Tag Archives: Mason Plumlee

Little kids talk the truth about relationships. Another unique marriage proposal in public. After a night of duds, tonight’s NCAA games will be great.

We start Good News Friday with one of the cutest videos I’ve ever seen. Ostensibly this is a promotional video for a new book called “Get The Guy,” but really it’s just two minutes of little girls talking like grown-ups about relationships.
I’m not buying the book, but this commercial is genius.

Davidson v Marquette

**Well that sucked.
Can’t remember an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 night with three out of four crappy games; only one game was remotely competitive, and that was Ohio State squeaking out a three-point win over Arizona.
Indiana and Miami both completely failed to show up; I was so looking forward to them facing each other on Saturday, except both forgot to play this game first. Kudos to Marquette and Syracuse, both teams played great, but man, what stinkers of games.
Oh well, the good news is (and hey, it’s Good News Friday, so you knew there had to be some good news) is that tonight’s games should be crackling.
Most important to me is the could-be-epic Duke-Michigan State game. I’m feeling pessimistic about my boys’ chances, because the Spartans are so good inside and on the boards, two of Duke’s weaknesses. If Mason Plumlee doesn’t get into foul trouble, and if Ryan Kelly remembers how to shoot, Duke can win.
But I’m not all that confident.

We’ve also got a possibly great Kansas-Michigan game tonight, and we’ve got the best story in sports, the Florida Gulf Coast juggernaut (ha!), playing the big bad boys of their state, the Florida Gators. Man I hope FGCU can keep it going, that would be so great to watch.

So I expect three out of four really good, close games tonight. After Thursday’s debacle, we hoopheads deserve it.

**And finally, you know I’m a huge fan of creative marriage proposals. The ones on the scoreboard at sports events are pretty lame, but this guy found a different way to propose at a basketball game.

Check out her reaction when she turns around, it’s beautiful.

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A beautiful love story of a wrongly convicted man finding life again. Duke destroys Carolina and I am happy. And the great Rivera calls it quits

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It’s Monday, none of us are thrilled to be at work, and I think a nice pick-me-up story is in order.
Luckily, I read this one Sunday and couldn’t stop smiling. In the New York Times wedding section arrived the story of Michael Morton, who for 25 years sat rotting in prison for the murder of his wife. Problem is, he didn’t do it, as DNA evidence finally proved in 2011, and Morton was released.

Soon after, while telling his story to his hometown church, Morton met Cynthia Chessman, who was moved by his lack of bitterness. They went out for coffee soon after, and, well, click here for the rest.
You never know where love will find you.

sethcurry

**Another incredible weekend of college basketball, highlighted for me, of course, by that absolutely ass-kicking Duke handed to North Carolina in the Dean Dome Saturday night. I haven’t seen Duke play as well on offense as they did in the first five minutes, since, well, ever. It was 14-0 after less than three minutes and the game was never really close after that.
Seth Curry couldn’t miss, Mason Plumlee dominated the second half, and Carolina couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat.

I called my fellow diehard hoops fan friend Tony late in the first half to paraphrase Shannon Sharpe’s great old quote when the Broncos stomped the Patriots.

“Somebody call the National Guard, because Duke is killing the Tar Heels.”

Truly, it was a fantastic display by the Blue Devils, and I see no reason why they won’t be a No. 1 seed when the Big Dance starts.

Couple other thoughts from a wild March weekend of hoops:
— That Indiana-Michigan game Sunday was fantastic. Intense, back and forth, filled with great plays by both teams and a massive comeback from IU in the final minute; down five, they came back and won by a point. Cody Zeller is one hell of a player, but Michigan, you gotta make those free throws.
— My favorite thing this time of year is seeing how excited the little schools get when they win their conference tournament and advance to the NCAAs. The joy and thrill on their faces is such a nice antidote to so much of the slime that envelops college sports. Look how excited the kids from Creighton got after they won Sunday.

— My Delaware Blue Hens got robbed by the refs in the final seconds of the CAA semifinals Sunday, not that anyone besides me cares. UD had a great shot to get into the Tournament this year, but alas, we’ll have to rely on our awesome women’s team led by Elena DelleDonne to carry the torch now.

