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A Few Thoughts 02/16/17

The NBA All-star Game has come a long way.
I know most of you will have a very hard time believing this, but the first one in 1951 was part of a Boston Garden tripleheader that also included the Boston city high school championship game. It was quite conceivable that some people left when that one was finished. I covered my first one 19 years later in Philadelphia. Everyone arrived the day of the game. There was a luncheon, and that was it for any pomp and ceremony. There was a snowstorm  which held up the arrival of the participants. I had gotten an early ride to the Spectrum. For some reason the West’s Dick Van Arsdale had likewise gotten early transportation, and was the only West player in the locker room before the game for quite a while, and we sat and talked. I would not expect him to remember this, but I can assure you it’s true. That was the Year of the Knicks and Willis Reed earned the first leg of his MVP trifecta, winning the MVP Award that would later be augmented by the league and Finals MVP.

Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Things are a bit different now. It’s All-Star Weekend and it’s an extravaganza. The game nowadays is part Dunkarama, part Bombs Away with the three. I’’m not going to indulge in an teary lament for the Good Old Days, because, truth be told, they weren’t always so good. The East beat a totally disinterested West, 104-84, in 1973, for example. Can you imagine 84 points being scored by the losing team this coming Sunday? At the half, maybe. It wasn’t much better the next couple of years, either. Things did get juiced up in Milwaukee’s 1977 game because that was the first one played after the NBA-ABA merger.There were nine former ABA players in the game and they wanted to show the world what they were all about, The West won a scintillating game, 125-124, but the MVP was the East’s Julius Erving, an ABA expatriate.

Spare me the outrage over Jim Harbaugh’s latest recruiting stunt. It’s simply big-time college sports as usual. It seems the ever-entertaining, ever-scheming Michigan football mentor has arched many an eyebrow by hiring an assistant named Michael Johnson, until now the head coach at The King’s Academy in Sunnyvale, California.  Hey, I’m sure he’s a good football man. He is also the father of what is being described as “the best dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2019,” that being Michael Johnson, Jr. I wonder where Michael Johnson, Jr. will be attending school? Of course, nothing could be more synthetic. The only thing is, this is nothing new. Many a college basketball coach has found room on his bench for the coaching father of a top prospect. Exhibit A: Ed Manning. Ed Manning was a journeyman forward of the 60s and 70s. He averaged 5.9 ppg in a career that took him from the Bullets, to the Bulls, to the Trail Blazers, to the Carolina Cougars to the Nets and, finally, to the Pacers. When he retired, he disappeared off the basketball radar screen. But Ed Manning had a tall son you made have heard of. First name: Danny. And guess whom the enterprising head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks, a guy named Larry Brown, thought was just the man to fill out his coaching staff when that young man was being recruited by Everyone? As my mother would have said, you get three guesses and the first two don’t count.  Danny Manning came to Kansas and the rest was history, as they say. And a grateful Larry Brown took Ed Manning with him when he left Kansas to take the San Antonio job. Let the record show that Ed Maning never coached under anyone other than Larry Brown. I’m just sayin’.

Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

In case you didn’t know, the Wall Street Journal has become a great — I might even go so far as to say indispensible — source of interesting sports information. Thursday’s tidbit was the revelation that if Major League Baseball goes through with its proposal to do away with there necessity of actually throwing four non-strikes to implement an intentional walk by waving the batter down to first, the documented savings would be 14 seconds a game, or, as writer Michael Salfino points out, “just a few seconds longer that it takes a batter to score from first base on a double.” Another tidbit: last year 64.4 percent of all intentional walks we’re issued in the National (or DH-less, pitcher-batting) League.

The larger sports story is that more and more sports are getting very concerned about pace and the time it takes to play. They think the millenials just don’t have the patience there elders have always had. This even extends to golf. I am going to quote from the Thursday New York Times:
“This week in Australia, the Perth World Super 6 is debuting a format never before used in professional golf. While the first three days of the tournament will be conventional, each with 18 holes of stroke play, the final day will feature a series of six-hole matches to whittle the final 24 to a champion. Matches that are level after six holes, including the final, will be decided on a specially-built 90-yard hole. Should the players still be tied after that, both players will hit a single shot; whoever hits the ball nearest the pin will progress to the next round.”
No, I’m not making this up.
Said Stephen Ayres, chief commercial officer for the PGA Tour of Australasia, “We’re trying to appeal to a wider audience, particularly a younger audience.” Discuss among yourselves.

