I was thrilled to be the guest speaker for a Merrill Lynch conference at the Ritz Carlton in Orlando. There were over 900 leaders from all over the United States present. The evening was hosted by the head of Merrill Lynch, John Thiel. In the crowd, was my family’s advisor and good friend, Michael Valdes. I truly appreciated the standing ovation by the crowd. This was the 8th Merrill Lynch group that I have been the keynote speaker for. They are truly, Awesome Baby, with a capital A!
There was an electric atmosphere at Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday night. It was the rematch of Duke and Syracuse, and this one also went to the wire.
A difficult block-charge call with around 10 seconds left led to the demise of the Orange. CJ Fair made contact with Rodney Hood, and he was called for a charge, which set Jim Boeheim into a rage. I hate to see a close game end that way, but after watching the replay, there was no doubt that the Hall of Fame coach deserved two technical and his ejection. Duke went on to make three-of-four of the free throws from the assessed technical, putting the game away for the Dukies . Syracuse doesn’t have much time to regroup, facing a tough task at Maryland Monday.
Jabari Parker showed why he is the premier diaper dandy in America, being a force inside on the glass and as a scorer.
I love doing games at Rupp Arena. Big Blue Nation has the most passionate fans in America.
Kentucky is so tough at home. John Calipari had an 81-2 record at Rupp as Cats coach until Billy Donovan and Florida got to the winner’s circle Saturday night. Florida tied a school record with its 17th straight win, while Kentucky’s 22-game home win streak was snapped.
Experience and poise was such a big factor. Florida had not won at Rupp since 2007 (the second national championship season), and this group of Gators seniors embraced a final chance to win in Lexington. Scottie Wilbekin was clutch on the foul line. Casey Prather was solid inside. Patric Young made several big plays in the paint.
Florida is in the driver’s seat in the SEC. Kentucky will go back to the drawing board after a tough loss.
It was a thrill to speak today for the beautiful people at Express Employment Professionals. I got an opportunity to meet the two founders Robert Funk and Bill Stoller, who started the company 31 years ago. I also had an opportunity to meet the VP of Sales and Marketing, Cory Benton. I was really appreciative of the standing ovation by the crowd of over 700 that gathered at the spectacular Gaylord Palms Resort in the Orlando area. Express Employment Professionals is in the business of having numerous franchises across the country and locating jobs for people. They helped secure over 4,000 jobs for people last year . Their headquarters are in Oklahoma City, where they are proud to talk about Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The theme of the event was to do more than just exist, to be challenged, to be recognized, to be outstanding, and to believe. It was a super event and I am so proud to have been a small part of it.
I had a great time at the V Foundation event at Crown Eurocars in St. Petersburg, FL. The event was hosted by Larry Castro, with all proceeds benefitting the V Foundation for Cancer Research. It was a super night as I was the keynote speaker on the mission of the V Foundation. Joining us for the evening was tennis guru, Nick Bollettieri, Jake Odorizzi of the Rays,ex NBA players, Marcus Liberty and Jerod Ward. Mary Kenealy and her staff did a fantastic job as always. I can’t thank all those that joined us enough for their support.
Saturday night’s incident between Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart and Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr was a tough situation to watch. Smart was wrong for reacting like he did no matter what the fan said. It is pretty clear that the kid was frustrated and the fan said something negative to prompt that reaction.
Oklahoma State has been under the pressure of huge expectations and have been disappointing. This team was picked in the top 10 prior to the campaign. Now, near the end of a game that marked a fourth consecutive loss, Smart went after the fan and clearly shoved him. The situation could have escalated even further, with the potential of an ugly mess out there, like the brawl involving the Pistons and Pacers years ago. Fortunately, it did not get worse.
The guy involved in the Smart mess is not a true fan as he is classless. I saw another incident on YouTube of him in a game vs. Texas A&M in which he was out of line. It is sad when a 50-year old has to resort to such behavior at a game.
