Last week he was golfing with Moses Malone and other basketball legends in Houston during NBA All-Star Week. He’s back in snow-covered Lawrence and will be mini-golfing indoors tonight to help the Lawrence Public Library Foundation raise money.
If you know anything at all about Bud Stallworth, you know that has been his life in a nutshell: Books, basketball and golf.
Next time you enter Allen Fieldhouse, look at the banner hanging on the north wall, the one that says “Academic All-Americans.” You’ll find his name on it.
If you attend tonight’s Caddy Stacks bash at the vacant library (707 Vermont Street), the friendly, approachable Stallworth will have stories to tell. Ask him to share the one about:
*Meeting and getting to know heavyweight champion and anti-war activist Muhammad Ali, the world’s most famous 20th-century athlete.
*Playing under coach Bill Russell, the greatest champion in the history of basketball, but a better player than coach, according to Stallworth.
*Being recruited to play basketball for his home state’s university by Alabama’s legendary football coach, Bear Bryant, but deciding to come to Kansas instead.
*Teaming with Spencer Haywood in Seattle and Pistol Pete Maravich in New Orleans. If you think Stallworth liked to shoot, ask him about Pistol.
*Playing in the NBA against Wilt Chamberlain, Walt Frazier, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and so many other greats.
*Scoring 50 points against Missouri on Feb. 26, 1972.
Those are the stories everyone likes to discuss, but Stallworth knows that his parents, both of whom were educators in his small hometown of Hartselle, Ala., were right when they told him books would do even more for him than basketball.
After his NBA career ended, Stallworth owned a couple of restaurants before he moved back to Lawrence and went to work for his alma mater. Stallworth held big jobs for the Med Center and on the Lawrence campus during his 22 years working for KU.
“When the classrooms began crumbling,” as Stallworth put it, he oversaw a budget of nearly $50 million for projects designed to improve the infrastructure.
His degree, he said, did do more for him even than his sweet jumper. Tonight, he’ll showcase his lefty putting stroke.
“I’ve been putting pretty good lately,” said Stallworth, one of the Masters at tonight’s event.
KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger, former Royals pitcher and KU baseball coach Marty Pattin, Firekeeper head pro Randy Towner and Lawrence Country Club assistant pro Kristen Samp are among other Lawrence Masters participating in the event.
A ticket for the Mingle with the Masters pre-party, which begins at 6:30 is $50. Adult open golf begins at 7:30 and costs $35.
Indianapolis — The final NCAA Tournament mock bracket completed this afternoon had the school with the second-most all-time college basketball victories among the field of 68. Kansas, seeded third in the South (Dallas) regional, faces Harvard in its first game in the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
The schools that rank first and third all-time did not make the field. Defending champion Kentucky and perennial powerhouse North Carolina are in the midst of off seasons and if they don’t get their acts together are in danger of missing the real tournament field as well.
After all the numbers were crunched, it came down to something simple. Two of the biggest names in the game fell short in the quality-victories department. North Carolina’s two best: At home against UNLV and on the road against Florida State.
Kentucky’s most impressive victory: At Ole Miss, 87-74. Wildcats freshman Norlens Noel had 12 blocked shots in that one. Noel’s gone for the season and most among us on the mock committee thought that Kentucky had a weak case even without considering that Noel’s injury weakens the defending champion even more.
The top four seeds in each region:
Midwest (Indianapolis): 1. Indiana, 2. Florida, 3. Louisville, 4. Kansas State.
South (Atlanta): 1. Duke, 2. Arizona, 3. Kansas, 4. Georgetown.
East (Washington, D.C.) 1. Miami (Fl), 2. Michigan State, 3. Syracuse, 4. Wisconsin.
West (Los Angeles) 1. Michigan, 2. Gonzaga, 3. Butler, 4. New Mexico.
The often referenced “S Curve” no longer is used by the committee. For example, Kansas was ranked No. 9 on the seed sheet but does not go to the region of the fourth No. 1 seed. Geography takes precedence.
Missouri? It’s seeded eighth in the South, meaning the earliest a fake Border War (squirt guns?) could take place would be in the Elite Eight.
