"The Witten Bowl"
Here are some pictures from Sunday’s charity event that Cowboy Jason Witten put on.
"How ‘bout them Cowboys!"
My good friend, Adam Dicus, mentioned to me last night that he hasn't seen me blog lately. Since I have been "tweeting" I have stopped "blogging".
What in the world am I saying? Can you imagine if Ben Franklin came back to life and read about "tweeting" and "blogging"?????
Anyway....last night we had a table at the Robert Folsom Leadership Award Dinner at the Anatole. Norman Brinker was honored for his leadership in the restaurant industry. He started Steak and Ale and brought Chili's into the forefront of America's casual dining. What a great story. I love hearing about great entrepreneurs!
We had a good time at "Table 60". The table consisted of:
Me and Kelly
Paul and Amy Kauffman
Jason and Jenni Petty
Adam Dicus and Lauren Staub
"Rodney Clinkscales signs"
DODGE CITY — After a year of playing basketball on the High Plains, Rodney Clinkscales is headed back to the big city.
The Dodge City Community College Conquistador guard, originally from Zion, Ill., signed a national letter of intent Thursday to play basketball next season at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
In his freshman year at DCCC, Clinkscales averaged 19.2 points in 34 minutes a game for the Conqs, which earned him a second-team All-KJCCC nod.
"Tar Heels Win"
Boy, did Carolina dominate Michigan State last night in Detroit. It was an amazing performance by one of the best college teams I have seen in a while! Carolina was picked to win it all from day one and they didn't disappoint as they played their best basketball over the last six games of the season. They had talent, they were deep, they were experienced and they were well coached. The only team that could have challenged them this year would have been UCONN, but that matchup didn't occur because of Michigan State's effort against the Huskies in the semi-finals.
I can only imagine the celebration on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, NC.
"National Title Game"
Tonight will be the 30th anniversary of the famous Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson matchup in Salt Lake City for the National Championship. Magic's Michigan State team easily beat Bird's Indiana State team, but it brought the Final Four to the forefront of American sports. It is great to see the old highlights from that game. What an incredible run Indiana State had that year as they won all their games, but the last one! The basketball world was introduced to Larry Legend and Magic that year and we enjoyed that rivalry for years to come! What a great time for basketball!
"Collision in Detroit"
Who survives the clash in the Motor City?
Saturday night, I believe UNC will beat ‘Nova in one semi-final. It could be a blowout! In the Michigan St/UCONN game, I go back and forth. UCONN is more talented, but MSU is playing in Ford Field which is a short drive from their campus in East Lansing, MI. With all that is going on in Michigan in terms of the economy and the losing of jobs, I hate picking against the emotional factor that will play into this game. MSU is on a mission to bring some cheer to the state. They feel it is their "calling" to win the championship for all the people of the State of Michigan. They are underdogs with a big bite! That will tough to beat! Jim Calhoun may be facing one of his bigger coaching challenges. It will be an interesting game to watch.
Oh….I haven’t picked a winner of the MSU/UCONN game yet....Go Spartans!
That is my call…..right now!
Today we got back in the gym with the team. We worked for an hour on shooting fundamentals and one-on-one drills. This is the time to break down the shooting fundamentals and try to adjust a player's form. Then they can work on building new habits during the next seven months before fall practice starts up. Some take to it quicker than others. Jon Killen was the best I ever had at making changes and creating new habits in a short time!
"Blue Grass or Green Grass"
The University of Kentucky hired John Calipari for an estimated 31-plus million dollars over eight years! He will now be the highest paid coach in college basketball.
John will do an excellent job as he has what it takes to be successful at UK. He will be good with the fans and the alumni. John will attract the talent and become the closest thing they have had to Rick Pitino since Pitino left Lexington.
The UK/Louisville rivalry just got cranked up a notch!
My friend, Jason Petty, took me to one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country! Lake Fork is in Emory, TX. Approximately one and a half hours east of Dallas. We fished from 7am until 3pm. Unfortunately, I only caught one largemouth bass that was almost 6 lbs.
