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Archive for January 2007

Problems in the ACC: The Trouble Behind the Duke-Clemson Game; A White, “Black Face” Party to Remember

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Black face for Dr. King’s birthday.A white, “black face” celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday at Clemson.

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ACC country is not a nice place to be – if you’re the head coach of the men’s basketball team, or a black student, that is. The most recent incidents of favoritism – at least – and racism – most certainly – in the Antiquated Colored Conference took place against and at Clemson University. By now, most NCAA hoops followers know of the “timing error” that took place at Cameron Indoor Stadium last week. Duke beat Clemson 68-66 on a last second layup by David McClure as time expired. Unfortunately, the timekeeper at Duke failed to start the clock when Duke’s Jon Scheyer touched Josh McRoberts’ inbound pass. Rather than review McClure’s basket to ensure that it had indeed beat the clock and in doing so spot the error, the referees involved in the game sprinted for the tunnel as Blue Devil fans made their way to the court in celebration.

Oliver Purnell, Clemson’s head coach was more diplomatic in his response to the on-going referee and clock issues at Duke than most coaches in the country – anybody remember Oklahoma football head coach Bob Stoops’ response to a similar clock problem at Oregon this past season that may have cost the Sooners a shot at the national championship – would have been:

“I spoke with John Clougherty of the ACC this morning and we discussed what took place at the end of the Duke game last night,” Purnell said during a Friday news conference. “He acknowledged that there was a timing error and the matter will be handled internally. I am satisfied with their review in this matter.

“I think mistakes were made,” he told The (Columbia, S.C.) State. “[But] I told our players after the game to forget about it. Forget the clock situation because we’ve got to play better to get it done.”

Purnell, though, apparently was either never appraised of, or forgot to mention the incident in its entirety. Here’s how the whole thing went down:

Duke’s McRoberts, throwing the ball inbounds, made a stunning, errant pass to Hamilton. The Tigers’ sharpshooter caught the ball and shot, but the clock didn’t begin until the ball was only a few feet above the rim.

After Hamilton‘s shot sailed through the nets, the clock continued to run to 1.8 seconds. In the last minute of each game, the clock should stop when the ball goes through the net. But it wasn’t stopped on Hamilton‘s game-tying basket.

Officials studied the television monitor and determined 4.4 seconds were left when the ball went through the basket. But they were unaware the clock had not started when Hamilton touched the ball, so how much time elapsed during that catch, set, and shoot sequence wasn’t calculated.

The Blue Devils then won in dramatic fashion, inbounding the ball from the backcourt with 4.4 seconds showing and scoring as time expired when David McClure sank a close-range shot.

A referee, who wears a Precision Time device on his belt, is supposed to start and stop the clock. The game was officiated by Mike Kitts, John Cahill and Tom Lopes. The timer at Thursday’s game — whose name Duke would not reveal — also is required to do the same. The [Raleigh] News & Observer confirmed the timer was Tommy Hunt, the ACC supervisor of football officials who has often served as timer at Duke games.

Hunt, who lives in Durham, could not be reached for comment.

Had they known of the tardy clock start, officials could have deducted seconds by reviewing Hamilton‘s shot.

ESPN calculated 2.6 seconds expired on Hamilton’s shot, which would have left Duke 2.4 seconds instead of 4.4, analyst Jay Bilas wrote on ESPN.com. Bilas is a former Duke player and assistant coach.

Reached by The N&O, Duke assistant athletics director Jon Jackson declined to comment.

Remember last season’s mysterious double technical foul costing Florida State a victory over Duke? Remember Duke shooting an amazing 37 free throws to Boston College’s 13 in an 83-81 win last season?

What’s the common denominator between Clemson’s Oliver Purnell, Leonard Hamilton (FSU’s coach in 2005-06), and Boston College’s Al Skinner?

They all happen to be black.

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Unfortunately the troubles at Clemson didn’t end with the horrific ending to the Duke basketball game – or should I say, begin at Duke.

