WHAT DO THE OTHER NBA COACHES HAVE AGAINST BRAD STEVENS?
Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics probably would make the list of basketball’s top-10 coaches at any level by nearly everyone who knows anything about the sport.
Stevens was an excellent college coach at Butler (166-49 in six seasons) and has done a brilliant job this season with the Celtics. Boston was 25-57 in his first season and is 196-132 since and ready to lead his team against LeBron James and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
The NBA coaches this week released the results of their voting for Coach of the Year. Toronto’s Dwane Casey was the winner. It was announced shortly after Casey’s Raptors were swept by Cleveland in the second round of the playoffs. He reportedly was fired on Friday.
This is a classic example of why voting for major individual awards in all pro sports should include post-season performance.
This was the second year for the National Basketball Coaches Association award. The coaches could vote for only of their peers.
Casey and seven other of the NBA’s 30 head coaches received votes from their peers for Coach of the Year. I don’t know what was more outrageous – Doc Rivers of the disappointing Los Angeles Clippers (42-40 record) receiving a vote or Brad Stevens receiving no votes.
(The “official” NBA Coach of the Year is determined by media people covering the league has yet to be announced. The media voters submit three names for 1st, 2nd and 3rd).
Stevens lost arguably his best player when Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome season-ending ankle injury in the opener. Kyrie Irving was acquired in a major trade with Cleveland but underwent season-ending knee surgery in mid-March.
Stevens twice adjusted to the losses of his best players. Boston posted a 55-27 record in the regular season and knocked off Milwaukee (4-1) and Philadelphia (4-1) to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against Cleveland. The Cavaliers are surprisingly heavy favorites (bet $275 to win $100) to eliminate the Celtics (bet $100 to win $240) but Stevens and his resourceful and hustling players figure to put up a stubborn fight. Would you be surprised if they upset the Cavs?
Was Stevens snubbed by his peers because is so only 41 years old and hasn’t “paid his dues”? Are some coaches jealous of his success?
Stevens and his overachieving Celtics are no fluke. Imagine how good Boston will be next season when Hayward and Irving are healthy again and figure to join Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris.
Stevens might even sweep the Coach of the Year awards.
KNIGHTHAWKS-SWARM TALE OF THE TAPE
Two of the National Lacrosse League’s hottest teams will collide Saturday night in the East Division semifinals. The season will end for one of them.
The visiting Rochester Knighthawks are 9-2 (including last week’s playoff win over New England) since their 2-6 start. The Georgia Swarm have won their last six games.
Here’s the Tale of the Tape (regular season stats; rank in the nine-team league in parentheses):
Records – Rochester 10-8 (4th)...Georgia 11-7 (t2nd)
Home/road – Rochester 5-4/5-4...Georgia 6-3/5-4
Goals for/GA/GD – Rochester 236 (3rd)/210/+26 (2nd)...Georgia 226 (4th)/215/+11 (6th)
PIM/game – Rochester 14.33 (6th)...Georgia 12.28 (7th)
Power play % -- Rochester 40-for-67; 59.7 (2nd)...Georgia 25-for-73; 34.2 (9th)
Penalty killing % -- Rochester 39-for-80; 48.8 (8th)...Georgia 35-for-67; 52.2 (5th)
Shots by per game – Rochester 55.06 (3rd)...Georgia 52.28 (6th)
Fewest shots allowed per game – Rochester 52.89 (5th)...Georgia 52.06 (4th)
Faceoff percentage – Rochester 286-for-438; .653 (1st)...Georgia 226-for-514; .440 (8th)
Average home attendance – Rochester 6,760 (6th)...Georgia 4,437(8th)
The teams met three times in the regular season. Rochester won 17-10 at Georgia February 11 and 11-10 at home March 11...Georgia won 14-11 at home December 30.
Reasons to like the Knighthawks – Five-time NLL Goaltender of the Year Matt Vinc is better than Mike Poulin...Rookie Jake Withers gives Rochester a big advantage on faceoffs...Graeme Hossack is a top candidate for NLL Defenseman of the Year...Significantly better power play than Georgia’s this season.
Reasons to like Georgia – Confidence and momentum with six straight wins...Awesome firepower potential (Lyle Thompson, Shayne Jackson, Jess King, Kyle Buchanan, Randy Staats, Myles Thompson and Jordan Hall) that makes this season’s lousy firepower a mystery...6-3 at home.
JOE “POISON” BROWN LED OFF FOR THE GREAT 1930 RED WINGS
The newest Rochester Red Wings Hall of Famers – Garrett Jones and Joe “Poison” Brown – were announced Thursday. They’ll be the 98th and 99th inductees at the ceremony Saturday, June 30 at Frontier Field.
Jones is a familiar name. The fan favorite left-handed slugging first baseman leads the Minnesota-era Red Wings (2003 through present) in games (818), runs (282), doubles (119), home runs (81) and RBI (326). He went on to hit .251 with 122 HRs and 400 RBI in 911 Major League Baseball games with the Twins, Pirates, Marlins and Yankees before ending his career in Japan in 2016.
You might not have heard of Joe Brown.
The Buffalo native is an International League Hall of Famer. He played for seven different International League teams from 1924 through 1934. His best stretch was with Rochester from 1928 through 1930 and portions of 1932 and 1933.
In 1929, he was the third baseman for the Red Wings team that turned a record 225 double plays. In 1930, he batted leadoff for arguably the greatest team in Red Wings history. He had a pretty good season: .313 batting average (207-for-661), 153 runs, 37 doubles, 12 triples, 10 HRs, 68 RBI and 17 stolen bases.
