Archive for the ‘Things I Love’ Category

Thought provoking.

It’s June, and that always meant a month chock full of basketball. We had Monday and Wednesday night league games, shootouts, our PV Youth Camp, and of course our annual pilgrimage to WVU Team Camp, the Gary Williams Team Camp before that, or even the Bob Huggins Camps at UC and the Ohio U Camps under Billy Hahn back in the late 80s and early 90s. All were always great times.

As you might expect, stories abound from those days . . .

One year we arrived in Morgantown on Friday, got registered at camp, and I got all the guys checked into their hotel rooms. About an hour later my hotel phone rings, and I pick up.

“Hello?”

“Coach, this is T-Bag Medley. I have a question.”

Yes, he gave me his full name.

Because you know, it could have possibly been T-Bag McGinnis or T-Bag Mertz or any other number of my friends named “T-Bag” that happen to refer to me as “coach.” You can’t make this stuff up, kids.

Anyway, I told the guys and for the rest of the weekend and probably forevermore “T-Bag” would be known by his full name of “T-Bag Medley.”

Good Lord.

One time at WVU I heard some of my players being too loud in the hotel lobby. I went out there (pretty upset with them since their were other people in the lobby) and found a couple of my guys in the little room with the snack machines and stuff. They were talking loudly so I ripped into them pretty good, and as I did I noticed a player named Boom slowly disappearing behind one of the machines until he was completely behind it.

Me: “Boom! Why are you hiding behind the machine?”

Boom, in a small, trembling voice: “Because I’m scared.”

Keep in mind this was from a senior and 3-year varsity player. All I could do was laugh and walk away.

Some of my players hadn’t spent a lot of times away from home or in hotels, as was evident one day when one of them took me aside and whispered, “Coach, while we were gone today somebody came in and cleaned up our room. They made our bed and everything. It was awesome!”

The kid was tickled to death, like he’d hit the lottery or something. Couldn’t have been happier.

McCloy vs. 911 Wings.

Draise vs. 911 Wings.

And I’ll never forget a yearly tradition at Hugg’s camp at WVU – the yearly Eating of the 911 Wings. You see, there was a place called Kegler’s that had the hottest chicken wings on the planet. They were so hot they were called 911 Wings. Although we didn’t force players to try one we always told them it was a PV basketball tradition, a Rite of Passage if you will. Almost all the players tried at least one. Those wings were absolutely brutal. To watch them take a bite, then nod their head like it wasn’t that bad, only to see the heat kick in and tears come to their eyes, well it was memorable to put it mildly.

I like to think of it as the ultimate team-building exercise.

Note: 2017 grad Jay Riley could order a plate of those damn things and not bat an eye. Kid had an iron stomach. Or maybe no taste buds.

Once while we were out eating at a restaurant I had a player order extra futons for his salad. The waitress just looked at him blankly and asked, “You mean croutons?” as the table erupted in laughter.

I used to take my teams out to the University of Maryland for the Gary Williams Basketball Camp. It’s a long story but I used to be the Commissioner of the camps there for Gary from 1989 to 2002.

The kids who attended Maryland Camp came from the Washington DC area as well as Baltimore, Philly, New York City and schools all along the east coast. To say my Southern Ohio boys were out of their element was a bit of an understatement. Still, my guys hung out with the city boys, stayed in the dorms with them, and more than held their own on the basketball court. To me it was a win-win all-around. You know, expanding cultural horizons and all that. Not to mention it made my guys better playing against such good competition.

Which brings me to a story that Gary Williams, legendary former coach at Maryland, still tells to this day. Remember that it was 1992, and “trash talking” was in its early stages. Understand that trash talking hardly ever led to violence on the court, it was just a part of the game for players from the playgrounds of the inner-cities. My team, however, was not used to it. It hadn’t made its way to our neck of the woods yet.

With this in mind, my Ohio boys had been in a particularly intense contest with a team from Philly, which we happened to have won. Afterwards, in a corridor outside the Cole Field House floor, words were exchanged between an opposing player and one of my guys. After the other player challenged my player with some unkind words, a punch was thrown.

Somebody got throttled, and he wasn’t from Ross County.

