Friday, February 21, 2014

Weekend Links (Best of My Recent Work)

I've been silent here for the most part. Mainly because the newspaper has been keeping me very busy and I couldn't be happier. Basketball/football season has given me a lot of work and I could not be happier.

Just so you know what I've been up to, I'm presenting a few links of my best work starting with today. Plus sharing a few behind the scene tidbits

Bishop Montgomery guard Justin Bibbins is only 5-9 but he dominates every game he's in. He's a leader, well-spoken, thoughtful and a future Long Beach State 49er. Here's my feature on him.*

Speaking of features, my last football feature was on Narbonne defensive end Owen Roberts. The kid they call "Boogie" became one of my all-time favorites to cover because he was fun, quotable and friendly. He's heading to San Jose State and for this, I was happy to talk to his coach and several old teammates.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Marcus Smart Reminds Us Fans are Entitled

Saturday night, I watched the reaction to Marcus Smart pushing a Texas Tech fan. Naturally my first thought was what did the fan say? Obviously Smart will be suspended for perhaps the first major blemish on his college career but more important is what provoked it.

Smart was told "Go Back to Africa" by Jeff Orr. Where I come from, you say that to somebody it's hurtful. I was told "Go Back to Compton" as an adult at Newport Beach - a lillywhite area in SoCal - and even though it was silly, I was hurt that it came at a beach. Orr knew what he was doing reaching for a racial insult and deserved what he got.

Also naturally, folks were quick to say "But he shouldn't have done it" or whatever excuse they needed to justify being thrown a racially coded insult. In 2014, why are we still doing this? Have we not evolved to think deeper? Is it all knee-jerk reaction without any analysis?

Let's call it what it is. Media and other sports fans are quick to judge athletes when they don't judge fans for their behavior that's gotten worse and worse over time. Don't believe me, consider the recent evidence.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Bowl Hangover: All Hail Pete Carroll

Congrats to the best football coach of the 21st century in Pete Carroll. I know it sounds crazy but after that defensive demolition his Seahawks laid on the most prolific offense in NFL history, I think he's made his argument easy.

He's the third coach to win a college and pro championship (Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer). He built two championship caliber teams from the ground up a la Jimmy Johnson. More importantly, he changed their identities. USC became attractive to more high school players and the Seahawks are having the best run I've ever seen them have.

He and Jim Harbaugh have changed the idea that college coaches can't succeed in the NFL but their past lives at NFL lifers prepped them for this. Carroll's failures with the Jets and Patriots taught him how to Win Forever and have fun while coaching some great defenses.

I never thought he'd duplicate his USC success in the NFL but now, he's done just that. I saw Carroll transform a culture and he's shaped what the Trojans want in a coach now. He shaped what UCLA looked for in Jim Mora. It's not about wins or losses, it's about culture change and getting people to buy in your system.