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"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." - Ben Franklin

The NCAA is splitting hairs by splitting halves.

The NCAA is splitting hairs by splitting halves.

During the NIT this March, the Men’s Basketball Committee will experiment with resetting team fouls to zero at the end of 10-minute segments of each half. So they are cutting halves in half, but not calling it quarters. What a waste of time.

Men’s college basketball is the only level of basketball in the WORLD to play two 20-minute halves. What’s the hold up? The NCAA MBC is holding on for no other reason than being resistant to change.

I call both men’s and women’s games and the difference in the flow of the game is obvious. Halves invite painfully long scoring droughts and too many foul shots. When that happens, the game gets boring. Fans can’t stand it, and the casual viewer is turned off. It makes for bad TV.

Quarters let teams regroup and strategize, breaking the game down into more manageable, teachable segments. Today’s players thrive in that environment.

Women’s basketball changed to quarters two years ago and the results speak for themselves:

 Source: Rick Nixon/NCAA.COM

Source: Rick Nixon/NCAA.COM

Scoring is up. Free Throws are down. Ratings are up 25%. The South Carolina/ UConn women’s matchup on Big Monday drew the highest rating for any college basketball game this season on ESPN2.  Games are speeding along at 1:48. The ladies are in the zone.

Alan Leforce, my coach at Coastal Carolina who also coached men’s college ball for 40 years said it’s time to change. “The pros do it. They do it in the Olympics. Women’s basketball does it. Maybe there are a lot of older guys that don’t want to change, but I want to see it, and there’s no older guy than me.”

Most women’s coaches agree. UConn’s Geno Auriemma, Depaul’s Doug Bruno, and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley have all voiced their support in favor of the four-quarter system. Kim Mulkey was opposed to it, but her Baylor Lady Bears set an NCAA DI record dropping 140 points on Winthrop. That doesn’t happen without quarters.

Despite the data and endorsements, men’s coaches aren’t exactly embracing the thought.

Notre Dame Head coach Mike Brey told me halves make the college game unique. Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams said he needs evidence but supports whatever system gets his team to the free throw line the most. Ben Howland of Mississippi State doesn’t see the need to change or get rid of the 1 and 1 foul shot. Oakland’s Greg Kampe is a self-described traditionalist whose opinion echoed Howland’s, but said he would give it a second thought after we talked and I showed him the data.

One NCAA committee member told me playing four quarters would be too jarring. He also said there was no goal other than to collect data. Why not start by looking at data that already exists?

Every two years, the NCAA can make rules changes for the upcoming season. Last year they focused on freedom of movement, something the Women’s Basketball Rules Committee took a close look at years ago. They had the foresight it would have a positive overall effect on the game, and it did. The numbers back it up. This summer, the focus should shift to quarters. Fans are ready. It’s time to buy in and put the discussion on the agenda.

 

Movement as a Lifestyle with Adidas Originals

No not out of my way, with me. With us. And not to a place, to an idea. That inside us there lives an original artist who believes Creativity thrives on Activity. So what do you call the meeting between inner athlete and artist?

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Reliving the Flu Game with the Jordan XII

"It’s all about desire. You just gotta come out here and do what you gotta do. Me as a leader, I had to come out and do my best. Somehow I found the energy to stay strong. I wanted it really bad." - Michael Jordan

On June 11th, 1997, he solidified himself as the fiercest competitor the NBA had ever seen. A depleted, ailing, flu-ridden Michael Jordan summoned the superhuman strength to score 38 points and will his team to a critical win in Salt Lake City for Game 5 of the NBA Finals. 

What I remember most was seeing the greatest player alive be so vulnerable. During timeouts I held my breath, thinking it might somehow help him from passing out on the bench. Little did I know we were all collectively doing the same thing, exhaling finally when he collapsed into the arms of Scottie Pippen. 

 Image: Robby Beckmann

Image: Robby Beckmann

What's also memorable are the shoes he wore that night. So much so that the Jordan brand re-released the "Flu Game” XIIs this summer and celebrated with a pop-up store event and a Game 5 viewing party at Station 23 in Chicago. I got to play emcee for the evening. 

 Image: Robby Beckmann

Image: Robby Beckmann

Using a 19th Century Women’s dress boot and the Nisshoki Japanese war flag as inspiration, legendary designer Tinker Hatfield produced a title-worthy durable shoe wrapped comfortably in tumbled leather. A closer look shows how the pattern in the red color way mimics a basketball while the stitching in the black color way creates the appearance of sun rays. 

Talk about going viral, being sick never looked so…sick. 

History, Mystery, and Serendipity

History, Mystery, and Serendipity

As much time as I spend away from home, I should know how to take a vacation. I don't. I suck at it. Don't know the first thing about planning one. How are you supposed to predict having fun? Traveling for work is like being on auto-pilot, my mind and time are already occupied. It's in the offseason where the challenge begins -  when my mind and time are both free. 

