The Stark Truth

Former Kitsap Sun sports editor Chuck Stark shares insight, laughter, news, views and analysis of Kitsap sports and beyond.
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Archive for December, 2011

Happy holidays, happy New Year, see you in a couple weeks

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Gonna head south — way south — for some sunny weather and relaxation.

I don’t think I’ll find a sports bar in Adelaide, Australia, where I can watch the Alamo Bowl, but you never know.

My gut says the Huskies and Baylor Bears will lock up in a pinball war: points and yards will be coming that fast in what could be the most entertaining shootout in recent memory: The final: Baylor 56, Washington 43.

My gut also says that Prince Fielder won’t be holding any press conferences soon in Seattle. If the price and number of years comes down, maybe the M’s have a shot. If the Seattle can get him for $100 over five or six years, then maybe it’ll happen. But with agent Scott Boras calling the shots, it’s hard to imagine that will happen.

My gut says I should have lost some weight before heading Down Under. But the Aussies on the west coast are experiencing one of the hottest summers on record, so maybe I’ll melt some pounds off in Perth.

Before I head home to put some cookies out for St. Nick, here’s some dates to remember:

Tuesday, Dec. 27: the East-West Alumni basketball games, 6 p.m., Bremerton HS. Great event if you’re a Bremerton alum.

Jan. 14: The Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame banquet, sponsored by the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable, will be held at the Baymont Inn and Suites. Tickets ($30) are available at Team Sports (at its new location in Riddell Square, east Bremerton; Hi-Joy Bowl in Port Orchard and the Baymont).

Jan. 25: The 77th annual Seattle Sports Star of the year awards banquet at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. Bremerton swimmer Nathan Adrian and hydoplane driver Dave Villwock, a Port Orchard native, are nominated in their categories. You can vote online. Go here to vote, buy tickets etc.

I’ll leave you with a list of some of the year’s top local stories. If I missed something, please email sunsports@kitsapsun.com. Look for our year-end story next weekend.

Happy holidays and best wishes to everyone.

TOP STORIES

Ryan Villopoto: RV had one greatest seasons ever for a motocross/supercross rider. After badly breaking his leg in 2010, Villopoto won 6 of 17 in the AMA Supercross season to nail down that championship then rode off with 10 more victories in 24 starts to claim the outdoor Motocross trophy. He helped USA win motocross of champions., You know he’s big stuff when he gets a shoe (Vans) named after him.

Kitsap Pumas: The Pumas won a national championship in third year of operation, and pushed the Sounders to the brink in a U.S. Open Cup playoff game at Starfire. It didn’t come without some turmoil. Executive director Ben Pecora resigns at the end of the season and owner Robin Waite doesn’t bring back coach Peter Fewing. Pumas assistant and OC head coach James Ritchie is named head coach for the coming year. Rumor has it the Pumas are already guaranteed a spot in the U.S. Open Cup because of a change in format, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case.

Nathan Adrian: The Bremerton swimmer —  America’s best hope for a gold medal in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events at the 2012 London Olympics — continued to collect NCAA, national and international titles. The academic All-American from Cal has established himself as one of the elite swimmers in the world. I’ve got a hunch he’s going to be at the top of the list a year from now.

Willie Blooomquist: The Port Orchard native had his best MLB season, starting for Diamondbacks at the game’s most important defensive position — shortstop — in the heat of a pennant race. He batted leadoff, played well in postseason and was rewarded with a 2-year, $3.6 million deal (turned down $4.6M from Giants). A nice feel-good story for a nice, hard-nosed guy who finally proved that he’s a lot more valuable than a lot of people have given him credit for over the years.

Troy Kelly: A year after hip replacement surgery, he nailed down a PGA Tour card after finishing 11th on the Nationwide Tour. He won over $200,000 and now has a second chance to make a name for himself on golf’s biggest stage. He’s hired a personal trainer, dropped 15 pounds and those who know him say he’s mentally and physically in the best spot he’s ever been.

Erynne Lee: PNGA and Washington State Female Golfer of the Year played in the U.S. Women’s Open for a second time, got back to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, won a state high school title, a state women’s amateur title and is now a freshman at No. 1-ranked UCLA. Year ended on a sad note as her mom, Debbie Lee, died in mid-November after suffering a heart attack and stroke while in South Korea.

