Pat Forde

  • Bo Ryan's departure will mean the end of an old-school era

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    Wisconsin announced Monday that Bo Ryan will retire in 2016, and that will pretty much mark the end of an era in college basketball.

    Ryan may well be the last guy to win big – really big – by building teams like it's still the 1970s.

    Very little happens in a hurry in Ryan's program, which runs counter to our hurry-up society.

    He will have seven players who redshirted on his final Badgers team. He had six of them on the team that lost to Duke in April's national championship game, including starter Josh Gasser and key sub Duje Dukan. Hardly anyone redshirts basketball players anymore, and almost never in bulk.

    In a time when John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Bill Self, Sean Miller and others go after national titles with one-and-done recruits, Ryan made consecutive Final Fours with rosters built on patience and long-term growth. Doing it in his late 60s, at the end of a lifetime of coaching, validates a philosophy many believed to be outdated.

    "I like trying to build from within," he said. "That's just the way I am."


  • John Calipari accomplishes his prized goal: watching Kentucky players get drafted

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    The Kentucky basketball postseason media guide cover last March featured the following motto:

    "All for one goal."

    What the media guide didn't tell us was that the goal wasn't some silly national title. It wasn't a 40-0 season and a spot in college basketball history. It wasn't hanging the school's ninth championship banner from the rafters of Rupp Arena.

    No, the goal was Thursday night. NBA draft night.

    We know this because Kentucky coach John Calipari said so last month. Cal told a group he spoke to in Rupp: "Last year we started the season with a goal. You may think it was to win a national title or win all the games, [but] it was to get eight players drafted."

    ESPN's Heather Cox called him on that in the green room on Thursday night, mentioning that Calipari has said the NBA draft is "more important" than winning a national title.

    Cal's response (one of his five appearances on camera on the night): "I never said that."

    Well, not in those exact words. But if there is a difference between what Cox said and what Cal said last month, it's a microscopic one.

    Whatever. The draft number will dwarf that I am sure.

  • Roy Williams not sweating academic fraud allegations at UNC

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams said Wednesday that he's unconcerned about the ongoing NCAA investigation of the school complicating a promising season for the Tar Heels.

    "No, because it's been so bad already," Williams said in an interview with Yahoo Sports and ESPN. "It can't be any worse than it is. Every step we take is a move toward completion. That's the best way to look at it."

    North Carolina could begin the 2015-16 season ranked No. 1. But the season will play out in concurrence with the latter stages of an NCAA investigation that may finally bring closure to an academic scandal in the African and Afro-American Studies program at the school that spanned 18 years.

    Williams is not named in any of the violations.

    "I'm still ticked off that we're in a problem to begin with," Williams said. "I'm embarrassed by it. I've said that publicly and I'm frustrated by it.

    Williams said he does not see the contract extension as a personal validation.


  • Q&A with Coach K: What Duke's title team did right and how he'd change the game

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    DURHAM, N.C. – Mike Krzyzewski strode into a conference room at the Duke basketball offices Tuesday afternoon exuding energy. At age 68 and coming off his fifth national championship, the winningest coach in college basketball history seems as enthused as ever – about his program, his most recent title team, his players who will be drafted Thursday night and the general state of the game.

    Below are excerpts from a wide-ranging, 45-minute question-and-answer session with Yahoo Sports and ESPN:

    Q: Now that you’ve had a few months to process the fun of it all ... you guys are moving on.

    Q: There’s much greater turnover for your program than there has been in the past (after losing three freshmen stars and replacing them with a new group of highly ranked recruits). Are you comfortable with it?

    Q: Do you think a 110-team division (instead of the current 351) would be good?

    A: I don’t know. There should be somebody studying impact. What if the Big East and the five power, and the American, the Missouri Valley – how many does that make? Also, some people come to the reality that if you’re one of the ones below (that group), do you do something more?

    Q: Are you nominating yourself?

  • U.S. Open slips away painfully from Dustin Johnson

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — Walking away from the three-putt that may spawn a thousand nightmares, Dustin Johnson took solace in an appropriate place on Father's Day.

    He cradled Tatum Gretzky Johnson, the golfer's five-month-old son, in his arms. His fiancée, Paulina Gretzky, walked alongside, patting Dustin gently on the back. When Johnson got to the scorer's trailer to sign for the final-round 70 that cost him the U.S. Open by an agonizing stroke, he smooched Tatum and handed him back to Paulina.

    She sat down in a nearby golf cart, absently kissing the baby's head. Soon, her parents – former hockey great Wayne Gretzky and wife Janet – arrived and took Tatum. Paulina kept reaching under her sunglasses to wipe away tears until Dustin came back out.

    "C'mon, hon," he said, taking her by the hand and boarding the van to the player's locker room.

    Johnson skipped the trophy presentation on the 18th green, which probably hints at how much this hurt. His explanation, outside the locker room: "I did get to hold up my trophy at the end of the day, which is my son."

    "I'm proud of the way I handled myself," he said.


