"Lazzari's Sports RoundUp" - - - - 2/26/11
Congratulations go out to all involved at Bassick (CT) High School in the production of "The Pride of the Lions"--a student-made documentary; it has been accepted to the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France this coming May. The film chronicles the plight of the school’s football and soccer teams--both which play without home fields. Having had the opportunity to view this fine work--courtesy of football coach Frank Marcucio--I can attest to its quality and emotional appeal. It is also scheduled to be screened in a Las Vegas film festival in March, in Los Angeles in May, and at a Miami festival in September. My readers can view it by logging onto www.timesunion.com and simply searching for "The Pride of the Lions." Great work, Bassick High..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1997-'98 Indiana Pacers--who finished 58-24 under coach Larry Bird--had FOUR players on the squad who each shot more than 85% from the free-throw line. How many of these players can you name? Answer to follow..........Yes, the Sports Illustrated 2011 Swimsuit Edition arrived last week. All I'll say is THIS: Page 186, guys--page 186..........I BADLY miss Dave Zinkoff, World B. Free, 'Dr. J.', and the WHOLE Philadelphia 76er/Spectrum thing of the late 70's..........ITEM: White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle says he and his wife sometimes rooted for Eagles quarterback/slime-ball Michael Vick to be injured during the 2010 season as payback for Vick's mistreatment of dogs. Put it this way: I'd be the LAST person to wish injury/bad health on ANYONE. But one begins to understand Buehrle's mindset if you consider this: If Vick were to, say, separate a shoulder/blow out a knee during a future game, would that injury even REMOTELY qualify as revenge/justice--seeing that this punk has already murdered/tortured countless animals? Hmmmmm. Oh--but they're "only" dogs, right?..........This week in sports history, March 1, 1988: Wayne Gretzky becomes the NHL's all-time assists leader--feeding the puck to Jari Kurri for a first period goal during the Edmonton Oilers' 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. "The Great One's" record-setting assist--the 1,050th of his magnificent career--came in just his 681st game; it took previous record-holder Gordie Howe 1,767 games to amass the former mark of 1,049. Gretzky's age at the time of this immense milestone? Just 27-years-old..........Milestone: Last weekend, Eastern CT St. Univ. women's basketball coach Denise Bierly became the school's winningest coach in the program's 40-year history. She won her 333rd game (vs. Southern Maine)--breaking the previous record of 332 held by Bob Miller (1974-1993). Now in her 17th year, Bierly trails only legendary baseball coach Bill Holowaty (1,319) and former women's volleyball coach Floretta Crabtree (616) for most wins in the history of ECSU athletics. Congratulations, Denise..........Answer to trivia question: CHRIS MULLIN (.939), REGGIE MILLER (.868), TRAVIS BEST (.855), and FRED HOIBERG (.855)..........The following still remains one of my favorite sports quotes of all-time--offered by Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda in Baseball Digest back in February of 1978: "I don't know how old Vic Davalillo and Manny Mota are, but someone told me they were both waiters at the Last Supper." ..........Congrats also go out to Aleca Hughes--a junior forward on the Yale women's hockey team--who has been named a finalist for the 2011 BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award. This award seeks to recognize hockey players at the college level who truly give back to their communities in immense ways; she was one of eight finalists from a pool of 25 nominees nationwide. Aleca has been very instrumental in raising awareness of the need for blood marrow donors along with raising funds for her teammate Mandi Schwartz--who has been battling cancer for more than two years. Aleca will also earn her third ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team selection this season--posting a 3.50 cumulative GPA in the classroom. Having interviewed this special gal on CTV-14's "Monday Night Sports Talk," I can attest to a person whose excellence reaches FAR beyond the hockey rink. Excellent work, Aleca..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former NBA guard Dwayne Polee--who blows out 48 candles on March 2nd. A high school star in L.A. who played at Pepperdine, Polee has the distinction of appearing in just ONE NBA game--which happened during the '86-'87 season with the Clippers. In that game, Polee picked up three personal fouls in just SIX minutes--yes, one for every two minutes of play (perhaps one of the highest fouls-per-minutes-played ratios in history). Oh--he did score two points that day--on one-for-four shooting. Polee has been USC's director of basketball operations since 2007; best wishes, Dwayne..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former NFL defensive back Dave Duerson--who was found dead in his Florida home last week; he was 50. A native of Indiana who played at Notre Dame, Duerson was a third-round pick of the Bears in the '83 NFL draft; he made five interceptions during Chicago's '85 Super Bowl season--playing on one of the best defensive units ever assembled. Duerson also played with the N.Y. Giants in 1990 before finishing his career in Phoenix in 1993. While with the Bears, Duerson made four straight Pro-Bowls during the 80's; may he rest in peace.