Gary Williams, the aforementioned Maryland coach, happened to be in the corridor and jumped between my player and the other guy who was, well, on the hallway floor. At that point, as Gary will tell you, the following conversation took place:

Coach Williams: “What are you doing, man? Why did you punch him?”

My guy: “Coach, where I come from we only talk like that for a minute. Then we start to hit.”

Gary thought that was the greatest thing he’d ever heard, and he could hardly wait to tell me about it.

Another story at Maryland involved a certain player of mine whose name I’ll leave out to protect the not-so-innocent. This guy liked the ladies, and it just so happened a girls rugby camp was going on the same week as our basketball camp. During our lunch break I was in a car, and as we drove I noticed him flirting with a young lady.

Sorry, but this was too good to pass up. As we passed I stopped the car, rolled down the window, and said this:

“Hey man, we should be getting those STD test results back any time now. I’ll let you know if you’re clean.”

I’m telling you, the look on his face was priceless. Hers too.

Then we drove away.

My last story from Maryland didn’t involve my players, but instead involved me. You have to remember that Cole Field House was a legendary basketball arena. All the ACC greats played there, guys like Len Bias, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Kenny Anderson, Billy Cunningham, Christian Laettner, Ralph Sampson, James Worthy, Joe Smith and David Thompson. In 1966 the famous National Championship game between Texas Western and Kentucky took place in Cole. Texas Western had an all-black starting line-up and Kentucky was all-white. Led by the legendary coach Don Haskins, Texas Western beat the Adolph Rupp coached Kentucky 72-65. Bottom line, it was a storied, historic arena. Knowing that makes the following story more relevant . . .

It was the last day of camp, the parents had arrived to pick up their kids, and I was announcing the championship game. The contest was nearing its conclusion when I said the following:

After the game all parents and visitors need to go to the tunnel end of the gym so they can watch the awards ceremony.”

Believe me, I said this with all sincerity and honesty. Never gave it a second thought. But then, all of a sudden, future Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams is looming over me screaming:

“Does this look like a GYM to you, Shoe? Michael Jordan did his first cradle dunk here! Lenny Bias played here! An all black Texas Western team beat an all white Kentucky team on this court in 1966! This is COLE FIELD HOUSE, MAN!”

I’m paraphrasing but that was the gist of it. At this point I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, which only made Gary angrier. I mean, he was serious but it was so funny at the time I couldn’t help myself. In the meantime any coach within 10-feet was slowly backing away as to not get caught in the line of fire. As far as Coach Williams was concerned I’d insulted the sacred grounds of Cole Field House by referring to it as a “gym.”

Believe me, to Gary Williams that was sacrilegious, man. 

Being the good guy that Gary was we laughed about it together later, but at the time I thought I was gonna get coldcocked by one of college’s all-time greatest coaches. Whew.

Believe me, there are more stories that will have to wait and be told another day. But bottom line, these few stories are what’s great about coaching. Not all the great memories are from time spent during a game. They’re from practices, camps, on the bus, and when we together as a team far away from game night, developing relationships that will last forever.

Ultimately, it’s all about relationships.

Discuss.

You guys know about my issues with language. I’ve written about the subject in several blogs, most famously “Updating My “Things I Hate” List, a classic if there ever was one. Well, to me anyway. With that in mind, let us talk about words and redundancies. Forgive me, for I shall be repeating myself once or twice. Let’s do this . . .

“You’re exactly right.”

Listen kids, if you’re right you’re right. Otherwise you’re wrong. Exactly right implies you’re righter than the person who also got it right. I’m getting a headache.

“I’m working on my inner core.”

No, just your core will do, thank you. We know the core is inner, because you know, there’s no such thing as an outer core. By the way, people who blather on about working out are nauseating.

“He’s reverting back to his previous behavior.”

See, if you’re reverting you’re automatically going back. After all, you can’t revert forward. That seems risky and even dangerous. Seems like if you tried you’d probably pull a hammy or a groin or something.

“We’re sending the snitch to a safe haven.”

Again, a haven is by nature safe. There are no dangerous havens, although “Dangerous Haven” definitely sounds like a movie you’d see on the Lifetime Movies network.

“The perp has a prior history of criminal behavior.”

Is my blog about redundancy getting redundant or is it just me? Because history is already prior. There is no prior future. Redundant, man.