A week previous to the Duke game a party was held on the Clemson campus the day before Martin Luther King’s birthday. The party’s theme was, “Living the Dream,” a fitting name for a celebration commemorating Dr. King’s birthday. But two days ago, the party’s true colors came to light. According to a report posted on the WYFF News 4 (Greenville, S.C.) website:

A party held by some Clemson University students two weeks ago is causing controversy after pictures taken at the event ended up on the Internet….

Pictures of the party were posted on facebook.com, showing at least one person in black-face paint, with others dressed in knitted caps and jerseys and some girls with stuffing padding their pants to make their behinds look larger. There’s an image of party-goers holding 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor.

University administrators said the behavior at the party is unacceptable and they met with hundreds of angry students on Monday night to discuss the situation.

Officials also said that they plan to meet with those who attended the party and eventually bring the two groups together. Students who planned the party and who were willing to talk to WYFF News 4 did not want their identities revealed because of fear of harassment. One student said, “We have a lot of theme parties where you dress up and have fun. We decided we’d have a “gangsta” party for fun. You know, the gangsta’s like the hip hop culture. So we dressed up. We did not know it would offend so many people…and we did. We feel so bad about it. We realize we can’t begin to apologize to all the people we offended.”

The decided to have a gangsta party for fun on or near Dr. King’s birthday, call it “Living the Dream” and you didn’t know it would offend people (click here for party images from WYFF News 4)?

Sure you didn’t. But that’s life in the Antiquated Colored Conference.

(Addendum: Two similar inflammatory MLK birthday parties took place that were caught by cameras, one “Up South” at UConn and another at Tarleton University in the great racist state of Texas.)

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Kobe’s Suspension: Time for Stern to Look in the Mirror

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The time has come for the NBA League offices to take a step back and enter into a period of self-examination.

Kobe Bryant’s one-game suspension for unintentionally – at least that’s what all parties involved stated publicly – landing an arm-elbow across the bridge of the San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili’s nose clearly illustrates the need for David Stern and his office employees to look inward.

Why was Bryant suspended? Stu Jackson, NBA vice president of basketball operations and resident disciplinarian, told Greg Anthony of ESPN that Bryant’s move was an “Unnatural, non-basketball move that was intentional.” Since there is no rule penalizing Bryant’s action Jackson had to ascertain that Bryant, with .02 left in a crucial game, would chance receiving what would be a flagrant foul and allowing the Spurs to win the game at the free throw line. Additionally, because of Ginobili’s injury, the Spurs could choose their shooter to enter the game to make one of two free throws to win the game.

Though Johnny Ludden of the San Antonio Express-News wrote that, “Ginobili and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich both said they thought Bryant didn’t intend to hit Ginobili. No foul was called on the play,” ESPN’s Greg Anthony, in his conversation with Jackson reported vastly different news concerning how the incident came to the attention of the NBA League office’s attention:

“This wouldn’t even get on the League’s radar if the team in question, the Spurs, didn’t notify the NBA League offices about the incident.”

So, apparently the Gregg Popovich lied to the press, not an unusual move for coaches or players, except in a case that concerns arguably the best all-around player in the Association. Since this case concerns Bryant Popovich’s move is both unusual and stupid. However, Jackson failed to fully review the case. He failed to take into account the veracity of the Spurs public versus private statements and failed to query players and the referees directly involved with the game. This resulted in levying a suspension in an all-time record speed of less than 24 hours.

The crux of the case, though, lies in Jackson’s statement to the Associated Press:

“Some of the determining factors were the fact that there was contact made with Ginobili above the shoulders and the fact that this particular action by Kobe was an unnatural basketball motion. Following a shot, he drove a stiff arm in a backward motion and struck Ginobili in the head. “We did not view this as an inadvertent action.”

So in addition to Jackson’s other failures in properly reviewing this case, he failed to take into account the game circumstance I previously mentioned.

But even more important, is Jackson’s fast-and-loose interpretation of Bryant’s actions and how it can be construed in other cases. I’ll pose these cases as questions:

If a player fakes a charge, flops, falls backward, and “drives a stiff arm in a backward motion” striking an opponent behind him in the face, will he get a one-game suspension?

