Archive for March, 2009

UK basketball folks should step into Mr. Blank’s office

  Those in charge of Kentucky basketball say Big Blue followers need constant love from their leader beyond courtside.

  Wait a minute. Hasn’t that been the case forever around Lexington?

  Yep, and everybody knows it.

  So why did those Kentucky officials lose their minds two years ago and hire who they just fired? Billy Gillispie is a decent strategist but a private guy who’d rather hug his X’s and O’s. That translates into a nasty fit for a school whose basketball coach must become the Dalai Lama of the commonwealth while winning SEC and national championships.

  They got John Calipari, who relished his fans so much at Memphis that all of his practices were open to the public. Still, those Kentucky officials took Gillispie over Calipari the last time around before this one.

  Why?

  “It’s like when you were single, and you look at a pretty girl walking down the street, and it’s very enticing,” said Falcons owner Arthur Blank, an expert on hiring famously wrong …

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Time for UK folks and others to step into Mr. Blank’s office

   Those in charge of Kentucky basketball keep saying Big Blue fans need constant love from whomever becomes the next person to run their program.

  Wait a minute. Hasn’t that been the case forever around Lexington?

  Yep, and everybody knows it.

  So why did those Kentucky officials lose their minds two years ago and hire who they just fired? Billy Gillispie is a decent strategist but a private guy who’d rather hug his X’s and O’s. That translates into a nasty fit for a school whose basketball coach must become the Dalai Lama of the commonwealth while winning SEC and national championships.

  “It’s like when you were single, and you look at a pretty girl walking down the street, and it’s very enticing, because she’s very attractive, and she’s got this, that and the other thing,” said Falcons owner Arthur Blank,  an expert on getting a coaching hire famously wrong before getting it famously right. “Until you get to really know that pretty girl, you don’t know if she’s …

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Inspired Hawks still less than splendid Celtics

Whatever the Hawks are now, and whatever they will become during their sometimes uneven dribbling from goodness to beyond over the next few weeks, months and years, they owe it to a new enemy who will always be their old friend.

Keep this between us, OK? Doc Rivers wears green as coach of Boston’s famous basketball team, but he still has the Hawks flying around his heart.

“Always,” said Rivers, the former Hawks standout, acknowledging Friday night that he isn’t exactly displeased that Philips Arena has evolved into a noisy and lovely place this season for the Hawks with a mighty assist from his Celtics.

Rivers eyes danced with joy as he returned to the 1980s, while comparing the Hawks’ splendid past with their promising present and future. “I told some of our (Boston) guys, ‘Man, the way it is now is the way it used to be around here with Dominique (Wilkins) and Spud (Webb) and Mike Fratello, and they went, ‘Get out of here,’ ” Rivers said. “When people say this city doesn’t …

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Kiffin knocks Gators, so what’s the big deal?

Leave that man alone.

Well, this time.

The way things are going for Lane Kiffin, the self-inflicted tackling dummy during his first weeks as head football coach at the University of Tennessee, there will be a next time. There also will be a few more times after that.

As for this time, Kiffin was absolutely right to tell our Michael Carvell that he is done apologizing to Florida and everybody else over his erroneous comments about Gators coach Urban Meyer and his recruiting practices.

Remember? During a recruiting breakfast last month, Kiffin boasted to Tennessee supporters (note: Tennessee supporters) that Meyer tried to “cheat” and still didn’t get wide receiver prospect Nu’Keese Richardson. That’s because Richardson stiff-armed Florida down the stretch before sprinting to Tennessee.

It turns out that, contrary to what Kiffin told those Tennessee supporters (note: Tennessee supporters), Meyer didn’t violate an NCAA rule when he phoned Richardson during a recruiting trip to …

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Somebody else rips baseball’s Big Lie on black players

Baseball’s Big Lie will continue this season, stretching from Turner Field, where Garret Anderson likely will be the only African-American for the Braves on opening day, to elsewhere in the major leagues, where the number of African-Americans overall in the game will continue its silly 30-year plunge from 27 percent to maybe eight percent.

This is disgusting. I’m talking about that plunge, along with Baseball’s Big Lie, which suggests: Courtesy of the hip-hop generation, featuring His Airness and the Falcons’ No. 7 in the recent past and the current likes of LeBron, Kobe and Dwyane, African-American youth couldn’t care less about that tired game of Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron and the rest.

