Thinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to the super-villain Mr. Freeze …
— So … what’s a little snow between friends? The fourth-largest snowfall on record? This week, beautiful, fluffy white snowflakes became hated, heavy drifts of pure, cold, white misery. Honestly, I thought I had seen/been through it all in 27 years as a New England resident. That is, until this past week. My backyard, a cranberry bog in the Massachusetts town of Berkley, was buried under 30-plus inches of snow after all was said and done with Winter Storm Juno. And what is it with naming winter storms, like naming hurricanes? Does this help keep track of them through the years? And why would we want to remember this? Stupid is as stupid does.
— We all seem to remember the great storms in history, like the Blizzard of”78, so let’s compromise here. Snowmageddon 2015. Has a great ring to it, with the proper amount of alarm and hype just like our TV reporters would want, don’cha think?
— The week’s confinement to quarters gave me time to recall a few of my favorite one-liners on the weather, like this one: It was so cold this week, lawyers put their hands in their own pockets. The same can be said for politicians, too.
— One of the casualties of the snowfall was Providence’s Tuesday night game with DePaul — delayed to Thursday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. One possibility had the Friars and Blue Demons playing at Alumni Hall on campus, if the Fleetwood Mac concert Wednesday had to be postponed. That would have made for an interesting scenario — with only 3,000 or so tickets/seats available — and the first regular-season game on campus in more than 40 years. Alas, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood and crew decided the show would go on as scheduled. The postponement still became the first in almost 22 years for the Friars, since Georgetown and John Thompson pulled out of a scheduled game at the Dunk in 1993 due to a snowstorm.
— Not for nuthin’ … but a stroke of genius by the PC athletic department in selling tickets to the Thursday afternoon game with DePaul for just $1. Who could make a 2 p.m. tip-off on a work day, or during a work week already messed up by the snowstorm? As it turned out, 3,568 fans did show for the matinee. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to local charities, and fans who pre-purchased tickets will get two tickets to a future game next season. That’s certainly making chicken salad out of chicken feathers.
— The rantings and ravings here over Kris Dunn the past couple of weeks? I could say I told you so … so I will. His triple-double performance against DePaul Thursday (career high 27 points, career high 13 rebounds, 11 assists) was rare, of course. First ever for PC in a Big East game, ninth in school history. I hope it means nothing, but perhaps Friars fans need to enjoy these last few weeks of games with Dunn in Friar duds, ‘cuz he is rapidly gaining attention, and ascending the NBA draft ladder.
— For my money, Dunn has perhaps the best pure ability of any individual Friar I’ve had the privilege to cover in more than 20 years — and there have been some very good ones. There is fluidity to his game I haven’t seen since Eric Murdock dominated on both ends of the floor in 1990-91. And Murdock went on to play in the NBA for nine seasons.
— LaDontae Henton won his second Big East Player of the Week award this past week. He leads the league in scoring and was sixth nationally at 21.2 points per game at the start of the week. But he won’t win Big East Player of the Year. Why? That’s just who he is — he’s unassuming. And what he does isn’t spectacular, really. It’s just effective. Buckets can score the quietest 20 points I’ve ever seen — on anyone. And the bet is here that opposing coaches won’t notice it, either. That’s a shame.
— How big are home wins? Forget winning on the road, which is hard to do. Defending the home floor is an absolute must. After the Friars were taken into OT by Xavier, the Musketeers took to the road and popped a sluggish Georgetown team — nationally ranked, no less — 66-53. The Hoyas were never really in it. There have been, and continue to be, some results in this league that make you go “hmmmm.”
— Marquette has been more than merely competitive in the Big East, with an average margin of victory (or defeat) of just four points per game. But when the Golden Eagles can’t get help for Matt Carlino and can’t score, they’re tough to watch. Seton Hall snapped a three-game losing streak by pounding on them this week, taking out their frustrations after getting beaten up themselves at Butler.
— People this week were like, “When I was younger, I remember it was so cold that — nah, to hell with it. This is colder.”
