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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ramble On ... Mad as Hell and He took it?

An editorial from the student newspaper at the University of Kansas covered the main points of this week's fiasco in the cornfields. Here is an interesting column by student columnist Stephen Montemayor:

Nearly 120 years of athletics — many of them rich with tradition — currently wears a stain that may not soon fade.

The implications of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s altercations between the men’s basketball and football teams are not yet concretely known.

What is clear is that this is a joke.

It took little time for the news to go viral, spreading from national sports blogs to rival teams’ message boards. Kansas became the punch line of the day. A laughing stock.

Kansas State and Missouri fans: Fire away, we deserve it. In fact, I’m surprised that what I’ve read so far isn’t as vitriolic as it could be.

Whatever the source of the conflict, be it a girlfriend or pent-up animosity, something is seriously wrong between the football and basketball programs. Let’s hope Wednesday morning was rock bottom.

Where do you go from a 100-plus person fight one night and a mid-morning melee the next day? Do we want to imagine how either side would try matching the throwing of a football player down the stairs outside Budig Hall by one of the Morris twins?

Yes, let’s hope this is as classless as it can get. Let’s hope this sense of childish pride subsides and the urge to always be “a G about it” is controlled.

That quote was among a number of comically stupid status updates posted on Tyshawn Taylor’s now-defunct Facebook account.

“Keep my name out ya’ mouth for you get smacked in it,” the junior wordsmith posted Tuesday morning, before he would dislocate a finger in the initial brawl later that night. He later added “real n****s do real things..point plankn.” Rich stuff.

This has to be one of the more embarrassing 48-hour periods for Kansas Athletics in a very long time. It also comes during one of the most successful two-year periods in a very, very long time.

After football practice Wednesday, coach Mark Mangino indicated that he didn’t expect there to be any suspensions, a key bit of news as one of the players questioned by police Wednesday was junior wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe — who had already been kicked off the team once for academic problems and has a history of offenses to boot. For a while the notion of Briscoe, or any other player, being suspended or dismissed didn’t seem unthinkable. It still doesn’t.

My guess is the Athletics Department is eager to get this washed from its hands. And fast. Athletics director Lew Perkins issued a statement Wednesday after the third tussle, saying, “We will handle any discipline regarding this incident internally.” Wish they would’ve done that Tuesday.

Oh to be young again. To play catch with Dad, tailgate before the game and remain blissfully ignorant of the exploits of the player whose jersey draped over my back.

It is easy to be cynical at a time like this and overlook the good stories that are to be had in sports. They’re still there. Only it’s harder to find them through filth like this.

— Edited by Sarah Kelly

The University of Kansas Athletic Department and its A.D., Lew Perkins, have surely enjoyed better weeks. "Complicated and ongoing" were the perfect descriptions for an investigation that possibly will be taken up by the authorities rather than the School or conference or NCAA suits:

Read what the KS Star beat reporter for KU wrote on Saturday:

LAWRENCE - Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins held an impromptu news conference in the press box an hour before kickoff Saturday to address the fighting episodes on campus between football and basketball players earlier this week. Here is his opening comment and answers to questions from reporters.

“Mark (Mangino) and the team spoke on Wednesday. I waited for Bill (Self) to come back to meet with his kids. We were heavily criticized because we didn’t let the basketball players talk, but I didn’t feel like it was appropriate for them to talk before talking to their coach. I’ll take the blame on that.

“I think it’s been said over and over, this is really an embarrassment to our university. I’ve been in college athletic administration for over 40 years and I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’m embarrassed and very hurt by it, too. It’s a black eye on our athletic program, on our football and basketball teams, our university and the state of Kansas. We just can’t have that kind of stuff happen.

“There’s been some discussion maybe this has been going on for a long time. Quite honestly, we did not know if it’s factual that it has been going on. I honestly wish whoever knew, if some people knew, they would have told us. I don’t think we or any of our coaches, or anybody at the university, put our heads in the sand and thought we knew this was going on and we’re not going to deal with it.”

