Tag Archives: John Calipari

UConn wins a most improbable national title. A teacher in Belgium with an awesome punishment idea. And Honey Maid fires back with a beautiful ad

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If, three weeks ago, you gave me 20 chances to guess which team would be cutting down the nets Monday night after the NCAA Tournament, I wouldn’t have picked Connecticut.
Hell, if you gave me THIRTY chances I wouldn’t have picked the Huskies. But that’s what me and millions of others love so much about the Tournament: You just never know.
And so Monday night, the most improbable NCAA men’s basketball champion in 29 years was crowned. Led by Shabazz Napier, the only real star the Huskies have, UConn parlayed an incredible three weeks of basketball into a title.

Truly, I’m stunned. With all the good teams in this Tournament, to think that UConn, who barely survived its opening game, an OT win against St. Joe’s, could topple teams that on paper looked so much better, is amazing.
They beat No. 2 seed Villanova in the Round of 32, then knocked off No.3 Iowa State, No. 4 Michigan State, and No. 1 Florida to get to the title game.

An incredible job by coach Kevin Ollie and Napier’s teammates, especially Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels. What a crazy, crazy story, that UConn has won four NCAA title in the last 15 years.

Some other scattered thoughts from Monday’s title game:
— So happy that Satan Calipari lost. Someone on Twitter mentioned that hatred of him is the only thing that could ever bring Duke and North Carolina fans together. We all rooted against him tonight.

– Still, as much as I hate Cal, gotta give a lot of credit to his team. As usual, they fell down by a lot early, then battled back and were right there at the end.

– Looking for “One Shining Moment?” It’s right here. Solid job on it by CBS as always, though we saw hardly any buzzer-beaters and Wisconsin and Michigan State got shafted in the highlights. But the McDermott father-son hug gave me chills.

– Napier cracked me up when, in his postgame interview, he railed about the NCAA holding UConn back by not letting them in last year’s Tournament, and acting all angry. Shabazz, bubbeleh, your team wasn’t in last year’s Big Dance because UConn’s team academic performance was so poor in previous years that you were put on probation! If your team could pass Freshman English, y’all would’ve been fine!

– We take him for granted a lot, but CBS’ Jim Nantz is really, really good at calling big games. Excellent voice, knows when to get excited, and lets his analysts talk.

– Even if you’re not a big women’s basketball fan, you should check out tonight’s women’s final. Undefeated UConn against undefeated Notre Dame, in the women’s game’s hottest rivalry right now. Should definitely be a great one.

– Can’t wait till next season. Duke’s undefeated so far in 2014-15.

**Next up, you may remember a few weeks back I wrote about a fantastic HoneyMaid commercial that went viral, showing families of all kinds coming together in love.
Of course, because there’s still so much homophobia and racism in America, HoneyMaid took a whole lot of flack from right-wing groups and individuals for the ad.
So as a perfect response, they released this commercial the other day. Just picture-perfect in every way.

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**Finally today, I heard this on NPR last week and thought it may be the most creative teacher punishment I’ve ever heard.
An educator in Belgium has a class full of fans of the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones.”
And to keep them in line, he’s threatened them with the ultimate cruel torture: Revealing spoilers for the upcoming episodes.

Yep, the unnamed educator apparently told the students in his math class that he’d read all the George R. Martin books in the series, and would reveal which characaters would die next if there was any more noise in the room.

The kids fell into a hush when the teacher started writing characters’ names on the board, and promised to behave.

So awesome.

“Muppets Most Wanted” almost as much fun as the last movie. I hold my nose and root for UConn tonight. And R.I.P., John Pinette

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One of the first things that my wife and I bonded over when we first started dating was our love of The Muppets.
I mean, yes, everybody loves The Muppets, but she really, really, really loves the Muppets. Like, more than is probably normal.

