▪ Lows in the teens and its still five weeks until winter begins. I’d say go south, but it’s almost as cold there. Crazy.
▪ I’m looking forward to being the master of ceremonies on Saturday at the grand opening of Jason Perez’s Next Level Hoops Academy at 53rd and Webb Road. Jason, one of the best scorers in Wichita State basketball history, has a real passion for teaching kids. Congratulations to him and the folks involved with NLHA.
▪ We’ve spent a lot of time talking about Wichita State basketball veterans Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton, and certainly they provide a great nucleus for the 2014-15 Shockers. But let’s take just a moment to remember the contributions Cleanthony Early made the past couple of seasons. Early, now a rookie with the New York Knicks, is going to be missed. He was the most athletic Shocker, gifted in many areas. It’s not going be be easy to plug someone in for Early and Wichita State is going to miss him, especially early in the season while some of the young players develop.
▪ That said, there’s no reason to believe Wichita State won’t waltz through the Missouri Valley Conference once again. I’m not sure about 18-0; surely the Valley has improved. But the Shockers are such a heavy favorite that it’s unfathomable that they won’t win the conference championship again.
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▪ Before that, though, comes one of the most intriguing non-conference schedules in a while and it starts tonight with a game against New Mexico State at Koch Arena. The Aggies are solid, coming off a 26-10 season. And they have an outstanding senior guard in 6-foot-2 Daniel Mullings, who averaged 16.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season. This is no slam dunk for the Shockers. But it’ll be a shocker if they lose.
▪ I interviewed Kansas interim football coach Clint Bowen on Thursday for a column I’m writing for Sunday. The Jayhawks won a game last week, handling Iowa State easily in Lawrence. But KU finishes with a home game against TCU (Saturday) and road games at Oklahoma (Nov. 22) and Kansas State (Nov. 29). Bowen obviously wants to keep this job. He’s a Lawrence native who played at KU and loves everything about Kansas football.
▪ Interesting that 17-year-old freshman Svi Mykhailiuk earned a start for KU’s second exhibition game against Emporia State but won’t be in the lineup for tonight’s season opener against UC Santa Barbara at Allen Fieldhouse. The Gauchos will be a good test for KU. They return four starters and 11 players from a team that went 21-9 last season. Senior forward Alan Williams was the Big West player of the year in 2013-14, when his 11.5 rebounds per game led the nation. He also led the Big West with 21.5 points per game.
▪ KU has 11 players who will be pushing for playing time. It’ll be fascinating to see how Bill Self distributes minutes this season as players like Brannen Greene and Landen Lucas improve. Lucas had 13 points and four rebounds in just 12 minutes against Emporia State earlier this week. And four fouls. Center Hunter Mickelson, a transfer from Arkansas, had 11 points and four rebounds in 14 minutes. And five fouls.
▪ My wife and I saw St. Vincent over the weekend and it was great. Bill Murray deserves an Academy Award nomination and Jaeden Lieberher, who played Oliver, the kid who befriends Vincent, was fantastic, too.
▪ It was an emotional movie. And eventually, I found myself trying so suppress my sobbing in the movie theater. Does that happen to other people? Or I am just a wimp? I was crying like a baby, which happens to me occasionally during movies. I remember being an absolute emotional wreck during Marley & Me a few years ago, so much so that I was begging for the movie to end. Anyway, my experience watching St. Vincent was interesting, to say the least.
▪ I shied away from watching the evening news programs for years, but I’ve recently started recording the CBS Evening News and watch it in the evenings. First of all, I really like Scott Pelley and admire him as a journalist. Second, I just want to be better informed about what’s going on in the world and I still consider CBS, NBC and ABC to have unbiased news departments. I’m sure some of you will disagree with me on that. I’ve always watched the Sunday morning news shows and I take several magazines that keep me in the loop. Also, 60 Minutes is one of the best shows in the history of television and I never miss. The nightly news is often depressing and scary. Mostly scary nowadays. But I’m glad to be watching again.
▪ It sounds like the Miami Marlins and star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton are discussing a 12-year, $325 million contract. Yet every time I watch the Marlins on television, there’s nobody in the ballpark. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
▪ I’m hoping Birdman, with Michael Keaton, is on the agenda for this weekend.
▪ I really like Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters. I watched the band’s Sonic Highways show on HBO the other night and enjoyed it immensely. It told the history of music in Austin, Texas, and the band is doing the same in seven other cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Foo Fighters recorded one song in each city for its recently-released album, Sonic Highways, in styles that honor the musical history in the cities where the songs were recorded. It’s a great concept and Grohl is an unbelieavable talent.
▪ Thanks for reading, everyone. As always, have a great weekend. Listen to some new music. Expand your horizons. Ignore the cold weather and go do something fun.