Six Big 12 teams made the field, but it’s a no-no to mention conference affiliation in the committee room. Teams are treated as if all are independents, according to real NCAA selection chairman Mike Bobinski, and are evaulated on their merits. Here’s where the Big 12 teams other than KU landed:
Kansas State: Seeded fourth and faces, ahem, Bucknell in Austin and is in the Midwest (Indianapolis) region. Oklahoma State: Seeded fifth in the West (Los Angeles), facing Alabama in Salt Lake City. Oklahoma: Seeded sixth and plays San Diego State in Kansas City as part of the West regional. Baylor: Meets California in Dayton in a play-in game with the winner facing No. 5 seed Pittsburgh in Austin as part of the East regional.
Iowa State: Facing Virginia in Dayton in a play-in game with the winner facing No. 6 seed Oregon, also in Dayton as part of the East regional.
Indianapolis — For one more day of my charmed life I get to be Joe Lunardi with better hair. Except Lunardi just projects the NCAA Tournament field. In tandem with Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Dispatch, I get to be one of the 10 tandems filling in for one of the selection committee’s members.
Our final exercise Thursday night involved what's called, "scrubbing the seeds.”
The chairman starts with the No. 1 overall seed, in this case Indiana, compares it to the No. 2, Miami (Fla.), with their credentials put side-by-side on the wall. We didn’t go through the whole field that way, but the tournament committee, which has five days of meetings compared to our two, does. Duke, the third No. 1 seed, survived a comparison against Florida, the fourth No. 1.
After a comparison between Florida and the top No. 2 seed, Michigan State, those schools swapped places. Since Michigan State moved up a spot, it then was compared to Duke, but didn’t get moved past the Blue Devils.
During the scrubbing process, every team moved up a spot gets compared to the team now in front of it and every team that moves down a spot is compared to the team now behind it.
“Some years you’ll see a team just start dropping,” said tournament selection committee chairman Mike Bobinski, Xavier University’s athletic director. “One year a team dropped down an elevator shaft. It dropped about 20 spots.”
Kansas, seeded third, could move up or down during the scrubbing process. Also, since the fake conference tournament final isn’t until today (it’s a KU vs. Kansas State fake final), that result could rock the boat as well.
By the end of today’s session, in a window-less room full of snacks and hacks, we’ll have a mock tournament bracket.
If history is an accurate indicator, the room will grow most tense when the final spot or spots are debated.
Once shown how the bracketing process works, we will be armed to debunk myths, assured David Worlock of the NCAA.
For example, he said if a UCLA-Pittsburgh match-up happens at some point in the tournament, it won’t be because the bracket was rigged for the drama of control-freak (my words, not his) UCLA coach Ben Howland facing his former school.
“CBS does not have any input,” Worlock said. “TNT doesn’t have a say. It just doesn’t happen that way.”
They aren’t in the room.
For one more day, if only in fantasy land, I will have more power than TV networks. I’m in the room, encouraged to speak up. They’re on the outside, eating ice cream.
Indianapolis — In this room without windows in the NCAA offices we have taken a first crack at the top three seed lines.
No. 1 seeds: Indiana, Miami, Duke and Florida. No. 2 seeds: Michigan State, Michigan, Arizona (shockingly) and Gonzaga. No. 3 seeds: Syracuse, Butler, Kansas and Louisville.
Now the mock committee breaks for dinner for 35 minutes. (You mean those Reese's bars weren't supposed to be dinner? Uh-oh.)
Interestingly, conference affiliation is not allowed to be mentioned when discussing teams. For example, you can say Gonzaga defeated Oklahoma by 15, Kansas State by 16, Baylor by 7 and Oklahoma State by 1, but pointing out that the Zags are 4-0 against the Big 12 is forbidden.
A tweaking of the seeds could be necessary based on various rules, such as the one that prohibits conference foes from facing each other too early in the tournament.
INDIANAPOLIS — I’m inside a conference room in the NCAA offices. No, I didn’t buy a car for a recruit, or even a tattoo. I’m not sweating. I’m pretending to be half of Ron Wellman, Wake Forest athletic director and of 10 NCAA Tournament selection committee members. Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Dispatch is the other half, the smart half.
We’re pretending the regular season has ended and 13 automatic qualifiers have joined the field, which is the case during the real selection week by Wednesday. We just finished “conference monitoring.”
Each tandem was assigned three or four conferences and you are called upon by the chairman you quickly discuss what teams you think are worthy of consideration. If the league is so weak you’re sure only the automatic qualifier will make the field, you say “AQ” or “one-bid league.” Anyone in the room might be challenged.
Our leagues: Atlantic 10, Big 12, Ohio Valley, Southern.
During the presentation, I suggested the Big 12 should be a six-bid league and that Kansas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State don’t need any discussion. Baylor, Oklahoma and Iowa State merit discussion.
