Monday, February 28, 2011

Week 17 AP basketball ballot:

The following is my ballot for this weeks AP basketball poll:

1)      BYU
2)      Ohio St.
3)      Kansas
4)      Duke
5)      Notre Dame
6)      Purdue
7)      San Diego St.
8)      North Carolina
9)      Pittsburgh
10)  Texas
11)  Wisconsin
12)  St. John's
13)  Florida
14)  Syracuse
15)  Louisville
16)  George Mason
17)  UCLA
18)  Xavier
19)  Vanderbilt
20)  Connecticut
21)  Villanova
22)  Kentucky
23)  Butler
24)  Georgetown
25)  Long Island U.

Washington Post column-- 'Butler Coach Brad Stevens has rebounded nicely from his missed shot'

From Sunday's The Washington Post -------------------

Like most coaches who lose a heartbreaking game, Butler Coach Brad Stevens had no burning desire to watch the tape of last year's national championship game. He was fully aware of what people had said about the drama that had unfolded at Lucas Oil Stadium and knew how much inspiration people had drawn from seeing his Bulldogs reach the last game of the college basketball season - and come within a couple of inches of winning.

Heck, he'd been on Letterman.

Almost as important, the president of the United States had called.

"Letterman was cool," Stevens said earlier this week. "But all kidding aside, having President Obama call was amazing. I mean, how often does the president call the losing coach?"

Of course, Stevens wasn't just any losing coach and Butler wasn't just any losing team. The Bulldogs were "Hoosiers" in real life, even if someone blew the last line of the script by having Jimmy Chitwood - as played by Gordon Hayward - fire up a 45-foot heave at the buzzer that just rolled off the front of the rim, allowing Duke to escape with a 61-59 win and the national title.

Even when he sat down in December to finally look at the game tape in preparation for his team's rematch against Duke, Stevens couldn't bring himself to watch the last shot.

"Actually watching the tape wasn't that bad because it reminded me of what an amazing zone we had gotten into by then," he said. "I knew our guys had given everything they possibly could, but it was good for me to be reminded of how prepared and focused we were that night. I'm not sure if I've ever been part of anything like that."

Even so, he skipped the ending.

"It wasn't as if I hadn't seen it a hundred times or a thousand times," he said, laughing. "Last summer, every time I sat down to watch a golf tournament and CBS would do a promo, there was Gordon and there was the shot and I'd find myself thinking, 'Maybe it goes in this time.' "

As it is, Stevens is probably in for another summer of seeing the shot again and again.

Click here for the rest of the column: Butler Coach Brad Stevens has rebounded nicely from his missed shot

Saturday, February 26, 2011

This week's radio segments (The Sports Reporters, The Gas Man, Tony Kornheiser Show)

Wednesday I joined The Sports Reporters in the normal timeslot (5:25 ET on Wednesday's). Click the permalink, then the link below, to listen to the segment from this week. The discussion focused on the NCAA's handling of Bruce Pearl, Jim Calhoun and other coaches who have colored outside the lines, the comments from and the viability of Cam Newton as a NFL QB, and brief talk about the professional golf world.

Click here to listen to the segment (once the player opens, scroll down to 'Feb 23 - John Feinstein' for the audio): The Sports Reporters


Also, Wednesday evening I joined The Gas Man in my weekly spot. This week's discussion ranged from my AP vote to Brad Stevens and Butler to the Arizona-Washington game from Saturday to the competitiveness of the regular season of college basketball.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Gas Man


Thursday morning at 11:05 ET, I joined Tony Kornheiser in his newest version of The Tony Kornheiser Show. This week we talked about the struggles of Tiger Woods, the current state of coaches being punished by the NCAA, Steve Fisher and San Diego State, and the outlook for St. John's.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Tony Kornheiser Show

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Knicks quest for relevance

I really and truly wish I could care.

I wish I could care that the Knicks are now going to be relevant again; that Spike Lee is going to get more TV time than Dick Vitale; that my beloved agent Esther Newberg is going to be calling me saying proudly, “I have Knicks tickets tonight,” because the Knicks are going to be a hot ticket again.

Carmelo Anthony is coming to New York. The city suddenly cares about the NBA again. I wish I did.

When I was a kid I LOVED the Knicks. I lived and died with the Knicks. I remember how thrilling it was when they finally made it back to the playoffs in 1967 and how devastating it was when Bill Russell’s last Celtics team took them out in The Eastern Conference finals in 1969. I was one of those people who camped out on line starting at 5 a.m. the morning playoff tickets went on sale. The only reason I didn’t go earlier is that my parents wouldn’t let me leave the house in the middle of the night.

I was in section 406 on May 8, 1970 for what is known as ‘The Willis Reed,’ game even though Walt Frazier had 36-19-13 that night. I’m going on memory so if I’m a little off don’t kill me. I wasn’t thrilled with the Earl Monroe trade because it killed me to see Dave Stallworth and Mike Riordan go but I got over it when The Pearl helped the Knicks win a second title in 1973.

I could tell you the autograph-signing habits of all the Knicks—Willis always signed and walked; Frazier stopped, signed and talked to everyone. Bill Bradley put his head down and hoped you wouldn’t notice him—he was always the last guy to arrive prior to a game. But he never said no when you did spot him—he figured you’d earned it. Dave DeBusschere would only sign after he’d gone into Harry M’s—the bar right next to the player entrance—to have a couple of beers. Then, if you waited him out, he signed. Nate Bowman did everything but ask YOU for an autograph.

My friends and I all did Marv Albert imitations and I thought it was incredibly cool that my dad had been at CCNY at the same time as Red Holzman. Red Auerbach was a couple of years ahead of him but I HATED that cigar-smoking SOB. (Until he practically became my son’s godfather in later life).

But it all went away. Willis couldn’t stay healthy and Dave Cowens was too young, too strong and too angry about losing game 7 in 1973 to lose in 1974. A year later, I remember sitting in my college dorm on a Saturday afternoon and watching the old guys hobble through a humiliating game three loss in the old best-of-three mini-series to the Houston Rockets. The who? The Rockets? Mini-series? I don’t think I came out of my room for two days I felt so humiliated.

That was the last vestige of the great old Knicks. But that wasn’t when I stopped caring. In truth, it was Pat Riley, the coach who restored the team to some semblance of past glory when he took over. I just didn’t like Riley: didn’t like him personally and didn’t like his style of play. My Knicks played defense as well as it has ever been played—they were the first team to make holding a team under 100 points a big deal—but Riley’s teams played defense the way the New Jersey Devils play the neutral zone trap: clutch and grab and swing elbows and make the game ugly.

