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Thinking Out Loud: Providence makes best of snowy situation 01.30.15 at 2:48 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to the super-villain Mr. Freeze …

— So … what’s a little snow between friends? The fourth-largest snowfall on record? This week, beautiful, fluffy white snowflakes became hated, heavy drifts of pure, cold, white misery. Honestly, I thought I had seen/been through it all in 27 years as a New England resident. That is, until this past week. My backyard, a cranberry bog in the Massachusetts town of Berkley, was buried under 30-plus inches of snow after all was said and done with Winter Storm Juno. And what is it with naming winter storms, like naming hurricanes? Does this help keep track of them through the years? And why would we want to remember this? Stupid is as stupid does.

— We all seem to remember the great storms in history, like the Blizzard of”78, so let’s compromise here. Snowmageddon 2015. Has a great ring to it, with the proper amount of alarm and hype just like our TV reporters would want, don’cha think?

— The week’s confinement to quarters gave me time to recall a few of my favorite one-liners on the weather, like this one: It was so cold this week, lawyers put their hands in their own pockets. The same can be said for politicians, too.

— One of the casualties of the snowfall was Providence’s Tuesday night game with DePaul — delayed to Thursday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. One possibility had the Friars and Blue Demons playing at Alumni Hall on campus, if the Fleetwood Mac concert Wednesday had to be postponed. That would have made for an interesting scenario — with only 3,000 or so tickets/seats available — and the first regular-season game on campus in more than 40 years. Alas, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood and crew decided the show would go on as scheduled. The postponement still became the first in almost 22 years for the Friars, since Georgetown and John Thompson pulled out of a scheduled game at the Dunk in 1993 due to a snowstorm.

— Not for nuthin’ … but a stroke of genius by the PC athletic department in selling tickets to the Thursday afternoon game with DePaul for just $1. Who could make a 2 p.m. tip-off on a work day, or during a work week already messed up by the snowstorm? As it turned out, 3,568 fans did show for the matinee. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to local charities, and fans who pre-purchased tickets will get two tickets to a future game next season. That’s certainly making chicken salad out of chicken feathers.

— The rantings and ravings here over Kris Dunn the past couple of weeks? I could say I told you so … so I will. His triple-double performance against DePaul Thursday (career high 27 points, career high 13 rebounds, 11 assists) was rare, of course. First ever for PC in a Big East game, ninth in school history. I hope it means nothing, but perhaps Friars fans need to enjoy these last few weeks of games with Dunn in Friar duds, ‘cuz he is rapidly gaining attention, and ascending the NBA draft ladder.

— For my money, Dunn has perhaps the best pure ability of any individual Friar I’ve had the privilege to cover in more than 20 years — and there have been some very good ones. There is fluidity to his game I haven’t seen since Eric Murdock dominated on both ends of the floor in 1990-91. And Murdock went on to play in the NBA for nine seasons.

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Thinking Out Loud: We’ll never get complete truth about Deflategate 01.23.15 at 12:49 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud . . . while wondering whatever happened to John Linehan …

— The NFL’s investigation into Deflategate against the Patriots? It’s the first league investigation of improperly deflated balls that didn’t involve use of PEDs. Just sayin’.

— I get the integrity/fair play/honesty part. But having covered the NFL for more than 30 years now, I also understand what people do to gain an edge. The Patriots push the envelope as much as any team or organization I’ve ever seen … maybe as much as I saw the Oklahoma Sooners push it in the 1970s and ‘€˜80s under Barry Switzer. They were real, straight-out-of-the-West outlaws. It doesn’t make it right, but few teams with a winning mentality want to be left behind.

— If there was a willful violation of the rules that occurred, that’s one thing. If someone within the Patriots organization purposely flaunted the rulebook, well, they’ll pay. It doesn’t mean the players are all cheaters, or the coaches, or the announcers or the fans. I don’t believe we’ll ever get the exact answer we’re looking for. In this case, it makes the current mob mentality of the media a real embarrassment … and a byproduct of the digital era of immediacy in which we currently live. We want answers, and we want them now … in 140 characters or less. The truth, and the search for the truth be damned.

— It seems that most in the national media throwing their darts toward New England have forgotten a few things along the way. The Colts, at one time, allegedly piped in crowd noise to their stadium for an advantage. There also were real strong thoughts on Indy purposely losing in 2011 to gain an advantage in the Andrew Luck derby. How does the old saying go? Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones? Make note, NFL. Stupid is as stupid does.

