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Posts Tagged ‘AUTHOR:DOC HANCOCK’

Beale Street Blues

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on January 27, 2009

Ever since the Grizzlies arrived in Memphis eight years ago, they have tried, and ultimately failed, at righting the ship .

There was the hire of Hubie Brown, which resulted in the franchise’s first playoff appearance in 2004, during the last season at the Pyramid Arena and ended with Brown moving back to the broadcast booth.

Another broadcaster-turned-coach Mike Fratello followed Brown and led the Grizz to the 2005 and 2006 playoffs, only to be let go in the middle of the 2006-07 season giving the Grizzlies their fourth coach since moving here in 2001 in Marc Iavanori.

And like Fratello, Iavanori, who I met during the draft day party at the Flying Saucer on South Second Street in May of last year, would receive his walking papers on January 22nd, a day after the Grizzlies lost to the Charlotte Bobcats for their seventh straight loss.

Personally, I always thought when O.J. Mayo arrived in Memphis the fortunes of the franchise would change, which happens to be the same blind hope that most Grizzlies fans have every year after Rudy Gay/Mike Conley/Shane Battier held a Grizzlies jersey up and said to the world that they were a member of the Grizz.

Trust me, I did.

But when you continuously dish out a disinterested product on the court, filled with, in the words of Geoff Calkins, players that really don’t want to be here in the Bluff City and have a fan base of 5 and 6 year-olds waving pom poms and poor drunks on the corner of North Third and Jefferson begging for change so that they can get a fifth of Jack Daniel’s, then you have to wonder what is really going on in Michael Heisley’s head.

Why would an owner trade the only All-Star the franchise has ever had, as well as the all-time leading scorer in franchise history, only to see him walk to a team filled with a certain Hall-of-Famer and a nucleus of young talent that actually made it to that year’s NBA Finals?

Why would an owner trade two players that were part of that three-year run and in turn would win NBA Championships with their clubs?

I mean, why?

It’s time to face the music, Mr. Heisley.

Seriously.

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Posted in General Sports | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Beale Street Blues

Destiny’s Cardinals

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on January 19, 2009

As children we were taught from birth that the Arizona Cardinals were just like the Chicago Cubs when it came to futility.

Ironic that I mention that because the Cardinals, if you don’t know your history, originated in Chicago back in 1898 and is the oldest-operated professional football franchise in the United States, ahead of the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.

For 61 years, the Cardinals have gone through three cities and came up short in earning football glory in each of those towns.

That is, until Sunday afternoon, when in front of a packed house at the University of Phoenix Stadium, the Cardinals shocked the world and defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 32-25 to earn the franchise’s first Super Bowl berth in over 80 years of membership in the NFL behind the arm of Kurt Warner, who punched his ticket to Canton with the game-winning drive after squandering a big lead in the early moments of the fourth quarter.

For so long this team has been a poster child for futility in the NFL, going through numerous draft busts in St. Louis,  and public squabbles over new stadiums that could generate revenue for the Cardinals so that days like these could come in the Valley of the Sun.

Finally that day has come for the Cardinals and the Bidwills, for the Cardinal players, and most importantly, the legion of fans who have followed this team through the dark days.

Hopefully, two weeks from now in Tampa, Bill Bidwill can wear his famous bow tie on the podium and hoist a long-awaited Lombardi Trophy, doing away with the cursed history of the Cardinals and transforming Arizona into something we thought they would never become in our lifetimes.

Champions.

Posted in NFL | Tagged: | Comments Off on Destiny’s Cardinals

Can The Streak Continue?

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on January 14, 2009

The last time Memphis lost to a Conference USA opponent, I was in community college and working at a children’s agency in downtown Memphis.

It was March of 2006, a year after Darius Washington missed two free throws when the Tigers lost to UAB in Birmingham en route to the first of three consecutive Conference USA championships.

That team had players like Chris Douglas-Roberts, Rodney Carney, Jeremy Hunt, Joey Dorsey, and the aforementioned Darius Washington, just to name a few.

For nearly three years, no Conference USA member has said that they slayed the giant that is the Memphis basketball program.

As a fan, I can remember very well four games in which the Tigers’ streak almost came to a sudden halt.

A year after that night in Birmingham, the Tigers, playing for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, traveled to Dallas to face SMU to close out the regular season and clinch the first undefeated conference slate in school history.

Now for most that don’t know, Southern Methodist’s last NCAA appearance was in 1993 and for the most part, the Mustangs aren’t too high on the fear factor of those who walk into Moody Coliseum.

But on that March night, the Mustangs almost did the unthinkable until Memphis, true to its custom, closed the window of opportunity on the Mustangs and clinched its second straight C-USA title.

Almost a year later, the Tigers were in trouble again in Birmingham as they faced the Blazers before another packed house in Bartow Arena and by the grace of God defeated the Blazers as well as the hillbillies who decided to throw things on the court.

The third close call that I have recollections of was shared this past Saturday at my mother’s house when the Tigers faced Central Florida in Orlando.

Given the fact that when I did the 25 greatest basketball programs in the South, I made a note that in the 21 years my mother has been at the University of Memphis, the Tigers have had only three losing seasons and 18 postseason appearances.

The problem was that despite the success the Tigers had in basketball, my mother pulled for the opponent whenever I watched a game with her.

“They’re going to lose,” my mother said Saturday when it seemed like Central Florida was going to put an end to the streak.

“It’s 8 minutes left in the game,” I said, as Central Florida continued to hold serve with the Tigers.

“They can’t pull it off,” my mother said.

“Yes they can,” I said.

True to form, the Tigers, playing before another raucous crowd in UCF Arena, extended “The Streak” to 44 games by pulling away in the last part of the game, winning 73-66.

Close call number four came Tuesday night in Tulsa when the Golden Hurricane, which features guard Ben Uzoh and center Jerome Jordan, nearly put an end to “The Streak.”

The 5,950 fans at the Reynolds Center were set to rush the floor when Uzoh hit a free throw with 4.5 seconds left to give the Golden Hurricane a 54-53 lead, something that caught my attention while writing this column last night.

“Let’s go Tulsa,” New Orleans native Jonah Leavell said as we watched the final seconds of the game.

Mind you, New Orleans is the home of Tulane University, a school that has never been known for basketball tradition and the same school in which a gambling scandal rocked the program during the days of “Hot Rod” Williams, so I could understand the confusion Leavell has when it comes to basketball in Memphis.

“Tulsa’s pretty good though,” I said, “they won 20-plus games last season, but the Tigers always find some way to pull it out.”

With 4.1 seconds left in “The Streak” and a legion of fans waiting to rush the court at the Reynolds Center, Antonio Anderson would receive the grace of God in the form of a basketball and make a leaning layup at the buzzer to extend the streak to 45 wins and counting in Conference USA.

A play that was from the textbook of former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, who used it in the 1982 Great Alaska Shootout  where it proved to be the deciding factor in the Tigers’ victory over the Golden Hurricane.

After the game ended, I sent a text to former Crichton basketball player Michael Sapp.

