Thinking out loud . . . while wondering whatever happened to leisure suits?
— Providence basketball fans, if you’re wondering at all — or concerned at all — about the scrimmage at Northeastern (allegedly a loss), don’t be. Well, a little bit maybe. But here’s the thing: This is a young team that is going to experience ups and downs through the entire year. Hopefully, more ups than downs. But get ready to ride a roller coaster, right through the season into March.
— Good to see that sophomore guard Drew Edwards has been cleared to return to the floor, after offseason knee surgery. He’s still “day-to-day,” but the Friars need his intensity and defensive abilities. For this team to stay in games and win a few, defense must be a constant every night.
— Vermont comes in for the opener Monday night having already played a game, Saturday against Quinnipiac. It’s a bit of a disadvantage, but hey, what can you do? The Dunk wasn’t available for a Friday opener, thanks to the brilliant idea of bringing in something called the “Rhode Island Comic Con” over the weekend. There’s irony in that very statement, so I’ll just leave it at that.
— Don’t get me started on the Dunk not being a “true” home floor for Providence basketball. Pardon my Belichick, but, “It is what it is.” PC waits until Monday with a later start while the rest of the college basketball world plays on.
— Before opening Friday night with Dartmouth, URI scrimmaged in one of those “closed” deals at St. John’s last week, which probably was a pretty good litmus test for both. According to multiple sources, the Rams took the first half by 14 points, while the Johnnies claimed the second half by one. Means nothing, of course. But it definitely would have been fun to watch.
— Speaking of fun to watch, the Mohegan Sun Basketball Hall of Fame Tourney in Uncasville, Connecticut, should be a blast. Both Brown and URI are in it this year, but all eyes are pointing to a potential final that could have the 23rd-ranked Rams facing No. 1 Duke in the final. That building should be banged out — as a “home away from home” for Rhody. Must see.
— The Rams, however, had best not sleep on Cincinnati, who they get to face in the first game at the Casino arena. The Bearcats are the preseason pick over UConn, barely, to win the American Athletic Conference and boast preseason Player of the Year candidate Troy Caupain.
— The other preseason favorite for Player of the Year in the AAC is Memphis forward Dedric Lawson — and the Friars get to see him up close and personal next week in Florida when they play the Tigers in the Emerald Coast Classic.
— Not for nuthin’, but an early candidate for overrated? Butler. Nothing wrong with the Bulldogs, really. But they’re highly thought of (ranked in the 30s or 40s) by many preseason pollsters, and lost two of the best scorers in the Big East (Kellen Dunham, Roosevelt Jones). It says here they’ll struggle a bit.
— Underrated? Try UT-Arlington. I know, it’s the Sun Belt Conference. But this team has never reached the NCAA Tournament, which is shocking to me — since I once lived about 15 minutes from where the school is located. This might be a 15 or a 16 seed cracking that 1 or 2 seed nut come March.
— A rule change to watch for this season: Coaches will be allowed to call timeouts, but only on inbounds plays. The rest of the time, players will need to initiate a stop in play.
— ESPNU has announced it will be televising the first-ever Ivy League postseason basketball tournaments — both men’s and women’s — in March. Brown will have 10 men’s games on ESPN3 and other television/streaming outlets for the upcoming season, including a match with PC on Fox Sports 2 Dec. 6.
— Nice story from the Pawtucket Times’ Brendan McGair on PC’s athletic fundraisers Steve Napolillo and Kevin Connally flying to Memphis so they could be present at Kris Dunn’s NBA debut for Minnesota. Just because you’re making big bucks and playing with the stars doesn’t mean you’re forgotten. At all. Once a Friar, always a Friar.
— Oh, and KD? Remember us kindly, when you can. With lots of zeroes, too.
— Congrats to Providence alum, former Boston College athletic administrator and Delaware athletic director Eric Ziady, who this week was named chief financial officer for the American Athletic Conference. Yup, the AAC still is based in Providence, so it’s a return home, of sorts, for Ziady.
— The 22nd-ranked PC men’s soccer team, two years removed from a spot in the College Cup final four and after claiming its first-ever Big East regular-season championship last week, fell in the BE semis Thursday night on campus to 24th-ranked Creighton, 2-1. After overcoming injuries and a slow start to their season, the Friars had their eight-game winning streak snapped.
— Now the Friars will wait it out for a shot in the NCAA Tournament as an at-large entry, with a field of 48 teams to be selected, including 24 conference champs and 24 at-large spots. They’ll know their fate Monday afternoon.
