Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Curmudgeon in the Wry 494

Wednesday, December 29, 2010---519 Words---Average Reading Time: 1 Minute, 23 Seconds. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)

Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.

Continuing to call them as I see them.

Virtually free of original ideas.

Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.

Often wrong…never in doubt.

Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.

A Grumpy Old Man Production.

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Rave: Tommy Edwards.

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Reading: “The Confession” by John Grisham.

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On the Hi Fi: “West Coast Jazz Box Set, Disc One” includes a couple of tremendous Chet Baker cuts and a superb Shorty Rogers track.

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Under rated: Brad Dexter.

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I miss: Ferris Fain, Charles Bronson, Sarah Vaughn, and Ed McBain.

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Free Advice: Never buy a cheap garden hose.

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Quote: “Everyone wants to be unique. Unique, like everyone else.”—Bernard Dahl.

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Truism: Just because it’s in style doesn’t mean it looks good on you.

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Rant: Electronic Christmas cards pale in comparison to those received in the mail…it’s the difference between lazy and thoughtful.

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Quote: “An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.” -- Nicholas Murray Butler

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Rave: Backgammon is the best board game ever!

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Quote: “Art is anything you can get away with.” -- Terence Trent D'Arby

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More Free Advice: When ironing a shirt, forget the part that tucks into your pants.

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Rave: The opening credits to “Anatomy of a Murder” stand the test of time and are still tremendous…most creative for 1959. Terrific cast…Eve Arden steals the show…and Orson Bean is a highlight…timeless film. Outstanding Duke Ellington soundtrack.

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Truism: It is better to leave two hours earlier or two hours later than to lose your life to traffic.

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Quote: “The fact that curiosity killed the cat is not an argument for not being curious; it is an argument for not being a cat.”—John King.

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Rave: The Happy New Year animated promo on Fox News is a beauty.

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Good Idea: Never eat at a chain restaurant while on vacation.

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Rant: The Mount Rushmore of media overkill is Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Brett Favre and Michael Vick.

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Truism: Early-round World Cup soccer matches are like Father's Day - an excuse for lots of ugly ties.

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Rave: As usual, Turner Classic Movie’s tribute to those in Hollywood who passed away in 2010 was tastefully done and moving. Truly haunting music accompanies the clips. I never tire of watching it.

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Rant: The persistence of poker on TV defies explanation.

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Truism: Regardless of the sport, all seasons are too long (I relearn this every year).

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Hmmm: The idea that comes to you as you fall asleep is always worth getting up to write down. No matter how much you remind yourself to remember it in the morning, it will not come again.

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If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.

If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.

That is all.

As you were.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Curmudgeon in the Wry 493

Thursday, December 23, 2010---556 Words---Average Reading Time: 1 Minute, 42 Seconds. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)

Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.

Continuing to call them as I see them.

Virtually free of original ideas.






Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.

Often wrong…never in doubt.

Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.

A Grumpy Old Man Production.

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Rave: David Niven.

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Reading: “The Confession” by John Grisham.

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On the Hi Fi: “Live” from Phil Woods.

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Under rated: Hugh Beaumont.

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I miss: Chet Baker, Ava Gardner and Sherm Lollar.

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Rave: Hearts is the finest card game ever invented.

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My-oh-my: To date, there are over 25 million Snuggies in circulation…a sign of the demise of civilization, as we know it.

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Truism: Just because something is not politically correct doesn't change whether it's true or not.

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Didjaknow: Neither the Bible, the Torah nor the Koran mentions Christmas trees. Yet some secular zealots try to ban Christmas trees on government property, based on the doctrine of "separation of church and state"-- a doctrine found nowhere in the Constitution.

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Hmmm: I suspect we’ll survive without Larry King on TV every night, but maybe that’s just me.

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Truism: Just because a person has a degree in education doesn't mean they can teach.

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Rave: Three products (“As Seen on Television”) that have far exceeded my expectations---the YoshiBlade Kitchen Knife, The George Foreman Grill and The Oreck Vacuum Cleaner.