No it's not you say, start by booking your flight and hotel, and quit being ridiculous! Nope. Just deciding when to go and where to stay gives me the same too-many-choices sweaty feeling I get inside a place like Home Depot. United gets me, they know I can't commit, so they only charge $50 for a flight change when you book with miles.  One time I changed my flight 3 times while on vacation. It was Vegas, though, so I'll leave it at that :) 

Air BnB came through in the clutch. My apartment had all the essentials - a coffee maker, a balcony on which to drink that bold and beautiful coffee, and wifi. Say it like "wee-fee". Bref, you're a Parisian. Time to act like one. 

Parisians get a bad reputation that I don't get AT ALL. The same people who told me how rude they are don't understand the concept that a little effort goes a long way. Or know how to be quiet. Take the Metro for example. Locals travel at lightning speed - stay to the RIGHT and keep moving - and they did it almost silently. On the train, heads weren't buried in cell phones. I watched them just....be. It was intoxicatingly different from the city life I'm used to. In a few days I'd meet up with my family and the Ohio University Marching 110's who were there performing on their spring trip. But the first 48 hours reminded me of football season in November. Nothing but rain and heavy clouds. Out of fear of losing precious battery life, I didn't take many pictures and I don't travel with a camera, yet. However, "le snap" featured stops at the Eiffel Tower, Musee d' Orsay, and the Opera.  

Getting around underground proved to be the best way to see the city. The key was staying patient when I got on the wrong train or got off at the wrong Metro stop. That's what happened here when I walked upstairs to this memorial at the Place de la République. It's one of the many tributes honoring the victims of the terrorist attacks across the city that took the lives of 130 people on November 13th, 2015.

The sky was a striking contrast from the thick, moody clouds that had been hanging around. It was so blue it didn't seem real. The plaza was packed end-to-end with music and laughter. There was so much JOY. People were carrying on as if the memories left on these steps had life and were enjoying the day right beside them. 

The spirit of everlasting life floats all throughout Paris, especially in places like this. I stumbled upon the largest graveyard in the city, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, only after finding out the Picasso Museum was closed. Strolling through a cemetery would typically creep me out but heard this was a hidden treasure must-do on a nice day. Remind you of New Orleans? It should - it draws comparisons to the St Louis #1 Cemetery, except the monuments here are empty. Burials take place in underground tombs. I didn't know I was so close to the final resting place for the Doors' Jim Morrison, and more than two million souls, many who came from death camps. 

"Imagine that. One man felt a certain way about a group of people, inciting enough hate around the world that millions of people died, 9,387 of them right here on this beach. Words Matter."

I said that standing next to my dad and brother on Omaha Beach looking up at an impossibly difficult climb toward Normandy. We stood in awe, thinking about the bravery and sacrifice of the American, British, and Canadian soldiers, most of them barely older than my brother, and how they could so fearlessly face death to fight the German Nazi Party during World War II.  

The hike up the bluff was so steep we had to sit down a few times and catch our breath. At the top, my dad and I sat in the Normandy American Cemetery, admiring the shapes the meticulously lined crosses made in the lawn, also perfectly manicured. He can appreciate a solid buildout, Bricknick is a mason after all.  I turned to ask if he was ok, I got a slight nod in return. The look in his eyes said it all.

We headed back to the collonade just in time to catch my sister and the 110's assemble on the monument steps, in near silent unison. Then they delivered a patriotic performance that really put an exclamation point on the day. Sadly this was the only time I'd see them live on this trip, but they went on to drop in at the Eiffel Tower and march alongside Mickey in the parade at Disneyland Paris. Look for the coolest college band in the country to go prime time in the 2017 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

I saved the Louvre for next time and used the last sunny day to book a tour with Street Art Paris. If you know nothing or everything about street art, it doesn't matter, as long as you have an open mind. Thanks to a friend introducing me to it, I pay a lot more attention to the images I used to casually admire when I walked by. Now I know they reflect the meaning of today's times. Take this tour and you'll finish it with a genuine feel for the diversity in Parisienne communities, and see an open-air gallery that's constantly changing! Here are a few of my favorite images from these artists: Manolo Mesa, Ives One, Hopare, Jordane Jone, and Kashink. 

It's true. Overplanning kills magic. I'm fine with getting (a little) lost. With the unknown. That's the best place to find yourself. So while I doubt I'll host a travel show anytime soon, I made the most of my six days in Paris by learning some history and leaving the rest to mystery.

Traveling well with the Lebron 13

  

traveling: 

1. to be enjoyed away from the place of origin

2. to take more than the allowed number of steps while holding the ball without dribbling it.

Traveling on the court won’t win you any style points, but wearing the Lebron 13 while you travel, will. I wish I could play more often, but these days traveling is more my sport. I can already see me sprinting through an airport with these on my feet. I don't wear anything I can’t run in when I fly, and I have a feeling the Lebron 13 will save me from missing a connection more than a few times this winter.