— PC’s hockey Friars come into the weekend at 3-3-2 on the season — with only a somewhat surprising loss to Holy Cross as a blemish on the current resume. Like the hoop squad, it’s a transitional period for this team — the Friars are ranked 17th in the USCHO poll this week, and they don’t play again until Nov. 18 at Northeastern.
— PC’s cross country teams represented well a week ago, with the women winning their second straight Big East championship and the men’s team claiming second in the conference. Nationally, the ladies are ranked third, and both teams are in the NCAA Northeast Regional this weekend.
— Providence’s Molly Huddle accomplished something last week that no American runner has managed in New York since 2010 — she finished on the medal podium at the NYC Marathon. The two-time Olympian placed third, which is amazing since before New York she had never run a race longer than a half-marathon. Whoa.
— Bye-bye, bye. The two weeks between games that NFL teams have during their time off is great for the players and coaches — they get to get away from it all for a few days. But for the fans? It’s torturous. Especially when your team is any good and the schedule slows down all of the momentum.
— The Patriots have gone 11-4 after the bye week since Bill Belichick took over the team. What does that really mean? That the extra week of preparedness for an opponent means more of a chance to win? Not really. If anything, it allows the team to begin looking ahead and getting advance work done on teams beyond the bye.
— Yes, technically that means they look ahead — just like we all do. But not as often as we do.
— Seattle comes into Foxboro as one of the NFC contenders for the Super Bowl, certainly. Right now, without an injured Michael Bennett, the Seahawks are not as ferocious as two years ago, but they could be building to a return to that level of play. Right now, for my money, Dallas’ running game would be hard for them to stop. Or for anyone to stop, for that matter.
— Oakland’s win over Denver is a win for the Patriots, absolutely. The Broncos remain as the chief challenger to NE’s AFC top-seeded search, but I’m not sure I understand all of the angst over the AFC West being “so much better” than the AFC East. So what?
— You can only play the teams on your schedule. As for the West teams “toughening” themselves up for the playoffs, hogwash. The Patriots overcame plenty of adversity in the opening month of the season to “toughen” themselves, didn’t they? As the calendar hits December, it’s all about being healthier than the other guy.
— Don’t look now, but those Cowboys are rollin’. Behind a rookie QB no less, and a rookie RB, who undoubtedly will duel for NFL Rookie of the Year honors. Troy Aikman-Emmitt Smith redux?
— Combined with the sudden resurgence of the Raiders in the AFC, I feel as if we’ve suddenly taken a step back into the ’90s in the NFL. Welcome back to relevancy, fellas. Where ya’ been?
— Anyone see Jamie Collins get burned by Dallas TE Jason Witten in his Cleveland debut? Uh-huh, there is a method to all of the madness around here.
— New stadiums were ballot issues in pro sports this week, and while the Texas Rangers will get a new home as approved by the citizens of Arlington, Texas, and remain there until at least 2053 — fans of the San Diego Chargers really have nowhere to turn. The Chargers’ new stadium vote failed miserably, and the best guess is a move north to LA now is a real-life, serious consideration.
— It’s what the NFL wanted all along, anyway. The cartel always wins. Just sayin’.
— My buddy Bernie sez he got a strange phone call in the middle of the night last week, while he and his wife were sound asleep. He picked up the phone, said, “Hello?” and then paused before responding, “How the heck do I know? What am I, the weatherman?” He slammed the phone back down, which woke up his wife, and she asked who it was. Bernie replied, “I don’t know. Some guy who asked me if the coast was clear.”
— So the Bruins have found a power play? Listen, when they can finally win in Montreal, they’ll grab my attention.
— ICYMI, ex-Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo this week became the first former Pawsox manager to make the major leagues as a manager (hired in Arizona) since Ken Macha was promoted after serving as a bench coach in Oakland 13 years ago. Does anyone remember Macha was a guy the Sox wanted, but they were denied by the A’s to speak with him so they hired Grady Little instead?
— Did anyone see where Dave Dombrowski said his priority this offseason for the Red Sox is to find someone who can pitch in the eighth inning? Gee, that’s great and all, but what about the ninth? Or the first seven, while we’re at it.
— Loved watching him play. Mookie Betts winning a Gold Glove is nice and all, but it’s a little like receiving a participation trophy, isn’t it? I’m really not demeaning his accomplishment. Or actually, maybe I am?