“Your sum total for the donuts is $193.63.”

Again, the sum is the total and the total is the sum. That sounded like something that could be sung in a children’s education program. “The sum is the total and the total is the sum, Say it right you stinkin’ bum! No? Alright.  In addition, somebody is eating a lot of donuts.

“That kid is throwing a temper tantrum.”

I’m pretty sure all tantrums involve tempers, hence the redundancy. You can’t have a gleeful or joyful tantrum, you know. What the hell, let’s all use “fit of rage” from now on anyway. That’s way cooler.

By the way, if you look to the left of the page and scroll w-a-a-a-y down you’ll get to a “categories” bar. Then scroll even farther down until you see “words” and you can find several things I’ve written about words. You’re welcome.

That’s all I got. Just had to get it off my chest. Thanks for listening. I feel better now.

 

Because what’s more heroic than saving a pizza? I mean really? In the first video below you’ll see a man perform an amazing, dare I say death-defying, act of bravery as he rescues a pepperoni and cheese pie. Below that you’ll witness a Super Dad grab a flying umbrella that was sure to impale anyone who happened to be nearby. Well done, heroes. Well done indeed.

A couple things stand out to me as I watch these videos. First of all, some of these jokes would never fly today because people are so damned thin-skinned about getting insulted. Secondly, nobody delivered a line like Paul Lynne. I mean, you know you’re funny when people hear the question and begin laughing before you even give your answer.

PS- Paul Lynde died 37-years ago. That’s sort of jarring.

Check out that Dik-Dik, man. Adorable. This little dude lives in the bushlands of eastern and southern Africa. They’re tiny and stand about 12–15 inches at the shoulder, are 19–27 inches long, weigh 6.6–13.2 pounds and can live for up to 10-years. They can also scurry at nearly 30 mph, which is pretty damn speedy. Dik-Diks are named for the alarm calls of the females. In addition to the females’ alarm call, both the male and female make a shrill, whistling sound. These calls alert other Dik-Diks to predators. Check out the videos below to see and hear some real honest-to-goodness Dik-Diks. Anywho, Dik-Dik.

From God to Ryan Reynolds, there are some hysterical tweeters out there. Enjoy.

[click and scroll to get the whole tweets]

Four tiger poachers were killed in a mangrove forest in Bangladesh on Wednesday during a shootout with police, officials said. The alleged poachers opened fire at Rapid Action Battalion, the anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, in the Sundarbans, the world’s biggest mangrove forest, after they were questioned, AFP reported.

The four men, who were found dead along with guns and ammunition on the boat, were identified as members of a gang that allegedly poaches Bengal tigers and Irrawaddy dolphins, officials said.

“These gangs have become a major threat to wildlife conservation,” Tajul Islam Islam, a spokesperson for the Rapid Action Battalion, said.

Let this be a warning to all Bengal Tiger poachers in Bangladesh – try and poach a Bengal Tiger, Irrawaddy Dolphin or any other endangered species in Bangladesh and you will be hunted down by the Rapid Action Battalion and you will be murdered. Why? Because the Rapid Action Battalion gives no damns.

PS- I had to find out what the Rapid Action Battalion looked like. I was not disappointed.

In the wild there have been no fatal attacks on humans by Orcas (Killer Whales) and only one reported bite. In captivity there have been several non-fatal and fatal attacks on humans since the 1970s.

 

This the latest in my series of Top 10 songs (or with The Beatles a Top 30 because it’s The Beatles damn it) of some of my favorite musical artists. It’s sort of a silly exercise really because taste in anything is pretty arbitrary, ya know? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all that. Anyway, what follows are my personal favorites and nothing more, and if you don’t like them you can go to hell.

Kidding. Feel free to let me know your favorites. Here we go . . .

My Hero (1997)

Everlong (1997)

The Sky is a Neighborhood (2017)

Long Road to Ruin (2007)

Best of You (2005)

Monkey Wrench (1997)

Big Me (1995)

 

Times Like These (2003)

Learn To Fly (1999)

M.I.A. (1999)

These Days (2011)

Next Year (1999)

OK, I lied. I listed 12. I couldn’t break it down to 10. Live with it. Anyway, Foo Fighters man. Keeping rock ‘n’ roll alive.