— If URI’s E.C. Matthews is day to day for the rest of this season with a bum left foot, that can’t be good news for the Rams, can it? He’s been fighting plantar fasciitis since a win over Brown, and his numbers are down as he fights through the pain and discomfort. Keeping him away from the practice floor and saving him for game day is one way to keep him active, but that won’t mean much come A-10 tournament time. The Rams need him to stay in the hunt for the postseason.
— Former Rhody Ram Keith Cothran has moved on from the Providence Sky Chiefs to the National Basketball League of Canada, and the St. John’s Mill Rats. Before you laugh it off, that’s precisely what the Sky Chiefs and the ABA are here for — as a developmental league for players to potentially move onto more lucrative professional opportunities. Cothran averaged 13 points per game for the Sky Chiefs, and after an MVP season in the Greater Hartford Pro-Am last summer it was good enough to land him another deal.
— The Sky Chiefs’ DeRonn Scott also has moved on, signing a pro contract with a team in New Zealand. That’s the true measure of success for a first-year franchise that’s been ranked in the top 15 (out of 76 teams) all season long in the ABA — just like measuring real success for the Pawtucket Red Sox in call-ups to Boston.
— Speaking of the Pawsox and the alleged impending sale of the franchise … crickets …
— One of the best local events on the sports calendar is this weekend — Saturday at the West Valley Inn (4 Bloom Street) in West Warwick, Rhode Island. It’s the 39th annual Cranston Sports Collectors Show, ably sponsored by the St. Joseph Men’s Guild of the Immaculate Conception Church. This is the oldest memorabilia and collectibles show of its kind in New England, as more than 1,800 dealers, collectors and sports fans attend the show each year. The one-and-only “Mr. Mint,” Alan Rosen, will have his briefcase and cash in hand, ready to buy your prized possessions — if you can bear parting with them. For the right price, you might. Rosen annually spends more than $1 million on sports collectibles.
— The show begins Saturday at 8:30 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m. The Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society will have a display, and sports cartoonist Frankie Galasso also will be in attendance. Admission is $3 per person.
— With a tip o’ the cap to so many Rhode Island front yards, it was so cold this week that my lawn jockey asked to borrow a blanket.
— Is there anything more useless, really, than Super Bowl media day? If you can find any entertainment value in that, other than pure nitwittyness, let me know what you find.
— Know what could have been a big story but was squashed by the Deflategate fiasco? LeGarrette Blount’s departure from Pittsburgh to join New England. Did he orchestrate his release in order to better his personal standing? Sure looked that way — walking out on the Steelers, getting his release and joining the Patriots just in time to make an impression. And possibly win a ring. Could it be someone from New England pulled the strings on this to make it happen? Nah, we were too busy deflating footballs.
— If Marshawn Lynch showed up for a scheduled interview and actually said something intelligent, that would be news. “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” is nothing more than flipping a middle finger to the NFL, to his fellow players and to the fans who have helped him become who he is today. And who is he, really? An edgy, powerful athlete who marches to a different beat or a self-centered jerk who cares not one bit what you or I think of him?
— Speaking of the non-story that won’t go away, Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star joined Dennis & Callahan on WEEI Thursday from Arizona and proceeded to tell the audience that a missing pound of air in a football was as bad — or worse — than the 1919 Black Sox World Series scandal. Yup, he went there. I have thoroughly enjoyed Doyel’s work in the past, but his comments and suggestions that the Patriots “rigged” the AFC title game against the Colts may have been the single dumbest comments made by a reporter/columnist I’ve ever heard. I thought he was kidding, that his comments were meant for Boston ears as part of his on-air schtick. But if he was serious, then congrats, Mr. Doyel. If it’s immortality you wanted to achieve, you just earned it.
— Here’s what concerns me the most about the Seahawks against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX: Russell Wilson‘s legs. Not his arm, or his head, but his legs, which ran for more than 800 yards this season and consistently confounded defenses not used to his unique brand of athleticism. He does what all “mobile” quarterbacks try to do, and he does it well. If the Patriots don’t account for his ability to create out of the pocket, it won’t take them long to wish they had.
