Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 23, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE COLLEGE HOOPS UPDATE:
WE GET TO HAND OUT OUR “OSCARS” …
PLUS IT’S NBA NEWS & NOTES:
WHAT’S KEVIN DURANT’S FUTURE NOW?
Wait a second …
Did you think the only folks being handed out shiny little statuettes this past weekend were those Hollywood stars/starlets?
Sure, “Birdman” cleaned up and a chap named Eddie Redmayne and a veteran actress named Julianne Moore are the respective toasts of the acting world today but now hear this:
We here at Jim Sez don’t like being left out in the cold during the awards season and so in today’s start-of-the-work-week column we’ll join in on the fun-and-games and give out our own “Oscars” based on the weekend’s on-the-court results, okay?
The envelopes, please!
The North Carolina Tar Heels — one of the true blue-bloods in this sport – both acknowledged and saluted their late, great head coach Dean Smith not once but twice this winter weekend past.
First, in last Saturday’s stirring 89-60 romp over 11-point underdog Georgia Tech, UNC opened up things in the “four corners” that Smith made famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view in those pre-shot clock days) and the Heels appropriately scored right out of the starting gate and so it went on a day when Carolina shot an uber-sizzling 38-of-61 from the floor (that’s 62.3 percent).
One day later, North Carolina held a moving tribute ceremony in Smith’s honor – past players, coaches and fans all took part in saying their “final goodbyes” and – the tribute weekend was a rousing success.
Nobody did it better than Dean Smith; nobody does celebrations bigger/better than the University of North Carolina.
Hand the Chapel Hill “family” an Oscar, already – and hail to a head coach who had a “Theory of Everything” in how to beat its opponent and now we’ll see if there’s enough gas in North Carolina’s tank to really make Smith’s memory a grand one this hoops season.
BEST LEADING MAN
Kentucky’s C Karl-Anthony Towns was a veritable stat-sheet stuffer in the Wildcats’ rocking-chair 110-75 win/cover against 25-point underdog Auburn last Saturday night at Rupp Arena.
The freshman whiz poured in 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds plus he added two assists in the rollicking win that extended top-ranked Kentucky’s best-ever start to 27-0. Talk about giving your opponent a bad case of “Whiplash”!
The ‘Cats did have six players score in double digits against the SEC’s smallest/worst-rebounding team but Towns – a 6-foot-11 stud from Piscataway (NJ) – was the star-of-stars while he drained 8-of-9 field-goal attempts and canned all three of his free throws and note this marked the Wildcats’ highest-scoring game since – get this — 2002.
And so here’s Kentucky now at 14-and-oh in league play while heading into Wednesday’s game at Mississippi State – and we’ve gotta ask if a “perfecto” season is now on the horizon? – and here’s to you, Mr. Towns for your “leading man” role.
OREGON 69, UTAH 58 – Okay, so it wasn’t even the single-biggest upset on the hardwood this past Sunday (see Michigan 64-57 over 7 ½-point favorite Ohio State earlier in the afternoon) but the Ducks’ gigantic win against 4 ½-point and 9th-ranked Utah tightened up the race in the better-than-you-think Pac-12 that now sports three different double-digit winning teams league-wide (see 12-2 Arizona, 11-3 Utah and 10-5 Oregon).
The Ducks (20-8 overall) not only snapped Utah’s five-game winning streak but really displayed a commanding performance while virtually leading from wire-to-wire thanks in large part to the play of F Dillon Brooks who at one stage scored 11 consecutive points — talk about being an “American Sniper” – for an Oregon team that’s probably right about at that #5 seed line as we speak.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Wisconsin’s 7-footer Frank Kaminsky is far from “through” with his glitzy college career but here’s a special tip-of-the-cap to the Badgers’ best player and maybe even this year’s College Basketball National Player of the Year winner.
Kaminsky’s 21 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in 36 highly-efficient minutes in last Saturday’s 63-53 non-cover win against 15-point road underdog Minnesota was just the latest/greatest showing by a player who knows nothing but winning in his starry career and so let’s not wait until this senior is in cap-and-gown at year’s end, let’s hand him the Lifetime Achievement Award and see if there’s even more goodies in his bag!
And what a “Boyhood” it’s been in Madison for Kaminsky who can only hope he gets another shot at Kentucky in this year’s Final Four.
Now hear this …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep rockin’-n-rollin’ through this College Basketball and NBA season with loads of winners right here online at www.jimhurley.com or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 – so go ahead and join the fun and profits today with all the hardwood action and remember the conference tournaments or so-called mini-tournies heat up next week with day-time action all throughout the month of March! We will keep you posted (of course).
NBA NEWS & NOTES
Just last weekend a New York City tabloid wrote a big story about whether or not we’ve “seen the best of Carmelo Anthony” who is out for the remainder of this year after undergoing knee surgery.
Now – sorry to say – the pundits are asking the very same thing about Oklahoma City Thunder mega-star Kevin Durant.
The same Durant who started off this 2014-15 NBA season on the sidelines with a right foot injury is down again with a second surgical procedure and — while OKC says Durant will be back on the floor soon enough – he’s already missed some 28 games this regular season and who’s really to say he’ll ever be anything close to the high-scoring, league MVP back in yesteryear?
The Thunder received plenty of post-NBA Trade Deadline praise for its various moves (and we were among the folks singing OKC’s praise, to be sure) that included the acquisition of Utah C Enes Kanter and Detroit guard D.J. Augustin but – let’s say it like it is – if Durant isn’t close to the offensive machine he was prior to all this football injury business than the Thunder’s likely either gonna be one-and-done in this spring’s playoffs or maybe they won’t get there at all!
Maybe it goes to show you have fragile a career can be – Durant’s won a gazillion scoring titles in his illustrious NBA career but must admit that if he never wins a title (and he’s been to just one NBA Finals, mind you) that’ll be a major mark against this scoring whiz …
Maybe it’s time a couple of playoff-bound teams got their act together in the coming days as the Washington Wizards exited Sunday’s 106-89 loss at 2-point road underdog Detroit with a three-game losing skid and eight losses in the last 10 games and some of Washington’s supporting role players just didn’t get it done in the Sunday loss as Paul Pierce and Nene combined to hit 2-of-13 FG tries during the span of the first three quarters (they finished with 12 points on 15 combined FG attempts).
Meanwhile, Phoenix (29-27) first “cleaned house” and now is looking at the ruins that include seven losses in its last 10 games and who knew that entering this week the slumping Suns would only be 1 ½ games back of aforementioned Oklahoma City.
Is it too late for Phoenix to right the ship and be a factor in the West – or was the “white flag” raised the minute the Suns dealt away G Goran Dragic who disapproved of the way he was “mis-categorized” as a shooting guard this season?
It’s now-or-never time, Phoenix!
NOTE: Catch our Jim Sez Mid-Week Update in the next column and be reminded that we’ll have NFL Draft coverage this week too.