November 7 , 2006


What’s a baller to do these days?

Not being able to argue with a ref is un-American


Associated Press/Douglas C. Pizac
Detroit Pistons head coach Flip Saunders reacts to being charged with a technical during the second quarter of last night’s NBA game with the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.

AP Sports Columnist

Life can be good when you’re young, talented and playing for guaranteed money in the NBA.
Your every whim is catered to, and there’s a posse around whose job it is to always say yes.
Then somebody comes along and spoils it all by saying no.
No more tantrums. No more whining. No more drama.
No wonder David Stern’s new zero-tolerance edict is making him more unpopular among the NBA’s elite than the caterer who forgot to include chilled Alaskan crab legs in the postgame buffet.
Can’t argue a call anymore? What’s a baller to do?
It seems, well, almost un-American. Actually, to Kevin Garnett, it is.
“That’s almost like Communism,” the Timberwolves’ star said last week. “That’s like Castro.”
Stern isn’t likely to grow a beard and start wearing olive-green fatigues, but to some, the NBA commissioner has become about as close to a dictator as anyone you’ll find in sports these days.
Dictators love decrees. And Stern has issued more than his share — to make players dress better, act nicer, and appear like they actually care about the guy who spends $200 of his hard-earned money to take the family to a game.
As any dictator will tell you, though, those who are being dictated to sometimes have their limits.
Making sure players don’t board the team plane in shorts that billow down to their ankles is one thing. Stopping them from playing the game the way they’ve been doing since their first shirts-and-skins game is quite another.
Take away trash talking and eye rolling? Next thing you know, they’ll be changing the ball and calling traveling.
“It’s not anything new like a dress code, when you can make a couple calls and get some suits,” Miami’s Dwayne Wade said. “It’s something that really goes with the way that you play.”
That’s true for any kid who ever grew up on a playground, where disputes over whether fouls are legitimate can spawn heated discussions that usually focus on someone’s manhood or his mother.
Those who look at these things in a black and white way might even suggest it’s racially tinged, part of a campaign by Stern to eliminate the hip-hop influence that was so prevalent only a few years ago and make the league more palatable to the middle-class whites it needs to_buy tickets.
Complaining, though, tends to be an equal opportunity practice. Larry Bird would run up and down the court arguing with referees if a call went against him, and Christian Laettner believed he spent his entire NBA career getting repeatedly fouled without ever committing one.
Little matter that players were wearing tight shorts and shooting flat-footed the last time a referee actually listened to someone’s argument and reversed a call. Mark Cuban can’t get Stern to listen to him, either, but that doesn’t stop him from talking.
Stern insists his latest decree is no big deal, more a return to the ways of old than anything new. Coaches, he believes, actually like it because a player called for a foul while on offense will hustle down the court to play defense instead of hanging back to make faces at the referee.
Judging from the early returns, making faces is going to become very costly.
Rasheed Wallace made one in the first quarter of the first game of the season for the Pistons and got a technical. By the middle of the third quarter he was out of the game, one of three marquee players tossed_in the first two nights of the_season alone.
Wallace, who had 16 technicals called against him last year, believes the new policy might as well be called the Rasheed Rule.
“I know they’re going to have to do something about this crazy zero-tolerance law,” Wallace said during the weekend. “In my mind, it’s kind of like a slave and master or father and son. You’ve got your little son and (you say), ‘Don’t say nothing back to me.’ And to me, that’s totally wrong. It ain’t like that in any other sport.”
Actually, Rasheed, it is. Baseball players can kick dirt and scream themselves silly over a call on the bases, but they know better than to even mutter a sarcastic “nice call” over a disputed strike or they’re out of the game.
And Terrell Owens may do a lot of stupid things, but arguing with NFL referees usually isn’t one of them.
Still, there has to be more important things to worry about in the NBA than players making faces and making their opinions known. This isn’t exactly World Cup soccer, where the histrionics of players befuddled referees so much that games were decided by phony falls and even phonier calls.
Besides, complaining about calls is such a time-honored tradition in basketball that it wouldn’t be surprising if someone argued that they were fouled the same day Dr. James Naismith nailed up two peach baskets in a Massachusetts gym 115 years ago.
It’s part of the flavor of the game. It’s part of the fun of the game.
Even Castro might agree with that.




