Thursday, February 19, 2009

Free Willie Humes

When I saw the recent ISU news release asking for nominees to the Idaho State Sports Hall of Fame, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to review some recent Bengal sports history, a passion of mine, and see if I could come up with some deserving nominees. So I started by reviewing the current list of inductees.

For some reason, it caught my eye that I didn't see the name of Willie Humes, one of the Bengals' all-time basketball greats, on the list. I went over the list a couple of different times just to make sure I wasn't missing something. I even went to the ISU Basketball Media Guide, which specifically calls out basketball players who have been inducted into the hall. No mention of Willie Humes anywhere.

I sent an email to ISU Sports Information Director Frank Mercogliano, who is on the road with the basketball team in Bozeman today, asking why I couldn't find Humes' name in the hall. He responded that he wasn't sure, but he'd heard something about him not graduating. I tried calling Frank's predecessor, the all-knowing Glenn Alford, but Glenn has apparently joined many of us in ditching our land-line phones, and I don't have a cell phone number for him. So Glenn, if you're reading this, give me a call and let me know why Willlie Humes is not in the ISU Sports Hall of Fame. In the mean time, I'll lay out the case for why he SHOULD be.

According to the news release seeking nominations, the requirements to be eligible for the hall include: a candidate must have attended Idaho State for at least one year (check) and excelled in at least one intercollegiate sport (check). Preference is given to those who have been out of school for at least 10 years (check). (Nowhere does it say the nominee must have graduated from Idaho State, been an Eagle Scout, or donated cash to the Bengal Foundation, all reasons, I presume, that Humes may not have been honored yet).

To say Willie Humes "excelled" at basketball at Idaho State would be akin to saying the United States has a minor economic problem these days. I arrived in Pocatello seven years after Humes ended his Bengal basketball career, but I didn't need to see him play to know he was a tremendous player. His numbers speak for themselves: all-time career scoring average leader, Humes' 31.5 average places him tenth in the career NCAA scoring list; he holds the top five single-game scoring marks at Idaho State, including three games over 51 points (his high was 53 against Montana State in 1971); a two-time All-Big Sky selection, the 6-1 guard was named to the Big Sky Conference's Silver Anniversary Team in 1987.

I'd say that's more than a Hall of Fame resume, that's retire-the-number, put-him-in-the-Ring- of-Honor material. Unless, of course, there was some off-the-court dishonor I'm just not aware of.
I've been googling trying to find out more about this mysterious former Bengal star. I can't find any evidence of whether he's still alive and if so, where he lives or what he's doing these days. I do know that just about every site on the Worldwide Web that lists the 1971 NBA draft shows that a Willie Humes from University of Idaho was taken in the sixth round by the Atlanta Hawks. But I'm pretty sure that's ISU's Humes who was drafted, not some Vandal imposter.

I also discovered Willie has another interesting link to this area. He was one of five Humes brothers who played basketball for Madison, Indiana High School. His older brother Larry was Mr. Basketball in Indiana in the early 1960s, and went on to star for two Division II national championship teams at Evansville in 1964 and 1965. There Larry played with Jerry Sloan, now coach of the Utah Jazz, and, in 1965, with Herb Williams, who later went on to become head coach of the Bengals.
In any event, if anybody has an insight into the mystery of why Willie Humes isn't in the ISU Hall of Fame, or where he might be today, I'd love to hear about it.

And My Other Nominee Is....

I did see Tyrone Buckman play, and I'm here to tell you that the 6-2 Chicago native was the best true PG I've seen in my 30 years of watching Idaho State basketball. Nobody got in the paint and created scoring opportunities for his teammates like the powerful Buckman. He holds every significant assist record in ISU basketball history, including most assists in a season and career, assist per game average and assists in a game -- an impressive 17 dimes against Weber State in 1991. He also wracked up 15 assists against Northern Arizona and 13 against Eastern Washington that same season. Tyrone was a true master of the point guard craft. He deserves a spot in the ISU Sports Hall of Fame.

--Brad B.

And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Just clocking in for the day....

I love CSI ... I will miss Gil Grissom, but I really think that Laurence Fishburne adds something to the cast, and I like where it is going. You all should know be no I'm a LOST-aholic, and I get depressed on every road trip when I have to go to practice on Wednesday night and miss it, having to catch it on on Thursday morning. What I love are the mysteries...I never really have mysteries in real life. Or do I?

Poor Kellis is going to get a ribbing here, and I kid because I care, but this was posted on Kellis' blog yesterday...

"I went back and looked at Amorrow Morgan’s buzzer-beating shot from half court just before halftime against Eastern Washington, and there is no way in the solar system it took only nine-tenths of a second to shoot. I timed it several different times on replay and found that it took roughly 1.34 seconds to shoot.

He did catch the ball, take three steps, dribble and shoot, after all.

The officials made the right call with what they could see, but the game clock was started almost half a second late."

Ah.....a mystery! After the one-game Weber State shenanigan's with guys fouling out that got to play, the ISU table crew, excellent pros one and all, are being called to the carpet again potentially here. Let's break the mystery down like Dr. Jack Ramsay would (thank you Bill Simmons).

"I went back and looked at Amorrow Morgan’s buzzer-beating shot from half court just before halftime against Eastern Washington, and there is no way in the solar system it took only nine-tenths of a second to shoot. I timed it several different times on replay and found that it took roughly 1.34 seconds to shoot."

