Sports 56 WHBlog Q

April 30, 2009

“Rap Chop” is the Pinnacle of American Music

Filed under: Uncategorized — Peter Edmiston @ 9:56 am

I love infomercials. I love the low-budget stupidity and hyperbolic nonsense. I always have. But I love this even more – it takes the magic of the Slap Chop and adds a catchy dance beat, then throws in a little “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” to put it over the top. I can’t stop listening to this.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

April 16, 2009

This & That

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg Gaston @ 4:43 pm

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately…..

New Tigers Hoop Coach Josh Pastner has all the tools to become a very good Head Coach but you can’t jump to conclusions. When I hear people say it was a GREAT hire or a TERRIBLE hire I cringe. How the heck do you know what type of hire it was until Pastner actually gets out there and coaches his team? I have plenty of confidence that Pastner will be able to do the job but Tigers fans must understand that there is going to be some tough times ahead before he’s able to right the ship. If anything, this whole episode with Calipari and Pastner should teach fans to enjoy the present and stop looking ahead to what could be in the future. Enjoy the moment your in!

The Grizzlies wrapped up their season Wednesday night and picked up their 24th win in the process. Of course they did so against the Hawks 2nd unit. In any case, it sure seems like a long time since the Grizzlies won 50 and put together back to back to back playoff teams. This completes the first year in the so called “Three Year Plan” to get the team back to being competitive. I’m not so sure if fans can wait two more years. Let’s remember, the past 3 seasons has produced 68 wins or 2 more than the Cleveland Cavaliers had this season alone. Let’s hope that the team will draft wisely and seriously explore the Free Agent Market. Next year’s battle cry needs to be more than just “Let’s win 30”.

The Redbirds are off to a good start as the 2009 Baseball season is underway. Just recently Autozone Park was named the BEST Stadium in the Minor Leagues. The Taj Mahal of stadiums if you will. Now they need to prove their worth in the box office. Attendance has slowly diminished over the years and that’s a crying shame. The birds provide superb entertainment for a very reasonable price. General Manager Dave Chase and his staff have been nothing but marvelous in the work they do and the product they help to provide. Now it’s up to you and me to increase the support for this Memphis staple.

Quick Hitters……

-Isiah Thomas makes sense to Florida International because they are trying to get some name recognition for a product that’s basically non-existent. For Memphis it would have been a setback of major proportion.
-For quite some time I thought American Cycling Hero Lance Armstrong was being singled out by the French Government because of his domination of the Tour De France. After the latest incident that should keep Armstrong from his comeback race, I now feel that Armstrong has likely pulled the wool over all of our eyes for many years now.
-2009 must be the year the Memphis Tigers Football team wins no less than the Eastern Division. The players are all in place and now they must perform. I understand the schedule is pretty tough, but if not this year than when?
-PGA Tour chief of operations Rick George was in Memphis Wednesday and talked about the future of the Memphis PGA Tour Stop. The EVENT has been in town for 51 years and is one of the top attractions in Memphis on an annual basis. George said that the Tournament could be in jeopardy unless their able to secure a title sponsor for next season and beyond. Lets hope somebody steps up because losing this event would be a travesty. Not only for fans of Golf, but for the children of St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the tourney’s chief beneficiary.

April 14, 2009

Calipari and the recruits

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Eli Savoie @ 3:59 pm

It is now clear that many Memphis Tiger basketball fans’ opinions have totally changed about former coach John Calipari. Cal was in Tunica last night for a charity event he had previously committed to and the reception was described as “lukewarm” when he was introduced. While some just feel betrayed by Calipari deciding to leave Memphis after nine years as head coach, others are angered by what they see as the unethical move of taking many, if not all, of his top Memphis recruits with him to Lexington.

In defending their outrage over this “unethical” move by Cal, they all seem to come up with the same two examples of coaches that left jobs, but “chose” not to take their top recruits with them. Those two coaches are Roy Williams, when he left Kansas for North Carolina, and Bob Huggins, who left Kansas State for West Virginia, both leaving behind some top recruits. It seems reasonable that people, such as my friend and colleague Will Askew below, bring up these two examples, because they seem to back up their contentions about Calipari. The problem though, is that if you simply research the facts of these situations, you’ll see that they’re not at all like the Calipari situation, and in one case, one of these bastions of ethics actually wanted one of his former recruits to join him at his new school. So let’s take a closer look at the actual facts of each situation and the top recruits involved:

We’ll start with Roy Williams and his move from Kansas to North Carolina. The two recruits most talked about in this case are J.R. Giddens and David Padgett. In the case of Giddens, this story about himincludes this quote about Bill Self, who replaced Williams at Kansas, and the Jayhawks program,

“[Coach Self] is from Oklahoma, so I felt pretty comfortable with him,” Giddens said. “After talking I decided to still go to Kansas; there’s just so much tradition there so it wasn’t like I was only going originally because of Coach Williams. I knew that I would get a great college experience, they sell out every game, and I knew I’d be playing in front of big crowds.”