— The national pundits have proven themselves to be nothing more than sanctimonious windbags this week, in reacting to this story. Forfeit the Super Bowl? Year-long suspensions? Over two pounds of air in a football? Yeah, let’s make this more important than PED use in the sport or domestic violence. Guys like Michael Wilbon and Stephen A. Smith — who I have respected as reporters and columnists for a long time — are simply throwing these things out there for shock factor … to gain ratings and notoriety as the media helps stir this story into a big deal.

— And the former football players’ comments on all of this? It’s laughable. For instance, former Jacksonville QB Mark Brunell — who lost an AFC title game to NE in 1996 — said he “did not believe what Tom [Brady] had to say.” Why don’t you at least have the guts to call him a liar? Jerome Bettis, who also lost a couple of big ones to the Patriots as a Pittsburgh Steeler, and whose teams reportedly had rampant PED use throughout the roster: “I’m disappointed in you, Tom Brady.” Really, fellas? I’m disappointed in the four-letter network that gave you a voice.

— Get a clue. We don’t like it because it affects us. But it is a story because of Spygate. It is a story because of the tuck rule. It is a story even because of the 1982 Snow Plow Game. It is a story because the Patriots win — a lot — especially over the past 20 years. It’s a story because everyone loves to see the king fall on his crown, so to speak, whenever possible. Cheating? If I wanted to cheat, I’d do more than just deflate some footballs … and I think the same holds true for Bill Belichick. My guess is he knows exactly what other teams do during the course of a season — to his team and others — but he’s not a rat. Like former J-E-T-S coach Eric Mangini was a few years ago, and like some in other organizations are now.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Deflategate, Super Bowl XLIX, Tom Brady
Thinking out loud: URI getting closer, but not quite there 01.17.15 at 9:47 am ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud (while wondering whatever happened to Larry Shyatt) …

URI had its best winning streak in five seasons going into Tuesday night’€™s test against VCU. It shouldn’t be five more seasons before we see another five-game win streak.

A statement game? The real disappointment from Rhody’€™s 65-60 close-call defeat to 17th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth at the Ryan Center was the nine-point lead with nine minutes to play, and URI couldn’t hold it. The top teams figure out a way to finish. That’€™s not to say URI isn’t good — the Rams are getting there, and they will punish someone this season. But they’€™re still learning how to be good, and to compete with (and beat) the best in the Atlantic-10, the next step is to finish what you start.

Very impressed with VCU’s Treveon Graham — who hurt his ankle diving for a loose ball early in the second half and returned to lead his team to a road win. It was a “wow” effort, hitting 4-of-5 from 3-point range after the injury, and the kind of effort the URI Rams will need from someone to take the next step up the ladder.

Twelve second-half turnovers, added to Graham’€™s performance, were too much for URI to overcome. Rhody’€™s close, but the Rams haven’€™t lit the cigar just yet. Thirty-five solid minutes can beat Fordham, or maybe George Mason, but it takes 40 to get over the top.

Now that the college football season is complete, the fall standings for the Learfield Sports’€™ Directors Cup show Providence athletics ranked 20th nationally among 195 Division 1 institutions earning points — and No. 1 in the nation among non-football (FBS/FCS) schools. The men’€™s soccer team (finishing third) and men’€™s and women’€™s cross country performances (finishing 13th) have the Friars sports teams standing tall.

Friar fans, want a real resume-builder? Miami’€™s Hurricanes blew through fourth-ranked Duke — at Cameron Indoor — by 16 points this week, shooting 67 percent in the second half. On the road, and the Blue Devils hadn’t lost at home in almost three years. Whoa.

The Big East, if not the rest of the college basketball world, is getting to know PC’s Kris Dunn. And recognizing him, too. Dunn was named Big East Player of the Week for the first time in his career this past week, averaging 20.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.5 steals per game the previous week. He was also the ECAC Division 1 New England Player of the Week for those efforts, and The Sporting News named Dunn to its Midseason All-American 2nd team.

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Thinking Out Loud: No reason for new owners to move PawSox 01.09.15 at 3:12 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Nelson de la Rosa.

