Stevens Takes Butler Bulldogs to Second Consecutive Final Four

Brad Stevens  has turned the College Basketball world upside down, with outstanding coaching. For the second year he has taken the Butler Bulldogs to the final four. He has done it by using a formula for success that very few college coaches employ,  some call it  brilliance. I call it coaching outside the lines of applied rules.

He recruits unorthodox, even awkward looking players, players that other colleges would never recruit.  But more than this, Stevens players truly reflect his vision on the court. Perhaps because they would never play for any of the bigger schools, more powerful school.  More likely these are high achieving underdog players who were built in the same mode as Brad Stevens.

That is what coaching in all about, having your vision  implemented by every player on the floor. Stevens does that better than any other coach.  If there is truly a coach of the Year; Brad Stevens  is my nominee.

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Jalen Rose Comments About Grant Hill Identify a Much Bigger Problem in America

Grant Hill in my opinion gave an appropriate response to Jalen Rose’s rant on his documentary on the Fab 5.   All to often Black Americans have  disparaged one  another because of the slights perceived by Black Americans who were less fortunate in their upbringing and lack of support from absent fathers.

Yes, as an African American, I can certainly sympathize with this feeling. I cannot imagine the  hurt that someone could feel growing up neglected and abandoned by their father. It can without a word be devastating. It is crucial that African American fathers be there for their children  and support  them, nurture them, and raise them.

Jalen Rose, is hurting from what happened in his childhood, I would hurt as well.  These are wounds that will not be  healed easily and quite frankly, it will take more that a psychologist to right the wrong that he suffered.  It will and can take the intervention of God to heal him of  his  misfortune.

The culpit is not Grant Hill, he just happened to be dealt a good hand in life. But with a good hand comes a high responsibility. To those in which much is given, much  is expected. With that said, although Grant Hill  was fortunate to be born to a loving two parent family, he too has had his difficulties.  You see no matter what your status in life, you cannot escape the twist and turns of life. Grant Hill included.

Adversity does not pick and choose who it will let alone. It can and will confront each and every one of us. That’s why Grant Hill has dealt with his share of adversity; his share of misfortune.  His wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and he had to battle a nasty ankle  injury for a number of years, a nasty ankle energy that robbed his career.

This is not an exercise  on who can one up the other on facing adversity; Jalen Rose or Grant Hill. No its about life and the twist and turns it can throw at you.  I happen to believe in Almighty God and His Son, Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe Christ has the  key to heal scars that circumstances leave us with. All you have to do is call on  Him and study His word consistently.  There you will find answers.

I believe  Jalen  Rose has a legitimate right to feel deserted and I believe his comments were not necessarily directed  to Grant Hill, even though his comments singled out Hill. They were directed at the disparities between the those who fathers abandon them,  and those who had two parent families. This is  prevalent not just in the African American community, but it is a class problem of the have and the have not in America.

Jimmer Fredette a Modern Day Pistol Pete

Jimmer Fredette is a gamer and a competitor.  Enough said. I recently took a look at him in a recent clip in the Mountain West Tournament and he was literally going off on  a team that I did not notice.  What I did notice rather quickly is that this guy could and would shoot the rock.

He continues to impress those of us who watch college basketball and NCAA March Madness.  Fredette played basketball and perfected his game at a very early age.  Both Mother and Father game him all the tools he would need to be great. His Mother allowed him to dribble a basketball all through the house and even built a special dribbling are for him. His father coached him nearly all his life in AAU basketball.

His father took him to the local penitentiary to play against other inmates.  It toughed him up and now Fredette is a National Player of the Year candidate.  He averages 27  points per  game and lit the scoreboard up in the Mountain West Tournamentent by dropping 52 points.

From Glens Falls, New York, Fredette is a player to  watch in the NBA draft and an exciting one at that.

Texas Western vs Kentucky, the NCAA Game of The Ages- 1966

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The 1966 Texas Western ( now known as The University of Texas at El Paso -UTEP)- Kentucky NCAA Championship. Certainly the most significant game ever played in the history of basketball. Simply because of the segregated nature of basketball in the south during the sixties. This game and this game alone served to remove the barriers and unwritten rules that college coaches observed in the failure to sign the black athletes to a four year scholarship in the segregated south . After this game, the barriers were lifted and southern schools began in earnest to recruit the black athlete.

