BOZICH | Monday Muse: Pitino to UNLV? Serious questions only
Another side of the UNLV basketball opening now that Rick Pitino has been mentioned with it. Another Bob Knight IU snub. Terry Rozier and Yogi Ferrell updates. Local Super Bowl connections.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Rick Pitino is not the first coach with a national championship pedigree to be linked to the coaching opening at UNLV. In fact, the entire Pitino to UNLV story line comes directly from the 2001 recycling bin.
A look behind the curtain shows that UNLV is pretty much a high mid-major that wants a seat at the $25,000 per hand blackjack table. Hiring a force like Pitino would buy the Running Rebels glory that the program would otherwise require years to legitimately earn.
It also gives me a legitimate launch point for the Monday Muse. So I’ll take it.
1. PITINO TO UNLV, PART DEUX
Google Rick Pitino, UNLV and 2001. You can read all the details about the coach’s last famous flirtation with the Running Rebels. Pitino knew he was bound for college basketball again after the Celtics fired him. He test-drove opportunities at UNLV and Michigan before settling on Louisville.
But Pitino is not the only guy who has wondered if Vegas was The Place where a coach could win, golf, swim and shop at the Brioni store in The Esplanade in the Wynn Hotel.
Google John Thompson and UNLV. Or Bob Knight. Or Jim Calhoun. Or Rollie Massimino (the one guy in the group who actually took the silly job).
Seeing a trend here?
Vegas won its national title in 1990. The following season the Running Rebels were supposed to be the next 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. Until Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner and Mike Krzyzewski made certain they weren’t.
Duke toppled unbeaten UNLV in the Final Four.
Tark and UNLV were sent to the NCAA outhouse not long after that.
Know this: Rick Pitino won as many NCAA Tournament games last March as UNLV has won since 1991 – three.
Here is another number to note: 7,784.
That’s how many empty seats UNLV is averaging this season at the Thomas & Mack Center, which has room for 19,852 fans.
Toss in the reflected glory of the Mountain West Conference and its glamorous winter trips to Fresno (State), Calif., Boise (State), Idaho and Cheyenne (Wyoming) and there’s more evidence that the UNLV job is closer to Providence than Kentucky or Louisville.
One final UNLV story. On Dec. 11, 2010 Lon Kruger brought the Running Rebels to the KFC Yum! Center for the Billy Minardi Classic. The game tipped at noon, but the Rebels were in a supreme rush to get out of town after the game.
They were booked on late afternoon flights home through Chicago on Southwest Airlines. Do you know how much fun it is navigating a basketball team through the airport with "B" boarding passes?
Do I believe that UNLV would love to have Pitino, whose team doesn’t do "B" boarding passes?
Do I believe Pitino enjoys attention and being loved?
Do I believe that Pitino and UNLV are headed to LasVegasWeddings.com?
Serious questions only.
2. A KNIGHT TO FORGET
Bob Knight never took the job at UNLV. He also did not take the job at New Mexico in the late 1980s although he did famously flirt with that opening when Knight didn’t think he was getting enough love in Indiana.
Texas Tech was the place where Knight went and proved that he missed Indiana as much as IU missed him.
He left in September 2000 -- and he won’t be coming back. If you weren’t convinced after Knight snubbed Indiana’s offer to appear at the celebration of the 1976 championship team two weeks ago, this should clinch it:
According to this story at the Purdue University Agriculture Alumni web site, Knight will appear with former Purdue coach Gene Keady at a sold-out fundraiser in Indianapolis.
Indiana, no. Purdue, yes.
No word on whether Knight will bring his favorite Purdue alumnus, a donkey he named “Jack.”
3. TERRY ROZIER ROLLER COASTER
What is the record for most assignments to the NBA Developmental League in one season?
I’m not certain. But Terry Rozier fans should start the research. Rozier, a rookie from the University of Louisville, has made at least five trips from the Boston Celtics to the Maine Red Claws this season.
He’s played in 11 games in the D-League, averaging 19.5 points while shooting less than 38 percent. Rozier has not played for the Celtics since Dec. 21. In 16 games, Rozier has averaged 1.7 points while shooting a clunky 26.1 percent.
Rozier is making $1.8 million. He can afford the best L.L. Bean gloves.
4. SNUBBING YOGI FERRELL IS WRONG
Indiana’s 20-point loss to Duke on Dec. 2 not only knocked the Hoosiers far, far out of Top 25 consideration, it also knocked Yogi Ferrell off the list of contenders for the Wooden Award.
Mistake. Big mistake.
Ferrell has played winning basketball for the Hoosiers, especially with guard James Blackmon Jr. sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
Ferrell ranks sixth in the Big Ten in scoring (17.1), fourth in assists (5.9), ninth in free throw percentage (81.8), sixth in steals (1.3) and seventh in minutes played (33.6).
If Ferrell can deliver two assists against Illinois Tuesday, he will become the all-time assists leader at IU.
Yogi Ferrell is one of the 25 best players in college basketball. If people would only pay attention.
5. TRANSITIVE RELATION PROPERTY
I have not taken a seat in a math class in several months so I might not be applying the proper mathematical term. But some crazy things have happened in college basketball this season.
