LONGSHOTS: Mount Rushmore offerings and other spring thoughts
by Dave Long
I’ll admit I’ve been kind of grumpy in this space for a while. And with columns about Bud Selig trying to lay the steroids blame on just the players, my crankiness at the Pats just getting a number for Matt Cassell and a recent offering about Rush Limbaugh being the Terrell Owens of conservative talk radio, I have been willing to fire away.
I’m going to blame it on the malaise brought on by the economic free fall that hit in the fall. But, with daylight savings time making it brighter for longer, the crisp (albeit colder than you’d expect) spring air upon us and tournament basketball in full swing, last week I felt a bit optimistic for the first time in a while. The hoop games in the early spring always have that effect on me and it often leads to a random series of thoughts as the games go on through the weekend — with the latest being what follows.
Are Mike and son Cormac Fitzpatrick of Memorial and Trinity respectively the best father-son basketball combo since — who, Pete and Press Maravich maybe?
And who the heck would name their kid Press anyway? The only one I can think who might do it is the great Woodsville hoop coach from back in the day John Bagonzi.
Speaking of the press I took Louisville in the (plug, plug) WGAM online pool because of the pressure they apply and I’m sticking to it. Although I’ve got to say I liked what North Carolina did on Saturday when it pulled away from LSU at the end in an 84-70 win.
And why couldn’t Rick get the Celtics to run and chase as does Louisville? They are relentless.
NH Hoop 101: What New Hampshire basketball coach can now claim disciples of his have now won six Class L state titles among them?
There are triple doubles and then there are TRIPLE doubles and the 13-point, 20-rebound, TEN-blocked-shots submission by Kansas sophomore (old king) Cole Aldrich in Sunday’s 60-43 win over Dayton fits into the latter category.
That loss for Dayton was a dagger in the heart to Flyer alum and Verzion Wireless Arena impresario Tim Bechert. But fortunately for him with NCAA Hockey at the V this weekend he doesn’t have time to dwell on it. And if you need a bit of diversion yourself, there are still a few tickets available.
And buddy Monarchs Prez Jeff Eisenberg may finally be on the road to recovery from last year’s debacle of hometown fave Memphis coughing up the title with awful foul shooting down the stretch. The Tigers moved on by destroying Maryland with a 53-33 first half in a 19-point rout in game two.
And speaking of a school from the volunteer state, that scary look coming from the sidelines is from Pat Summitt — who lost for the first time EVER in the opening weekend of tournament play when Tennessee’s 42-game opening-weekend winning streak ended in a 71-55 stunner to Ball State, which was making its tournament debut.
And one final thing about Summitt. Given her stature in Tennessee, with the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA struggling on the court and at the box office, think they’d have the guts to make her the first female head coach of a men’s professional sports team in the U.S.?
You may be aware that I’m kind of into the Mt. Rushmore thing. So here’s mine for college players, although since it’s basketball mine has five, not four. Lew Alcindor — the greatest ever. Bill Walton — the key guy to the 88-game winning streak and two undefeated seasons. Christian Laettner — two titles, four straight Final Fours, three buzzer-beating shots to win, including the one against Kentucky in what may be the greatest game ever. Oscar Robertson — three-time player of the year and three-time finals participant in three tries. Bill Russell — won two titles and 60 straight. Toughest omissions: Pete Maravich, David Thompson, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Bobby Hurley, Larry Bird, Phil Ford and, OK, Michael Jordan, though he wasn’t close to the dominant player he became in the NBA.
Of course that may have more to do with the old joke that went like this: Who’s the only man in America who can regularly hold Michael Jordan to under 20 a night? Answer: Dean Smith.
Speaking of Deano, here’s the Mt. Rushmore for coaches: John Wooden (da), Deano, Bobby Knight, Coach K and Adolph Rupp — with Roy Williams coming up on the outside neck and neck with Pitino.
Before you get on me about being a back-in-the-day guy — because the best of the best now are at best one-and-done guys — they can’t build a body of work like all the folks mentioned above have.
Now if you want to say who’s the best one-and-done freshman ever, I’ll take Carmelo Anthony even though my friend and Syracuse alum (not so liberal) Lou DeMato wouldn’t put Anthony on his Mt. Rushmore of Syracuse players on my radio show last week because he was a one-and-done guy.
In case you are wondering, here’s my Rushmore of New Hampshire players (that I’ve seen): Matt Bonner, Mike Flanagan, Scott Drapeau, Tyler Roche and Tunji Awojobi.Toughest omissions: Rich Shrigley, Chris Lutz, Danny Duval, Skip Barry, James Best, Matt Alosa, Jeff Cross and the five or six I should have on here but can’t think of. Send me any additional choices to consider, but you can leave out the “how could you leave off so and so, you stupid idiot” pleasantries.
And with another big year I’m thinking Trinity’s Jordan Laguerre will make a run at this list.
And by the way if they are going to add a fifth President up there on the real Mt. Rushmore, President Obama’s going to have to do better with the economy than he did with his brackets. Though I will say when I saw him giving his reasons on ESPN I said he’s got no shot of winning because he knows too much about the teams involved and those people never win.
NH Hoops 101 Answer: With Dave Keefe picking up his first over Fitzpatrick (who has two) on Saturday, Stan Spirou now has six state titles in his family tree when added to the three Doc (10) Wheeler has won at Central. Doc played for Spirou at NHC, while Keefe and Fitzy played for him at Central and were followed by Colby-Sawyer mentor Bill Foti as well.
And speaking of Foti and Fitzpatrick, seeing Jason Chevrefils headed to Colby-Sawyer brings to mind the inside baseball that led to Kevin Garnett winding up in Boston thanks to the Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge teammate connection.
Does Trinity win some sort of prize for the boys winning and the girls team coming up just short by losing in the finals?
There, that made me feel better. No more Forrest Grump.
Dave Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He hosts Dave Long and Company from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.