Sunday, November 25, 2001

I really don’t care how low Shaquille O’Neal et al. wear their basketball shorts as long as they cover the boxers underneath.

At a certain point, though, shorts become slacks, don’t they?

Headline of the season in the NBA:
“Jordan nets [insert point total], Wizards lose [insert final score].”

Fortunately for just-released J.R. Rider, he has that course he took at UNLV “Prevention and Management of Premenstrual Syndrome” to fall back on.

Something I never thought I’d see: The Harlem Globetrotters laying a 92-46 whupping on Division III Catholic University. Meadowlark Lemon wouldn’t have approved.

After Ball State knocked off Kansas and UCLA in Maui, I thought to myself: Maybe David Letterman can get his alma mater to name its basketball arena after him. (He hasn’t had any luck with the football stadium.)

I’m disappointed. ESPN’s upcoming movie about Bobby Knight, “A Season on the Brink” (based on John Feinstein’s classic book), warrants only a “parental discretion advised” warning? I was hoping for an NC-17 rating.

If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer this holiday season, I highly recommend “Cole Classics,” an homage to Maryland hoops and soon-to-be-closed Cole Field House written by Dave Elfin of The Washington Times and John McNamara of the Annapolis Capital ($9.95, 21st Century Online Publishing). It has loads of good stuff in it including a picture of Gary Williams, circa 1966, wearing basketball shorts even shorter than John Stockton’s. (Speaking of basketball shorts.)

Both times the Eagles faced the Redskins last year, Brian Mitchell threw a halfback pass. That means he’ll probably run the Statue of Liberty against his old team today. Or maybe he’ll try the hidden ball trick.

News item: Tony Banks plans to play in Philly after suffering concussion against Broncos.
Comment: It’s amazing how quickly injuries heal when your club is winning and when your backup is breathing down your neck.

The death of Billy Vessels last week reminded me that his name came up in one of my all-time favorite flicks, “Diner.” Remember the scene when the Steve Guttenberg character, Eddie Simmons, makes his fiance pass a pro football quiz before he’ll marry her? Well, one of questions goes like this:
Eddie: The Colts signed a Heisman Trophy winner who decided to play in Canada. Now, however, he plays for the team. What’s his name?
Fiance: L.G. Dupre.
Eddie: No. Billy Vessels.
Fiance: I should have known that.
Eddie: Should-haves don’t count.
(Director/writer Barry Levinson fudged a little on the answer, though. “Diner,” you see, is set in 1959, but the only season Vessels played for the Colts was ‘56. Still, his memory will live on in celluloid for many more years, to be sure.)

Great Snyders in Sports History (the third in a series of … who knows?):
Dick Snyder, NBA, 1966-79: A 6-5 guard out of Davidson (where he was coached by Lefty Driesell), Dick was deadly from the outside in the days before the 3-point line. He shot 48.8 percent from the floor and 82.4 from the foul line in a 13-year career with the Hawks, Suns, SuperSonics and Cavaliers. In his last season in the league, he was a member of the Sonics’ championship club.

Nebraska’s 62-36 walloping by Colorado was greatly enjoyed, no doubt, by teams the Cornhuskers have run up 66 (Northwestern, ‘00), 69 (Oklahoma, ‘97), 77 (Iowa State, ‘97), 65 (Colorado State, ‘96), 63 (Kansas, ‘96), 73 (Oklahoma, ‘96), 77 (Arizona State, ‘95), 73 (Iowa State ‘95) and 62 (Florida ‘95) on in recent years.

Let’s hope this quiets the Eric Crouch/Heisman Trophy talk. Crouch is a fine option quarterback, but his limitations become obvious when the ‘Huskers are behind and need to throw as was the case against the Buffaloes. (After he got picked off for the second time in the fourth quarter, Nebraska actually went back to running the ball.)

All hail Maryland athletics. Reaching the Final Four in men’s basketball and receiving a major bowl bid in the same year is a rare feat. In fact, it has been accomplished only 11 times in the last 25 years by just eight schools. (Michigan has had three such “doubles,” Florida two.) The company the Terps keep:
Florida, 2000 Lost to Michigan State in NCAA final, lost to Miami in Sugar Bowl.
Florida, 1994 Lost to Duke in NCAA semifinals, lost to Florida State in Sugar Bowl.
Michigan, 1992 Lost to Duke in NCAA final, beat Washington in Rose Bowl.
Michigan, 1989 Beat Seton Hall for NCAA title, lost to Southern Cal in Rose Bowl.
Syracuse, 1987 Lost to Indiana in NCAA final, tied Auburn in Sugar Bowl.
LSU, 1986 Lost to Louisville in NCAA semis, lost to Nebraska in Sugar Bowl.
Houston, 1984 Lost to Georgetown in NCAA final, lost to Boston College in Cotton Bowl.
Georgia, 1983 Lost to N.C. State in NCAA semis, beat Texas in Cotton Bowl.
Notre Dame, 1978 Lost to Duke in NCAA semis, beat Houston in Cotton Bowl.
Michigan, 1976 Lost to Indiana in NCAA final, lost to Southern Cal in Rose Bowl.

Interesting, isn’t it, that only one of the schools won the NCAA basketball title, and only three won their bowl game?
(Note: Georgia Tech made the Final Four in 1990 and shared the national championship in football the same year. However, the Yellow Jackets were shunted off to the Citrus Bowl, where they played No. 19 Nebraska and emerged victorious 45-21.)

Somebody pointed out last week that Ichiro Suzuki (5-9, 160) is the smallest MVP since Joe Morgan (5-7, 150) in ‘76. I must admit, I’d forgotten what a midget Morgan was until I saw his glove on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame this past summer. It was about the size of my 8-year-old’s mitt (but must have been great for turning the double play).

And finally … just last season, Angels center fielder Darin Erstad put up stats remarkably similar to Ichiro’s (.355, 240 hits, 70 extra-base hits, 121 runs, 100 RBI and 28 stolen bases to Ichiro’s .350, 242 hits, 50 extra-base hits, 127 runs, 69 RBI and 56 stolen bases.) Erstad even won a Gold Glove like Ichiro. And where did he finish in the MVP balloting? Eighth without so much as one first-place vote.
It’s all about timing, folks.
It also helps if your team racked up 116 victories.

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