Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 1-19-08

The "Unwatchable NBA" Update: During a pitiful 86-77 loss at home to the Celtics last week, the New Jersey Nets shot 9-for-24 from the free throw line (I'm not kidding, folks--and these guys claim to be "professionals"). I'm thinking that ALL fans in attendance that evening should have received a copy of the movie "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" (starring Jerry Orbach) on their way out of the IZOD Center..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1966-'67 Philadelphia 76ers (who won 45 of their first 49 games) had four players on their roster who all averaged more than 18 points per game. Can you name these players? Answer to follow..........Regarding Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel: Her recent comments that young players who wanted to challenge Tiger Woods should "lynch him in a back alley'' were more STUPID than racist; she's a friend of Woods and even Tiger himself didn't seem too concerned with an obvious, inappropriate choice of words. But for an activist like the Rev. Al Sharpton to fly off the handle and call for her firing is totally ridiculous (and this does NOT compare to Don Imus' infamous comments, Al). "Do-gooders" like Sharpton would be better-suited fighting more REAL, blatant forms of racism/injustice rather than overreacting to an occasional, idiotic comment like Tilghman's..........Undefeated through mid-January, the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team is truly a pleasure to watch. But the MOST impressive thing about this great group of talented gals? The team as a whole averaged a 3.5 grade point average for the first semester--with 8 of the 15 players making the Dean's List. Congratulations go out to coach Denise Bierly and her staff for putting out a quality team--both on AND off the court..........Lazzari's "Lopsided Score of the Week": In a Connecticut girls high school basketball game last Friday, Wethersfield pounded Conard 64-18; incredibly, the winning squad held a 30-0 lead at HALFTIME (that's right, folks, a SHUTOUT at intermission--you could look it up!). What can you do at the half if you're the Conard coach--other than offer some badly-needed, comforting humor to your players? I'd offer this: "Girls, look on the bright side--and think of the HUGE applause one of you will receive when we DO score!"..........This week in sports history, January 21, 1978: Lightweight fighter Roberto Duran claims the undisputed world championship--stopping Esteban DeJesus in the 12th round during a bout held in Las Vegas. The boxers had split two earlier fights with Duran entering the fight as the WBA champ and DeJesus holding the WBC crown. A right cross by Duran early in the 12th was the beginning of the end for his Puerto Rican challenger; DeJesus was subsequently backed into a corner and absorbed a myriad of punches before the fight was mercifully stopped. The victory by Duran was the 61st of his career--51 of them coming by way of knockout..........Answer to trivia question: WILT CHAMBERLAIN (24.1 ppg), HAL GREER (22.1), CHET WALKER (19.3), and BILLY CUNNINGHAM (18.5)..........Riding through my neighborhood the other day, I actually saw two teenagers taking turns shooting a basketball at a local residence. I must tell you--the sight of that did things to my heart that fish oil, grape juice, and oatmeal could NEVER do.......... Happy birthday wishes go out to former major league outfielder Leon Roberts--who blows out 57 candles on January 22nd. A Michigan native, Roberts came up with the Tigers in 1974; he had subsequent stops in Houston, Seattle, Texas, Toronto, and Kansas City during an 11-year playing career. His best year undoubtedly came in 1978 while with the Mariners--a season in which he hit 22 homers, drove in 92 runs, and hit an impressive .301. Unfortunately, Roberts never duplicated those numbers from '78 thereafter and became a part-time player for the last few years of his big league career. Best wishes, Leon..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former NHL referee John Ashley--who passed away recently of heart failure in Kitchener, Ontario at the age of 77. A talented player who once played in the AHL, Ashley envisioned his future as a referee at an early age--and signed his first NHL contract in 1959. Ashley refereed more than 650 NHL games in his career--including 58 in the post-season; he later became a scout and an advisor to officials in a career that spanned 18 years. John Ashley was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981--one of fourteen officials enshrined there. Rest in peace, John.


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