“We do exit interviews with all our kids when they leave and didn’t hear that something that could happen or was brewing. Again, I wish if they knew they had come forward.

“I met with the teams Wednesday about 2, but not as quickly as I should have because there was a fight around 11. There was no question when I left they knew what I meant. I told them how I felt, no question I was not going to tolerate this. They came together as a group. They knew what they had done and those who had the opportunity to talk said they were embarrassed they were.

“I heard every line you can possibly think of, and the best one I’ve heard was when I brought the team together. They were shaking hands, and Jake Sharp turned to Cole Aldrich and said, ‘Hey, man, stay tall.’ And I thought maybe we’re over this now.

“Not to take away from what went on there. I’ve talked to other administrators all over the country. It was interesting, this is an issue they face, but it hasn’t escalated to what we faced. It just blows my mind.

“I’m two or three cultures away. Facebook and Tweeter (Twitter). I understand what they’re doing, I’m not quite sure why. My culture gap…We’ve taken a lot of preventive things. I can’t tell you the number of speakers who have come in and talked about Facebook, talked about (Twitter), talk about rap culture, to the point where maybe we overkill it. But we have addressed it.

“The other thing people talk about is the discipline thing. I’ve always had a policy, I’ve allowed our coaches to handle discipline the way they want to with their team. If it escalates over and above what I think the coaches should be doing, then I’m going to step in and deal with it. We’re still gathering information to be honest with you. We have to be very careful of what we can say and what we can’t say about what we know or what we don’t know. If we’re wrong for some reason we can be, we’re not afraid lawsuit, but we don’t necessarily want one.

“The situation with Tyshawn (Taylor), he already admitted he got hurt, so I can comment on that. But we would not be able to talk about him if he didn’t give us permission. That’s part of why we’ve been close to the vest on this.

“This might be the most complicated thing I’ve ever dealt with in my whole life. There are all kinds of different issues involved, all kinds of different people involved, and every time I think we get where need to get, another thing pops up.

“Do I think it’s a dead issue now? I think the fighting is a dead issue. I know the basketball team is here (at the football game) to show support. What’s interesting, there are a few guys who got involved, but I think overall the guys like each other. We lost our composure, guys’ manhood was brought into it, and that was absolutely bull(spit).

“I’ve heard from a lot of people, who say, ‘Boys will be boys,’ But let me tell you, this is not boys will be boys. This is much more serious, much more complicated than boys will be boys.

“Now we have to get down to other issues, Facebook, (Twitter) we have to figure out. We’re going to continue to do that.

“I thought Jason Whitlock’s article really got the heart of it. I don’t understand that culture right now. I’ve always been able to surround myself with people who know more than I do, or if we don’t have those people here we’re going to bring them in. We’re going to bring people in who really, really understand this.”

They have a job to do and if they need our help we’ll help. This is complicated and ongoing.

The damage is done. We can’t get back the fights. What we’re hoping to is take this and make it a positive. Can I tell you how? We’re not there yet. That’s kind of what I said when I sat down with everybody.
It’s done it’s over with we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We have to deal with the problem. I’m not dismissing what happened, but I want to focus on what we’re going to do from here.

Wherever you recruit, even in small little farm towns, you’ll have different kinds of problems, different cultural programs. We have 600 plus (athletes) here. I honestly can look at everybody in the eye and say we have 600 positive, and we have some who probably aren’t positive. But don’t take that as because a kid got in trouble he’s not a positive kid. My own little cliché, there’s a reason people put erasers on pencils is because people make mistakes.

I’m 64 years old and have been doing this for more than 40 years and I can honestly say this was as mad as I’ve been in a long time.


A Saturday afternoon post from the ESPN college footy blog:

The teams fought at least twice midweek, with a football player apparently getting shoved down a few stairs and basketball player Tyshawn Taylor injuring his thumb.

Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins spoke before Saturday's football game against Southern Miss, saying he is embarrassed and hurt by the altercations. He called the issue the most complicated he's dealt with in more than 40 years as a college administrator.

Perkins said he will let the coaches discipline the players, but will step in if the situation escalates.