They won but I couldn’t really enjoy it. As I said some of it was personal: I think Riley is three of the most arrogant people I’ve met in sports. I’ve told the Michael Jordan, ‘young and loud,’ story before. I didn’t mind being called young and loud—I was both at the time—I minded his complete refusal to acknowledge, even privately, that maybe he’d been wrong; that maybe Jordan was a little better player than Sam Bowie and that a member of the media—‘you media guys,’ as he said disdainfully that night—had told him so before Jordan played an NBA game.

“He’s really not 6-6, that’s what you media guys don’t understand,” Riley had said that night in New York during the 1984 U.S. Open tennis tournament. “He’s only 6-4.”

“I don’t care if he’s FIVE four, he’s going to tear up your league,” the media guy said.

Hell, I’m wrong all the time. I thought Mark Price was an overrated white kid. He was an all-star who might have made The Hall of Fame if he’d stayed healthy. We all get things wrong.

Except Pat Riley.

At least he lived down to what I thought of him when he took the money and ran to Miami and resigned by sending the team a FAX. Seriously? A FAX? What a great guy.

I tried to ‘get back,’ my feelings about the Knicks after Riley left. But it never came back—except for a moment when Allen Houston hit the shot that rolled around the rim and in to beat Riley’s Heat in 1999.

I don’t feel any malice towards them the way I did in 1994 when I did NOT want them to win the NBA title. I wanted MY Knicks to have the last basketball banner flying in Madison Square Garden. Of course in those days there were only a few banners in the Garden: The Knicks two titles; the Rangers long-ago Stanley Cup banners (to which one was finally added in 1994). That was it. You noticed the banners right away when you walked in. The Knicks banners were white, with orange lettering. They were cool. I didn’t want to see one go up that Riley was responsible for hanging.

Of course it didn’t, thanks in large part to Riley’s refusal to get John Starks out of the game when he couldn’t find water from a rowboat. I had nothing against Starks but I enjoyed seeing Riley outcoached by Rudy Tomjanovich—and this was before I had any relationship with Tomjanovich.

Of course the Garden took all the cool banners down a few years ago and put up about a million smaller, cheesy ones. There are now St. John’s banners and conference championship banners and division championship banners. There’s a banner for Billy Joel! (I love Billy Joel but a banner in Madison Square Garden? When did it become the mecca for piano men?) I think there’s a banner for the Knicks last five game winning streak.

It isn’t that I don’t like Mike D’Antoni, in fact I like him. Donnie Walsh too. I DO agree with Mike Francesa (who I almost never agree with) that if Isiah Thomas is in any way involved these days the building should just be shut down. I think A’mare Stoudamire is terrific. But I don’t like players who don’t get exactly what they want with one franchise so they run somewhere else (See James, Lebron). Finish a job. It isn’t like the Nuggets or the Cavaliers are The Clippers who will never win or the Redskins with evil ownership or the Kansas City Royals who won’t spend any money.

So, Carmelo Anthony is coming to New York. I was there on Tuesday and that is ALL anyone was talking about. Good for the Knicks for pulling it off. I feel for people in Denver the way I felt for people in Cleveland, the way I felt for people in Milwaukee all those years ago when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar demanded to be traded and ended up in Los Angeles.

Everyone in New York is agog.

I wish I could feel that way. But I just don’t, not even a little bit.


Couple quick notes on my AP poll this week: I voted Brigham Young and San Diego State 1-2 because why not vote them 1-2? It isn’t as if any of the so-called power teams are dominant right now and why not give these guys a little bit of recognition. The polls in basketball are (Thank God) just a beauty contest, unlike in college football. They mean nothing except as an ego-boost or downer.

That’s why you Georgetown fans who insist on sending posts that are so profane they have to be taken down need to seriously get over yourselves. This isn’t Egypt or Libya or Wisconsin. It’s a basketball poll—one that means just about nothing, unlike a charity basketball tournament that raises millions for kids at risk.

THAT you should be upset about. And you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Monday, February 21, 2011

This week's AP basketball poll ballot

The following is this week's line-up on my ballot for the week 16 basketball poll:

1)      BYU
2)      San Diego St.
3)      Ohio St.
4)      Duke
5)      Pittsburgh
6)      Kansas
7)      Texas
8)      Purdue
9)      Arizona
10)  North Carolina
11)  Florida
12)  Wisconsin
13)  Notre Dame
14)  Connecticut
15)  Vanderbilt
16)  St. John's
17)  Georgetown
18)  George Mason
19)  Temple
20)  Missouri
21)  Utah St.
22)  Texas A&M
23)  Xavier
24)  Kentucky
25)  Harvard

Washington Post columns-- 'GW Athletic Director Jack Kvancz has had a pretty good run' and 'Jimmy Patsos still taking baby steps at Loyola'

Here are two articles written for The Washington Post from the weekend ---------------

On Dec. 10, 1979, Catholic hosted Saint Joseph's at tiny, outdated Brookland Gymnasium. The Cardinals won the game, 68-67, in double overtime. One season later, a Hawks team with the same coach and the same group of players upset top-ranked DePaul in the second round of the NCAA tournament and reached the Mideast Region final, where it lost to Indiana on the Hoosiers' home court.

That's how good a basketball coach Jack Kvancz was: He coached Catholic - soon to move down from Division I to Division III - to a victory over a future Elite Eight team.

In March 1987, Kvancz had to make his first critical hire as George Mason's athletic director when Joe Harrington left to become the basketball coach at Colorado. His choice was Rick Barnes. A year later, Barnes - at Kvancz's urging because it was too good a job to turn down - left to become the coach at Providence. The first person Kvancz tried to hire to replace Barnes was a North Carolina assistant named Roy Williams, who turned him down because Tar Heels Coach Dean Smith told him his first job should be bigger than George Mason.

That's how good an athletic director Kvancz was.

He also was a pretty good basketball player, the starting point guard on a Bob Cousy-coached Boston College team that reached the East Region final in 1967 before losing to North Carolina. When his playing career comes up, Kvancz doesn't talk about how good a player he was. He talks about playing for Cousy: "Being from New England [Bridgeport, Conn.], having Cooz come to the house on a recruiting visit was like having God come to your front door," he has often said. "The only thing bigger would have been Red [Auerbach] showing up."

