Observations: Duke wins in MSG despite poor shooting, foul trouble

By HAL McCOY

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while watching some football bowl game, but don’t ask which one because all these fabricated bowl games between .500 teams just blur together.

—Are the NBA rims smaller than the college rims? Not really. It only seemed that way Wednesday night when Duke played Texas Tech in Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks (who don’t shoot so well, either).

Duke missed its first 14 three-point shots and trailed most of the first half and early into the second half, even though Texas Tech committed 15 first-half turnovers.

Duke finally hit a three early in the second half that tied that game, 45-45, and moved out to win, giving Texas Tech its first loss (10-1). Duke closed it out with a 16-2 run to win 69-58. The game resembled a mugging on Times Square at 3 a.m.

Duke had to do it mostly with super stud freshman Zion Williamson saddled with fouls. He had three in the first half, picked up his fourth early in the second half and fouled out with 3 1/2 minutes left. Four of his five fouls were offensive fouls — do they still call it charging?

Broadcaster Dick Vitale came up with a sensible proposal. Why not increase the personal foul limit to six. Makes sense.

“Madison Square Garden is sold out and they came to see kids like Zion Williamson,” he said. “The court is the same size, 94×50, but the kids are bigger, stronger and more physical. Make it six fouls for elimination.”

Amen, Dickie. Amen.

—Trevor Cahill to the Angels and Anibal Sanchez to the Nationals. And the pool of starting pitchers available to the Cincinnati Reds gets more shallow each day.

—Ray Snedegar, my great friend and Transportation Director, speaks often about his love for his hometown, Maysville, Ky.

His buttons popped even more when he discovered that Hall of Fame manager/player Casey Stengel once played for a semi-pro team in Maysville, the Maysville Colts.

Research revealed that the Maysville team took on all-comers, including major league teams, and in 1895 it won two of three from the Cincinnati Reds.

Stengel played one year in Maysville, 1910, for $500. That’s not for one game, that’s for one season, playing for Maysville in the Bluegrass League, Casey’s first professional season. He hit .269 in 69 games and was called up to the minor league Kansas City team.

—The football bowl season is in its full-blown glory, although most games are memorable only to the teams playing in them.

But there have been two games that caught my eyes.

Two years ago, UAB (Alabama-Birmingham) didn’t have a football team. The school junked it before bringing it back two years ago. This year the Blazers went 12-2 after beating Northern Illinois, 37-13, in the Boca Raton Bowl, the school’s first-ever bowl victory. Now that’s a heart-warming story emanating from a useless bowl.

And then Ohio University played in the DXL Frisco Bowl in, where else, Frisco, Tex. The Bobcats played San Diego State and won, 27-0, the first time the Aztecs of the Mountain West Conference had been shut out since 2004. In case you didn’t know, DXL is a story for extra-large men and OU’s win was, well, extra large.

Then there was the Gasparilla Bowl Wednesday night in Tampa. Despite losing their last five games, South Ho Florida, located in Tampa, got to play a home game in Raymond James Stadium.

Even though it was a home game for South Florida, like most of these early bowls games the stands were mostly empty. And USF lost to Marshall, 38-20. Marshall coach Doc Holliday is a real bowl gunslinger. He is 6-and-0 in bowl games. And is is a former assistant coach at Florida when Urban Meyer was head coach of the Gators. Coincidentally, USF coach Charlie Strong also was a Meyer assistant at Florida.

See? Even all these commercially-named bowls have interesting story lines.

—Beavercreek’s Mike Hauschild, son of University of Dayton sports information director Doug Hauschild, has signed a minor league contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, with an invite to the spring training major league camp. Most likely he will start in the Class AAA Memphis pitching rotation.

And, Reds fans, don’t hate on him because he is with the Cardinals. He is a great kid.

—Disgraced former University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino has signed on to coach in a professional league in Greece. And he is telling people he hopes to return to coaching in the U.S., preferably in the NBA. With his reputation, maybe he can coach the Mavericks.

—Josh Gordon? I’m at a loss for words. Super talent, super addict.

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