Louisville beat North Carolina State by 5. N.C. State beat Louisiana State by 11. LSU beat Kentucky by 18.
Therefore, Louisville is 34 points better than Kentucky.
Except Kentucky beat Alabama by 16. Bama beat Clemson by 1. Clemson beat Louisville by 4.
Therefore, Kentucky is 21 points better than Louisville.
Indiana beat Ohio State by 25. OSU beat Kentucky 7.
Therefore, Indiana is 32 points better than Kentucky.
But Kentucky beat Duke by 11. The Blue Devils beat Indiana by 20.
Therefore, UK is 31 points better than IU.
Indiana beat Minnesota by 7. The Gophers beat Clemson by 6. The Tigers beat Louisville by 4.
Therefore, IU is 17 points better than U of L.
But Louisville beat Wake Forest by 8. The Demon Deacons beat Indiana by 4.
Therefore, U of L is a dozen points better than the Hoosiers.
6. JOHN WALL SALUTES BRAD STEVENS
John Wall plays for Randy Wittman with the Washington Wizards. John Calipari is Wall’s guy because of the success they had during Wall’s one season at the University of Kentucky.
But I don’t remember Wall raving about any coach the way he raved about Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens after Boston held off the Wizards the other night.
Wall was dazzled by the way Stevens knew the plays the Wizards were running. He was also dazzled by a play that Stevens scripted to get the Celtics a game-winning shot.
“He's a hell of a coach, man," Wall said in this story at ESPN.com after the game.
"He's a young coach, but that's one hell of a coach that knows the game real well. Even at the end of the game, we lined up in different formation that he hadn't seen and he called out our play before I got the ball. I heard him calling it out. He does a heck of a job calling stuff that you wouldn't expect.”
7. SUPER BOWL CONNECTIONS
There is a long list of football players and coaches with local connections who have done great things in the Super Bowl: Phil Simms, Joe Jacoby, Will Wolford, Deion Branch, Sherman Lewis, Joe Bugel, Ted Washington, Mo Moorman, Amos Martin, Klaus Wilmsmeyer …
The list of possible local Super Bowl participants is not as long this season. Here are the names that I uncovered:
*Former Louisville tight end Gerald Christian is on the injured list with Arizona.
*Former Central High School and Kentucky defensive lineman Corey Peters is also on the injured list at Arizona
*Former Indiana receiver Cody Latimer plays for Denver.
*Former Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan also plays for the Broncos.
8. DIRTIEST PLAYER SWEEPSTAKES
Steph Curry is the best shooter in the NBA. LeBron James is the toughest guy to stop off the dribble. Jahlil Okafor seems to be the best rookie.
But who is the dirtiest player?
Broderick Turner surveyed coaches in the league for the Los Angeles Times. The winners (or losers)?
Matthew Dellavedova, Steven Adams and Andrew Bogut. You can see the entire list by clicking this link.
9. PITCHERS AND CATCHERS
There is only one way to combat the current temperatures and wind conditions.
With the latest odds on the 2016 major league baseball season.
Nick Carfado writes the weekly notes column that Hall of Famer Peter Gammons launched at the Boston Globe nearly four decades ago. If you’re a baseball fan, it's a Must Stop every weekend. (Click here.)
Carfado shared these odds for the 2016 season:
Cubs: 7/1. Overpaid for Jason Heyward but he’s still an upgrade in the outfield. Ben Zobrist slots in at second and boosts the lineup. Added John Lackey to an already solid rotation and obtained Adam Warren to fortify the back of the bullpen or the end of the rotation.
Red Sox: 8/1. David Price provides the ace, Craig Kimbrel a young closer, Carson Smith a late inning bullpen arm, and Chris Young outfield depth.
Giants: 10/1. A pretty nice big three: Madison Bumgarner is joined in rotation by Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.
Astros: 12/1. A mixed bag -- they have to hope untested Ken Giles is the real thing in closer role. Outstanding lineup and top of rotation (Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh) return.
Mets: 14/1. They haven’t added much, and may not have slugger Yoenis Cespedes, but that rotation . . .
Nationals and Rangers: 15/1. The Rangers haven’t added much, but will have a (hopefully) healthy Yu Darvish to go with Cole Hamels atop the rotation.
Yankees and Dodgers: 16/1. The Yankees’ new closer, Aroldis Chapman, is facing suspension, but when he returns a back three of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Chapman is tough to beat.
Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Pirates: 18/1. The Blue Jays lost GM Alex Anthopoulos, and David left for a division rival, but the lineup remains potent.
The bottom feeders: Phillies: 350/1, Braves: 350/1, Rockies: 250/1, Padres: 120/1, Athletics: 120/1, Brewers: 120/1, Marlins: 120/1, Reds: 120/1.
10. POLL RESULTS
Pick the worst announcing team for NFL games
CBS – Jim Nantz/Phil Simms 34 percent
FOX – Joe Buck/Troy Aikman 27 percent
ESPN – Mike Tirico/Jon Gruden 26 percent
NBC – Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth 13 percent
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