Category Archives: Uncategorized

The NBA season is almost here

I pay very little attention to the NBA regular season, even though I tell myself that every year is going to be different.

There’s just not enough time to devote to the 82-game season that basically tells us nothing. Half of the teams in the league get into the playoffs, which probably isn’t enough in the West and is way too many in the East.

But I do get into the NBA playoffs, which can’t get here soon enough. For those of you who are keeping

Who is this man? It's first-year Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford, of course. He's a former Lakers assistant.

Who is this man? It’s first-year Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford, of course. He’s a former Lakers assistant.

track, the regular season ends on April 16. It started back in late October, I believe. Wow, that’s a long season.

So today, in an effort to prepare myself for the playoffs, I spent a couple of hours studying up on the NBA. I’m guessing I watched three games this season from start to finish. And I call myself a sports fan?

Well, my excuse is college basketball. And having a life. But mostly college basketball, which I see a lot of, obviously. It leaves little time for the pro game.

Anyway, here’s some of what I gleaned from today’s study:

* I had never heard of seven current coaches – Atlanta’s Mike Budenholzer, Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, Detroit’s John Loyer, Philadelphia’s Brett Brown, Toronto’s Dwane Casey, Memphis’ David Joerger and Sacramento’s Mike Malone. OK, I had heard of Brown, but only because of the 76ers’ horrible losing streak this season. So I fudged a little there. But I have no idea who he is, what he’s done or why he’s coaching in the NBA.

* I’m glad to see Jeff Hornacek working out as the first-year coach of the Phoenix Suns. I like Hornacek, an Iowa State guy like Fred Hoiberg, who I suspect will also be coaching in the NBA soon.

* Speaking of the Suns, I’m impressed by their 46-31 record and intrigued to watch their backcourt of Goren Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Gerald Green in the playoffs. If the Suns make the playoffs, that is. They’re currently just a game ahead of Memphis for the eighth and final spot. I hope they hang on.

* Who are the five best coaches in the NBA? Again, I’m not expert. I don’t watch enough regular-season games to be an expert. But if I had to pick, I’d go in this order: 5) Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls; 4) Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder; 3) Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers; 2) Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat; 1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs. I suspect some of the “NBA guys” are questioning Spoelstra being second. Doesn’t two straight championships and three straight trips to the NBA Finals count for something? He wins and he’s created good harmony on that Heat team.

* There are a lot of good teams in the West, but don’t discount the Clippers. Doc Rivers has made a huge difference in LA, as you knew he would. He’s gotten a lot out of center DeAndre Jordan (12.2 ppg, 12.9 rpg) and Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick look to be improved players. This is one of the few teams I’ve seen play a fair amount in bits and pieces this season. They’re always impressive when I’m tuned in.

* Hey, the Toronto Raptors have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Bulls. I haven’t seen a second of the Raptors this season and didn’t know much about their roster. On further inspection, though, I’m eager to see DeMar DeRozan, the ninth-leading scorer in the league, perform in the playoffs. DeRozan has a decent supporting cast, too, led by point guard Kyle Lowry (17.4 ppg) and Jonas Valanciunas (11 ppg, 8.6 rpg). How long has it been since the Raptors have been relevant? They might be now.

* New Orleans was playing much better until a recent five-game losing streak. But it’s nice to see 6-foot-10 Anthony Davis come into his own as a second-year player. Davis is averaging 20.8 points and 10 rebounds and leads the NBA with 2.82 blocks per game. The Hornets could be trouble next season.

* LeBron James is having a highly-unselfish season. His scoring (26.8 ppg) is slightly down from his 27.5 career average. Yet he is having easily his best shooting year, making 56.8 percent of his shots, compared to 49.6 for his career. He has also improved on his three-point shooting – 37.6 percent this season compared to 34 percent for his career. Is it safe to assume the Heat will win a third straight championship? Or can San Antonio, OKC or the Clippers prevail? I’ll take Miami.

* Dwight Howard is working out well in Houston. The Rockets will be a fascinating team in the playoffs, too. Howard fits in perfectly, averaging 18.5 points and 12.3 rebounds and he seems content to be the No. 2 guy on the team, deferring to James Harden.

* What has happened to the Milwaukee Bucks? They’re 14-63. Worse, even, that Philadelphia.