What a great experience.
The Final Four is set with UCONN playing Michigan State and UNC will face Villanova in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Look for UCONN to beat MSU, although 75% of the estimated crowd of 75,000 people will be rooting for the Spartans since the event is at Ford Field in Detroit. In the other game I feel UNC will beat 'Nova because Carolina is like Noah's Ark....they have two of everything! Two McDonald's All-Americans at every position!
Look for a UNC/UCONN final on Monday night. That should be a great game!
It was hard to believe that the Missouri Tigers could beat the Memphis Tigers like they did in the Sweet 16. Missouri came out and threw the first punch and put Memphis on it's heels. It was probably the first time all season they were attacked like that and they didn't respond well until it was too late. Missouri was really impressive with their defense along with the way they handled the pressure by Memphis.
This should be a fun weekend!
On Thursday, we had some special guests at the Crum Basketball Center. The Golden State Warriors and then the Denver Nuggets came by for practice. They all loved our facility.
Some photos are included with George Karl and Doug Moe of the Nuggets - both are former Carolina players. There is also a pic with Brendan Wright of the Warriors - former UNC player – and Don Nelson.
This time of year I visit with each player to discuss their grades, summer plans, review the season and talk about the areas of focus for improvement for next year. It is a great opportunity for some quality one-on-one time with the players.
I am ready to start up again!
Now that I am transitioning back to a reasonably normal lifestyle I offered to drive “car pool” this week for my son. I was late coming out of the chute today as I needed to shake off the rust. As we were walking out of the garage, I asked my son, Tucker, if we were late and he rolled his eyes at me and nodded!
An eleven year old with nerve!
Unfortunately...he was right!
We wheeled around the corner in silence to pick up Parker. Parker is high energy and let us know about his spring break trip to Hawaii even going so far as saying, "I recommend you stay at our hotel!" I will start calling him Zagat!
Timmy was next. He is a nice and quiet kid that is always sporting UT gear. The chatter picks up about Hawaii, lacrosse practice and who is picking them up.
As I roll up to the middle school the “New York” wants to come out in me as I see a long line forming….cars going around the line while others wait to move up. What is the proper protocol? Texas has been good to me as I wait in line rather than sprint to the front. One thing that I like about living in Dallas is that people don't honk much, if at all!
Good bye to the boys and off to work!
Ok...who do you like???
I like UCONN to face UNC in the finals! UCONN is rolling over people and with Ty Lawson back Carolina looks strong!
Must see games:
- Memphis vs Mizzou: this will be up-tempo "super-sized"! The pace of this one will be ridiculous! I like Memphis.
- Duke vs 'Nova: good matchup as both teams are perimeter orientated. Edge to 'Nova because they have better speed and quickness, plus, Cunningham is better than any Duke inside player.
I can't wait to get the emails from Memphis fans saying I am not supportive of my C-USA foe because I don't have them in the title game. The Dukies will send a couple, too!
Bring it on....it's March Madness!
I am about to board my first "red-eye" flight of the recruiting period going from California to the East Coast. Fortunately, Lil got me an exit row window seat. Tomorrow could be a tough day! Coffee will be consumed in mass quantities!
I began my day on the recruiting trail with a 3:50am alarm in a Marriott Hotel. I proceeded to drop my Hertz Rental Car off and hop the shuttle to the airport. I arrived at the United Airlines terminal and approached the kiosk.
This is where the fun began. Companies seem to want to confuse you into purchasing things you don't need. As I attempted to change my seat location and print a boarding pass all these options popped up along the way:
- purchase more awards miles
- purchase a first class seat
- purchase an economy plus seat
- purchase an elite level
They do it in such a way that you feel manipulated and if you touch the wrong tab you may buy something you don't want. You have to "decline" the purchase before moving on. Try doing this at 4:30 am! I can't imagine the CEO of United Airlines approving this. I wonder if he/she ever tried to check in using a kiosk??
After getting my boarding pass, I had to deal with security. I approached one area and the sign read something like this: "Security 1: United Elite, United Premium, United Executive and Star Alliance." For someone who doesn't travel on United a lot, this is confusing. Getting through security is next. Not much of a problem.
