Congrats to Kinston basketball!

The Kinston High School basketball team went to Peoria, Ill., for a basketball tournament — and kicked booty. The Vikings won the tournament going away, with junior Reggie Bullock earning MVP honors by scoring 97 points in three games.

The Vikings return to Lenoir County against North Lenoir on Friday.

The Vikings also play a showcase game in Washington D.C. on Saturday after Friday’s North Lenoir game.

For more information, read the story at this link; see Free Press Sports Editor Ryan Herman’s thoughts by going here.

My take: As good as Kinston was the past couple of years, the Vikes might be even better this year. If they get past the D.C. game with a win, they’ll probably be undefeated going into the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational on Dec. 26, where they’ll face some of the nation’s best teams.

Good work by Ryan, who wasn’t able to go to the game but still kept us up to date with post-game calls from Wells Gulledge. Ryan is making the trip to D.C.; maybe we can talk him into blogging live from Saturday’s game?

ECU to face Tulsa in C-USA title game

From the East Carolina University media relations department:

EAST CAROLINA TO FACE TULSA IN CONFERENCE USA TITLE GAME

Pirates and Golden Hurricane Will Kick Off Saturday At 12 Noon (EST)

GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina finally has an opponent for next Saturday’s Conference USA Football Championship Game.

With its 38-35 victory at Marshall Saturday afternoon, coupled with Houston’s 56-42 loss at Rice, Tulsa has punched its ticket to the fourth annual league title game. The Golden Hurricane (10-2 overall, 7-1 in C-USA play), the West Division winner, will meet the East Division champion Pirates (8-4 overall, 6-2 in C-USA) on Saturday, December 6 at H.A. Chapman Stadium in Tulsa. ESPN2 will televise the championship game live, beginning at 12 noon EST.

The game features a pair of programs who both earned Top 25 poll positions earlier this year as East Carolina knocked off nationally-ranked Virginia Tech and West Virginia to begin the season while the Golden Hurricane ran off eight straight wins to open the 2008 campaign.

East Carolina and Tulsa both enter the game with a pair of two-game winning streaks. The Pirates have won five of their last six games, which includes a 53-21 decision over UTEP in their regular season finale Friday, while the Golden Hurricane have bounced back after road losses to Arkansas and Houston with victories over Tulane and Marshall.

Tulsa, which will represent the West Division for the third time in four years, has the upper hand in the series between the two teams, winning five of seven all-time matchups – including Conference USA meetings in 2005 (45-13) and 2006 (31-10).

The Golden Hurricane have one of the top offenses in college football this season, topping the 45-point mark in eight games – including three games with more than 60 points. On the other hand, East Carolina leads the league in scoring defense (20.5 ppg) and ranks second in total defense (329.4 ypg).

Tickets are priced at $30.00 and available to purchase online at www.ECUPirates.com or via the ECU Athletics Ticket Office beginning Monday morning.

My take: Go Pirates! Be sure to keep up with everything from Greenville this week as our sports reporter, David Hall, prepares you for the C-USA championship. David will also be traveling to Tulsa to cover the game for Freedom ENC.

My picks, Week 15 — with update

Make your own picks by clicking here:

UPDATE: I changed my NY Giants-Washington pick at 10:30 p.m. Saturday night.

Yes, I’m a homer. Probably cost me a game.

Prep football playoffs

4AA: Matthews Butler at Charlotte Independence: Ind

3A: SW Edgecombe at West Craven: WC

2A: Goldsboro at Tarboro: THS

1AA: Dunn Midway at Ayden-Grifton: DM

1A: Weldon at Jones Senior: JS

College

UTEP at East Carolina: ECU

Miami at N.C. State: NCSU

North Carolina at Duke: UNC

Kentucky at Tennessee: UT

South Carolina at Clemson: Clem

NFL

Carolina at Green Bay: GB

New Orleans at Tampa Bay: TB

N.Y. Giants at Washington: Wash

Pittsburgh at New England: NE

Chicago at Minnesota: Minn

Another tribute to Delmont Miller

He preceded me by about five years, but former Free Press sports editor Todd Murray — who is now covering West Virginia University football  — recently found about Delmont Miller passing away and wrote a column about it for the Morgantown Dominion Post.