Or how about the same circumstance where said flopper falls and drives his stiff arm into the knee of an opponent and blows out the opponent’s knee? Does this player receive a remainder of the season suspension?

And since you had time to review the video, why didn’t Ginobili receive a fine for flagrantly following through after his block in an unnatural basketball motion and hitting Bryant in the head? Did you ever stop to think that that was the reason Bryant flailed his arms to draw the referee’s attention in the first place?

And of course the whispers of impropriety begin. They sound like this: Kobe received the suspension because David Stern wants the Knicks to make the playoffs. If you don’t want to hear this kind of stuff, in this case nonsensical as it may sound, then stop it. If you don’t want to hear that your actions appear to be a purposeful effort to decimate the integrity of the game and render it an NHL-class citizen, then stop.

Stop the overreaction to imaginary problems – or real problems, for that matter. Regain your sense of self (if you truly had one in the first place) and present an assured, measured, and reasonable image to the NBA and sporting world.

Start, David Stern, by looking in the mirror – because the League is a reflection of you.

Written by dwil

January 30, 2007 at 9:20 pm

O.J. Mayo Update: Michael Wilbon of PTI Freaks Out On Mayo

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First, an update: O.J. Mayo and the five reserves involved in the fracas at Capital High received a court injunction and will be able to play tonight.Update 2: Click here for Lazo’s statement (thanks J Funk).

Michael Wilbon, on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption (PTI) called O.J. Mayo a “punk” and the people around him “sycophants” and stated that “they should be ashamed of themselves.” Additionally Wilbon said the adults who defended and allowed Mayo to play – the judge, that is – want to be on the Mayo “gray train.”

I guess Wilbon, who’s sitting on his bully pulpit in sunny-sultry South Beach feels that there must be some sort of payola coming to all those involved in coming to Mayo’s defense for indefensible actions by a referee crew led by Mike Lazo.

Perhaps Mike should attend a party or two less (he’s known for making the rounds during Super Bowl week) on the strip and actually briefly research the topics to be covered on his program. It’s not like there isn’t plenty of mainstream press coverage of the Mayo incident for him to Google, plus there’s the video of the incident to be viewed on You Tube or local West Virginia newspaper’s websites – and right now he just made himself look like an ignorant, uniformed gas bag like much of the so-called talent on ESPN; kind of like Jay Mariotti or Skip Bayless.

Previous O.J. Mayo posts:

O.J. Mayo, Five Reserves Ejected from High School Game by Rabid Ref

O.J. Mayo: I’d like a “Ref Dive” on Rye – With Extra Mayo and a Large O.J.

Written by dwil

January 30, 2007 at 5:58 pm

O.J. Mayo: I’d Like a “Ref Dive” on Rye – With Extra Mayo and a Large O.J.

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Update: Mayo and the five reserves involved in the fracas at Capital High received a court injunction and will be able to play tonight.

This O.J. Mayo double tech for nothing, ref named Mike Lazo taking a dive and his boys banding together to eject five reserve players that was all caught on tape incident is taking on a life of its own. As I reported yesterday, Mayo, who plays for #2-ranked (nationally) Huntington High School in Huntington, West Virginia, dunked on a player from Capital High School in Charleston, W. Va. and was teed up for “taunting” by referee Mike Lazo. Mayo walked up the floor while a perky little guy from Capital was whispering something other than niceties in Mayo’s ear. Mayo turned to confront the Capital player then proceeded to turn again – and got hit with a second technical. O.J. turned to talk with Lazo, following him three or four steps, when Lazo flew like Vlade would at the thought of Shaq setting up in the post. Lazo hit the ground and appeared to be holding his crotch.

Because Mayo was ejected from the game West Virginia state rules require Mayo to sit out two games no matter where they are played. Tonight, Huntington High is scheduled to take on #11 nationally-ranked Artesia High School of Lakewood, Calif., in the Hoophall Classic in Durham, N.C.