* For the most part, I agree with analyst Charles Barkley, who has said repeatedly this season that the NBA is the worst it’s ever been. Too many young, unpolished, unrefined players. It’s symptomatic of the one-and-done age of college.

* See you next week for the start of the playoffs. I’ll try to lock in. That’s my plan, at least.

 

Friday musings

* I upgraded my DirecTV service this week and got one of those Genie DVRs which allows us to record five shows at a time. Five shows at a time. I barely watch five shows a week. But apparently I just had to have this new DVR. My television is also now hooked up to the Internet, which is cool. Because the Internet now runs all of our lives. Morning, noon and night. Who doesn’t love the Internet?

* The Royals open at home today, in fact here in just about an hour, after two walk-off losses in Detroit. I suggested on radio last night changing that term from walk-off to Yost-off, in honor of Royals manager Ned Yost. Or in dishonor. What do you think?

* Not sure how the Cardinals won two out of three in Cincinnati, especially after scoring one run in the first two games. But I’ll take it. Should be an interesting series in Pittsburgh over the weekend.

* Baseball racks my nerves, just so you know.

* I feel like I should be out in the family room, messing around with that new Genie DVR.

* I’m trying to decide what kind of trip I want to take with my wife this summer, with full understanding that she’ll have the final say. Perhaps even the only so. But I do want to make a suggestion and I think it’s going to be that we drive across the state of Montana and stop in every redneck bar we see. Something tells me she won’t mind the driving part, but the stopping part, the redneck part and the bar part might give her pause. There’s something about Montana that fascinates me. Any Montanans out there who want to provide some tips on what to do up there? All suggestions are welcome.

* I’d like to go through Yellowstone on the way home.

* I like Kentucky to beat Florida for college basketball’s national championship. Or Florida to beat Kentucky. I just know I want to see those teams meet for a fourth time Monday night.

* I’m looking forward to Wrestlemania 30 this weekend. We have people over, including my son, and my wife loves having people over. If you just had me over all the time, wouldn’t you love having other people over, too? I know I would. I wish I wasn’t over as much as I am, but I don’t really have anywhere else to go. Anyway, we enjoy the wrestling pay-per-views.

* I used to worry about letting people know I enjoyed professional wrestling for fear that they would think I was not as bright as certain I come across as being. But somewhere along the way, I stopped worrying about that. I don’t think pro wrestling is real or anything like that. I think it’s entertainment. And as entertainment, it passes the muster. Although I don’t really know what muster is. I just looked it up, though, and it has something to do with the military.

* Back to wrestling. I’m looking forward to the Undertaker putting his Wrestlemania unbeaten streak on the line against Brock Lesnar. ‘Taker, as I call him, has won 21 in a row.

* I have never owned a motorcycle or a pickup truck. What does that say about me? Because it seems like everyone drives a truck or rides a cycle. I’m feeling a little left out. But I’m too old now for a motorcycle. And I don’t really need a truck that I know of. Maybe I do and just don’t know it. I know it’s great to haul things in a pickup. But when I need to haul things, I just borrow one of my friends’ trucks. So that means that if I were to get a truck, I’d have to loan it out a lot. No thanks.

* I’ve had this jar of peppermint candy sitting on my desk down here for about a year. I’ve never opened it because it’s a little bit out of reach and I’d have to struggle a little bit to get to it. I guess I don’t like peppermint candy enough to struggle. Now if that was a box of Milk Duds I’d have thrown an arm out of socket to get to it.

* I’ll still watch the Masters without Tiger Woods. Golf doesn’t begin and end with Tiger. Yes, it would be more interesting if he was in the field. But he’s not. And golf will survive. It would be nice, though, for someone to step up as a dominant player. It looked like Rory McIlroy would be that guy, but he’s been too inconsistent. Golf, like all sports, does need superstars. Different players winning from week to week can’t be good for viewership.

* Wichita State first baseman Casey Gillaspie looks like a can’t miss major league prospect to me. I saw him hit three bullets – one for a long home run and the other two for up-the-middle singles – against Cal State Fullerton last Saturday. The guy can really hit.