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Rant: If you can name all 35 bowl games, you’ve got too much time on your hands

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Quote: “Much of the social history of the western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.”—Thomas Sowell. That’s certainly true of the Carter and obama regimes.

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Hmmm: George Soros looks like Helen Thomas.

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Truism: The longer the unemployment benefits are available, the longer people will stay unemployed.

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Rave: FX's "Justified," the Kentucky-set drama starring Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins, returns in February.

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Didjaknow: Combined Letterman and Jay Leno have less than half the nightly audience than Carson averaged in the 1970's.

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Music, Maestro: My favorite Christmas songs---“Jingle Bell Rock” (I still remember where I was when I heard it for the first time); “Let It Snow”; “Blue Christmas”; “White Christmas”; “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”; Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby"; "Do You Hear What I Hear?" If Dean Martin has a version---that’s my choice of artist.

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Didjaknow: There is a verse to "White Christmas" that most singers don't include, but as Irving Berlin wrote it, it goes like this (and puts the rest of the song into context):

"The sun is shining, the grass is green,

The orange and palm trees sway.

There's never been such a day

In Beverly Hills, L.A.

But it's December the twenty-fourth

And I am longing to be up north."

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In Passing: Not only did we lose baseball pitching great, Bob Feller, last week---but two guys with Top-Ten baseball names, Walt Dropo and Phil Cavarretta (both first basemen). Walt Dropo hit his first home run off Bob Feller.

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If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.

If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.

That is all.

As you were.



Welcome to Bracketville---Merry Christmas Edition

A long-term set of negotiations finally hit reality today as ESPN announced a four-team series to open the college basketball season each year. Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State will begin the college season each year with a doubleheader in which all four teams play. In 2011, the doubleheader will be in New York and will have Kentucky playing Kansas. In 2012, it will be in Atlanta and will have Kentucky playing Duke. And in 2013, it will be in Chicago and UK will play Michigan State.





Mike Krzyzewski has coached 198 games as #1, second only to John Wooden’s 228.

Last week the Duke men beat Bradley 83-48 and the Duke women beat Albany by the identical score. What are the odds of that happening?

Michael Beasley scored 40 or more points three times as a freshman.

San Diego State, like Old Man River, just keeps rolling along.

I still can’t believe Oakland and Illinois played seven minutes with a women’s ball.

Xavier wins ugly…but a win is a win. They shot a dreadful 32.1% and managed to top Butler. Butler failed to distinguish themselves by shooting even worse at 31.3 %. Xavier’s’ starter were worse yet, shooting 23.1%.

In a 71-63 win over New Hampshire, Army used 11 bench players…they scored a grand total of two points. Army is now 3-1 in true road games…only three teams have more true road wins.

Kansas State shooting only 54 percent from the free throw line as a team (second-to-last in all of Division I).

Raise your hand if you had UCF at 10-0 with a sweep of Florida and Miami.

In Monday night’s game versus Duke, Elon went to the free-throw line 16 times (they hit 15 for 93.8% – not bad!).

Bobby Knight, Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski are the three college coaches with the most victories. I think it’s kind of neat that the three winningest coaches in NCAA history arrived at that destination without cheating, without bogus SAT scores, without hundred-dollar-handshakes, while coaching young men who by and large are/were successful in their post-college careers.

Texas and Michigan State appear to be two teams going in opposite directions. Could the Big 12 be tougher than the Big Ten this season?

So far Wake Forest has lost to a pair of team from the Colonial League, two from the Big South, and barely survived a winless UNC-Greensboro…Wake’s easily the weakest team in the ACC.

At 6-4, Fordham has more wins this season than the past two combined when they were 5-51.

The 14-0 San Diego State Aztecs have eight victories away from their friendly confines.

I sure wouldn’t want to play Missouri come March.