So of course we saw the first Muppets movie of their “reunion”, the one that came out two years ago and starred Jason Segel and the always-awesome Amy Adams, along with new Muppet Walter.
And it was fantastic. Funny, smart, and the songs were great, too.
So of course, we had to see the sequel, though unfathomably it took us two weeks of being in the theaters for us to catch it, finally seeing it Sunday.

It was good. About as good as I expected. It wasn’t as good as the last film, but hey, it was a sequel, so you can’t have too high hopes.
Ricky Gervais was really good, playing “Dominic Badguy” which is such a Muppets movie name for a character. Tina Fey was great as (naturally) a Russian prison warden in love with Kermit, and Ty Burrell brought the funny as a bumbling Interpol officer.

I’d explain the plot to you but would it matter? It’s just ridiculous enough to keep you interested, and the jokes, as expected, went over most kids’ heads but made the grown-ups laugh.

The roster of cameos is typically bizarre and varied for a Muppets movie: We get everyone from Usher, to Ray Liotta, to Salma Hayek, to James McAvoy, to P. Diddy, and they all contribute something.
And the songs are once again really good, and we left the theater happy that the Muppets are back.

Can’t ask for much more than that. Go see “Muppets Most Wanted,” with or without kids, if only for the fantastic final musical number. It was fabulous.

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**A sad night tonight for me and other college basketball diehards, as the national championship game is played, followed by “One Shining Moment,” the greatest three minutes of the television year in my opinion. It should be a great game, but it’s sad because it’s the last meaningful men’s game until November.

It’s tough for me to root for either Connecticut or Kentucky tonight, because I hate both programs intensely. I hate UConn because they dealt my Duke boys two of the most painful defeats of my lifetime, in the 1999 title game and in the 2004 Final Four, and because the Huskies under Jim Calhoun were a dirty program run by a classless lout.

I can’t root for Kentucky, of course, because they’re coached by Satan and have the most obnoxious fans in human history.
Still, when it comes to Satan or UConn, I’ve got to pick the Huskies. (My preview, with keys to the game, should be up on ThriveSports.com by the time you read this) I think Kentucky will win because they are a better team, but both teams have been winning so improbably these last three weeks that I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see UConn win.

Come on Huskies, don’t make me and America watch John Friggin’ Calipari cut down the nets again. That’s just a miserable sight for so many.

**Finally today, sad news Sunday that John Pinette, a hilarious stand-up comedian and a guest star on the very last episode of “Seinfeld,” died at age 50 of a pulmonary embolism.

Pinette, the heavy-set guy who always poked fun at himself, is one of those comedians I discovered 20 years ago on some cable comedy show, and I remember laughing so hard my sides hurt when I first heard is “four hour” Chinese buffet routine (above).

He was a funny, funny man, and he’ll be missed. We can never have enough laughter in this world.

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/comedian-john-pinette-50-dies-pa-hotel-23216157

India stops public urination, loudly. An MTV “response” to why they don’t show videos. And Duke beating Kentucky never gets old

You’ve got to hand it to a country that acknowledges a problem, and comes up with a unique way to deal with it.

India, like every other nation, had a problem with public urination. Hey, nobody wants to see someone else doing their No. 1 business in public (which is why when I pee outside, it’s always in the woods. Safer that way. Not that I pee outside often. OK let’s move on.)

The western Indian state of Rajasthan has come up with a great new idea to stop public urination, which apparently had become a big problem there. They’ve enlisted volunteers, “armed with drums and whistles,” to shame people who are going to the bathroom in public.

Four to five people will “shout, beat drums or blow a whistle” if they see anyone urinating or defecating in the open, an official told the BBC. Repeat offenders may even be asked to pay a fine, he said.

It’s not as outright ridiculous as it sounds; mearly half of India’s 1.2 billion people have no toilet at home and they defecate in the open. But apparently in Rajasthan, 80 percent of people do have bathrooms at home, so the state is trying to stop random public peeing.