* I like this group of “American Idol” singers. I know “The Voice” is really popular right now and that’s fine. I’m sure there are good singers and the format of the show works. And there’s a girl from Maize on the show this year. But AI is still my favorite. And here’s my ranking of the eight singers left, from 1-8 with 1 being my favorite. But I’ll start with No. 8 to build suspense. Can you feel the suspense being built? OK, here goes: 8 – C.J. Harris; 7 – Malaya Watson; 6 – Dexter Roberts; 5 – Sam Woolf; 4 – Jena Irene; 3 – Caleb Johnson; 2 – Jessica Meuse; 1. Alex Preston.

* Thanks everyone. As always, have a great weekend. League 42 practices start this weekend, so that’s really exciting for me. We have some big festivities in the planning stages for the week of April 28, which is when our games will start at McAdams Park. I hope you’ll come by.

 

Lists, lists, lists

Hey, everybody. I’m watching the Royals-Detroit game out of the corner of my eye. Why do these home broadcasters feel such a need to sell a bill of goods for their team? It’s kind of pathetic.

OK, got that off my chest. It’s not just the Royals broadcasters, although they do a bang-up job for a team that hasn’t made the postseason in 29 years. Just call the games. We’re smart enough to figure out what’s real and what’s not real.

OK, got that off my chest Part II.

Now for some Wednesday lists:

10 outstanding baseball play-by-play announcers

1. Jack Buck (I loved the man)

2. Duane Kuiper (listen to him on a Giants broadcast)

3. Denny Matthews (he does not get involved in the Kansas City hyperbole, much to his credit)

4. Bob Costas

5. Al Michaels (can do everything)

6. Skip Carey (funny, bright, knowledgeable. Sad he’s gone)

7. Vin Scully (amazing longevity and style)

8. Joe Buck (not his dad, but in the same ballpark)

9. Dan Shulman (very good on the ESPN Sunday night broadcast in place of Jon Miller)

10. Jon Miller (very good on the ESPN Sunday night broadcast preceding Dan Shulman)

Five (of many) things I love about League 42

1. Being around these kids, who are so funny and smart and appreciative

2. Getting to know their parents

3. Spending time with the volunteers who make League 42 go. I’ve met a bunch of new people and gotten to know people I knew just a little much better. It’s a great group.

4. My wife being involved. She’s such a trooper and is as committed as anyone.

5. Getting to coach again with my friend, Randy Smith. We’re taking a group of T-Ballers on; our first practice is Saturday.

Five songs I like by George Strait (remember, he’s at Intrust Bank Arena on Friday night)

1. Amarillo by Morning

2. Write This Down

3. All My Ex’s Live in Texas

4. I Saw God Today

5. Ocean Front Property

10 movies I’m looking forward to the rest of this year

1. Get On Up, Aug. 1 – Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42, plays another icon in this movie. James Brown.

2. Hercules, July 25 – Dwayne Johnson, The Rock, is Hercules.

3. Jersey Boys, June 20 – Love the play. Gotta think I’ll love Christopher Walken in the movie cast.

4. Edge of Tomorrow, June 6 – Tom Cruise in a futuristic thriller, which is about all Cruise does these days.

5. Jupiter Ascending, July 18 – I assume we’re all drawn to movies with “Jupiter” in the title.

6. Interstellar, Nov. 7 – Lots of buzz, which makes sense with Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain in the cast and Christopher Nolan directing.

7. Maleficent, May 30 – An evil Angelina Jolie? Yes, please.

8. Foxcatcher, TBD – Bennett Miller directs Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carrell.

9. Unbroken, Dec. 25 – A less-evil Angelina Jolie directs.

10. Gone Girl, Oct. 3 – Ben Affleck stars, David Fincher directs.

Five reasons I watch Wrestlemania

1. It provides for a fun gathering of family and friends.

2. I have always enjoyed professional wrestling, from the time I was a kid and went to Century II to see matches. I recall going even earlier to some armory near downtown, but I don’t remember where exactly or what it was called.

3. My son writes a wrestling blog for prowrestling.net.

4. The Undertaker’s 21-match winning streak, which is on the line against Brock Lesnar.

5. The Wyatt Family.

6. (bonus) Yes, I know wrestling is fake. Stop wondering. It’s fun, though, most of the time. Sometimes it’s boring. OK?

 

“The Following”

Once in a great while, and usually when sports aren’t hot and heavy, I’ll use my blog to write about something not related to sports.