That is classic Kvancz: let's not make this about me. He is one of those people who quietly does things very well, gives the credit to others and then tells jokes about himself. When he talks about his BC career, he doesn't bring up the fact that he averaged 15 points per game for very good teams as a junior and a senior. Instead, he tells the story about trying to keep UCLA point guard Lucius Allen from throwing the ball to Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in the post.

Click here for the rest of the column:  GW Athletic Director Jack Kvancz has had a pretty good run


Loyola men's basketball coach Jimmy Patsos was pacing the hallway outside his locker room Wednesday night, still hyper a few minutes after his team had lost its home finale to Rider, 82-70. A win could have put the Greyhounds in a tie for second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings with two games to play. The loss left them alone in fifth place.

The first question Patsos had asked Joe DelBalso, his sports information director, as he walked into the locker room was direct: "League scores?"

Soon after he came out, DelBalso had his answer: Siena had lost to Saint Peter's. Patsos threw his arms up into the air and said: "Yes! No play-in game." The Saints' loss meant the worst Loyola could finish in the 10-team conference was sixth - meaning it wouldn't have to play the first night of the MAAC tournament.
Rob Ades, Patsos's good friend, agent and mentor whose "what can go wrong next?" demeanor when the Greyhounds are playing often reminds his friends of Eeyore, sat a few feet away staring at Patsos as if he had just announced he had figured out how to fly to Mars and back in a week.

"What, I can't celebrate that? I'm not allowed to celebrate some good news?" Patsos said to Ades - who had not actually opened his mouth. "That's a good thing. It means we only have to win three games to get to the [NCAA] tournament, not four. That's only the third time in seven years. Baby steps, okay? There's nothing wrong with a step forward, even a little one."

Patsos is now in his seventh season of trying to move forward at Loyola, and perhaps the most important thing he has learned has been to revel in baby steps. When he arrived in 2004 after working 13 years as an assistant to Gary Williams at Maryland, he was absolutely convinced he could leap tall buildings in a single bound. He brought manic energy to the job - an upbeat approach that was desperately needed at a program that had just gone 1-27 - and a singular belief that simply wishing for something can make it happen.
He was 37, his hair was jet-black and he was ready to conquer the world - or at least the MAAC. Now, at 44, he's gone gray and understands that baby steps are a lot more realistic to hope for than those single bounds.

Click here for the rest of the column:: Jimmy Patsos still taking baby steps at Loyola

Friday, February 18, 2011

This week's radio segments (The Sports Reporters, The Gas Man, Tony Kornheiser Show)

Wednesday I joined The Sports Reporters in the normal timeslot (5:25 ET on Wednesday's). Click the permalink, then the link below, to listen to the segment from this week. The discussion focused on college basketball this week including Maryland's need to win 6 of 7 down the stretch, how good George Mason is and a few other topics. We finished off with the Tiger Woods fine and the state of the PGA Tour.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Sports Reporters

Thursday morning at 11:05 ET, I joined Tony Kornheiser in his newest version of The Tony Kornheiser Show. Today, we talked about the book industry, and the changes taking place with Kindle, iPad, and the changing times. We moved on to the 'Ask John' segment and finished up with comments on the Mets and their future (including my view of Mark Cuban).

Click here to listen to the segment: The Tony Kornheiser Show


Also, Wednesday evening I joined The Gas Man in my weekly spot. This week's discussion talked about the DC area basketball teams and how many teams are in the area that are an reasonable drive, and my goal to see all at least once a year.  We followed that up with more college basketball, and the view that the regular season is really good in that it allows ups and downs, highlighting the Kansas-Kansas State upset. The call ended with discussion on the Fiesta Bowl scandal.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Gas Man

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Washington Post column -- Maryland basketball has only 'warning-track power'

Here is today's article on Maryland basketball for The Washington Post----------

With 12 minutes 4 seconds left in Virginia Tech's critical ACC game against Maryland on Tuesday night, the Hokies' Jeff Allen shook free for a dunk that evened the score at 61.

After Allen's dunk sent the Cassell Coliseum crowd into a frenzy, Maryland, which hadn't trailed at any point in the second half, patiently worked the ball around the perimeter until Jordan Williams flashed into the post calling for the ball. As soon as he caught the pass into the post, he was double-teamed. Recognizing the defense collapsing on him, Williams quickly pitched the ball back to Cliff Tucker, who was wide open at the three-point line.

Tucker caught the ball in his shooting motion, released the shot smoothly and . . . missed.

As soon as the shot clanged off the rim and Virginia Tech grabbed the rebound, Raycom analyst Dan Bonner, watching Tucker run back down court on defense, hit the button that allowed him to talk to the TV truck. "Do you have a shot of Tucker after that miss?" he said off-air to producer Rob Reichley. "I think we just saw Maryland's season in microcosm on that play."

Wednesday morning, Bonner explained why he thought that moment was so significant. "I'm not saying it decided the game, because it didn't," he said. "But it was a key moment. Maryland needed to calm the crowd with a basket and they did everything right. Except they couldn't make the shot. That's been their season: always close against good teams but never ahead at the end.

"They have warning-track power."

Click here for the rest of the column: Maryland basketball has only 'warning-track power'

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Look at Tiger’s on-course behavior, results; How radio interview topics are broached, or avoided

So here we go with Tiger Woods again. Most of us have seen the tape by now of him spitting while crouched over a putt on the 12th hole at Dubai on Sunday during the course of a miserable final round at whatever they call that event over there.

Personally, I don’t think what he did is that big a deal even though it certainly wasn’t pretty to see, especially in slo-mo replay. One the one hand, you can say what he did is roughly the same as what most baseball players do about four times per at bat. On the other hand, this isn’t baseball. There are very specific rules on every tour about how players are supposed to conduct themselves while on the golf course and in the public eye. Years ago, if you shook hands with Nick Price you could feel the burn marks on his hand from cupping cigarettes so as not to be caught on camera smoking during a round.

Profanity is the coin of the realm in most sports. The other day during the Syracuse-Louisville game cameras clearly caught Jim Boeheim yelling ‘b-----,’ at the officials after a bad call at a critical juncture and there was no attempt to switch away from him as he continued his rant. In golf, someone hears you use profanity—whether it is picked up by the cameras or not—you can get fined.

Jay Haas may be as nice a man as has ever played the game of golf. He’s fan-friendly to a fault. Years ago though he was having a very bad Saturday in Milwaukee. He’d been in the hunt after two rounds and shot 77 on Saturday which, as Haas said, ‘is about like shooting 90 on that golf course.’ He came to 18 hot, frustrated and worn out. His second shot stuck in the rough behind the green and when he tried to gouge it out, the ball ran through the green and into the rough again. As Haas stalked the ball, someone in the gallery yelled, “Haas, you suck!”

