Random thoughts while the coffee brews and the bagel toasts, somewhat lightly this morning.
We are still waiting to find out where former UMass standout Tre Mitchell will land as he goes through the NCAA’s transfer portal. We do, however, now know where Ronnie DeGray III is going. DeGray is making quite the leap.
The 6-foot-7 DeGray, who finished his freshman season last year, will be landing at Missouri of the SEC.
The Tigers of coach Cuonzo Martin were 16-10 last year and made it to the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers lost 72-68 to Oklahoma in the tourney’s first round.
“I chose Mizzou because the staff showed me how much of a family this program is and how everyone is bought in,” DeGray said in a release from the school. “I have a chance to play on the biggest stage and be a part of a really good team. I believe Coach Martin will push me and help me get to where I want to be, and teach me life lessons and how to become a man.”
In the days since both Mitchell and DeGray put themselves into the transfer portal, UMass social media has been pretty hot and bothered by the moves.
In fact, I got one email about the Matt McCall era, and it reads in part:
“What is wrong with the basketball program? I am not really impressed with the young man who coaches. Lastly, he loses more kids to transfer portal than he recruits. Program needs more stability now.”
There’s a lot to unpack in this short statement. Taking it in order, this could be a make-or-break season for the McCall administration.
Watching the team throughout his four years has been like watching a team that takes one step forward and one step backward, or two steps forward and one back, or even one forward and two back. Consistent improvement that you, the basketball fan, have been looking for, has not really happened. If it doesn’t happen in 2021-22, then athletic director Ryan Bamford is going to have to make a decision on the future of his coach.
The transfer portal has been an issue in Amherst, throughout the Atlantic 10 Conference and across the country. When I did a quick count on the Verbal Commits website, A-10 schools had 60 players in the portal, an average of about four per team. Even St. Bonaventure, the current gold standard in the A-10, had eight players entering the portal.
In past interviews, McCall said this was going to be the new world for college basketball, and by extension football.
Some players aren’t going to be happy with their roles. Some players might get an opportunity to “play up,” which is exactly what DeGray is doing. It is hard to begrudge him an opportunity to play in the SEC with a program that has been historically good.
If this were five years ago, I think you could put more responsibility on the coaching staff for players transferring. Even today, Jim Boeheim had five players transfer out of Syracuse and other so-called Power Five schools had similar numbers. It’s what is happening today.
It’s unfortunate that schools like Massachusetts can start the development process for a player and then see said player leave for a bigger school in a bigger conference. But that is college basketball these days.
This doesn’t normally happen.
In a Class AA Southern League game between Biloxi and Birmingham, Biloxi scored 12 runs in the sixth inning. That has been known to happen before, and I can only imagine writers and broadcasters cursing that their scorebooks were messed up by Biloxi batting around.
What was fascinating is that Biloxi scored 12 runs on only one hit. And remember the name Brice Turang. It’ll be the answer to a trivia question who got the hit in that inning.
At one point, with two outs, 10 straight Biloxi batters reached base and none by Turang’s hit. There were nine walks and a hit-by-pitch in that stretch.
In a story by the Associated Press, Birmingham radio broadcaster Curt Bloom was quoted as saying the following: “It just got out of control, literally, and it was contagious.”
In the words of Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling, “That’s baseball, Suzyn.”
So I was perusing my social media Friday morning, and I happen upon the announcement of a candidate for mayor of Stamford, Conn. Normally, that doesn’t pique my interest in the least. But when the candidate is former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, now you have my attention.
Valentine is currently the athletic director at Division I Sacred Heart University. While that’s a pretty high-profile position, being mayor is high-profile at a much higher level.
The three-minute video that introduced Valentine had only one thing missing. Nobody on the video was wearing a disguise. I was expecting someone in a fake moustache and sunglasses.
If Bobby V. gets elected, one only hopes that he has a more successful run in Stamford than he did on Jersey Street.