More observations from Wednesday night’s Wichita State-Newman exhibition game:
Without a doubt, David Kyles is the Shockers’ best athlete. He has those spindly legs, but they spring him into the hemisphere. He’s as fast as a sprinter and as quick as a – well, something that is really quick. Kyles has what it takes to be Wichita State’s bestKylesplayer. I’m not saying he will be; he’s unproven in a lot of ways. He has not shown much consistency throughout his two-year Shocker career. When he’s had good games or a stretch of a couple good games in the past, he’s let down. But if Kyles puts his mind to it, he can be a special player.I expected junior college point guard Joe Ragland to show me more. I thought he would be quicker and make nice, crisp passes. I’m not saying Ragland won’t work out. It was an exhibition game, for crying out loud. And he played much better in the second half after a ragged for half. Overall, though, I like what Demetric Williams brings as a point guard. We’ll see how it plays out. Williams certainly didn’t atone for himself that well in the game against Newman.Gabe Blair will make a difference on Wichita State’s front line. I love Blair’s motor. He’s out right now with a bad back, but he should return soon and the depth he’ll provide up front will be valuable. The guy’s relentless.I still don’t know about this team’s ability to shoot the ball consistently. I keep thinking Toure Murry is going to develop into a marksman. Perhaps he never will. Perhaps he is what he is; a versatile two-guard who can spot up for jumpers but also likes getting to the basket and getting out on the fast break.Gregg Marshall is one of the most entertaining coaches to watch in the history of basketball. His wife, Lynn, is one of the most entertaining fans to watch in her seat a few rows behind the Shocker bench. It’s always a good time to watch the Marshalls in action.Garrett Stutz continues to make big-time improvement. He’ll benefit this season from working against fellow 7-footer Ehimen Orukpe in practice. Orukpe is already a solid rebounder. And I liked the way he played defense against Newman. There was a particularly time when I expected him to go sky high for a fake, but instead he kept his feet on the floor and forced the Newman offensive player to make a pass. Impressive.Graham Hatch is Graham Hatch. Solid, unspectacular, irreplaceable.
* The more I think about this Cam Newton story, the more it bothers me. Where is the meat here? With so many reporters (and I sometimes use that word loosely in this day and age of instant media), where is the proof behind these allegations.
Obviously, people were willing to tell some reporters some very juicy things as long as they weren’t identified. Well, if everything is on the up and up here, why were they willing to be identified. And if this story never gets its legs, do those people think the reporters they talked to will continue to cover for them?
This is a really interesting study in new-age journalism, a study that interests me (I like to think of myself as a journalist) more than the story itself.
When there’s solid evidence that Newton had his hands’ out before signing a national letter of intent with Auburn, then I’ll certainly pay attention. And that kind of evidence will cost Newton the Heisman Trophy. Until then, he’s No. 1 on my list. And I would encourage others with a Heisman vote to continue to support Newton until there’s a reason not to. So far, that reason hasn’t come forward.
*People wonder why the Kansas City Royals would trade away a solid player like David DeJesus for a couple of marginal pitching prospects from the Oakland A’s.
Simple.DeJesusThe Royals are pointing toward 2012. They want to clear the decks of most of their veteran, high-paid players and slowly but steadily start to bring in the kids from the highest-rated minor league system in baseball.
DeJesus isn’t a significant loss. You can lose just as many games with him as you can without him. And Kansas City faces another very long season in 2011, most likely. But after that . . .
That’s when players like Mike Moustakas and Mike Montgomery and Eric Hosmer and Wil Meyers and many others begin to arrive. They are the foundation of the Royals’ future.
Is it a gamble to rely on so much youth? Of course, but there are cases where it has paid off. Tampa Bay is the prime example.
I think Dayton Moore is doing the right thing. He has to buy into his development system because it’s all the Royals have at this point. So, Kansas City fans, mark you calendars. the 2012 season begins in approximately 495 days.
A sports writer’s memory
It was a thrill as a young reporter to get what I deemed to be my first big assignment. The year was 1979, and I went to Charlotte, N.C., to cover the McDonald’s High School All-America basketball game.
I honestly don’t remember a lot about it, except that I played golf at Pinehurst with Bill Himebaugh, who was then the basketball coach at South High. His star player, Ricky Ross, was selected to play in the McDonald’s game, as was Heights’ Antoine Carr. It was, to say the least, a special season in Wichita City League basketball history.
And it was a special year for high school boys basketball.
The McDonald’s rosters – East and West – in 1979 included not only Ross and Carr, two of the greatest player to come out of Kansas, but also: Isiah Thomas, Sam Bowie, Sidney Green, Clark Kellogg, Sidney Lowe, Derek Whittenburg, John Paxson, Dirk Minniefield, Byron Scott, Steve Stipanovich, Dominique Wilkins and James Worthy.
It is still regarded as the most star-studded game McDonald’s All-America game history. And below, I’m including a photo of the teams from that 1979 game. I apologize for the quality. Pictures in those days didn’t have the staying power of those taken in the digital age.
The East won the game, 106-105, in overtime in front of a sellout crowd of more than 13,000. Daye, who attended UCLA and played several seasons in the NBA, was the MVP with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Neither Ross nor Carr had spectacular games, but both saw plenty of action and were contributors.
That game and trip remain one of the fondest of my long Wichita Eagle career. I just wish – as does everyone of my age – I could remember more.