Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 1/21/12

The Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance is pleased to announce its Gold Key Award recipients for 2012. John Dunham, Kristine Lilly, Dave Shea, and Mike Walsh will be honored at the 71st annual Gold Key Dinner on April 29th at the Aqua Turf in Southington. In 37 years at Trinity College, Dunham won over 400 games as the school's hockey coach while Lilly participated in five World Cups as a soccer player and three Olympics; as an Olympian, Lilly won gold medals in 1996 and 2004. Dave Shea is the only HS coach in CT state history to garner 300 wins as both a boys and girls basketball coach (Bacon Academy, Colchester); he's also won more than 300 games as a baseball coach at that school. Finally, Walsh entered the 2011-2012 season with a career record of 523-242 as basketball coach at Trinity Catholic (including six state titles)--one of the most successful programs in the Connecticut history. For more information about this esteemed event--which begins at 4:30 PM--log on to the Alliance's website at ctsportswriters.org..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1989-'90 Phoenix Suns--who finished 54-28 under coach Cotton Fitzsimmons--had FOUR players who scored more than 1,000 points apiece. How many of these former players can you name? Answer to follow..........I often wonder if--when PGA golfer John Huston hits an errant shot and the ball ends up in a bunker or water--his caddie says to him, "Huston, we have a problem!" (sorry, folks)..........This week in sports history, January 23, 1929: N.Y. Yankees co-owner Jacob Ruppert announces that the team will wear permanent numbers on the back of their uniforms during the upcoming season. Ruppert was concerned that many fans were not attending games regularly because their favorite players were difficult to identify on the playing field--or even during batting practice. He simply felt that large numbers--like those used by football players--would make it easier on the fan and generate greater interest. Some teams had experimented with numbers on backs previously, but none had incorporated them as permanent fixtures on uniforms..........I KNOW I'm getting older, but doesn't it seem like it's been about a MONTH or so--and NOT over five years--since coach Jim Harbaugh led his Univ. of San Diego squad to a 43-17 victory over Yale in New Haven? Wow--where does the time go, folks?..........Anyone out there remember the performance by "Pistol" Pete Maravich back in February of 1977 vs. the Knicks--when he scorched them for 68 points during a 124-107 Jazz victory? FIVE different Knicks took turns trying to defend Maravich that evening--including Walt Frazier (considered by many to be among the best defensive players in the league at the time). It was shown on WOR-TV in the New York area and was played in front of just over 11,000 people at the Superdome in New Orleans. To this day, it remains the greatest single athletic performance I have ever witnessed--in ANY sport and at ANY level..........Answer to trivia question: TOM CHAMBERS (2,201), KEVIN JOHNSON (1,665), JEFF HORNACEK (1,179), and EDDIE JOHNSON (1,080)..........I love baseball as much as the next guy, but the pink, "leggy" dress worn by Charlize Theron at the recent Golden Globe Awards was prettier than ANY Bert Blyleven curveball I can ever remember..........Classic quote by my friend/former MLB pitcher John D'Acquisto--who recently submitted this gem: "Wouldn't it be nice if whenever we messed up our life we could simply press 'Ctrl-Alt-Delete' and start all over?"..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former NFL running back Tshimanga "Tim" Biakabutuka (say THAT ten times fast!)--who blows out 38 candles on January 24th. Born in Kinshasa, Zaire, Biakabutuka spent six seasons with the Carolina Panthers between 1996 and 2001--playing 50 games and rushing for 2,530 yards. Often rattled with injuries, Tim's best season came in 1999 when he carried the ball 138 times for 718 yards--an average of 5.2 yards-per-carry. While at Michigan, he rushed for 313 yards in a game vs. Ohio State in 1995--the second highest single-game performance in that school's history. Following his playing days, Biakabutuka became involved in restaurant ownership in Georgia. Best wishes, Tshimanga, and many of us STILL thank you for simply going by the nickname of "Tim" during your NFL days..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former college basketball coach Gene Bartow--who died recently in Birmingham, AL of stomach cancer at the age of 81. Over a 34-season coaching career, Bartow compiled a record of 647-353; he was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. Bartow is probably best-known for taking over the UCLA program in 1975 following the retirement of the legendary John Wooden. He went 52-9 in two seasons at the L.A. school--including a trip to the Final Four. After leaving UCLA, Bartow was very instrumental in establishing the athletic program at Alabama-Birmingham and coached there until 1996. Previously, he had coaching stops at Central Missouri St., Valparaiso, Memphis St., and Illinois; while at Memphis, he took the 1973 team to the NCAA national championship game. Gene Bartow is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ruth, a daughter, two sons, a brother, and eight grandchildren. Rest in peace, "Coach."


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