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Point guard play was "wonderful for teammates"

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By Bob Watkins

John Wall meet Bob Cousy. Godfather of point guards who was defining take charge play and being The Game’s prime take-over-guy before Wall’s dad was out of diapers.

Wall, Devan Downey and other gifted and cocksure playmakers would do well to look up the gold standard man. Point guard who pioneered the way to fame and fortune awaiting today’s take-over game types.

A showman from Gotham City to Beantown, Cousy was cut from a high school team once and encouraged at Holy Cross College to minimize the fancy stuff.

Humbug! He was much more than a scrawny kid from Queens who took his game to the NBA, became a 10-time all star with title winning Boston Celtics and earned a place in Naismith Hall of Fame. Cousy was more.

In tribute to old rival Dick McGuire who died recently, Cousy defined point guard then and now, telling Sports Illustrated “Dick’s mind-set when he crossed half-court was to create something wonderful for his teammates.”

There it is.

So, here’s the question: Every time he crosses the half-court line does John Wall at Kentucky, Edgar Sosa at Louisville and A.J. Slaughter at Western, look first to “create something wonderful for his teammates?”

LOUISVILLE DID WHAT?

Just when someone (blush) writes, “... its late February and the Louisville Cardinals have morphed into 15 guys wearing the same clothes. If UofL led the Big East in any category this season it might be symbol of Me-ism – Tattoos.”

Then, out of a snow bank, a UofL team showed up in the Carrierdome Sunday and put a hurt on No. 3 Syracuse, put a shine back on Rick Pitino’s fast-weathering face, and a signature win on UofL’s dance card resume’.

How did it happen?

• Cards played 40 minutes of team-ness instead of 36-37 and fold.

• Edgar Sosa stopped trying to be Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd and Dwyane Wade. Shot selection was still iffy, but floor play and five assists opposite two turnovers were huge.

• And, the surprise. Step-up time by Michael Marra and Rakeem Buckles.

Result? Rekindled confidence and a beautiful game film.

Next?

RICK PITINO

Last week’s speculation that Louisville’s coach had put out feelers for a return to East Rutherford, specifically, Murray Hill Parkway, home of the NBA awful Nets (4-48), seemed less news and more declaration: “HEY, Kentucky! Coach Cal may be all the rage, but I am still relevant around here!”

Pits (last summer) and pinnacles (spring, 1996) considered, Rick Pitino’s career has become more a sobering reminder – However charmed we believe we are, however rich, however high one’s star climbs into the heavens, celebrity and prosperity have no sway over the law of gravity. We all come back to earth.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A time when a man distinguishes the idea of intense happiness from the idea of wealth, is the beginning of wisdom.”

WKU, MOREHEAD & BIZARRO WORLD

Western Kentucky and Morehead State played in Bizarro World last week, each losing a head scratcher.

• In Bowling Green last week, Houston got a gift win when a phantom foul was whistled on Sergio Kerusch at :.05 and a 72-72 score. WKU’s bench earned a technical foul, Houston converted free throws. Presto! A 74-72 get-outa-here win.

Curious, a last instant call against a host team, since game officials try to avoid deciding games. Customarily, any foul committed in a game’s final minute short of drawing blood or broken nose, is ignored.

• Morehead played Eastern Illinois at Charleston. The Eagles found a Chris Webber Brain Hiccup way to lose.

Leading by a point and :01 on the clock, EIU tried to maneuver for a final shot when Morehead’s Steve Peterson dived on the floor, stole the ball, then called time out. Morehead had none. Two technical foul shots later, EIU had a win, 76-75.

Bizarro? Eagles coach Donnie Tyndall used three time-outs in the game’s final minute, but Peterson didn’t get the “we have NO time-outs left!” message.

RATING COACHES

A reader wrote, “... although you rank college coaches alongside used car salesmen, who’s on your best and worst lists?

Best today in order: Jay Wright, Villanova; Mike Krzyzewski, Duke; Bill Self, Kansas; Mark Few, Gonzaga; Tom Izzo, Michigan State and Jim Boeheim, Syracuse.

Each has an established winning program; each is in NCAA rules compliance over long period. Equally important – Academic Progress Rates (APR). Progress toward a college degree by student-athletes.

APR ratings in D-I men’s basketball as of 2009: Villanova 990, Duke - 984, Kansas 981, Gonzaga 965, Michigan State 963 and Syracuse 955.

Overrated (overpaid): Ben Howland, UCLA; Bruce Pearl, Tennessee; Leonard Hamilton, Florida State, John Calipari, Kentucky and Roy Williams, North Carolina.

Underrated: John Thompson III, Georgetown; Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt; Bruce Weber, Illinois; Bobby Lutz, Charlotte; Dino Guidio, Wake Forest.

Best Up-and-coming: Scott Drew, Baylor; Mark Fox, Georgia; Steve Alford, New Mexico; Anthony Grant, Alabama; and Brad Stevens, Butler.

IDEAS DEPT.

Next month, when college coaches begin jumping contracts for other jobs, someone will recycle: “if a coach can jump to another school with no penalty, why punish student-athletes who transfer and have to sit out a season?”

Idea. A fan in Wisconsin offered an answer in Sports Illustrated. On the day when a prospect signs with a college he also designates in writing three schools to which he could transfer without penalty if the coach leaves for another job.

WORTH REPEATING

VMI defeated Gardner Webb 92-85 last week prompting Kentucky fan Charley Reasor of Nashville to recall Wildcat home losses to Gardner Webb in 2008 and VMI in 2009 under coach Billy Clyde Gillispie.

“... wonder if Billy Clyde Bradshaw attended the (VMI-Gardner Webb_ game for old times’ sake?” he wrote.

And so it goes.

Sports In Kentucky appears in community newspapers across the Commonwealth. You can reach bob Watkins at sprtsinky@aol.com