— Best of luck to WEEI.com and WEEI Radio stablemate Jerry Thornton, as he returns to the very thing that helped him succeed where his professional travels have taken him — Barstool Sports. It isn’t easy being a third wheel, especially on the radio, but Jerry embraced the role and even carved out a nice little niche for himself. I hope that “niche” grows as he gets back to the bar.
— Bill Simmons now is batting 0-for-2 with the big boys, it seems. HBO has canceled his “Any Given Wednesday” program after 17 weeks. And since he’s pretty much napalmed his former relationship with ESPN and ESPN.com, what’s next for the ex-Boston Sports Guy? He’s still getting a hefty paycheck from HBO, so expect something else to appear on that horizon.
— Gotta love Mark Cuban. Or not. Cuban banned two ESPN.com reporters from covering his Dallas Mavericks this season, he says, to protest automated recaps from covering his team and the NBA. The Associated Press does do this for some minor league baseball games, but I haven’t seen that yet with pro basketball. Seems to me Cuban is actually leading the AP to this conclusion, by not allowing reporters into his arena. Stupid is as stupid does.
— Speaking of stupid, I was really looking forward to seeing “Bleed for This,” the movie on the life, times and comeback of Rhode Island’s own five-time boxing world champ Vinny Paz. But when I found out this week that some PR genius decided to limit access to the film’s stars prior to next week’s release for those who reported for a “dot com,” I think I may wait for it to come out on cable. That “dot com” was only ESPN.com. Sheesh. Story, pictures, national stage. Could they really be that dumb?
— When you see the Celtics actually play some defense, or at least try to stop someone, let me know? Games might actually be watchable.
— Anyone watching this year’s Heisman Trophy candidates yet? You can pretty much start and stop with Louisville’s sensational quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is as close to a “do-it-all” player as anyone in the game has been since Texas’ Vince Young more than a decade ago. But if you want a sleeper, try to watch Texas running back D’Onta Foreman, who leads the nation in rushing. At 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, he hits the line with tremendous speed and force, and runs away from defensive backs. He’d look fabulous in a Patriots uniform, even if ball security might be an issue.
— Remember just a couple of years ago, when the social media world went nuts over the Harlem shake? And more recently, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Meet the #Mannequinchallenge, which is simply holding a pose — without ANY movement whatsoever — like a mannequin in a department store window. Some of them done by sports teams, like the Pittsburgh Steelers for instance, have been quite good — and even funny.
— But one question: Who thinks up this stuff?
— And two more questions: Can you run for president, and save the world, too, while you’re at it?
— The Belichickian-Brady way of addressing their support — whether real or imagined — for Donald Trump is how we should all address our personal foibles. Explain, which Belichick did, and move on. “Seattle” now is a code word for, “I’ve said all I’m going to say, let’s move on.” And in TB12’s case, not commenting on the election by blaming it on the bride may be a questionable move — but in this instance, who’s going to question his wisdom with that?
— But I will agree with many in the media on this point: For a coach who shuns distractions like most of us try to shun door-to-door sales pitches, he certainly brought this onto himself. Was he really simply acknowledging a friend for his personal efforts, as he says he was, or was the coach purposely seeking to inject himself into a national conversation?
— And to actually give Trump permission to use his letter at a pre-election rally in New Hampshire? What other reason would there be for him to do something as anti-Patriot as this? Ego? Not his best move, IMO. He has the right to vote, support and give opinion, just like you and I do. But consider the contradictory nature of his actions.
— Just goes to show you, even geniuses can have their almost-human, brain-cramp moments.
— So, Hillary lost. Does this mean pants suits can finally be banned from public eyesight forever? Just as the male-equivalent leisure suits were nearly 40 years ago? Never, never, never again. I know, I had one. It was orange polyester, and I have destroyed all of the known photos of its existence. But right now, Ralph Lauren or Armani or some fancy suit-maker is working on the next one, don’t you know?
— John from North Providence, Rhode Island posted this week on Facebook, on Roger Goodell’s comments that President-elect Trump’s statements about women would make it more difficult for the league to reduce domestic violence incidents: This just solidifies the fact that Goodell is an absolute phony. He should look in the mirror and see the real person turning a blind eye to domestic violence — him! John: You are, of course, spot on. But I’ll answer your question with one of my own — when will NFL ownership realize Roger Goodell is making the sport, if not the owners themselves, personally look bad? The answer is, of course, all about money. When the pocketbooks take a hit, so will the Poobah. It’s not about the look, or the principle, or doing the right thing — it’s about making money, and always will be.
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