So Giddens, an Oklahoma native, felt comfortable with another Oklahoma native, Self, and unlike the Memphis recruits, he was going to the school for reasons other than just playing for a certain coach. Interesting, you mean it wasn’t because Williams told him to stay at Kansas?

Even better is the case of Padgett. Padgett was one of the top recruits in the country and committed to play for Williams at Kansas. When Williams left, Padgett and his family felt betrayed by Williams,

“Coach sat in my living room and sat in my office and said he was going to be there for four years to coach David,” Pete Padgett said by phone from the family’s residence in Reno, Nev.
Those broken vows stung, but a final disappointment came Friday.
“They assured me Friday that we would not hear about this from the media,” he said. “But that’s what happened. We’re really, really disappointed that they didn’t contact us.”


That betrayal, and the fact that he would have had to ask for a release from his letter of intent, likely were big reasons why Padgett decided to give it a go under Self at Kansas. After one year, however, it wasn’t working out so Padgett decided to transfer elsewhere, and low and behold, who was there trying to get him to come join him, it was Williams. How do I know? He admitted he wanted him in talking about it a couple years later when his Tar Heels were about to meet Padgett and Louisville in the NCAA Tournament.

“I think David made a great decision because he decided to break away from the Kansas-North Carolina confusion and start completely new with Louisville,” Williams said. “I think it was a great decision. But I did want him.”

It’s just crazy how facts get in the way of a good argument isn’t it? People will continue to talk about the class act that Roy Williams was for not trying to get recruits to follow him, but how much of a chance did he have? How many really wanted to follow him to Chapel Hill? Show me some evidence that kids wanted to go with him and he told them no. What I do know for sure is that when one of those recruits became available a year later, Williams sure was ready to pounce.

Now moving on to the case of Bob Huggins’ departure from Kansas State to West Virginia. This was a big deal because Huggins’ recruiting class featured Michael Beasley, one of the top players in the country. So what people say, is that Huggins could have taken Beasley with him to West Virginia, but chose not to. That’s just dead wrong. Beasley was only going to Kansas State because his former AAU coach and close friend Dalonte Hill was on Huggins’ staff at Kansas State. K State then paid Hill a bunch of money to keep him on Frank Martin’s staff in Manhattan as associate head coach and thus, Beasley followed through on his commitment. If you don’t think that Beasley was simply going wherever Hill was, explain to me why he was committed to Charlotte when Hill was on Bobby Lutz staff, before he took the job with Huggins at Kansas State and explain this quote from Beasley from an article by Grant Wahl of SI.com after Hill had taken the Kansas State job,

“My first question for Dalonte was, ‘What is Kansas State?'” says Beasley. “I couldn’t find Kansas on a map. I didn’t know it was a big-time school. But then my trust kicked in. Loyalty means everything to me.”

Really sounds like a player who would leave Hill behind just to follow Huggins doesn’t it? Further complicating the issue was that Kansas State AD Tim Heiser had said he would not release Beasley from his letter of intent so if he did go anywhere else he would have had to sit out a year. That’s a tough predicament for a guy known by everyone to be planning to head to the NBA after just one year of college. The bottom line is that the only way Huggins could have gotten Beasley to WVU would have been to hire Hill on his staff AND talk Heiser and K State into releasing him from his LOI. Not exactly a case of Huggins simply making the ethical decision not to recruit Beasley to come with him.

The other player brought up in the Huggins situation makes no sense at all. For whatever reason, people keep throwing Bill Walker’s name in with Beasley in this case. What they fail to realize is that Walker was already at Kansas State at the time and had played six games during the second semester before getting injured. So, he would have had to sit out if he transferred and he was also looking to get to the NBA as soon as possible so that wasn’t really an option for him.

So before anyone gets on their soapbox about how Cal is dirty and unethical, and praises other coaches for their classy behavior, maybe an examination of the facts would help.