MarianoRivera.retirement

**Mariano Rivera. It’s a beautiful, lyrical name, isn’t it? Rolls off the tongue perfectly, and for nearly 20 years, it’s been the last name Yankees fans like myself have had to pay attention to when a game was in the 9th inning and the Bombers had the lead.

“Mariano’s in. Game over.”

That’s how it’s pretty much been for the past 17 seasons, until last year, when the greatest relief pitcher of all time got hurt, and what was to be his final season was aborted pretty much before it began.

Now, though, Rivera’s healthy again and has officially announced his retirement come the end of the 2013 year. He’s had an amazing, amazing career, and amazing isn’t even a strong enough word.

The stat on the photo above is just one of the staggering numbers that make Rivera’s career so fabulous; he’s been one Yankee who seems impossible for non-Yankees fans to hate.
He has exuded class and dignity and a sense of humor throughout his career (when his blown saves in 2004 playoffs helped the Red Sox win the World Series, Sox fans cheered him on Opening Day ’05 at Fenway. Rivera just laughed and laughed).

He will be missed, and I for one will try to catch as many 9th innings of Yankee wins as I can this year. We won’t likely ever again see a closer as great as he is, and I’m glad we get one more year to enjoy him.

Duke and Carolina stage an ugly one, but the right shade of blue won. The guy who went to 200 countries but didn’t impress Guinness. And an awesome “Jeopardy” teen contestant

masonplumlee

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the people in love out there on the Interwebs today. May you all be as lucky in love as I am.

And this woman, with a beautiful Valentine’s Day story I urge you all to read.

Well, that certainly wasn’t too pretty. But all that matters is the final score at the end when the greatest rivalry in sports takes place.

And despite turnover after turnover, and terrible rebounding and occasionally terrible offense, Duke beat North Carolina Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
As usual, I was yelling and screaming in front of my TV, imploring the Blue Devils to beat UNC. I can’t really explain it, but no other Duke win ever feels quite as satisfying as beating Carolina.

This is far, far from a great UNC team, but they played their pants off Wednesday, and Duke had to get a little lucky and turn up their play at the end to get it done.
Couple quick thoughts from a much-closer than it should’ve been Duke win:

— That was about as ugly a Duke-UNC game as I’ve ever seen. Way too many fouls, way too many bricked shots, a ton of turnovers, just really bad play all around. Which is why I was nervous throughout, because in a poorly-played game, the underdog (UNC) gets to hang around possibly steal the game.

— But Duke won, because Quinn Cook keeps getting better and better, and Tyler Thornton gets no credit but does so many little things to help his team win, and because the Tar Heels went to the Shaquille O’Neal school of foul shooting. Man, were they awful, especially James Michael McAdoo.
— Mason Plumlee, I thought you were beyond games like tonight’s. Just terrible for most of it. But you did your FT’s at the end, so I still love ya.

— Dick Vitale, who I love for his enthusiasm, has really lost it as an announcer. He gets lots of things wrong now, spews more nonsense than usual, and generally talks out of both sides of his mouth.

— Very strange to see UNC with such poor point guard play. As long as I’ve been alive, from Phil Ford to Ed Cota, from Ty Lawson to Kendall Marshall, the Heels have always had an excellent floor leader. But not this year.
— This Duke team isn’t going anywhere in March unless Ryan Kelly gets healthy. I don’t understand why they struggle so much to score, but they just freeze up at times.
Thankfully they have the best coach of all time to figure it out before the tournament.

GrahamHughes

**I love the spirit and initiative of Graham Hughes, even if the crankypants at the Guinness Book of World Records don’t.

Hughes set a goal a few years ago to visit all 201 countries in the world without using an airplane, and he appeared to have set his ridiculous yet awesome mark by getting into South Sudan last November.

However, the Guinness folks say he didn’t set the record, since his border crossing from Estonia to South Sudan was not made legally.

What a crock. Anybody as crazy as Hughes is, who goes to all that effort without using a plane, deserves his place in history.
Thankfully, Hughes is undeterred.

“I can solve the problem. I came back from South Sudan overland, so I can pick up the journey at any time,” he said. “It’s quite a funny coda to my travels – I am just glad it’s not Bangladesh, that it’s somewhere that’s only 24 hours away on the coach.”

You go, Graham.

**Finally today, a tip of the cap to one of the strangest yet most entertaining “Jeopardy” contestants of all time. Meet Leonard, who doesn’t look like anyone you’ve ever seen on Alex Trebek’s show.

