Thinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to “Fireman” Bill Campbell.
— It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick — Brown’s lacrosse team was named as the NCAA.com “Team of the Week” as the fourth-ranked Bears defeated No. 1 and previously unbeaten Yale, 14-12, last weekend. A first-ever win for Bruno over No. 1.
— More than 3,400 fans packed Stevenson-Pincince Field on campus. ESPN3 televised it. And as a result, Brown climbed to No. 3 in this week’s rankings — and managed to keep from having a letdown with a 16-10 win over rapidly improving Providence. The victory over the Friars is Brown’s 22nd straight in men’s lax.
— That’s downright hoop-like, although Brown has managed a cross-check or two on the basketball court in recent years, hasn’t it?
— Not for nuthin’, but what makes this Bears team particularly tough? 1. Winning faceoffs. 2. Second-half defense, and the ability to score with a man up. Brown needs wins over Cornell this weekend and over Dartmouth next week to claim the outright Ivy League title. ESPN3 is, once again, all over these guys.
— The Las Vegas Review Journal reported this week that PC associate head basketball coach Andre LaFleur will join Marvin Menzies’ new staff at UNLV. It’s the second straight year for Ed Cooley to lose an associate HC, after Bob Simon left for Alabama a year ago. This is simply part of the drill in the coaching world — you never know where opportunity will knock. LaFleur wants to be a head coach, he’s originally from the West Coast (born in Los Angeles), and time is ticking for him. He’s a good guy and a good coach. Hope he finds his spot.
— Will graduate assistant God Shammgod find a full-time slot on the staff as a result of this move? It’s likely that avenue is being traveled as we speak. Or think. Ivan Thomas should assume greater responsibility as well.
— Providence’s schedule next season apparently will feature Maine and Vermont at the Dunk in non-conference play. UMass will be in there somewhere, too, and so is Rhode Island. If UConn’s Kevin Ollie could figure out a way to get over his fear of facing the Friars, PC could pull off a true New England championship run, couldn’t it? And let’s get UNH on the slate, too, while we’re at it. Just sayin’.
— Don’t laugh at Vermont. The Catamounts have been good since the days of the T.J. Sorrentine-led spanking of Syracuse, and will be favorites in America East next season. No, they aren’t Duke. But Duke ain’t comin’ to the Dunk any year soon, either, unless the Dunk is hosting the NCAAs again. UVM is a potential top 100-150 RPI opponent that should be a contender for postseason play, which always helps in building an NCAA-worthy resume.
— Brendan McGair had a nice piece recently in the Pawtucket Times on PC’s Ben Bentil and what his next few weeks will be like. Bentil will work out for several teams and scouts with the hope of gaining an invitation to the NBA combine next month.
— While Friars fans undoubtedly wish Bentil well in his pursuit of a pro career, the best guess here is that he’ll find his road to the NBA filled with potholes, kinda like the ones I’ve found previously on Reservoir and Park Avenues in Cranston. Tough to dodge, each with varying degrees of depth and no apparent repair in sight.
— I’m not surprised, but I’m mildly disappointed in Junior Lomomba’s leaving PC and giving up his final year of eligibility. Seniors, especially fifth-year seniors, can be invaluable. Initially, there was every intent to have Junior return for his fourth year of college eligibility after picking up his degree this year, but perhaps his anxiousness to move on with his life, coupled with the program’s need for an extra available scholarship, helped make this move a reality.
— And while the Friars’ pickup of 6-foot-7 transfer Emmitt Holt is solid, it becomes a lot better if Bentil stays in the picture. Holt has some baggage — dismissed from Indiana’s program after his freshman year for underage possession of alcohol, which came nearly a year after he accidentally hit a teammate with his car. He spent his sophomore season at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa.
— Holt is a good rebounder and high-percentage shooter with a 7-foot wingspan. He’s undoubtedly ready for another high-major opportunity, and the Friars have a need — they’ll be glad to give it to him.
— One of next season’s Big East favorites on the basketball court, Xavier, took a body blow this week when forward Jalen Reynolds decided to hire an agent as he pursues his NBA dreams. Reynolds is already 23 years old and he’ll soon have his undergraduate degree, so his moving on isn’t a complete surprise.
— But with junior-to-be Trevon Bluiett also testing the draft waters (without hiring an agent, he says), the Musketeers could go from title contender to middle of the pack in a hurry.
