Archive for Friday, December 10, 2010

Jimmy V’s brother, Bob, discusses KU hoops

December 10, 2010


— On Tuesday night, the working press room at Madison Square Garden is a slice of New York. The space is too small for the number of people on hand to cover four of the nation’s top 13 teams in the Jimmy V Classic. So the workers spill into the dining room, where the lack of electrical outlets creates races to get stories done before the computer batteries expire.

The locals are easy to spot. Loud. Stressed. Friendly. Sharp facial features that hint at their varying roots. Friendly. Above all, interesting. Nobody more so than Bob Valvano. Brother of Jim Valvano, late great coach and character of the game of basketball, after whom the foundation that has raised more than $100 million for cancer research is named. (Visit or to learn how to join the fight.)

Bob is peeling a tangerine, watching on TV the first half the Michigan State-Syracuse game being played downstairs. I repeat a few words of my favorite part of his dying brother’s famous “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up” speech, which played at halftime of Kansas University’s 81-68 victory against Memphis. The speech never gets old.

“My favorite part of the speech,” Bob agreed, then recited. “That screen is flashing up there ‘thirty seconds,’ like I care about that screen right now, huh? I got tumors all over my body. I’m worried about some guy in the back going ‘thirty seconds?’ ... Hey, va fa napoli, buddy.”

That translates to: “Go to hell!” Beautiful. Dick Vitale and Bob Valvano didn’t need the English translation. They were laughing so hard they were crying, which gave them a respite from just crying.

As Bob Valvano watched Syracuse’s victory, he weighed in on Kansas.

“Hey, they’re good,” he said. “It helps when your best player likes to pass so much. He really likes to pass, doesn’t he?”

Yes, Marcus Morris likes to pass, especially to his brother, Markieff.

“That’s OK,” Valvano said. “Nothing wrong with that.”

No, there isn’t. Markieff led the team in scoring with 16 points.

It was nice to hear Valvano, a former college coach and current analyst/talk-show host and resident of Louisville, offer his insights. For most of us who watch every possession of the Kansas basketball season, which is to say, most of us who live in Lawrence, the tendency is to focus on where the team needs to improve.

Think of what Kansas does so well. As Valvano alluded, Marcus Morris’ unselfish play is contagious. These Jayhawks appear to enjoy, and not just a little bit, setting each other up for buckets. They move the ball so well they get to take a lot of open shots. They hit them (.569 overall, .415 from long distance) with amazing accuracy, routinely beat the opposition up and down the court and hit the boards hard.

Even without Josh Selby, this team’s a spectator’s dream. Given the choice, coaches prefer to play great defense. This is not that team because the great feel for playing the game that the Morris twins exhibit on the offensive end, that great radar, isn’t matched at the other end. Give them time. They’ve been passing and shooting all their lives. They just started playing defense two years ago.


TopJayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

If they don't start taking care of the ball, playing some real sustained D and don't start hitting their free throws, this team ain't going anywhere. I really have not been too impressed with their hotdogging.

Brian Conrad 7 years, 4 months ago

bottom hawk. your glass way less than half full. guess you did not read article. spoiled little hawks like you can not see all the great things this team has. how many past teams could turn the ball over and still win by double figures. few less turnovers and few more free throws this would have been 40 point blowout of the 14th ranked team in country. guess for you they should be perfect and win by 100.

kef104 7 years, 4 months ago

Dear Pot head hawk ( sorry, I could not resist),

Please watch the next game with a clear head and you might realize this team is pretty good and already headed to a great season. Yeah, free throws will cost us a few games if they do not improve and the D has room to improve. However, this team gets up the court quickly enough to get easy shots before defenders can get set. Manning's influence shines with these guys. The passing game is looking better than any Self team yet. FYI, lots of passes and assists are the exact opposite of hotdogging.

While a few losses seem like the end of the world, and I would love to see a perfect season myself, this team will win at least 32 games this year. If they learn how to make adjustments for the NCAA tournament they should make the final 4. There are guys on this team that will play pro ball for a lot of years. Me, I am enjoying watching them mature and am thrilled at what this year will bring.

snappromotions 7 years, 4 months ago

Jimmy V was all class, and I love that ESPN replays that famous speech every year. Brings tears to my eyes every time.

cheerio 7 years, 4 months ago

Love Jimmy V, but his foundation could be doing a lot more to promote cancer prevention. They raise a ton of money for cancer research, but they should use their platform to teach the public about cancer prevention. That is the most proactive way to fight cancer.

mae 7 years, 4 months ago

Name one thing that does not cause cancer. I dare you.

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