Jerry Tarkanian: For the second time in less than a week, the college basketball world is mourning the loss of one their great coaches. Jerry Tarkanian, best known for his 1990 national championship UNLV Running Rebels team, has died at the age of 84. Unlike former UNC coach Dean Smith, Tarkanian's career was fraught with controversy. However, he seemed like the perfect coach to lead a team that played in Las Vegas. Although he was often accused of impropriety, especially with alleged organized crime figures, there was never anything concrete enough to warrant significant action against Tarkanian. What was lost in a lot of the controversy was the way he was able to recruit, coach and win. His teams were offensive machines, scoring a lot of points and wearing down opponents. After winning the national championship by humiliating Duke in the final, they returned to the final four the following season undefeated and apparently impossible to beat. But in one of the biggest upsets in my memory, the Blue Devils knocked off the Running Rebels and went on to win the title over Kansas. Tarkanian coached for thirty years at the Division I level, won 729 games and appeared in four final fours.
Little League Scandal: It's disappointing that a team which created so much positive energy by winning the U.S. championship at the Little League World Series has vacated their title due to rules violations concerning ineligible players. It's been confirmed that the team used players that did not live within their jurisdiction. I find it hard to believe that this was an honest mistake, although I guess that possibility still exists. Unfortunately, it just serves to taint another sport, this one involving kids. I've maintained for quite some time that just because we can, it doesn't mean we should turn pre-adolescents into media stars and give the adults that run the leagues and teams an inflated reason to cheat. I'm obviously a big sports follower, but mainly because I like the action. At the end of the day, if my team wins, it's great; if they lose, not so great, but it's not worth cheating to alter that result. And these are kids we're talking about here. Mike Greenberg on ESPN's Mike and Mike show commented that he hoped the kids weren't involved or knowledgeable of the infraction. That's nice to hope for, but I find it a little difficult to believe. What's the message to those kids? One of them is surely that it's okay to do anything, even cheat and lie, to win. But a more subtle message is that the kids really don't matter at all. Because if they did, there's a whole lot more to learn about life when you give it your best shot and don't win than there is by cheating and winning.
Arkansas Razorback on Wooden List: Although I live in Northwest Arkansas and have some ties to the University of Arkansas, I rarely blog about the sports programs. But the top 20 in the Wooden Award list that picks most deserving player in college basketball have been announced, and the Hogs' sophomore center Bobby Portis was included. I don't know the young man, my only familiarity coming from what I see on television or those rare time when I'm in the arena during a game. He plays with intensity and passion, clearly with the team's performance utmost in his mind. That's not to say that his individual numbers aren't superb and along with Michael Qualls is part of one of the most potent duo's in college basketball. I doubt he'll win, but in this case just being a part of a very talented group of players is a great accomplishment.
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Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel",
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