Way to go, Leonard. Who says you can’t have a big ‘fro and be really smart?

The people at the gym who bother me.An awesome photo of a storm on Saturn. And Duke guts out a big win over Ohio State


Until this winter, it had been a long time since I’d belonged to a gym.
So I had forgotten how many odd and annoying characters that are found there.

For example, just Wednesday night I noticed Guy Who is Way Too Impressed With Himself. This species of man walks around and checks himself out in the mirror every chance he gets. Dude, your biceps haven’t gotten bigger in the last four minutes.

I also like Guy Who Is Trying to Look Like He Knows What He’s Doing. This dude walks over to every piece of equipment and looks around for a minute, then starts working out. And then there’s the Guy Who is Way Too Intense, grunting with every rep and slamming the weights down when he’s done. Lay off the GNC supplements, pal.
There are some strange females at the gym, too; I like the Woman on Treadmill Who Refuses to Use a Towel. I was next to a girl the other day where the sweat was pouring off her, like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News, and she had a nice fresh towel right in front of her. But nope, she wanted to keep sweatin.’

And that’s not even getting into the odd things that happen in the locker rooms. Health clubs are just strange, strange places.

**Here’s something you don’t see every day. Check out this bizarre photo of the planet Saturn in the middle of a storm at its North Pole. I love scientific photos like this; check out the detail of the clouds that the NASA spacecraft Cassini was able to get with the photo.

Way cool. Also, if you’re stoned right now, stare at that photo for 5 minutes and you’ll feel even more stoned.

**Finally, after a fantastic start to the season, my Duke boys ran into a brick wall Wednesday night, named Ohio State. And really, a loss wouldn’t have been too unexpected. The Buckeyes are a Top-5 team, Duke was coming off three-games-in-three days last week, and they looked dead in trailing by eight at halftime.

But man, what a beautiful second half comeback. Mason Plumlee has made the greatest leap from junior season to senior season that I’ve ever seen from a Duke player. The guy is a monster now (and that alley-oop, above, was sick.)
Quinn Cook was playing way too fast and excited in the first half, but he settled down and was fabulous in the second half. He’s exactly the point guard Duke didn’t have last year.

I loved Rasheed Sulaimon, the freshman guard, too; he totally carried the team for parts of the second-half comeback.

Man, Ohio State is really good; I think they’re a Final Four team in March.

But this Duke team… starting to get really excited about them. They play together, they play defense, and different guys are stepping up every night. They’ve now got three big wins over three Top 5 teams… pretty sweet before December.

Very pumped up for this college basketball season. All you Duke haters, let’s hear you.

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.

Obama’s remarkable speech. LeBron’s cake. And Duke loses its first

Vodpod videos no longer available.
There are nights, like Wednesday, when Barack Obama reminds me why I voted for him, and why I helped to get him elected.
His speech at the memorial service in Tucson was mind-blowingly good. It was pitch-perfect in tone, in the words, and in the emotions.
I got emotional watching it, on two occasions: When the President himself got choked up talking about little Christina Taylor Green, and when Mark Kelly, Gabby Giffords’ husband, walked over and hugged Daniel Hernandez, the intern who helped save her life.
If that moment of human compassion didn’t move you, well, it’s possible you cannot be moved.
Here’s the speech above, if you weren’t able to see it last night.

**From the emotional, to the ridiculous. No words are needed to describe LeBron James’ recent birthday cake. Just take a look at this mountain of confectionery excess.

**And finally, my Dukies. Unlike some others, I never thought this team was going to go undefeated in the ACC, even if Kyrie Irving’s toe hadn’t become the most important digit in all of college basketball. They were too young at too many positions.
Still, it was painful to watch the Blue Devils implode against Florida State Wednesday night. The No.1 team in America couldn’t shoot worth a damn, neither Mason nor Miles Plumlee show any sign of becoming a decent post player, and I’m still waiting for this awesome player named Seth Curry, to, you know, be awesome.
It’s just one loss. No biggie. FSU deserved to win. But damn, if Duke doesn’t get at least some post play, soon, ain’t no way they’re going back to the Final Four.