The U.S. Junior Amateur:  The folks at Gold Mountain did another masterful job of putting on a national golf tournament on the Olympic Course. From the opening dinner on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis, which featured Johnny Miller, to the championship match, won by Dallas’ Jordan Spieth,  it was a magnificent week. It’s possible an NCAA Championship could be in Gold Mountain’s future plans.

The Year of the Wrestler: The top high school story was about Kitsap wrestlers, who won 8 titles and had 13 wrestlers in the finals at Mat Classic. Pretty remarkable stuff for a bunch of the hardest working and toughest athletes around.

Kingston: The next-best high school story revolved around the Kingston Bucs, who went from doormat to a third-place finish in the Class 2A state tournament under the direction of first-year coach Blake Conley.

Kitsap Bears: The Bears, a collection of guys who are passionate about football, rolled out for weekly practices and dominated the local northwest semi-pro scene.  The Bears reached the North American Football League title game. Three months later, owner Don Purser announced that the team will take the 2012 season off.

OC soccer: Men’s team comes out of nowhere and makes a spirited run to the NWAACC finals before coming up short in the title game. You had to be there to really appreciate what this team accomplished.

Drew Vettleson: Central Kitsap star, the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 baseball draft, got his professional career off to a solid start, earning MVP honors for his rookie-league team at Princeton (W.Va). You get the feeling it was just the start of big things for the likeable right-fielder who gained famed at a young age for his ability to pitch with either arm. The Tampa Rays player was rated the sixth-best major league prospect in the Appalachian League. Vettleson hit .282 for the  Rays with seven  home runs, 13 doubles, four triples and 20 stolen bases in 61 games.

Steven Gray: One of West Sound’s all-time best players capped a great four-year basketball career at Gonzaga, enjoying some of his best games against big-time NCAA competition. The All-West Coast Conference guard, a free spirit who grew up in Chimacum and Bainbridge, is playing professionally with a first division club in Latvia.

BlueJackets: Matt Acker, the only coach in BlueJackets’ history and a really good guy and good coach, resigns to spend more time with his family. The college summer team struggles to put fans in the seats, but you’ve got to give the local ownership group props for hanging tough. They said they’re in it for the long haul, and they haven’t waivered, even when it meant digging into their own pockets for more money. Olympic College head coach Ryan Parker, a three-year assistant to Acker, is the new coach and he immediately goes out and signs local products Andy Smith (North Kitsap/Bellevue CC/Liberty University, Va.), Tyler Baumgartner (Central Kitsap/Bellevue CC and he’s signed with Oregon for next year), and Daniel Jewitt (North Kitsap/Truman State, Mo.) to play for the Jackets. That’s a good start toward putting butts in the seats.

BMX King: Port Orchard’s Josh Klatman, a 19-year-old student at Olympic College, ends the year as the No. 1-ranked amateur rider in his age group for the second straight year. BMX is an Olympic sport and if Klatman wanted to pursue a berth, he’d have a chance to make the team. He’s that good.

Dave Villwock: How could I forget the Port Orchard unlimited hydroplane driver, the all-time winningest in the sport’s history? Super Dave, one of the most intelligent athletes I’ve come to know, keeps motoring along, breaking records and proving that he just might be the best to ever pilot one of those flying machines.

 


Ho! Ho! Ho!: Links, thoughts on Marvin, Prince, Alex Smith, Fat Kids and Kellen Moore

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Marvin Williams: The Bremerton-born athlete is walking tall again for the Atlanta Hawks after undergoing offseason back surgery. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2004 draft says he’s feeling good. It’ll be interesting to see how all of this translates to the court. You a Marvin fan? If so, ask Santa for tickets to the Feb. 18 Atlanta-Portland game. It’s a Saturday.

Prince Fielder: The slugging first baseman is what Mariners’ fans want for Christmas. But it’s doubtful they’ll get him.  Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com makes it seem like the Mariners — because of financial limitations and because Fielder reportedly doesn’t want to head West — are longshots to land Prince. That’s too bad because Seattle fans, who don’ t have a lot to get excited about, could use a Prince’s Court in the right-field seats to go with Felix Hernandez’s King’s Court. As it is, they don’t have a lot to cheer about. If Justin Smoak gets off to a hot start, they might considers opening a Smoaking Section.

