Day 8: Traveling Violations | Texas Tech
NEW YORK – When Taurean Green was coming out of high school in the state of Florida, he could have gone and played college ball for his dad, Sydney Green, who was then the head coach for Florida Atlantic.
Instead Sydney, a former star at UNLV and NBA player with the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, believed his son would develop best playing at the University of Florida with an old Knicks teammate of his, Billy Donovan.
Florida Atlantic wound up firing Sydney Green last year. But his son is flourishing in Gainesville. He poured in 23 points in an impressive 77-72 Gator victory over nationally-ranked Wake Forest in a semifinal game of the Coaches vs. Cancer event here at Madison Square Garden.
"Taurean did a great job tonight," Donovan understated.
"He's very, very good," said Wake coach Skip Prosser. "He was talented coming out of high school."
Green is one of four sophomores that Florida is counting on heavily this season. The Gators entered the year unranked. There is no question they have talent, what they lack is experience. But through three games that seems to be coming together ahead of schedule.
"These are very confident kids," said Donovan. "But I don't think they are the kinds of kids that talk about it. But deep down they have a lot of confidence. They know it is not what I say, it is all going to come down to what I do on the floor."
So far, so good.
- Bob Knight said we could come to dinner with him on Wednesday Night at Churrascaria Plataforma, one of those Brazilian steakhouses where they keep hauling out a panoply of savory meats. Anyway, he said he wouldn't pay for us because buying a meal for a sportswriter might affect his chances of getting into heaven.
"I don't want to have to answer for that one with St. Peter," he said.
Not interested in ensuring Knight's eternal damnation (a proposition some other sports writers certainly would have gone for) we offered to pick up the bill.
"Well, I am bringing a couple guys," he said.
We boldly said no problem. We'll pay for everyone. Then the team bus, with Tech's 30-strong traveling party, pulled up.
"What do you think of my guys?" Knight laughed as an endless line filed into the place.
- At Thursday's Coaches vs. Cancer event at the Garden there was a fight in the stands that appeared to be between a Texas Tech fan and a Syracuse fan. Both got hauled out of the place. I can't recall the last time I saw a fist fight at a college basketball game.
- So it isn't a surprise that Skip Prosser would miss Chris Paul. Guys like that don't come along everyday. But after watching Justin Gray (seven turnovers) struggle to run the point against Florida, he may miss him even more.
"Right now he is the best we have at that position," said Prosser of Gray, who did manage to score 19 points. "For us to be good our veteran guys have to play well. In a game like this, a three or four possession game, things like a missed free throw or a turnover get magnified."
- We had a great crowd at our Runnin' Rebel book signing down at the Borders on Wall Street – about 40 people even stuck around as Tark told some old stories from the book. Then Tark, Boston media guy Dave Scott and our book publicist Jonathan Patterson took in lunch at the great Katz's delicatessen, a New York institution since 1888.
When you are talking about corned beef or salami sandwiches, everywhere else in the world is basically an imitation of Katz's.
- After surviving a stretch where they missed 18 consecutive shots against Cornell, Syracuse shot 51.6 percent from the floor against Texas Tech. Much of that was thanks to a 64.5 percent second half, when Tech was trying different line-ups and the game was out of hand, but the hot shooting was welcome nonetheless. Jim Boeheim wants more though.
"I think we can shoot a lot better than this," Boeheim said.
- The Tech-Syracuse game featured two coaches with a combined 1,560 victories (Knight has 855, Boeheim entered the game with 705). That will be one of the highest totals ever, but not as high as Tech's two games this year with Oklahoma State, where Eddie Sutton has 781 victories.
Our Drexel Dragons held off Sam Houston State Thursday to advance to the preseason NIT semifinals here at the Garden next week, where No. 1 Duke awaits. For a program Drexel's size to get that kind of an opportunity, a top-ranked team on a neutral court on national television, is incredible.
Considering Drexel coach Bruiser Flint did something Missouri coach Quin Snyder couldn't – beat Sam Houston – perhaps Bru should ask to be referred to as "Coach Flint" only from now on.
- Valued reader email of the day:
You know, I like the fact that sportswriters take the time out of their very hectic, underappreciated schedules to write books. This gives us all an opportunity to read about a subject we love (sports) in greater detail than the superficial coverage we settle for in newspapers and magazines. Thanks for writing what I expect to be a great book with Coach Tarkanian.
P.S. Where's my free copy?
One copy of Runnin' Rebel, the Jerry Tarkanian autobiography will be en route. See how easy I am?
- After over 1,800 miles of American highways and byways, we rolled through Times Square, got over to the Hertz near Port Authority and gladly turned in our Nissan SUV. New York is no place for a car. And we were more than sick of driving.
- For those that didn't attend Pete Thamel's birthday party on Wednesday night at Jameson's, you missed a time. Not saying it was a good time or a bad time. But it was a time.
Apparently Thamel, who works for the New York Times has no friends other than sportswriters. Joe Drape of the Times, Dave Curtis of the Orlando Sentinel, Stewart Mandel of SI.com, Michael Morrissey of the New York Post, Bruce Feldman of ESPN the Magazine among others were there. We even got Deadspin Will to show up for a while.
Quite a crew, as you can imagine. Or maybe not.
- Tour Stop Friday: New York, N.Y.
- Total mileage: 1,860.7 miles