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A Few Thoughts with Bob Ryan

Only in the Alice In Wonderland world of Madison Square Garden (Basketball Division), could one ridiculous off-the-court issue trump — perhaps I should pick a different verb — another.
The Carmelo Anthony-Phil Jackson whatever-it-is business is ridiculous enough. But that has fallen into second place in the ranking of utterly stupid and avoidable affairs transpiring at the building they pompously refer to as “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”  Now if were any other place in sports I would say that the Charles Oakley Ejection would be filed under the category of “Hold All Calls; We Have A Winner” for the rest of 2017. But with MSG and James Dolan, you never know.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Carmelo Anthony, or his game, I should say, but he has my full sympathy right now. He shouldn’t even be in New York to begin with. He probably should still be in Denver. It’s either that, or he should be in Chicago, a team that a couple off years ago needed him to make them a legitimate championship contender. But these are large gobs of toothpaste that aren’t ever going back into the tube. The issue right now is just how long he will remain in New York, and where could he go? Of course, he’s be somewhere else right now if Phil Jackson hadn’t given him a no-trade clause, which was just another example of Jackson’s ineptness as a basketball executive. Jackson the coach would have been furious with his GM had someone done that to him.

I’m sure you know by now that Jackson communicates by Twitter, not face-to-face dialogue. He has made it perfectly clear he currently has little respect for Anthony’s game . But he never has to explain himself to a fellow human being. No, he allows things to get out one way or another and Anthony has to stand there and respond to the latest indirect pronouncement from the team’s basketball boss. It’s pure lunacy.

The Oakley thing is a farce of a higher order. The background is that Oakley, a Knicks’ mainstay for a 10-year period in which they went to the playoffs every single year, and one of the most aggressive players in NBA history, has been a public critic of Garden pooh-bah James Dolan for some time.  As a result, he is basically persona non grata at the Garden. The Knicks act as if he had never suited up for them, excluding him from various team celebrations, including a planned 70th anniversary something or other bash coming up before the end off the season. Oakley says they stopped giving him tickets years ago. But there he was at the Garden the other night for their game with the Clippers, having purchased a ticket that, it just so happens, was located in proximity to Jimmy Dolan himself. Before the first quarter had concluded, Oakley was in both a verbal and physical confrontation with a whole gang of Garden Security operatives. He was ejected and even arrested, charged with three counts of assault and criminal trespass, all misdemeanors. Yes, he was released.

So what happened? It’s a classic He Said-She Said scenario. The Knicks say Oakley was verbally abusive to Dolan. There was even an intimation that Oakley was inebriated. Oakley denies this. He says he was approached by Security for no reason other than he was there, and he was close to Dolan. Here’s my thing: there were numerous. nearby witnesses. How can there be such confusion about what Oakley said or didn’t say?

That’s Part A. Part B is that in a “normal” reaction — i.e. the reaction anywhere else but Doian’s MSG — a lone security guy approaches Oakley to inform him he had better cut it out, if indeed he was doing anything at all. There’s no need to send a small army, which is what arrived at Oakley’s seat. There was massive overreaction on both sides. Oakley is a large, physically intimidating man, even at 53, and he did get very physical. He can’t be defended on that score. But the entire incident was preposterous, and it was initiated by Doian. Of that there is no doubt.

Dolan’s Garden is a nightmare. Reporters who displease Dolan have been pursued by security in the past. The Garden is a place where, shall we say, alternative facts, have been spewed out for years. Things go on there that go on nowhere else in this hemisphere, anyway.

The Knicks are a mess, and it all starts at the top. Jimmy Dolan simply does not know what he is doing. Anyone could have told him, and, I’m sure someone probably did, that just because Phil Jackson has 11 rings as a coach is no guarantee he would make a good executive. Oh, sure, he professed his love for the Knicks and a desire to honor the memory of the sainted Red Holzman, but he was never going to roll up his sleeves and do the necessary leg work and there was great reason to think it was all a money grab. Hey, for $12 million a year, any of us would say or do anything to get the gig.
The Knicks, meanwhile, are 44 years removed from a championship and 23 years removed from their last trip to the Finals. Their clientele deserves better.

Richard Drew/Associated Press

Richard Drew/Associated Press

Has major league baseball lost its mind? Could Joe Torre possibly be serious when he suggests baseball is considering reacting to the issue of excessively long games by beginning each extra inning with the team at bat placing a man on second base?