“Yeah well, ‘f---- you,’” Haas responded, just done with being patient for once in his life.

The next morning rules official Wade Cagle called Haas into his office. “Jay we got a report from one of the marshals yesterday,” he said. “He claims you said, ‘f--- you,’ to a fan. I’m sure it was a mistake. You must have been saying, ‘thank-you,’ right?”

Haas laughed. “No, the guy has it right,” he said. “I said ‘f---- you,’ and I stand by it. How much do I owe you?”

The cost was $500—first offense for conduct unbecoming a professional. Haas wrote the check and told the story because the tour certainly wouldn’t announce the fine. The PGA Tour doesn’t announce fines but that’s another story for another day—or later today if you go to where I’ve written a column on that issue.

This is about Tiger. You can talk if you want about how the scrutiny placed upon him is unfair. There’s something to that. As he has pointed out through the years in complaining to the tour about all his fines, he’s always got a camera or a microphone pointed at him. Other plays can curse, throw a club or spit a lot of the time and get away with it unless some marshal is standing nearby taking notes.

Well, to quote Arnold Palmer in 1997, “you’re right Tiger, you aren’t a normal 21-year-old, normal 21-year-olds don’t have $50 million in the bank.”

Tiger’s 35 now and, even after his divorce, he’s got considerably more than $50 million in the bank. Last year when he came back from his self-imposed post-accident exile to the tour he talked about ‘showing more respect for the game,’ something Tom Watson and others had criticized him for both pre and post-accident. For all the talk—which has quieted in the last 15 months to some degree hasn’t it?—about everything Earl taught Tiger, he clearly never got around to the simple lesson about golf course etiquette most of us learn when we’re kids.

Palmer has often told the story about his father warning him he’d never play again when he saw him throw a club during a junior tournament. Most of us who have played at ANY level have had that moment.

Tiger’s never had anything close. No one has ever told him NO on any level, which is why he’s still throwing clubs, cursing, spitting and generally behaving like a spoiled brat when things don’t go right for him on the golf course. Everyone knows he’s frustrated and no one blames him for feeling that way. He’s used to dominating on Sundays, not going from 4th to 20th or having some rookie commenting that he didn’t look like he was giving it all during a final round. If there’s one thing I’ve always admired about Tiger is that he NEVER mailed it in no matter where he was playing or where he stood on the leaderboard. Now he’s got kids in his group saying he doesn’t look like he cares when he’s not in contention. THAT I find stunning.

The reason this incident became news is three-fold: It was caught clearly on television; it was part of another bad Sunday for Tiger and because The European Tour—unlike The PGA Tour—does announce that it has fined a player even though it won’t tell you how much. (Think in the $25,000 range). I heard one guy on a DC radio show Monday—the alleged golf reporter at Newschannel 8—claiming that the reason the fine was announced was because people are piling on Tiger now because he isn’t playing well.

Um, wrong. The fine was announced because that’s The Euro Tour’s policy whether it’s Tiger or Rory McIlroy or any of those Flying Molinari’s who commits the infraction.

Of course what’s truly baffling isn’t Tiger’s behavior. In fact, it’s old news by now. What’s baffling is his sudden inability to play well on the weekends. He’s got three tournaments left before The Masters—unless he shocks all of us by actually adjusting his schedule. Until then, this is all a warm-up act. Tiger has some work to do between now and then.


Someone asked an interesting question last week: Do I know the questions I’m going to be asked when I go on the radio. The answer is: not usually. I can guess based on what’s going on what I might be asked about but I don’t usually specifically talk to the host or the producer beforehand.

The only exception to that in the past was when I was still on NPR where I actually wrote my own questions because none of the producers there knew the difference between a hockey puck and a basketball. (On the day Bob Knight was fired I called in to explain that I needed to be on the next morning and the producer who answered the phone said, “so why was he important? Did he coach Michael Jordan or something?”)

“Yeah, or something,” I answered.

The other exception goes in the other direction: Tony Kornheiser has specifically asked me not to bring up Dan Snyder on his show. I feel queasy about this but Tony’s my friend and it is his show. It isn’t as if there aren’t plenty of other forums for me to talk about Snyder and Snyder is one of those guys Tony simply isn’t going to go after—not because he’s paid by him but because he likes him.

Look, we all have blind spots. If you tell me something bad about Paul Goydos or Tom Watson or Gary Williams or Mike Krzyzewski or Mary Carillo or Joe Torre or Bobby Cox I’m not going to listen. Snyder is one of those guys for Tony. So is Mitch Albom, who we also disagree on. If I had a show and he wanted to come on and rip Watson’s politics, I’d probably say, ‘look, I’m sure I agree with you but the guy is my friend so let’s not go there.’ And he wouldn’t go there. So, Tony and I don’t talk about Snyder. We agree to disagree--vehemently.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This week's AP ballot:

The following is my ballot for this week's AP basketball poll, week 15. With Ohio State losing over the weekend, there is shuffling at the top:

1)      Texas
2)      Kansas
3)      Ohio St.
4)      Pittsburgh
5)      Duke
6)      BYU
7)      San Diego St.
8)      Notre Dame
9)      Georgetown
10)  Wisconsin
11)  Florida
12)  North Carolina
13)  Purdue
14)  Louisville
15)  Arizona
16)  Vanderbilt
17)  Texas A&M
18)  Temple
19)  Connecticut
20)  Villanova
21)  Xavier
22)  George Mason
23)  Coastal Carolina
24)  Missouri
25)  Saint Mary's, Calif.

Washington Post column-- 'UDC basketball coach Jeff Ruland gets another shot at redemption'

The following is the column for this past weekend's The Washington Post ------------

On one wall of the University of the District of Columbia's gym hang the school's two significant banners - one from the Firebirds' 1982 Division II men's basketball national title, the other from the program's runner-up finish a year later.

The banners serve as a reminder of past glories at UDC, bringing back memories of Earl Jones, Michael Britt and a packed Physical Activities Center. Now, as Firebirds Coach Jeff Ruland gave his team final instructions before their game Thursday night against Livingstone, his voice could be heard clearly in every corner of the near-empty gym.

"You have to get back on defense, work on defense," he said, repeating the mantra of almost anyone who has ever coached basketball on every level. "Have good ball movement. Let's go."