“We Memphis boys know how to hoop,” the text message read.

All but maybe one.

Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Buckeyes Lose Again, Receive BCS Ban

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on January 9, 2009

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Growing up, we all remember how the Buffalo Bills in the NFL would always win the AFC Championship and then when they got to the Super Bowl, they would fold up like a beach chair.

And for the third straight season the Ohio State Buckeyes are showing that they are slowly developing into the Buffalo Bills of college football, losing again on the big stage that is the BCS , this time a 24-21 loss to the Texas Longhorns in the Fiesta Bowl.

Of course, the Longhorns came into this week’s game as an 8-point favorite and had Heisman finalist Colt McCoy leading the offense, so this latest loss was supposed to happen.

But for the first time in the 3 losses, including the two in the Championship Game where they were manhandled by quicker and stronger SEC teams like LSU and Florida — which if I stand correct run the spread offense — the Buckeyes had a chance to win this game against the Longhorns.

But as Texas scored a second touchdown to make it 17-6 in the third quarter, the hopes of Columbus turned into another long offseason as the Buckeyes lost their third straight Bowl game, the first time that’s happened since 1990-92 when John Cooper was at the helm.

Their loss to Texas drops the Buckeyes to 0-5 against top-10 opponents since beating #2 Michigan in November of 2006.

And to top it all off, the Buckeyes’ seniors, all 28 of them, missed an opportunity to record their 43rd win, which would have been the most in school history for a senior class.

While last night’s loss was a downer for the 2008 Big 10 Co-Champions, the Buckeye seniors can safely say that they went 4-0 against the Maize and Blue and according to the Columbus Dispatch, we are at day number 1,872 — which is equivalent to five years, two months — since Michigan defeated the Buckeyes in football.

Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Buckeyes Lose Again, Receive BCS Ban

I’ll Always Remember…

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on December 24, 2008

In the classic coming-of-age movie “The Girl Next Door”, a movie that starred Canadian import Elisha Cuthbert (the girl from “24”) and Emile Hirsch, the final scenes of the movie reflected on the memories that Emile Hirsch’s character would take from his senior year of high school.

And in those moments in which he reflected on the wild ride of his final month in high school, he always began with the phrase, “I’ll always remember.”

In what has a year of tragedy, triumph, and history, I decided to share with you guys, in what will be my final column of 2008, the memories that I have from the sports world.

It is safe to say, it was that kind of year.

I’ll always remember the 93-52 beatdown that Vanderbilt put on Kentucky and the chants of “double digits” that were heard around Memorial Gym as well as the expression on UK fan Ashley Judd’s face that was seen around the country.

I’ll always remember the emergence of Cardinals outfielder Ryan Ludwick, who came out of nowhere and kept the Cardinals in contention with his bat and defense until September.

I’ll always remember the run that the Lady Comets softball team made in the TransSouth Conference Tournament, a run that ended all too soon against the Union University Bulldogs in Jackson, Tennessee.

I’ll always remember the RCA Dome, which had been a part of the Indianapolis skyline as long as I have been alive and, towards the end of its short life span, got a chance to see a Super Bowl title before it went into the annals of history.

I’ll always remember the feel-good story that was the Tampa Bay Rays and how a team that no one would have never picked to win the American League East, let alone the Pennant, shocked the world with players like Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Scott Kazmir, and David Price by defeating the mighty Boston Red Sox en route to their first World Series.

I’ll always remember Drake University winning their first Missouri Valley Conference title in almost 40 years on my big sister Renetria’s 25th birthday.

I’ll always remember former Crichton basketball player Derek Boykin’s game-winning shot on January 17th against Lyon College, two days after their upset of Nationally-ranked Martin Methodist in Pulaski, Tennessee.

I’ll always remember the “Game of the Century” between Memphis and Tennessee as well as Vol coach Bruce Pearl getting too comfortable with TNB patron saint Erin Andrews after the game.

I’ll always remember the look on Phillies reliever Brad Lidge’s face after getting the final out of the 2008 World Series, this coming after giving up two epic postseason homers in 2005, one of them off Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS.

I’ll always remember the Gatorade shower that Doc Rivers was given on the bench as the Celtics won their first NBA title in 22 years against the Los Angeles Lakers.

I’ll always remember the emergence of Vanderbilt’s Shan Foster and his catchy NBA Draft song.

I’ll always remember Western Kentucky’s Ty Rogers and his miraculous game-winning shot against Drake in the NCAA Tournament.

I’ll always remember Georgia’s run to the SEC Tournament Championship and the buzz created around Atlanta, a city I will be in on Sunday afternoon.

I’ll always remember the Lady Comets’ 2008 volleyball season and the play of Rachel Walton and Kelsey Watson.

I’ll always remember Vanderbilt’s 5-0 start and College Gameday’s first-ever visit to Nashville when the ‘Dores faced Auburn in front of a National audience, winning in front of a packed Vanderbilt Stadium.

I’ll always remember Davidson’s magical run to the Elite Eight behind sweet-shooting Stephon Curry and how, if Davidson won, we wouldn’t have to hear about Mario (Bleeping) Chalmers.

I’ll always remember the wild pitch that was thrown by softball player Sierra Coltharp prior to Crichton’s doubleheader against Central Baptist.

I’ll always remember the slow start by the Colts and their current winning streak, which I’m sure is going to extend on Sunday when the Titans come to Indianapolis.

I’ll always remember characters like BD, Courtneee, Q, Nutz, Ginny, Zarko, Jas, Long, and the cast of characters who made covering Crichton athletics fun.

I’ll always remember the 28 homers that Josh Hamilton hit in the first round of the final Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium.

I’ll always remember Manny Ramirez being traded to the Dodgers and leading them to the NLCS.

I’ll always remember the redemption of Andre Allen, going from National punchline to a key player at Crichton where he is now second on the team in scoring.

I’ll always remember the monster dunks made by Marqueys Brown, including one he made against Mountain State on December 6th.

I’ll always remember losing to former Crichton softball player Aimee Grissom in basketball a week before the basketball season ended.

I’ll always remember the kindness of my second mothers in the Athletic Department, Donna McWorther and Bobbi Tunstall.

I’ll always remember the 2007-08 Memphis Tigers and all of the memories that team provided me and this city and how to this very day, those final moments of the National title game still haunts us.

But most importantly, I’ll always remember all of you who have been on this wild journey with me and the rest of the gang as this will more than likely be my final column for The Nasty Boys in 2008.

Thanks again to Matt and the rest of the crew for giving me the opportunity to write my thoughts on the sports world for the last two years.

My “faculty adviser” Coach Matt Sanders for helping me not only with my classes but also spiritually, especially after the deaths of my friend and my beloved aunt.

The people at Republic Coffee for letting me perform on Tuesdays and the people that I have been plugged in with so far at Fellowship Memphis.

All of our readers and affiliates throughout the region for linking with us, in the process creating new fans of our work.

The Crichton Student Government Association for the continued support since the beginning of the school year as well as the Office of Student Development at Crichton College.

