BOZICH | Monday Muse: Beard, Eaves, minister miffed by U of L pl - WDRB 41 Louisville News

  • Did Louisville players Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel have a responsibility to apologize to U of L fans for missing curfew and being suspended for the Virginia game?

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BOZICH | Monday Muse: Beard, Eaves, minister miffed by U of L player apologies

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Former U of L players Butch Beard (left) and Jerry Eaves (right) questioned the need of a public apology by two U of L players. George Williams joined them on Eaves' radio show Monday. Former U of L players Butch Beard (left) and Jerry Eaves (right) questioned the need of a public apology by two U of L players. George Williams joined them on Eaves' radio show Monday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Sometimes even The Muse arrives late, especially on a day when the news kept churning.

With Louisville booked for a game at Syracuse on Monday night, Kentucky about to host Tennessee and Indiana missing in action, let’s get directly to the rundown.

1. The Mathiang/Adel Apologies

No reason to be indirect about this:

Did Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel owe the University of Louisville fan base an apology after coach Rick Pitino suspended them for the Virginia game last Monday because the pair missed curfew two nights before the game?

Please note that the two players said they asked Pitino and U of L senior administrator Kenny Klein for the opportunity to apologize to Cards’ fans. Butch Beard and Jerry Eaves, two former U of L players and Division I head coaches, were upset by the optics of the apology and said it was unnecessary.

So did the Rev. Clay Calloway, the leader of the West Louisville Ministers Coalition and the host of Saturday Morning Solutions radio show on WLOU, an AM station in Louisville.

“They should have apologized to their teammates and their coaches,” Beard said. “Why were they apologizing to the city? I don’t know. I don’t think those kids had any idea what they did (in apologizing publicly).”

Eaves said that he agreed with Pitino’s decision to suspend the players for one game. But the public apology?

“I do disagree 100 percent that they had to go in front of the community and say they made a mistake,” Eaves said.

Mathiang said the players made a mistake, calling their actions “selfish” and “stupid.” The suspension was lifted and they were major contributors in the Cards’ victory against Miami Saturday.

On Monday morning, the West Louisville Minister Coalition scheduled a press conference to discuss their concerns about the public apology. The press conference was canceled, and then Rev. Calloway called Eaves’ show.

Part of Rev. Calloway’s issue was the visual of two African-American players publicly apologizing for a program led by primarily white coaches and administrators. Calloway said that several other ministers shared similar concerns with him.

He said missing curfew was a minor offense compared to the stripper scandal at the U of L players' dorm that could result in NCAA sanctions as well as Pitino’s restaurant encounter with Karen Sypher that led to Sypher serving prison time for attempted extortion.

“How the apology was received in the black community was quite different than how it was received by the white fan base,” Rev. Calloway said in a phone interview.

“Why make a minor misdemeanor a capital offense and have them paraded out there? It was an insult to the black community.”

Pitino said Adel and Mathiang missed curfew by more than “25-30 minutes,” and that it was Mathiang’s second offense.

“We've had more curfews this year than any other period,” Pitino said. “Probably more this year than the last five years combined, just because we've got to make sure that nothing happens in this program right now. We're on guard.”

Eaves, who is also African-American, showed me two profane text messages that he received, criticizing him for adding a racial element to the story.

Eaves and Beard both said that every Division I program could benefit from a mentoring program for athletes directed by former players living in the community.

Beard, also a former NBA head coach, said that coaches have limited time to work with players every week, and that their primary goal is winning games. He said the former players could counsel players with life issues and personal responsibility.

“The public school system is not preparing these kids to do anything except play a sport,” Beard said.

“Some of these kids cannot handle the rigors of college,” Eaves said. “We have to make sure they’re successful when they’re private citizens at 40, 50 and 60 ... If they don't know how to act, we need to get these kids to understand what they're doing."

This discussion is an important one and will be continued.

2. Gonzaga is Legit

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee said that it believes that Gonzaga is the fourth best team in the nation. The coaches and writers who vote in the human polls as well computer formulas used by Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin disagree.

That was my primary issue with the seeding preview provided by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee Saturday.

By ranking Villanova, Kansas and Baylor ahead of the Zags as the top three Number One seeds, the committee showed it leaned more toward the tired Ratings Index Percentage (RPI) format than most advanced analytics that include factors such as offensive and defensive efficiency as well as margin of victory.

Not that Gonzaga appears to care. The Zags delivered their 18th straight win by double figures by defeating Saint Mary’s on Saturday.

Zach Braziller of the New York Post added his endorsement of the Zags in this story.