The hands went into the huddle and a few seconds later the ball went up to start the 21st game of Ruland's second season as UDC's coach. This is where his journey has brought him: from his mother's bar on Long Island; through a recruiting frenzy that included Bob Knight, Joe B. Hall and Jim Valvano; to three life-changing years in college at Iona; to eight NBA seasons in Washington and Philadelphia; and finally into coaching.

Ruland spent nine seasons as the head coach at his alma mater and thought he would spend the rest of his career there until he was fired in 2007. Now, after a stint in the NBA D-League and another year in the NBA as an assistant coach, he finds himself riding the buses of Division II, coaching in empty gyms and getting frustrated with the junior college referees who work a lot of UDC's games.

"Okay fellas, we got the three stooges tonight," he said to his players during one timeout. "Let me take care of it."

Click here for the rest of the article: UDC basketball coach Jeff Ruland gets another shot at redemption

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This week's radio segments (The Sports Reporters, The Gas Man, Tony Kornheiser Show)

Wednesday I joined The Sports Reporters in the normal timeslot (5:25 ET on Wednesday's). Click the permalink, then the link below, to listen to the segment from this week.  We started off talking about the ticket situation with the Super Bowl, the rumors about the future of the designated hitter's place in MLB, Larry Drew II abruptly leaving the UNC program and we ended with the Bruce Pearl case in relation to past and future NCAA penalties.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Sports Reporters

Thursday morning at 11:05 ET, I joined Tony Kornheiser in his newest version of The Tony Kornheiser Show. Tony started off asking about Martin Kaymer's comments on Tiger Woods, Tim Finchem's view on the 'golf police' before moving on to the new 'Ask John' segment, ending with a rehash of the UNC-Duke game from last night and Sidney Crosby talk.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Tony Kornheiser Show


Also, Wednesday evening I joined The Gas Man in my weekly spot. We started off talking of my view of the Duke-UNC rivalry vs. the actual Duke-UNC game before moving on to sporting event 'bucket lists', including the greatest places to watch a college basketball game.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Gas Man

Bob Knight and the morning pitchmen; Duke-UNC, don’t forget Roy Williams is a heck of a coach

It always amazes me how often Bob Knight pops into my life in different ways. To this day, I get asked about him all the time: What do I think of him on TV? (knows the game better than anyone; doesn’t prepare even a little bit; looks ridiculous in that sweater but not as ridiculous as his partners who ESPN makes wear the same ridiculous sweaters because no one there has the guts to say, ‘you want our money, you dress like everyone else,’ to Knight).

When was the last time you talked? (November, very briefly). Has he forgiven you? (Don’t know and don’t care). What do I think of his son as a coach (Bad question, I’m too biased on the subject of Pat Knight but I do agree with Texas Coach Rick Barnes who says if you aren’t a basketball icon Texas Tech is the toughest place to recruit to in The Big 12 by a lot).

Wednesday morning I was in the car early driving to New York for the funeral of my Uncle Sy, a truly wonderful and funny man who was skiing with his oldest son Howard a month ago at the age of 87 before he got sick. As my cousin Ira said, “To live for almost 88 years and be sick one month of your life; to be married and in love for more than 62 years and to see you children grow up; to see your grandchildren and a great grandchild, we’d all sign for that right now.”

I try to use my time in the car to get things done that take time I don’t want to use when I’m home. So, at about 7:50, as the morning pitchmen were going to what I knew would essentially be a 15 minutes break—I had tried switching to my friends, ‘The Junkies,’ but they were doing one of their periodic riffs on kinky sex, so I switched back (yes, I know I need satellite, next car)—I decided to make the annual Valentine’s Day flower call. The pitchmen were saying that Knight would join them at 8:05. I like listening to Knight because he’ll always say something smart and will almost always say something I know not to be true. I figured 15 minutes would be plenty of time to order the flowers.

I wasn’t even close. It took 27 minutes. Not only did I have to listen to all the add-ons I could buy (‘no-thanks, no-thanks, no-thanks’); I had to wait while the guy went through the computer to find the so-called special I had heard my pal Andy Pollin selling the day before. At first he offered me something that included the flowers AND chocolates for another 10 bucks. No. My wife doesn’t even like chocolates. Then he had to check with a supervisor to find the offer I was referencing. Finally he found it.

Then came the painful part: Giving my credit card number FOUR times; he couldn’t spell John (honest, he thought it started with a G) so he had NO chance with Feinstein. When I finally hung up completely exhausted after being told what a wonderful choice I had made I looked at the clock: 8:17. Damn, I had missed Knight.

Except I hadn’t. You see with Bob, 8:05 often means, ‘when I get around to it.” So, when I turned the radio back on pitchman 1 was introducing Knight. Knight was on for 11 minutes during which time he was called ‘legendary,’ at least 37 times. I wonder if that’s in his ESPN contract: “Must be referred to as legendary every third sentence; do not call him anything but Coach and do NOT begin an interview by saying, ‘hey Knight, what’s up?’

The pitchmen actually asked Knight a couple of NBA questions before moving on to college basketball. This is where it got funny. One of the pitchmen asked Knight how he would feel if Ohio State became the first team since his 1976 Indiana team to go undefeated. Knight’s instant answer was, “I really don’t pay any attention to that.”

Oh My God, please stop.

I don’t remember right now which team was the last to lose in 1986—I’m sure it is in ‘Season on the Brink,’ but my office is in chaos right now because my wife has decided to re-organize it since she honestly believes Judge Crater is in here somewhere—but I DO remember Knight’s reaction when it happened. “That’s 10 years boys,” he said to his assistant coaches. “Ten years since the last undefeated team in college basketball. Here’s to ----- and he held up a glass of ice tea to toast the team that had ended the last unbeaten skein.

Oh yeah, he doesn’t pay attention to that.

Knight proceeded to go on at length about how he really liked Thad Matta and the way he goes about things. I don’t doubt any of that. But I can tell you this: If Wisconsin gets the Buckeyes on Sunday, Knight will be toasting Bo Ryan on Sunday night.

I managed to get home Wednesday night in time to see the Duke-North Carolina game. It was one of the few times that I was happy a game didn’t start until after 9 o’clock.

Here’s what I came away from that game thinking: Ole Roy can coach.

That’s the funny thing about Roy Williams. Because he always seems to be doing something wacky—wearing a Kansas pin to the national title game after losing to Kansas in the semifinals; the constant third-person references; the dad-gum-its and frickins; the public self-doubting; the tossing of a fan from PRESBYTERIAN; the lecturing of Carolina fans—‘who have been fans for nine million years,’ after they were upset by a 20 point loss at Georgia Tech—people sometimes lose sight of the fact that the guy can really coach.