And finally, my joy Shamika and her beautiful daughter Madison. I can’t express how much you brighten my day and I treasure our friendship more than anything. I love you with all my heart.

Posted in General Sports | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Futility In The Motor City

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on December 19, 2008

As thrilling (and yet upsetting) it was to see the New England Patriots run the table in the regular season in 2007, a year later a similar quest for perfection, whether you like it or not, is going to happen in a couple of weeks.

The Detroit Lions, sitting at 0-14, could be without question the first team since the woebegone Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the 1970’s to lose all of their games should they lose their last two against New Orleans at home Sunday and Green Bay on the road at Lambeau Field the following week.

Of course, over the last two weeks the Lions played with signs of life against Minnesota, a game in which they actually held the lead and seemed primed to get their first win of the season, and put up a good fight against Indianapolis until Peyton Manning threw arrow after arrow into the hearts of Lions fans around Michigan, causing them to see their team fall to 0-14 and become the second team in NFL history to lose their first 14 games of the season.

Lions great Barry Sanders never got a chance to play in a Super Bowl. Hell, name one Lion to play in a Super Bowl while in Detroit and you might get looked at real funny.

As the auto industry hits a snag in Detroit, with Chrysler shutting down its plants until January 19th at the latest, the Lions’ futility is another headache for the Motor City.

In case you don’t know, the Lions are owned by the Ford family, who I’m pretty sure is believing that for the last 40-plus years their franchise has been nothing more than a total hobby, a hobby that has hit rock-bottom the same way as their precious automobile company that bears the same name.

While I for one don’t know any of the Fords (sorry, knowing the Ford family of Memphis doesn’t count), I can safely say that with this celebration of futility in Detroit, it has been a long time coming.

And with two more games and half the country watching, come December 28th in Green Bay a news alert will pop up and tag the Detroit Lions as the first team to ever finish 0-16.

I wonder if 40 years from now will those players pop champagne like the 1972 Miami Dolphins?

Maybe not.

Posted in NFL | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

What Is The Damn Problem?

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on December 17, 2008

In the 91 years prior to 2003, the football program at the University of Memphis had only three Bowl appearances, the last coming in 1971 when Fred Pancoast led the Missouri Valley Conference-champion Tigers to the Pasadena Bowl.

Thirty-two years later, Tommy West and legendary running back DeAngelo Williams, now with the Carolina Panthers, led the Tigers to the New Orleans Bowl where they would beat North Texas and begin a stretch of five Bowl games in six seasons, being one of only a handful of schools to do that.

While for the fact this would be a huge accomplishment for a once moribund program, it hasn’t been the case for the Tigers, who has seen attendance drop to 25,000 fans per game, a far cry from the 41,000 average that came to the Liberty Bowl in 2004 to see DeAngelo Williams and company.

And now the question that one would pose to the uninformed observer would be this: what is the damn problem with the Tiger football program?

OK, I know two reasons of the problems with the Tiger football program, the first one being that Memphis is a basketball school first and foremost and will always be that way.

But that’s no valid excuse because in recent years, basketball powerhouses like Louisville, which as we all know was a member of Conference USA and decided to pump money and energy into their football program by building new facilities including a brand-new, on-campus stadium to replace aging Cardinal Stadium in 1998.

For that reason, the Cardinals are in the Big East and the Tigers are still toiling in Conference USA.

In the last eight years, the Tigers have spent a grand total of $6 million on football-related improvements and are finishing a fund raising campaign worth $3 million to build a new state-of-the-art weight room at the Murphy Athletic Complex.

That’s probably a third of Nick Saban’s salary at Alabama.

Another valid point is the fact that, instead of watching the Tigers, fans would rather head to Oxford, Starkville, or Knoxville to watch quality football, and from a person who has a bunch of friends that cheer for Ole Miss, Mississippi State, or Tennessee, that’s a justifiable reason.

They have a great tailgating atmosphere, meaning the tailgate area is close to the stadium and not miles away and they have tradition in their programs as well.

Memphis doesn’t.

Then you have to throw in the fact that Memphis, unlike those three schools, schedule non-conference foes like McNeese State, Nicholls State, and neighborhood rival Arkansas State on a regular basis.

Tennessee this year went to UCLA, Mississippi State went up against Georgia Tech and West Virginia this season, and Ole Miss last season played Missouri on the road.

People, from what I’ve learned in Sport and Event Planning class, aren’t going to be amped for a game against Nicholls State or Arkansas State.

They’re not going to return if the atmosphere around the stadium sucks balls.

And finally, no one is going to return if the team isn’t winning (see the Grizzlies for proof).

So what needs to be done?

You tell me.

Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Let’s Get Ready To Rumble

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on December 5, 2008

Ladies and gentleman, let’s get ready to rumble as tonight, at the Georgia Dome, the Alabama Crimson Tide will face the Florida Gators in the under card match leading to the National Championship game.

These two teams, coached by men who have won National Championships before — Saban at LSU in 2003-04, the first for the Bayou Bengals in 46 years and Meyer, who just did it in 2006-07 by beating the Ohio State Buckeyes and forcing Jim Tressel to take self-esteem classes in the offseason.

Of course, Tressel didn’t learn his lesson when LSU beat another tattoo on him in the National Championship last year, making the Buckeyes the first team to lose back-t0-back BCS Championship games.

But that’s another story.

The SEC Championship Game is, according to your drunk uncle or Rece Davis, one of the premier games in the race to see who will head to Miami and play for the National Championship.

And while Oklahoma, who made it to the Big 12 Championship Game because of some crazy 3-way tie with Texas Tech and Texas, are heavily favored in their showdown with Missouri in San Antonio, the SEC Championship Game is without question, the true deciding factor before we all see who will be popping bottles on South Beach.

Alabama’s journey to Atlanta, for the most part, has been focused more on their blue-collar defense. Ranked 2nd in the country against the run by allowing only a paltry 73.6 yards and 2.7 yards per carry, the Tide could put a dent into the running attack of the Gators, which consist of Percy Harvin, Tim Tebow, and Chris Rainey.

Not only that, the Tide has two workmen on the offensive  side of the ball, Andre Smith and Terrence Cody, who have given John Parker Wilson plenty of protection.

Speaking of Wilson, the senior quarterback hasn’t done much of anything throwing the football. Where as Tebow has electrified Gator fans with his feet and arm, Wilson has only thrown for 200 or more yards in four games this season.

Want to know how many touchdown passes Wilson’s thrown?

Nine.

Mainly because Alabama relies on the running attack, which finished second behind Florida in the SEC with a little over 200 rushing per game.

At Florida, however, the offense lives and dies with Tebow, wide receiver Percy Harvin, and running back Chris Rainey, all of who have rushed for more than 500 yards this season.

And for the most part, Tebow has thrown the ball more, with over 2,000 yards passing and 25 touchdown passes to go along with the 507 yards he has rushing.

Pretty different from Wilson, don’t you think?

And while the whole world waits to see what will become of the BCS, including all of us here at The Nasty Boys, we would like to extend a big thank you to the SEC-related blogs that link with us throughout the college football season.

