Xavier University is a private Jesuit Catholic university in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo: Provided/Xavier University)
Morning, Mobsters. This week’s college basketball game of the year occurs tonight in Philly, when No. 10 Xavier visits No. 1 Villanova. What a great example of why college hoops has withstood all the smarm that surrounds it.
In quasi-am hoops, you don’t need an $11 million a year coach, $2 million a year coordinators and an enrollment of 40,000 to be the best team in the land. You can, in fact, have an undergrad enrollment of 6,469 and be located in a leafy suburb of a big city.
You can have a good academic tradition, you can be faith oriented. “Villanova’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition’’ has deep roots. It means something.
There are more than a few Villanovas succeeding in college basketball. Always have been. Xavier, obviously, but also Gonzaga, Seton Hall, Butler, Rhode Island, TCU, etc. A generation ago, Georgetown (enrollment 3,725 undergrad) ruled. Marquette (8,238) has had its moments.
I’m not saying basketball isn’t big business at these places. It is. No school has been better than Xavier at using the game as a national marketing tool.
But basketball isn’t the military-industrial complex that football is. Small places like ‘Nova and X haven’t sold their souls to win games. As big as the game is at these places, it still has its place within the whole.
Little guys can be big in basketball, without cutting corners. Time to celebrate that tonight, from Philly, at 8.
Now, then …
THE REC TEAM STORY has legs. A second coach of an opponent has come forward to comment on the Kings team’s jerseys (“Coon’’ and “Knee Grow’’ of the “Wet Dream Team’’). He said the Kings coach, Walt Gill, and his players thought it was “funny.’’
The worst aspect of this story is that before being kicked out of the league, this team of high school-age players appeared at least twice in these jerseys. (They played in four games before getting booted.) That means parents had to be complicit. That’s incredible.
Gill has not commented. No parent has emerged to explain anything. Or defend it. I spent all day Tuesday trying to get anyone to comment. Only Ben Goodyear, president of Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball, responded to a message.
Goodyear said he’s still trying to reach coaches and refs from those three December games, to determine if Gill’s players were wearing the jerseys all year, or just the past couple games. The league is huge, more than 1,200 teams of kids ages 2nd grade through high school, from Batavia to Hamilton. Self-policing is mandatory.
So is common decency. It’d be nice if Gill spoke up and personally apologized for what happened. I’m no PC cop (as most of you know) and writing holier-than-thou screeds is not my favorite thing to do. But c’mon, man. You’ve set a really bad example, coach Gill. Time to set a better one.
CARSON LOVED HIM. Apparently, the Bengals are talking to Jon Kitna about coaching their QBs.
THE GRUDEN EFFECT. Will Chucky turn around the Raiders? He won a Super Bowl his first year in Tampa, with Tony Dungy’s defense and Dungy’s defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin. He’s never developed a QB. (MLewis has developed two.) In his six season after the Super year, Gruden’s Bucs were 4-under .500.
Do we smell a bit of a hype job?
As usual, ESPN.com’s Bill Barnwell has the best analysis.
IT’S ALWAYS SLOW HERE … ESPN.com laments the lack of free-agent activity in MLB so far. Yeah, well, spend some time in SmallMoneyVille, chief. The Reds have added Jared Hughes and Vance Worley. Another reason baseball economics stink. The stove is always cold.
HERE’S A (POSSIBLY DUMB) IDEA … What if Baseball reconfigured its divisions along payroll lines? The Franks and Beans Division: Reds, Pirates, Brewers, Padres, Marlins.
That would give you postseason hope, right?
It might also discourage some clubs from spending lots of money, sure. It might also discourage teams like the Reds from spending as much as they’re able. But baseball relies on fanly faith to sustain itself. It’s not good when teams go to spring training with no hope of the playoffs. This will be Year 5 for the Reds. Watching kids develop only goes so far with the average fan.
I’m also waiting for the day individual players are sponsored, a la NASCAR. Joey Votto, presented by Cintas.
Slow news day, Doc.
Oh, no question.
A NEW CAR! The midlife-crisis 2002 Solara has 288K miles on it. It’s still a magnificent car. Engine great, only repairs are routine. I still intend to get it to 300K, but my enthusiasm for that is waning. So …
I’m not a car guy (obviously) so I just need something with a little zip that gets me from A to B without hassle. Like what I have now.
I’ve checked out a 2017 Mazda 6. I’ve looked at a ’17 VW Passat and a Camry hybrid. All are good, in a boring, OK kinda way.
Suggestions? Midsize, good gas mileage, decent pep. Reliable, decent comfort and noise level. Go.
TUNE O’ THE DAY … I picked up this album at Everybody’s the other week. The fantastic Andy Warhol picture disc. An underrated group that made some really good music.
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