Next stop, I need to find Starbucks - Venti Bold, blueberry muffin and a fruit cup. I find my way to gate C-24 and settle in.
Here are "The Doh Corporate Ratings" based on a 5 star ranking system:
1. Marriott Hotel ***** very rarely a bad stay.
2. Hertz **** had to go inside for my receipt.
3. United ** once on the plane it was ok.
4. Starbucks **** rarely a bad experience.
Yesterday's NCAA Selection Show was difficult for me to watch for the first time, in a long time. In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to cover the NCAA'S for the media. This year I have no connection....except for envy. I envy the teams participating. I feel it is the most exciting sporting event in the world! The drama, the emotions, the matchups, the Cinderella stories...... I am jealous of the teams and coaches participating!
I dream of someday soon having the TV cameras in Moody showing our team and our fan's reaction to being picked by the NCAA Selection Committee. The excitement, the energy, the pride.....it will be an amazing feeling.
It will happen!
"Civil Rights Museum"
Last night I decided that we would take a later flight home to Dallas so we could visit the Civil Rights Museum and eat lunch as a team. The finality of a season can be emotionally challenging and I felt taking advantage of this opportunity would aid in moving forward while also giving the guys a tremendous experience learning more about Martin Luther King and all the civil rights leaders of our country.
It was good to be with each other away from basketball and to see our players learn about Dr. King and the civil rights movement in the U.S. It was very similar to the experience we had in South Africa when we visited the civil rights museum there and learned about Nelson Mandella.
I am sure our guys will have tremendous "take away" that they will be able to share in class, with their families and with their children someday.
"Walking in Memphis"
We had practice at Rhodes College Tuesday afternoon and then ate at Rendezvous Ribs owned by John Vergos (SMU '70). We love those dry ribs! It was a good day.
We hope to have Paul McCoy available for our game against Houston on Wednesday. His ankle is getting better, although not 100%.
"Packed for Four Games"
We head to Memphis today for the C-USA Tournament. We face Houston Wednesday at 8:30pm. It is a little odd playing them in back - to - back games, but we hope it is to our advantage. After studying Saturday's game with them, it is imperative that we take care of the ball as our 15 turnovers led to 24 points for UH. On the defensive end, we must sprint back and locate their scorers. They are fast up the floor.
We hope to get on a roll and win four in a row! I packed for it!
Thursday we had a film session at 7pm then we had dinner at 8pm to go along with some serious ping pong games. Last week we did the same thing. At this time of year we want to keep our guys as fresh as possible - mentally and physically! Our guys seemed to enjoy it so much last week that we decided to do it again today. It is a great "team building" opportunity.
Our new locker room and lounge are keys in allowing us to do these things. The space we have provides us with room to relax, watch TV, eat and play games like ping pong or pool. When a team hangs out together it definitely plays together. It builds team chemistry.
Now, I must add that Ryan Harp and I DOMINATED the ping pong table! Team Harp/Doherty went 8-0 as we smoked the competition! Fun time had by all...except those that were defeated!
The food taste better...the jokes funnier...the sun sunnier....
It is amazing how your outlook on life is so different when you win.
Wednesday night Bamba Fall made two critical free throws to win the game against Southern Mississippi. How fitting for the senior in his last game in Moody Coliseum? He wrapped up a nice career in a big way.
Our team came out and built a 14 point halftime lead as we played some good basketball. With a little over ten minutes to go we were up ten points, a situation we have been in several times recently. At that timeout we discussed "finishing" the game. As much as we have worked on it we had a hard time holding Southern Miss down as they came roaring back. Fortunately, we made enough good plays to win!
We now go down to Houston to play UH on Saturday in our last regular season game! We hope to build some momentum as we enter the C-USA Tournament next week.
It is that time of year again....the best time of year! Conference tournaments start this weekend. We will see buzzer-beaters and upsets as the tremendous roller coaster of emotions will be evident as teams make the NCAA Tournament and others don't!
