▪ I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was great and that you didn’t wear yourself out getting out to all the stores that opened on Thanksgiving night.
▪ Thanksgiving is a great holiday. Food, family, football, basketball. What else more could anyone want?
▪ We have a new dog in our household and it’s changed our lives. His name is Tinker, although I call him Bud. He’s a nine-year-old Schnauzer and he’s a fine man. He sleeps a lot, loves to go outside and when you ask him if he wants to go for a walk, he nearly takes the roof off of our house with excitement. My wife and I were emotionally hooked on Tinker about three hours after we got him.
▪ I haven’t had a dog for many years, so there was some apprehension. But we can’t imagine not having this guy with us now.
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▪ I thought Kansas looked really good in its win over Rhode Island on Thanksgiving in the first round of the Orlando Classic. It had to be a relief for Bill Self to see Wayne Selden play well after a really slow start. And Perry Ellis was aggressive, which seems to be the X factor in his game. But KU’s rotation is still a work in progress.
▪ I’m going to plan myself in front of the television this afternoon and watch Oklahoma and Wisconsin play for the championship of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. I love watching Wisconsin and the Sooners look like a really good team early, despite a loss to Creighton. OU really put the defensive clamps on Butler in the semifinals of the tournament, holding the Bulldogs to 23.7 percent shooting. Butler was just 4 of 23 from the three-point line.
▪ I think Wichitans are a little confused about whether we can claim basketball players from Sunrise Academy, many of whom are foreign, as our own. I say you better believe we can. That’s one of the reasons I get a kick out of watching Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, a 6-foot-4 junior guard who played at Sunrise and is averaging 18.2 points per game so far this season. He also averages 6.2 rebounds. Hield hasn’t shot the ball well so far, but he will. He’s a really good player.
▪ I’ve also been impressed with 5-0 Gonzaga, which meets 4-0 St. John’s tonight in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game at Madison Square Garden. That’s another game on my watch list for today. It’ll be interesting to see how St. John’s, playing a home game in the Garden, handles playing against a talented Zags team that has five players averaging eight points per game or more.
▪ It’s always so much fun watching Seattle play against San Francisco in the NFL. The teams play in the same division and despise one another. There’s so much personality on both squads. And I’m always happy when Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson outplays the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick, as was the case Thanksgiving night. The Seahawks had some struggles earlier, but that team is clicking now. Marshawn Lynch is a beast as a running back; nobody pounds harder. I just wish Richard Sherman would start acting like he’s as smart as we know he is with his Stanford education. He’s over the top for me.
▪ Homeland should win every Emmy this year. The third season of the Showtime show has been outstanding. The best season yet, which says a lot considering how good Season 1 was. Mandy Patinkin and Claire Danes are amazing. Can you tell I love this show? I’m just sorry it’s not on for a couple of weeks. If you haven’t watch, you should. It’s a show about how the CIA goes about its business in the Middle East and there are holds barred.
▪ My five favorite television shows at the moment: 1) Homeland; 2. The Good Wife; 3. The Walking Dead; 4. The Goldbergs; 5. 60 Minutes.
▪ This is a big Chiefs game coming up Sunday night against Denver at Arrowhead Stadium. Both teams have had some strange losses recently – Denver to the St. Louis Rams and the Chiefs to Oakland. Kansas City is one of six teams in the AFC with a 7-4 record. Two others – Miami and Buffalo – are 6-5 while Cincinnati is 7-3-1. The race for the six playoff spots is packed so every game takes on extra importance.
▪ After hosting Denver, the Chiefs play at Arizona, are at home against Oakland, go to Pittsburgh and finish the regular season at Arrowhead against San Diego. I have a feeling the Chargers game is going to have huge playoff implications, perhaps even the winner of that game being the last team into the AFC playoffs.
▪ It was cool to get my Sports Illustrated magazine in the mail this week and see Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson on the cover. Nelson, who played at Kansas State and went to high school at Riley County, is having a tremendous season. Trust me, I know – he’s one of my fantasy receivers.
▪ Next week in my blog, I’m going to rank the top 25 NFL players to come from Kansas State and Kansas.
▪ Oh my, the first trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – is out. You’re going to have to forgive me for being so excited about this.
▪ That was me being cynical. I know, what a shock. But I’ve never understood this incredible fascination with certain movie franchises. I like Star Wars and the movies it has spawned. But I don’t go nuts over it or any other movie franchise. Because they’re movies.
▪ I’m not looking for Tulsa to push Wichita State much on Saturday at Koch Arena. Perhaps I’ll be wrong, but I doubt it. Tulsa, 3-2, has wins over Louisiana-Lafayette, Abilene Christian and Auburn and has lost to Oral Roberts (77-68) and Oklahoma State (73-58). The Shockers’ first real test, I believe, comes next Wednesday when they play at Utah.
▪ It’s the 50th anniversary of Wichita State’s Final Four appearance in the 1964-65 season and for the next few months I’ll be writing regularly about that team. I was nine years old and saw every home game that season with my dad. Some of those memories are vivid, others vague. But it’s going to be so much fun talking with players and writing about one of the most special teams in Wichita State basketball history. Dave Stallworth, Nate Bowman, Kelly Pete, Dave Leach, Jamie Thompson, John Criss, Vernon Smith, Melvin Reed – it goes on and on. Unfortunately, neither Stallworth nor Bowman was around for the Final Four. Stallworth had used up his college eligibility at the semester break of the 1964-65 season and Bowman was declared academically ineligible.
▪ Have a great day-after-Thanksgiving, everyone. Don’t hurt yourself shopping.