Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 1/24/15

  • January 24, 2015

Happy trails to one of the true baseball greats on and off the field. Ernie Banks was as universally admired as perhaps anyone who has ever played the game.

The great disappointment, not just for Cubs fans, but for virtually anyone who enjoys sports and a great storyline, will be that “Mr. Cub” won’t be on hand to enjoy what appears to be a renaissance that’s about to take place at Wrigley. I know I would have loved to be a witness to see Ernie throw out the ceremonial first pitch the next time the Cubs make the playoffs, which might not be far away. That would have been awesome.

Nevertheless, when a man lives for more than eight decades and it’s apparent that no one ever had a bad thing to say about him, that’s quite a life. I hope Ernie Banks gets to play two every day in his field of dreams.

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There’s a good news item as well a little closer to home. Bobby Hauck is now a part of the San Diego State coaching staff. The former UNLV head man joins another ex-Rebel head coach on Rocky Long’s staff, as Jeff Horton is also an Aztec coach.

Hauck is a nice score for San Diego State. He’s a top quality guy, and he left the Rebels in much better shape than they were when he arrived in Las Vegas. I exchanged a brief text Friday with Bobby and he’s looking forward to living and working in San Diego. I sure can’t blame him!

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I split two Friday plays. Easy winner with the Spurs first half play, which was a virtual auto-play following a pretty hardcore post-game rant by Greg Popovich following a very poor San Antonio effort against the Bulls. Yet one more example of why weeding through mostly innocuous coach quotes produces a gem every now and then.

This will likely be my thinnest Saturday college card of the season, but I like the quality if not the quantity. Hopefully, an NBA play or two shows as well as I’ve been nails in that league for quite some time now. And I can’t screw things up with a bad NHL call as there aren’t any games!

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A loss on the Friday free play as Green Bay escaped with the win but not the cover against Valparaiso. This was one of the most intense defensive battles you’ll see all season. I’ve already circled the rematch as one I’ll have to watch and will likely be in action with as well. Today’s comp is on some heavy road chalk but a game where I’m more than willing to give up the points.

1/24 12:00 PM   CBB   (567) UTEP  at  (568) MARSHALL

Take: (567) UTEP -12.5

The season can’t end soon enough for anyone who cheers on Marshall. This figured to be a tough campaign for the Thundering Herd, but it’s fair to say it’s been even worse than almost anyone could have imagined. Things don’t appear likely to improve today.

This actually looked like it might be a dead spot for visiting UTEP where perhaps the lowly Herd might be able to throw a scare into their superior guests. Unfortunately for Marshall, they instead are catching the Miners in what will likely be a very nasty mood after what happened to them on Thursday.

UTEP really gave one away at Western Kentucky. They should have been up 10 at the half, but committed a dumb foul on a long three and thus led by only seven. Then right at the end of regulation, the Miners were given a massive break when one of the Hilltoppers committed a terrible foul on a three and gave UTEP a chance to steal the win. But UTEP missed the last free throw, the game went to overtime and Western Kentucky ended up celebrating a big home win.

If it was just the end half and end game mistakes, UTEP might just be down in the dumps. But there was more to this loss than those two episodes. The Miners were an incredible 0/17 on threes against the Hilltoppers. They were a shabby 12/24 at the foul line. Plus, UTEP allowed its opponent to snare 13 offensive boards, which is pretty bad for a team that’s usually very adept at preventing second chance baskets.

UTEP coach Tim Floyd knew his team let a victory skip through its collective fingers and said so after the game. Western Kentucky didn’t beat the Miners. The Miners beat the Miners. That’s bad news for an outgunned Marshall squad, and it gets worse when factoring in UTEP owning an eye-popping 16-4-1 spread record following a loss. I think UTEP is arriving in Huntington in a grimly determined state of mind, and if that’s the case, laying the points with the Miners is the way to play.