May your team’s Christmas season be merry and bright.

That is, if your coach doesn’t get fired.

Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: | Comments Off on Let’s Get Ready To Rumble

Pull The Plug, Please

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on December 1, 2008

In America, Thanksgiving is about families getting together for fellowship, football, and football.

And while for the better part of the last three-quarters of a century the annual Thanksgiving game in Detroit has been a main staple for most Americans, especially people in the state of Michigan, the time has come for one of the greatest sports traditions in America to be done away with after what the country saw Thursday afternoon when the Tennessee Titans came into Motown.

Because of the sweetheart deal the NFL made with the Lions to have the game be sold out by Tuesday, what was supposed to be a blackout turned into a one-sided affair pitting the Titans against a team that I’m pretty sure one of my lady friends could have quarterbacked if they were able to.

A one-sided affair captured on National television.

Not something that many of you Nasty Boy fans in the Eastern Time Zone wanted to wake up to after a hangover.

Behind the excellent play of rookie Chris Johnson, who rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns, and LenDale White, who made waves this week over some comments about not having an active role in the offense during the Titans’ loss against the Jets and rushed for two touchdowns, the Titans at least clinched a share of the AFC South title by beating the winless Detroit Lions 47-10 and could clinch it outright should Indianapolis lose to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

For the Lions, it meant another listless Thanksgiving Day, the second time this decade that the Lions started 0-12, and being on game closer to finishing the season 0-16 with four games left to play. The 47 points also marks the most that the Lions have given up in 69 games on Thanksgiving and drops them to 33-34-2 on Turkey Day.

Over the past week, most of the people in the media — such as Mike Ditka, among others — have said that the longstanding tradition in Detroit should be done away with because of the ineptness of the Lions.

Can you blame them?

They’ve said the best thing to do is allow the NFL to rotate the games each year, because the Lions, as we all have seen these past few years, have stunk up CBS and probably made Jim Nantz’s face turn red.

Now that I think of it, if the NFL did something like that it could be just like the Christmas Day NBA games that most of us grew up watching: games with great storylines and marquee players.

I mean, if you’re a football fan, would you rather watch the Lions get hammered or a matchup like Cowboys-Giants or Patriots-Jets?

Would you watch LT go at it against the Steelers or see (insert lame-assed quarterback’s name here) get sacked by Jevon Kearse or Al Haynesworth?

Think about it, America.

That also means you, Mr. Goodell.

Posted in NFL | Tagged: | Comments Off on Pull The Plug, Please

Yes, Ms. Key, The Tigers Still Can’t Shoot Free Throws

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on November 25, 2008

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After Memphis’ loss to Xavier in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Classic, yours truly went on Facebook and came across one of his friends’ statuses concerning the game against the Musketeers.

“FREE THROWS PEOPLE!!!!” the status read, as if it was screaming out the same thing everyone from Collierville to Millington had been saying since April when the Tigers clanked the iron in the title game against Kansas.

And given the fact that I saw the last of the game at my job, I couldn’t agree more with what she and my fellow Tiger fans were saying.

According to my knowledge of basketball, you win games by making free throws and playing defense.

“Free throws can be the difference in games,” Crichton basketball coach Jeff Walker says during practices during free throw drills.

But that’s different for the north side of Highland Avenue.

On the south side of Highland Avenue, the Tigers’ free throw woes have continued from last season, and it showed Sunday night.

While Xavier’s Terrell Holloway made 10 straight free throws (think that sweet-shooting Butler guard during the 2003 NCAA Tournament) and finished with 13 points, the Tigers remained helpless at the free throw line.

A prime example of this was Doneal Mack’s 1-for-5 shooting from the charity stripe, good for 20 percent and a first-class ticket to the bench sitting next to John Calipari.

Big man Robert Dozier didn’t fare better, going 2-of-6 and giving hope to Memphis youth who someday want to be excellent free throw shooters.

This coming after he went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe in the semis against Seton Hall while the Tigers collectively shot 65 percent from the free throw line in the win.

Their free throw percentage last night?

50 percent (15-for-30) compared to Xavier’s 68 percent, including Holloway’s 10 straight makes.

If the Tigers want to learn how to shoot free throws, the best thing they can do for this situation is get one of my old friends from my days writing for the North Shelby Times (pictured below) and have her wear a cheerleading outfit during one of their free throw drills.

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But then again, that too might be trouble at the free throw line.

It’s better than someone trying to moon you, though.

Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: | Comments Off on Yes, Ms. Key, The Tigers Still Can’t Shoot Free Throws

SEC Rankings – The Return

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on November 20, 2008

After returning home from the Big Easy on November 14th and witnessing history on the following day, I’m back again to present you the SEC Rankings for the week of November 16th.

1. Alabama (Auburn is looking to make a case on Thanksgiving Saturday to make a Bowl and seven in a row against the Tide. Problem is, this Tide squad is pretty damn good.)

2. Florida (Another SEC East title and a chance to head to the BCS when the SEC Championship Game takes place on December 6th. Florida has a cupcake and a team fighting for position in the ACC remaining on their schedule.)

3. LSU (Last year I asked Crichton graduate Grace Walker for grace when Mizzou played the Kansas Gayhawks Thanksgiving Saturday. Apparently that same grace Grace Walker brought that Saturday in Kansas City came to Baton Rouge when LSU made their historic comeback against Troy.)

4. Georgia (Narrow win against Auburn puts Dawgs in position for a chance to head to the Chik-Fil-A Bowl. Chances are, if they lose to Georgia Tech, then the Liberty Bowl will come calling. But I disgress.)

5. Ole Miss (Houston Nutt has done more with Coach O’s players than Coach O did with Coach O’s players)

6. Vanderbilt (A 26-year wait has ended in the West End. A win over Tennessee would make the 2008 Vanderbilt football season even sweeter.)

7. South Carolina (A woodshed beating was not a way to welcome Steve Spurrier back to Gainesville.)

8. Kentucky (It’s OK, UK fans, at least you guys are going to a Bowl game just like Vanderbilt.)

9. Auburn (Iron Bowl game should be a motivating factor with the Plainsmen. I mean, it’s against the #1 team in the country.)

10. Arkansas (Sense of urgency is needed for Hogs if they want to go to a Bowl game. They can start with a victory over Mississippi State.)

11. Tennessee (This week Crichton SGA President Mequitta Williams took a tour of the Knoxville campus with the Grim Reaper. Apparently, the Grim Reaper killed the Vols’ season long before they got there.)

12. Mississippi State (Didn’t this team go to a Bowl last year?)

My time’s up. Don’t forget, you can read more of my musings at my personal blog, “The Kid In The Press Box” at http://thepressboxkid.wordpress.com

Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

SEC Rankings – Election Week

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on November 7, 2008

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After electing our first African-American president in Barack Obama and surviving an assassination attempt, I’m here once again to present to you the SEC Power Rankings for the week of November 2nd.