Here it is (I’d provide a link, but the DP’s site is a paid site):

THE HEADLINE ON A FORMER employer’s Web site captured my attention right away. “Kinston’s best friend dies” Who could it be? Intrigued, I double clicked – and my heart sank. Kinston, N.C., lost a friend, and so did I. His name was Delmont Miller. He died of a massive heart attack just a few days before Halloween. Miller was 42.

Delmont, or “Dell” as I called him, was one of the more delightful characters I’ve had the privilege of meeting in nearly 20 years in the newspaper business. Delmont served for 22 years as the scoreboard operator at Grainger Stadium, where the Kinston Indians – Cleveland’s Class A Carolina League baseball team – play.

From 1990-’97, when the I helped cover the team for the Kinston Free Press, Delmont and I spent a lot of summer nights sitting by each other in the press box. We watched future stars Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez and Jaret Wright while munching on hot dogs and drinking a non-alcoholic beverage called Island Guava.

Delmont was a diminutive, happy-go-lucky guy who had no enemies. He greeted you by name and with a smile on his face. He was probably the most popular person in the ballpark.

It was always interesting to watch him make his way up to the press box. It took him forever because he was constantly stopping to shake hands and talk with the fans.

He took a lot of pride in his job as scoreboard operator. Many touted him as the best in the Carolina League. He was never late recording a ball, strike or out.

Delmont did his job and kept up a steady stream of conversation. Some of his signature phrases I find myself repeating to this day. He was best known for shouting out “Ham and cheese!” when an opposing batter reached first.

“Ham and cheese” was Delmontspeak for calling for a double play. I once wrote a story about his double-play call. A local diner picked up on it and named its ham and cheese sandwich after Delmont.

When something in a game surprised him, he was likely to exclaim, “Good God Almighty!” He had other sayings, some of which aren’t printable in a family publication.

As far as I knew, Delmont had no other employment. I envied him. He seemed to enjoy a stress-free life, far removed from the dissatisfied readers and cranky editors, players and coaches I dealt with on a daily basis.

I eventually learned his life wasn’t as rosy as I thought. One summer day in 1994, Delmont and I drove to nearby Zebulon, N.C., for a Carolina Mudcats Double A baseball game. As we drove home that night, Delmont turned to me and asked: “Todd, do you think I’m retarded?”

 The question stunned me.

“What? No, man.”

 He said people made fun of him, and he spent a lot of time in his room crying. Who knew? I didn’t know what to say. I do remember it got awful quiet in the car. I was thankful it was dark because I wouldn’t have wanted him to see my eyes welling up with tears.

I missed being in the press box with Delmont when I left Kinston. He was the first person I sought out when I returned for games. He never forgot me. I was going to go back this past summer, but I didn’t make it.

Sadly, I’ll never see Delmont in Grainger Stadium again. His funeral was held, fittingly enough, at the ballpark.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I’m thankful Delmont was part of my life. I know I’ll never forget him.

 

TODD MURRAY is a sports reporter for The Dominion Post. Write to him at tmurraydominionpost.com.

My take: Awesome column, Todd. A great tribute to a person everyone in Kinston loved.

Morning News Report; Nov. 28, 2008

INDIAN TERRORIST DEATH COUNT UP TO 143

There have been at least 143 deaths in the terrorist attacks on a group of luxury hotels in Mumbai, India. The attacks started two days ago and Indian commando units are still battling terrorists holed up in some hotels.

My take: If this doesn’t scare you, what does?

And I’ll say what I’ve said before: W might not be the brightest light in the bulb in the hall, but he’s kept us from any sort of significant terrorist attack since 9/11.

DEMOCRATS FIGHTING DEMOCRATS: THE NEW POLITICS?

So what happens when you absolutely destroy your competition in the 2008 general election? To the Democrats in D.C., it means the infighting starts.

My take: It’s not like this is a new thing, though — after the Republican Revolution in 1994, the GOP quickly dissolved into splinters, allowing Bill Clinton to be re-elected in 1996 and the Democrats to eventually wrest back power.