Fat Kid’s Dream: This is what every defensive lineman in the NFL wants for Christmas.

Alex Smith: Merry Christmas, indeed. The Bremerton-born quarterback — dad Doug Smith was coaching football and teaching at Olympic High when Alex entered our world in May of 1984 — is one of the best stories in the NFL this year. A lot of people considered Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005, a bust. But first-year coach Jim Harbaugh has helped turn Smith into a potential Pro Bowl player. Harbaugh thinks Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Smith are the three best QBs in the NFC. FYI: His old high school teammate from Helix High in San Diego, Hesiman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, is having a breakthrough season, too. Bush was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 draft.

Kellen Moore: The kid from Prosser was a gift that just kept on giving for Boise State, the  only college that wanted the left-handed quarterback. All he did was win. No college QB has won more games than Moore, who goes for his 50th victory in tonight’s Maaco Bowl against Arizona State. Ivan Maisel of ESPN suggests Moore has nothing Moore to prove. Great college career, but is he good enough to play in the NFL?  It’s going to be interesting to see how pro teams end up evaluating him. If you’re in the camp that believes the Seahawks need a quarterback, would you use a middle or late first-round pick on Moore? Is he the second coming of Kenny Stabler? Or is he simply a product of the system at Boise State? Is he too short? Does he lack the necessary athleticism to make plays? Is his arm strength good enough? One thing we do know is that he’s a winner. That’ s got to count for something, doesn’t it?


What’s your top local sports story of the year?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

It’s that time of year to come up with a list of the top local stories of the year.

What’s your top story of the year?

Off the top of my head, I’ve put together a list. It’s in no particular order and I’m probably overlooking something.

Add to it if you’d like. I’ want to know what you think. Help me out. Give me your top five, or even top 10.

 

TOP STORIES

Ryan Villopoto: RV had one greatest seasons ever for a motocross/supercross rider. After badly breaking his leg in 2010, Villopoto won 6 of 17 in the AMA Supercross season to nail down that championship then rode off with 10 more victories in 24 starts to claim the outdoor Motocross trophy. He helped USA win motocross of champions., You know he’s big stuff when he gets a shoe (Vans) named after him.

Kitsap Pumas: The Pumas won a national championship in third year of operation, and pushed the Sounders to the brink in a U.S. Open Cup playoff game at Starfire. It didn’t come without some turmoil. Executive director Ben Pecora resigns at the end of the season and owner Robin Waite doesn’t bring back coach Peter Fewing. Pumas assistant and OC head coach James Ritchie is named head coach for the coming year. Rumor has it the Pumas are already guaranteed a spot in the U.S. Open Cup because of a change in format, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case.

Nathan Adrian: The Bremerton swimmer —  America’s best hope for a gold medal in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events at the 2012 London Olympics — continued to collect NCAA, national and international titles. The academic All-American from Cal has established himself as one of the elite swimmers in the world. I’ve got a hunch he’s going to be at the top of the list a year from now.

Willie Blooomquist: The Port Orchard native had his best MLB season, starting for Diamondbacks at the game’s most important defensive position — shortstop — in the heat of a pennant race. He batted leadoff, played well in postseason and was rewarded with a 2-year, $3.6 million deal (turned down $4.6M from Giants). A nice feel-good story for a nice, hard-nosed guy who finally proved that he’s a lot more valuable than a lot of people have given him credit for over the years.

Troy Kelly: A year after hip replacement surgery, he nailed down a PGA Tour card after finishing 11th on the Nationwide Tour. He won over $200,000 and now has a second chance to make a name for himself on golf’s biggest stage. He’s hired a personal trainer, dropped 15 pounds and those who know him say he’s mentally and physically in the best spot he’s ever been.

Erynne Lee: PNGA and Washington State Female Golfer of the Year played in the U.S. Women’s Open for a second time, got back to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, won a state high school title, a state women’s amateur title and is now a freshman at No. 1-ranked UCLA. Year ended on a sad note as her mom, Debbie Lee, died in mid-November after suffering a heart attack and stroke while in South Korea.