Today is one of those days.

The FollowingI want to write about the most disturbing, ridiculous and can’t-take-my-eyes-off television shows I’ve ever come across. It’s called The Following and it airs on Fox on Monday nights.

Early in last night’s episode – and this show easily could be called Cults Gone Wild – a member of Joe Carroll’s new cult was asked to perform a ritualistic murder via stabbing of another cultist. She followed through as Joe, the major antagonist in this series, fondly looked on like a proud father.

But what’s a television show with just one deranged lunatic bent on killing everyone in his path? This year, we’ve been introduced to Lily, or as I call her psychopath No. 2. She, too, just can’t get enough when it comes to mayhem and murder and it appears she and Joe are in a battle to see which of the two groups can inflict the most killing.

In one scene last night, a group of butchers enters a bakery – I wish this was the set-up to a joke – and starts to stab everyone in sight. This is Lily’s group at work, though it’s becoming harder to keep the two sides straight.

Meanwhile, the FBI, along with state and local authorities, can’t seem to get a handle on these murderous louts. The leader of the good guys, Ryan, is played by Kevin Bacon, who never seems to make any progress toward catching the bad guys. And since this show will be back again next season, it doesn’t appear he’s on the verge.

Oh, he’s trying. For an hour every week, he’s trying. But if The Following was a football game, Bacon’s team would be trailing 75-0 at halftime.

Yet we’re supposed to believe he’s on the verge of catching Joe, Lily and every other do-bad creep.

But the real question here is: Why do I keep watching?

And I do keep watching. I can’t resist, even though this show represents the worst in people and brings out the worst in me. I pretty much can’t stand any character on the show. I want Joe Carroll to die. I want Lily to meet her maker. I even think it’d be OK if Kevin Bacon was offed, to borrow an old mafia term.

When it comes right down to it, I suppose I’m a fan of the action. Say what you want about this show, but there is action. The killing never stops.

My wife will not watch this show with me. No way. Yet it’s doing well enough in the ratings to warrant a third season, so somebody is watching.

As I sit glued to the action, I sometimes wonder why I have lowered myself to watching a violent, bloody mess like The Following. I worry a little bit what it must say about me. I feel shame.

But I’ll be tuning in next week. This show is the ultimate guilty pleasure.

 

Opening Day questions

This is one of my favorite days of the year. Big league baseball returns. I sit myself down in front of my television for countless games during the spring, summer and fall.

A little secret here: I hope the Kansas City Royals have a good season. It’s fun around here when the Royals are good, I think. I can’t really remember. But I think it’s fun around here when the Royals are good.

That was a joke, people. The Royals were good last season. Just not quite good enough to make the playoffs for the 28th season in a row. Not that I’m counting. But when the Royals win, it makes their fans happy. And when their fans are happy, they talk about baseball. And I love talking about baseball.

So, as I said, I hope the Royals are good this season.

Alright, now on to the St. Louis Cardinals, a team we know is going to be good. At least that’s what everybody is saying.

I prefer to see it actually happen first, but that’s just me.

St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn wins games. He also pouts a lot when he pitches.

St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn wins games. He also pouts a lot when he pitches.

Yes, the Cardinals look good on paper. But as they say, paper is paper and . . . actually, I have no idea what they say because I don’t listen very closely when they’re saying it.

I do generally listen closely to what I say, although not always. But in the case of the Cardinals, I say there are questions to be answered. And here are just a few.

Bullpen – The Cardinals don’t have a long reliever, at least someone specifically set aside for that role. I hope they don’t need a long reliever very often. When a long reliever is in the game, the game is usually over. Still, I worry about it. I also worry that Pat Neshek and Keith Butler have made the team as relief pitchers. I shouldn’t worry this much, I know. And I’m not really worried worried. I’m somewhat concerned. Yeah, that’s it.

Kolten Wong – Wong was abysmal after being called up late last season, hitting well below the Mendoza Line at something I like to call the Lutz Line. Then he got picked off for the last out of a World Series game against Boston. And that time, I denounced Wong much the way American denounces North Korea. But I’m a softie, so I’ve accepted Wong back into the fold and hope he is a productive, even exciting player. He can run. He has some pop in his bat. And he had an outstanding spring training after a slow start. All is forgiven, Kolten. For now. Wong’s backup, newly-acquired Mark Ellis, is beginning the year on the disabled list. So it looks like either Daniel Descalso or Pete Kozma, another Lutz Line kind of hitter, is Wong’s reserve for now.