Technically we are going to give this to Kellis, because I times it 25 times in the office with Katie Zigars as a witness, and never got it at 0.9 seconds. However, the longest it ever took was 1.21 seconds (and I know I started the clock too fast and dragged on shutting it), and the fastest was 0.94 seconds. The most common time was 1.06 to 1.11, which occured 13 times, so let's look at those times, as we can throw out the other seven highs and lows as abberations.

The clock read 0:01.0 ... now that actually could be 1.09 seconds, because on the slo-motion replay, the game clock is at 0:00.1 when it leaves his hand, and in the next frame the clock is 0:00.0, and as my TV production college background reminds me, each frame is 1/24 of a second.

Based on that alone, Morgan could have gotten the shot off without any clock shenanigans. Of course, I'm watched the play knowing exactly when to start the clock, something the timekeep doesn't have the benefit of, which means he probably has a reaction lag time of 0.14 seconds (this is a standard addition in track and field as the accepted reaction time to starting or stopping a stop watch), meaning it is absolutely within reason to think that he got the shot off fairly and cleanly. For the life of me, clocking that thing at 1.34 seconds seems like an eternity, and I don't know how that happens, but in this case, the science trumps all

Dr. Jack's Decision -- basket good, no clock shenangians

"He did catch the ball, take three steps, dribble and shoot, after all."

Actually, looking at the recording, he takes four steps, but all are legal. Morgan is in the air running that curl route when he catches the ball and has all his momentum turned up court, and he lands one foot two foot .. so far so good. As he catches the ball in the air, he is releasing the ball for his one dribble almost instantly, and that's his third step, the fourth in when he sort of shot puts the ball out...remember, he doesn't take a jump shot...he really pushed the ball out from his body very quickly. He takes four steps, but with the mid-air catch and dribble, there isn't anything wrong or illegal there either.

Dr. Jack's Decision -- basket good, no travel

The officials made the right call with what they could see, but the game clock was started almost half a second late."

Wow...0.5 seconds late? In the span of three paragraphs, we went from .34 seconds late to .50 seconds late. Previous science showed he got the shot off cleanly.

Dr. Jack's Decision -- basket good, Idaho State Journal needs better stopwatch

See, when Dr. Jack breaks it down like that, everything feels better, doesn't it? Anyways, we love Kellis in the home office here, and like to kid him a bit, but honestly, Morgan got the shot off....there's no real argument.

See, this is what you get to do when you have to leave on a bus in a few hours and you are waiting for the bank to open!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Et Tu, Brute?

One of the fun things about broadcasting is the occasional interaction we get with the officials at our table right on center court. (Despite what my partner, Jerry Miller, would have you believe, most of these officials are pretty good guys). On Saturday when the Bengals hosted Eastern Washington, official Ty Elkin came up to our table and asked if he could store his extra whistle there. Of course, we said. Well, when the Bengals' 75-70 win was complete, Elkin and his officiating partners quickly vacated the premises, as is the officials' wont, only to leave behind the spare whistle.

I brought it home with me with the idea of eventually returning it to Elkin next time he's in town. But in the mean time, I found a darn good use for it. You see, my wife and I have been dog-sitting Brutus (above), my stepdaughter's cocker puppy, and he's a persistent pest. He constantly harasses our dog, Burley, to the point where they chase each other around the house, snarling, and growling and yelping. Well, this morning it occured to me that Elkin's whistle might come in handy. Every time Brutus starts harassing Burley, I blow the whistle sharply and Brutus and Burley come to attention, bringing a momentary respite to the uproar.

So, Ty, next time you're in Pocatello, stop by the table and I'll return your whistle -- Brutus should be back home by then.

Okay, I Really Like This Offense Now

A lot of Bengal fans, myself, included, were complaining about ISU's set offense earlier this season, when it seemed like, if the Bengals weren't pushing the ball in transition, they weren't scoring. ISU went into long droughts without field goals in several games, even in the wins over Idaho and Utah (when they went nine minutes without a field goal). The coaching staff wasn't happy either, and they took action to correct the problem.

Prior to the game against Northern Colorado in Greeley, they picked a certain offensive set and decided to drill it to death, and explore as many options out of that set as they could. The result was a good offensive game in a loss to the Bears, followed by two more excellent offensive efforts in the wins over Portland State and Eastern Washington.

Bengal center Lucas Steijn was beaming on our post-game show after the EWU win, in which he finished with 15 points to complete a 25-point, 8 rebound, three-block weekend. Steijn talked about how he used to hate that particular offensive set, because it was never productive. The extra options that the Bengals have added, however, have increased his involvement and gotten him the ball a whole lot more in scoring position.

As Steijn explained it on our post-game show, the set begins with four Bengals up high, including Luc, and continues with him setting a high ball screen. He then rolls to the hoop, and the Bengal guards have been wracking up a ton of assists getting him the ball on that roll for a layup. Amorrow Morgan tied his career high with 8 dimes on Saturday vs. EWU, and several of them were dump-offs to Steijn rolling to the basket. Morgan and Matt Stucki combined for 22 assists in the two wins this past week.

I believe Bengal offensive braintrust Steve Swanson will be our guest on the coach's show Monday night, with head coach Joe O'Brien heading to Memphis for Morgan's father's funeral. If so, we'll ask Steve to give some more detail on how the offense has evolved and why it's been so effective.

Speaking of Row, what an incredibly courageous performance by the young man this week, after his father passed away on Tuesday. He accumulated 32 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds and 2 steals in the two wins, and he would get my vote for Big Sky Player of the Week. Surely, his father would be full of pride.

--Brad B.

And thanks for being a Bengal -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.