The bottom line is, no matter what that so-called fan said, Smart should not have used his hands to shove that individual! As a player, you have to ignore what is said by people in the stands. They often try to get under your skin and affect your performance. They are rooting for the home team and often cross the line with negative comments.
I felt the three-game suspension was warranted and Smart will learn from his mistake. He is basically a good kid whose actions were out of frustration and we wrong.
What a blast I had today shooting a commerical for Disney World in Orlando. I was able to include my entire family in the commercial, which was a thrill of a lifetime for my five grandkids. We started at 6:00 am and wrapped up around 5:00 pm. It was an absolute blast filming with various characters at the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios parks. I can’t thank Disney executive, Kevin Young for his hospitality. Watch the commercial here: http://bit.ly/1lPvkhl
The Rowdy Reptiles had reason to celebrate at the O-Dome once again. Their beloved Florida Gators extended their home win streak to 28 games by beating Missouri Tuesday night.
Billy Donovan’s team is so scrappy on the defensive end, battling for every loose ball. Florida held a Missouri team, which came in averaging 75 ppg., to just 58 points.
Scottie Wilbekin had a career-high 19 points, many of them from the foul line. The Gators had a 24-8 edge in points from the charity stripe, one key to the victory. Patric Young was another factor inside for Florida.
I was impressed with the Missouri guard tandem of Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown. This was a tough stretch for the Tigers, facing Kentucky and Florida in back-to-back games.
I will be back in Gainesville this weekend to call the Florida-Alabama contest.
The Duke-Syracuse game lived up to all of the hype. Saturday night’s contest was electric, with over 35,000 fans setting a Syracuse home record. You had two Hall of Fame coaches in Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski doing battle, and they have so much respect for each other.
There were so many dramatic moments. Duke stayed in the game by hitting 15 trifectas. Syracuse had brilliant performances by CJ Fair (28 points) and Jerami Grant (24 points, 12 rebounds).
Rasheed Sulaimon sent the game to overtime with a three-pointer. In the end, Syracuse had an edge on the foul line (26-32 to Duke’s 12-17) and remained unbeaten, 91-89.
These two teams will meet again in Cameron Indoor Stadium in three weeks. I cannot wait to call that one.
Over 50,000 fans are expected at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night as Duke and Syracuse square off. I cannot wait to call the game. The atmosphere will be electric. There is a big-time buzz surrounding this match-up. You will have so much passion and emotion in this contest.
Syracuse remained unbeaten with a 67-57 win at Wake Forest Wednesday. That was huge because the Demon Deacons entered with a 13-game home win streak. Jim Boeheim was concerned going into the game at Lawrence Joel Coliseum, but his squad played tremendous defense and got another W. Tyler Ennis has developed into one of the premier diaper dandies in America and he showed why against Wake. His 18 points were vital since the tandem of CJ Fair and Trevor Cooney was cold, combining to shoot six-of-23 from the field.
Duke is coming off a big-time win at Pittsburgh Monday. The Blue Devils were especially impressive in the second half, getting to the winner’s circle against a quality Panthers team. Duke put up 80 points and one key was Andre Dawkins. He was on fire over the final eight minutes, finishing with six-of-seven trifectas. Dawkins totaled 20 points in just 15 minutes overall.
Do you think that Syracuse will try to find him in that zone?
This will be a chess match between two of the top coaches in college basketball. Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim have combined for over 1900 wins and they have the ultimate respect for each other. They are very close; Coach K hired Boeheim to be his assistant for USA Basketball in winning the Olympics twice.
You know that Duke will be prepared with the extra few days. If it shoots the three-pointer like it did against Pittsburgh (13-of-25, 52 percent), watch out. While diaper dandy Ennis is a key for the Orange, the Blue Devils will expect big things from its freshman star, Jabari Parker. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds against the Panthers, and he is ready for the big stage.
The bottom line is Duke’s offensive firepower goes against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. Something has to give.