Lance Lynn – I know Lynn wins games. I know he pitches a lot of innings. He’s a horse, which is what we baseball guys call pitchers who pitch a lot of innings. Although I’ve never seen a horse pitch an inning. I would like to. Anyway, Lynn is a mess when he pitches. He’s emotionally challenged. He reacts to far too many things and often with negativity. I don’t mind being negative myself, but I hate to that trait in people I care about. And because Lynn is a Cardinal, I care about him. I hope he’s matured some this season. I still want the horse innings and all of that, but I could do without the histrionics.

Oscar Taveras – For a couple of years now, we’ve been hearing about what a great outfield prospect Taveras is. But we’ve never seen him play. Taveras literally has not played an inning of a game in professional baseball, yet is considered a top five prospect. OK, that’s a lie. He has played. He played some for Triple-A Memphis last season before the most mysterious ankle injury of all time put him on the disabled list. This ankle injury has lasted for nine months. It didn’t permit Taveras to play much in spring training for the Cardinals this year and he’ll be back in Triple-A. Playing, I assume, although probably not. Taveras doesn’t play. But he’s a great prospect. I know, doesn’t make sense.

Tony Cruz – Cruz is the Cardinals’ backup catcher. He plays about every third week in place of iron man Yadier Molina. Cruz’s parents don’t know he’s in the major leagues. He’s seen less frequently than Oscar Taveras. And let’s hope it stays that way. An injury to Molina would be devastating to the Cardinals. That said, I would like to see Cruz catch a few more games, just so Molina can rest. Molina is 31 now and the wear of tear of catching can be difficult. Not that I know anyone dumb enough to actually become a catcher. I know I turned that opportunity down when I was 8 and that I’ve never looked back on that decision.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Have a great day watching baseball.

 

Friday musings

* I love the NCAA Tournament. Covering it is like living in a commune, with reporters stacked side by side in a media workroom while snacking on varied items, from trail mix to pears. I look around at times and wonder how all of these people got started in this media business, how long they’ve been doing it, whether it still makes them happy . . . these are the things I think about.

* We were served cod for lunch. The NCAA needs to do better than that. However, my friends raved about the cod. So much so that I tried it. Eh. Just OK. I don’t care much for fish or any kind of seafood. My explanation is easy, if confounding. I don’t like to eat things that have been in the water. And fish smell bad because they’ve been in the water. It’s not their fault, really. But I don’t have to eat them.

* I do like shrimp some. Not a lot, just some.

* Yesterday, we were served chicken parmigiana. I enjoy chicken, mostly because chickens don’t reside in the sea. They reside in much worse conditions, probably. But at least they don’t reside in the sea.

* I’ve covered a bunch of NCAA tournaments over the years, writing about Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State. Here’s a list of the cities, with the number of games I’ve covered in those cities. This probably has no meaning to anyone but me. And perhaps my wife. But probably just me.

* New Orleans 7, Oklahoma City 7, San Antonio 6, St. Louis 6, Salt Lake City 4, Omaha 4, Winston-Salem 2, Dayton 2, Madison 2, Kansas City 2, Chicago 2, San Jose 2, Detroit 2, Minneapolis 2, Anaheim 2, Atlanta 2, Wichita 2, Greensboro 2, Los Angeles 2, Tucson 2, Portland 1, Washington D.C. 1. So, 64 games in 22 cities. And I’ll be adding at least three more games this weekend here in St. Louis.

* My favorite NCAA venue is New Orleans and the Superdome. And the city. I’ve had a lot of fun in New Orleans, but who hasn’t? Washington was a blast in 2006, even though Wichita State played only one game there. And I love being in St. Louis, my home away from home. This is a great city, although the traffic has gotten noticeably worse over the years.

* I’m grateful to be covering another NCAA Tournament with my friend, Rick Plumlee. We started at The Eagle at about the same time; I think I have about 10 months on him. Rick was our KU beat writer for 30 years and we’ve been to a bunch of these things together. He’s one of the best journalists I’ve worked with and one of the most interesting people I’ve known.