There is no other team sport where the energy runs higher than in college basketball in March. It is an amazing event to be a part of!
I can't wait until the day when SMU is chosen in the "field of 65" on "Selection Sunday". That will be awesome!
We have played several games where we had the lead midway into the second half and lost – UTEP, Memphis, UAB, UH, ECU quickly come to mind. Saturday was no different as we lost to Tulsa at home. As in most instances, there are two sides to it: 1) it is frustrating not to win after having the lead for so long; and 2) it is encouraging to see our team continue to battle and fight to be in position to beat some of the top teams in our league.
Now we need to learn how to “finish” games. Finishing games comes with confidence, confidence that is developed through experiences. You can't replicate these situations in practice. That is why it is called “experience”. These situations will really pay off for us in coming years. I remember as a freshman at UNC, I could always lean on senior Al Wood as he would lead us through a tough stretch in a game. Then when I was a senior I could help lead our freshman point guard Kenny Smith through some rough patches on the court. Finishing games become a lot easier when you get that type of experienced leadership. That prompted me to think about our roster - six of our top players are in their first year of playing at SMU! We start four new players. They are gaining valuable lessons that will give them the confidence they need for years to come.
I want to thank the over four thousand fans that came out to the game. Our marketing department has been doing a good job. I can only imagine how Moody will be when we are vying for a league title in the next few years! It will be rocking!
Exciting times are ahead.
"O.T. in El Paso"
Wow! Our guys played their hearts out. We played hard and were in position to beat UTEP on the road, but couldn't hold on. I am proud of our guys as they continue to compete given our record. We could easily be 7-6 in conference play, in the top part of CUSA. These experiences will benefit us down the road. I was talking to a former assistant coach at UNC when I played, Eddie Fogler. Coach Fogler then went on to coach at Vanderbilt and South Carolina. He is a terrific basketball mind. He said the only way to get experience is to play the game. You can't create it in practice or in film sessions. The team needs to go through it. Well, we have gone through some experiences:
The winning will come. This process is challenging, but necessary. It will be sweet when Moody is rockin' with a Top 25 team playing. It will happen!
Tuesday we had a very special guest visit our team in the Crum Basketball Center. President George Bush stopped by with Dr. Turner and Brad Cheves to pay a visit to our team. Since President Bush has moved back to the area and will have his library and office on our campus he wanted to get to know his surroundings. It was a fantastic experience as President Bush visited with our players and toured the facility. He was easy to talk with as he is very personable and has a quick wit.
In recruiting I tell prospects all the time that if you come to SMU you will meet some very important people! I wasn't lying!
I was proud of our players as we came out Saturday with great energy to take a 16-point lead in the first half. This was after playing the top three teams in C-USA the previous four league games - Memphis, Houston, at UAB and at Memphis. No team had a tougher stretch. We played really tough in three-and-a-half of those games, yet lost all of them. However, our guys still come out each day and each game with the enthusiasm to play well and win.
What was even more impressive to me was when Rice came back and took the lead late in the game, our players didn't flinch. They responded and pulled out a nice win at home.
People often wonder what we do on game day on the road. Here is our itinerary:
10:30am Breakfast - in a hotel conference room
Noon Shootaround at Fedex Forum - we shoot and run through our offensive/defensive game plan
3pm Pre-game meal - after the meal we will review the scouting report and watch (for the second time) an 8 minute edit tape of Memphis.
5:30 Depart for Fedex Forum - the players will get taped (ankles) and dressed in the hotel.
7pm Tip off vs Memphis
10pm Fly to Love Field
We traveled with Dr. Sue Bierman who coordinates our academics for the team. She worked with some of our players last night. Also, special guests Vic Salvino, Steve Conly, John Briggs and Charles McKinney made the trip with us.
Tomorrow we face the Memphis Tigers on the road. It will be interesting to see how our guys handle the 17,000 fans that will be there.
Here are the keys:
1. Communication - as basic as that seems it is critical that we communicate to make sure we are organized on the floor. Memphis throws a lot of pressure at you so if you are not organized they can go on a 10 point run easily.