I don’t think I missed an episode of Soul Train or Midnight Special. Watch these dancers groove to Love Train by my buddies the O’ Jays. On a related note, Don Cornelius was the coolest cat around back then.

These are the states in the U.S. with the highest number of violent and property crimes per capita.

 

AOL- Footage of a dutiful beluga whale returning an expensive gadget to its rightful human owner is making waves online.

Strangely enough, iPhone owner Ina Mansika and her friends were actually searching for the specific whale, known as Angel — which attained celebrity status weeks ago as a suspected Russian navy spy when it turned up in open waters around Hammerfest, Norway, wearing a harness — when the encounter occurred.

Angel hasn’t been behaving like a typical Beluga as she’s been letting people scratch her nose and chin and generally behaving like she’s having s great time.

Mansika told AOL that she and her pals laid down on a dock for a better chance to see the infamous Beluga and “hopefully get the chance to pat it” when her phone slipped out of her jacket pocket and into the ocean.

Seconds later, the considerate sea creature dove down and appeared at the surface of the water with the gadget in its mouth, to the shock of onlookers.

Check out Angel. First she defects from the damn communists and now she’s returning her fan’s cellphones, all the while with a smile on her face. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times – in 100-years we’ll know stuff about the intelligence of animals that would astonish us if we knew it today. Amazing. Animals, man.

Check out that Meat-Eating Harp Sponge, man. Dude looks more like a candelabra to me but whatevs. This guy will snare and slowly digest a passing crustacean before they know it. This bizarre creature had never been observed by human eyes before 2000, when a team from the Monterey Bay Research  Aquarium Institute in California took a remotely operated submersible into 2-mile deep waters off the central California coast (video below). Wild looking creature, man. Anywho, Meat-Eating Harp Sponge.

[type “Cool Animal of the Day” into the search box to find more cool animals]

Image result for harp sponge

Nothing to see here. I’m just a harmless plant. Move along.

The longest straight line on land in the world starts in Liberia and ends near Wenling, China. The route runs through 9 time zones, 18 countries and is over 8,444 miles long.

At 6.6 million square miles Russia is the world’s largest country in area. But Mercator Maps make it look larger than it actually is. If you move Russia down to the equator you will see how truly mammoth the continent of Africa is. At 11.73 million square miles, it’s almost twice the size of Russia. Take a gander:

Check out that Hellbender, man. That’s the most glorious name these ears have heard. It got its name from settlers who “thought it was a creature from hell where it’s bent on returning.” That’s awesome, man. It’s also called the Spotted Water Gecko but that name sucks. This guy lives in the eastern part of North America, including southern Ohio, and has been known to live to 50 in captivity. Hellbenders have been known to eat crawdads, fish and the occasional kid at the old swimmin’ hole.

PS- A relative called the River Dragon was found in Japan and was, incredibly, over 200-years old.

PPS- I used to go with my Grandpa to check his trot lines when I was a kid and he’d occasionally hook a Mud Puppy, which was sort of a smaller version of this beast. Anyway, seeing that slimy eel with legs would freak the bejesus out of me every time. Grandpa would just laugh and dangle the thing in front of me to taunt me. Good times.

May 3 (UPI) — A tourist at a cabin in Tennessee captured photos of an unusual fellow visitor — a black bear relaxing in the rental’s hot tub. Hannah Elizabeth Strickland captured photos Friday morning of three bears wandering around the rental property in Gatlinburg. The photos show one of the bears settling into the hot tub on the cabin’s back porch for a relaxing soak.

The three bears eventually wandered off on their own.

Check out my guy here. Dude just chillin’ like a villain and taking over the place like a boss. Your average bear would be acting like a savage and looting the place for food, but not my man here. He saw the hot tub and took advantage of it for some spa treatment. Bro probably got a medi pedi, practiced some restorative yoga and went back to his cave for some aromatherapy afterwards.

Bears, man. Gotta love ’em.

PS- Anytime I post a bear video I’m reminded of one of the greatest photo of all-time, the bear falling out of the tree. The look on the bear’s face is perfect.

90% of Canadians live within 100-miles of the United States. They rank 222nd in the world in population density.