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Adolph Rupp, The head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, went to great lengths to refrain from diligently  recruiting  black basketball players.  He did recruit Wes Unseld a graduate of Louisville Seneca High School and he also recruited Butch Beard from Breckenridge County High School in Kentucky, but both players felt  that Kentucky would not be a welcoming environment and they chose to attend the University of Louisville.  Rupp did pay a visit to Ron King in his home in 1969.  King along with Otto Petty led  Louisville Central to the 1969 Kentucky State Championship.  The same year King was named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball. King decided to attend Florida State, where Hugh Durham, a Louisville native was the head coach.
Adolph Rupp won 4 national Championships at Kentucky during his career. He wanted to win just one more championship before he retired and 1966, he felt this was his year to do it. Rupp had a team, featuring five undersized players, led by Pat Riley, current Miami  GM, Louie Dampier, Tommy Kron, Thad Jarez and Larry Conley. They were known as Rupp’s Runts( no player was over 6’5 inches tall) and they terrorized the Southeastern Conference. They were a great team and they played an exciting brand of basketball.

Texas Western had one of the best point guards ever in Bobby Joe Hill from Detroit. Don  Haskins recruited five black players and he promoted that he would flaunt it doing warm ups. He would encourage his players to dunk to create intimidation. Haskins was a con-man, and a pool shark, he transferred those characteristic to the basketball floor.
A white basketball player on Texas Western team, said he grew up hating opposing white players, because of the despicable things that they said to the Texas Western’s black players. Pat Forde, a reporter for the Louisville Courier Journal, said they brought a street game with them. It started with Don Haskins’ Texas Western team.
Kentucky won a number one ranking by beating nearly everyone, with a unrelenting defense and fast break offense, Rupp’ s team was a well oiled team. Texas Western survived Kansas by one point in double overtime. The other semifinal game over shadowed the Texas Western-Kansas game. The general consensus was that the Kentucky – Duke winner would be the national champions. Texas Western was furious. They wanted to beat Kentucky not because they had the possibility of being the first all black team. They wanted to beat them because they were being overlooked.

Haskins made a crucial strategic decision prior to the game. He played three guards to keep up with Kentucky’s speed. Haskins, rolled out five black players to start the NCAA championship game. Just understand there was an unwritten rule by white college basketball coaches in the south; never start five black players at one time. Haskins did it. It was on. One undefeated team in Kentucky and one once defeated team in Texas Western.

Haskins was a gambler and he would do anything possible to win the gamble; beat Adolph Rupp. Haskins did ,more in this one game to further the cause of integration than Martin Luther King. This game was the defining game of the century for College basketball.
It had tremendous social implications. I remember seeing the game myself . I was only 11 years old, but this game is sealed in my memory as the most exciting and significant game ever in NCAA finals history. There was the notion that if you had five black players that they were not as intelligent as the white players. If you put pressure on them they would crack. Texas Western proved this to be unfounded.
At the start of the game Big Daddy Latin rejected Pat Riley’s shot and the next time he dunked over Pat Riley. Later, point guard, Bobby Joe Hill made two consecutive steals in the game. Kentucky was down 34-31 at the half. Kentucky kept it close they felt they could still win.  Texas Western won the NCAA Championship 74-65.

The Texas Western players, as always took it in stride, Haskins hoped his players would be a little excited about the win. Coach Haskins smiled. Don Haskins begin to realized the impact of the victory. He would later received basketball cans filled with hate mail for coaching all black players. He even received a letter from black leaders who called him an exploiter. Haskins, a white coach, paid a price for his courage.

But if it were not for his courage, college basketball would not be where it is today. Adolph Rupp fought the memory of that game for the rest of his life. In a time when our country was in turmoil, fighting for equality for blacks in the south The Texas Western- Kentucky NCAA championship played a significant role in breaking the chains of integration. After this game, southern white coaches started recruiting the black athlete, one by one the ban was lifted. Adolph Rupp coached five more years before his retirement. He finally successfully recruited and signed to a scholarship, his first black player, Tom Payne, out of Louisville Shawnee High School in 1969. Rupp died of cancer in 1977. In 1998 Kentucky won the National Championship, ironically, with a team coach by Tubby Smith, a black man.

The Fab 5

The Fab 5 the latest installment of ESPN films premiered tonight. It proved to be another brilliant  presentation.  The documentary started by detailing the recruitment of  Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and  Ray Jackson.  Michigan  then spent all the rest of the year recruiting Jalen Rose and Chris Webber.

