Daily Archives: Jan. 14, 2014

Shocker Invitational (Team 8)

As you know, I love every team in the Shocker Invitational. It helps that they were chosen from among the best players in Wichita State basketball history. And when this 16-team tournament begins – and I promise it will – there are sure to be some fun match-ups.

Don’t be surprised if Team 8 – the Paul Miller team – is around for a while.

Miller is the anchor, the 6-foot-10 center who in 2005-06 was the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year and the best player on a Sweet 16 NCAA Tou

Paul Miller leaves the floor in Nashville after a heartbreaking overtime loss to Vanderbilt in the 2005 NIT.

Paul Miller leaves the floor in Nashville after a heartbreaking overtime loss to Vanderbilt in the 2005 NIT.

rnament team. Miller, who struggled to find consistency early in his basketball career, averaged 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game as a senior.

The power forward is 6-6 Rich Morsden, a Kansas City Wyandotte product who transferred to WSU from Hutchinson Community College, where he was one of the best junior college players in the country.

Morsden was outstanding for the Shockers, too, averaging 15 points and 8.1 rebounds in 1972-73 and 16.5 points and 9.2 rebounds in 1973-74.

One of his Shocker teammates, Bobby Wilson, is the shooting guard for Team 8. And what an outstanding shooter Wilson was. Also a junior college transfer, Wilson averaged 17.7 points as a junior and 20 points as a senior. He played for parts of four seasons in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Indiana Packers. Here’s a recent interview with Wilson from celticslife.com.

Wilson is one of the best guards in Shocker history, even though Wichita State was just 21-31 during the time he and Morsden were teammates. The Missouri Valley Conference was a beast in those days, which had something to do with the Shockers’ lackluster record.

The small forward on Team 8 is Coffeyville native Al Tate, who at 6-4 averaged 9.9 rebounds during his WSU career from 1957-60. Tate, a tremendous athlete, also scored 14.6 points per game as a Shocker. Tate played on three Ralph Miller-coached teams, all of which finished 14-12.

Team 8′s point guard is Robert George, another junior college transfer. There seems to be a theme here. George played for Mike Cohen during the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons. He averaged 12 points and 4.2 assists as a junior and 10.6 points and three assists as a senior.

There’s a lot to like about this team, but it’s lacking size. Morsden and Tate, though, were outstanding if undersized rebounders.

This is a very good team and one that could go far in the Shocker Invitational. But I say that about all the teams.

 

The Cubs lighten up

The Chicago Cubs, bless their hearts, are sports’ most lovable losers.

They haven’t won a World Series since 1908, three years before my father was born. When I think about that in those terms, it’s almost unfathomable. Teams, every once in a while, stumble into championships, don’t they?

The new and friendly Cubs mascot, Clark.

The new and friendly Cubs mascot, Clark.

As a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, it is my responsibility and duty to loathe the Cubs. But it’s so hard to do because the Cubs usually aren’t good enough to evoke much emotion one way or the other.

I don’t want to say the Cardinals are superior to the Cubs, but the Cardinals are superior to the Cubs. And so is almost every other professional sports franchise in the history of sports.

Which makes what the Cubs did Monday funny. And sad. And desperate.

The Cubs, for the first time in their 138-year history – which seems like 238 to long-suffering fans – announced an official mascot. His name is Clark, a “young, friendly Cub” who wears a baseball cap backward and will greet fans as they enter Wrigley Field.

Some will turn right around and leave.

Somebody in the Cubs’ marketing department obviously thought a mascot was exactly what this franchise needed. I say it needs a couple of starting pitchers and a few guys who can hit the ball out of Wrigley Field.

“The Cubs are thrilled to welcome Clark as the team’s official mascot,” Cubs senior director of marketing Alison Miller said in a statement. “Clark is a young, friendly Cub who can’t wait to interact with our other young Cubs fans. He’ll be a welcoming presence for families at Wrigley Field and an excellent ambassador for the team in the community.”

Young and friendly seem to be important elements of the Cubs’ new mascot. I suppose old and crotchety wouldn’t fly, although those are certainly traits shared by many Cubs fans who presumably would welcome more baseball success at the expense of a mascot, no matter how young and friendly.

According to reports, as the Cubs prepared for a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field, they partnered with Northwestern University to conduct a survey and found that there was a desire for the 100-year-old park to be more “family-friendly.”

If you’ve seen the shenanigans that go on in the bleachers during a Cubs game, you know that “family” and “friendly” aren’t always in the mix. And I suspect alcohol consumption at Wrigley will not show a precipitous decrease because fans are feeling more friendly.

The Cubs have gone 61-101 and 66-96 the past two seasons. They are in another rebuilding mode and one loses track of how many of those the team has embarked on during its history.

This is a team that has won 90-plus games only four times since 1984, five times since 1969 and six times since 1945.

A broadcaster, Harry Carey, is arguably the biggest star in the team’s history.

Now there’s new star in town. Clark the Cub, named after the Clark and Addison intersection where Wrigley is located.

The Cubs probably will continue to lose. But they’ll be so cute, cuddly and friendly, no one will care. Right?

 

The Cubs say Clark’s great-grandfather Joa was the franchise’s original live Bears mascot in 1916.