My last dance with Harry Potter. A great Duke win. And Adam Sandler’s song, of course

I was late to the Harry Potter phenomenon, coming to the party only when I saw how crazy the world went over the release of J.K. Rowling’s fourth book in the series.
And so I’ve always been behind everyone else. I just finished reading the final book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” last night.
And a minute after I was finished, I was profoundly sad. Because it was over. An incredible journey of seven books, each one a classic on its own, had ended. I felt a thrill reading these books like you rarely feel, the kind of thrill where you can’t wait to keep turning the pages, to see what happens next.
I actually could’ve finished “Hallows” a few nights ago, but I spread out my reading because I didn’t want it to end.

Yeah, I’m a little strange. But I’m sure I wasn’t the only Potter-phile who did that.

Way more talented writers than me have taken a stab at explaining why these books have caused such hysteria. And certainly I don’t think I could convince you, if you haven’t already, to pick one up and start reading.
But there was something special in each of those books, and by reading them, it was almost like you felt you were part of a special club, with the passageway in known only to other Potter fans.

It was an incredible journey JK Rowling took us on, and I for one am pretty bummed it’s over. No more Hagrid. No more Hermione Granger, the smartest girl in the history of books. No more Snape and Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy and Neville Longbottom.
Sigh. I guess I still have the final movies to look forward to. But it’s not the same.
Harry Potter is gone.  But not before leaving an incredible legacy, in my heart and those of millions of others.

**Big-time win by Duke Wednesday night, over a very, very good Michigan State team. It was a great game; I have so much respect for Tom Izzo and the Spartans program. No doubt in my mind Izzo is the second-best coach in college basketball right now.
As for the Blue Devils, geez, Kyrie Irving, good Lord that kid is good. He’s been phenomenal in the two wins over Kansas State and MSU. He’s been too good, really; there’s no way at this rate that he stays at Duke for  more than a year. But hey, I’m not complaining.
Also loving the maturity of Andre Dawkins and Mason Plumlee, two huge keys to the season.
There’s some crazy talk among my fellow Duke fans that they’re going undefeated; no possible way that happens, even with the ACC being as bad its been in a long, long time. No one goes undefeated anymore.
Still, very happy with how the boys from Durham are playing right now.

**And finally today, as it’s the first day of Hanukkah, I feel I am legally required to post this, and listen to it at least twice. Happy Hanukkah to my fellow Jewish-ites out there…

Duke beats Carolina, and life is good. And a terrific video story from my old paper

Early in the second half of Wednesday night’s Duke-Carolina slugfest, I had a splitting headache (from yelling at the TV, I think, but I have no professional medical training), grabbed the bottle of Advil, and said to my wife, “If they lose this game, I may have to go for a long, long walk outside.”
Yeah, I was stressing. Yeah, I take these games a little too seriously.

But the Advil helped the headache. And what really helped was that, finally, my Blue Devils hit some outside shots, played some great D, and came away with an absolutely vital 64-54 win.

If you care not a whit about college basketball or the greatest rivalry in sports, you may as well skip to something inspiring, at the end of this post.

But I need to get some of this out, because that was an awesome, awesome victory, only Duke’s second in the last eight against the Chapel Hill boys.

Some thoughts on the game:

— UNC is bad. Really, really bad. And I don’t say that like I’m just trying to put down Duke’s hated rival. I mean, they’re just not any good. I’ve seen the Heels four or five times this season, and with the exception of the win over Michigan State in December, they’ve looked terrible each time. Larry Drew is not a good point guard. Ed Davis is talented but soft. Will Graves disappeared for long stretches. Really, this team isn’t worthy of being in the Tournament.

— That said, they played really hard Wednesday. That was one of the ugliest Duke-Carolina games you’ll see, but it was pretty damn intense.

— Can’t believe how badly Duke shot the ball for most of the game. They had 3 two-point FGs in the first half. THREE! Fortunately, Jon Scheyer wouldn’t let them lose. He hit two enormous 3-pointers in the final minutes, including the dagger that gave Duke the 9-point lead. He’s moving up into my pantheon of all-time Duke greats; needs to lead this team to a Final Four to cement his place in Duke lore, though.

–Lance Thomas better not be out long with that knee injury. He’s a fantastic defender, and if Duke loses him, well, not good.

— Very encouraged by Mason Plumlee. Kid stepped up big-time in the second half, and he may need to play a lot more if Thomas is out. That reverse dunk was sweet.