Stop! This is madness. And it does not address the real issue, which is not the existence of too many lengthy extra inning games, which are part of the sport and always should be, but the indispensable length of far too many nine-inning games.

First of all, I’ll bet anything that the majority of extra inning games are already settled in the 10th. And if I’m wrong, so be it. I don’t want the sport to be trivialized, as is college football. Yes, put me down as loathing the college football OT for the very simple reason that it’s not real football.

Does baseball need to take a look at the length of games? Absolutely. Baseball’s pace must be improved if it is to remain viable for the 21st century generation of sports consumers, whose sensibilities are far different than that of their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers. (Also mothers, grandmothers and great-great grandmothers). There are too many idiotic pitching changes, too many needless visits to the mound by catchers and too little general interest on the part of the participants to speed things up, because they wrongly believe the only people complaining about 4-hour nine inning games are members of the media with deadlines. That is false. That is, yes, an alternative fact if ever there was one. Fans do notice and fans do care and fans have to get up in the morning and go to work.
Changing the game into an alternative fact of a game, which is what this ludicrous proposal would do, is not the answer.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan has taken a lot of you-know-what for his play calling last Sunday night. He basically defends himself by saying he simply kept calling ‘em the way he had all year, and that was that. But this was a situation in which flexibility was necessary. A championship team prepares for any contingency, and one it had better be ready for was protecting a lead. There is no argument, none. Once Julio Jones made the grab that would have been the one play we’d have talked about from that game for the next 50 years, the only proper course of action was to run, run, run and then ask a skilled veteran named Matt Bryant to kick a simple field goal to give his team an impregnable 11-point lead that would have guaranteed a Super Bowl victory. By the way, one of the most intriguing aspects of that game is the fact that Jones’ four receptions were his only four targets, and that his average yards after catch was a half-yard. Yup, he was 4-for-4, with 2 yards after the catch, total. The Patriots really did a fantastic job on him, forcing him to make two highlight grabs out of four receptions.

On the great Terrell Owens Hall of Fame controversy, put me down as a Yes. I’d be more worried about allowing people who have broken the law than a guy who just acted like a jerk.

martyandmiller

State Tournament Coverage on the Marty & Miller Radio Network

The Marty & Miller Radio Network will be bringing comprehensive coverage to the Iowa High School State Tournaments for wrestling, girl’s basketball and boy’s basketball to the airwaves and digitally on MartyandMiller.com.

1490 “The Jock” KXLQ along with 100.9 FM “The Cub” will be providing play by play coverage from the state tournaments starting with the state wrestling tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday, February 16th. Updates will also be provided during the “Marty & Miller” radio and television program on 1700 KBGG, 1490 “The Jock”, 100.9 “The Cub” and televised on Mediacom22.

Marty Tirrell, Trent Condon, John McDermott will provide play by play across the tournaments and basketball color commentary will come from former Iowa Hawkeye, Wade Lookingbill. You can also access the coverage online at 1490thejock.com, 1009thecub.com, martyandmiller.com along with the Marty & Miller app.

State Tournament coverage on the Marty and Miller Radio Network is presented by Grinnell Mutual Insurance along with Shottenkirk Chevrolet in Waukee and the new Shottenkirk Ford of Indianola.

 

Shottenkirk2             grinnell-mutual-reinsurance-squarelogo-1463402079109

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TC’s Top 10 – Iowa Boy’s Basketball Rankings 2/8/17

4A

  1. Iowa City West (15-1)
  2. Waukee (16-3)
  3. Dubuque Senior (14-3)
  4. West Des Moines Valley (14-4)
  5. Des Moines Hoover (14-4)
  6. Bettendorf (14-4)
  7. Sioux City East (16-2)
  8. Dowling Catholic (14-4)
  9. Johnston (13-5)
  10. Des Moines North (13-5)

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3A

  1. Waverly Shell Rock (17-1)
  2. Mount Pleasant (17-2)
  3. Pella (17-2)
  4. West Delaware (17-0)
  5. Spirit Lake (16-3)
  6. Mount Vernon (13-4)
  7. Davenport Assumption (10-8)
  8. Sergeant Bluff-Luton (10-7)
  9. Storm Lake (12-5)
  10. Sioux City Heelan (11-5)

vanwyk

2A

  1. Western Christian (17-2)
  2. Carroll Kuemper (18-2)
  3. Pella Christian (15-4)
  4.  Osage (19-1)
  5. Cascade Western Dubuque (19-2)
  6. Camanche (19-2)
  7. Van Meter (19-1)
  8. NE Goose Lake (17-4)
  9. Garner Hayfield-Ventura (19-1)
  10. Des Moines Christian (17-4)

benjuhl

 