In his first dozen games, UNC’s much-hyped freshman, Harrison Barnes, took five more threes than foul shots. From the free-throw line he shoots 73%---27% from three-point territory.

Kentucky can be a terrific defensive team…who knew?

Free advice to basketball analysts---talk 15% less. No one will walk away from the telecast wishing you had said more.

Maryland sophomore forward Jordan Williams is All-ACC material. So far he has a limited supporting cast. I’m betting coach Williams gets the others better before March.

At Louisville, ten players are averaging at least 11 minutes a game…against UNLV (a win), the bench outscored the starters 42 to 36.

As a general rule, I think coaches are way too inclined to slow things down with a big lead, even a medium lead---playing “not to lose.” It robs the players of the aggressiveness that built up the lead in the first place. Regardless of score and situation, no team should consider working time off the clock prior to the two-minute mark.

In Syracuse’s first 13 games, Senior Forward Rick Jackson has nine double-doubles.

Go Duke!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Curmudgeon in the Wry 492

Saturday, December 11, 2010---724 Words---Average Reading Time: 2 Minutes, 29 Seconds. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)

Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.

Continuing to call them as I see them.Virtually free of original ideas.

Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.

Often wrong…never in doubt.

Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.

A Grumpy Old Man Production.

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Rave: Dorothy Malone.

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Reading: “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler.

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On the Hi Fi: “More Than You Know” by Lena Horne.

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Under rated: Wendell Corey.

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I miss: Paul Desmond, Victor Mature, and Vinegar Bend Mizell.

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Hmmm: The best-looking man on cable TV? Rachel Maddow!

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Rant: Too many bad movies have great trailers.

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R.I.P.: “Dandy” Don Meredith’s down-home-country-cool boyish charm helped him have a nice career in the MNF booth. He coined a bunch of phrases…my favorite was, “He has hitch in his giddy-up.”

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Hmmm: Ever notice how many things exist only on obama’s teleprompter…like all those millions of shovel ready jobs?

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Rant: Something is seriously off the beam when the media devotes far, far more coverage to the anniversary of John Lennon’s demise than to Pearl Harbor. Enough said!

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Truism: Tomorrow is always the busiest day of the week.

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Rant: When watching sporting events for a period of time, the repetition of the same ad for the same company, goes from an occasion of mild distraction to becoming a downright annoyance. Currently, this is especially true of the PR campaign for the remake of “True Grit.”

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Pop Quiz: Edmond Dant├Ęs is better known as?

a. Captain Nemo

b. Count of Monte Cristo

c. The Marquis de Sade

d. Count Dracula

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Hmmm: Say what you may, but Rex Ryan livens up the NFL. However, Ryan is better at winning the news conference than big games.

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Rave: You know it is going to be a good day when you get a grocery cart with all four wheels going in the same direction.

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Truism: Rich teams get better…poor teams get prospects.

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Quote: “When you win, say little. When you lose, say less.” Tom Brady, New England Patriots’ quarterback.

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Didjaknow: Latte is Italian for $5.00.

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Hmmm: Kurt Vonnegut once said your whole life was like junior high…and that was before Facebook.

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Truism: Chocolate chip cookies are milk’s better half.

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Hmmm: Do you think the Patriots miss Randy Moss? In their past three games the Pats have averaged more than 38 points.

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R.I.P.: After 70 years, the current writer and illustrator of Brenda Starr will be inking their final strip. Brenda Starr, a reporter-turned-editor known for her globetrotting adventures and steamy romances, will be reporting her last on January 2.

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Truism: You just knew Cher was going to attempt yet another comeback, right?

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Rave: In past decade, the following have become commonplace: HDTV, Blu-ray, GPS, Wi-Fi, Gmail, YouTube, ipod, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Xbox, Wii, Facebook, Twitter, Android, online music stores, streaming movies. The list is endless. American exceptionalism!

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Didjaknow: Cloris Leachman has won more prime time Emmys than any other actress.

