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Thinking out loud: What does Dan Hurley’s extension at URI mean?

05.19.17 at 1:08 pm ET

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud…while wondering whatever happened to “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison?

— Dan Hurley’s contract extension was made official at URI this week, with a deal in place that can keep the coach around through the 2023-24 season. It’s a smart, necessary PR move for Rhody in an always-changing world, and his second extension in two years. Does this “lock him in” now, Rams fans? No, it doesn’t. But that’s the reality of big-business college basketball these days.

— The same is true for PC’s Ed Cooley. Coaches can say and DO all the right things, but in a business as volatile as coaching – and it very much IS a business – it’s better to “never say never.” You’ll be right more often.

— Providence’s home games in the 2K Classic have been scheduled, and include playing Houston Baptist University on November 10th – which would serve as PC’s season-opener – and Belmont on Nov. 22nd, which would come AFTER playing at Madison Square Garden on the 16th and 17th.

— But since Rhode Island Comic Con is scheduled for the Dunkin Donuts Center on Nov. 10-12, the Friars may be forced to play the Houston Baptist home game at Alumni Hall. The season opener on campus? That would certainly increase interest in a game with HB-who, wouldn’t it? But what season-ticket holders would be left out? Glad that call is above my pay-grade.

— Bryant’s basketball program has been hammered with two significant losses recently, largely unexpected. North Providence’s Marcel Pettway is leaving the program after playing his way into prominence within the NEC the past two seasons. Last year’s leading scorer Nisre Zouzoua also left the Bulldogs’ team and transferred to Nevada.

— It might not be time to panic, but when two of your better players decide it’s in their best interest to play elsewhere? It might be time for a little program introspection, at the very least. 6-6 forward Malik Smith will transfer into Bryant, coming from North Carolina-Asheville.

— URI picked up a commitment from Brooklyn native, junior college forward Ryan Preston out of Trinity Valley (Texas), and the 6-7 junior will have two years of eligibility. Smart move on his part, as the Rams will have one of the deepest and perhaps one of the most talented backcourts around next year. He should see a lot of playing time – somebody in Kingston needs to rebound.

— I’ve surmised for two years that Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado has, at the very least, one super skill that makes him pro-worthy – his ability to rebound. The same was said of former PC all-Big East forward Michael Smith two decades ago, and his career in the NBA spanned eight seasons.

— Delgado led the nation in rebounding last season, and is the best pure rebounder seen in the Big East since the days of “Michael, Michael motorcycle.” Yet with his apparent decision to test the NBA draft waters this year and not return to school, especially with him not having received an invitation to the draft combine, it seems a bit foolish.

— Bottom line – some athletes just don’t like school. And some athletes just think they’re better than they really are. I know both thoughts will come as a shock to many.

— For now, the “still way too early” Big East projections for next season have taken on a new twist. Defending champ Villanova is at the top, thanks in large part to Jalen Brunson’s return. Xavier – if Trevon Bluiett returns, and he worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers this week – is next, and can seriously challenge the Wildcats in their present form.

— With five starters returning and help on the front line coming in, Providence gets the nod – for now – in the three-spot.

— Creighton, Seton Hall, Marquette, Butler and St. John’s can all challenge for the post-season. DePaul, with a new arena to break in, will be improved. Georgetown, under college-coaching neophyte Patrick Ewing, has its hands full. But Big East basketball will be monstrous next year. There really won’t be a weak-sister in the bunch.

— Big East league meetings were held in Ponte Vedra, Florida this week. Strengthening current initiatives were talked about, but what about future projects? There is underlying concern over attendance at Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament, and while the crowds have slowly improved since the league’s “re-birth,” there will be a huge spotlight glaring on the league next March with the Big Ten sharing the arena just before the Big East hits the stage.

— And don’t forget the ACC returns for another year to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center at the same time, too. If there was ever a place for basketball-heaven-on-earth, it might be the first and second weeks of March in New York next year.