I’m not just talking about all the wins and the seven Final Fours and the two national titles, he’s just good. He wasn’t good last season—trying to get a team built to play 50 miles an hour to play at 100 miles an hour, but he’s been damn good this winter. He’s lost enough players in the last year to start a pretty decent team. His team looked awful at times the first six weeks of this season. And yet, guess what?—the Tar Heels can play with just about anybody right now.

Duke isn’t going to be a dominant team this season, not without Kyrie Irving. But the Blue Devils are still a tough out for anyone (22-2) especially in Cameron Indoor Stadium. It is to their credit that they climbed out of a 16-point hole last night, carried by Nolan Smith and Seth Curry. Smith has been better since Irving got hurt because he plays better—certainly statistically—when he has the ball in his hands because he’s very good at creating for himself. Kyle Singler, on the other hand, has shot poorly on a consistent basis since Irving went out. He needs someone to set him up and Smith doesn’t do that. Jon Scheyer wasn’t a pure point guard either but he did know how to get the ball to Singler and Smith.

Duke and Carolina—again—are the class of the ACC. It will be interesting to see how many bids the ACC gets on March 12th. The call here is five: the big two plus Florida State, Maryland and either Clemson or Virginia Tech. But it could, at least in theory, be as few as three.

I don’t think Duke is a Final Four team without Irving. Then again, I didn’t think it was a Final Four team last year. Betting against Mike Krzyzewski is always dangerous. The same is true for Ole Roy dadgumit.

One other thing: If Duke still had Irving it might be 24-0. And Bob Knight would be paying attention.

I sure hope the flowers get delivered on time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I’m not a fan of the prediction making business; Dan Snyder’s radio row blitz

The best news about waking up yesterday morning was knowing I could safely turn on the radio or the TV without hearing the words, “Who do you like in The Super Bowl?” I really and truly don’t care who you like or who anyone on radio or TV likes or, to be honest, who I like in The Super Bowl—or any event—before it is played. If I make a prediction and I’m right it is usually because I had a 50 percent chance of being right. Same if I’m wrong.

I thought the Packers would win on Sunday. Whooeee I’m an expert. I also thought they’d lose to The Atlanta Falcons. Whoops, I’m an idiot.

Years ago, when Annika Sorenstam was getting set to play at Colonial against the men, her appearance was getting almost as much attention as a Super Bowl. Then again, The Super Bowl probably got more column inches and more TV time than what’s going on in Egypt so maybe Annika v. the boys didn’t quite rise to that level.

As luck would have it I was promoting a golf book that month—my book on the U.S. Open at Bethpage. A number of national shows wanted me to come on and talk about Annika and my publicist spent a lot of time cutting deals: John will talk about Annika but you have to ask at least one question about the book. One show that had asked for me PRIOR to Annika announcing she’d play Colonial was a CNN show that was on in those days at 11 p.m. The booker wanted to have me on the day the book was published and insisted we not book any other national shows that day. In return, she promised an entire segment on the book. Since The Today Show was otherwise occupied with cooking segments, we accepted.

The host, I think, was Aaron Brown. To make a long story a little shorter, he completely pissed me off by ignoring the book throughout the entire segment. He even promo’d the segment by saying I was coming on to talk about Annika. When I was hooked up to him by satellite while the show was in commercial I said to him, “You promo’d Annika, I’m glad to talk about her but you know I’m here to talk about the new book.”

“Yeah, yeah, we’ll get to it,” he said, leaving me very close to walking out because I knew I was about to get screwed.

The entire segment was Annika. Finally he said, “So John, what’s your prediction on how she’ll do?”

I’d been well-behaved until then but the ‘who do you like in The Super Bowl,’ question put me over.

“Aaron I think making predictions is silly,” I said. “What does it matter what I think? Let’s just wait until Thursday and we’ll find out then. I can’t think of anything more boring than so-called experts making predictions.”

“Well I think a lot of the fun in sports is making predictions,” he answered in a pouty tone.

“Fine then, you make a prediction.”

At that point his producer DID finally throw the book cover on-screen and Brown grumpily mentioned it. As soon as we were in commercial he said, “What the hell kind of answer was that on the prediction?”

I said, “what the hell kind of segment ON MY BOOK was that?”

I took the earpiece off without waiting for an answer. The next day, “Mr. Brown’s assistant,” called my publicist demanding my phone number for, “Mr. Brown.” The publicist already knew what had happened so she held out on the phone number (I’d have been glad to talk to him). When the publicist offered e-mail, the assistant said—according to her—“Do you realize who Aaron Brown is?”

Speaking of which, just to show I’m consistent on the subject the one week a year I don’t do Tony Kornheiser’s show is the first week of the NCAA Tournament. He insists everyone who comes on goes through a bracket. I find this at least as dull as, “who do you like in The Super Bowl,” so I pass on it which annoys Tony no end.

I digress. The game was excellent and my colleague Sally Jenkins has a great column in today’s Washington Post on how out-of-control everything that surrounds the game has gotten. It won’t change. The NFL defines the word excess in every way. The game was the most watched TV show EVER. So why would they change anything?

One of the more amusing sights in Dallas had to be Dan Snyder and his little entourage making the rounds on radio row on Friday afternoon. Apparently, having been ripped from stem-to-stern after the announcement of his bully lawsuit against The City Paper, Snyder and his genius PR guy Tony Wyllie (who Snyder says suggested the lawsuit; if so he should be fired for coming up with the single stupidest idea since indoor baseball) decided to go on the offensive AGAIN so they could dig the hole a little deeper.

Of course every radio show was more than willing to have Snyder on. He came with a scripted message: HE HAD to file this lawsuit because The City Paper’s Dave McKenna had ‘gone over the line,’ when he had ‘made fun of my wife who has been battling breast cancer.’ Go back and read the story. There are two sentences about Tanya Snyder and they refer ONLY to her going on TV to talk about her new-and-improved husband as part of the Danny-over-DC PR campaign to convince Redskin fans who were completely sick of the guy that he was a brand new man.

That’s IT. No mention of breast cancer and certainly no making fun of Tanya on any level. Snyder simply made that up. In doing so, he used his wife, who no doubt has been through a lot fighting the disease, as a human shield against his own critics. That’s beyond cynical.