It’s just that C.J. Stewart is around to tell the truth. This former Chicago Cubs outfielder via the rough streets of Atlanta’s northwest side is in his second year of running an organization with his wife, Kelli, called LEAD (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct). It gives free instructions on …

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Jackets ready to “spring” forward, make foes fall back

Last spring, when Paul Johnson was installing his triple-option offense and no-nonsense principles into Georgia Tech’s football psyche, the Yellow Jackets were listening to their new coach, but they weren’t comprehending.

Instead, they were rumbling, stumbling, bumbling. Courtesy of youth and inexperience everywhere, they had a frequently ghastly spring of botched handoffs, fumbled pitches and more than a few players running left when they should have been running right.

It didn’t matter. The Jackets still won nine of 13 games. They also whipped their Great Satan from Athens, and they did so between the hedges. I mean, if you’re the rest of the ACC or into barking, this is pretty scary when you think about it.

Camp Johnson II opens Monday with a slew of returning starters and several others who actually understand their coach’s wishes this time around.

“The main thing we discovered after last spring is that all [Johnson] wants from us is effort and consistency,” said Tech …

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Bobby Cremins: “We could have won the national chamionship”

   So you think you’re into March Madness, especially with the dribbling starting Thursday from Portland to Kansas City to Philadelphia? Well, you should move to the back of a growing line that is headed by the famous owner of floppy white hair in Charleston, S.C.

  There, you’ll find Bobby Cremins, the basketball coach at the College of Charleston via Georgia Tech. He prefers four play-in games to the NCAA tournament instead of the current one. He also would like to have the winner of the National Invitation Tournament receive an automatic bid to the Big Dance the following season.

  “I’ve thrown that around, and people laugh at it,” said Cremins, who nevertheless shrugs and says of this time of year, “I love everything about it. I love to watch, and I really love going to the games.”

  All you need to know is that Cremins has missed just one Final Four in person during the past 34 years. “And that was when I was going through my mid-life crisis with South Carolina,” he …

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The Hawks are good, but just wait

Here’s a sobering thought, but only for the rest of the NBA: Despite much goodness this season for the Hawks, including their current streak of greatness with victories over the splendid likes of Detroit, New Orleans, Utah and Portland, they still have a long ways to go.

It gets better: They know it.

Said Joe Johnson, the Hawks’ extraordinary player who suddenly is operating at a level much higher than that, “We’ve got to get better in closing out quarters and in being aggressive and putting teams away when we’ve got them down. Those are things that we really have to work on.”

Let that sink in, especially since the Hawks have been adept at slaying the elite this season. Take Sunday at Philips Arena, for instance. With much help from Johnson’s 35 points, the Hawks won for a fifth straight time by cooling that previously hot Portland team with a 98-80 rout. They were energetic from start to finish against their long and athletic twins from the West.

As a result, the Hawks …

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Tech hoops could Clinch old magic in ACC tournament

He gets it. He really does. So, with Lewis Clinch just one, two, three more dandy performances away from becoming Mark Price, Brian Oliver and James Forrest for Georgia Tech in an ACC tournament, the Yellow Jackets are closer to dribbling into March Madness than you think.

They really are. That’s because Clinch was the 21st century version of Price, Oliver and Forrest on Thursday at the Georgia Dome, where his mostly clutch 32 points shocked Clemson 86-81 in the first round.

He gets it, all right. “We’ve actually watched tapes of those guys, knocking down big shots and playing consistently throughout the whole ACC tournament, and it was fun to see, because we know that anything is possible,” said Clinch, recalling 1985, for instance. It featured the first of Tech’s three ACC titles, when Price had 50 points in three games.

Five years later, an inspired Oliver carried that Lethal Weapon bunch from an ACC championship game victory to the Final Four. Then came the James Forrest …

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Saint Bobby finally has wings clipped

  Oh, this is a shock: Florida State officials are totally embarrassing themselves over yet another scandal involving their football program. It’s the same old drill around Tallahassee. It involves doing whatever it takes to protect the likeable Saint Bobby, no matter how silly you look.

  This time, those Florida State officials say it is unfair for the NCAA to unleash penalties that will strip away 10 victories from Bobby Bowden in his quest to become college football’s all-time winningest coach at the Division 1-A level.

  Those Florida State officials are contemplating an appeal.

  Puhleeze.

  According to an NCAA investigation, a slew of Bowden’s players were among the 61 Florida State athletes in 10 sports who cheated on an online test from the fall of 2006 through the summer of 2007. That’s right, 61! The cheating involved staffers in the Florida State athletics department providing athletes with answers to the test and typing their papers.

  Come to think of it, …

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