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Rave: Nancy Lieberman is the first woman to coach a men’s professional basketball team---the Texas Legends of the NBA’s D-League.

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Quote: “The vagaries of fashion have not dislodged the dinner jacket from its perch. Unless you’re Scottish and own a kilt, the traditional dinner jacket — sounds better than “tux,” doesn’t it? — remains the only acceptable clothing.

As for the color of your ensemble, stick to black. Navy is acceptable; white is for waiters and Humphrey Bogart.”-- Alexandra Cheney from The Wall Street Journal.

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Rave: New Yorker cartoons.

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Hmmm: Remember when TV was supposed to kill radio; the DVD was going to kill the Cineplex; Instant coffee was going to replace fresh-brewed?

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Truism: Pursuing prophecy is a recipe for forfeiting the present.

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Hmmm: Remember when watching sports there was no scroll at the bottom of the screen and little or no stats?

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Didjaknow: Clint Eastwood is an anagram of Old West Action?

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Rave: I am more convinced than I ever was of the necessity of American exceptionalism, and more concerned than ever about its possible loss.

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If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.

If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.

That is all.

As you were

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, Pearl Harbor Edition

At the beginning of the NBA season, a bar outside of Miami promised to pay its customers’ bar tabs every time the Heat lost. Thus far, the owners have refunded $30,000.

Florida State’s first five victories have come against teams ranked #250, #311, #284, #237 and #262.

Clarke Kellogg of CBS is absolutely terrible.

Gonzaga shoots 50% from the floor and is outrebounding opponents by nearly eight per game and gets to the free-throw line more than 22 a game. They can score.

Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe had a truly unusual line in his game last Friday against Cornell. He had a double-double (12 points and 16 rebounds)…he was oh for four from the floor and 12 of 20 from the foul line…neither are really great percentages…but a double-double is a double-double.

Illinois could be 12-1 at the start of Big 10 Conference play.

Virginia should be favored in their next seven games and enter conference play at 12-3…they open ACC play with North Carolina (at home) and they could win that one. Tony Bennett can coach, is a master tactician and the entire team has bought into his system.

In the recent NCAA Final Four games, depth takes a backseat. Last season Duke’s starters played at least 31 minutes and the bench scored zero points. In 2003, Syracuse played just six players and Kansas played six as well…period. And, don’t forget, Florida won two championships playing basically five guys.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, ACC/Big Ten Challenge Edition

The 31 points Duke’s Kyrie Irving scored last night against Michigan State were the second most ever put up by a Duke freshman. J.J. Redick had the most.

Kyrie is as good as advertised…maybe better. He gets the ball on the break and goes end to end as fast as any player in the game.

Michigan State turns the ball over way too much. They average 17 a game (that’s almost ¼ of their possessions).

No team did more in November to exceed expectations than UConn.

Among November’s biggest disappointments: Butler, UNC, and Gonzaga.

UConn’s Kemba Walker is the only Power-6 Conference player in the past 15 years to enter December averaging 30-plus points per game.

According to kenpom.com, the 5th most efficient offense in the country is Arizona.

Purdue plays such a stifling defense; it can overcome their inability to score without Robbie Hummel.

Where are the quality nonconference wins for Virginia Tech? They have failed every test thus far this season…Kansas State, Purdue and UNLV.

Penn State scored 19 points in the second half against Maryland last night.

The drubbing Wisconsin handed North Carolina State (87-48) was the third-worst in the history of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Kentucky’s Terrence Jones looks like a top-five NBA pick.

Richmond’s domineering match-up zone worked like a charm against Purdue over the weekend…but was solved by Old Dominion last night (ODU 77-Richmond 70).

Raise your hand if you predicted Virginia hitting 10 of 13 from three and beating Minnesota---at Minnesota!

Boston College is the only school undefeated in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge series. They are leading the ACC in free-throw percentage (77%); first in the ACC in scoring defense, allowing just 59 points per game.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Notre Dame starts five seniors.