* Wichita State will have a very interesting game to play Sunday in the tournament, whether it’s against Kentucky or Kansas State. Those two teams play the late game tonight here at the Scottrade Center and either would pose a threat to the Shockers’ unbeaten streak. (Yes, I’m assuming Wichita State gets by Cal Poly today. I think that’s a safe assumption). Kentucky’s size, though, would present the biggest danger to the Shockers. I’ve seen Kansas State play a lot this season and I think Wichita State is just the better team. That doesn’t mean the Wildcats couldn’t give WSU a tough game and perhaps even become the team to stop the Shockers in their tracks. But Wichita State matches up better against K-State than the Shockers do against Kentucky.

* That said, Kentucky has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the country this season. The Wildcats’ performance doesn’t always match their talent level. They have endured distinct and profound growing pains. Wichita State would give away size and talent level in a game against Kentucky. But the Shockers have a big edge in consistency, teamwork and all of the intangibles that help determine the strength of a college basketball team.

* Kentucky, though, is scary. The NCAA Tournament just might be what this young team of future NBA players needed to motivate them. The Wildcats look like the kind of team that, especially in a season with so much parity, could simply light the fuse and exploded through six games. The key is consistency and so far Kentucky has not been able to corral that commodity.

* I’ve been disappointed with The Walking Dead this season. It’s become far too contemplative. I made the statement on Twitter the other day that the show either has or is about to jump the shark. What are your thoughts?

* I’m headed out now to watch some of the New Mexico-Stanford game. I’ll add some more musings later because of popular demand. Which begs the question: Has demand ever been unpopular. Think about that one and I’ll touch base later.

 

Lists, lists, lists

Hello everyone from Room something at the St. Louis Doubletree by Hilton. It was a nice drive over today with my friend, Rick Plumlee, and my son, Jeff Lutz. Jeff is 31 now so he’s also a friend. Somewhat. Although he’s a son first. Those of you with adult children, does that make sense?

Not that I scold the young man still. He’s married, has a 7-year-old and a house. It would be kind of silly to scold him. But I do offer fatherly “advice” at times, which I’m almost 100 percent sure he heeds. Or not.

Anyway, let’s get to a little listing in the hour or so I have until a group of us head out to Zia’s on The Hill for dinner. It’s probably my favorite restaurant in St. Louis. But I don’t have enough favorites to do a list. But I’ll go with a restaurant theme for List No. 1.

Favorite chain restaurants

1. Longhorn Steakhouse

2. Chile’s

3. Outback

4. Applebee’s

5. Old Chicago

10 things I like about St. Louis

1. The Cardinals, of course. I’ve been a fan for over 50 years now. Going on 52, in fact. Wow, I didn’t need to see that number.

2. All of the Cardinals fans here during the summer when a game is being played at Busch Stadium.

3. The Missouri Valley Conference tournament. One of the best in the country. Lots and lots of memories. And a few things forgotten.

4. The Arch. Takes me back to another time and being awestruck as a kid by the magnitude of this landmark.

5. The St. Louis Zoo. I haven’t been in a while. But the setting – Forest Park – is awesome.

6. Budweiser brewery. Who could possibly tire of seeing how beer is made?

7. Laclede’s Landing, although I don’t go down there as much as I did when I was younger. The party animal inside of me has been tamed.

8. Market Street. One of the best downtown streets in America, in my opinion. Not that I know all the streets.

9. Memories of my father. He first brought me to St. Louis for a Cardinals game in 1966. I was 11. We came a few times after that and it was always fun to watch the Cardinals with him. That first trip over was made in a Beech Bonanza and the pilot did loop-de-loops on the way over. I was scared to death.

10. Meeting Stan Musial. My wife and I got to talk to Musial three years ago. He wasn’t in the best of health, but he allowed us to have our picture taken with him. It was a special moment, obviously.

Five favorite muffin flavors

1. Apple cinnamon

2. Blueberry

3. Banana nut

4. Orange

5. Lemon poppyseed

Five careers I might have been good at

1. Baseball executive

2. Play-by-play broadcaster

3. Bus driver (I like buses)

Sorry, I can only think of three and even they are a stretch.

Favorite subjects in school

1. English

2. Journalism

3. Creative writing

Sorry, I can only think of three and even they are a stretch.