Jalen Rose’s is the son of Jimmy Walker, former Detroit Pistons star, who played for the Pistons in the 60’s.  However Jimmy Walker had no relationship with his son, Jalen Rose.  Jalen Rose and Chris Webber were hot on this list of Steve Fisher, then the coach at Michigan.  Rose attended Detroit Southwestern High School where nine to ten players went on  to receive Division I scholarships.

Chris Webber wanted to be an inner city guy, but he wasn’t.   Webber attended Country Day High School.  Juwan Howard recruited Webber by calling him  two to three times per weeks.  They wanted to win.  They were looking  to recruit  the best college team in the country.   Michigan recruited five of the top high school players at the same time.

Jalen Rose says this revolution was televised,  contrary to Gill Scott-Heron’s seventy recital,  The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.   Fisher was elated that he had this core of outstanding players,three freshman, Rose,  Howard,  and Webber in the starting line-up.

Jalen Rose said Duke only recruited black players who were Uncle Toms.  Jalen Rose was upset with players like Grant Hill, but Rose resented everything that he was not,  the product of an absent father, who did not accept him.

The match up with Duke was bitter, the game went into overtime. Duke won the game. Although the Fab 5 did not respect Duke, they thought Grant Hill and Christian Laettner  and the rest of the Blue Devils were soft. They soon learned that they were not.  They were excellent hard nosed basketball players.

So the stage was set, the country learned that Duke  was king and the defending national champion and the Fab 5  proved  they could hang with the defending national champions.

Ray Jackson struggled his first year at Michigan.  He was a high school star in Texas, but Ray Jackson was not starting.  He was out of his element, he had never seen snow and he was miserable and he was not starting.  Steve Fisher finally relented and started Ray Jackson. They had a chance to finally see what they were made of.  They were an electric team, they were now playing together.

Mitch Albom, well known  Sports writer, said that Fisher  created a hard thing to overcome by deciding to start the Fab Five as freshman.  Michigan’s Eric Riley felt resentment, he lost his position and it was not taken lightly.  Despite this the slighted upper class men were able to contribute and blend with the Fab 5.  When the Fab 5 traveled  like rock stars.   They had to employ 24 hour security for a college basketball game.

Alumni became alarmed. Five inner city black kids represented Michigan and alumni resented them sending hate mail, calling them ‘the “N” word, so Steve Fisher took the heat for bringing them  in.  They were brash and did not take a  back seat, even some of the majority white alumni could not stand this, so they did the unthinkable, sent out death threats.

But these were not Jackie Robinson clones, they were brash and out spoken and there in rubbed nearly everyone the wrong way.  One can see the resentment that the Michigan alumni felt, because the Fab 5 talked trash to no end, but no one deserves to receive a death threat.

Most people thought that Steve Fisher let his players run over him.  They accused Steve Fisher  of coaching a playground team, typical of how inner city black kids are perceived. Undisciplined, and unable to play together.

Michigan lost the 1992 National Championship to a highly superior Duke team.  The Fab 5 was not equipped to be national  champions. They were immature and  not ready for the spotlight.  This would be illuminated in the next few years of the Fab Five era.

The next season, The Fab 5 knew they had to dominate every single game. Their goal was to win the national championship.  As freshman they felt excited and as sophomores they felt exploited. Nike sold  shirts and  called everything Fab 5.  Michigan made $10.5 million dollars on merchandising.   However the Fab Five, like other college players received no revenue.

Jalen Rose was accused of being at a crack house and being on drugs.  He was not of course, but it  tainted his image. Rose said he was embarrassed and hurt.

Everything came crashing down when Chris Webber called the time out in the NCAA finals against North Carolina in 1993.  It was something that no member of the Fab 5 can forget, Chris Webber declined to be interviewed for the documentary; that’s  how devastating that moment was for the Fab 5.  Webber has not put to rest the allegations that he took money from  a  friend.

Jalen Rose,  Juwan Howard and Chris Webber went on to solid careers in the NBA. Juwan Howard plays for the star studded Miami  Heat, with new stars like LaBron James, D-Wade and Chris Bosh, but none of the Fab  5 will forget the experience.

Chris Webb lied about getting money  from a friend who some said gave money to many Detroit area basketball stars. Which is an NCAA violation. It is said Chris Webber received a significant amount of money. The legacy of the Fab 5 was tainted.  Everyone was not involved in the  this, but everyone suffered for this mistake.

Steve Fisher, today, says there are still times when he will  get a call from one of the Fab 5 congratulating him for a win.  They still stay in touch.  Juwan Howard says the legacy still lives on and  the Miami Heat players identify Howard by saying , “That’s  Juwan Howard from the Michigan  Fab 5”.