— It’s not unusual to have players transfer to other schools for a 5th (graduate) year to finish their four years of eligibility. Boston College forward Garland Owens, however, is transferring his eligibility and his sport, too. The 6-5, 222-pound erstwhile hoopster is moving onto the Big Ten, to play football at Maryland. Probably at tight end, if he makes the roster.

— Back to hoops for the moment – and there are a few NCAA rule tweaks for next season to keep an eye on for approval, including extending the “coaching box” on the sideline and anytime the ball is touched, an automatic 0.3 seconds must come off the clock. Additionally, off-site video reviews could be implemented, like what is now done in the NFL.

— But because scoring totals and field goal percentages were the highest in more than 20 years this past season, there won’t be major initiatives toward extending the 3-point line, or moving to a four-quarter game (as the NBA plays) and like what the women’s game has moved to. Those changes are still on the table, however, as is widening the lane. Voting on potential changes comes next month.

— What a country. Indiana paid a search firm $90K to find Archie Miller, so he could become their new head men’s basketball coach. I could’ve told them he was in Dayton, Ohio for much less than that.

— Conference USA sealed the deal with JerryWorld, taking its men’s and women’s post-season tournaments to the new Dallas Cowboys complex in Frisco, Texas for the next two years. The Ford Center includes a 12,000-seat indoor stadium for practice that can be converted into a basketball arena.

— 12-thousand seats for practice? Sounds downright Patriot-like. There have already been numerous high school football and soccer games played there, and track meets as well as Texas Tech’s spring football game were held at “The Star.” Memo to the Kraft’s – build it, and they will still come.

— A Mexican school is hoping to become the first NCAA member from south of the border. Cetys University, located just east of Tijuana, Mexico and south of the border from San Diego, California, is having trouble finding quality opponents to play – and having trouble crossing the border to play US schools in a timely fashion these days. Hmmm.

— Love their nickname – the Zorros. On that alone, I’d vote them in. Just sayin’.

— North Carolina had until Tuesday of this week to respond to the NCAA’s latest notice of allegations, involving 18 years of fraudulent classes and courses taken by more than 3100 of their students, including athletes. So far, crickets.

— The Tar Heels’ response may still be a few days away, but in the meantime, expect hearings on this case to begin in August. It isn’t likely to go well for Roy Williams and Company in Chapel Hill, but then again, this IS the NCAA we’re talking about. And the Heels are one of their cash cows.

— Speaking of cows, my buddy “Big E” was at a state fair recently, and he and his wife marveled over the apparent virility of the bulls on display. One sign next to a pen said, “this bull mated 50 times last year.” In the next pen a sign read, “this bull mated 150 times last year.” At the end of the row, another sign proclaimed, “this bull mated 365 times in the past year!” E’s wife just about put her elbow through his ribs, telling him “you could learn a thing or two from those bulls!” He replied without thinking, of course – “go ask them if they did that with the same old cow every time.” “Big E” currently is recovering nicely in the hospital.

— PC’s Chapey Field at Anderson Stadium on campus will host the USILA/Nike North-South senior all-star lacrosse games on May 26th. Division I, II and III athletes will all play in the event, which annually attracts the best seniors in the country. Coincidentally, the NCAA Lacrosse national championships will also be held that weekend, at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

— Bryant baseball won its 6th straight Northeast Conference regular season championship last week, and will be the #1 seed in the conference tournament next weekend. URI is 24-1 on the year when they lead a game after eight innings, finally losing one to UConn this week. At 29-19 on the season overall at midweek, the Rams are in a virtual tie with VCU for 1st in the A-10.

— Kudos to CCRI’s Ken Hopkins, who announced his retirement as head baseball coach of the Knights’ program this week after 17 years and nearly 400 wins – making him the winningest baseball coach in school history. Coach Hop also spent much of his career as a coach at Rhode Island College and as a teacher in Cranston, and was previously named to the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Hall of Fame for his work as an athletic director. Currently, he’s serving the needs of his Cranston constituents as a city-wide councilman.

