forward Rob Kampman and the backcourt of Randy Smithson and Leonard Kelley.

This is an intriguing team and one that, if its smart, will defer to Stallworth.

Carr had his best season in 1986-87, when averaged a team-high 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds for a 22-win that reached the NCAA Tournament before losing in the first round against St. John’s, 57-55.

That was a balanced team led by first-year coach Eddie Fogler. Carr, a senior, came back strongly from an injury-plagued 1985-86 season, when he averaged only 3.4 points.

The 6-foot-9 Carr shot 59.5 percent from the field and a surprising 60.4 percent from the free-throw line, a huge step up from a guy who had made only 69 of 168 free throws (42 percent) previously in his Shocker career.

Stallworth was magnificent from the time he first set foot on the court at the Roundhouse. He averaged 24.2 points and 10.2 rebounds in 80 career games and did everything elegantly. He was a 6-7 piece of granite who played his best in the Shockers’ biggest games and was a two-time All-American.

Kampman was a steady small forward during his four seasons at Wichita State playing for Mark Turgeon. The 6-8 Kampman fell just short of the Shockers’ 1,000-point club with 974 and never averaged double-digit scoring for a season. But he was dependable, averaging 8.3, 7.7, 9.0 and 7.1 points during his four seasons to go with 4.3, 4.1, 5.2 and 3.9 rebounds.

Kelley played in only 54 career games at WSU, but averaged more than 12 points per game and was a strong floor leader, though he often shared point-guard duties with teammate Ernie Moore. Kelley was also an outstanding defensive player, one of the best defensive guards in Shocker history and as tough-nosed as they come.

Speaking of tough noses, Smithson put his in some dangerous places during his two seasons as a Wichita State guard from 1979-81.

Smithson transferred to WSU from Illinois State when his father, Gene, then the Illinois State coach, took over at Wichita State. He averaged 10.1 points in 1979-80, then 13 points per game for the Shockers’ Elite Eight NCAA Tournament team in 1980-81, when he played 36 minutes per game.

Smithson was not fast and couldn’t jump and made it as a college basketball player on intelligence and instincts. He was a great leader who amassed 319 assists in his two seasons.

Every time I analyze one of the Shocker Invitational teams, I come away thinking it’s a team that has a chance to win the tournament.

What do you think of Team 4?


Memories of a sports writer

Well, we made it to 2014. Considering I was born in 1955, this was not a given. But I’m happy to be here, still kicking. And still writing.

Writing is a passion for me. I enjoy it; I’m much better at expressing myself through the written word than the spoken word. That probably comes as no surprise to those who listen to me on radio.

I’ll be 59 soon and as much as I love this job, I don’t want to do it forever. So I’ve started thinking about retirement and what I might do to stay busy when I’m no longer doing this. It’s scary to think about, honestly, but a little exciting, too.

I have close friends who have retired and they seem to be doing OK. I think they miss having more on their plates from time to time, but they are a long way from despondent about their retirement.

Doing nothing has no appeal. There has to be something going on, something that provides a challenge. I hope League 42, the youth baseball league for underprivileged kids that I’m involved with, will afford me opportunities for many years. That’s the plan.

And I cannot imagine not writing. I’ll continue to write for as long as I live, even it’s in a personal blog that 11 people read. Or 10. When it drops below 10, I’ll have to consider something else. Maybe a soup kitchen.

You’re just lucky that, professionally at least, I keep my thoughts mostly to sports. Because my thoughts and opinions extend well beyond sports.

But I’m not paid to share those opinions, so for the most part I don’t. Sometimes I get outside of the lines, but readers are quick to point out that I probably don’t know what I’m talking about unless it’s something sports-related.

I suppose they have a point. But I fancy myself as someone who isn’t completely out of my league when I switch to other topics. You should have a beer with me sometime; that’s when I have a tendency to stretch my beliefs beyond professional boundaries.

My interests are varied. Music, movies, Wichita’s downtown development, restaurants, national politics, television, reading, collecting memorabilia and travel are just a few that come to mind. I also am more devoted to family time than at any other stage of my life. It’s called getting old, people. Just wait, it’ll happen to you.

There was a time in my life were I was all about sports, 24/7. A sports nut, if you will. Sports, sports and more sports, please.

Sports are still in my mainstream, trust me. I love sports.

But I’m no longer obsessed with them, except when it comes to baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals. And covering college basketball is something I will greatly miss after I retire. I enjoy the variety that being at Wichita State, Kansas and Kansas State games allows. I’m very much looking forward to this weekend – covering Oklahoma State and K-State on Saturday in Manhattan, then the Northern Iowa-Wichita State game at Koch Arena on Sunday.

I still get excited by the games and the stories that accompany them.

Hey, it’s hard for me to believe that retirement looms in the not-too-distant future. My time as a reporter and columnist has flown by. Four decades seems like forever until you’ve been in the same job for four decades. Then it seems like a blip on the radar.

As I write this, I worry that I’m making it sound like I want to retire tomorrow. No, no, no. First of all, I couldn’t afford it. Secondly, I still love what I do and consider myself lucky to be able to do it.

No, a career in journalism never allowed me to buy that mansion on the hill I’ve always had my heart set on. But it’s been a comfortable existence and one spent doing something I was absolutely meant to do.

Trust me when I tell you that while I have varied interests, I do not have varied talents. It’s not like there have been 100 other options for me.

I enjoy sharing my personal career thoughts on Thursdays here on my blog. I hope you enjoy reading them.