The next step: Every tandem works together to fill out a ballot of all eligible teams, leaving blank teams that deserve no consideration, clicking the “AL” button, standing for at-large (or in slanguage, ‘a lock.’) We click “AL” next to 18 schools, “C” next to 37. The other nine tandems did the same and we’re taking a bathroom break, awaiting the results of which teams will gain entry based on getting enough votes, which schools passed the first cut. The rest hope to make the NIT.
The man among the 64 Associated Press voters who put Kansas lowest isn’t afraid to acknowledge he has a rooting interest in the Jayhawks. Jason Franchuk has covered BYU for the Provo Daily Herald the past nine seasons and is part of the KU Class of 2001. His wife, Audrey Hickert, is an '02 graduate.
Normally, Jason and Audrey will DVR the KU games and watch them together. Since nothing was normal about KU’s Wednesday visit to Forth Worth, Franchuk didn’t wait. A friend had texted him wondering what was going on in the TCU game.
“I figured Kansas was up 30 and I turned it on to see what was going on,” Franchuk said. “I was shocked. I covered BYU for six years (against TCU) and BYU never came close to losing to TCU.”
Interestingly, Franchuk this season often has voted KU lower than its ranking, which during one long week toppled from fifth to 14th. On his ballot, the Jayhawks fell all the way to 24th. Franchuk’s doubts predated the TCU clunker.
“I think it started with the Iowa State game,” said Franchuk, who loves the form of Ben McLemore's jumper. “They made it to overtime because McLemore banked in a three. I thought, ‘I’m not going to reward a team for a little bit of luck.’ And the Oklahoma State game ... The pass that made me jump out of my seat was when McLemore stood flat-footed and threw it to one of their guys and he took it in for a dunk.”
Franchuk said he was surprised KU’s losing streak didn’t drop the Jayhawks all the way to No. 20. He even ran his ballot by his wife before e-mailing it. Her response: “Oh yeah. The TCU game. You’ve got to penalize them.”
No. 10 Kansas State, four spots ahead of KU in the AP poll, was No. 11 on Franchuk’s ballot and mine. I put KU 16th.
For the most part, polls are a reflection of what has happened so far with stronger emphasis placed on recent results. Las Vegas oddsmakers are concerned strictly with what they think will happen now. Kansas is favored by eight for today's 8 p.m. tipoff in Allen Fieldhouse. That ought to ease some worried minds around here.
He never says anything around which quote marks could be placed to prove it is so, but KU football coach Charlie Weis appears to harbor bitterness toward Notre Dame, his alma mater.
He uses phrases such as “another institution where I worked,” or “while working at another school.” If he says “Notre Dame,” it’s only in a printed release. Nobody actually hears the words roll off his tongue. The question is not whether Weis harbors resentment toward Ole Notre Dame, rather why?
The answer: Because he’s human.
A closer look at his Notre Dame career suggests 2010 very well could have been a turning point season so successful that if he had been allowed to stay one more year it’s entirely possible he would have been on the job for the duration of his 10-year contract.
Think I’m crazy? By that I mean do you think that even more so than usual? Think again.
Weis got shafted by his school, the very same university at which he used to sit in his dorm room and second-guess every move made by then Notre Dame coach Dan Devine. Never mind that Devine won a national title Charlie’s senior year. Weis was a football-crazed college student. What’s the point of investing your emotions into a football team if you can’t second-guess the coach?
To understand what must boil inside Weis’ belly every time he thinks about what might have been in 2010 requires a close look at his fifth and final season at Notre Dame. The 2009 Fighting Irish went 6-6, not a record that sits well with alumni from a school with such a rich football tradition. But look closer. Not one of those six losses was by a margin of greater than a touchdown. Add up the margin from all six losses and it’s a paltry 28 points.
If Weis had returned, it requires no great leap of faith to believe quarterback Jimmy Clausen would have delayed his NFL career by a year and would be a better NFL quarterback today for having done so. Clausen’s improvement each year under Weis was significant. Plus, he could have contended for the Heisman Trophy. With Clausen and Weis back, maybe receiver Golden Tate returns as well. Both players announced they would forego their senior seasons six days after Weis was fired.
An additional year of experience from countless returning players easily could have turned most of those close losses into close victories. No need to venture outside KU football history books for evidence of a 6-6 football team plagued by close losses bouncing back with a 12-1 team driven to the top by coming out on top in the close ones.