“Poison” Brown is the eighth and probably final member of that awesome 1930 team to make the Red Wings Hall of Fame. He’ll join Rip Collins, Specs Toporcer, player-manager Billy Southworth, Pepper Martin, Ray Pepper, Paul Florence and John Berly. Brown was born in Buffalo and never played in the majors.
Only the equally great 1971 Red Wings have more players (and a manager) in the team’s Hall of Fame: manager Joe Altobelli, Don Baylor, Bobby Grich, Johnny Oates, Ron Shelton, Jim Hutto, Roric Harrison, Fred Beene, Dave Leonhard, Bill Kirkpatrick and Mickey Scott. Terry Crowley and Mike Ferraro might join them.
RIT THE MEN’S LACROSSE TEAM TO BEAT...BUT THE PRESSURE IS ON
The RIT Tigers appear to be the team to beat for the NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse championship.
They look awesome on paper: 19-0 record...outscoring opponents 344 to 150 (+194)...outshooting opponents 886 to 597. No wonder RIT is ranked No. 1 among the 238 Division III men’s lacrosse teams in the country.
But the pressure is on the Tigers in pursuit of their first NCAA Division III title. RIT has lost two title games (15-7 to Salisbury last year and 16-14 to Stevenson in 2013).
RIT hosts Stevens Institute of Technology Saturday, 7 p.m., in a third round game. The quarterfinals will be May 16, the semifinals May 20 and the championship game Sunday, May 27, at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.
Gettysburg College (17-2 record), my alma mater, is a possible opponent for RIT in the championship game. The Tigers and Bullets are top seeds in their brackets. Gettysburg also is seeking its first national title and also has lost two title games (2001 to Middlebury and 2002 to SUNY Geneseo).
SPRAYING BASEBALL HITS TO ALL FIELDS
This week’s Mets-Reds trade – Matt Harvey for Devin Mesoraco -- would’ve helped both teams several years ago. The current Mets needed a catcher with some pop and Cincinnati needs pitching (among a lot of things). In 2014, Morasco hit .273 with 25 HRs and 80 RBI in 114 games for the Reds. In 2015, Harvey was 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA. But they haven’t done much since.
Buffalo baseball fans must be wondering when the Toronto Blue Jays will decide to promote 19-year-old third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., from New Hampshire of the Double-A Eastern League to the Bisons. Through 28 games, he’s batting .391 (43-for-110), with 22 runs, 12 doubles, 1 triple, 5 HRs and 36 RBI...And some Rochester fans must be wondering when 22-year-old second baseman Nick Gordon will be promoted to the Red Wings from Chattanooga of the Double-A Southern League. Through 32games, he’s batting .342 (41-for-120), with 15 runs, 9 doubles, 3 triples, 3 HRs and 19 RBI.
The Red Wings enter Friday with the best road record (10-5) and the worst home record (4-9) in the 14-team International League.
James Paxton of the Seattle Mainers threw the second Major League Baseball no-hitter ever by a Canada-born pitcher in a 5-0 victory Tuesday night in Toronto. The first Canadian to throw a no-no was Dick Fowler for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1945. His 1-0 victory over the St. Louis Browns was his first start and only victory that season (1-2 record, 4.82 in seven games after he was discharged from the Canadian military). The 6-foot-4 right-hander began his pro career with the Batavia Clippers (PONY League) in 1940 (9-11 record, 4.39 ERA in 29 games). His career record in the majors was 66-79 with a 4.11 ERA. He was born in Toronto March 30, 1921, became a U.S. citizen in 1949 and died May 22, 1972 in Oneonta, N.Y., where he was 16-10 in the Canadian-American League in 1940. He was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.
The Syracuse Crunch swept the Rochester Americans 3-0 by a combined score of 18-10 in the first round of the AHL Calder Cup playoffs. Toronto then swept Syracuse 4-0 by a combined 17-7. I guess it is fair to conclude that Marlies were significantly better than the Amerks this season.
City officials continue to slap band-aids on Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. Thumbs up for plans to upgrade the rest rooms. Long overdue and much appreciated. And I guess plans to make the building look better on the outside can’t hurt. But I hope someday our leaders recognize that the seating bowl is the major deficiency. The aisles are too narrow and the seats are too small. IMO.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...
Friday, May 11
Miguel Sano (25)...Cody Kessler (25)...Cam Newton (29)...Brad Marchand (30)...Jeremy Maclin (30)... Leinhart (35)...Lauren Jackson (37)...Bobby Rodde (41)...Chris Mohr (52)...Mark Breland (55)...Mike Lupica (66)...Ulf Nilsson (68).
Saturday, May 12
Maurice Harkless (25)...Antti Raanta (29)...Lance Lynn (31)...Mike Iupati (31)...Steve Smith (39)...Andre Carter (39)...Chris Snell (47)...Jim Furyk (48)...Mike Weir (48)...Tony Hawk (50)...Rochester-born former LPGA player Amy Benz (56)...Dave Christian (59)...Lou Whitaker (61)...Max Montoya (62)...Kevin Grevey (65)...George Karl (66).
Sunday, May 13
Tyrann Mathieu (26)...John Ryan Murphy (27)...P.K. Subban (29)...Jaroslav Halak (33)...Barry Zito (40)...Mike Bibby (40)...Darryl Sydor (46)...Tom Nalen (47)...Mitch Lyons (48)...Chris Washburn (53)...Sean McDonough (56)...Dennis Rodman (57)...Bobby Valentine (68)...Dean Meminger (70)...former UR star guard and briefly New York Knick Dave Deutsch (73) Darius Rucker (52), Stephen Colbert (54), John Kasich (66) and Stevie Wonder (68) are invited to the birthday party.