Step two was playing the Jew card again. At one point he said, “You know, Tony, who is African-American, called this Rabbi in LA….” First, who cares that Wyllie is African-American? What relevance does that have here? Second, the quote from the Rabbi was beyond offensive to people who really have dealt with anti-Semitism and invoking the Holocaust in any way to defend the actions of a billionaire bully-boy (I realize the Rabbi didn’t see it that way but that’s the way it came out) is beyond shameful.

Throw in the fact that Snyder owns a team that he insists on continuing to call The Washington REDSKINS and the notion of him complaining about any bias is either laughable or completely hypocritical or both. When Chad Dukes went on the local non-Snyder-owned radio station in DC had the temerity to bring that up, Snyder bristled.

“Obviously you don’t know the history of the Redskins,” he said. “We’ve won lawsuits. Even bringing that up is silly.”

Really? So now you, Danny Snyder, are judge and jury on what is offensive to Jews AND what is NOT offensive to Native Americans. Do you get elected to that job or do you get it by acclamation? By the way, winning a lawsuit doesn’t make anything right, it just makes it legal. It is legal for private clubs to discriminate against people. That doesn’t mean it is right. As for history: most of us know the history: The Redskins were founded in Boston and nicknamed ‘Redskins,’ in honor of the colonials who dressed up as Indians on the night of The Boston Tea Party.

That was a LONG time ago. Back then it was also okay according to society to call African Americans, ‘coloreds.’ This is 2011. What was right eighty years ago isn’t right now and that’s not political correctness.

The funniest bits were Snyder going on about his father having been in the media—“I love the media,”—and then taking one gratuitous shot after another at anyone and everyone in the media: “You know how The Post is, they love taking shots at me. That’s the way a lot of old media is. But you know we’re doing great in radio.” (Shades of the morning pitchmen at ESPN here; I half expected him to tell us who the next cheap shot was sponsored by). There was more: To Mike Wise, who actually tried to ask him a couple of follow-up questions that went beyond his script, “I know how you media guys are, you defend one another all the time no matter what.”

Yes, he loves the media.

I was about to write the words, ‘enough about Snyder,’ but what’s the point. He’s going to force me to write about him again soon because he’s going to continue to simply make things up to justify who he is. And, unlike some of my good friends, I’m going to respond when he does.

Monday, February 7, 2011

This week's AP ballot:

The following is my ranking of the top 25 for this week's AP poll:

1)      Ohio St.
2)      Texas
3)      Kansas
4)      Pittsburgh
5)      BYU
6)      San Diego St.
7)      Duke
8)      Notre Dame
9)      Villanova
10)  Connecticut
11)  North Carolina
12)  Syracuse
13)  Georgetown
14)  Florida
15)  Wisconsin
16)  Purdue
17)  Arizona
18)  Utah St.
19)  Texas A&M
20)  Temple
21)  Louisville
22)  Kentucky
23)  Coastal Carolina
24)  Vanderbilt
25)  Saint Mary's, Calif.

Washington Post column-- 'George Mason scraps its way to a key CAA win over Old Dominion'

From Sunday's The Washington Post -----------

As soon as the halftime buzzer sounded at Patriot Center on Saturday afternoon, Old Dominion Coach Blaine Taylor headed not for his locker room but for the scorer's table.

"Give me the scorebook," he said to official scorer Tim Lander, who complied quickly.

Taylor looked at the book for a moment, found what he was looking for and slammed it down on the table. Lander almost became the first official scorer in basketball history to literally have the book thrown at him. Taylor had wanted to be certain that what he thought to be true was in fact true: his team hadn't shot a single free throw in the first half.

"We took 28 shots from where we shoot and we don't get to the foul line?" he said later. "How is that possible?"

No doubt the lack of free throws bothered Taylor. But what undoubtedly bothered him more was the halftime score: George Mason 24, Old Dominion 21. That's after the Patriots had scored all of four points in the first 11 minutes of the game.

"They missed nine of their first 10 shots and had five turnovers and we were only up five," he said later. "You would have liked to have had more of a margin at that point."

Opportunity lost for the Monarchs, game (perhaps) saved for the Patriots. In the last 29 minutes before a raucous sellout crowd of 9,840, George Mason outscored Old Dominion, 58-36, leading to a 62-45 final score and leaving the Patriots in a first-place tie with Virginia Commonwealth in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Click here for the rest of the column: George Mason scraps its way to a key CAA win over Old Dominion 

Friday, February 4, 2011

This week's radio segments (Sports Reporters, Tony Kornheiser Show, The Gas Man)

Wednesday I joined The Sports Reporters in the normal timeslot (5:25 ET on Wednesday's). Click the permalink, then the link below, to listen to the segment from this week. This week we spent time previewing the Duke-Maryland game from Wednesday night, the state of college basketball around the country before moving on to the comments by a fellow golfer (rookie Brendan Steele) that Tiger Woods mailed it in on Sunday afternoon.

Click here to listen to the segment (a little technical trouble this week - after the player comes up, scroll down to click on title 'John Feinstein'): The Sports Reporters

Thursday morning at 11:05 ET, I joined Tony Kornheiser in his newest version of The Tony Kornheiser Show.  We started off talking about hockey history before moving on to new segment of listener questions, followed by Tiger Woods and the outlook on his season and career.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Tony Kornheiser Show


Also, Wednesday evening I joined The Gas Man in my weekly spot at 8:35 ET. We started off talking college basketball and Utah State, Washington and Washington State, then moved on to discussing the new system of the NCAA Tournament and finished off with talk about the PGA Tour, including Phil Mickelson and a pet peeve of mine, the Golf Hall of Fame.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Gas Man

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lawsuit vs. Washington City Paper and McKenna is just who Dan Snyder is; Sporting News column gets cut

Ever since Dan Snyder decided a year ago that he needed to change his image, people who know him have waited for him to crack under the pressure of trying to behave rationally while not thinking he could run an NFL team anywhere but into the ground.

Well, now it has happened.

Snyder spent most of 2010 going through intense image-rehab. He hired Mike Shanahan to run his football team and insisted that Shanahan would have total control: no more having to watch tape in the owner’s office; no more players running to the owner to complain about the coach; no more melting ice cream on the defensive coordinator’s desk if Danny didn’t like the play calling.

Snyder hired a new PR guy who began telling the media that “Mr. Snyder,” would be available to talk if they showed up at some charity function where Danny was writing a check and taking bows. The guy called reporters who had ripped Snyder in the past (including me) to take them to lunch and tell them that there was a New Danny in town. (My lunch never happened; I guess I wasn’t pliant-sounding enough when I got the phone call).