I think it’s a great, if potentially quite noisy, idea.
And hey, how’d you like to be a volunteer doing that job and putting it on a resume?

**Maybe you’re like me, and fondly remember when MTV showed music videos instead of the ridiculous reality-show crap that now passes for programming at the network.

No more music, way more “16 and Pregnant.”  It’s sad but this is how MTV decided to go a few years ago, and they’re not turning back.

Still, I found this parody pretty hilarious, as a “fan” asks MTV why it stopped playing videos…

**Finally, the first huge games of the college basketball season were Tuesday night, with Michigan State squeaking by Kansas (man I love how hard those Izzo teams play; every year his kids just bang and bang), but of course for me the main attraction was Duke-Kentucky. Always great to see Duke beat the Evil Empire of Calipari, though to be fair, I’ve hated Kentucky long before college basketball’s biggest slimeball showed up in Lexington.

And sure, ESPN did me proud by showing this shot a few times, but really, I was very pleased with how Duke played in the 75-68 win, considering it’s only the second game of the year.

Mason Plumlee, wow did he look like a more confident player than last year. And he’s making his free throws, which may be one of the Biblical signs of the end of the world.
I also loved Duke’s defense Tuesday; man they are going to be so much better on D this year; the length of Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson, etc. just make them a lot tougher.

Kentucky, though they’re not as good as last year… they’ve got some serious athletes. Nerlens Noel and his terrific fade haircut, Alex Poythress, the Wildcats are going to be good.

Love college hoops. So glad it’s back. And Duke vs. Kentucky is a hell of a November game to whet our appetite for what’s to come.

I am fired up about new innovations in ballpark food. Quick thoughts on tonight’s NCAA title game. And some thoughts on twins: pro and con

It’s April, which means spring, a new baseball season, and equally as important for your favorite blogger: new and possibly awesomely disgusting ballpark food innovations.

I love writing about the outlandish and possibly vomit-inducing ballpark food because some of this stuff is the product of sick and/or brilliant minds. So without further ado, here are two “debuts” I’m looking forward to seeing:
First,  I bring you the new menu item served by the Lake County Captains, a Class A in Eastlake, Ohio. The Captains are serving a Moby Dick sandwich, which is five quarter-pound fish filets, and six ounces of clam strips on a 15-inch sesame seed hoagie roll.

It also comes with eight slices of cheese, one-third pound of French fries, one cup of cole slaw, all topped off by gobs of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and tartar sauce — all for only $20. It weighs three pounds, and, I love this part of the description, it “feeds two fans uncomfortably or four fans comfortably.”
I can’t wait to see someone eat that all by themselves. Before having a heart attack, of course.

The other new item that’s gotten a lot of attention is from the Texas Rangers. They’re selling a two-foot-long, 1-pound hot dog for $26. It’s topped with sautéed onions, shredded cheese, jalapenos, chili, and a defibrillator.

It’s designed for three people to eat. Twenty-six bucks for a hot dog, though? You’d have to have a really hungry family to try that.

**Tonight is the final night of the college basketball season, which excitingly for me means a great title game and the annual showing of “One Shining Moment,” which chokes me up every year because it’s so awesome.
A couple quick thoughts on Kentucky vs. Kansas tonight:
—  You know every single person at the NCAA is rooting for the Jayhawks. Because you just know Kentucky will have this title vacated at some point. It’s what John Calipari does: cheats, wins, and then gets caught later (see: Memphis, UMass).
— Only way I think Kansas wins is if Thomas Robinson puts up 20 points and 20 boards, and the Wildcat freshmen finally start feeling the pressure.
— If Kansas wins, Bill Self will have won two national titles at a school that Roy Williams couldn’t win one at. As a Duke fan, that gives me a tiny bit of pleasure.