Five things I won’t eat

1. Beets

2. Asparagus

3. Catfish

4. Liver

5. Black olives

Five great things about Zia’s, our destination this evening

1. It’s on The Hill

2. The dinner salad is to die for.

3. The service.

4. The tenement style of housing in the neighborhood with houses stacked almost on top of one another. But most are well kept. I can always sense the pride of those who live on The Hill.

5. The dinner salad. There are times when I want to order two.

Have a great day, everyone. I’m looking forward to covering the NCAA Tournament again. It’s one of the best parts of the job.

 

Shocker Invitational recap

What a great time we had with the Shocker Invitational during this basketball season.

It started with picking enough former and current Wichita State players to fill 16 teams. And it was important to do it by position, so the five-man teams were stocked with a center, power forward, small forward, shooting guard and point guard.

Eighty players, in all, were on these rosters. And we started playing out the animated tournament on an X-Box gaming system on Feb. 16, playing in two-week intervals. The tournament concluded Sunday and your winner of the Shocker Invitational is . . . drum roll, please . . . Team 9.

That’s Antoine Carr’s team and the Big Dog was fabulous in four tournament games, averaging 31.8 points, 15.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists. We didn’t pick a tournament MVP, but if we had it would have obviously been Carr.

He received a lot of help from former Wichita State guard Paul Guffrovich, who matched Carr’s 33 points in the championship game and averaged 27.3 points per game for the tournament.

Guffrovich was never that kind of scorer at WSU. He was a nice guard with excellent three-point range. But he got on a roll in the Shocker Invitational and remained hot throughout.

Team 9 also included center Darin Miller, who attended every session at Side Pockets, along with forward Robert Gray and point guard Tony Martin.

Team 9 held off Team 13 in the championship game, 89-86. That goodness it was close because there were a few blowouts in the Shocker Invitational. And nobody likes blowouts, not even animated players.

Team 13 was led by P.J. Couisnard, who scored 30 points in the championship-game loss. It also included forward Cheese Johnson, center Ozell Jones and guards Joe Ragland and Randy Burns, the best backcourt duo in the Shocker Invitational.

Team 9 got to the finals with a 94-86 win over Team 5 in the semifinals, despite 38 points from Ron Baker, the only current Wichita State player in the semis. Baker’s teammates included the X-Man, Xavier McDaniel, along with center Ev Wessel and guards Bob Trogele and Terry Hankton.

Team 13 reached the championship game by defeating Team 10, 89-75. Team 10 was led by center Robert Elmore, whose teammates included forwards Ron Harris and Jamar Howard along with guards Ron Mendell and Jimmy Bolden.

The tournament was a lot of fun. Thanks to Derek Pruett, the man with the plan, who input a bunch of performance information on each player into the computer system. And to the man with the idea to play this thing out in animation, Jamin Anderson.

We’re rolling around the idea of doing a similar tournament next season with Kansas. Now that would be a challenge. I’m taking Wilt Chamberlain’s team.

 

Memories of a sports writer (or radio guy)

It’s not like everyone is asking me about my decision this week to leave Sports Daily, effective at the end of Friday’s show on KFH.

But enough are that I wanted to address it briefly in a blog post.

First of all, I’m leaving on my own accord. This is my decision, nobody else’s. And it took a while to make. Simply, doing this show isn’t as enjoyable for me as it once was. I love the medium of radio and hope to return to the airwaves somewhere down the line. Radio fits my caustic, acerbic, sarcastic and all-around sweet personality. It provides for a free flow of ideas and interaction with callers and listeners, which I covet.

Nothing will ever approach the enjoyment of writing for me. But being on radio is fun and something I’m thankful to have been able to do on this show for the past 13 years.

But the time has come to leave. I have a lot going on in my life right now thanks to the success (so far, there’s a long way to go) of League 42, our youth baseball league for kids who deserve the chance, the affordable chance, to play the great game. We’re going to be playing League 42 games soon and this endeavor has become my passion. I’m serving with a lot of great and like-minded people to whom I am dedicated.

I want to spend more time on League 42. I love League 42.