1. Alabama (Don’t expect these guys to fall off the top anytime soon. Of course, there’s a chance that LSU could beat the Tide in Baton Rouge as part of Nick Saban’s return to Death Valley.)

2. Florida (Looks to be a clear road for the Gators in quest for the SEC East crown. But Vanderbilt always seems to play the Gators close and could, if the football gods allow it, beat the Gators for the first time since 1988.)

3. South Carolina (Let it be shown that the Gamecocks got Fulmer fired, whether  or not you agree with the way it was done.)

4. Kentucky (Three straight bowl games, something that hasn’t happened in a long time, has the folks in Lexington beaming with glee.)

5. LSU (Your former coach is coming, men. How will you respond?)

6. Georgia (Blowout loss hurt Dawgs’ chances at SEC East crown.)

7. Ole Miss (Nutt is doing a great job turning the fortunes of the Rebel football program around.)

8. Vanderbilt (Bye week was needed for ‘Dores.)

9. Auburn (Tigers can still reach .500 in the SEC West.)

10. Arkansas (They deserved to be ranked higher than Tennessee.)

11. Tennessee (Remaining games are for pride, not for too much of anything else.)

12. Missississippi State (Basketball’s looking good these days in Starkville.)

My time’s up. You’ve been a great audience.

Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: , | Comments Off on SEC Rankings – Election Week

SEC Rankings – Week 9

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on October 31, 2008

So after another long week here in the Volunteer State, except here in West Tennessee where the University of Memphis beat a punch-less Southern Miss team and lost another quarterback, I am back to present to you the SEC Power Rankings for the week of October 26th.

1. Alabama (No sign of collapse in Tide Nation, but the LSU game is still looming for Saban’s boys.)

2. Florida (During the basketball season, Vanderbilt handed the Wildcats their worst SEC loss ever. Eight months later, the Gators put a similar stomping on Kentucky and is now trying to make their case for Atlanta on Saturday when they face Georgia in Jacksonville.)

3. Georgia (If those two girls in that picture had played for LSU last weekend, do you think Georgia would have gotten out of Death Valley alive? Judging from that picture, probably not.)

4. South Carolina (According to our friends at Gate21.com, who also run a SEC Power Ranking column, the Gamecocks are 5th heading into tomorrow’s game against Tennessee. With LSU losing like they did against Georgia and the possibility that the Gamecocks could play themselves into the SEC East race if they win against the Vols, 4th is a safe ranking for the time being.)

5. LSU (At least they have the Alabama game to look forward to.)

6. Kentucky (One more win and Matt’s boys will be Bowl-eligible. Thankfully, one of those wins could come this weekend when they face Mississippi State and those annoying-ass cowbells.)

7. Ole Miss (Where would this bunch be today if Coach “O” was roaming the sidelines?)

8. Vanderbilt (I wonder if my old friend Kasi can rub her belly for a sixth win for the ‘Dores. Heck, it worked in 2006.)

9. Auburn (The Tigers made a visit to my friends at the Interstate Blood Bank on North Cleveland Street to get some offensive help. Let’s see can they salvage the season with their new-found offense.)

10. Arkansas (We beat LSU last season because of you, Coach Nutt!!!! Now we get embarrassed because of Bobby P.)

11. Tennessee (This just in, Crichton SGA President Quitta Williams has been named head coach of the Volunteers. Only qualification is that her former neighbor is a former classmate of current Vol Ellix Wilson.)

12. Mississippi State (No comment, please.)

My time is up. If you’re in the Memphis area, come see me perform at Republic Coffee located at 2924 Walnut Grove Road in the Binghampton neighborhood every Tuesday night.

Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: | 13 Comments »

Mike Hamilton, Please End The Nightmare

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on October 28, 2008

Dear Mike Hamilton,

I am writing this letter as a disgruntled sports fan, foremost a Tennessean.

For 17 years, Coach Phil Fulmer has patrolled the sidelines at Neyland Stadium and whether you like him or not, has coached the Volunteers to two overall SEC Championships, five outright SEC East Division Championships, and most importantly, a National Championship in 1998.

He’s coached players like Peyton Manning, Peerless Price, Robert Meachem, Casey Clausen, Erik Ainge, Tee Martin, Gerald Riggs, Ellix Wilson (I went to grade school with him), Cedric Wilson, Al Wilson, Todd Helton, and countless others to bowl games as well as burgeoning NFL careers.

But in the high-stakes world of college football in 2008, I, along with the numerous friends I know that are Vol fans, believe that you, Mike Hamilton, as athletic director of the state’s flagship school can end this nightmare by getting rid of Fat Boy Fulmer.

Look at the facts. The Vols, in the ten years since that glorious season when it seemed as if they could do no wrong, has been stagnant in their success.

Since 1998, the Volunteers have gone to three SEC Championship Games and lost them all, most notably the 2001 SEC title game in which the Volunteers were heavily favored and lost to an upstart LSU team that was then coached by Nick Saban.

So in one night, Mr. Hamilton, the Vols went from BCS contenders to the 2002 Citrus Bowl, where they would beat Michigan 45-17.

Then you have the 2005 season in which the Vols would go from #3 to not being mentioned at all, capped by a loss to Vanderbilt — a team that, as I write this, is one win away from being bowl eligible this year — behind the arm of then quarterback Jay Cutler at Neyland Stadium.

It’s one thing to lose big to Alabama on the same night that your university honors the 1998 National Championship team, but on a crisp and clear November day three years ago how could your coach lose at home to a school that is more focused on producing scientists than football talent?

Answer that, Mr. Hamilton.

From what I understand, your former employer Clemson University, a school steeped in football tradition got rid of Tommy Bowden this season after going 17 years without an ACC Championship.

Certainly (and this comes from a guy who may or may not told Lloyd Carr that the game was passing him by on this same blog last football season) you can read this letter and do us Tennesseans all a big favor by ending what has been a nightmarish season in Knoxville and across the state.

From what my experts tell me, Dyersburg native Bradley Greer might be your best choice for head coach.

At least he knows how to motivate.

Yours for minimum wage and beer,

SGA Senator Doc Hancock

Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

SEC Rankings – Birthday Week

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on October 24, 2008

After two weeks away from the rankings due to a death in the family and with the season once again starting up in North Highland Park, I am back to present — with the help of new Lara Croft model Alison Carroll — the SEC power rankings for the week of October 19th.

1. Alabama (Relax, the Tide has learned their lessons from last year’s free-fall. Time to take care of business against the Vols.)

2. Florida (After thrashing LSU on October 11th, the Gators have Matt’s Wildcats heading to the Swamp. Of course this would mean another outstanding performance by Tebow.)

3. LSU (Apparently, the grace of Grace Walker saved the Bayou Bengals from losing to the Gamecocks. Not to mention a former Kentucky football player that is now a referee.)

4. Georgia (Tough road trip comes for Dawgs as they take on LSU in Death Valley.)

5. Vanderbilt (Still looking for that sixth win. It might come this Saturday.)

6. South Carolina (What team loses a game in which a referee makes a hit on your quarterback?)

7. Auburn (The Interstate Blood Bank on North Cleveland Street can help you with your anemic-ass offense.)

8. Ole Miss (Another valiant effort came up short against the Tide last Saturday. Now Coach Nutt heads back to Fayetteville for a “heartwarming” reunion.)