Now there’s new news and for Lazo and his crew, it’s not pretty. In a Huntington Herald-Dispatch article by Crystal Quarles spectators gave their impression of the game and the Lazo flop:

As Huntington High awaited a final ruling on a likely two-game suspension for basketball star O.J. Mayo, Tri-State fans were grumbling about the officiating that led to his ejection from Friday night’s game against Capital High.

“I could not believe what I was seeing out of a licensed referee,” said Brian Lodwick of South Point, Ohio. “As a neutral bystander, this was the most biased referee I have ever seen.

“It was so obvious that all the refs purposely tried to hold down the momentum of Huntington‘s pace to keep the score as close as possible,” Lodwick said.

Mayo, regarded as one of the top three high school players in the country (he committed to Southern California), attracts a wide audience to his games and this one was no different. With that audience, though, comes unbiased observers:

Teddy F. Lambert II said he bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale and drove two hours to see what he called “an embarrassment of a basketball game.”

“Top players in the nation (were) playing with their hands handcuffed behind their back,” said Lambert, a baseball coach at Tolsia High School. “I was just hoping to see a fair game, and the ball was taken out of the players’ hands.”

Shane Nicely has been to every Huntington High home basketball game with the exception of one, and said Mayo has been a class act at every one. Mayo never starts any confrontation or jawing on the floor,” Nicely said. “He is a kid defending himself in a basketball game, and who can blame him? I think he is a kid with great potential just trying to have fun and play a game that he has spent hours perfecting his skills.”

The aforementioned statements imply that something was wrong with the game, but the following quote is a direct indictment on Razorbill Bands, a Charleston attorney, said Huntington High’s success is a once in a lifetime event, and he hopes Friday’s game does not harm their season.

“I think O.J. Mayo should have controlled himself better. But this ref took a dive,” Bands said. “He wasn’t pushed. It wasn’t that necessary. It was definitely the worst officiated game I’ve seen on any level.” (Bold mine)

Enough for the local papers. This story is so large that the New York Times trotted out Pete Thamel to – make some phone calls. Here’s some of what Thamel turned up:

After being whistled for the technical, he walked to midcourt, where players from both teams had gathered and were jawing. Mayo then walked away, tucking in his shirt and looking at the sky.

The second technical was called after Mayo walked back toward the players gathered at halfcourt. On the video, he did not appear to say or do anything.

But when the official Mike Lazo walked over to the scorer’s table to report the technical, Mayo followed him. Mayo appeared to make subtle contact with Lazo, his shoulder brushing up against Lazo’s back. Lazo then dropped suddenly to the ground. On the video, it appears that little contact was made and that Lazo’s fall was exaggerated.

Of course, the West Virginia high school athletic commission didn’t return Thamel’s calls and predictably Lazo couldn’t be reached for comment.

Of all the reports and comments on the Mayo ejection, perhaps this statement is the one that brings us closest to the heart of the matter:

“It’s hard for a Huntington team to play in Charleston anyway,” said Jeremy Coles. “I figured something was going to happen. But I didn’t think it was going to be this bad, though.”

Written by dwil

January 30, 2007 at 11:14 am

Posted in Blogroll, O.J. Mayo, Sports

O.J. Mayo, Five Reserves Ejected from High School Game by Rabid Ref

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O.J. Mayo being escorted from the court.

(Click here for the video of the incident – thanks J Funk)

In an apparent “I hate O.J. Mayo and other famous young athletes” high school referee spree, some nameless ref (Mike Lazo, actually) went after Mayo for what I don’t know.

Was it because he flexed after a dunk?

According to the Huntington (W.Va.) Herald-Dispatch, it was the infamous “taunting” rule, as in you must dunk politely, stop, shake the hand of the fool you just posterized and thank him for valiantly attempting to defend you with his Yellow Pages vertical while you just skied 40 or so inches above the floor and had your ummmm, privates, hanging out somewhere near his mouth that was agape in awe at your otherworldly ability or else you’ll get teed up:

Mayo received the first technical foul for taunting Capital player Tyrone Goard after a breakaway dunk that gave Huntington a 61-43 lead with 5:15 left in the game. Mayo did not react to the call and walked to the opposite end of the court but was followed by Capital players. A verbal confrontation escalated between Mayo and Capital players before Lazo assessed the second technical foul to Mayo but none to a Capital player.