Yahoo's Marc Spears, formerly of the Denver Post and Boston Globe, on my new favorite NBA player, Steph Curry:

OAKLAND, Calif. – Stephen Curry(notes) knows Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson is famously tough on rookies. Curry also knows his college exploits will only make him a target for NBA veterans hungry to beat up on a wispy 21-year-old. And, yes, he understands that adjusting to life in the league far away from the only home he’s ever known carries its own pressure.

But Stephen Curry also doesn’t care.

“I think I will be Rookie of the Year,” he said. “I have that kind of confidence in myself. … I’m not afraid to say it.”

Those are high expectations for someone who shot only 32.5 percent for the Warriors’ summer league team. Curry, however, has never lacked for self-esteem. As the son of former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry, he guided Davidson to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1969. Curry then led the nation in scoring as a junior before Golden State took him with the seventh pick in the draft.

In an effort to improve his game, Curry spent the offseason traveling the country with trainer Idan Ravin to practice against some of the league’s elite players, including Chris Paul(notes),Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Joe Johnson(note

“If you want to be the best,” Dell Curry said, “you have to work out and train with the best.”

Stephen Curry transitioned to point guard during his junior season at Davidson, so his workouts with Paul held the greatest value. Paul mentored him on his moves and decision-making.

“It’s more of just a feel when you’re in the game,” Curry said. “He knows how to be effective on the court with the dribble, which is what I’m trying to learn now, using ball screens and all that kind of stuff.”

While Curry is confident he can make an immediate impact, he knows there will be some challenges awaiting him with the Warriors. Nelson usually isn’t generous with playing time for rookies. Curry talked to Anthony Randolph(notes) andAnthony Morrow(notes) about their ups and downs last season.

“They say it was tough, but if [Nelson] is not being tough on you then you have problems because he doesn’t see potential in you,” Curry said. “If he’s out there pushing you as much as he can, making it tough on you in practice trying to get the best out of you then that’s a good sign. If you take [criticism] well and work on your game, than your time will come.”

The good news for Curry is Nelson has already quietly compared him to Steve Nash(notes). The Warriors’ run-and-gun offense also seems tailor-made for him. The question: Will there be room for both Curry and Monta Ellis(notes), Golden State’s other talented, young combo guard?

Already, there has been speculation Ellis isn’t happy about the addition of another guard. Warriors officials have denied that’s the case, but neither Ellis nor Stephen Jackson(notes), Golden State’s disgruntled team captain, has reached out to Curry since he was drafted. Still, Curry is hopeful he and Ellis can co-exist and benefit each other.

“We both offer something to the team,” Curry said. “He’s proven that. I hope to prove that this year. It will be a good combo to have. It will be pretty explosive.”

And if they are? Eight months from now, Curry thinks you’ll be calling him Rookie of the Year.


News Item: Son of NBA Coach and Longtime LA Lakers champion Kurt Rambis takes it to the beach in Aspen. Read on from the Aspen Times:

ASPEN — At barely 6 feet, Jesse Rambis clearly does not take after his towering father.

“I got my mother's height,” joked the 23-year-old, the son of former NBA player and current Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Kurt Rambis, who stands 6-foot-8.

“And my quickness!” Linda Rambis proudly chimed in after Monday's MotherLode open men's final.

That agility paid off. Jesse Rambis and teammate John Moran capped off a perfect Labor Day weekend with a straight-games (21-17, 21-16) victory over Dane Jensen and Evan Engle to clinch the MotherLode title — the first for each.

The win came in Rambis' third trip to Aspen, while Moran finally broke through in his seventh trip to the world's largest doubles volleyball tournament. The duo were playing together for the first time.

“I've come so close here — third and fifth place,” Rambis said. “This is special. … It took lots of battles, the first one being the gnarliest.”

Rambis and Moran, from Manhattan and Redondo beaches in California, staved off elimination in Saturday's first round, where they were pushed to a third and final game, which they won 15-13.

Once they made it to the winner's bracket, the duo stayed there.

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