The U.S. Junior Amateur:  The folks at Gold Mountain did another masterful job of putting on a national golf tournament on the Olympic Course. From the opening dinner on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis, which featured Johnny Miller, to the championship match, won by Dallas’ Jordan Spieth,  it was a magnificent week. It’s possible an NCAA Championship could be in Gold Mountain’s future plans.

The Year of the Wrestler: The top high school story was about Kitsap wrestlers, who won 8 titles and had 13 wrestlers in the finals at Mat Classic. Pretty remarkable stuff for a bunch of the hardest working and toughest athletes around.

Kingston: The next-best high school story revolved around the Kingston Bucs, who went from doormat to a third-place finish in the Class 2A state tournament under the direction of first-year coach Blake Conley.

Kitsap Bears: The Bears, a collection of guys who are passionate about football, rolled out for weekly practices and dominated the local northwest semi-pro scene.  The Bears reached the North American Football League title game. Three months later, owner Don Purser announced that the team will take the 2012 season off.

OC soccer: Men’s team comes out of nowhere and makes a spirited run to the NWAACC finals before coming up short in the title game. You had to be there to really appreciate what this team accomplished.

Drew Vettleson: Central Kitsap star, the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 baseball draft, got his professional career off to a solid start, earning MVP honors for his rookie-league team at Princeton (W.Va). You get the feeling it was just the start of big things for the likeable right-fielder who gained famed at a young age for his ability to pitch with either arm. The Tampa Rays player was rated the sixth-best major league prospect in the Appalachian League. Vettleson hit .282 for the  Rays with seven  home runs, 13 doubles, four triples and 20 stolen bases in 61 games.

Steven Gray: One of West Sound’s all-time best players capped a great four-year basketball career at Gonzaga, enjoying some of his best games against big-time NCAA competition. The All-West Coast Conference guard, a free spirit who grew up in Chimacum and Bainbridge, is playing professionally with a first division club in Latvia.

BlueJackets: Matt Acker, the only coach in BlueJackets’ history and a really good guy and good coach, resigns to spend more time with his family. The college summer team struggles to put fans in the seats, but you’ve got to give the local ownership group props for hanging tough. They said they’re in it for the long haul, and they haven’t waivered, even when it meant digging into their own pockets for more money. Olympic College head coach Ryan Parker, a three-year assistant to Acker, is the new coach and he immediately goes out and signs local products Andy Smith (North Kitsap/Bellevue CC/Liberty University, Va.), Tyler Baumgartner (Central Kitsap/Bellevue CC and he’s signed with Oregon for next year), and Daniel Jewitt (North Kitsap/Truman State, Mo.) to play for the Jackets. That’s a good start toward putting butts in the seats.

BMX King: Port Orchard’s Josh Klatman, a 19-year-old student at Olympic College, ends the year as the No. 1-ranked amateur rider in his age group for the second straight year. BMX is an Olympic sport and if Klatman wanted to pursue a berth, he’d have a chance to make the team. He’s that good.

Dave Villwock: How could I forget the Port Orchard unlimited hydroplane driver, the all-time winningest in the sport’s history? Super Dave, one of the most intelligent athletes I’ve come to know, keeps motoring along, breaking records and proving that he just might be the best to ever pilot one of those flying machines.


And down goes the Husky Stadium press box and south grandstands …

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Here’s some cool video of the demolition of the south side of Husky Stadium. Wonder if there were any of Terry Mosher’s old hot dogs hidden inside the press box?


Check out Ryan Villopoto’s new kicks

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

You know you’ve had a pretty good year when they name a shoe after you.

Vans recently introduced two new Ryan Villopoto endorsed shoes. They’ll be available in January.

Congrats to the motocross/supercross superstar who still calls Poulsbo home. RV, 23, lives and trains in Florida most of the year, but his mom, dad and and family are  still in Kitsap County.

 


Padres trade SK grad Aaron Cunningham to Cleveland

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Aaron Cunningham is back in the American League after being traded by the San Diego Padres to the Cleveland Indians.

Cunningham, an outfielder, played parts of the last two years with the Padres. He also played parts of two seasons with the Oakland Athletics. He was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox.