3. Vegas Loves The Zags, Too

There are human polls. There are computer polls. And then there is the voice of the American public – as voiced through the sharp minds that put their money where their strong opinions are by wagering in Las Vegas.

The sharpies also like Gonzaga, more than the Tournament Selection Committee.

Jimmy Shapiro of Bovada.com forwarded the latest NCAA Tournament odds. Coach Mark Few’s team has moved to the front of the line, listed as the 8-1 first choice.

The Zags are followed by Kansas and UCLA at 9-1.

If you like either Louisville or Kentucky, you can get odds of 11-1, the same as defending NCAA champion Villanova.

4. What if DeMarcus Cousins Had Done This?

DeMarcus Cousins leads the NBA in technical fouls. He’s collected enough to earn a one-game suspension. Nobody does it better. Cousins has drawn more attention for his behavior and dust-ups with head coaches than his play since he arrived in Sacramento from the University of Kentucky in 2010.

Imagine if Cousins had sucker-punched another player in the groin the way the New Orleans rookie Buddy Hield sucker-punched Cousins in his private area the other night. (Watch it and wince here).

If Cousins were the victim instead of the instigator, there would have been calls to suspend him for three, five or 10 games. Scratch him from the NBA All-Star game.

This time, Cousins was the victim of a shot cheaper than any act he’s committed.

5. Top Returning ACC Football Players

Ready for some football? I thought so.

So is the staff at ProFootballFocus.com. They’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 returning players in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

You don’t have to be Bobby Petrino to guess who’s No. 1 – Lamar Jackson, the Cards’ Heisman Trophy winning quarterback. No surprise there. But here is the surprise: Two other Louisville players made the top seven.

Cornerback Jaire Alexander ranked sixth, followed by linebacker Stacy Thomas. Louisville was the only program with three Top 10 players. Here is your link.

6. Kansas Football Recruiting Rises? Really?

We’re about 50 weeks from national signing day for the college football Class of 2018. Here is the most surprising news: Kansas, a program that has gone 8-40 over the last four seasons, has a recruiting class that ranks 12th nationally by Scout.com.

That’s better than Georgia, Washington and Alabama. I’ll stop there before I lose all credibility.

Somehow the Jayhawks have managed to convince a trio of 4-star recruits from Louisiana to orally commit to the worst program in the Big 12.

Actually, Kansas did have a fourth commitment from a four-star (also from Louisiana) but he de-committed.

Chances are he won’t be the only Louisiana kid to re-think that strange decision.

7. RIP, Fab Melo

The saddest news of the weekend was the passing of former Syracuse center Fab Melo, who was 26 when he died in his native Brazil on Saturday.

Melo was a high-ranked recruit who failed to finish his college career because of NCAA issues. He earned another chance as a first-round draft pick of the Boston Celtics in 2012 because he was a center who moved with the grace of a guard.

But his NBA career lasted 36 minutes spread over six games.

Melo also had a semi-connection with the University of Louisville. His decision to sign with Syracuse instead of Louisville inspired the Cards to pursue Gorgui Dieng.

Dieng, now in his fourth season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, developed into a better player as well as a guy who helped the Cards win the 2013 NCAA title.

8. Welcome Back, Baseball

If the warmer weather and sunshine didn’t have you thinking about April, this should work: Pitchers and catchers report across the major leagues this week.

I’ve already devoured three pre-season magazines as well as a healthy chunk of Baseball Prospectus.

Give me Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles as the division winners in the National League and Boston, Cleveland and surprising Seattle in the American League.

Cubs repeat as World Series champions?

I’m not betting against it. If you’re ready to get ready for the season, I recommend this story by Tyler Kepner, the national baseball writer at the New York Times.

9. First Brandon Phillips. Who’s Next?

Brandon Phillips was the latest veteran the Cincinnati Reds have moved off their roster. He followed Jay Bruce, who followed Todd Frazier, who followed …

When you win 68 games and finish at least 35 ½ games out of first place in back-to-back seasons, it’s time to turn the roster upside down to create at bats for guys who'll be major contributors when the Reds are ready to contend again. Guys like Jose Peraza, 22, who is likely to be the replacement for Phillips.

With an improved farm system, the Reds need to flip more veterans for prospects. That’s easy to write, but difficult to accomplish because every organization understands the value of stock-piling talented, affordable players in today’s baseball economy.

But before the Reds add more games in the victory column, they’ll likely need to subtract more veteran to shed salary and create playing time.

10. Poll Results.

Which American athlete has been the greatest winner over the last decade?

Michael Jordan, basketball, 39 percent.

Serena Williams, tennis, 23.5 percent.

Tom Brady, football, 21.6 percent.

Tiger Woods, golf, 15.9 percent.

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