Memo to Heat: Get More Production From Their True Centers

My take on the Miami Heat. Chris Bosh says he wants more touches inside and his teammates need to get him the ball. Look, Bosh in my opinion is not the superstar that he and a few others thinks he is.  He has a decent game, but nothing that could be construed  as on the same level as  LeBron, or  D Wade.  Bosh is a power forward, but yet he sees himself as a post player, a big man. Look he’s 6’10 and 235. That is not the build or the make up of a center.

Yes the Heat need  a formidable  center in the middle,  a go to guy to take the heat off of James, Wade,  and Bosh. But that is  just it. They only need someone in the middle that can score consistently and forcefully. They do not have that on this team.  Getting the ball more to Bosh inside is not the answer. Bosh is already getting the ball. He’s averaging 18 points per game.  The scoring mix is where it needs to be,  James is averaging 26 points , Wade is averaging 25, and Bosh is averaging 18 points.  The rest of the team is averaging 4 points per game collectively. There lies the problem.

In effect the Heat are playing without a true center. Dampier is big enough and so is “Z”, but neither are productive enough to draw defenses away from the big three and allow them  to do their thing.  That is the problem.  The Heat needs to  get more production from Dampier and Z;   at least enough  to draw attention from opposing teams, and not allow them  the luxury to double team either of the big  three stars.

Dancing With The Stars Line Up Revealed

Dancing with the stars continues to capture ratings with it’s usual  celebrity cast. This time the cast will surely draw curiosity seekers to see who can really dance.  How about this lineup, one of the most  entertainment diverse yet.

Professional wrestler, Chris Jericho, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, rapper  Romeo, talk show host Wendy Williams,  Chelsea Kane, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, radio host Mike Catherwood, model Petra Nemcova, original “Karate Kid” Ralph Macchio  actress Kirstie Alley and Playboy icon Kendra Wilkinson.

This is perhaps the most diverse and  unusual  line up yet. It will definitely draw an audience and with it ratings.

Middle Tennessee State Women’s Basketball Player Killed By Roomate

Something is not right on the Middle Tennessee State University Campus located in  Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  Two disturbing incidents took place, one on campus and the other off campus.  Today, a Middle Tennessee State University women’s  basketball player was stabbed to death by her roommate. No one knows the details at this point, but it is certainly alarming that the  murder happened today only weeks after another Middle Tennessee State University student was shot in the hand by another student.

The state of campus security has to be questioned.  Why all the violence and what are campus officials going to do about it? There has to be an answer, and something must be done to address these disturbing incidents.

 

Seven Percent or 1 in every 14 College Football Players Have Been Charged or Sited with a Crime

According to a recently published Sports Illustrated article:

• Seven percent of the players in the preseason Top 25 — 204 in all (1 of every 14) — had been charged with or cited for a crime, including dozens of players with multiple arrests.

• Of the 277 incidents uncovered, nearly 40 percent involved serious offenses, including 56 violent crimes such as assault and battery (25 cases), domestic violence (6), aggravated assault (4), robbery (4) and sex offenses (3). In addition there were 41 charges for property crimes, including burglary and theft and larceny.

• There were more than 105 drug and alcohol offenses, including DUI, drug possession and intent to distribute cocaine.

• Race was not a major factor. In the overall sample, 48 percent of the players were black and 44.5 percent were white. Sixty percent of the players with a criminal history were black and 38 percent were white.

• In cases in which the outcome was known, players were guilty or paid some penalty in nearly 60 percent of the 277 total incidents.

Players who would have been on last year’s rosters but had been charged and expelled from their teams before Sept. 1 — and there were dozens — were not counted in our sample. Nor did SI and CBS News have access to juvenile arrest records for roughly 80 percent of the players in the study.

“[It is] a set of facts that obviously should concern all of us,” said new NCAA president Mark Emmert, when presented with these findings. “Seven percent, that’s way too high. I think two percent is too high. You certainly don’t want a large number of people with criminal backgrounds involved in activities that represent the NCAA.”

Added Richard Lapchick, founder of the Center for Sport in Society and president and CEO of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports at the University of Central Florida: “This sounds an alarm bell that some new policies are going to have to be developed on individual campuses or at the national level to take a closer look at who we’re recruiting to our campuses. I think it’s almost incumbent on all those universities who play at this level to do criminal background checks on the people they’re recruiting. Not only for the nature of the football program itself, but for public safety on campus.”

College Football Player and Crime