Danny started appearing in TV commercials. Even his wife gave interviews about The New Danny. The PR guy managed to con ESPN—okay not that hard—into doing one of the all-time puff pieces on the owner. Snyder was new and improved was the message.

Maybe not so much.

Wednesday, Snyder and his lawyers proudly announced that they are suing Washington’s ‘City Paper,’ for defamation. They’re asking for $2 million in damages. But that’s not really what Snyder’s after: he’s after Dave McKenna’s job. Period.

Dave McKenna has worked at The City Paper for 25 years. He is one of many reporters here in Washington who has watched Snyder’s behavior with dismay through the years and chronicled it. Last November, McKenna wrote a lengthy piece that was more a very thorough research paper than a newspaper story, giving chapter and verse on Snyder’s transgressions as an owner and a human being.

To be honest, reading the piece, there’s nothing shocking in it. Just about everything in it has been previously reported or is well known around Washington. What makes it impressive is the sheer volume of it; the number of times Snyder and his cronies have behaved badly. There was also a cartoon that ran with the story depicting Snyder as the devil.

The story caused little stir. In fact, I hadn’t heard anything about it until this week. When The Post ran a story on Tuesday about Snyder’s lawsuit, I went and read the story—like a lot of people did.

Which is why I am amazed at the utter stupidity of Snyder and minions. I don’t know what The City paper’s circulation is—it’s always been a well-written paper and I read it when I get the chance—but we’re not talking the Post or The New York Times here. What the Snyderistas have done is shine a spotlight on a story that was almost three months old and never generated much buzz when it came out. After all, ‘Dan Snyder is a Jerk,’ isn’t exactly film-at-11 stuff anymore. It’s like reporting that Bob Knight uses profanity.

Now, Snyder is back to doing his bully routine. This time he’s not suing season ticket holders or banning TV reporters who don’t pay him or charging people $20 to watch practice or taking away all signs coming into the stadium or charging a $4 ‘security surcharge,’ in the wake of 9-11. (All of these things were brought up in the piece).

This time he’s trying to get a guy fired because he thinks he can do it. The letter sent from Snyder’s lawyer to The City Paper makes it clear that’s where they’re going with this. The lawyer, some guy named Donovan (Artie perhaps?) points out how rich Snyder is and says that defending such a lawsuit might cost more money than The City Paper or its parent company has. It doesn’t specifically demand McKenna’s firing but that’s clearly what’s going on here.

After all, there is NO CHANCE for Snyder to win a lawsuit like this one. He’s a public figure and people have the right to criticize him. The only way he can win a lawsuit would be to (A) prove that the facts in the story are wrong and (B) that there was malice involved in reporting whatever is incorrect. Given that almost all of all of McKenna’s piece involves stories already told, even if he DID get something wrong it would be awfully hard to prove he did it with malice.

This isn’t a nuisance suit it’s a bully suit. It is Danny Snyder trying to bully a small paper into firing someone. It is disgusting and it is proof—again—of who Dan Snyder really is. It is also proof that the people around him (again) are dumb or have absolutely no power to talk him out of doing things that are not only beyond mean-spirited but are flat out stupid.

Snyder is even playing the Jew card on this one. He and minions found a Rabbi at The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles who was willing to call the cartoon anti-semitic. Oh please. A newspaper ran a cartoon depicting Mike Krzyzewski as the devil during last year’s Final Four. Was it in poor taste? Sure. But was it anti-Polish? Of course not. No one is anti-semitic here. They are anti-Dan Snyder. Period.

A friend of mine, David Sanders—a lifelong Redskins fan—said to me yesterday that he believes the Redskins are 20 years into a 60-year drought. Snyder is only responsible for the last 12 but David’s point is clear: Snyder is 46-years-old and he’s not going to sell this team unless the fans in this town somehow marshal their forces and simply STOP going to games and STOP buying Redskins-gear and scream at the top of their lungs that they’re sick and tired of this little bully and they aren’t going to take it anymore.

Of course that won’t happen. Snyder will find a big name quarterback this spring or summer once the new CBA is signed; he’ll kiss a few babies at a charity event’ he’ll do Lunch with Lindsay or grant ESPN an ‘exclusive,’ interview talking about how much he’s learned and The Stadium Formerly Named For Jack Kent Cooke will be packed on opening day next September.

That’s a tribute to the loyalty and optimism of Redskins fans. It is NOT a tribute to the owner. Except he won’t see it that way. He’ll sit in his royal box with his suck-up friends and honestly believe he’s doing all the right things.

This lawsuit is who Dan Snyder is. Even if he someday hoists a Super Bowl trophy and proves David Sanders wrong, Dan Snyder will still be a mean little man. And that’s not a reference to his height.


One other note today: A lot of you have generously written to me about how much you enjoy my column in The Sporting News and I'm grateful for that. Well, my last column appears in the next edition of the magazine.

I got a phone call Tuesday from some bean counter in a suit who told me that now that Sporting News has acquired AOL Fanhouse, the company wants to, "maximize our assets," by using the fulltime columnists working at Fanhouse in the magazine. I love the way these guys talk don't you? I said, "so you're firing me to save money."

"Well, we really appreciate everything you've done for the magazine."

"No you don't," I said. "If you did, you wouldn't be firing me to save money."

My guess is the guy has never once read anything I've written. He's been too busy counting beans and buying suits.

Am I upset? Sure I am. I liked writing the column and I thought I did it well. If someone fired me because my work wasn't any good, it would be disappointing. Being fired by some guy (I swear I can't remember his name and I'm not going to bother looking it up) who thinks Sportscenter is great journalism is a little bit hard to take.

I'll get over it. But I will hold a grudge. If nothing else, I'm good at that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Week 13 AP ballot:

The following is my ballot for this week's AP basketball poll, which came out yesterday and can be found here:

1)      Ohio St.
2)      Texas
3)      Kansas
4)      Pittsburgh
5)      San Diego St.
6)      BYU
7)      Duke
8)      Notre Dame
9)      Kentucky
10)  Connecticut
11)  Purdue
12)  Louisville
13)  Texas A&M
14)  Villanova
15)  North Carolina
16)  Missouri
17)  Georgetown
18)  Va. Commonwealth
19)  Duquesne
20)  Xavier
21)  Syracuse
22)  Minnesota
23)  Washington
24)  Coastal Carolina
25)  Utah St.