Lebron 13_1

Versatile, light, flexible, fast, and bold. Like any ball player what we rock on the court must fit our own personal particular preferences. For me it starts even before that, with my socks - I wear below the ankle only and the line must be perfectly straight across my toes. Shoes should feel like an extra sock, and the Lebron 13 hugs my feet in a way thats comforting but not restrictive. It means I can play without thinking, and when, not if, I decide to cross this guy up, my shoes listen to me and do what my feet tell them to!  

 

A network executive once told me that the secret to success is getting the f out of your own way. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but the seed was planted and for me it was realizing life is what you make of it... a game of reinventing yourself while staying true to who you are. Basketball is a game of innovation and individual expression. Isn’t that saying the same thing? Ball IS life!  

*Special thanks to @ellimacjo for her collaboration on this project. 

What are you talking about?

What are you talking about?

Tom Thibodeau was fired as head coach of the Chicago Bulls last week - a public torching by Bulls management topped off by his own players ripping him on the way out. One more reminder that coaching is not for me. I knew early on I didn't possess the patience coaching demands watching my sister's get tested over coaching 14 seasons of high school basketball. The breaking point for her came in the form of a dad chest bumping her over his daughter's playing time. Maybe that's what led me to call games instead of coach them.  .      

This Bulls team was equipped to win a title, but egos got in the way, and the relationship between Thibs, management, and the players crumbled quickly. The libra in me wanted so badly to step in and mend the fences. The Bulls ended the season with an embarrassing loss to the Cavs in Game 6. 

From the NBA to AAU, talent isn't enough, especially if the mojo is gone and eye contact is avoided at all costs. Every team needs chemistry to build success, and that starts with communication. Just from what I watch at the college level there is an evident, widening disconnect between players and coaches, especially men's teams. Guys typically don't embrace conversation. Creating chemistry isn't easy to do, but from my own experience as a player and observing coaches across the country as an analyst here's what works, and what doesn't:


Texas head Coach Shaka Smart, known for taking charges in practice, took the VCU Rams from the First Four to the Final Four in 2011. Photo: VCU Athletics 

The method a coach chooses to motivate and create team communication sets the tone to teach X’s and O’s. Before the season started at Coastal Carolina, our coach and his wife had us over for a barbecue and had us perform made up skits. We loved it because it didn't involve working out, and it really did help bring us closer together.   

Some coaches take it to another level. Texas Head Coach Shaka Smart takes his team and staff through Navy Seal training! A motivated player is buying whatever you’re selling, a discouraged one will tune you out. It’s human nature!


Mike Rice was fired as Rutgers Head Coach in 2013 after video surfaced of him physically and verbally abusing players. Photo: Chris Szagola

Respect is given when respect is earned. One time a coach got within an inch of my face to tell me I f*ing sucked and to go run for the next hour of practice. He was too simple to understand degrading me didn’t motivate me. I was supposed to respect this clown after what he said? No chance. On the inside I was raging, but on the outside, I managed to stay emotionless by staring at his shiny bottom lip, counting the little flecks of mint Copenhagen stuck to it. That served as my personal tipping point. I transferred high schools after that season.


When I watch practices, I pay attention to how much the team is talking. Lately when I ask coaches, “How do you get your team to communicate?” many times they shrug their shoulders. Other than the obvious answer, cell phones and social media, what else has led to being introverted as the new normal?

UConn Head Coach Kevin Ollie is as intense as they come, but he earns the respect of his players because he walked the walk as a 13-year NBA Vet.   Photo: Robert Deutsch USA Today Sports 

I think about it like this… an 18-year-old freshman has grown up during a pretty weird time. He or she was four years old on 9/11, and ten when the great recession pulled our entire country’s emotional state to an all-time low. For the most part, they’ve grown up around war and economic hard times. Don’t turn on the tv, sports is no longer the innocent, last safe haven anymore. Every other story is about a scandal or domestic violence. Those are the dots I connect to understand why they are who they are. Quiet. 


Former Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins said Head Coach Muffet McGraw was so loyal it made her want to return the favor.  Photo: AP/Michael Perez 

It doesn’t mean that can’t change, but like anything else, talking, like shooting and defense, has to be practiced and made a habit. Talking is how a coach finds out what’s inside by pushing you until you reveal it yourself. The motivational part will fall naturally into place after that. Players: show up early, ready to work, and ready to TALK! Teams who don’t talk don’t win. Coaches have to demand it and make it a habit, until there’s no other option. The right approach will pay off, taking a kid’s talent beyond where they even thought was possible.

Women. Not. Being. Acknowledged.

Women. Not. Being. Acknowledged.

Women. Not. Being. Acknowledged. What the Chicago Sky and WNBA didn’t realize they did in an effort to offer fans a broadcast team that is "as entertaining and dynamic as any in the city.” 

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