In many, if not most, instances, kids sign to play with a coach more than a program. If that coach leaves a program for a new one, it’s not surprising to think that some of his recruits will want to follow him. I don’t think anyone would expect that coach to tell the kid he can’t come to the new school with him. Should he be out actively trying to steal kids that are still committed to his old school? No. However, if the kid opts out of his old commitment and wants to commit to the new school, the coach should not be expected to turn his back on the recruits and tell them “No, you must either go to the old school or elsewhere, but I will not take you here.” That is ridiculous! If a kid wants to play for him and has opted out of his LOI or previous commitment and is now essentially a free agent, any coach, including the one he was originally committed to, should have the right to recruit him and given the opportunity I think most coaches, not just John Calipari, would do just that.

John Calipari and the Great Player Grab

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Will Askew @ 12:30 pm

By now, it’s old news that John Calipari has left the University of Memphis to head for Kentucky, and almost as old news that Memphis has hired Josh Pastner to replace Calipari.  Before I get to the main point of my argument, let me first say that I have no problem whatsoever with John Calipari leaving Memphis for Kentucky.  Yes, he had built a machine here at Memphis, but Kentucky is Kentucky–7 National Championships and the most wins in college basketball history can be a powerful lure to a prospective coach, no matter where he is or what he has accomplished there.  I also think Josh Pastner is a good hire.  He has great pedigree as a recruiter, and is a positive and intelligent guy who will do a good job here.  It will be hard for anyone to duplicate the last four years of Calipari’s tenure here, but that doesn’t mean Pastner will be a failure.  Pastner has a great chance to carve out his own place in Tiger basketball history.

It’s the way that Calipari has handled his departure that rubs me the wrong way.  Most people believe that it’s unethical to take your recruits with you if you change jobs in the middle of the season.  Roy Williams would not take David Padgett or JR Giddens with him when he went to North Carolina from Kansas.  Bob Huggins did not take Michael Beasley or Bill Walker with him when he left Kansas State and headed to West Virginia.  Calipari, though, did.  DeMarcus Cousins has committed to Kentucky, and Xavier Henry and John Wall both list Kentucky among their finalists.  Now comes word that Darnell Dodson may request a release from his letter of intent, and that Will Coleman may possibly do the same.  No one really knows if Dodson will be recruited by Calipari if he gets his release, but Dan Wolken seems to think so.  John Calipari has said on more than one occasion that he has told the recruits to stay with their commitments to the Tigers.  Why then, has the recruiting class almost completely disintegrated?  And why is there a pretty good chance that four of them will end up in Lexington?  If Calipari had told them to go to Memphis, would they not at least still consider the Tigers?  Not only did he leave the program (which, again, I don’t have a problem with), but he may take one of the best recruiting classes ever with him (which I have a massive problem with).

My main problem with it is that it sets a bad precedent.  While there is no rule that states that a coach can’t take his recruits with him if he changes jobs, there should be.  It’s a dangerous precedent to set.  What’s to stop a coach from promising players to a school if they will hire him?  What if Calipari actually did this to get the Kentucky job?  I don’t think it’s wrong for recruits to be able to get out of their letters if a coach leaves.  Let’s be honest…in today’s college basketball landscape, recruits more often than not will play for a coach instead of a school.  That’s no secret.  I also think, though, that the recruits should not be able to follow said coach to whatever school he goes to.  It’s a slippery slope.  It would be ethical for Calipari to recognize this when coaches before him decided to take the high road, but…the high road?  Calipari?   Please.

The people who will argue this will say, “Well, what is he supposed to do, say no to a great player who wanted to play for him?”  Yes.  That’s exactly what he’s supposed to do.  It’s been done before, and it will be done again.  Calipari will get great players at Kentucky in the future, and he already has great players (Jodie Meeks, Patrick Patterson) and a good recruiting class (Daniel Orton, Jon Hood) coming in from the previous regime.  He shouldn’t accept recruits that he committed or signed while at the University of Memphis.  Period.

Another thing to watch will be how the Memphis athletic department recovers from the loss of Calipari.  While he was here, those in control kowtowed to whatever Calipari wished, whether it was ceasing their basketball relationship with Ole Miss (and consequently, ending the football series), restructuring his contract every year, or having a buyout that was only $200 thousand dollars.  When you remove such a dominant figure from the athletic department, there will naturally be a lot of fallout.  RC Johnson and the rest of the athletic staff have to sift through the rubble and decide what their new priorities are.  Football is mired in mediocrity and needs new facilities, and the rest of the sports have been neglected for the cash cow and shining star that is the basketball program.  While basketball remains the highest profile and biggest money-making sport in the department, it may be a good idea for RC Johnson to use the money he’s saving on Josh Pastner to build up the rest of the athletic program.

