A LOUSY CALL, BUT NO EXCUSES FOR BOEHEIM’S TIRADE
Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim is a great basketball coach who had a Bobby Knight-moment late in Saturday evening’s 66-60 loss at Duke. He lost his cool. He’s human. We forgive him. But please don’t do it again.
The Hall of Fame coach didn’t necessarily cost his team a victory, but he contributed to the loss and everybody knows it – including his players.
Down 60-58 with a little more than 10 seconds remaining, SU’s C.J. Fair drove for the apparent game-tying bucket. Whistle. Official Tony Greene called Fair for a change on Duke defender Rodney Hood. No field goal.
For the record, it looked like a block to me... and probably to you... and definitely to Boeheim. It was the sort of call that seems to favor the home team, particularly with a big game on the line.
Reminder: In SU’s 91-89 overtime victory Feb. 1 at the Carrier Dome, a referee didn’t call a possible foul by SU center Rakeem Christmas on a dunk attempt by Rodney Hood with 12.2 seconds left. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t like the call but he kept his cool – on the spot and in his post-game comments.
Boeheim went the other way. He exploded. One technical foul. A second technical. Automatic ejection. Four foul shots for Duke’s Quinn Cook. He made three.
The game is all over but the shouting. Well, that was over, too, with Boeheim in the locker room.
After the game, Boeheim refused to apologize. He called it the “worst call of the year.”
Krzyzewski defended his longtime friend: “I applaud him. To me, he wants to win...We are both pretty old and we still care.”
Fair had the guts to tell it like it was after the game. When asked by reporters, he strongly suggested that the technicals on Boeheim cost SU any chance it had to pull out a victory.
Technical fouls on coaches aren’t always a bad thing. Heck, coaches often use them to fire up their teams. But these technicals doused whatever fire SU had left.
Boeheim’s tirade demonstrated how much he cares about his team. But we already knew that. He overreacted and his team paid the price. One has to wonder how Boeheim would’ve responded to a player who lost his cool in similar fashion in a big game.
Monday night’s game at Maryland (15-12 overall and 7-7 in the ACC) is a timely opportunity for SU to bounce back from last week’s disappointing losses to Boston College and Duke. There is plenty of basketball left for this team to play.
ANGELS SEE THE LIGHT: COULD LAND TROUT WITH LONG-TERM DEAL
Most baseball observers rate Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout as baseball’s best all-around player. He’s only 22 years old and has played only two full big-league seasons, but he was runner-up to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera for American League MVP both years.
Baseball insiders already have speculated how much Trout might be worth to – let’s say the New York Yankees -- when he becomes a free agent at the ripe old age of 26. Maybe $300- to $400 million for 10 or so prime years.
Trout’s performance line so far:
2012 – 139 games... .326 batting average...129 runs...27 doubles...8 triples...30 HRs...83 RBI...49 stolen bases
2013 – 157 games... .323 batting average...109 runs...39 doubles...9 triples...27 HRs...97 RBI...33 stolen bases.
He’s a genuine five-tool star player. He hits for average and power, has excellent speed and knows how to steal bases, plays excellent defense in left field or center field, and has a plus arm (unlike some of his young peers, he usually throws to the right base).
The Angels reportedly have seen the light. Rather than play low-ball with Trout’s salary at this early stage of his career, the team is expected to offer him an unprecedented contract extension for a player so young and inexperienced: 6 years for at least $150 million. It would buy out two years of his free agency and keep him off the market until the season he’ll turn 28.
There is no guarantee that Trout will accept this bombshell offer. Who knows how much he could be worth on the open market if he stays healthy and gets even better?
But give the Angels credit for looking ahead and trying to keep the best baseball player on the planet satisfied. If the team is fortunate, Trout will appreciate the lucrative display of loyalty and foresight and trade a future mammoth deal elsewhere for some long-term loyalty.
SABRES LIKELY TO DESERVE THE NHL’S NO. 1 DRAFT PICK ON MERIT
The Buffalo Sabres are on pace to finish with the worst record in the NHL. That would give Buffalo the best chance to win the draft lottery (25 percent chance to get the No. 1 overall pick) and wind up with no worse than the No. 2 pick.