1A

  1. North Linn (20-0)
  2. Grand View Christian (20-1)
  3. Remsen St. Mary (19-0)
  4. Gladbrook-Reinbeck (19-2)
  5. Siouxland Christian (17-3)
  6. Lynnville Sully (19-1)
  7. Ar-We-Va (Westside) (20-0)
  8. West Fork (16-5)
  9. Don Bosco, Gilbertville (20-1)
  10. New London (16-3)

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A Few Thoughts with Bob Ryan

A FEW THOUGHTS

       There’s no such thing as a dull Belichick/Brady Super Bowl.
       The greatest coach/quarterback duo of all-time have been there seven times. The Patriots have won by 3,3,3,4 and 6. They have lost by 3 and 4, each in the final minute. They have lost to a miracle (e.g. Manning’s once-in-a-lifetime escape and Tyree’s catch in Super Bowl XLII) and won by a brain fart (e.g. Hey, Pete, give Marshawn the damn ball! in Super Bowl XLIX). They could easily be 7-0 or 0-7. After Sunday night, they are 5-2, thanks to the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. Or biggest choke, depending on your point of view.
      There was a great deal of legacy talk in the run-up to Super Bowl LI. Well, the legacies are now cemented. With five Super Bowl triumphs stretched over three presidential administrations and eight Olympics, Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All-Time for you Social Security folks) among quarterbacks. Bill Belichick is the G.O.A.T among NFL coaches. They have prevailed over time. They have prevailed in a salary cap world in which turnover is enormous. But they have prevailed, one way or the other.
       Brady was magnificent when it counted, but he did not do it alone. James White had the game of his life, catching 14 passes for  110 yards while scoring three touchdowns, including the game-winner on which he was hit hard well short of the goal line but demonstrated great strength and determination to reach the Promised Land. Rookie Malcolm Mitchell came up very big with 6 catches for 70 yards, many of those grabs during the comeback. And, of course, Julian Edelman made a catch you can’t make at a most propitious moment. there was an offensive line that did the job in pass protection when it most mattered, and there was a defense that submitted a shutout in the second half and overtime.
    Not surprisingly, the Day After issue is that great modern phenomenon: whom shall we blame? Rather than celebrate the positive act of an historic comeback, many. many people are spewing venom at the Falcons, who are said to be choking dogs. After all, who loses a 25-point halftime lead in the Super Bowl? That’s never been done before.
    Of course, it hadn’t. That’s how it works. In sports or politics or entertainment, something is true until it’s not true. A retired B-movie actor can’t become President of the United States. But somehow Ronald Reagan managed to do it. Lavish Hollywood musicals are relics of the past. But “La La Land” has 14 Oscar nominations and may very well win Best Picture. And no one in Super Bowl history has come back to win from anything larger than a 10-point deficit. Oh, yes, they have.
      What is being lost in the sad vilification of the Falcons is that there has never been a noted sports comeback, in either a team or individual sport, in which the team coming from behind did not profit from the “mistakes” or “miscues” or “imperfections” of the opponent. We have all seen basketball comebacks. Yes, a team, is now making shots when previously they weren’t. But the other team starts missing, or turning it over or missing free throws (or being hosed by the refs; we’ll save that discussion for another day).  Just getting hot doesn’t matter if the other team is matching you. Baseball? I;’m sure more game-winning homers are hit on hangers or bad locations than off “pitcher’s pitches.” Mistakes are made and an opportunistic foe takes advantage.
       Did the Falcons mess up? Absolutely. Poor play-calling with a lead. Poor clock management. Poor execution. Matt, you must throw that ball away and avoid the strip-sack. There were lots of screw-ups by the Atlanta Falcons.
       But was there a guarantee the Patriots could capitalize? No, they had to go out and do it. Brady was Osweilerian in the first half. Yuck. But once he found his mojo he was the G.O.A.T in a way few QBs could have matched. Ask the TV QB analysts. They all marveled at the strength and accuracy of his fourth period and OT throws. Just because the Falcons were screwing up didn’t mean Brady was automatically going to throw for 276 yards, three TDs and no picks in the fourth quarter and OT. No, he had to go out and do it. Which he did.
        One more thing. In order to pull of this great, historic, epic, unforgettable comeback the Patriots had to succeed on two two-point conversions. Consider the fact that the league-wide conversion percentage of twos is less than 50 percent. They got them both, the first on a gorgeous direct snap to White (one of my companions immediately yelled out, “It’s the Faulk play!” remembering that we had first seen that when Kevin Faulk was the all-purpose New England back of choice). The second was a pass play to Danny Amendola, and that required a special effort to break the plane. Had either of those failed, we would not be having this particular session, you and me.
      An aside: I was at a home where there were two TVs, one on a slightly higher floor. with one exception — my wiife, bless her heart — the ladies were upstairs and the men were watching from the lower level. But the TV upstairs was a second or two ahead of ours, and so during the fourth quarter and OT we already knew downstairs that a Patriots play had gone well because of the screaming upstairs. That was pretty cool.
      Once again, it was the kind of experience not available to those among us who do not have sports at their personal entertainment smorgasbord.
      Lucky us.
picks