Illinois has nine guys logging solid minutes on the floor, and five players scoring in double-digits.

Temple returns four of their top five scorers…and they have a really good coach.

Now that he playing shooting guard, Villanova’s Corey Fisher has 16 assists and just two turnovers, a vast improvement from last season’s 1.9 ratio.

San Diego State rotates four guys over 6’7” down low, so they can battle with anyone. Underestimate them at your peril.

Mississippi Valley State plays their first home game on January 8th. That makes for a 13 game road trip to start the season. In one eleven-day stretch they line up against Butler, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Kentucky and Marquette. Quite an ambitious schedule.

“Basketball fights last two punches, make sure you throw both of them.”—John Thompson II.

The Pittsburgh women’s team has five seniors in the starting line-up and an all Freshman bench.

UConn was picked to finish tenth in the Big East…not an unreasonable call at the time.

Pitt plays hard, they play together, they play for each other…what’s not to like?

The Mountain West deserves more attention.

16 of Marquette’s games last season were decided by four or fewer points…they went 8-8 in those games.

Grant Hill is second only to Jason Kidd as the NBA player with the most career triple-doubles.

The decision to sit a basketball player with two fouls in the first half was started in the mid-‘80s by Georgetown’s John Thompson with Patrick Ewing.

If Villanova keeps up the kind of foul trouble they displayed against Tennessee during Big East play they will have a difficult time challenging Pitt, UConn and Georgetown for the title.

Thus far, no team boasts two better wins than UConn’s victories over Kentucky and Michigan State.

After the way they won the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, you have to take Minnesota seriously in the Big Ten race. They’ve got a nice trio of big men in the paint.

Did any team have a worse tournament than Oklahoma? Losing to Virginia and Chaminade as well as Kentucky.

Pay attention to Pitt’s Ashton Gibbs.

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge is this week. I don’t see the ACC winning more than four games.

Looks like Tennessee has gotten serious about defense.

Even in limited action after his injury, it’s easy to see why Georgia’s Trey Thompkins gets all the raves. He makes it look effortless.

Through five games, Kansas State is shooting 50.8% from the foul line…345th out of 346.



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, November Tournaments Edition 1.0

What I saw and learned from some of the November Tournaments.




Kansas City’s Sprint Center court had more decals than a Sprint Cup car.

Oddly enough, during both Duke games the Duke Radio Broadcast was in perfect sync with the TV, so I got the full home treatment as well as a more detailed play-by-play.

Even so, it took a while to adjust to both Duke and Kansas State having an Irving and a Kelly on the floor.

Is there anywhere where No. 1 Duke can play where fans will remain neutral?

Duke’s Kyrie Irving might be the most gifted player in Division I this season. In his opening five games he has 33 assists and just 11 turnovers; made 48% of his field goal attempts (42% on three-point shooting); 91% of his foul shots. And, he plays tenacious defense.

Nice to see Duke dusting off the high ball screens, not seen to this extent since Gerald Henderson’s 2008-2009 season.

Duke’s ability to switch off K-State’s ball screens was a work of art…something you would expect from a far more veteran team.

Calling the first four fouls on Kansas State as well as a pair of three-second calls helped take the predominately Kansas State crowd out of it.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke teams are 107-10 in November…20-11 record in games in which both teams were ranked in the top five…171-24 in games when Duke was ranked number one.

Duke transfer, Seth Curry’s initial shot against a ranked team resulted in a four-point play.

Cruising the other tournaments, I am most impressed with Kentucky’s Brandon Knight and Terance Jones; UConn’s Kemba Walker; Michigan State’s Draymond Green and Washington’s Justin Holiday.

I just hope Michigan State plays like they did against Chaminade and UConn in the Maui Invitational when they come Cameron Indoor next Wednesday for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Curmudgeon in the Wry 491

Tuesday, November 23, 2010---555 Words---Average Reading Time: 1 Minute, 41 Seconds. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)

Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.

Continuing to call them as I see them.