— The U.S. Olympic Committee’s decision to select Boston as the potential host city for the 2024 Olympic Games is a stunner. I’m speechless. OK, not really. But it doesn’t mean the Olympic Games are coming here. It means there’s a chance they do. Boston has to beat out Paris, Berlin, Rome, Istanbul, Melbourne and perhaps South Africa, too — and Paris would be celebrating the 100th anniversary of its previous role as host (1924). Frankly, that’€™s tough competition. But in beating out Washington, San Francisco and two-time Olympic host city Los Angeles for the U.S. candidate bid, well, that’s still wicked pissah.

— This will be debated ad nauseam over the next few weeks, months and years — the International Olympic Committee won’t make the call on the host city until September of 2017 — but if the U.S. is expecting real New Englanders to embrace this bid? To get behind it? To root for it? To show national pride? To spend their tax dollars? To willingly put up with construction congestion and traffic snarls? Well, the latter already is a way of life around here. Whatevah.

— After watching a story on the local news this past week, I cannot imagine, under any set of circumstances, why any potential new owner(s) of the Pawtucket Red Sox would consider moving the team from Pawtucket and McCoy Stadium. This would be devastating news for Pawtucket, and for Rhode Island. Even if the stadium lease can be voided (reportedly it was renewed to 2021), why would a new ownership group do that?

— Part of the attractiveness of a place like McCoy — and many other minor league ballparks — comes from the “old school” feel the stadium gives you and gives to the sport — even after the wildly successful renovations to the old stadium back in 1999. The prices remain affordable for those who can’t (or won’t) spend the big bucks on a trip to Fenway. The team is ultra-competitive, the players often make the short trip up I-95 to help the big club. These factors make the relationship between the big league Sox and the minor league Sox one of the most unique in all of sport — and, of course, in all of baseball.

— If the new owners are from the Boston Red Sox ownership group — reported to be the case — what more do they need here? To be closer to Fenway? More money? Higher ticket prices? New fan base? Total control and world domination? It’s already a “model franchise,” considered one of the best in the country. Where would a new stadium be located — and would the community support the team like Pawtucket has done through thick and thin since 1977, when the late Ben Mondor purchased a dirty piece of coal and transformed it into an absolute diamond gem of an organization?

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Read More: John McDonald, Mike Piazza, Olympics, Pawtucket Red Sox
Thinking Out Loud: NFL’s integrity takes another blow with Ndamukong Suh flip-flop 01.02.15 at 2:27 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering if anyone actually tries to make good on New Year’s resolutions any more.

— Yeah, that “cleaning up the NFL” thing is going really well, don’t you think? Ndamukong Suh stomps on Aaron Rodgers, gets suspended, complains (says his feet were numb), gets reinstated and then ultimately fined $70K for his transgression. Uh-huh. That means, of course, you aren’t completely innocent. And ya know, if your brain wasn’t numb to begin with, big fella, forcing the NFL to pull an about-face here would never have happened in the first place.

— The league simply blew an opportunity to make good on the whole “integrity of the league is priority one” ideal, stated earlier in the season by commissioner Roger Goodell. I understand Detroit’s side of the argument — losing a player of Suh’s ability could be a deciding factor in a playoff game and largely an unfair disadvantage playing without him. But isn’t integrity above all more important? Guess not.

— I’ve got three New Year’s resolutions that I will be trying to fulfill during 2015. Not a big list, but then again, I’m a realist. Any more than three is just asking for failure. Let’s take a chewable bite out of the New Year, shall we?

— Resolution No. 1: I will stop saying, “Oh, that feels nice,” when the security guards frisk me at Gillette Stadium. And at the airport.

— It meant absolutely zero. But we’ll also find out next week if it actually meant something more than that. The Patriots’ loss to Buffalo was a sham perpetrated on the ticket-buying public, a preseason exhibition that just happened to occur during the regular season. The NFL’s attempt at creating more meaningful, more purposeful football at season’s end backfired here — and created a meaningless game for the Pats to plow through. Sure, that’s good in one way, as they largely kept away from further injury. But it’s also not so good in that there was no real chance to work out the on-field difficulties they currently are experiencing.

— Five straight weeks without scoring on the opening possession, after a period of steamrolling teams out of the gate. Trailing at halftime in four of the past five games. OK, how are these good things heading into the playoffs? Just sayin’.

— To my point, apparently Bill Belichick feels similarly, otherwise the team wouldn’t have held a blue-white situational scrimmage this week inside the stadium. And LeGarrette Blount was 100 percent correct when he said, “Nobody can stop us but us.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Browner, Ndamukong Suh, Roger Goodell