Thinking out loud: Plenty to be thankful for

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Thinking out loud…while wondering if St. John’s new president will root for the Friars?

·       Before commencing with the weekly “Festivus-styled” airing of grievances – let’s give thanks.  ‘Tis the season, you know.

·       Thanks that we’ve come this far.  Thanks, that college hoop is back, albeit in a somewhat limited state, but considering the shock and awe of what transpired last March?

·       I’m thankful we have a season at all.  The same for the ongoing football season, too.  There will be future bumps in the road, to be sure.  People are still getting sick.

·       But we’re pushing forward.  I’m thankful for resilience if nothing else.

·       And I’m very thankful YOU are wearing your mask, right?  Just sayin’.

·       Now, for the degree of p*ssoffedness in this situation, as my friend Steve in Killeen used to say.

·       Stupid p*sses me off.  This ain’t ovah yet.  I’ve seen people the past few weeks in open defiance of mask requests and regulations – even while indoors – and nothing is done to dissuade them.

·       I’ve said it before, and this is as good a time as any to say it again – listen up, Governors – no one will pay attention to any mandate or request you make until you put some TEETH into your rules.

·       Get the vaccine out, asap, in the interest of societal sanity if nothing else.  We’re too selfish and stupid to put up with this much longer.

·       We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

·       Know what else p*sses me off?  Taking that second bite of pie and suddenly remembering the diet you’re on, and the weight you’ve lost.

·       Hard to really tell how ‘improved’ Providence may be after a 41-point thrashing of Fairfield Wednesday.  You’ll recall last season, the Friars blasted Sacred Heart before stumbling to six losses in their next 12 games.

·       That being said, this version is D-E-E-P.  Ultra-strong inside with Nate Watson, Ed Croswell and Noah Horchler.  Watson can be a bully.  Croswell is a L-O-A-D with sneaky-good moves.  Horchler has a nifty (did I just say nifty?!?) low-post game.

·       If outside shots fall with semi-regularity, this could be interesting.

·       Between Watson and Croswell, the Friars have two of the nation’s Top 15 players in offensive rebounding percentage back from last season.  That means, when PC misses, they’re sucking up rebounds like a vacuum sucks up dirt.

·       Safe to say, we should know more about the Friars by this time next week, with Indiana and all-American big man candidate Jayce Jackson-Davis next…and possibly Texas and North Carolina looming on the horizon.

·       Some trifecta, huh?  College sports royalty right there.

·       Arizona State was supposed to play national title contender and #2 ranked Baylor at Mohegan Sun Arena Wednesday.  Think they wish they had?

·       URI gave ex-assistant and Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley all his team could handle.  Rhody was tied with the 18th ranked Sun Devils with 3:25 to play but there was no Fatts Russell to turn to in the stretch, having fouled out.

·       Russell had only 12 points, but when he left the floor, so did the Rams’ realistic chances of beating a Top 20 team.

·       But Jeremy Sheppard has game.  Antwan Walker led the way with 19 points in a game that might – might – developmentally benefit the Rams in the long run with their new faces.  The Sun Devils’ Remy Martin is an elite guard; Rhody missed theirs in the stretch run of a 94-88 loss.

·       The bounce back effort against Boston College on Thanksgiving night died on the free throw line.  Overall shooting is an issue, too…as it is in many other places.  David Cox has some work to do in the cohesiveness department.  Individual talent is there, though.

·       Bryant’s scheduled opener against Stony Brook was cancelled Wednesday, apparently from one of the officials testing positive and his contact with the Seawolves team.  I mean, a ref?

·       Stupid is as stupid does.

·      The teams, the athletes, the coaches – they do everything they’re supposed to do – and a ref tests positive?

· But the Bulldogs gave Syracuse the supreme scare Friday, missing two point-blank shots at the end to win it after leading much of the way. Instead, they fell 85-84 at the Dome. Jim Boeheim whined afterward about playing without practicing.

· Some things will never change, which is probably a good thing. Boos were audible in the socially-distanced ‘Cuse crowd.

·       The first college basketball game since Creighton and St. John’s shut the season down last March was supposed to have been Wednesday morning at 11 am at Mohegan Sun, with Stephen F. Austin playing San Francisco.