IVERSON SKIPS THANKSGIVING DAY PRACTICE. PRACTICE?

Allen Iverson, who was recently traded to the Detroit Pistons, skipped practice yesterday, meaning he won’t start tonight’s game against Milwaukee.

My take: Besides Paul Pierce, Shane Battier and Emeka Okafor, AI is probably my favorite NBA player. You know he gives his heart every single night he’s out there and the fact he does it with a 5-9, 160-pound body (not his “official” height and weight, but when you stand beside him — as I have several times — you realize how slight his body is) makes him more special.

But he has to know he’s going to get in trouble when he skips practice.

Which brings us to the real reason I posted this nugget — the opportunity to post this YouTube nugget dedicated to a time when Iverson skipped a Larry Brown practice when he was with the 76ers.

Enjoy:

The iPod shuffle

Lift Your Head Up High (And Blow Your Brains Out) — The Bloodhound Gang

Twilight — U2

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town — Mariah Carey

Where The Streets Have No Name — U2

Longview — Green Day

Morning News Report; Nov. 27, 2008

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! GET YOUR TURKEY ON!

 112708-sexy-turkey.jpg 

THE ANNUAL HANKSGIVING COLUMN

OK, I’m being totally lazy (hey, there’s turkey and football coming soon!), so take a gander at my annual Hanksgiving column.

Have a great Thanksgiving! Eye Candy coming right up…

And if you’re a fantasy football player, get your rosters in now!

The iPod shuffle

Come Together — Robin Rogers

I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide — ZZ Top

Glory Days — Bruce Springsteen

Everybody Hurts — REM

The Three Sunrises — U2

ECU ticket winners

The East Carolina-UTEP football ticket winner is Ty Eason.

The ECU-Limestone basketball ticket winners are Jim Godfrey and John Rouse.

Also — I have two extra pairs of ECU-Limestone tix if anyone is interested; if so, leave your name in the comments or e-mail me at bhanks@freedomenc.com. The winners will be first-come, first-served.

All — you need to come by The Free Press office by 5:30 p.m. today to collect your winnings.

Congratulations!

Morning News Report; Nov. 26, 2008

LAURA BUSH WRITING A BOOK

First Lady Laura Bush has confirmed that she is going to write her memoirs.

My take: Several questions — Will W be able to read it? Will it have pictures so it’ll draw W’s interest? Will someone read it to W?

OK, too easy. And — in the infamous words of Heelatious — I kid, I kid.

GO TO BLOCKBUSTER WITHOUT GOING TO BLOCKBUSTER

Blockbuster now has a service in a box that you put with your TV in which you can order movies — for $1.99 to $3.99 — without going to the video store. You have to pay a one-time $99 fee for the box, but it comes with 25 pre-paid movies.

My take: Ain’t technology great? It was too hard to go to Blockbuster and peruse DVDs, so now we can do it at home.

This is why I’ll be 10 pounds heavier in 2009…

BURKE WINS ‘DANCING WITH THE STARS’

Two-day ECOTD winner Brooke Burke won the latest edition of ABC-TVs “Dancing With The Stars” last night.

My take: I’ve never watched a minute of DWTS, but reporting this news gives me the opportunity to share this pic with you –

112608-brooke-burke.jpg

Congratulations, Brooke!

The iPod shuffle

It’s All About The Benjamins — Puff Daddy and the Family feat. The Notorious BIG

Like A Virgin — Madonna

Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) — Phil Collins

Shake Ya Tailfeather — Nelly feat. P. Diddy and Murphy Lee

It’s Tricky — The Bloodhound Gang

HERE is what Chris Cooley and the Redskins do after wins

I’ve raved before about Chris Cooley’s blog; here’s the best post yet — what the Redskins did after winning in Seattle last week. (Note — if you’re offended by foul language or a story about guys “air-humping” another guy or getting hit in the nuts, don’t follow the link).

My take: Hilarious, freaking hilarious. Most pro athletes come across as real d-bags; Cooley is, well, cool. Wouldn’t you like to hang with him?

Well, except for the air-humping and getting hit in the boys…