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Follow the bubbles

Whether they were acting in ignorance, or openly displaying arrogance,  I was hoping that my prediction of how Duke would respond to two players being arrested on DWI-related charges would be different.  Instead, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, Athletic Director Nina E. King, and University President Vincent E. Price missed an opportunity.  In allowing freshman Paolo Banchero to start and play just a few days after being arrested on serious charges, Krzyzewski, King, and Price failed to set a better example for other schools.  I agree that Banchero’s charges are different from those being faced by Krzyzewski’s grandson, Michael Savarino, but this was simply a bad decision. To play Banchero, then speak of “a violation of our standards…” does not measure up. Krzyzewski has to know this, and reporters at the postgame press conference, and the media in general, should not have let him off so easily; but this was predictable. Not just the Duke’s response, but the media’s coverage as well. So, forgive me for not displaying a higher standard of texting, but the message below should be clear.  Just follow the bubbles.

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Superman comes home

It has to be illegal to kill the number of crows that Matt Rhule, David Tepper, and the Carolina Panthers had to eat when finally giving in to bringing quarterback Cam Newton back. The Panthers are bad, as in B-A-D; not bad as in GOOD! In the words of Dennis Green: “They are who we thought they were!” After passing on Newton to sign Teddy Bridgewater, then passing on Bridgewater to put Sam Darnold in charge of their offense, the Panthers are again looking to Newton because Darnold’s “ghosts were seeing ghosts.” – (Joe Mazur, ABC11 WTVD.) Now, we get another chance to see if Cam can still be Superman with the Carolina Panthers’ average protection and offensive play-calling that we’ve seen so far.

metal newton cradle toy on table
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New era: UNC ratings game 1

Whether Hubert Davis’ decision to move Leaky Black and Brady Manek to the starting line up with Armando Bacot, RJ Davis, and Caleb Love was just for one game, or what we should expect this season, it worked! Black’s presence gave the defense the cohesion, and court awareness that was missing from the line up that started the exhibition game against Elizabeth City State University. Meanwhile, Manek was confident and productive on offense, played competent defense, and was steady throughout.

  • Every win rates an A, but I have to rate team performance in game 1 against Loyola University-Maryland a B. Think defensive breakdowns in the second half, missed rebounding assignments, and brief periods of back-to-back turnovers. All areas that can be fixed before the next game. Individual ratings:
  • Manek – (A) – Steady and confident!
  • Bacot – (B) – Good start. Have to recognize how game is being called, and avoid foul trouble as season progresses.
  • Black – (B) – Energy! Valuable contribution without needing to be a scorer. The value of his presence on the court may not show in his individual stats, but it will help improve overall team play.  
  • Love – (B) – Better showing all around. Enough said!   
  • Davis – (C plus) – Good game. Just good.
  • Kerwin Walton – (B) – Strong offensive performance off the bench. Have to be more aware of screens.   
  • Dawson Garcia – (B) – Liked his offense. How much will defense improve?
  • Justin McKoy – (C plus) – Active. Better court awareness. When will the minutes come? 
  • Anthony Harris – (C) – Need to find a way for him to contribute.
  • Dontrez Styles and D’Marco Dunn – Not yet.
Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

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First look Heels 2021 – Grades

Like preseason polls, preseason games and lineups give quite different looks from what we expect to see as the season progresses.  So goes preseason game evaluations.  After a coaching change, multiple transfers in and out, and freshman additions; new lineups and adjustments to style of play were expected.  Hubert Davis’ starting lineup in the Smith Center exhibition game against Elizabeth City State University included Armando Bacot, Dawson Garcia, RJ Davis, Caleb Love, and Kerwin Walton; with Brady Manek, Justin McKoy, Leaky Black, then Anthony Harris leading off the bench.  D’Marco Dunn and Dontrez Styles filled in for a few minutes before Davis cleared the bench with less than one minute remaining.  First reactions and ratings:

  • Team as a whole showed flashes of improvement.  Defense seemed a little uneven.  Seem to be stuck between deciding between getting out to run and waiting to set up in the half-court.  Team exhibition performance:  B minus.
  • Bacot – (A) – Looks like he’s already told the dealership which car to order.   
  • Walton – (D) – Did not look good.  Offense was off.  Did not see defensive improvement.   
  • Love – (C minus) – Hasn’t shown anything different yet.  Turnovers when primary ball handler is a concern.    
  • Davis – (B minus) – Early play as primary ball handler was promising.
  • Garcia – (B) – Good start offensively.  Need to be more aware on defense.
  • Manek – (A) – Better than expected.  Has a good motor on both ends of the court.
  • McKoy – (D) – Appeared to be lost on offense and defense. 
  • Black – (B) – Good energy off the bench.  Defense was steady.  Great outlet passes and push up the court after rebounds.  Had sneaky good all-around game though he only took one shot.  Best multi-position player. 
  • Harris – (C) – Gets in motion quickly.  A little out of control.  Looks confident.
  • Styles and Dunn – To be determined.  Unfair to rate with such limited playtime.          
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Aaron being Aaron

Answer:  He selfishly put his own health, teammates, team goals, and opponents in danger. 

Question:  Who is Aaron Rodgers?

Just like the popular game show, the NFL has the question and answer reversed.  When it comes to Covid-19 protocols, this confusion should be eliminated.  If the NFL has considered Aaron Rodgers unvaccinated all season as reported, then we should expect an explanation as to why one of the league’s high profile players has been allowed to attend practices, team interactions, games, and press conferences as if he is fully vaccinated?  The NFL already has rules to prevent taunting.  Perhaps the league should consider broadening the rules, and apply a retroactive penalty for Rodgers.  He is clearly getting away with taunting by openly challenging league safety mandates; then tap dancing around the truth.  Even worse, team and league officials have been standing by, watching it happen.  Anything less than a 2-game suspension for Rodgers, and team punishment for not following safety protocols is unacceptable. This cannot be written off as Aaron being Aaron.     

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Just a ranking

AP and UPI were the names that we looked to for college football rankings before ESPN offered 24-hour sports programming.  The Associated Press first published college football rankings in 1936.  United Press International (Originally United Press) started with a weekly poll in 1950.  The AP Top 25 is most recognizable, while the UPI poll has been had multiple brands including:  USA Today/CNN, USA Today/ESPN, USA Today, and Amway.  The AP and coaches polls do not always agree, so I expect you might disagree with my “After They Played Rankings” for Sunday October 17, 2021.  This week, let’s take a look at the top 10 undefeated teams:

  1. Georgia
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Michigan St.
  4. Cincinnati
  5. Oklahoma St
  6. Michigan
  7. Coastal Carolina
  8. Wake Forest
  9. SMU
  10. San Diego St  
Another unrelated Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com
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Question and answer

Question:  “Why do we go to a buffet that only serves common sense and expect a NBA player, that once said he believed the Earth is flat, to understand the impact of losing $380,000 every time that he misses a game for being unvaccinated?”

Answer:  “Ignorance is served exclusively to those who can’t appreciate their fortune.” – Gary Brown

“Now you see that you can put a price on “stupid.” – Demetrius Booker

Brain pain. Photo by Nicola Barts on Pexels.com

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Shiny new objects

Most people like shiny new things.  Jewelry, cars, toys, and for college football fans:  New faces!  Why boo your own team of college students?  Make a mistake, put in the new guy.  Win, but don’t score a lot of points, put in the new guy!  This is insane!  College football fans seemingly know little about the relationships that coaches have to build with players, or the relationships that players build with each other to better the team.  Coaches have to be careful not to create a “shiny new objects” reputation.  Fans don’t understand that, but players do.  Yes, every player should think he is the best, and should be in the game.  Players should also be confident that, after dedicating themselves to a program and having success; they are not going to be passed over for the next highly ranked player for making a mistake.  That would just confirm our fascination with shiny new objects. 

Shiny things…
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When it’s deserved…

ECU critics:  Time to admit it!  Like many who follow the Pirates, I have expressed concerns about offensive play-calling, on-field decision-making, and the team, overall, not showing the expected progress on game day.  When this ECU football team was playing in an emotion-filled stadium at Marshall, behind by double-digits, and managed to play themselves into a win, a bit of cautious optimism was created.  Falling behind by 14 to Charleston Southern left room for doubt to slide in, but East Carolina took control and dominated the middle of the game before giving the home crowd a scare, then winning by three.  Saturday’s homecoming match with Tulane may have been the most complete game that ECU has played in the last three years.  While play-calling was still concerning at times, the offense was much more dynamic and unpredictable.  While the defense gave some, they pushed more and set the tone!  Simply, the team looked prepared, and played a determined, aggressive style of offense and defense.  They earned it on the field again this week.  Three in a row!  When it’s deserved, give the praise! 

Team provoked smile! October 2, 2021