LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — This is the time of the year that I call college basketball withdrawal — and it’s not pleasant.
No AP Top 25 ballot to file. No games to cover. No travel plans to make. No NCAA brackets to fuss about. No predictions to blow.
But the Monday Muse goes on — with a drastic cutback from eight college basketball-related items to five.
Times are tough.
1. The Return of Bob Knight
The biggest basketball story in Indiana last week was not former Lawrence Central High School star Kyle Guy shooting Virginia into the national championship game or Purdue guard Carsen Edwards announcing his plan to skip his senior season to hire an agent and pursue an NBA career.
It was Bob Knight.
It was Bob Knight appearing at a high school fundraiser in Indianapolis and alarming many of his admirers with more lapses in memory than they had seen from the former Indiana University basketball coach in recent visits.
It was also Knight doing something he said he would never do — appear on the IU campus in Bloomington. Knight and his long-time friend, IU athletics historian Bob Hammel, rolled on golf carts into the press box at Bart Kaufman Field to watch part of a double-header the Hoosiers won against Penn State Saturday.
Kaufman Field is a 12-to-15 minute walk to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, where Knight did his Hall of Fame work for 29 seasons before his contentious firing in 2000.
Is a return to an IU basketball game next for Knight?
Nobody is saying that — at least not yet.
Knight and Hammel are serious baseball fans, who love that game about as much as they love basketball. Hammel is one of the world’s Top 10 White Sox fans. Knight was pals with Ted Williams, Tony LaRussa and several members of the Big Red Machine.
For now, that’s all it was — two friends enjoying an afternoon at the ball park. It was an uplifting shift in the unsettling narrative from Knight’s speaking appearance days earlier.
But it was a surprising first step many were convinced that Knight would never take. He’s 78 and facing increased health challenges. IU athletic director Fred Glass has always been amenable to welcoming Knight to Indiana, no matter how many harsh things Knight has said about the administration that dismissed him.
Maybe Knight will finally accept the invitation. I hope he does.
2. Louisville For the Win
The next time ESPN, CBS, Zion Williamson or anybody tries to pitch the narrative that Tobacco Road is the best place in the country for college basketball, please direct them to this tweet.
Without a team in the Final Four, Louisville still ranked the No. 2 TV market for Saturday's games. Thanks to Robert Liuag of @WDRBNews for getting me these numbers. Durham/Chapel Hill/Raleigh must have had an off day, right, Zion? pic.twitter.com/IxvsTvD0dG— rickbozich (@rickbozich) April 8, 2019
Make a note that the top market has the connection to the Virginia squad that will play Texas Tech for the title Monday night. The third market is connected to Auburn. The fourth market is site of the games. The fifth is another Virginia market.
Anybody seen the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill market or even Charlotte?
3. Smart Phone Curfew
The Texas Tech basketball team is a team that parents of teenagers can love — and use for future parental instruction.
The college basketball season is long and challenging, but one change the Red Raiders made that helped the team focus for its powerful finishing push was stepping away from their smart phones.
No texting, no tweeting, no responding to haters at night after a Smart Phone Curfew agreed upon by coach Chris Beard and his players.
Here is the link to Sean Gregory's story at Time.com.
The Red Raiders made the move after suffering a three-game losing streak in January, and they say the evening silence has been a factor in their 16-2 finish.
If Tech wins one more, I’m handing in my phone and making a comeback.
4. I Remember This Pass
Credit former Kentucky star Rex Chapman for uncovering this one. Providence made a stirring run to the 1973 Final Four, powered by Marvin “I Ain’t Riding No Time Machine” Barnes and point guard Ernie DiGregorio.
Pete Maravich, Tiny Archibald and Earl Monroe were the gold standards for fancy passing in those days, but DiGregorio was in the conversation.
In fact, with this pass, Ernie D. spent a few weeks atop the list.
Ernie DiGregorio — with arguably the most difficult, under duress, on the money, in stride, behind the back dime in the history of the game. Holy sh*t.🏀🤷♂️💪👁🔥 pic.twitter.com/JXJzTxH0ns— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) April 7, 2019
5. More Goodies from Ken Pomeroy
As regular readers of this space understand, I’m a king-sized fan of Ken Pomeroy and his basketball analytics web site. For $19.99, it’s the best buy to enhance your enjoyment of the season.
Pomeroy’s formula forecasts a massive party in Charlottesville, Va., Monday night, His projection is Virginia 61, Texas Tech 58, with the Cavaliers’ win probability at 58 percent.
But this is the score that would make a perfect ending to the season:
I’ll let Pomeroy explain.
Reverse scorigami*: Most frequent college basketball scores since the 2000 season...1. 68-65 (276 games)2. 69-64 (269)3. 70-67 (268)4. 67-64 (258)5. 71-68, 69-66, 66-63 (256)*© @jon_bois— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) April 8, 2019
6. Magic Johnson: Apologize to D’Angelo Russell
Remember what Lakers president Magic Johnson said when he traded Louisville native D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn in June 2017?
Well, I’ll help you:
"D'Angelo is an excellent player," Johnson said Friday when the Lakers introduced their top draft pick, point guard Lonzo Ball, at their practice facility. "He has the talent to be an All-Star. We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also that can make the other players better and also [somebody] that players want to play with.”
Brooklyn clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs Sunday. Russell led the Nets in scoring (21.1 points), assists (7) and steals (1.2).
The Lakers added LeBron James to their roster and will miss the playoffs.
You have the floor, Mr. Russell.
7. The Expanding NBA Early Entry List
Jordan Nwora is on the list. So is his University of Louisville teammate Steven Enoch. Romeo Langford is expected to join them this week.
Similar announcements would not be surprising from PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson at the University of Kentucky. Ja Morant of Murray State is leaving. There may be others. There usually are.
It’s the early entry list for the 2019 NBA Draft, which at last count had 35 contestants for the 30 spots in the first round.
But it’s early. College underclassmen have until April 22, two weeks from today, to declare their intentions.
8. Nick Saban Seal of Approval
Imagine Mike Trout inviting you to a seminar to talk about pitching or Tom Brady asking you to talk to his team about defending the 17-yard post pattern.
Now you understand the kind of weekend that Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm enjoyed. Brohm accepted an invitation from Alabama coach Nick Saban to discuss his offensive philosophies at a gathering of coaches in Tuscaloosa.
Had a great time speaking at the University of Alabama Coaching Clinic today. Thanks to Coach Saban for the invite. pic.twitter.com/x7gfP8kFQr— Jeff Brohm (@JeffBrohm) April 5, 2019
That’s high praise — but not surprising.
Saban made not one, but two runs at hiring Brohm as his offensive coordinator when Brohm worked at the University of Louisville.
9. Yasiel Puig Fears No Man
Optimism has disappeared from the shelves in Cincinnati. The mighty Reds have the worst record in major league baseball, one victory in nine games. The Reds trail the Milwaukee Brewers by 4 1/2 games in the National League Central.
But at least they looked feisty in their dust-up with the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday. In fact, outfielder Yasiel Puig looked like he would be a great pick-up for any team looking for an enforcer in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
10. The Latest Michael Avenatti Tweet
And yet @Nike wants the world to believe he went to Duke and they never paid him. They should admit to the bribes paid to over 100 players but instead, they cover-up and deflect. https://t.co/SPZjGk3MIN— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 8, 2019
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