— Not for nuthin’, but anybody else feel like we’ve taken a few steps back in the societal-communication skills department when you read your emails or social media posts? All those crazy emojis look like Egyptian hieroglyphics from the days of Ramses II, if you ask me.

— The State of the Sox has me concerned, certainly. Injuries to some, and under-performance by others has dramatically changed the look and feel of a team expected to contend for the post-season. I’d like to say, “I told you so,” but right now we need someone to blame, don’t we?

— Start with the manager. It’s the old “you can’t fire 25 players so fire the manager” routine. And I believe the pressure mounts every day the team slides back a notch in the AL East. But it’s not all John Farrell’s fault, is it?

— Doesn’t some of this need to be laid at the feet of “Dealer Dave” Dombrowski? And doesn’t more still – maybe most of it – need to be put on the shoulders of players who are underachieving?

— There is no definitive solution, and no real quick-fix. Also, there’s no obvious replacement for Farrell should his plug get pulled. Best bet, and hope, is for David Price to assume his spot in the rotation somewhere close to last season’s form, and for someone – anyone – to plug the hole at 3rd base.

— And if someone else could find a way to light a fire under Hanley Ramirez and motivate him to play, that might help, too.

— Sad to hear of the news of Steve Palermo’s passing last week at age 67, after battling cancer. The one umpire universally admired and praised for his baseball work, Palermo had a street named in his honor this week in his hometown of Oxford, Massachusetts. You might recall Palermo had to give up his job as a major-league umpire in 1991 when he was shot and paralyzed from the waist down, while trying to stop a robbery.

— I want to embrace the Pawsox’ new stadium plan. I really do. Anything that keeps the team, the history, the tradition in Pawtucket, I’m for – but not at the expense of tax payers. The general feeling I’m getting – and hearing – is that Larry Lucchino and his crew have done a better job with devising this new plan of using the Apex site than they once did with the potential move to Providence discussed in 2015.

— But they’re not quite there, yet. The key to acceptance here – is the new stadium’s ability to keep from reaching into taxpayers’ pockets at all. Say what you will about Governor Gina Raimondo’s reign thus far, but here she is absolutely correct to hold the line on any new taxes. The “ask” is for $23 million from the state, in the form of new revenue created in and around the new stadium.

— Seems reasonable, until you consider this could alter the appetite for the proposed car tax repeal, the current state budget shortfall and the 38 Studios’ fiasco. Two organizations already say they’re opposed to any tax assistance – at all – from the state. There does, however, come a point in time where “put up” finally must meet with “shut up.”

— Keep the team in Rhode Island and attempt to reinvigorate a depressed business area along the Blackstone River, or let the team and generations of history go elsewhere? Sometimes, leaders need to get creative and lead, or else be crushed along the way. Get to work, gang, and figure it out.

— History has been made by the Providence Bruins in the current Calder Cup chase. In advancing to the AHL Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2009, the P-Bruins needed to win four elimination “win or go home” games along the way. They won the 4th this past week in Hershey, making them the first team in Calder Cup history to accomplish this during one playoff season.

— The first two games against the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate) are this weekend at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

— The Celtics won the draft lottery. Cool, yes. Helpful? Who knows? Are you in the “draft Markelle Fultz camp” or the “trade the pick” camp? If you’re in the “take Lonzo Ball” camp, you probably own a pair of his dad’s overpriced shoes, amiright?

— Is it me, or have these NBA Playoffs largely been poor-to-bad basketball? How many good, competitive, exciting games have there been? One – Game Six of the Celtics and Wizards? That Cleveland and Golden State are romping to a possible matchup of post-season unbeatens speaks to the disparity in the sport – not unlike UConn’s domination in the college women’s game.

— I had the Cavs in five over the Celts, anyway. And I’m rethinking that one. But a sport where the top-seeded team is so far behind the alleged second-best needs a little re-tooling somewhere, don’cha think?