Allegedly Mayo approached Lazo and bumped him. There was a video of the incident over at True Hoop but it no longer functions. I checked around the internets but while the tubes were full of Mayo videos, the incident with Lazo was apparently removed from view.

However, from other reports, Mayo never touched Lazo. The fearful ref must have tripped over his own feet in an attempt to extricate himself from close proximity to a young, 6’5″ black man.

In a new development, the parents of the five Huntington High reserves ejected from the game along with Mayo have filed a complaint about the incident:

The parents of five Huntington High reserve basketball players who were ejected from Friday night’s game against Capital for leaving the bench amid a flurry of technical fouls filed a complaint Monday in Cabell Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, senior guard O.J. Mayo met with his attorney Monday to weigh his legal options. No decisions were made, though the star player could file a complaint as early as Tuesday morning, said Mike Woelfel, Mayo’s attorney and assistant coach for the Highlanders.

Update: The video clearly shows that Mayo said not a word to a Capital player, particularly not the one who was talking to Mayo as he walked up the floor. It is equally clear that Lazo took a dive. It will be interesting to hear what Lazo has to say about the fall. 

Written by dwil

January 29, 2007 at 6:36 pm

Posted in O.J. Mayo, Sports

King Roger, King Roger

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Long live the king.Roger Federer and Fernando Gonzalez felt the moment, an Australian Open final, and the first set was tight; both the score, and the players. But as that first set wore on Gonzalez found his forehand that produced innumerable winners during the first six matches of the fortnight, was suddenly coming back to him. Too often it was coming back faster than when it left his racket. And by the time the first set was over, a 7-6 (7-2) Federer win, Gonzalez was left with a sore right shoulder and an even more damaged game.

The remainder of the 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 Federer win looked like many others. His opponent was often forced to battle valiantly just to hold serve, while Federer breezed through his service game. The seventh game of a set is often a very important swing game. If the server holds making the score 4-3, the pressure shifts greatly to his-her opponent as one service break can mean a quick end to a set. If a server gets broken to go down 3-4 he or she knows the server is but two holds away from running out the set. And at 3-3 of the second and third sets Roger Federer broke Fernando Gonzalez. It was as if the pressure of the moment made Gonzo somehow forget the task at hand – at all costs, hold serve. In each 3-3 chance his first serve became wayward allowing Federer to seize the offensive. By the end of each seventh game, Gonzalez was a beaten man.

All respect to Pete Sampras, but Roger Federer is the best men’s tennis player to ever grace a court. He has shots in his repertoire that others can only dream of possessing. His conditioning is stellar; perhaps better than that of any other player. His resolve and his fire is unmatched. And as Andy Roddick found this week, it’s best to be quiet before playing Federer as he doesn’t take lightly verbal challenges from those who he considers less than gracious, less than his equal.

In an interview aired during the final against Gonzalez, Federer bluntly said he is the dominant player on the tour. To prove his point he beat, in straight sets, a player in Fernando Gonzalez who, if not for Roger’s presence, would probably be gazing at the Australian Open winner’s trophy in his hotel room right now.

Instead, after 21 sets of tennis, Roger Federer is on his way to his home away from home in Dubai, a tenth grand slam trophy his and a beaten, demoralized field left to ponder how to justify accepting no better than being a runner-up.

Written by dwil

January 28, 2007 at 3:38 pm

When a Grizzled Vets Speaks…

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Hey there! I’m your average Celtic!

Charlie Rosen wrote the, “You can’t write that!” line. It’s that line that inspires the quietest of white folk to rise up all indignant and full of self-righteousness. That line that, when they think about it on a walk alone at night they bust out with a “Hey!” to no one at all, as if their mind-to-mouth connection was remote controlled.