9. Kentucky (Can their defense stop the Gators and crush the Heisman hopes of Tim Tebow?)

10. Tennessee (For Vol fans who read this blog, the first basketball game is November 15th against Chattanooga.)

11. Arkansas (Men, your former coach is coming back to Fayetteville, what do you do?)

12. Mississippi State (For State fans who read this blog, the first basketball game is November 15th against Centenary.)

My time’s up. If you’re in the Memphis area, come see me perform every Tuesday night at Republic Coffee, 2924 Walnut Grove Road near the Central Library.

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Turn The Page

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on October 22, 2008

As the old adage goes, when one door closes, another door opens.

For the Memphis Tigers and their fans, Friday night’s Memphis Madness meant the celebration of one of the greatest seasons in college basketball history and the prospect for another run at success.

Sitting among one of the 15,000 or so fans in the FedEx Forum, I wondered how many people, young and old, felt about a team of guys from all over the map that did something special like the Tigers in 2007-08.

During the video tribute to the 2007-08 team, a lady who probably would have been mistaken for my late grandmother, had tears in her eyes as they showed the Kansas-Memphis highlights.

“We had that game,” she said to me, echoing the same sentiment that I had during my drunken tirade after that game in April.

With tears welling up in my eyes as well (yes, I do have a soft side), I said to the lady that very few people, including the people in Lawrence, Kansas, get a chance to experience what was experienced in Memphis last season.

Five minutes prior to the banner raising, a familar face that was here during this glorious era of Tiger basketball came onto the FedEx Forum floor, current New Jersey Net Chris Douglas-Roberts.

And much like the days when he provided one electrifying moment after another on the hardwood, the fans around the building chanted “C-D-R!!!!”.

The highlights of the pre-raising was the video messages from Derrick Rose and Joey Dorsey, both of whom had games on Friday night, and Douglas-Roberts breezing through the FedEx Forum crowd like he was the mayor of Memphis.

And then, after all was said and done, the current Tiger team, along with Douglas-Roberts, raised the banner to the rafters of the FedEx Forum, setting off a sea of blue and white streamers from the ceiling.

“Well,” I said to the same lady sitting next to me, “it’s time to turn the page and see can these guys do it again in 2008-09.”

While, for the most part, I didn’t stay for much of the scrimmage, I was impressed by the 3-point marksmanship of Willie Kemp and Robert Sallie, who if not for the mess the Big 12 had put him through while trying to play at Nebraska for Doc Sadler, he would be playing for a mediocre team instead of a top 25 team like the Tigers.

My thoughts on Tyreke Evans?

Good as advertised. If the Tigers have another runaway season in Conference USA, he’s going to win Freshman of the Year.

And maybe, just maybe, a Championship ring.

Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Yes, Kasi, Vanderbilt Is 5-0

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on October 5, 2008

One thing about America is this: they love a great underdog story.

Whether it’s the New York Giants beating the New England Cheaters in this year’s Super Bowl or last September when the Appalachian State Mountaineers shocked the Michigan Wolverines, football in general over the last few years has given us plenty of surprises.

But Saturday night, in front of  a national audience and a sellout crowd at Vanderbilt Stadium, another surprising story took place as the Vanderbilt Commodores (that’s right, Vanderbilt) defeated my beloved Auburn Tigers 14-13 to move to 5-0, their best start since World War II.

Did I mention that for the first time since my birth year (1984) the ‘Dores were ranked heading into the game?

Number 19, to be exact.

And while Auburn and their horrendous offense trekked out to a 13-0 lead, many of the faithful in Nashville began to have the same feeling that Cub fans like fellow TNB scribe Bob Swerski had going into this postseason.

Obviously, while the feeling quickly died away as Vanderbilt’s defense stepped and made plays and backup quarterback MacKensie Adams, filling in for injured starter Chris Nickson who aggravated his shoulder in the beginning of the game, made sure that the Vanderbilt football curse, real or imagined, stay at bay for at least another week.

And when Auburn tried to come up with a game-winning drive and make it 14 straight against the Commodores, Myron Lewis made two signature plays that slammed the door on the Tigers, including an interception of a pass by Chris Todd with a little over 2 minutes to go in the game.

Talk about Music City Miracle II.

What was amazing about this win over the Plainsmen was the fact that bowl representatives from every corner of the world was there to see if Vanderbilt, long known as the butt of jokes in the SEC and the college football world, could be for real.

If there was any notion of how real this Vanderbilt squad, let it be known that should Vanderbilt drown out the cowbells in Starkville this Saturday, Vanderbilt will have the magical six wins they’ve been craving for for 26 years.

And at a time like this maybe Vanderbilt, like the other state schools in the SEC football, rightfully deserves their moment in the sun.

It’s been 26 years in the making.

Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

SEC Rankings – Week 4

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on September 26, 2008

Your neighborhood Mapco Express and Huddle House would like to present you the SEC Rankings for the week of September 21st. These rankings are brought you in part also by the Cellular South and Yum’s, located in the beautiful Springdale neighborhood at the corner of North Hollywood and Jackson Avenue.

1. Florida (The third Saturday in September looked more like a massacre of sorts at Neyland Stadium.)

2. Georgia (Trip to Arizona State proved to be beneficial as Bulldogs left the Valley of the Sun with a win over the Sun Devils.)

3. LSU (Saturday’s game against Auburn was indeed an instant classic.)

4. Alabama (Apparently the Tide made Petrino wish he was back in Atlanta coaching the first-place Falcons.)

5. Vanderbilt (If the Rays can make the playoffs, certainly the ‘Dores can get to a bowl game.)

6. Kentucky (Will the bye week prepare the ‘Cats for their SEC opener next week?)

7. Auburn (Close game against LSU Saturday echoed memories of the 1994 Auburn-LSU game. Now it’s time for War Eagle to beat the stuffing out of Dr. Greer’s beloved Tennessee Volunteers.)

8. Ole Miss (Again, the Rebels lose to Vanderbilt.)

9. Tennessee (In church Sunday, my pastor talked about how he went up to Knoxville to pray for the football team. Apparently, that didn’t help.)

10. South Carolina (It was Wofford, people.)

11. Arkansas (See above for why the Razorbacks so low on my rankings this week.)

12. Mississippi State (Gave up 3 points to Auburn September 13th, and then play sloppy against Georgia Tech? Only in Starkville.)

My time’s up. You’ve been a great audience. Pick up my debut book, “Candy Bars and Fly Balls” at Bookstar in Poplar Plaza and the Crichton College Bookstore in North Highland Park.

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You Can’t Ask For More, Can You?

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on September 19, 2008

Doc’s Note: This is the latest in a series of columns about sports at Crichton College. Check back with more tales from the place called North Highland Park.