2. TCOB - my guys see this acronym all the time. It stands for Take Care of the Ball. We need to limit our turnovers so Memphis has to attack a set defense. This will also keep the crowd under wraps.
3. Transition Defense - Memphis is terrific at attacking in transition. We need to sprint back on defense and pick up a man so we can limit their easy shots.
I hope you enjoy the game.
"The Fightin' Stangs"
That is what I wrote on the board after our heartbreaker at UAB. Our team fought for 40 minutes against a very talented Blazer team. UAB hadn't lost a home game all year and our guys took the lead with 18 seconds left only to lose by 3. We battled and battled. I was very proud of our guys as they continue to compete in spite of our record. It would be easy for a team to get discouraged and quit. Not these Mustangs.
Next up Memphis on the road.
"Friday the 13th"
I am typing this as I sit on a plane...on Friday the 13th! Good thing I am not superstitious...or am I?
We head to Birmingham after a morning practice. Tomorrow we play a talented UAB team. I am flying to see a prospect first and will meet the team in the morning.
UAB is a very talented team with three potential NBA players - Vaden, Delaney and Kinnard. We will have our hands full!
We battled for about 30 minutes, but couldn't hold on. Turnovers and rebounding cost us as UH ended with 21 more shots than us. It is tough to win given that scenario.
With that said, we continue to improve. Last year we lost to UH twice by 20+ points and were never really in the game. This year we took the lead in the middle of the second half. We are making rogress.
"Carolina vs Duke"
Why is this rivalry considered the best in sports?
1. Proximity - 8 miles separate the two campuses.
2. Familiarity - breeds contempt. Each school knows each other like the back of their hands.
3. History - this rivalry dates back 100 years.
4. ACC - both teams are in the same league and play each other at least twice a season.
5. National exposure - since the ACC is normally one of the best leagues year-in year-out the whole country is watching.
6. Talent - each year both schools have their share of talented players.
7. Different - Duke is the small, wealthy, private school with students from outside North Carolina. UNC is the larger, public university made up mostly of students from the state of North Carolina.
All of this creates an intensity that is unparalled in sports. I have participated in it as a player and a coach. That 17 minute drive back to Chapel Hill after a big win at Cameron Indoor Stadium is the quickest 17 minutes I ever experienced!
Go Tar Heels!
Wednesday we have another big challenge in the University of Houston. They are fast, they shoot it well and they have a true post presence. The key for us is to take care of the basketball. Houston's quick hands force turnovers and they have the ability to convert those steals into points in a hurry.
Come on out and support us!
"Catholics and Confession"
I apologize for the sabbatical I took from my blogging. It is like a Catholic and confession…..you miss one month, then you skip another and so on and so forth. Then you are twisted in guilt! It can get messy!
A new week is upon us and we have two big challenges: Houston at home on Wednesday and UAB in Birmingham on Saturday. Both teams are at the top of C-USA. Houston is coming off a big win at UCF, winning by 20+ points. Aubrey Coleman is a terrific player for them. We will have our hands full.
We are playing better. Last week we had a great Memphis team on the ropes, taking a two-point lead with 14 minutes to go. Their defense kicked in and we struggled for a stretch. It was good to see Memphis demolish Gonzaga in Spokane on Saturday. That is good for our league and it should be good for our player's confidence. We played Memphis better than the top-twenty Zags did!
We need you to come out and support us! The better the crowd the better the home team plays! John Calipari said it best, “5 to 6 thousand people in here (Moody) a night will mean an extra 5 – 6 wins a year! Don't wait til they get good! Help them get good!”
Today we had a 7am practice and we were scheduled to depart Love Field at 4pm on a charter flight to Orlando as we play UCF tomorrow. However, Mother Nature had other plans. With the potential for heavy ice in Dallas we had to audible and move our flight up to noon! We barely got out as the ice was quickly moving our way.
Having just landed in Orlando I am thankful for the charter plane. If we didn't have the flexibility it afforded us we may never made it to Florida!