Here’s the AP story:

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians have acquired outfielder Aaron Cunningham in a trade with San Diego.

Cleveland sent minor league reliever Cory Burns to the Padres for Cunningham on Friday, adding more depth to the Indians’ outfield. The 25-year-old Cunningham can play right or left field and Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said the club believes “he has a lot of upside left.” The Indians know the importance of having depth after outfielders Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Brantley had injury-plagued seasons.

Cunningham split last year between the Padres and their Triple-A Tucson affiliate. With the Padres, he batted just .178 in 52 games.

Burns went 2-5 with a 2.11 ERA in 54 games for Double-A Akron last season.


Derek Eoff talks World Cup bowling

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Bremerton native Derek Eoff, the 2008 World Cup bowling champion, is asked in this video what it’s like to represent your country in a tournament like that and he gives some advice to those who will participate in the upcoming U.S. Trials. 

Eoff is coordinator for the USBC Sport Bowling program at USBC Headquarters in Arlington, Texas.


Seahawks playoffs? Here’s a possible scenario

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Mike Sando of ESPN.com, who blogs about the NFC West, has come up with a possible scenario where the Seahawks and Cardinals would be playing for a playoff spot on the final week of the season.

Check it out.


Quick hits: MNF, Huskies, Moore, Mora, & Yu

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Some random thoughts while waiting for the page designers in Texas to put the finishing touches to the Daily Miracle:

MNF: Best memory? I think it was the same game. Da Raiders vs. the Seahawks in November of 1987. I remember riding up the Kingdome elevator with Reggie Jackson and some blonde. Reggie wore a fur coat the blonde, I remember writing, had legs that went from here to there and back again. Al Davis, who recently passed away, sat in the row behind me and I stole a few glances. He was dressed in all-white that night, or maybe it was all black. No, he was wearing a full length black leather jacket with white pants. I can’t say for sure, but his wardrobe always caught your eye when he was in Seattle for a Raiders’ game. I thought it was interesting he never sat in an owner’s suite or a box. He was always in the press box. On the field that night, everybody was talking about — and still talking about — Bo Jackson. Jackson ran for 221 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-14 win over Seattle. Bo popped a 91-yard run that night, but the one people still talk about is one in which he train-wrecked linebacker Brian Bosworth on a two-yard TD run. If I was a gambling man, I’d bet that ESPN shows that play sometime during the broadcast.

This, I’m pretty sure, was like Jackson’s fourth or fifth game in the NFL after making a name for himself in baseball with the Kansas City Royals. After the game, Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent said, “I think he should stick to baseball.”

MNF trivia: Did you know the Seahawks had the best MNF record? Me either.  But I just read that the Hawks are 16-8 in 24 appearances. Five of their MNF wins have been by shutout, including their last three: 42-0 vs.  Eagles in 2005, 16-0 vs. the  Raiders in 2006, and 24-0 vs. the 49ers in 2007.

Jim Mora’s the new football coach at UCLA: I wonder if he’ll be able to entice his good buddy, Hugh Millen, out of the broadcasting business to coach for him. Millen fills our heads with some insightful, hard-core football analysis about the Huskies and Seahawks. I don’t know if there’s a better student of the game than the former UW and NFL quarterback. It would be interesting to see how he would do in a college coaching environment. If he’s ever going to do it, you’d think it would be with Mora, his former college roommate.

The Go 2 Guy: By know, you’ve probably noticed that Jim Moore, formerly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (and the lovely metropolis of Port Orchard), is writing a weekly Monday column for us. The Go 2 Guy writes about Jim Mora this week. Mostly because I forgot to put this at the end of his column, I was gonna plug his Dec. 18 appearance at the Clearwater Casino. It’s part of an ESPN 710 production — Moore co-hosts a show with Kevin Calabro in the afternoons — and he will be  there for the Seahawks-Bears game. Stop by, it’ll be a lot of fun. If you think you can dance, you might win free tickets to the 49ers game. And there will be drawings for other prizes. Yours truly won an autographed Russell Okung helmet the last time Moore was at Clearwater. I gave it to a buddy who’s giving it to his grandkid for Christmas. You might get lucky if you show up. If not, you’ll get a chance to introduce yourself to the Go 2 Guy. I know he’s got some fans on this side of the pond. One bought us a pizza after Moore’s first column appeared. Thanks, Larry. I’d like to see you dance on the 18th.