Picks Before 6

Marty (56-37-2)
Atlanta +3
Under 58.5

Ken (46-41-3)
Atlanta (+3) vs New England
OVER (58.5)

Trent (45-49-2)
New England (-3) vs Atlanta
Under (58.5)

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US National 3×3 Basketball Tournament

lionsThe Lions Club is hosting the US National Basketball 3×3 Tournament March 17-19 at Southeast Polk High School in Pleasant Hill.

The 3×3 tournament is a qualifier for the National 3×3 tournament in April in Colorado Springs. The winners will be guaranteed an invitation to the USA Olympic Training Center for the National Tournament.

The entry fee is $35/player for the Recreational Divisions and $50/player for USA Basketball Divisions. This is in addition to the
AAU Membership Fee of $25, paid directly to the AAU.

There are only 64 spots available – first come, first served. Entry deadline is March 1, 2017!

For more details and game rules visit www.lions3x3.com.

Tournament Details:
Four players per team required.
Membership in AAU must be current (or application pending) priorto registration.
AAU application can be found at: https://play.aausports.org/joinaau/memberappdirectorpage
This 3×3 tournament will be played under FIBA Rules. Pool play, followed by a Championship Bracket. Players are responsible for observing all NCAA rules, as it pertains to player eligibility and conduct.

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Steve Deace on Marty and Miller

Longtime Des Moines talk show host and now national force Steve Deace stops by to talk about the political landscape with Marty.

Catch Steve Deace online at stevedeace.com and on CRTV in February.

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TC’s Top 10 – Iowa Boy’s Basketball Rankings 1/25/17

4A

  1. Iowa City West (11-1)
  2. Dubuque Senior (11-2)
  3. Waukee (12-3)
  4. West Des Moines Valley (11-4)
  5. Sioux City East (12-1)
  6. Bettendorf (11-3)
  7. Dowling Catholic (11-3)
  8. Cedar Falls (9-4)
  9.  Cedar Rapids Kennedy (9-3)
  10. Johnston (10-4)

Image result for devontae lane iowa city west basketball

3A

  1. Waverly Shell Rock (14-0)
  2. Pella (14-1)
  3. Mount Pleasant (13-2)
  4. Sergeant Bluff-Luton (8-5)
  5. Davenport Assumption (8-6)
  6. Mount Vernon (10-3)
  7. West Delaware (13-0)
  8. Dallas Center-Grimes (10-4)
  9. Storm Lake (10-3)
  10. Oskaloosa (8-5)

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2A

  1. Western Christian (12-1)
  2. Carroll Kuemper (11-1)
  3. Cascade Western Dubuque (14-1)
  4.  Pella Christian (12-3)
  5. Osage (14-0)
  6. Camanche (14-2)
  7. Van Meter (15-0)
  8. Des Moines Christian (14-2)
  9. NE Goose Lake (13-2)
  10. Garner Hayfield-Ventura (14-1)

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1A

  1. North Linn (15-0)
  2. Grand View Christian (13-1)
  3. Remsen St. Mary (12-0)
  4. New London (14-1)
  5. Siouxland Christian (13-2)
  6. Gladbrook-Reinbeck (11-2)
  7. Lynnville Sully (15-1)
  8. Murray (14-0)
  9. Ar-We-Va (Westside) (16-0)
  10. Britt, West Hancock (12-2)

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