Observations: Grant confident Flyers ready ‘for a run’


UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the cozy, comfort of the Man Cave while wondering why in the name of stitched baseballs that college baseball teams schedule home games in early March in Ohio. Both the University of Dayton and Wright State are scheduled to play games in Dayton Thursday through Sunday. Wonder how many get played? If so, how many pitchers get frost bite?

Believe it. With game-time temperature a frosty 32, the Flyers hosted Purdue-Fort Wayne and despite getting only four hits UD won, 9-2, pushing the record to 2-6-1.

—University of Dayton basketball coach Anthony Grant, who is first team all-Beau Brummell with his sideline attire, isn’t one to deal in hyperbole or be boastful.

But he was shockingly forthcoming Wednesday after his team’s 70-39 whiplash of La Salle when asked if the Flyers could go on a run in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

“We are more than capable of doing that, I really do think that,” he said. “We have Ryan Mikesell, Josh Cunningham and Trey Landers who have seen what it is like to play in the post-season.

“There has to be a trust factor that says this is really where the fun begins,” said Grant. “When you are playing in March and start playing to stay alive and you can advance and keep playing, that’s where the fun is.

“We have to embrace that and continue to see the opportunity we have and, yeah, this team has the potential to go on a nice little run,” he added.

—QUOTE: From NBA star LeBron James: “Don’t be afraid of failure. This is the way to succeed.” The Flyers have had some failures this season, so that shouldn’t frighten them and it might pave the way to what Grant says they can do.

—LeBron James passed Michael Jordan into fourth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, launching discussions about who is pro basketball’s G.O.A.T.

Is it LeBron or M.J.? Is it Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Is it Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell?

To me, the best all-around player, ever, was Oscar Robertson. He could make the basketball do anything, even make it sing the Ave Maria and ask you what key you wanted it in.

The Big O often can be found these days sitting in a lounge chair at Strauss Tobacconist in downtown Cincinnati, enjoying an expensive cigar with radio host Andy Furman.

—QUOTE: From NBA legend Oscar Robertson: “They should have a rule that in order to be a sports writer, you have to have played that sport, at some level — high school, college, junior college, somewhere.” Hey, Big O., I played high school basketball, just not very well.

—Why do they call unsigned baseball players free agents? They certainly are not free. Bryce Harper cost the Philadelphia Phillies $330 million. That’s $330 million for a guy who hit .249 last season for the Washington Nationals.

Batting averages, obviously, don’t mean much in baseball any more. It is all about seeing how high and how far a hitter can propel a ball. Harper had 34 home runs and drove in 100. Is that worth $330 million?

And how much will Mike Trout command next year as a ‘free’ agent. He is baseball’s best player. He hit .312 with 39 home runs last season. The team that signs him will need three Brinks trucks to deliver his cash.

—QUOTE: From NBA legend Jerry West, who has been an executive with three NBA franchises: “To be candid with you, free agency hurts all sports. It is great for athletes making enormous amounts of money. But to say it helps sports, I don’t believe that.” But NBA, NFL and MLB executives continue to pile bundles and bundles and bundles of cash at the feet of ‘free’ agents.

—Anybody heard anything out of Dallas Keuchel lately? Apparently, the Phillies haven’t spent enough money on Harper and have some loose change. They’ve offered Keuchel a short-term deal but he wants a long-term contract. It looks as if he might return to the Houston Astros rotation. The two sides are talking. Keuchel’s agent should be out of words by now.

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