Duke 86, Washington 80: After watching Duke take care of Washington on Saturday, I get the feeling this is not going to be one of Coach K’s elite Duke teams. The win was never in doubt — the Blue Devils led by 19 early and by 19 with 7:11 left — but it wasn’t an impressive victory.  The Huskies showed some signs of being dangerous. Tony Wroten, Terrance Ross and C.J. Wilcox are three of the best offensive players in the Pac-12. But Washington has a lot of problems to address at the other end. They can trap and steal and play helter-skelter all-over-the-floor defense as they did in the final minutes to make it close, but they’ll get in foul trouble doing it and they don’t have the depth to sustain that kind of play. Until they become a hard-nosed defensive team in a halfcourt setting and a better rebounding team, they are going to have a hard time getting to the NCAA tournament. They’re 4-4 for a reason right now. And we don’t even know the status of Ariz N’ Diaye yet. The 7-footer could be out a while with a knee injury. If coach Lorenzo Romar wants a designated rebounder, there’s one walking around campus. And he’ll be available after the Alamo Bowl. It’s gonna be interesting to see if UW football coach Steve Sarkisian allows Austin Seferian-Jenkins to play basketball.

You excited about Yu?: Yu Darvish I’m talking about. MLB clubs have to submit a bid by midweek to see if they can win the right to negotiate with the 25-year-old Japanese pitcher. He’d look good in a Mariners’ uniform, but Prince Fielder would look better. Well, not actually look better, but the roly-poly power-hitting first baseman would be a better fit for a team in dire need of some offense. If you believe what you read it’ll take about $100 million to win the bidding rights and to sign Darvish, who supposedly has nine pitches. Is that possibles? Let’s see: 2-finger fastball, 3-finger fastball, changeup, curveball, slider, forkball, screwball, drop and what’s the ninth? I don’t think he has a knuckler. What could it be? A spitter? A sidearm delivery of everything I mentioned above? A slow ball? The Rangers are supposedly hot for Yu. Maybe the M’s get him, then trade Michael Pineda for some serious hitting talent. Me? I’d rather see Yu than Ichiro in an M’s uniform next year.

Sorry to interrupt these ramblings, but the Daily Miracle has arrived. There are two of us sitting here in the hustling, bustling, newsroom. Pretty soon they’re will be one. Twizzle, twizzle, twozzle, twome, time for this one to go home.

Have a good day everybody.


No Eminem, but Jud Heathcote was there for Zags-Mighigan State game

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

There were rumors that Eminem was coming to Spokane for the Gonzaga-Michigan State game, but I don’t think there were any sightings of the Michigan rapper, at least none that I could find. Maybe he showed up in disguise? Eminem’s a big MSU fan.

Port Orchard native and Spokane resident Jud Heathcote was there. Heathcote was recognized before Saturday’s game. I’ve lifted this from Howie Stalwick’s game report:

Jud Heathcote, the South Kitsap High School graduate who guided Michigan State (and Magic Johnson) to the 1979 NCAA championship, was honored prior to the game. Heathcote retired at MSU in 1995 and moved to Spokane, where he coached at West Valley High School for 14 years early in his career.

Heathcote is a Gonzaga season-ticket holder and a good friend of Bulldogs coach Mark Few, but he pledged his support to the Spartans on this night. Izzo, another good friend of Heathcote, has coached the Spartans since being promoted from assistant coach when Heathcote retired.

Heathcote has served as a mentor to Izzo and Few. Always entertaining, the 84-year-old Heathcote had a quick response when a reporter asked about similarities between Izzo and Few.

“They’re both short,” Heathcote cracked.

AP reported:

Heathcote received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd before the game and Few and Izzo presented him with an autographed basketball.

“That (ovation) was awesome,” Izzo said. “That brought tears to my eyes. He’s been such a good guy and he’s so important to me.”

The last time I talked to Jud was prior to the 2009 Final Four. It was the 30th anniversary of the Magic-Bird game. Jud was as glib as ever. Here’s that story.


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