**Finally, a few words about twins. I spent the weekend with some friends who have identical 6-year-old boys, and a 3-year-old girl. They were cute and loving and so much fun to be around.
But man, the identical twin thing has always fascinated me. Here’s a whole other person who looks exactly like you, comes from the same place, and pretty much gets confused for you throughout childhood. You never quite are your own person.
On the other hand, you always know what another person is thinking. You can fool teachers and girls and have a lot of fun. And you’re really never, ever alone in life.
It just has to be a really weird and cool way to go through life. The two boys I hung with this weekend seemed to really get along; I hope they always are each other’s best friends.
Two anecdotes from the weekend, one funny and one sweet: The kids’ mom told us that the  twins’ 3 1/2-year-old sister can usually tell them apart, but when slightly confused, she sometimes walks up to one of the boys and asks “Who are you?”

The other revealing moment came when the kids’ mom told us about when all three kids like to have a “sleepover” in one of the bedrooms. When this happens, one of the boys always insists that his twin brother sleep with his face toward him, because having his face near him “gives him good dreams.”

Ahh, the power of two.

The Trayvon Martin shooting sparks outrage (and great writing). Final Four field is set, and I’m not happy. And tennis gets some love on “60 Minutes”

It seems like every day, this Trayvon Martin shooting story gets bigger and bigger.
I’ve been as interested in it as anyone else, partly because I used to live very close to Sanford, Fla., where a 28-year-old white man named George Zimmerman shot and killed a 17-year-old African-American boy.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much outrage has been sparked, from professional sports teams like the Miami Heat (who took this fantastic photo, above, in support of Martin, who was wearing a hoodie when he was killed), to ordinary folks all across the country who are sick and tired of our gun culture, and racial prejudice, combining to cause so many innocent victims.

I think the police acted way too slowly in this case, and I fear that there are far too many people who seem to think any white male who, for any reason, feels threatened by a member of a minority is totally within their rights to start shooting.

I read two excellent articles about the case over the weekend that I wanted to share: Here’s Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts with his take on the case, and David Simon, the brilliant creator of “The Wire”, talking about our gun culture and how destructive it is.

**The Final Four is now set, and I don’t think many people had their brackets right on this one. Kansas, Ohio State, Louisville and Kentucky all survived their first four games and get to now play on the biggest stage in college basketball.
Some quick-hit thoughts on the weekend’s games:
— That Kentucky-Indiana game Friday night was so much fun to watch; easily the most entertaining game of the tournament. So many great athletes in the game, such excellent shooting, and really, really solid team basketball. It was a joy to all of us who love the sport.
— I dislike Rick Pitino quite a bit, and think his ethics leave much to be desired. But damn, the guy can coach his fanny off. This Louisville team in no way seemed good enough to reach the Final Four a few weeks ago, but they got hot at the right time, and they’ve got a masterful leader who knows how to get the most out of his players.
— Can’t wait until John Calipari has this Final Four appearance vacated for cheating, just like the last two times he’s gone there (with UMass and Memphis). The trifecta will be beautiful for this soul-less ethically-challenged jerk.
— I hate UNC as much as any Duke fan, but I did feel a little sorry for them that they lost their floor leader, Kendall Marshall, for the regionals due to injury. Carolina may have been the best team in the country, but I would’ve liked to have seen ‘em get beat at full strength.
— Oh, to be in Kentucky this week. I can’t imagine much work will get done in the state. The Wildcats and Cardinals rivalry is pretty intense already, but now they’re playing each other in the Final Four? Two coaches that hate each other, two fan bases that hate each other, playing for a spot in the title game? It’ll be madness from Bowling Green to Paducah.

**Finally today, it’s rare that my beloved sport of tennis gets mainstream media attention. So I was thrilled to see current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who has a remarkable life story and genuinely seems to be a good guy, profiled last night on “60 Minutes.” If you’re a big tennis fan, there’s not a lot of “breaking news” here, but it’s a great look at the Serbian star, where he came from, and how he’s become so dominant.

Well done, “60 Minutes.”