— Georgetown’s 2015-16 season was disappointing on several levels, but not yet to the point where John Thompson III is feeling any heat. JT3, however, apparently hears some of the grumbling from alumni and this week picked up Rodney Pryor, a 6-foot-5 scoring wing as a fifth-year transfer from Robert Morris. Pryor, who also considered Florida and Gonzaga as landing spots, should help fill any offensive gaps left behind with D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s graduation.
— St. John’s may only be another year away from climbing right back into the upper half of the Big East, as the Red Storm announced they’ve signed Michigan State transfer Marvin Clark and received a commitment from 6-foot-5 guard Justin Simon, transferring from Arizona. The 6-foot-6 Clark initially had considered Providence and visited the school and staff, but he cast his lot with SJU this week. He’ll sit out next season and be available in 2017, as will Simon.
— Butler also had a pickup this week, with Memphis guard Avery Woodson transferring. Woodson is eligible right away and can shoot it, something the Bulldogs will need since they lose Kellen Dunham to graduation.
— Pearl Washington’s passing this week, after a second battle with a brain tumor, left me stunned. Dwayne Alonzo “Pearl” Washington not only helped to put Big East basketball on the map in the ’80s, but he may singularly have been responsible for Syracuse’s ascension into a national program from a regional one. Three times an All-American and All-Big East point guard, Pearl was years ahead of his time with his on-court skills and ball control. He was Shammgod before Shammgod was Shammgod.
— Pearl was only 52 years old. I admired his game from afar while I worked in the NBA, and never had the chance to meet or speak with him until well after his retirement from the game. It came in the aftermath of his first bout with a brain tumor, at the Big East Tournament about 10 years ago. He was gracious, humble and kind enough to relive old memories of his time in the Big East.
— I immediately appreciated his tenacity, when he stood up to Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing once upon a time. He put 21 points on the board for ‘Cuse against Brown in the Bears’ last NCAA Tournament appearance 30 years ago, a 101-52 rout in 1986. And he was quick to point out his nickname originally belonged to Earl “The Pearl” Monroe of New York Knicks fame.
— Some are meant to grace us with their presence for only a short period of time. I have the distinct feeling Pearl was one of those people, blessed with a marvelous talent and ability that left us way too soon.
— Oh, Curt. You just can’t help yourself, can you?
— ESPN was looking for an excuse to finally let Curt Schilling go, and his dismissal came this week after a controversial Internet meme. Think about that for a second. ESPN fired a guy — a World Series-winning, Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher — from its announcing staff for his liking and commenting on an Internet meme? What has this world come to?
— Schilling should start a new support group — Internet Meme Commenters Anonymous.
— Or would that end up like 38 Studios ended up in Rhode Island? Sorry, couldn’t resist. Too easy.
— Here is ESPN’s “curt” statement: “ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.” And what’s wrong with the statement? ESPN isn’t an inclusive company. If it was truly inclusive, it would allow opinions to be offered freely, without fear of retribution. You simply don’t have to agree with it.
— So now we know why the Red Sox have rushed catcher Christian Vazquez back into action from Tommy John surgery — so they can squeeze every ounce of worth from their overpriced investment into pitcher Rick Porcello. Is that about it?
— Pretty soon, the only way this staff will be able to pitch at all will be because the Sox will have hired every pitcher on the staff a personal catcher.
— Good nugget from NESN, though: Red Sox pitchers have recorded 145 strikeouts through their first 14 games — good for 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings — which is more than any other Red Sox team in the last 100 years. The previous high was 141 in 2013.
— It looks as if it will be a feast-or-famine year for the pitching staff — whiff or whiplash?
— Classy move by Steven Wright in sending a gift to Toronto’s Chris Colabello after hitting him in the helmet with a pitch last week. Colabello graduated from high school in Milford, Massachusetts, and played college ball at Assumption in Worcester. His family was in the stands last weekend when he was beaned by an 87 mph fastball.
— As long as we’re starting the conversation, the more I think about it, the more I like Joey Bats in a Red Sox uniform for next season as a potential DH replacement for Big Papi. Do it. How many other players do opposing pitchers truly fear?
— It’s a long season, but if you’re another team in the International League, perhaps a healthy fear of the PawSox is in order. Pawtucket just completed the first 7-0 road start in club history, finally suffering its first road defeat Thursday in Rochester. Overall, the PawSox have gone from worst to first within their division in a week.
