Category Archives: BasketBall

BasketBall

NCAA Tourney Turns Into Bracketology Blow Up

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The Dance

By John Ventola

The NCAA hung the popular moniker on the annual March event, Garth Brooks sings a song so titled. Today The Dance is down to sixteen teams. By tomorrow night it will dwindle to the Elite Eight. Sunday nigh there will only be four teams left to dance in next weekend’s Final Four. Continue reading

Sixteen Gets First NCAA Victory

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U May Be Cinderella

By John Ventola

March Madness turned into full blown insanity Friday night. For the first time a No. 16  tournament seed beat a No. 1 as UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) embarrassed this year’s top seed Virginia, 74-54. Continue reading

North Carolina Will Cut Down Nets Monday

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Zags And Tar Heels Monday If Saturday Goes To Form

By John Ventola

Perennial basketball power North Carolina will be joined in this weekend’s Final Four by three upstarts, Gonzaga, Oregon, and South Carolina. Of the three, only the Ducks have ever been to the Final Four, and that was in 1939 when they won the title. The Tar Heels have survived two close encounters with Southeastern Conference teams (Arkansas and Kentucky) on their journey to a 20th Final Four appearance, its fifth under the tutelage of Coach Roy Williams. Continue reading

NCAA Basketball Tournament Has No Clear Favorite

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Dance Will Feature Parity and Various Styles

By John Ventola

The 68-team NCAA Division I basketball bracket will be announced today. The tournament, which runs from March 14 until championship night April 3, will feature several teams capable of winning the national championship. Last season’s champion Villanova showed that the slippers (sneakers) can fit a Cinderella. With parity very much the current state of college basketball, true hoops junkies will not be surprised to see another underdog climb the ladders and cut down the nets come April. Continue reading

Joe Alleva Should Be Compiling Potential Coaches List

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Hey Joe Why Wait?

By John Ventola

Jimi Hendrix died over 46 years ago, but the title of one of his hit songs has resonated with the LSU fan base over the past fifteen months. “Hey Joe” has been spoken many times, most often in frustrated tones, as Tiger fans clamored for university athletic director Joe Alleva to change leadership of their football and basketball teams. Continue reading

Pursuit Of Winning Forces Bad Decisions By Coaches

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Sports Landscape Putting Out Nasty Smells Lately

By John Ventola

Tell me it ain’t so Coach K! Continue reading

Pat Summitt Was Class Act

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Winningest Division I Basketball Coach Dies At 64

Legendary Tennessee basketball coach Pat Head Summitt died today at the Sherill Hills retirement facility in Knoxville. Summitt, 64, won 1,098 games, 32 SEC titles, and eight national championships in her storied 38-year career. She had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type’, in August, 2011. Summitt coached another year before stepping down after the 2012 season.

There will be many articles over the next few days detailing the successful career this Clarksville, Tennessee native had as the face of women’s collegiate basketball. Every

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Summitt’s Lady Vols were disciplined and well-coached

coach that attains such a level of success (she won 84% of her games) has to have talent. Not many can do it in the manner of Summitt. The recruiting, the coaching, the intensity was all top notch. Plus, the many roles she played for each of her players, filling in as a mentor, a father-figure, whatever the student-athlete needed to be successful both on and off the court.

She took the reins of the Lady Vols when she was only 22 years old. A former Tennessee-Martin player, she took a job as a Tennessee assistant coach. The head coach suddenly resigned to pursue a doctoral study program (I have not confirmed if he has been put in the Tennessee Hall of Fame for his decision), and Pat Head took over the program. The rest, as they say, is history. And what a history, what a legacy.

Long before the women’s national championship turned into the annual University of Connecticut Sweepstakes, a number of top flight universities would enjoy their climb up the podium because of a talented group, or an individual talent. After building a solid

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Tennessee and Summitt Laid Foundation For Women’s Game

foundation during her first decade, Tennessee won its first two titles in 1987 and 1989, both led by forward Bridgette Gordon and guard Tonya Edwards.

Summitt’s best was yet to come as Tennessee won four times in the ‘90s. Daedra Charles led the 1991 effort, while. All-American Chamique Holdsclaw was showcased during three consecutive titles, ’96,’97,’98. Her final two championships came in 2007 and 2008.

Before Holdsclaw arrived on the Knoxville campus, this blogger was coaching an 11-12-year-old girls basketball team in Kenner. Able to name the team, I attached the “Lady Vols” moniker to our squad, and then did my best after practice presentation to explain what the name meant. Why, basically, I had chosen it. I explained a little bit of Tennessee’s basketball history, focusing on Coach Summitt, and what she expected from each of her players. Concentration, focus, commitment, a desire to work and improve skills.

Well, it apparently worked —-as well as any middle age person can reach impressionable pre-teens.

After a competitive season, our nine-member team upset the favored team twice in the

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Summitt Had Affect On Kenner Girls At One Time

playoffs to win the 1994 Kenner Biddy championship. One of the victories came on a last second, half-court shot by one of the role players. She stepped up big time as our two “star” players had fouled out in the final minute just seconds earlier.

I personally thought even Pat Summitt would be pleased. I sent a newspaper clipping of our upset victories and a picture of our “Lady Vols” team to her attention at the University of Tennessee Athletic Department.

In a matter of days, I received a return package from the University of Tennessee Athletic Department. Enclosed was a personal letter to me and our two other coaches, and individually addressed letters to each of the nine players—-signed by Coach Pat Summitt. Also included was a picture of Coach Summitt kneeling at mid-court in Thompson-Boling Arena (now named Pat Summitt Court) with her then three national championship trophies. She had signed each picture.

I am not naïve enough to think this was all Coach Summitt. I worked briefly years ago in the LSU Sports Information Department. I think Coach Summitt read about our little

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Rest In Peace Coach Pat Summitt

team and an on the ball athletic department employee put the necessary letters and pictures before her for signing.

To me it was more proof that Coach Pat Head Summitt demanded the best from those around her. Every little aspect was addressed. And, who knows, with Summitt forever on the lookout for talent, maybe she thought one of our girls could be a future recruit. While two of the young ladies went on to play high school basketball—quite well I might add— neither one played at the collegiate level.

Summitt’s kind gesture made three Kenner volunteer coaches happy, but more than that, it thrilled nine young girls who had their accomplishment acknowledged by a legendary coach.

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NBA Playoffs Have Become Predictable

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Factors That Make Home Court Special

By John Ventola

A couple of things have become quite evident as the seemingly endless NBA playoffs work their way to June. First, home court almost guarantees victory. Secondly, referees seem to be swallowing their whistles as players display more physicality than usual, and plays that are called disproportionately favor the home teams. Continue reading

Curry Has Captured Imaginations of More Than Sports Fans

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First Unanimous NBA MVP Right Vote

By John Ventola

Voting has brought up many questions and public conversations so far this year. Politics, and differing opinions, do that. Professional sports, in its own way a microcosm of society, has always done the same. The talents and skill levels of players can be picked apart as readily as a self-righteous speech. Never, it seems, are things, and evaluations, in total agreement. Continue reading

First LSU Basketball Victory Over Kentucky Memorable

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Drummond Starter On First LSU Team To Defeat Kentucky

By John Ventola

Long before there was Povich, there was Drummond. Maury that is. Continue reading