Thinking out loud … while wondering if I’m really too old to hunt for Easter eggs.
— The good news? Former Friar All-American Bryce Cotton did, indeed, sign a contract for the remainder of the regular season with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies under the league’s hardship rules. The bad news? It was a short-term deal, good only for the two regular-season games the Grizz had left on their schedule. He’s not eligible for the playoffs.
— Another former Friar who should be eligible for someone — Ryan Gomes. Gomes was named the NBA D-League’s Impact Player of the Year, averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 31 games for the Los Angeles D-Fenders. He shot 37 percent from 3, too, at age 33 competing against guys 10 years his junior.
— Susan Robinson-Fruchtl resigned this week as women’s basketball coach at Providence after four seasons to accept the athletic director position at Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania. A former Wade Trophy winner as the top women’s player in the country while at Penn State, she never found the magic at PC she may have once had on the floor as a player, or as a one-time coach at Saint Francis.
— It will be tough for her replacement to find the magic, too, considering the athletic success other teams at PC have had — and still are having.
— Like the men’s hockey team, which had sophomore defenseman Jake Walman named this week as a first team All-American, and senior forward Mark Jankowski earningsecond-team A-A honors. Walman becomes the first Friar since Chris Terreri and Tim Army in 1985 to earn first-team All-America accolades.
— Really now, is anyone surprised that Nate Leaman’s name had been mentioned in a potential Bruins search for a new coach? With Leaman’s building of the Friars into a national power, it’s only logical to think if the Bruins decided to move on from Claude Julien, Leaman would be quasi-local and a younger, potentially more energetic replacement to work with younger players.
— P-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy also would qualify as an interesting candidate, since he’s already familiar with the younger players in the organization and has worked with GM Don Sweeney. But Sweeney told us all this week he’s staying with Julien, despite the team not reaching the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
— As for a cure to the Bruins’ current predicament? It has gone downhill in a hurry, sure. But is there a better coach out there — previous names mentioned notwithstanding — than Julien? The dog-and-pony press conference this week was fine, but it all depends on how management decides to put it back together again. Pick and patch, which won’t make fans happy, or blow it up and start over?
— We haven’t had a good implosion around here in a while. And it appears we still won’t.
— One classy, crazy guy — did you see where Saint Joseph’s basketball coach Phil Martelli was named Philadelphia’s Big 5 Coach of the Year? He said he didn’t think he should have won with Villanova’s Jay Wright winning the national title, and followed with, “Jay, this is yours. I’m going to borrow it for an hour, and if I can get into your gated community in Newtown Square, I’ll drop it off.”
— Classy? Yes. But typically a bit crazy as well for Martelli, who led his Hawks into the NCAA Tournament as the Atlantic-10 tourney champ.
— Cleaning up from March Madness: In the three seasons of the Big East’s 10-team alignment, eight of the 10 teams have played in at least one NCAA Tournament. The Big East has averaged five NCAA bids in the last three years. In 2016, Big East teams compiled a 9-4 NCAA record, and Creighton was 2-1 in the NIT, putting the league at 11-5 for the postseason. Only the ACC (with seven teams in the NCAAs) finished with a better winning percentage.
— Comings and goings: Syracuse’s Kaleb Joseph, a one-time Providence target mired on the Orange bench, is transferring to Creighton. Good pick up for the Blue Jays, he’ll step in next year for Boston University transfer Maurice Watson.
— And another potential PC pick up, USC’s 6-foot-6 Katin Reinhardt, has decided he’s transferring to Marquette. Matt Carlino’s success moving from BYU a few years ago to Milwaukee may have played a part in his thoughts. And Henry Ellenson’s moving on to the NBA, creating playing time, might also have been a factor.
— Providence did pick up a potential marquee opponent for next season’s Gavitt Games (Big East against the Big Ten) with a road trip to play Ohio State. The Buckeyes didn’t play in the Gavitt Games this past year, finished 21-14 and lost in the second round of the NIT. But they do have all five starters returning from that 21-win team.
— Other Big East-Big Ten matchups: Villanova at Purdue and Maryland at Georgetown are pretty good. The rest? Meh. Seton Hall at Iowa, Rutgers at DePaul, Northwestern at Butler, St. John’s at Minnesota and Wisconsin at Creighton are the rest. Marquette and Xavier sit this one out. Seems like those who put these pairings together swung and missed a little bit. But the Big East will have a chance to score well.
— Providence also plays next season at the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, Florida, during Thanksgiving Week — and the Friars will face a Memphis team with a new coach. Josh Pastner left for Georgia Tech, and this week the Tigers hired Tubby Smith away from Texas Tech. Texas Tech was an NCAA team (for the first time in nine years) that played in PC’s pod last month in Raleigh, North Carolina.
— If Smith takes the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament, he’ll become the first Division 1 coach to ever take six different schools to the Madness that is March.
— In case you missed it, several reports have surfaced that the Friars will play in the 2017 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York, along with Washington, Indiana and Virginia Tech. Big East, Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC. Not bad.
— Also not bad: Brown hoops this week received an anonymous $1.2 million gift to endow the coaching position and to renovate the team’s locker room. Sugar daddies are sweet, aren’t they?
— Dennis & Callahan with Minihane were spot-on this week, railing about Big Papi’s season-long retirement celebration being too much. I love David Ortiz and appreciate what he’s done for baseball in New England as much as anyone, but don’t make me love him so much that I’m going to throw up at the mere mention of his name — over and over again.
— Can someone teach the Red Sox marketing department there’s such a thing as overkill?
— Now, to the real matters at hand. Is it too early to bail on this Red Sox pitching staff? The trouble with the rotation is its ineptitude will cause the bullpen to be overused, stretched and stressed out to the point of uselessness before too much longer.
— All you need to know: “We’re seven games in, dude. There shouldn’t be anybody worrying about it.” — Clay Buchholz to the media after his second straight shellacking this past Wednesday. Uh-huh. He’s right, if it were only seven games — and just two for him. Buchholz’s ERA over his past 50 starts is 4.50. And he’s the No. 2 guy in your rotation. Stupid is as stupid does.
— John Farrell’s time as the pitching coach in Boston was so laudable, he became a manager in Toronto, followed by a return to Fenway as head honcho. But as the manager, he can’t seem to do anything with the current flotsam and jetsam assembled by management. Why is that? Anyone else pick up on the irony here?
— Oh, and the new virtual reality booths at Fenway Park? Will they include the chance for fans to experience whiplash like the pitching staff will have, watching the bomb blasts off of opponents’ bats?
— One of the things I happen to like about a new baseball season is to hear about (and potentially taste) the new assortment of ballpark foods available at stadiums across the country. Three that I’m dying to try — or perhaps I’ll die trying — are the burgerizza (20-ounce patty, five slices of cheese and bacon sandwiched by a pepperoni pizza) in Atlanta, the Miami Mex taco dog, and the Texas Rangers’ chicken-and-donut skewer. Angioplasty awaits.
— Runners-up: The meatball cone (yes, like an ice cream cone) in St. Louis, and the Kansas City Champions Alley hot dog, deep-fried in tempura batter and wrapped in bacon with chipotle ketchup and cole slaw on a pretzel bun. Whoa.
— There’s also a braised short rib grilled cheese sandwich offered at Fenway that sounds intriguing. Might need that off-field product to distract me from the on-field product.
— The State of North Carolina is cruising toward some real trouble. Bruce Springsteen pulled out of a concert appearance because the state passed what is perceived as an anti-LGBT law. Companies like Disney and Netflix are threatening to pull out as well. What will the NCAA do, since the men’s basketball tournament plays through there just about every year — including this one, and is scheduled to play there the next two? What wins out — money or principle?
— Not for nuthin’, but Atlanta is asking the NBA to pull the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, too. When the boom gets lowered on UNC for its academic, um, shortcomings — and it will happen — you might want to stand clear of the fallout in Carolina.
— As bad as it might have seemed toward the end of the regular season, the Celtics’ come-from-behind win over Miami this week after being 26 points down? There was no bigger comeback in the NBA this season. Now, I’ve always thought momentum can help you if you’re rolling, and doesn’t usually hurt you if you’re not. Is that spectacular second half against the Heat good enough to kick-start the playoffs in Atlanta?
— Can’t decide what I enjoyed least — Golden State breaking Chicago’s record with its 73rd win, or Kobe Bryant’s 60 points in his last game, shooting 50 shots? No NBA player had attempted 50 shots in a single game in nearly 50 years (since Rick Barry in 1967). Leaning toward Kobe.
— So now if a golfer loses a lead, he’s “Spiething”? As in choking. Jordan Spieth? Wow. Dude is 22 years old, has finished second, first and second in his three Masters appearances, and he’s a choker? Hard to wrap my head around that one. I’d take it as a compliment at 22, no doubt.
— Yes, he had a 5-stroke lead going into his back nine last Sunday during golf’s first major of the year. Yes, he experienced a Rooke-like quadruple-bogey 7 on the par-3 12th hole that pretty much ruined his day, and his tournament. But will it ruin his career? Or his reputation as one of (if not the) best golfers on the planet as some have claimed? Horse hockey.
— We all have bad days. Spieth simply had a really bad few minutes. And it cost him. But I’ll tell you this: Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton could learn a lesson in gracefulness and gratitude from Spieth by watching how he handled himself in having to award the champion’s green jacket to someone else (Danny Willett in this case) as the tradition calls for.
— Instead, Newton whines, pouts, grumbles and doesn’t care to face the media after losing the Super Bowl. Spieth’s fail was on him, and nobody but him, unlike Newton’s. And he handled the obvious devastation with absolute aplomb. Newton has his coach (Ron Rivera) defending him like a parent defends a child who just bullied another kid. Just sayin’.
— Pass the torch: What else did we learn from Spieth’s meltdown at the Masters? That pro golf no longer needs Tiger Woods to be interesting, or entertaining. Spieth could potentially gain more from the way he lost, and subsequently handles himself from this point forward, than he could from winning. He’s now become must-see TV, if he wasn’t already.
— Tiger has been reduced to a personal train wreck that we’ll still watch when he ambles out on the course again, whenever that might be, only because of what he once was. If he ever brings a flash of his old self again on the course, it’s a bonus.
— I was mildly entertained by The Boston Globe’s faux front page last week on “President Trump’s” first 100 days in office. While it was an extreme over-reach, it certainly was a unique way to draw eyes to your product — basically by predicting a doomsday scenario on deportation. Frankly, sensationalism is beneath a publication of the Globe’s (former) stature, but hey, sometimes pigs need to get dirty and roll in the mud to be comfortable.
— You’ll be glad to know the NCAA this week approved a three-year moratorium on expanding from the 750 college football bowl games that are already out there. What? No Havana Bowl? Even though that actually might be a good one.
— But no Motel 6 Hattiesburg Mississippi Bowl? What will I do on Dec. 20 at 2 o’clock in the morning without watching the SEC’s 11th-place team against the Pac-12’s 10th-place team?
— Yes, sarcasm and I are good, good friends.
— Actually, there were current proposals on the table for new bowl games in Texas (Austin) and South Carolina (Charleston and Myrtle Beach). All worthy spots to spend your holidays, if not your dollars. But it appears even the NCAA was a little wary of having to add more teams to the mix as “bowl worthy.”
— This may be the first significant move the NCAA has made in some time that was not roundly criticized. Common sense? Who knew it could work? Now if the NCAA higher-ups would just do something about making football teams with losing records actually ineligible for postseason play, they might be moving closer to intelligent thinking. Which they’ve never been accused of previously.
— Another step closer to intelligent thinking: returning the Division 1, 2 and 3 NCAA lacrosse championships to Gillette Stadium for 2017 and 2018. Gillette, which last hosted in 2012, had the all-time record crowd for the D1 final in 2008 — 48,970 fans. The D2 and D3 finals attracted another 25K as well.
— Did you know there are 77 NCAA schools in New England playing lacrosse? And 809 high school teams play it, too. And they may be playing the sport as well as anyone at Brown this year, with the Bears 9-1 on the season and ranked No. 2 nationally in one poll, No. 3 in the other. A showdown with top-ranked Yale is Saturday (1 p.m.) at Stevenson Pincince Field on the Brown campus in Providence. ESPN3 will show it to the world, too.
— You know it’s a bit slow when you receive emails and posts from fans asking about the Patriots’ preseason schedule, which was released this week. Home games on Aug. 11 and 18 against New Orleans and Chicago. Yay. P-R-E-S-E-A-S-O-N = B-O-R-I-N-G.
— A regular-season highlight comes in the opener, at Arizona on Sept. 11 against Chandler Jones and the Cardinals. The tackles will get a workout that day, I’ll wager. Then three straight home games follow — including a Thursday Night Football special against Houston. Overall, it’s the ninth-toughest schedule in the NFL, with five national TV slots.
— Not surprised in the least bit that LeGarrette Blount will return to the Patriots backfield. Coaches like his ability to run between the tackles. Blount likes his ability to secure a paycheck for at least one more year after a season-ending injury last year, with the chance to show he still has gas in his tank. Win-win.
— Mildly surprised at Dominique Easley’s release, especially since he is a former first-round pick. But you know the drill. It’s the Patriot Way or the highway for these guys. His knees (ending each of his two seasons on the injured reserve list) were a problem, and if there was an alleged “philosophical difference” in following an injury program with the team, you know who will win that discussion. Buy in or get out.
— If you’re considering a vote for this year’s Hall of Fame at Patriot Place nominees — and you can do so at Patriots.com — there really is no other to make than for Bill Parcells. But he’s not on the ballot. How did this happen?
— Too old to hunt for Easter Eggs? Never. Went on a hunt with some of my extended family’s kids a few weeks ago and found the “golden egg” with the big bucks in it before any of the kids found it. Proud of myself for not stealing it. It’s all about the chase these days.
— In the spirit of the recent Easter holiday, my buddy “Big E” sez his kid was asked by his teacher what religious artifacts they have at home. One student said they had a picture of a woman with a halo holding a baby. Another said his parents have a gold statue of an Oriental man sitting cross-legged, and his parents burn incense from it. Big E’s kid spoke up and said, “In the bathroom we have a flat, square box with numbers on it. Every day my mother stands on it first thing in the morning and screams, ‘OH MY GOD!!!’ ”
— Miguel (@patscap) tweeted this week: I start my weekend reading @JRBroadcaster’s weekly column. Miguel: There could be no higher compliment than your tweet. Thanks for that. But let me also suggest to readers here, that if they’re not following you and your continuous work on all things salary cap-related on the Patriots, they’re missing out on solid knowledge. People like you make Twitter fun to follow.
— Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ’em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster, and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke.
— Don’t forget to join Scott Cordischi and me on Providence’s 103.7 FM every Saturday from 7-9 a.m. for Southern New England Sports Saturday! Call in at 401-737-1287 or text us at 37937.