The Winter Olympics break ends Tuesday night. Here is how the Sabres rank in the 30-team NHL in assorted categories:
Wins – 15 (30th)
Point percentage -- .333 (30th); 38 of 114 possible points in the standings
Goals per game – 1.82 (30th)
Fewest goals allowed per game – 2.95 (24th)
Power play percentage – 14.1 (27th)
Penalty killing percentage – 82.0 (15th)
Shots per game – 26.8 (28th)
Fewest shots allowed per game – 34.2 (28th)
Shot differential per game – minus 7.4 (30th)
Winning percentage when scoring first -- .278 (30th)...next-worst is the New York Islanders (.417); all other teams are .500 or better.
Faceoff percentage – 47.4 (27th).
BALTIMORE’S LATE ADDITIONS MAKE AL EAST EVEN BETTER
The American League East is generally regarded as the strongest of Major League Baseball’s six divisions. It got even stronger last week when the Baltimore Orioles added two high-impact free agents – pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and slugging outfielder Nelson Cruz.
Jimenez, 30, has the potential to be Baltimore’s No. 1 starting pitcher. He had a solid 2013 season with Cleveland (13-9 with a 3.30 ERA). Cruz, 33, is a proven power bat and should thrive playing half of his games at Camden Yards. He should be good for 30 HRs and at least 85 RBI. Last season, he hit .266, with 27 HRs and 76 RBI for Texas in only 106 games. He was suspended for 50 games in the Biogenesis scandal.
Jimenez and Cruz appear give the Orioles the edge over Toronto for at least fourth place in the rugged AL East.
Possible Baltimore lineup: RF Nick Markakis...3B Manny Machado...CF Adam Jones...1B Chris Davis....DH Nelson Cruz...C Matt Wieters...SS J.J. Hardy (top seven is impressive)...LF Steve Pearce/Nolan Reimold/Henry Urrutia/David Lough...2B Jemile Weeks/Ryan Flaherty.
Possible Baltimore starting rotation: Ubaldo Jimenez...Chris Tillman...Wei-Yin Chen...Miguel Gonzalez...Bud Norris...Kevin Gausman.
NICE WIN FOR CLIPPERS BUT IT DIDN”T PROVE ANYTHING
The Los Angeles Clippers might have earned a confidence boost with Sunday’s 125-117 road won over the Oklahoma City Thunder, but other than that, it didn’t prove anything.
Oklahoma City star guard Russell Westbrook was playing in only his second game since a knee injury on Christmas Day. He’s as quick as ever after surgery but obviously is rusty (3-for-13 on Sunday). Rookie Steven Adams filled in for veteran center Kendrick Perkins (out with a strained groin) and didn’t show much.
The Clippers (now 38-20, including a modest 15-15 on the road) were sharp, appeared more motivated than the Thunder (NBA-best 43-14, including 23-5 at home) and were sparked by super-sub Jamal Crawford’s 36 points.
But it always is fun to watch the Thunder play the Clippers. Apologies to the San Antonio Spurs, but I believe we can look forward to Oklahoma City versus the Clippers in the Western Conference finals. If both teams were at full strength, I’d pick the Thunder in six.
Thumbs up to Canada for sweeping the gold medals in men’s and women’s hockey. For many Americans, the sweep would’ve been a neat thing, but it means a lot more to our neighbors to the north. It is Canada’s game (along with curling) and it appropriately ruled in Sochi.
Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins received polite applause when he entered Sunday night’s game at the Los Angeles Lakers. There was no standing ovation for the first openly gay active player in North America’s four major sports. Maybe that’s because the media thinks it was a much bigger deal than the general public does. For many sports fans, the biggest story Sunday was Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning his second Daytona 500.
The New York Jets reportedly are interested in veteran Josh McCown to back up second-year QB Geno Smith. McCown was 3-2 for the Chicago Bears last season in relief of injured Jay Cutler. He had 13 TD passes and 1 INT. I’d prefer McCown over Buffalo’s incumbent No. 2 QB options behind EJ Manuel. Wouldn’t you?
Among the big ticket items at a sports auction last weekend in New York City: Babe Ruth’s 1923 World Series watch (the players got watches instead of rings) went for $717,000. It was the first of 27 world championships for the Yankees and Ruth’s only MVP season (a player could be MVP only once in those days)...and a 1911 game-used bat by ill-fated future Chicago Black Sox star Shoeless Joe Jackson went for $956,000. He hit .408 with 233 hits that season.
The Rochester Lancers finished their home season Sunday with a predictable 22-5 loss to the Baltimore Blast. The Lancers will lead the seven-team Major Indoor Soccer League in attendance by a wide margin but have to find a away to be more competitive against quality opponents. Against the four playoff teams, Rochester has a combined 1-12 record and has been outscored 232-109. The season ends Sunday at the Syracuse Silver Knights.