— ICYMI, Ice Cube and the former deputy executive director of the NBAPA Roger Mason are launching a 3-on-3 summer basketball league (playing half-court) beginning next month. Called the BIG3, the games are expected to feature ex-NBA players and coaches, and the league will tour the country to select cities.

— Ice who? I know, I know.

— Oh, Gisele. I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the Brady household this past Wednesday night. Her slip-of-the-tongue this week (but was it, really?) to CBS’s Charlie Rose about her husband having had a concussion last season was problematic, at best. Considering the recent troubles her husband’s employers have experienced with the NFL, and that those employers never once had him listed on an injury report for such a malady. Oops.

— But she’s a smart woman, isn’t she? I’m not so certain this might have been a slip up, but rather a tip-off to not only protect her hubby, but to also sound the alarm for other players and their families. Concussions are, of course, the NFL’s dirty secret that can no longer be swept under a rug.

— By the way, lost in Gisele’s loose lips were TB12’s comments about Michael Jordan after gaining the cover of Madden 18. Brady went out of his way to talk about how he has long admired MJ’s talent and specifically, his “six championships.” Hmmm. With the talk about how he wants to play well into his 40’s, don’t be surprised if Tom decides to walk hand-in-hand with his wife into the sunset should the Patriots win again next season.

— That scenario certainly lines up well, contractually, with the status and future of one Jimmy Garoppolo. Doesn’t it?

— I tend to believe there’s something to the brain trust in Foxboro getting things right. They certainly scored another compensatory draft pick when LeGarrette Blount signed with the Eagles this week, didn’t they? Yeah, those guys. ‘Wicked Smaht’ is thy middle name.

— Speaking of smaht, former Patriot coach Charlie Weis’ golden parachute from his fall at Notre Dame was a beautiful sight to behold, unless you’re an ND alum. The final tab on his earnings as coach of the Fighting Irish was released this week, and totaled nearly $19 million from the university as a buyout for being fired back in 2009.

— That total, btw, doesn’t count what the University of Kansas paid him to coach their team before they fired him. Nor does it count what the Kansas City Chiefs and the University of Florida paid him to assist those coaching staffs, either.

— This week’s sign of the apocalypse – or sign of future big business – global E-sports viewing is up 19% over a year ago. Yes, that’s people watching other people “play” video games. More than 6 billion hours were dedicated, globally, to watching professional gaming. And more than half of the world E-sports audience, right now, is in China. But that audience is moving this way.

— File E-sports under the heading of “Next Big Thing.” Colleges and universities are forming E-sports teams, as I’ve mentioned previously. Professional franchises and leagues are being created. I don’t get it, but I don’t make the rules.

— The Celtics’ winning the top spot in this week’s NBA Draft Lottery won’t be the first time a Number One Pick plays for Boston. Former overall #1 Pervis Ellison, who played part of his career in Boston, was the top selection out of Louisville in the 1989 NBA Draft by Sacramento. A one-time teammate of his – Danny Ainge – apparently stuck him with the nickname “Out of Service” Pervis because he missed more than half of his rookie year with injuries. He signed with Boston as a free agent in 1994, but played in only 193 of a possible 492 games over six years with the Celtics (including missing the entire ’98-’99 season) largely due to his injury troubles. Ellison retired in 2000 with Seattle, and he coaches today at Life Center Academy in New Jersey. His son Malik played two seasons at St. John’s, and just transferred to finish his career at Pittsburgh.

— Graham from Lincolnshire, UK posted an interesting thought on Facebook this week, about wife Gisele Bundchen’s “oops” disclosure of hubby Tom Brady’s possible concussion: “We all know concussions are a big problem in the game. We all know the league isn’t taking the issue seriously enough. Heck, we all forgot about (Junior) Seau’s death quickly enough. Maybe people will listen to Gisele – and anyone who thinks she spoke without Tom’s agreement is being very naïve.” Graham: You bring up an interesting point, and one I believe has merit. And since you brought it up, perhaps this is TB12 (and family’s) way of keeping a thorn in the NFL’s side as razor sharp as possible?

— Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, …

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