Virtually free of original ideas.

Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.

Often wrong…never in doubt.

Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.

A Grumpy Old Man Production.

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Rave: Sterling Hayden.

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Reading: “Hell’s Corner” by David Baldacci.

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On the Hi Fi: “The Music of Peter Gunn” by Henry Mancini.

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Under rated: Barton MacLane.

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Truism: Few people who play the lottery are noted for their math skills.

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Rave: The 90-120 voice Duke Chapel choir is absolutely wonderful.

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I miss: Duke Ellington, Virginia Mayo, Jackie Jensen.

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Rave: I admire those who can whistle, do origami or calligraphy.

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Truism: Since the TSA started confiscating little old ladies’ knitting needles; there has been no decrease in the number of high jacking attempts by little old ladies.

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Hmm: Raise your hand if you are allowed to keep the health care plan you liked.

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Didjaknow: February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

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Hmmm: The average person’s left hand does 56% of the typing.

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Rave: Roger Ailes’ opinion on obama---"He just has a different belief system than most Americans.” I agree.

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Quote: “It’s not what we don’t know that causes us trouble. It’s what we know that isn’t so.” Attributed to many.

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Rant: His ESPN radio interview and Newsweek article are attempts by Tiger Woods to get ahead of the inevitable anniversary stories of the Thanksgiving Day car crash that changed his life, and should not be mistaken for anything other than a calculated public-relations offensive.

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Hmmm: Christmas music on the radio before Thanksgiving is almost an obscenity.

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Rant: Turn signals are standard equipment and are there for a reason, use them.

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Rave: The return of “Burn Notice” and “Psych” on the USA Network. The closing music Psych’s first episode was “Such a Night” by Elvis---that’s all right with me.

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Maybe it’s just me: Merchants who have "Christmas" commercials and don't say "Christmas" won't get any of my business.

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Didjaknow: Charlie Rangel was convicted of eleven ethics violation, the most ever found against any member of congress.

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Quote: “The probability of winning the lottery is the same whether you buy a ticket or not.” Fran Lebowitz.

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Hmmm: Why is traffic in the afternoon slower since the time change? Could it be because it's harder to text and drive in the dark?

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Duh!: If you have to buy something to get something else for "free" - the something else is not "free." Something else for the math impaired to cogitate on.

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Quote: “It’s been lots of fun watching the liberals fulminating about the ignorance, not to mention bigotry, of the American voter. Isn’t it amazing how dumb and racist those voters become since 2008.”—Burt Prelutsky.

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If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.

If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.

That is all.

As you were.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, PreConference Tournement Edition 1.0

Is there a college other than Princeton that has an offense named after it?

Princeton’s senior guard Dan Mavraides averaged 26 ppg last season…shooting an amazing 60% from three-point range.

Last season only one team was able to score more than 70 points against Princeton…California.

Last season Texas was the third worst Division I team in free throw shooting (63.3%). These woes continue so far this season.

So far this season, UNC is 46-80 from the line.

So far Duke freshman point guard, Kyrie Irving, has 20 assists and only three turnovers. However, next week Duke starts playing the adults: Marquette, probably Kansas State [in KC], Michigan State, @ Oregon and Butler in a twelve-day period.

The best college basketball game of the week was the UConn women barely hanging on against Baylor to preserve their 80-game winning streak.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl was suspended by the SEC for improprieties? I wasn’t sure the SEC even knew what improprieties were, never mind penalizing a coach for them.

Many of the early season tournaments have had some exciting games. Pitt looks strong…able to find a way to win.

Maryland is another Gary Williams over-achieving team So far, just barely losing. They’ll be a factor once the ACC season starts.

Texas starting off strong…can they keep it up or will they lose focus like last season?

North Carolina’s C.J. Leslie appears to be as good as advertised.

Did anyone really think any visiting team would defeat Louisville on opening night at the Yum Center? Butler’s going be just fine.

A bunch of good games on TV Sunday. Stay tuned.