  • True grit: Vertigo-stricken Jason Day guts out the round of his life

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

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    UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — As Jason Day walked unsteadily uphill from the 18th green, away from the greatest and grittiest golf round of his life, he stopped to shake one hand.

    D.J. Gregory was there waiting for him. As usual.

    Gregory is a close friend from Savannah, Ga., who hasn't missed a PGA Tour event in eight years. He's enlisted Day to help his Walking For Kids Foundation, which supports a variety of children's charities. He is a marvel in his own right.

    Gregory has endured a life with cerebral palsy, a condition that has forced him to have five surgeries. He limps badly and relies on a cane to get around – but he refuses to submit to living in a wheelchair, even though he was told at a young age that would likely be his fate.

    He's an inspirational guy. But D.J. Gregory was the one who was inspired Saturday at the U.S. Open, by his friend Jason Day.

    "That guy has more heart and determination than I do," Gregory said, his voice choking.

    To them, Jason Day can raise a large cup of shut up.

    It was an amazing performance that got better as it got harder.

    He nearly didn't.

    "He looks rough," she said.


  • Chambers Bay a drag for the $110-paying fan

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago

    UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — At mid-afternoon Friday, Bob Meiering was sitting at a picnic table in the Spectator Square at Chambers Bay watching the U.S. Open on TV.

    Meiering, a club pro and lifetime member of the PGA from Durango, Colo., and a buddy had given up for the day on viewing golf in person. They had lost the battle.

    "It's tough," said the 71-year-old Meiering, a $110 admission ticket dangling from his shirt. "The terrain would be taxing for anyone who is a little bit older. Every hole, it's very difficult to see the person tee off and also see where the ball landed."

    Here is the truth about Chambers Bay: the USGA basically went all-in for TV aesthetics for the 115th edition of the U.S. Open. In the process, they signed on with a course that has frustrated the golfers and been even more difficult for the fans. This is a hard place to watch a golf tournament.

    [Slideshow: Round 2 of the U.S. Open]

    "But we paid to see," one of the guys said.


  • Time for Tiger Woods to throw in the towel?

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago

    UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — After covering American Pharoah's Triple Crown triumph, it was time to consider where that event ranked among the best things I've covered in 28 years as a sportswriter.

    It belonged on a short list that includes the 2013 Iron Bowl, the 1992 Duke-Kentucky game, Michael Phelps' eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics – and three golf tournaments won by Tiger Woods.

    I walked nearly every hole of his ultimate masterpiece, the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach that he won by 15 shots. Walked nearly every hole of his spellbinding duel with Bob May later that year in the PGA at Valhalla. And I walked all 91 holes of his profile in grit – the 2008 U.S. Open triumph on a broken leg.

    If three of the seven best things I've ever covered involve Tiger Woods, you can guess how I feel about watching him play. Which is why Thursday's walk with Tiger at Chambers Bay was supremely awful.

    The walks used to be magic. Now they are morose.

    "Even Ali didn't realize the end," Kindred said. "He had to have one more fight."

    You want it to stop.

  • Tiger Woods hits rock bottom at U.S. Open

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 16 days ago

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    UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — Tiger Woods literally was pitiful Thursday at Chambers Bay.

    A golfer who once evoked awe and adulation from the galleries instead evoked pity while shooting an inept, inglorious 80 in the first round of the U.S. Open. It was surreal. The fans actually felt sorry for the former lord of golf.

    They tried to buck him up, as if they had encountered a former high school golden boy now down on his luck as an adult.

    Second hole: "Let's go, Tiger! Long week, buddy! Long week! Let's battle!"

    Fifth hole: "We still believe, Tiger!"

    Sixth: "You're still The Man!"

    The saddest part of that 80? That came after the round, when Woods briefly met the media. Credit him for not ducking that obligation – but what came out of his mouth deepened the suspicion that he is in denial about the desertion of his game.

    Someone asked if he's still close to getting it turned around.

    Tiger refuses to talk like a beaten man, but he keeps playing like one.

    "Tiger, you've got this!"

  • U.S. Open hears the train a comin' … 45 times a day

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 17 days ago

    UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — Lee Janzen was lucky. He avoided the noise.

    Just a couple minutes after the two-time U.S. Open champion teed off on No. 18 in his Wednesday afternoon practice round at Chambers Bay, a freight train roared by just a few yards behind the tee box. Those same tracks also run parallel to the 16th and 17th holes at this week's U.S. Open venue.

    This will be a unique championship for many reasons. Among them: the greens are brown, the sand traps are gray – and the trains are running, whizzing north-south on tracks wedged between Puget Sound and the course.

    Golfers hate the sound of a shutter click during their swings. Now they have to deal with being railroaded.

    The course marshal working the 18th tee box Wednesday afternoon grinned when the freight train went through. This is his local course, and yes, he said, trains are just part of the scenery.

    Every day. This week included. The schedule is not expected to be altered for the Open.

    [Slideshow: Fly over Chambers Bay]

    After Janzen teed off on No. 18, I asked him what he thought of the place.