In what has already been a historic year in North Highland Park where, for the first time ever, two teams from Crichton won on the same day when the volleyball team defeated St. Catherine’s College and the men’s soccer team defeated Spring Hill College on August 29th. Thursday afternoon’s book signing involving yours truly and the volleyball game later on could have easily been a 21-gun salute.

For much of this week, you couldn’t go anywhere around the campus in North Highland Park without seeing everyone wearing red.

In fact, during basketball practice on Wednesday afternoon, senior forward Zidyiah Carter, who just so happens to be my next-door neighbor, pulled out a red asthma pump.

Talk about painting the town red.

The leadup to Thursday’s celebration looked more like the leadup to what will be on Sunday at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees play their last game at the venerable stadium.

At 1:25 p.m., softball pitcher/first baseman Brittney Davis, yours truly, and Julie Nichols all threw ceremonial pitches to former Crichton rightfielder Jasmine Scudder, beginning the first ever student book signing in North Highland Park.

For an hour, North Highland Park celebrities like Courtnee Steen, Dr. Bradley Greer, Redbird Redhot Lauretta Plummer, as well as my former elementary school principal Dr. Ruby Payne, who has been at Hanley Elementary School in Memphis since the Reagan Adminstration, came by to congratulate me on the debut book.

“Are you heading to Hollywood?” asked faculty athletics representative Dr. Bill Carr.

“No sir,” I replied, “I have a year to go in school and a volleyball game to do tonight.”

“He’s not going anywhere,” neighbor and soccer standout Gavin “Dodgey” Smith said after the reception ended, “This school is trying to keep him grounded.”

Once all the confetti and candy was gone from the reception, the Lady Comets volleyball team, which like most of the athletic teams in North Highland Park wore red to support yours truly,  had their chance to cap off Thursday’s festivites by facing off against the Lane College Lady Dragons.

And in a woodshed beating that looked similar to basketball’s thrashing of Blue Mountain School For Boys, the Lady Comets, playing their best volleyball of the season, completed Thursday with a sweep of Lane with one of the matches finishing 25-4 thanks in part to the play of Rachel Walton, Kelsey Watson, and Andressa DaSilva.

After all is said and done, there’s no question in my mind that yesterday, like August 29th, was historic.

After all, can there be anything that tops it?

Not really.

Posted in General Sports | Tagged: , | Comments Off on You Can’t Ask For More, Can You?

SEC Rankings – Week 3

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on September 16, 2008

After watching a thrilling baseball game on the football field in Starkville and inching closer and closer towards my 24th birthday, I am back again with my SEC power rankings for the week of September 14th.

1. Florida (After Georgia stumbled against South Carolina Saturday, the Gators are at the top of my power rankings after their Bye Week. Up next for the Gators is a tough Tennessee team looking to do nothing more than pull off the upset.)

2. LSU (Impressive showing against North Texas, now it’s time for War Eagle to try to beat a tattoo on the Bayou Bengals.)

3. Georgia (Sorry, Dawg fans, lackluster win against the Gamecocks doesn’t really carry weight this time around, does it?)

4. Alabama (Another impressive win over a cupcake. Big deal.)

5. Auburn (The Tigers could have used the bat of Bo Jackson on Saturday night. Now they’re going to probably need the same luck from 1994.)

6. Tennessee (Upset could put Vols back in the SEC East hunt.)

7. Kentucky (This time the grace of God saved the Wildcats against Middle Tennessee.)

8. Vanderbilt (3-0 meaning that the ‘Dores are three wins away from Bowl eligibilty.)

9. Arkansas (Bye Week gives Razorbacks a chance to rest up for their SEC opener.)

10. Ole Miss (The columnist has no reason for the Rebels right now, please leave a message.)

11. Mississippi State (An ‘E’ for effort against War Eagle Saturday.)

12. South Carolina (Is the fat lady warming up for the Gamecocks?)

Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Doc Hancock’s Grand Tour Of C-USA: Houston Cougars

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on September 12, 2008

Editor’s Note: My apologies to Doc and company, it is my fault this is late to the presses. Thanks, Management.

Houston Cougars

Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin (1st year)

Stadium: Robertson Stadium (32,000)

2007 Record: 8-5 (6-2 C-USA West)

Postseason: Lost to TCU 20-13 in Texas Bowl

Key Returnees on Offense: QB Case Keenum

Key Returnees on Defense: NT Eli Ash, DT Tate Stewart, DE Phillip Hunt, LB Cody Lubojasky, CB Brandon Brinkley, SS Ernest Miller, FS Kenneth Fontennette

The Skinny: After an 8-5 record in 2007 under coach Art Briles, the Cougars said goodbye to the longtime coach, who went to Waco to try his hand at turning around Baylor’s fortunes on the gridiron and hello to Kevin Sumlin, who spent five seasons at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops. With that he also brings in Dana Holgorsen, who served as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech to implement a new offensive scheme coupled with the offensive attack Briles had during his time at Houston. Case Keenum will be back for his sophomore season after throwing for over 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns in his freshman season. The downside of it was the fact that Keenum also had 10 interceptions. But while he put up impressive numbers with his arm, he also put up impressive numbers with his feet, rushing for 412 yards and 9 touchdowns.

On defense, the Cougars will welcome back end Phillip Hunt, who led the team in sacks with 10.5 and safety Kenneth Fontennette, who was second in tackles for the Cougars in 2007 with 69.

Doc’s Prediction: After another banner season in 2007, the first without Kevin Kolb at quarterback, who is now studying under Donovan McNabb in Philly, the Cougars again will challenge the Golden Hurricane for the C-USA West title. With the Golden Hurricane coming for a visit November 15th, every game before that is nothing more than a warmup for the showdown with Tulsa.

Projected Record: 9-4 (6-2)

2008 Houston Cougars Schedule

August 30th-Southern

September 6th-@ Oklahoma State

September 13th-Air Force

September 20th-@ Colorado State

September 27th-@ East Carolina

October 11th-UAB

October 18th-@ Southern Methodist

October 28th-@ Marshall

November 8th-Tulane

November 15th-Tulsa

November 22nd-Texas El-Paso

November 29th-@ Rice

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SEC Rankings – Week 2

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on September 11, 2008

After a week of being on best behavior and saying goodbye to North Highland Park’s greatest basketball player, I have once again returned to present to you the SEC Power Rankings for the week of September 7th.

1. Georgia (The real season begins this week when the Bulldogs face South Carolina.)

2. Florida (Impressive win against Miami on Saturday and plenty of momentum to go into next weekend’s showdown with Tennessee at Neyland.)

3. LSU (Bye week gives the Bayou Bengals plenty of time to rest up for the showdown with Auburn.)

4. Alabama (Two impressive wins so far this season will make another dogfight in the SEC West.)

5. Auburn (As Director of Hottie Recruitment and Auburn fan Joel Pierce said to me Saturday, there’s room for improvement for the boys from the Plains.)

6. Kentucky (Relax, it was a bad Louisville team and Norfolk State. Their ranking isn’t going to be that  high for long on the power rankings.)