— In reality, the Patriots actually match up pretty well with the defending SB champs. An improved NE defense should be able to hang with Seattle’s receivers, allowing the focus to remain on Wilson, Lynch and the running game. Offensively, the Seahawks must account for the whereabouts of Rob Gronkowski, certainly — which to my way of thinking makes Julian Edelman primed for an MVP type of performance.
— My buddy Statbeast sez it’s so cold outside, it’s like the entire region is in rehab.
— Something that’s never happened in 48 previous Super Bowls: a punt return for a touchdown. Wouldn’t shock me in the least if “Minitron” managed to pull that off.
— As in all big games, turnovers can decide it. The previous 48 Super Bowl winners have had a total of 52 turnovers combined. The losers? 151 boo-boos. Turnovers mean missed chances for an offense, and usually good field position for the opponent. He who protects it best should win. Just sayin’.
— While fans of the Patriots and Seahawks whoop it up this week, reveling in the glory of a Super Bowl appearance, what should fans of the Kansas City Chiefs be thinking this week? KC plastered the Pats, 41-14, back in Week 4, and the Chiefs clipped the Hawks, 24-20, in November, coming from behind to win that one. Should they be thinking, “What the hell just happened here?”
— The Chiefs game, at halftime, was the moment the Patriots’ season turned around this year, according to Bill Belichick. That was the start of the “We’re on to Cincinnati” campaign that became a rallying cry and a mantra for the entire season — and the team certainly followed up, with a pounding of the Bengals in Week 5. Since halftime of the KC beatdown, NE has outscored the opposition 482-285. Up to that point, the Pats were all even with their opponents, 66-66.
— It was made official last week, but I’m kinda non-plussed about the NHL Winter Classic coming to Gillette Stadium next Jan. 1. I mean, it’s cool they’re playing at Gillette, and it’s fine that the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens continue their rivalry for hockey fans in a marquee moment on the big stage, but isn’t outdoors ice hockey “been there, done that” by now? Boston will become the first NHL team to host the Winter Classic for a second time, after playing at Fenway in 2010 — proving, once again, New England and its teams are the Hub of the Universe.
— Never let it be said the Kraft family misses out on an opportunity. Gillette Stadium, in addition to serving as the home of the Patriots, Revolution, countless shows and concerts and other world-class sporting events, will play home to the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse this year.
— The funniest line I heard this week came from a weather-watching friend of mine. He told me a lesser meteorologist could have simply called this storm an “arctic coldnado,” but he preferred to call the storm an “Alaskan punch in the crotch.” Whoa.
— Largely due to the frozen temperatures and surroundings of the past week here in the northeast, the word “freeze” often came to mind. As a super-hero fan, one of my all-time favorite villains came from the Batman TV series of the 1960s, “Mr. Freeze,” who was played by Otto Preminger, among others. A later version of the character — whose name was Dr. Victor Fries in the DC comic books and in the 1997 “Batman & Robin” movie — was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Preminger’s character had a civilian name, prior to his becoming a criminal mastermind: Dr. Schivel. Batman accidentally spilled some “instant freeze” solution on Dr. Schivel and changed his molecular structure. Or so the story went. He became an archenemy of the caped crusader, seeking revenge (what else?) for his predicament. George Sanders handled the role prior to Preminger’s portrayal, and the late Eli Wallach handled it toward the end of the TV series. Twice nominated for an Academy Award as best director, Preminger passed away in 1986 at 80 years of age.
— The overwhelming majority of mail this week came in on the Super Bowl, with predictions galore and comments on Deflategate. Jonathan in Washington, D.C., posted this on Facebook: “I believe this will be an emotional game. Patriots have a lot to prove. Seattle is susceptible to TE touchdowns in the red zone, and they’re unable to defend the short passes — two categories the Pats flourish in.” Jonathan, you’ve hit on two big keys to the game Sunday, sure. Tight ends have had success against the Seahawks secondary close in, and Seattle’s back seven has had difficulties with short- to medium-range passes from opposing offenses. I fully expect the Patriots to utilize Julian Edelman in regard to the latter, which is also why he’s my early favorite for MVP.
— 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 401-737-1287 or text us at 37937.