Mark Mangino’s sixth Kansas football team went 6-6. Two of the losses (Toledo and Nebraska) came in overtime, two others (Baylor and Texas A&M) by a combined margin of four points. A year later, Mangino was holding up an orange with that signature semi-smile, an image that represents what is possible when a stubborn football coach is given time to do it his way.
That doesn’t mean Weis would have executed a similar leap forward under the Golden Dome, but the similarities between KU in 2006 and ND in 2009 certainly tickle the imagination. Weis’ first KU season included five losses by margins of seven points or less. That doesn’t exempt the coach. Sometimes close losses can be traced to the head coach’s decision-making.
In the home loss to Rice, the Owls never could have closed the 11-point deficit if Weis, who doubles as offensive coordinator, had stayed with the run. The Jayhawks’ offensive line was manhandling the visitors. Not yet aware he did not have an accurate passer in the huddle, Weis mixed in too many passes instead of staying with the run and opened a door through which Rice stormed.
In the overtime loss at Texas Tech, a surprising pass-play call on second and five at the Tech 15 predictably failed and took the momentum right out KU’s upset bid. Kansas had started that fourth-quarter drive on its 11 and gained 75 yards on six plays, all runs. A Nick Prolago field goal tied the score with 45 seconds left. Nothing suggested Tech was going to keep KU from getting five yards on two more running plays. By then, Weis had changed quarterbacks and knew accurate passing was not Michael Cummings’ forte. It was a strange call in a game Kansas might have won had Charlie called a run play there.
With promising Brigham Young transfer Jake Heaps at quarterback the next two seasons, Weis’ team has a chance to perform better in close contests. Even if it doesn’t, that won’t change the reality that Weis deserved one more year on the job at ND, a year that might have been so successful it earned him many more.
Monday night was far from the first time Baylor looked like a collection of talented basketball players thrown together at the last minute and sent to the lions to play against a highly organized, disciplined, talented Kansas team.
It was, however, the first time while I was watching a true team play against an All-Star squad that a thought pitched a tent in my cloudy head: Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, a driven, smart (high school valedictorian), intense leader who commands so much respect from peers and players, could get the Bears to play better basketball and win more games than Scott Drew wins.
No Division I school ever has hired a woman as head coach of its men’s basketball team. Tennessee did once discuss the men’s job with its women’s coach, the legendary Pat Summitt, who retired after last season and is in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. During an interview on ESPN Radio in New York City a decade or so ago, I asked Summitt why she did not want to make the jump to the men's game. She said she seriously considered it, but thought she could do a better job of promoting women’s basketball by staying put. We’ll never know if Summitt’s opinion on that matter was on target.
But if Drew decides to take his considerable recruiting talents elsewhere, Baylor would be wise to try what Tennessee tried with Summitt, as classy a coach as there is in basketball.
The women’s game has grown since Summitt decided to stay in it, but its popularity still lags. Something needs to happen to jolt it. UConn coach Geno Auriemma’s recent suggestion to lower the hoops to bring dunking into the game didn’t gain much traction. (He’s not the first one to make such a suggestion, just the smartest). Should Mulkey coach a talented group of men into a national powerhouse, that would gain respect for the women’s game.
It’s no insult to Drew to suggest that Mulkey could do a better job with his players than he does. Mulkey has a great basketball mind, knows how to communicate what she knows in understandable fashion and holds her players accountable without coaching the joy out of the game. Her players show steady improvement.
In fairness, Drew’s recruiting has elevated the program. He has reached the Elite Eight twice, which suggests his laid-back style might result in his teams playing less tight than others during the NCAA Tournament. But his players are not dragged out of their comfort zones often enough to stay on a rapid improvement curve. Still, Drew’s recruiting touch makes him a hot coaching prospect. If he bolts for a fatter wallet, Baylor doesn’t need to leave the building to find his replacement.
As a player, Mulkey won four Louisiana state high school titles, two national titles for Louisiana Tech and an Olympic Gold Medal in 1984. As a coach, she has won two national titles (2005, 2012) and has a team that has a good shot to win a third.
It would take a woman unburdened by insecurity to crash the men’s gate and Mulkey certainly qualifies. She doesn’t shy from the big stage.
A year ago at Big 12 Media Day, the fiery, stylish Mulkey grew her considerable fan base when asked if she would continue to schedule Texas A&M after it left the Big 12 for the SEC, a move A&M’s president compared to a divorce. (Mulkey is divorced).