— More political correctness run amok, with this statement released by the PawSox: “The Pawtucket Red Sox have received feedback from fans on this Saturday’s PawSox Primary, and while we’ve heard that people may find the footrace featuring the presidential candidates’ characters amusing, we’ve heard understandable sentiments to keep politics out of the stands. That’s good feedback, so we will do away with specific seating sections dedicated to various campaigns. We hope everyone can enjoy a comfortable and relaxed afternoon at the ballpark.”
— So now some are offended by a ballpark promotion? Good grief. Get a grip, people.
— You also should get a grip if you really thought the Celtics-Hawks series would be competitive, even if Avery Bradley hadn’t ripped his hamstring. Two words: Al Horford. Five more words: Should have traded for him.
— Stop the merry-go-round. I want off. First, Pearl this week at 52. Then pop music superstar Prince passes at age 57, and former WWE superstar Chyna also died this week, at age 46. Nothing else to say or do, except smh.
— Kudos to the P-Bruins’ Frank Vatrano, who won the AHL goal-scoring title. And he doesn’t (yet) rate a regular role in Boston? It’s not like the Bruins are stacked with talent right now.
— I think I liked Major League Soccer better when teams played overtime after regulation ties. The Revs are off to a 1-1-5 start — that’s one win, one loss and five ties — in their first seven matches played. What does this show other than a lot of mediocrity?
— My buddy “Big E” isn’t sure he’s ready to give his teenage daughter another shot with the family car. After she arrived home late from a party, the next morning he went out to retrieve the newspaper on the driveway. You remember newspapers, right? When his daughter woke up at the crack of noon, he asked her what time she got in last night. “It wasn’t too late, Dad,” was her reply. To which Big E replied, without missing a beat, “Then I’ll have to speak with the newspaper delivery department about placing the paper underneath the front wheel of the car.”
— Don’t look now, but football season has officially snuck back up on us. The Patriots’ offseason program began this week, with — gasp! — actual workouts.
— Was Dominique Easley a mistake? A very calculated risk, is more likely. But what is more disturbing — Urban Meyer’s failing Florida recommendations to Bill Belichick, or all of the ex-Rutgers’ players on the New England roster? Did the Scarlet Knights win a national title? Do they still play football at Florida?
— Get prepared for a big dose of “large.” Interior linemen — offensive and defensive — should be on tap for next week’s NFL draft if you’re the New England Patriots.
— But there will be at least one pick you’ll be scratching your head about. Count on it.
— Know what I liked best about watching the Boston Marathon coverage this week? The broadcasters did their homework. Everyone I heard pronounced the winners’ names correctly — which usually is a challenge.
— Best story you may not have heard on the Marathon was women’s champ Atsede Baysa giving her championship trophy to Bobbi Gibb, 50 years after Gibb became the first woman to run in Boston. Gibb says she’ll keep the trophy for only a year, then return it.
— In a discussion over Craig Kimbrel’s effectiveness as a closer for the Red Sox this week, Bill Campbell’s name came up in conversation. Fireman Bill was the first-ever Rolaids Relief Man of the Year award winner, in 1976, and his ability to make multiple appearances in relief with Minnesota earned him a free agent deal with Boston in 1977 for $1 million — big bucks for 40 years ago. Not only did he repeat as the Rolaids winner in ’77 with the Sox, but he also remains the only pitcher in major league history to record at least 17 wins and 17 saves in the same season — winning 17 and saving 20 for the Twins in ’76. Also known as “Soup” for obvious reasons, Campbell also served in Vietnam as a radio operator in the late ’60s. He stayed active in baseball until 1999 as a coach on the Milwaukee Brewers staff. The Twins report Campbell is retired and lives in the Chicago area.
— John in South Carolina posted this week on Facebook, after the Patriots left Bill Parcells off their Hall of Fame nominee list this year: I don’t want to see him in the hall yet … I would prefer to see Chuck Fairbanks, or Raymond Clayborn or any number of people before him. It is not just because he went to the Jets, it is because of the way he handled the Super Bowl (in 1996). He took that time from me. John: I’m sure many Patriots fans feel the same way you do. But my argument is you wouldn’t have feelings like you do if Parcells hadn’t been in New England in the first place. There simply is no reason to keep him out of the Patriots Hall — if you’re being honest with yourself. He’s already a Pro Football HOFer, and it seems petty to not acknowledge what he did for pro football in New England. He helped save it, period.
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