I appreciate everyone who has listened to Sports Daily over the years. It’s been a successful show; I can’t think of another local sports-talk show that’s been on the air for almost 14 years. It was fun working with Bruce Haertl and getting to know all of the people at Entercom radio, where I was able to rub shoulders every day with the likes of Ted Woodward, Steve McIntosh, Jack Oliver, Don Hall, Kim Dugger, Emily Stevens, Heather Larson, Greg (The Hit Man) Williams, Miranda Watkins, Tony Duesing, Brad Hornung, Jeree Short, Cathy Buss, Shane Dennis, Jackie Wise and many, many others. It was a blast.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds. I’ll be back on radio, I believe. But not for a while.

 

VanVleet gets another endorsement

This debate about the worthiness of Wichita State sophomore Fred VanVleet as a point guard, if there is even a debate, is probably the silliest thing I’ve ever seen.

Of course, it’s mostly fueled by one clown with a national platform and by now I don’t need to mention

The 1963-64 Wichita State team is one of the best in Shocker history. Ernie Moore (32) is seated third from the left on the front row.

The 1963-64 Wichita State team is one of the best in Shocker history. Ernie Moore (32) is seated third from the left on the front row.

names.

VanVleet, the critic says, might lack the quickness and foot speed to play with the nation’s elite point guards in the NCAA Tournament. And yada, yada, yada.

When I watch VanVleet play, I see a stone-cold killer. Is he the quickest point guard in America? Probably not. Could he out-run Usain Bolt? My guess is that he couldn’t.

But VanVleet is a tremendous player. He scores when he needs to score. He passes when he needs to pass. He’d be a great DJ at a wedding because he can go up-tempo and he knows just when to slow things down.

The greatest point guard in Wichita State history, in my opinion, is Ernie Moore. He played a long, long time ago, from 1960-64. He’s living now in Kansas City, where he attended Sumner High back in the day, and he pays a lot of attention to the Shockers. And to VanVleet.

And here’s some of what he has to say about the current WSU point guard.

“He’s very, very good,” Moore said. “He controls the game like he’s supposed to. He takes that big shot like he’s supposed to when they bog down a little bit on offense. He takes care of the basketball. He really takes care of the basketball and that’s what I judge¬† him on the most.”

Moore, who is in his early 70s, would run for president of the Fred VanVleet Fan Club if there was such a thing.

A little background on Moore:

He played for Ralph Miller and averaged 13.2 points during his career. He went into the Shocker Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. Moore was a tremendous floor leader, but assists were not an official statistic when he played so those numbers are missing. Safe to say, though, that passing was among his greatest strengths.

Moore shot 44.7 percent from the field during his career and 75.3 percent at the free-throw line. He also avearaged 3.1 rebounds per game and was every bit as dangerous as a defensive player as he was on offense.

“When I was playing, we really got after you on defense,” Moore said. “We really did because if we didn’t, Ralph would really get after us. That’s what this team does, too. They get after you on defense.”

Moore said he’s amazed by VanVleet’s poise, given that this is his first season as the Shockers’ starter.

“He can really shoot the ball from the outside,” Moore said. “One of the little concerns I had at the beginning of the season was that he was walking the ball up the floor quite a bit. But he doesn’t do that now. You don’t want to play 40 minutes of half-court basketball. You want some easy baskets. No, Fred VanVleet is great.”

Greatness is best defined by the great, right?

Moore said he’s seen about half of Wichita State’s games this season and believes the Shockers can get to another Final Four. He said VanVleet’s leadership is a major reason why.

“It would have been a challenge to have played against him,” Moore said. “He plays in such an off tempo. He marches to the beat of his own drum, really. He can look like he’s not going to score and then he scores and that’s because the guys he’s going against aren’t at the same tempo.”

Moore said he suspects VanVleet is using criticism as motivation, the way he did when he was a Shocker.

“Back in the day, the media rated all the players just like they do now,” Moore said. “When we played against a guy who was rated way up there above me, that made me really want to challenge him. And I think that’s what Fred and Wichita State is going to do. They’re going to prove a point.”

Moore, a retired city worker, said he gives no credence to the notion that the Shockers have played a weak schedule, either.

“I’m not concerned about that at all,” he said. “What I’m concerned about is the Shockers’ play. Have they deviated or changed their play any from the beginning of the season or have they now? Well, I haven’t seen it change on iota. This team can play with anyone.”