·       Didn’t happen.  Someone in the SFA party tested positive.  Bye, ‘Jacks.  Bye, game.

·       Covid testing and quarantine restrictions within the Big East, with 14-day mandatory program shutdowns, are going to become problematic…if they haven’t already.  More than half of the conference schools have been affected and quarantined to some extent.

·       Butler is the latest to postpone games and shut things down.  All teams may be shutting down at some point before this year is out.

·       Ed Cooley is not a fan of this policy.  Can’t imagine any league coach as a fan of this policy.

·       Especially now with the CDC telling us 14-day quarantines for anyone exposed to the coronavirus can be reduced from 7-to-10 days.

·       Jeff Goodman at Stadium mentioned this week the Big Ten largely has it right.  The player who tests positive must go into a 21-day quarantine (which is probably over-cautious), but the remainder of the team is able to test out of quarantine if they are negative each day.

·       Seems more than reasonable, no?  Pay attention college hoops.  You too, Big East.  It may be the only solution to save the season before a vaccine becomes prevalent.

·       But the play on the floor is off to a good start, as per the usual.  Through Turkey Day, the Big East is a combined 11-0.

·       Something else that p*sses me off – finding out that piece of cheese I wanted for lunch is moldy.

·       Auburn has self-imposed its own penalties, banning men’s basketball from playing in the 2021 post-season.  If there was a post-season to sit out, this might be the one.

·       But who are the Tigers kidding here?  Bruce Pearl teams always find trouble, wherever he goes.  Auburn received a notice of allegations from the NCAA a year ago amid the FBI probe (thanks, Chuck Person)…and it sez here a one-year mea culpa ain’t gonna appease anyone.

·       National title contender Baylor didn’t shut down this week, after head coach Scott Drew learned he had tested positive – but Baylor pulled out of Mohegan Sun anyway, cancelling their game with another national title contender, Villanova.

·       In effect, URI replaced Baylor – the #2 team in the country – in the 2K Empire Classic at Mohegan.  The Rams seized the day, and then the day seized back.

·       Tennessee shut it down, and ex-Friar coach Rick Barnes, now 66 years old, tested positive this week.  Two games this week in the Volunteer Classic are cancelled, and next week’s appearance in the Jimmy V Classic (in Indy, against Gonzaga) is in jeopardy.

·       Coach Barnes texted Joe Hassett in the middle of the Friars’ game with Fairfield to report he had a mild Covid case, and to say he is improving.

·       It’s gonna keep going on like this.  Mostly, teams will be very fortunate to play any non-league games of note.  Conference games stand a much better chance of being rescheduled, with league membership generally on the same protocol pages.

·       The PC women’s team added a late game, only two days before playing at Quinnipiac because of Covid concerns.  And it didn’t turn out well for the Friars in a six-point road loss.

·       Quinnipiac was to open against UConn at Mohegan Sun, but the powerhouse Huskies took their first loss with a positive Covid test before they could take the floor.  They now won’t play until Dec. 15th, at the earliest, missing four games in the process.

·       We’ve had some real rim-rattling stories hit us this year, haven’t we?

·       Another thing that p*sses me off – losing five pounds last week and gaining them all back this week.

·       What is the true difference between these Patriots this year and the Patriots of yesteryear?  Other than the obvious ‘they don’t have the GOAT’ answer, it’s simple.

·       They can’t finish.  Some of that was TB12’s doing, sure.  But others have always needed to step up in the breach, and for all the close calls this team has had – and mostly won – through the past 20 years, it ain’t happening this year.

·       Four games have come down to a final possession or drive with a chance to tie or win.  All four have resulted in losses.  Maybe karma is simply issuing a payback.

·       And maybe the team needs to do an internal examination of the players currently on the roster and see who’s really suited for such leadership opportunities.

·       And does one of them play quarterback?

·       It ain’t all Supercam’s fault, however.  It sez here (and Rookestradamus agrees) he’ll be the QB next season.  He needs help, and the return of opt-outs should help on defense.

·       Now, if we could get a few guys to opt-IN on offense, either already on the roster or from elsewhere, that would also help.