Mite Flames have hot outing

Trevor Andrews scored four goals and added an assist Saturday as the Cortland Flames Mite Select squad downed visiting Skaneateles 9-1.
Michael Turck and Jackson Brazo had a goal and an assist for the winners, while Emily Krebs, Jayson Wojcinski and Ben Gravel scored once apiece. Goalie Ryan Gabriel made_15 saves.
The Stafford Chevrolet-Economy Paving-Homer Logging team lost 7-6 to visiting Clinton despite two goals and an assist by Nate Walker. In addition, Danny Turck had a goal and two assists, Joel potter a goal and an assist and Conor Paquin and Brian Ordway one goal each. Greg Eldred made 12 saves in the losing cause.
The local squad beat host Valley 6-5 on Sunday as Walker had three goals and two assists and Joel Potter three goals and an assist while Eldred stopped 28 shots.
The Darl Zehr Photography/ Waste Management team downed visiting Salmon River 13-3 on Saturday as Jordan Zehr and Kyle Gibbons had three goals and an assist apiece and Dakota Baylor three goals. Zack Daniels had two goals and two assists, with Aaron Zimmerman and Nick Burton had one goal apiece. Cory Broyles made 10 saves and Zack Randall four in the winner’s nets.
Casey Dailey had the only goal_in a 5-1 loss to host Elmira on Sunday. Broyles stopped 13 shots_and Randall had 15 saves in the losing cause.
Matt Sovocool had both goals in the Barden Homes squad’s 5-2 loss to visiting Camillus 1. Goalie Dylan Riker made 29 saves.
Carl Zimmerman scored twice and Casie Garrison once as visiting Skaneateles beat Cortland 6-3 on Saturday. Zimmerman scored twice in a 4-0 Sunday win over host Onondaga while Connor Ferrito and Tim Walsh had one goal each.
The Ithaca Shooting Stars 16-Under Team took second place over the weekend in the Fire On Ice Tournament in Rochester.
 The team went 1-1-1 in the preliminary round, tying Team Pittsburgh 2-2 in their opener on goals by Whitney Colbert and Katie Long. A 3-1 win over the Ohio Phantom Flames was next, as Cortland’s Ariana Cornish, Long and Emily Eisenhut had a goal and an assist each, Cortland’s Ariana Cornish scored once and Janesa Cornish had an assist. Homer’s Elaina Jones had the only goal in a 4-1 loss to the Durham West Lightning, from the Toronto area.
Long had the only goal in a 2-1 title-game loss to Durham, Homer’s Annabelle Jones and Sarah Eisenhut splitting net-minding duties as they did in each game of the tournament.



Express team takes softball gold medal

A month ago, the Cortland Express Special Olympics Softball team earned a gold medal and a Division I championship at the New York State Fall Games held in Binghamton.
During the daylong competition on Saturday, Oct. 7, there were 22 softball teams from across New York State competing for medals in a six-division format. The Division I level consisted of the teams from Jamestown and the Albany areas.
During the first game the Express ended up coming out victorious over the Capitol District, 10-5. The hitting stars of the game were Chris Wing who went 2-for-2 with three runs batted in and a home run, while Travis Rowser was 2-for-2 with 2 RBI and a home run.
 In game two, the Express played the Jamestown Lakers for the Division I crown. The Express ended up coming out on top with a score of 16-8. The standout hitting stars were Pat Wing who was 3-for-3 and drove in three runs. Olukun Ubiles was 3-for-3 with two RBI, Elliot Mitro was 2-for-3 with three RBI and a home run.
The 2006 state Division I title is the team’s third in six years.
In addition to softball, area athletes from Cortland and Tompkins counties were represented in the sports of Bocce, Cycling, Cross Country, Golf and Equestrian. All the area athletes in each of the sports disciplines delivered superior performances. Special Olympics of New York funded accommodations, meals and entertainment during the weekend.
The Cortland Express ended up with a team record of seven wins and no losses for this season.
This years’ team roster includes: A.J. Nason, David Green, John Wing, Pat Wing, Elliot Mitro, Olukun Ubiles, Chris Wing, Travis Rowser, Josh Riley, David Klapper and Perry Dawson. Greg Eckert and Erin Eckert coach the Cortland Express.
For information on how to get involved with the team or other sports and recreation offered by Special Olympics or Madison Cortland ARC, contact Greg Eckert or Jill Yacavone at Madison Cortland ARC by calling 756-2015.
Madison Cortland ARC provides leadership in the field of disabilities, supporting people in every manner possible, and developing the necessary human and financial resources to allow all members of our community to achieve their potential. Madison Cortland ARC is the most experienced agency in helping people with developmental disabilities, offering services for 38 years in Madison County and 40 years in Cortland County.
The chapter is one of 57 chapters statewide governed by NYSARC, Inc. and serves over 1,000 people in both counties.