Rosen’s comment should be immortalized on the blogsphere – and further immortalized in the national sports-NBA media. But it won’t be – at least not in the national media. Hopefully the real hoops heads will fill the internets tubes with comments about this truth.

That truth? It’s the first question onthe most recent FOX Sports NBA Mailbag with Charlie Rosen:

The question…

Hi, Charley. I enjoy your excellent no-nonsense critiques of the NBA and its players. I have a couple of questions about the Celtics. Whatever happened to Sebastian Telfair? Wasn’t he supposed to be the Celtics point guard of the future? Shouldn’t Rajon Rondo start ahead of Delonte West? And why does Rivers insist on playing Wally so much? Much thanks. — Adam

The answer…

Telfair is a much better passer on the run than he is in half-court situations. And since the Celtics do not have the wherewithal to run, the best part of his game is rendered useless. His outside shooting is iffy, he makes too many bad decisions with the ball, and he can’t defend. Why, then, did Ainge make such a lopsided deal to get him? Beats me.

Rondo is quick and has the capabilities of someday being a lockdown defender. Someday. For now, he has too much trouble putting the ball in the basket to rate a starting position. West can shoot, has the requisite experience, and is tougher than he looks.

Not-so-wonderful-Wally has to play for several reasons, not the least of which is his gargantuan contract. But the biggest reason is a matter of pigmentation. Think Hondo. Think Cowens. Think McHale. Think Bird. Think Boston. (bold and italics mine)

Think Up South. Know it’s for real – and not just in Beantown.

Other awesome quotes from Rosen’s Mailbag….

On player IQ:

“By my lights, here are the most intelligent NBA players I’ve ever seen: Nash and Kidd, for sure. Also Jerry Lucas, Larry Bird, Lenny Wilkens, Bill Walton and Bill Bradley, plus both Nate and Jim McMillian….”

On MVP voting:

I can only repeat what I’ve been saying for all these years — that the entire concept of a most valuable player is absurd, and exists only to create controversy (and attention) in the media. I mean, what are the criteria for an MVP? The best player on the best team? The best player in the league? Is a scorer better than a rebounder? Is a passer better than a top-notch defender? Who’s to say which player, and the role he happens to play, is more or less indispensable than another?

So count me out of any discussion that perpetuates the MVP hype.

On Ex-Celtics (and great players, in general) as GMs:

[Danny] Ainge is simply as lost as a sneeze in a windstorm.

On Flip Saunder’s inability to inspire the Pistons’ players:

…when Saunders’ rants, raves and chews his players out for making egregious mistakes, or not hustling, or not being prepared to play, too many of them fail to take him seriously….

And check out his sideline chin-twitch, surely a sign of undue psychic distress.

On charging calls:

Because too many referees don’t have a high enough basketball IQ (there’s that phrase again!) to truly understand the development of a play, however, they tend to favor the offense — and calling charges is a cheap way of evening out their bias. And that’s why there’s so much flopping going on.

Blame the referees for not being able to discern advantageous from incidental contact.

On the best five players never to grace an NBA arena:

The absolutely best player who never played in the NBA has to be Bob “Foothills” Kurland, a shot-blocking 7-footer who anchored back-to-back NCAA championships in 1945 and 1946 for Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State).

The second best was Sherman White. In the late 40s at LIU, White was simply the finest hooper in the game. He was 6-8 but could handle and run like a guard. Indeed, White was the progenitor of all the high-flyers that succeeded him: Julius Erving, Connie Hawkins, Michael Jordan, as well as the current batch.

Floyd Layne was an extremely talented guard for the CCNY double-championship team in 1950, who was also denied the opportunity to play in the NBA.

Johnny O’Brien was a high-scoring 5-9 pivotman from Seattle U. who couldn’t make the transition.

And then there was Len Bias.

(I know Rosen’s talking about college players, but the question left it open for any player. And from the old heads I knew in Chocolate City who made the pilgramages to various playgrounds around the country, and believe me there are many, the best player all of them saw was Earl Manigault.)

Written by dwil

January 27, 2007 at 10:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized