Kentucky’s recruiting edge: Bahamas tournament
John Calipari, coach of the country’s No. 1 college basketball team, undefeated Kentucky, can offer recruits a perk they’re not likely to get elsewhere. Last August the Wildcats took an 8-day trip to the Bahamas. The team stayed at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, where Calipari’s suite, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, cost $1,550 per night. It wasn’t all vacation. There were daily practice sessions and three games, against the Dominican and Puerto Rican national teams and a French pro team from Chalons-Reims. Other Division I schools faced lower-level competition in the Bahamas, but because Calipari scheduled strong opposition, Kentucky got most of the ESPN exposure. The Courier-Journal reported the trip cost the university more than $792,000. UK even paid the travel costs of the three teams it faced.
Between the Lines: The exotic location gave recruits something to dream about, and the high-level competition toughened the players while adding credibility to Calipari’s pitch that he will make them NBA-ready.
Clippers’ Doc Rivers now coaching his son
As president of basketball operations, Doc Rivers approved a three-team trade that brought his son Austin to the team he coaches, the Los Angeles Clippers. This is the first time anyone has coached his son in an NBA game. Asked if he would be tempted to show favoritism, Rivers said, “I’ll probably show favoritism to Blake (Griffin) and Chris (Paul). I love my son, but I think I’m still going to favor Blake and Chris and those guys.” He said the team was looking for a defense-minded guard to strengthen the bench.
Click here for ESPN.com’s Arash Markazi’s article, “Austin, Doc say deal made sense.”
Silver sees NBA with four teams in Europe
NBA commissioner Adam Silver sees the day when there will be four teams from his league playing in Europe. He said the NFL “is a little ahead of us in terms of a timeline for having a franchise based in London.” But because basketball schedules have five times as many games as football, Silver said, “It would be difficult for us to have one team in Europe.” He said when the league expands to Europe it will put four franchises there. “I believe it’s our manifest destiny to expand.”
Between the Lines: Most likely there would be a 4-team European division that would play most of its games among its own members.
Derrick Rose says Bulls not ‘on the same page’
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose expressed frustration with the team losing 6 of 8 games – three by double digits. “Everybody’s got to be on the same page,” he said. “Until then, we’re going to continue to get our ass kicked.” The problem, he said, concerns “the whole team. . . . It seems like we’re not competing, and it’s f—-ing irritating.”
Patriots investigated for ‘Deflate-gate’
The NFL is investigating the possibility that the New England Patriots deflated their footballs to make the ball softer and easier to catch on a cold, rainy evening in Foxborough, where they beat Indianapolis 45-7 for the AFC Championship. Bob Kravitz, a highly respected reporter in Indianapolis (WTHR.com) tweeted: “I’m told the officials at one point took a ball out of play and weighed it.” The fact that Pats coach Bill Belichick was found cheating in the notorious Spygate incident in 2007 contributes to the suspicions here.
Ticket prices fall with ‘Patriots Super Bowl Fatigue’
As the Patriots were blowing out the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game, the price of Super Bowl tickets kept dropping. All the way down to $1,600 for the cheap seats. CNNMoney reported that the average price of a seat for the Feb. 1 game in Glendale, AZ (5:40 Central time) is $2,879. That’s a 20% decrease from last year’s average ticket. Connor Gregoire at SeatGeek attributed the deflation to “Patriots Super Bowl Fatigue.” This is the sixth time in 14 years that the team will be in the Super Bowl, and few New Englanders are excited about taking the journey. Gregoire told CNN: “As the Patriots started to pull away . . . that’s when the price drop started to accelerate.”
Ray Rice collects for unlawful termination
The NFL player who was cut loose because he punched his wife proceeded to sue the Baltimore Ravens for $3.5 million, claiming “wrongful termination.” Ray Rice last week settled with the team, probably for less than he wanted but more than he deserved. Ravens president Dick Cass said “it’s time to turn the page” on an incident that has brought continual negative publicity to the organization. Rice, 27, is a three-time Pro Bowl invitee and currently a free agent. But because of the widely circulated video of his left hook that knocked out his fiancée in a hotel elevator, he hasn’t drawn much interest from NFL teams.
The Two Jakes: Fox twice refers to Cutler as ‘Jake’
John Fox, the new coach of the Chicago Bears, said in his introductory press conference: “I feel good about whoever is at quarterback. I’m looking forward to meeting Jake. . . . I’m looking forward to seeing Jake face to face. . . .” Oops, the Bears’ QB is JAY Cutler, not Jake.
Is Gaudreau worthy of ‘Johnny Hockey’?
Johnny Gaudreau, 21-year-old rookie for the Calgary Flames, has 13 goals and 32 points in 42 games. A nice half-season for the New Jersey-born left wing, but some Canadians think it presumptuous for him to file a trademark of “Johnny Hockey.” That was his nickname at Boston College, where he was America’s best college hockey player. At that time, Johnny Manziel had trademarked his nickname of Johnny Football.
Dear Johnny: Considering the troubles that have befallen Johnny Football, are you sure you want the linkage?
Minor Leagues will try a pitch clock to speed up baseball
Major League Baseball is taking so much criticism for the slow pace of its game that it’s considering implementing a pitch clock. Before doing so, however, the clock will be used in Double-A and Triple-A ball this season. It was used during the Arizona Fall League, with a ball added to the count if a pitch was not delivered within 20 seconds. The pitch clock appeared to shave about 10 minutes off the game time.
CBS suspends Anthony after arrest for soliciting
College basketball analyst and former NBA player Greg Anthony was arrested in the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., and charged with soliciting a prostitute. CBS promptly suspended Anthony for the remainder of the season. Turner Sports also announced it would not be using Anthony again this season.