Gather around young hoopsters, and let me tell you a story from a bygone basketball era, a time when a travel was a travel, teammates executed something called a “box-out”, and players who actually attempted to block a dunk attempt were applauded and not ridiculed.

Kids, what you’d also see is the now lost art of something called a mid-range jump shot! For those unaware, a mid-range jumper was one that was taken outside the key, yet inside the 3-point line. Yes, this happened regularly!

In addition, back in olden times players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain rarely flopped! In fact, there wasn’t even a word for it because it didn’t exist in basketball until the European basketball players took it from their soccer brethren and brought it to the American hardwood.

And oh, by the way, there once existed rules such as only being allowed 2-steps without dribbling the basketball and keeping your hand on top of the ball whilst bouncing it. Such rules have vanished in the mists of time. You may now shot fake, do the bunny hop 3 or 4-times backwards or sideways without dribbling before taking a shot. You may also charge to the rim unhindered, unhampered and unchecked, all the while cradling the ball under your arm like a newborn babe.

And although you may find the following hard to fathom, in days of yore after a player committed a foul he would not always run whining to the referee! Often, said player would respectfully raise his hand in the air for all to see, thus admitting his infraction. All this is true my children!

In conclusion, and you may find this bit of information implausible, improbable, and dare I say inconceivable, during these ancient times those in attendance could sometimes observe a player help an opponent up after he fell down (you have my permission to sit down if you’re not doing so already). It was called an act of sportsmanship. For those unfamiliar with this alien term, I’ll let Webster’s explain:

sports·man·ship

/ˈspôrtsmənˌSHip/

noun

1- fair and generous behavior or treatment of others, especially in a sports contest.

You’re welcome. Feel free to print and cut and clip to your locker/fridge/dashboard/forehead.

But let’s move on to more shocking news. Back in the prehistoric days of basketball (pre-2000 ish) players were permitted to be much more physical! And horror of horrors, on defense you could actually touch your opponent! I kid you not! Yes, young ballers, defenders were actually encouraged to impede his opponent’s progress to the rim! Insanity!

And finally, there once was a time where team was valued over individual! Very few players tried to draw attention to themselves by preening, dancing, shimmying, or doing The Worm at mid-court. Stunningly, celebrations were saved for, you know, actually winning the game!

You may now take some time to let that marinate, soak it in if you will. I know, I know, it’s all a little upsetting to think about.

And thus concludes my basketball history lesson. I’m sure many of you younger folk will find this too hard to believe, that it’s simply a flight of fancy from an old man longing for a simpler, and better, game.

And you know what? You’d be right.

PS- Listen, I realize most fans prefer the wide-open, free wheeling style of play rather than teams playing tough D and running an offense. To me though, that’s the purist and most beautiful style of basketball.

PPS- The NCAA Championship game featured two fundamentally sound teams. They screened, ripped the ball through to the triple threat position after a catch, shot faked, cut hard, took good shots, played hard, played intense defense, and nobody did The Robot or Flatulent Llama after scoring a basket. There’s hope!

Oh, how I’d love to see Draymond Green try and guard Wilt.

Check out this beauty. The little dude is a Magnificent Spider, otherwise known as a Ordgarius Magnificus, but I’m sure you knew that. According to the Australian Museum it isn’t dangerous to humans, so feel free to pick it up and play with it at your leisure. Magnificent Spiders are often found in New South Wales and Queensland and can grow up to 2.5 cm in length. Unlike most spiders they don’t spin a web, they just use a sticky silk orb to catch their prey. That’s diabolical, man. Anywho, Magnificent Spider.

The female Magnificent Spider has distinctive markings on its body. The body is white with two bright yellow blobs on its abdomen, and a red-coloured spots

A new species of crab that’s the size of a quarter with big, bug eyes has been discovered and it is freaky as all holy hell. Scientists are calling the crab “the strangest crab that’s ever lived” and that would be 100% accurate. This dude had a mismatch of body parts, like a Frakencrab or something. Scientists say it was no bigger than a quarter with bent claws, big eyes, an exposed tail and leg-like mouth parts. Wait. What? Anywho, Callichimaera Perplexa.

Dude’s just scrolling The Gram like a boss.

PS- Bonus video of smart animals below.

I couldn’t have said it better. Right on, Simon Sinek.