·       What the Pats are left with this season – is to win ‘em all.  Simple.  And that would be stunning.

·       Pretty simple math here – the Patriots are 4-0 when they win the turnover battle, 0-6 when they tie or lose it.  You need playmakers on defense, too.

·       But what are we thankful for?  20 years of NFL relevance, if not dominance.  If not this year.

·       And Nick Folk.  Thankful for Nick Folk, who has gone from basically being a street free agent to this teams’ offensive MVP.  No lie.

·       Covid took a bite out of Turkey day with the move of Ravens-Steelers to Sunday.  But, NBC won’t lose the national TV game exposure – or income.  They’ll get a Sunday afternoon special with the Sunday Night team calling it.

·       If they play the game at all.

·       And I don’t know about you, but the Dallas Cowboys are a special kind of stupid.  2020 = Cowboys.

·       Maybe Stephen A. Smith was right this week when he said the NFL should take away the Cowboys’ traditional Thanksgiving Day game.

·       But only if they take away Detroit’s first.

·       Know what else p*sses me off?  Getting a good idea and forgetting it before I write it down.

·       Tristan Thompson’s move to the Celtics is a definite upgrade in the middle.  But do the Kardashians have to come along for this ride?

·       Not for nuthin’, but Khloe sez she ain’t movin’.  Occasional visits, and the subsequent Kardashian sightings, will apparently still take place often enough to give us something to talk about.

·       Tough for Kris Dunn it didn’t work out in Chicago, with former Friar Billy Donovan moving in as head coach.  But it just might work out in Atlanta, with the Hawks needing a large dose of defense in their backcourt.

·       My buddy “Big E” sez he and “Mrs. E” finally got out to a restaurant the other night.  She noticed him staring at a drunken lady sitting nearby and asked, “do you know her?”  “E” said he did.  “She’s an ex-girlfriend, and I heard she took to drinking after we broke up years ago.  Looks like she’s still at it.”

·       “Mrs. E” certainly knows a good opportunity when she sees one.  She replied, “Good grief. Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?”

·       Wait, wut?  The Revolution won a playoff game?  And they’ve got another one this week, too.

·       Ski resorts are looking at traffic – and income – increases for the early winter period.  Ski NH sez they’ve seen a 20% increase in season passes, but slope capacities are likely to be decreased by as much as 20% due to social distancing rules.

·       Prior to the pandemic, golf was struggling.  But this year?

·       Golf rounds through the first nine months of 2020 were up 8.7% year-over-year, including a 26% jump in September.  Merchandise sales were also up 42% in the 3rd quarter compared to last year.

·       Where Massachusetts dropped the ball last week failing to approve sports wagering in the Commonwealth, New Jersey has certainly picked it up.  NJ is outpacing Nevada as the new sports betting capital of the U.S.A.

·       In October, Nevada raked in $659 million, breaking a previous monthly betting mark and a welcome sign of recovery with the Vegas strip hard hit by the pandemic.  Jersey?  $803 million.

·       Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Oregon and New Hampshire also set state records for total sports handle in October.  Anyone in the Mass legislature feel the need to reconsider?

·       Another thing that p*sses me off…neighbors who decide to boost their bass from the stereo the moment my head decides to hit the pillow.

·       And not being thankful for the things we do have.

·       So, I’ll ask the question anyway.  With Father Brian Shanley’s appointment as the new president at St. John’s this week, why was it (again) the Dominicans asked him to leave PC in the first place?

·       This has ZERO to do with Father Sicard, the current president at Providence College.  He’ll do a great job and served as Father Shanley’s Executive VP/understudy for 15 years.  But was this a change – only for the sake of change?

·       I’ve always subscribed to the theory of “don’t rock the boat, baby; don’t tip the boat over.”

·       Or, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

·       But what do I know?

·       Certainly not much about the inner workings of the Dominican Order, aka the Order of Preachers…for sure.  Except maybe they’ve had their heads stuck in the sand for what, 800 years?

·       Even the Pope realizes it’s a different world out there these days.

·       And especially if the new school prez at St. John’s still pulls for his Friars.  Wink, wink.

·       Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here!  Would appreciate the follow on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and join in on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

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