While I just painted a pretty bleak picture, it’s certainly not the end of the world.  The basketball facilities are second to none–the Finch Center is spectacular, and FedEx Forum is probably the nicest college basketball venue in the country.  Josh Pastner is a young guy who will be very hungry to prove that he’s worth the opportunity that Memphis gave him.  He’s a tireless recruiter, and will probably be more of a team player than the previous coach when it comes to other sports.  He will be a success.  Basketball is and will always be the best and highest profile sport at the University of Memphis, but with the departure of one of the biggest figures Memphis basketball has ever seen, it might be a pretty good idea for RC Johnson and the athletic department to strengthen the rest of their portfolio.

April 10, 2009

Thoughts on Pastner

Filed under: Uncategorized — Eli Savoie @ 2:17 pm

So all the hysteria and craziness that surrounded the University of Memphis basketball coaching position has officially died down now that Josh Pastner has been in the position for a few days. As I said when the hire was announced, it’s impossible to call this a great hire because we don’t know anything about Pastner as a head coach, but you really can’t call it a bad hire either, what I say is that it’s a hire that makes a lot of sense.

Throughout this whole process we heard a lot of names come up, some realistic, others not so much, and what I can say is that while I think some would have been better than Pastner, there were many that would have been worse than Pastner too.

The biggest criticism of the U of M during this coaching change, was their process in hiring the new coach, and I think much of the criticism is fair because this was definitely not the most well-run coaching search in history. In my opinion, the biggest mistake that R.C Johnson and the search committee made was grossly overestimating how attractive of a position they had. While they set out to make their “Wow” hire, they failed to realize the reality of what their position offered. In the end, this is still a “non-BCS” conference job and the folks at Memphis didn’t seem to realize that it is very rare for a coach to leave a BCS school for a non-BCS school. The original list of candidates simply included too many names that weren’t realistic. I said numerous times during the search that in order to “make a splash” you have to have water, and I didn’t think this program had that level of water.

What John Calipari did here, was raise the program above its conference affiliation and make it seem like a better job than what it is, but in doing so, he also raised expectations from the fans and any prospective coach can easily realize that it will not be easy to meet those expectations. Coach Cal was able to recruit the top players in the country, despite the conference, because of his ties to World Wide Wes and his ability to oversell his and the program’s ability to get players to the NBA. Not many coaches have the ability to do that, and when they are already making a couple million dollars a year somewhere else and they are winning and comfortable, they sure as hell aren’t going to take the chance of giving it up for a risky proposition like Memphis and CUSA. So Cal fooled the fans and even his own athletic department into thinking the job was a very attractive job in the college basketball landscape, but when it came down to it, the prospective hires saw through it all to what it is, a program in a mediocre conference that has played at a level far above that conference for four years, all the while creating expectations for continued success that may be impossible to meet.

Taking everything into consideration, Josh Pastner looks like a good fit for the Tigers. When you realize the field of possible coaches doesn’t include many proven head coaches, you might as well take a shot with a hot shot young coach who is a hard worker, great recruiter and has worked under great coaches while learning his craft(you’d have to learn a few things spending all those years as a player and assistant under Lute Olson wouldn’t you?). Pastner fits all of those descriptions and he was already a part of the program so the current players already know him and he was the man already selling the program to recruits. He is also a very likable guy with an engaging personality that plays well in the media which was a big part of Calipari’s success as well.

I still say that if I had been in charge of the hiring process, Andy Kennedy would be the Tigers head coach, but they elected to avoid him because of his ongoing legal proceedings in Cincinnati and if that is their choice then so be it. Not sure why an argument with a cab driver prevents you from being the coach of the team, but hitting a girl or getting in a fight at a club doesn’t prevent you from playing on the team, but that’s not my decision to make.

I do want to wish Pastner good luck and I hope the fans will be patient. Next year is going to be a rebuilding year and you shouldn’t expect the same level of success that Calipari enjoyed the last few years. Just remember that Calipari’s whole nine years were not like the last four, the first five years included NIT berths and numerous conference losses. Hopefully, Pastner’s recruiting ability will lead to more great players coming to Memphis and the Tigers continuing to dominate CUSA and advancing deep into the NCAA Tournament. If that does happen however, don’t get upset when Pastner then moves on to a bigger, better job, it’s just the nature of the business.

April 1, 2009

On the Couch!

Filed under: blog, ncaa tourney, sports 56, Uncategorized — robfischer @ 1:40 am

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I’ve made a nice groove in the couch while sitting on it the last 36 hours waiting for John Calipari to wake up!  Well, the saga is over.  Coach Calipari is heading to Lexington.  Good for him.  It’s a premier job, he is exactly what the Cats need, he’ll win, and it’s great for college basketball when Kentucky is relevant.  They are once again.

