Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Randomness

First of all, if you missed it below, all signs indicate Verdell Jones will commit to the Gophers on Monday, giving Tubby Smith a six-man 2008 recruiting class. We can debate whether the Gophers would have been better off signing a big man or a point guard with this scholarship, but either way Tubby is doing what he needed to do--drastically improve the talent level on Minnesota's roster. More on this next week if indeed Jones does pick the Gophers.

*** Minnesota recruit Colton Iverson was named the South Dakota Class AA Player of the Year this week. Good for Colt. Of the incoming players, however, it's Iverson who I worry might have a lengthy adjustment period in the Big Ten. We'll see.

*** In this letter to the editor in the Minnesota Daily, writer Kevin Wendt begins by making a logical, coherent cry for more attention to be paid to scholastic achievements than to athletics. I agree. He writes this in the context of the Royce White verbal, and goes on to state that he's happy to bring Royce White on campus with "conditions." Kevin's conditions? "I say he can attend, but he has to select a major without the word "sports" in it. I say we place him in IT and let his academic potential grow as much as his athletics. Or how about CSOM and an economics program?"

This is where I think Kevin's argument is lost in bitterness.

*** Congratulations to Tubby Smith for being inducted to the University of Kentucky Hall of Fame. Back in the commonwealth for the induction, Smith said "I call it my old Kentucky home. Once you're a Kentuckian, you're always a Kentuckian."

Very statesmanlike of you to say that, Tubby. That said, 10 years from now the Gophers are going to build a new arena named after you. Heck, we might even add a statute once you win back to back national championships. At that point, I imagine Minnesota will be your one and only home.

*** For two other takes on how wrong Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse was in this column this week, check out Twin Cities Boys Hoops and Down with Goldy. Reusse criticized Tubby Smith, Joel Maturi and the UofM brass for allowing Royce White to verbally commit to the Gophers because Reusse posits there are some academic issues with White, who was booted from private school DeLaSalle for an admitted "academic mistake." I disagreed with Reusse here, arguing that the columnist has no way of knowing what has transpired between Tubby and Royce, considering Tubby can't talk about recruits until they actually sign.

*** First we dealt with rumors that Gophers assistant and recruiting whiz Vince Taylor might take a head coaching gig at Western Kentucky, an obvious place for him to get his first head man job considering his ties to Kentucky. That job went to a University of Texas assistant and former WKU assistant. Now, in Charley Walters' column this week, he suggests that "There's buzz that Gophers men's basketball assistant Vince Taylor might be able to nearly double his salary by joining alma mater Duke, which lost top assistant Johnny Dawkins to Stanford as head coach last weekend."

It's no wonder Taylor's name would surface to fill a position at Duke. He played there. And he's coached for Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith. He's considered one of the better recruiters in the country. Unless he is offered a head coaching position somewhere, the Gophers should do everything they can to keep him on board. In fact, and I know this is early, but Taylor should be considered the heir apparent to Tubby Smith. If Tubby is to be here another six years, it would be a good idea to make sure Taylor knows he is the likely successor.

Verdell Jones' father has also credited Taylor just as much as Tubby Smith, for Jones' likely commitment to Minnesota.

*** Now for your random movie selection of the week, but with a disclaimer. I have an unhealthy obsession with all movies that star Philip Seymour Hoffman. I think I first thought he was great when he played the snotty butler in The Big Lebowski. But since then I've found his portrayal of characters to be better than any actor of my generation. So, I see every movie he makes. My friends don't understand this strange fascination of mine, but whatever.

I saw The Savages and Charlie Wilson's War in the movie theatre but could never find his work in Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead in a theatre near me. So, I rented the selection on a slow day this week and found that of the three movies he was in this year, this one, which also features some nice shots of Marisa Tomei's wonderful chest, was his best of the year. Basically, Hoffman and Hawke are in desperate need for cash. Hoffman has been stealing money from his employer which is about to get audited (never mind a drug addiction) and Hawke is just a typical burnout with no prospects. Hoffman hatches a plan to rob their parents' suburban jewelry store, a plan that was great in theory but didn't really work out that way.

Not the best movie you'll ever see. And certainly not uplifting or comical in any way. But if you're having a PSH marathon anytime soon, I recommend this over his other two pictures from this year.