Starting Five

1. “You heard me, rabbit! I said, ‘Draw!'”

So I wanted to tell you about the 0-0 draw between USA and Mexico in the World Cup qualifier last night (this is apparently important stuff on a night when the Heat don’t play and Amanda Marcum’s husband is not coaching), and I was looking for a pop culture reference. Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian”? Too violent, but you know, the USA does cross into Mexico and wreak havoc, so the analogy rang somewhat true. Then I thought I recalled Yosemite Sam (“The toughest hombre to cross the Rio Grande…and I don’t mean Mahatma Ghandi”) barking the line atop this item — but I was unable to locate it.

So, yes, the USA picked up an important draw at Azteca Stadium

However, I did unearth this 91-second clip that reminds me all over again of the genius of Mel Blanc. We were five year-old kids watching this stuff, most of the jokes flying way over our heads, but who cares? Eventually, we got them. There’s no Smurf/Care Bear/Spongebob inanity going on here. Everything from bad puns (“Sue City”) to gin rummy. If I ever have children, they will be fed a steady diet of Bugs Bunny and we’ll refer to each other as “you darn  galoot.”

2. Stevie Nicks: Bella Donna. Delaware hoops: Delle Donne.

In her final home game as a Blue Hen, Elena Delle Donne (no relation to Roseanne Rosanadana) scores 33 points to lead Delaware to an upset of North Carolina and a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. The 6-6 senior eclipsed the 3,000-point mark and is now just one victory away from an Elite Eight showdown versus Geno Auriemma and the Huskies. It’ll take an upset of Kentucky to do so –and maybe some more referee support; as Tar Heel coach Sylvia Hatchell said after last night’s game in Newark, Del., “I wish Delaware good luck when they get on a neutral court”… oooh, suh-nap!)

Other Blue Hens of note include Joe Flacco and Jeff Pearlman

ESPN’s Rebecca Lobo, erstwhile sunny-faced post player who also led a then-nowhere program to the Sweet Sixteen (and beyond) back in 1995, tweeted this after last night’s game: “Can’t remember the last time I enjoyed seeing someone play as much as Delle Donne. The best part: She acts like she’s been there before.”

In other words, she would have made a perfect Husky (by the way, B., I can remember the last time: her name is Diana Taurasi).

Kind of a shame that it’ll take a near-miracle (newphemism alert: a “nearacle“) to see Delle Donne go up against Brittney Griner (who also scored 33 points last night0. And even more of a shame that this never happened.

3. The Coach K tree is growing more branches. Former point guard –and arguably the best leader Mike Krzyzewski ever coached — Bobby Hurley accepts the head coaching job at Buffalo while another former guard, Chris Collins, has agreed to terms with Northwestern… a school that has never ONCE been to the NCAA tournament, even though the first NCAA championship game was played on its Evanston campus. Meanwhile, Jay Bilas is THE keeper of the flame of college hoops at ESPN. So where the hell is Christian Laettner these days?

Meet Teddy Greenstein’s new best friend.

Turns out that he runs the Christian Laettner Basketball Academy, which as you can see, offers discounts to players from Kentucky, Connecticut and North Carolina “for causing you all so much pain, agony and hate over his four-year career at Duke.”

4. He’s taking the black. Chase Hilgenbrinck, who played soccer at Clemson and then professionally in both Chile and then the MLS, is a 5th-year seminarian. If only he weren’t so homely looking, maybe Chase would have found a girlfriend.

Carmela Soprano has already requested he be assigned to her parish. As the girls would say, “Fr. Whatawaste.”


5. One of my very favorite people at the steakateria (and the list keeps growing) is a hyperkinetic actor named Dan who, besides looking like the lead singer of a rock band and having more manic energy than anyone I’ve ever met, is absolutely obsessed with baseball. So Dan has implored me to mention one Yasiel Puig, a 22 year-old Cuban outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers who batted .526 in the Cactus League this spring with an .842 slugging percentage. Yesterday the Dodgers sent Puig down to their double-A affiliate, with manager Don Mattingly noting that Puig “didn’t look happy” about the news. Mattingly calls Puig “an unpainted Ferrari.” In a year or so Puig will own a few of those.

When Yasiel makes the Show, the bleachers in the outfield behind him will be known as The Puig Sty



Wide receivers Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson are transferring from Notre Dame. And just when Bookstore Basketball is starting up. If you’re going to transfer from Notre Dame, fine. If you’re going to endure January, February and March in South Bend only to depart when the weather is finally improving and the coeds are only wearing one layer of sweatpants to class, I question your sanity. It has been noted that with the departures of Aaron Lynch, Gunner Kiel and now Neal, the Irish have lost the top three players from their 2012 recruiting class. Lynch and Neal left for (mostly) hometown honey-related reasons (i.e., fatherhood), why Kiel wanted to be someplace where he could start.

Neal in the national championship game.



As noted here before, the Washington Wizards are one of the best, if not the best, bad teams in NBA history. The Wizards are 26-44, but when oft-injured John Wall, who scored a career-high 47 points in Monday night’s defeat of Memphis, is in the lineup they are 21-16. From 4-28 on January 6 after losing by 28 to the Heat, they have gone 22-16.

This is a squad that has now beaten Memphis, Oklahoma City (whom it visits tonight), Miami, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee, both New York teams, both Los Angeles teams, and Denver (twice).  In other words, the Wizards have beaten seven of the eight playoff-bound teams in the East and six of the eight playoff-bound teams (as of today) in the West.

They’ve also lost to Charlotte. Twice.

Still, Randy Wittman is correct: They’re no circus.

John Wall (the “ters” is silent)

Here are the standings for both conferences. Washington has beaten every team that is bold-faced.



New York








San Antonio

Oklahoma City




Golden State




Remote Patrol

Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls

ESPN 8 p.m.

Wouldn’t it be just like 5-7 Nate Robinson to ruin the anticipation of the Easter Sunday showdown between the Heat and San Antonio Spurs? Miami has this bad habit of falling behind in the first half on the road recently, but against teams such as Orlando and Cleveland, it has not cost them. Tonight, versus Chicago, such a flawed first half might be more costly.

Will Nate flex versus the Heat?





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