“My feeling is this: If a man wants to divorce me and says our relationship has no value to him and then asks me if he can sleep with me, the answer is, ‘No,’ “ Mulkey said.
Talk about a memorable moment.
Mulkey loves her current job so much she might never want to change it. But if she ever decides to blaze a trail, stand back and watch her shoot to the top.
Best-selling author and GolfChannel and ESPN regular John Feinstein always has the most interesting, independent ballot in the weekly Associated Press poll.
Every voter claims to not care what the nation thinks in filling out his or her ballot. Feinstein proves it weekly with votes that often are quite different from the consensus. This week, Feinstein stands alone in putting Kansas at the top of his ballot. Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis is the lone voter to rank Kansas second.
"Kansas has the most impressive win of the year: At Ohio State, as Michigan found out," Feinstein told me in an e-mail exchange. "Bunch of one-loss teams. I give them the edge because of that."
Nineteen of us put Kansas third and fifth was the most common Kansas ranking, appearing on 26 ballots.
No. 1 Louisville received 36 first-place votes, No. 2 Indiana 13, No. 3 Duke 14 (including mine). Kansas is ranked fourth and Michigan, with one first-place vote, fifth.
Feinstein has written several best-selling sports book, the most famous "A Season on the Brink," a fascinating all-access look at a season of Indiana basketball under Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight.
The book ended a friendship but led to a priceless exchange between men at the top of their professions.
Knight, upset with his foul language being used verbatim, referred to Feinstein as "a pimp and a whore." With a counter-punch better than any Ken Norton threw in upsetting Muhammad Ali, Feinstein retorted: "I wish he would make up his mind so I'd know how to dress."
I don't know any Knight fan who read the book and didn't think even more highly of Knight after reading it, four-letter words notwithstanding.
Steroids are germane to the question of whether Barry Bonds belongs in the all-time outfield, but not to whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. He belongs in Cooperstown, but the steroid rage of non-users kept him out.
The Hall of Fame election results were just announced on MLB Network and for the eighth time, nobody was elected. An elector for the 16th year, I voted for a personal-record eight players.
Craig Biggio was the leading vote recipient, appearing on 68 percent of the ballots. A player must be on 75 percent of the ballots to enter the Hall of Fame.
Back to Bonds. He doesn’t belong in the all-time outfield because with Willie Mays in center, flanked by Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, there simply isn’t room for Bonds, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Ty Cobb or Oscar Charleston. If Bonds’ numbers were not steroid-inflated, they would merit him a spot in the all-time lineup.
Keeping Bonds out of Cooperstown because he juiced so mightily his head swelled and made it look as if he were auditioning for a part as a Klingon in the next Star Trek flick ignores what a great ballplayer he was before cheating.
A lousy baseball player, I learned to trust my ears more than my eyes when covering the game and did have a skill for knowing where to go to get the unvarnished truth. Bobby Cox was one such source of knowledge. The guy doesn’t have time for nonsense. I’ll never forget the Bonds conversation I had with Cox, one of my favorite managers in his dugout.
I asked him if I were correct in my belief that Ken Griffey Jr. ranked No. 1 in the game at the time. He held up two fingers, meaning someone ranked ahead of him.
“Griffey’s great,” Cox said. “But if you put it in just the right spot, you can get him out. Bonds doesn’t have a spot. The best pitchers in the game can throw pitches exactly where they want them and he’ll go down there and get them. I don’t know how he does it.”
This was before Bonds’ cap grew three sizes. The only fair way to vote is to make as informed a guess as possible as to whether a player juiced — a Hall of Fame ballot is an opinion document, not a legal one — deflate the numbers of those you think cheated and go from there. But automatically ban them because they were doing what at least half the hitters and many pitchers were doing? Please.
Keeping Bonds out of Cooperstown because he grew modern muscles in the latter stages of his career is even more foolish than keeping John Hadl out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his poor play with the Green Bay Packers and Houston Oilers after having an exceptional career with the San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.
Bonds was the first name I checked on my Hall of Fame ballot and Roger Clemens was the second, not just because that happens to be the alphabetical order of the (personal-high) eight players for which I voted.
The others: Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire (first time), Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines (first time) and Curt Schilling. Every one with the exception of Piazza was a tough call. So were exclusions Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.
Sammy Sosa? Easy call. He was one player when his body called to mind the Michelin Man, a much weaker force when he looked like an old-fashioned ballplayer.