7. Tennessee (Dr. Greer, I think you better fork over my BBQ ‘n Coke come September 27th when Auburn beats a tattoo on the most overrated team not named Clemson.)

8. Ole Miss (That team didn’t look like the team from the Coach O era on Saturday against Wake Forest, did it?)

9. Vanderbilt (2-0 on 25th Avenue South? Quick, call Satan!!!)

10. Arkansas (Hogs will have to wait to take their beating by the Longhorns. That will come September 27th by the way.)

11. South Carolina (The Spurrier “I Quit” Watch is on in Columbia.)

12. Mississippi State (Dawgs hit the .500 mark and I’m still building my stable of young ladies to talk to.)

My time’s up. You’ve been a great audience. Enjoy your Saturday of college football and read my book, “Candy Bars and Fly Balls”, available online and also in stores around the Memphis area.

Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: , | 8 Comments »

The Right Man At The Right Time

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on September 8, 2008

Being an African-American that just so happens to write a sports column every week, I know all too well about the various stories of courage in sports.

In school, we learned about Branch Rickey’s signing of Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens literally spitting in the face of Hitler during the 1936 Olympics, as well as the work of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

But what many of us didn’t learn, including yours truly, was the story of Don Haskins and the 1966 NCAA Championship, when he put five black guys on the floor against the big bad Kentucky Wildcats led by a certain guy named Pat Riley (yes, the Pat Riley that had the Armani suits in the 80’s) and their coach, Adolph Rupp.

And much like the stuff that’s seen in movies, the five black guys from the tiny school in El Paso beat the bluebloods from Lexington, giving the state of Texas its first national basketball championship and a footnote in history.

But it was beyond that game that made Haskins a legend.

For 38 years, the guy from Oklahoma was the face of UTEP basketball and the city of El Paso.

He helped many kids from the ghettos and rural sections of Texas, molded them into men of character, and did the next important thing on the agenda:

Win.

And win he did, accumulating 719 wins, 14 NCAA Tournaments, a National Championship, and most importantly, a big enough shadow to cast over the mountains in El Paso.

Away from the court, Haskins was a man who believed in the benefits of hard work and dedication, something that made him good enough to be voted the greatest coach in college basketball history by Dan Wetzel — whose book “Glory Road” would be later turned into an incredible movie documenting the story of the 1966 team.

It was good enough for him to have the Special Events Center, home to some of UTEP’s great teams, renamed in his honor for all the achievements that he brought to the city of El Paso.

To quote Richard Rodgers, who said, “Love is not love unless you give it and a bell is not a bell unless you ring it.” Haskins gave his heart and soul to the city of El Paso.

And it in turn loved him back.

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SEC Rankings – Week 1

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on September 2, 2008

After being out of comission to campaign for Obama, I have decided to return to TNB to do my first SEC rankings of the 2008 season.

And away we go……

1. Georgia (After a convincing win over Georgia Southern Saturday in Athens, the Bulldogs proved to everyone that they can beat up on the creampuffs. Don’t worry, they have a second one this week in Central Michigan.)

Next Game: vs. Central Michigan, Saturday

2. LSU (The Bayou Bengals did everything they could to avoid another upset bid from App. State Saturday in Baton Rouge by playing a near-flawless game against the Mountaineers.)

Next Game: vs. Troy, Saturday

3. Alabama (Tide’s win over ACC favorite Clemson in Atlanta could be the start of something great in Tuscaloosa.)

Next Game: vs. Tulane, Saturday

4. Florida ( Miami’s coming, meaning more than a lion’s share of trash-talking.)

Next Game: vs. Miami, Saturday

5. Auburn (Those who still think my Tigers are one of the teams to beat in the SEC West, raise your hand. Those who don’t, kiss my ass.)

Next Game: vs. Southern Mississippi, Saturday

6. South Carolina (1-0 is not something you would get drunk off of — it was North Carolina State for crying out loud.)

Next Game: at Vanderbilt, Thursday

7. Tennessee (Vols had it in the bag last night against UCLA and I’m wondering how in the hell does a guy that throws 4 picks manage to win a game?)

Next Game: UAB, September 13th

8. Ole Miss (The Houston Nutt era begins with a win over Memphis Saturday and somewhere in Fayetteville they are trying to wonder what job Petrino’s going after.)

Next Game: @ Wake Forest, Saturday

9. Kentucky (The Saint Louis Cardinals scored more than the Louisville Cardinals on Sunday.)

Next Game: vs. Norfolk State, Saturday

10. Arkansas (Petrino era begins with scare against Western Illinois.)

Next Game: @ Louisiana-Monroe, Saturday

11. Vanderbilt (Outstanding play by Chris Nickson against Miami (Ohio) Thursday night, rushing for a career-best 196 and two touchdown passes.)

Next Game: vs. South Carolina, Thursday

12. Mississippi State (After a dream autumn in Starkville, the Bulldogs fall back to earth in their season opener.)

Next Game: vs. SE Louisiana, Saturday

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Doc Hancock’s Grand Tour of C-USA: SMU Mustangs

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on August 18, 2008

Southern Methodist Mustangs

Head Coach: June Jones (1st season at SMU, 76-41overall)

Stadium: Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000)

2007 Record: 1-11 (0-8 C-USA West)

Postseason: None

Key Returnees on Offense: QB Justin Willis, RB DeMyron Martin, WR Emmanuel Sanders

Key Returnees on Defense: LBs Will Bonita, Justin Smart, CS Bryan McCann, SS Bryce Hudman, FS David Haynes

The Skinny: In the two decades since SMU was hit with NCAA sanctions, the Mustangs program has been searching through the wilderness for a savior. Enter June Jones, who led Hawaii to its best season ever in 2007 and a berth in the Sugar Bowl where they lost to Georgia and is no stranger to turnarounds. In his first season at Hawaii, the Rainbow Warriors finished 0-11 and the second season followed it up with 9 wins, an NCAA record.

Now after success at Hawaii, Jones is now trying to do the same thing that has been hard to do over the last two decades, win at SMU.

Going into the 2008 season, the Mustangs’ last bowl appearance was 1984, their last winning season was 1997, and since the “Death Penatly”, they’ve been 58-135-1, unimpressive numbers for a program that for a time was one of the country’s best progams.

And after close calls against Tulsa, Houston, and Memphis last season, the Mustangs look to use those close calls as confidence-builders for 2008.

Doc’s Prediction: Looking at the schedule, the Mustangs’ slate is filled with September games against Texas Tech and TCU, plus a road trip to Central Florida along with Tulsa and Houston at home in October. The Mustangs will close the season with UTEP on the road and Southern Mississippi at home.

Projected Record: 4-8 (2-6 C-USA West)

2008 Southern Methodist Mustangs

August 29th-@ Rice

September 6th-Texas State

September 13th-@ Texas Tech

September 20th-TCU

September 27th-@ Tulane

October 4th-@ Central Florida

October 11th-Tulsa

October 18th-Houston

October 25th-@ Navy

November 8th-Memphis

November 15th-@ UTEP

November 29th-Southern Miss

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