Anyway, here are some names to ponder (not in any particular order) while listening to the national pundits quote their sources on who the next coach might be:

– Mike Anderson: Find out what his buyout clause is worth (maybe as worthless as Coach Cal’s) and find out what it would take for him to bolt.  I believe he’s the best hope for keeping players and maybe one of the incoming players.  He is the man that beat the man…. TWICE!

– Andy Kennedy: Nice guy, from the South, great coach, overchieved with his talent, recruits Memphis already, and comes to a basketball school.  Since Memphis already screwed up the Ole Miss football series, might as well steal their coach to leave no doubt they’ll never play.  Plus, he’s familiar with the conference.

– Sean Miller: Might excite the smart basketball fan, but not really a splash I’m looking for.  Besides if Jamie Dixon leaves Pittsburgh, Miller would probably be first in line.

– Tim Floyd: Boring.  From the South, has had success in minor conference’s, but hasn’t succeeded in the tournament.  Has probably underchieved at USC.

– Josh Pastnor:  Obviously a good recruiter, or he wouldn’t be on Coach Calipari’s staff.  He helped recruit the incoming recruits, he’s familiar with the system, and he’s familiar with the current players.  If you go young and cheap, he might not be a bad choice.

– Steve Lavin: Too far removed, but loves the Memphis program.  I like him as a coach, but he might be too far removed for any high school kids to remember him

– John Lucas: Very familiar with Coach Calipari’s system, attended a lot of practices, good coach, but like Lavin, too far removed.

– Larry Brown: The Tigers and Grizzlies have already almost had him.  He can’t be enamored with Michael Jordan getting more involved at Charlotte, and he’s ALWAYS willing to listen.

– Reggie Theus: Flashy personality, did a great job in a short stint at New Mexico State, and failed in the NBA.  Name me a good college basketball coach who didn’t fail in the NBA!  Besides Larry Brown.

– Anyone Fred Smith wants.

This hire should be the biggest hire RC Johnson makes.  I’m a little disappointed that a deal isn’t already in place.  There isn’t much time before the national scribes and talking heads call Memphis a dead end job.  Some have already claimed that.  They need to be proactive instead of reactive.  Although, that’s not how the Tigers have operated things lately.  I believe RC’s hires have worked in football, basketball, and baseball, but the school is at a crossroads.  A bad buyout and personal feelings are keeping a football team mediocre.  A horrendous buyout and clauses in player committments could potentially destroy next basketball season.  How is Coach Calipari’s buyout $200,000?  HE’S ONE OF THE HIGHEST PAID COACHES IN HIS PROFESSION!  Did they believe they would always keep him?  The stadium fiasco has never had a good plan or thought process.  The Big East left Memphis out and they’re stuck in a garbage conference.  RC….. it’s time to make the right move QUICKLY, or you can just borrow Mitch Barnhart’s hot seat that he doesn’t need anymore.

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Come join me at Tunica National this Thursday from 3-4 for Mid South Golfer the Radio Show with Bob Wolcott and Jimmy Darr.  It’s the most comprehensive golf show in the Mid South.  Plus, at 5 is the three person scramble.  Make sure to qualify early for the year end Tournament of Champions.  Call 866-Tee-Off-1 or 662-357-0777 to register.

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There’s plenty happening this month in Tunica.  For a complete list of events and attractions in Tunica, Mississippi, click on the link below.  Get easy access to the casino’s, golf courses, and all other entertainment.

http://www.tunicamiss.com/ 

Here’s a sneak peak of what’s coming up in Tunica:

Trigger Proof » 888-245-7829 / Stage Bar @ Goldstrike

Dates: April 01 through April 04

 

Charlie Daniels » 888-245-7829 / Gold Strike

Date: April 03

 

Greg Redding and The Memphis All Stars » 800-871-0711 / Hollywood Casino

Dates: April 03 through April 04, April 10 through 11

 

Gabby Johnson » 888-245-7829 / Stage Bar @ Goldstrike

Dates: April 07 through April 17

 

Bang! Fighting Championships-MMA » 800-456-0711 / Sam’s Town

Date: April 11

 

STYX » 800-303-7463 / Horseshoe

Date: April 11

 

Creedence Clearwater Revisited » 800-456-0711 / Sam’s Town

Date: April 17

 

Earth, Wind & Fire » 901-525-1515 / Harrah’s

Date: April 23

 

Josh Turner » 800-303-7463 / Horseshoe

Date: April 25

 

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Talk to y’all this week.

 

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