OK, enough rambling. It wasn’t pretty, but wins over Carolina don’t need to be. It was a beautiful game, and a beautiful win. I’m a happy man tonight.

**OK,  here’s a small example of what some newspapers are now doing so well, transforming great print stories into wonderful video and photo stories. My old friend Erin Coker at the Glens Falls Post-Star has done several of these, and I think this was his best. It’s a 5-minute piece on a high school wrestler, who despite epilepsy and Asperger’s Disease, made the varsity team.

Enjoy.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

R.I.P., Jets season. A crazy, crazy Steelers win. And the best anti-Xmas song ever

If Sunday’s New York Jets game were Jeopardy,” here’s a clue: The entire second half.

The question: When were you certain the Jets were going to lose to the Atlanta Falcons?”

Yes my friends, 30 years of Jets-watching has allowed me to be Kreskin, at certain moments. And as me and the rest of my bar amigos at Houligan’s Pub here in Ormond Beach watched mistake after mistake by the Jets, missed field goals, interceptions by Mark Sanchez (geez, where have I written that before?) and blown chances, I knew this was going to end badly.

“How many times have we seen this?” I muttered into my Coke. “Jets dominate the game, can’t put a team away, the opponent puts together one good drive, and BAM, game over.”

So it was, in a way, a tiny bit satisfying as I watched the Jets fall to 7-7, in a crushing 10-7 defeat at Giants Stadium.

A few questions sprung to mind during this contest, besides “what the hell am I doing watching this for 3 hours?”

— OK, so Kellen Clemens stinks as a QB. He also stinks as a holder on field goals. What, if anything, is he good at?

— Was the Jets defense unaware Tony Gonzalez, one of the best tight ends in history, plays for the Falcons? Because he was awfully lonesome on that 4th and goal play when he scored the winning touchdown.

— How many bleepin’ interceptions did the Jets defensive backs drop Sunday? 4, 5, 6? Besides the three missed FG’s that was another sign it wasn’t going to be New York’s day.

— Mark Sanchez, Jets fans really, really want to see progress from you. But on two of those three interceptions (the middle one didn’t bother me that much), it looked like you’ve learned nothing from Week 1. Eat. The. Ball. If no one’s open.

— The defense was great Sunday, really great. I don’t blame them for the loss, even though they gave up the final TD. You just can’t kill a defense that allowed 10 points; they’re not the reason the Jets lost.

— Sadly, thanks to the bumbling of some other AFC teams, I can’t officially write off this season completely. Denver lost and is 8-6, Baltimore is 8-6, while the Titans, Steelers, Jags and ‘Fins are 7-7, like the Jets. But here’s the thing: No way the Jets deserve to be in the playoffs, and there’s NO WAY they’re beating 14-0 Indy next week.

So yeah, the season’s over. And I’m OK with it. 7-7, with a rookie quarterback and the loss of two hugely important players to injury (Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington) is about where this team should be.

It just sucks to watch the same movie over and over again, and that’s what this team is.

**So there were some crazy endings to games Sunday, another reason to love the NFL. Oakland wins AT Denver? With JaMarcus Russell? Crazy. San Diego nips Cincy at the end on a 52-yard field goal? Crazy.

But without a doubt the most thrilling ending was Pittsburgh, scoring a TD on the game’s last play to beat Green Bay, 37-36. They overcame one of the stupidest coaching calls ever (Mike Tomlin of the Steelers, up 30-28, tries an onside kick late in the fourth quarter. Of course Green Bay recovered and scored) and won on the play of the game, Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace, fresh off the “60 Minutes” set, apparently.

Still, the onside kick was beyond nuts. I know Tomlin explained that he didn’t trust his defense, but still, that’s a crazy, crazy call.

— I have no idea who’s making the playoffs in the AFC. My best guess right now is Denver and Jacksonville, but who the heck knows?

**Boy, the Duke basketball team kicked the holy hell out of Gonzaga Saturday. That was nice to see. Still wanting to see more out of the Plumlee boys, Mason and Miles, but I’m not complaining. And it was nice to see Carolina lose, too. A good Saturday!

**Finally, if you’ve hung in there and want a good laugh this Monday, this is my favorite all-time “Christmas song.”  The 12 Pains of Christmas cheers me every December. Just listen to the “rigging up the lights” guy and try not to laugh.”