Coaching nomad Max Good, whose whistle-tooting wanderings include a stop at Eastern Kentucky University, became the acting coach at Loyola Marymount last weekend.
You could argue that Good is a bad fit for the job. Good wouldn't argue with that assessment.
An unbelievable stretch of bad luck hit Loyola Marymount this season. A series of injuries reduced the roster to seven scholarship players (two of which were career walk-ons until last summer). Then the coach, Bill Bayno, removed himself from the job last weekend to seek treatment for stress and anxiety.
While seeing an "extremely bright" future thanks to two transfers sitting out this season and a solid recruiting class, Good knows this year will be a struggle. A schedule including games against UCLA and Arizona the next three weeks doesn't help.
"The deal is being patient and seeing the big picture," Good said on Friday.
But as Good himself concedes, he's not good at patience. Each individual snapshot in a game can ignite his volcanic temper.
"You know me," he said. "On a (temperament) scale of one to 10, I'm a minus seven."
Good stomps, scowls, yells, cajoles, fumes and spews. And that's in games his team plays well.
He acted "frustrated, angry and petulant as his winless team lost another game last week.
"My wife jumped on me after the game. I had a long talk with myself."
Good is hardly alone as a sourpuss coach. He divides coaches into three categories: disciplinarians, authoritarians and nice guys.
"I'm in the (SOB) category," he said.
(Good's participation gives any interview an X rating. He peppers the conversation with profanity.)
Even the most tranquil coaches develop ulcers. Though coaching attacks his nervous system, Good liked the game and knew as a seventh grader he wanted to coach.
"It keeps you young," he said of coaching. "My wife says it makes me unbelievably immature."
The additional stress of taking over a team during the season is not new to Good. He took over at UNLV, again when Bayno took a leave of absence, earlier this decade.
"My most miserable year," he said.
That was the year that rumors of Rick Pitino going to UNLV enveloped the program. Good tried to coach the team as reporters repeatedly asked players about Pitino's supposedly impending hire.
"Hellish," Good said.
The two seasons at UNLV fit on a coaching resume that includes Eastern Kentucky, 10 years at the Maine Central Institute prep school and Bryant University.
Good noted a loss at Maryland in which Bryant did not shoot a free throw and Maryland shot 38.
"Afterward, I apologized for being so rough on the ACC kids," Good said.
That sense of humor will serve Good well this season.
Home and home
When Arkansas (3-1) played Florida A&M (1-4) on Saturday, it marked the first of 10 consecutive in-state games.
The last time Arkansas played 10 consecutive games in the state was during the 1927-1928 season.
This season's Razorbacks hope things work out as well now as they did 81 years ago, when Arkansas went 19-1 and won the 1928 Southwest Conference championship under Francis Schmidt, who doubled as head coach for football and basketball.
After winning 79-77 at South Alabama on Wednesday night, the Razorbacks don't play on the road again until they visit Ole Miss on Jan. 14.
If the Razorbacks expect to receive an NCAA Tournament bid (seemingly a long shot for a team that lost 87 percent of its scoring from last season), protecting the home court in the upcoming 10 games is critical.
Arkansas does not have a string of patsies coming to its home turf. No. 11 Oklahoma (Dec. 30) and No. 6 Texas (Jan. 6) come to Walton Arena in that span.
The home schedule was put together by Coach John Pelphrey on the premise that this season's team would be relying heavily on newcomers.
"We lost so much from last season, and obviously Arkansas has had tremendous success at home," Pelphrey told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. "With this team's youth and inexperience, we don't have to venture too far from home right now."e_SClBLove/hate relationship
Two fans objected to my votes for VMI in the top 25 for polar opposite reasons.
This from an anonymous member of the I-love-UK camp: "I wonder why you'd vote that way, lol. Good thing the rest of the writers don't see the world through blue-tinted glasses and you were the only one to embarrass yourself with that vote. But I doubt you would even find it embarrassing since you've never tried very hard to hide your UK homerism."
This from an anonymous member of the I-hate-UK group: "Typical Tipton over and over. His disdain and hatred for UK is so well documented. It's amazing a guy that hates a school so much will continue to get credentials to follow the school. But what can you expect from a guy who puts VMI as his 25th pick in the top twenty-five? If I was UK, I would revoke his credentials and never allow him to go inside Rupp Arena again."
UK fan Rick Webster objected to the No. 25 vote for VMI.
"I respect and enjoy your basketball columns and blogs both in the Herald and online," he wrote in an e-mail. "But to continue to place VMI in the top 25 because they may have played well against Virginia after beating UK makes no sense. Virginia once again is picked to finish dead last in the ACC and escaped by both South Florida and Radford by two points each.
"Meanwhile VMI did score 133 against Division III Stevenson but this also doesn't justify VMI even coming close to receiving a vote. I understand that UK lost to VMI at Rupp, but that does not mean or make VMI a top 25 team. UK is not that good this year and were not good last year. Please restore my faith in your voting."
Webster lives in Bellevue. He works in commercial contracting and project management.
Jim O'Connell, national college basketball writer for The Associated Press, covered last week's EA Sports Maui Invitational for the 16th time. This was the event's 25th anniversary.
In a column of his recollections, O'Connell saluted Kentucky fans.
"Over the years, no fans have followed their team to the Maui Invitational like Kentucky fans," he wrote. "Suddenly, it seems every white rental car on the island has a blue 'K' flag flapping out the back window and choreographed cheers break out at any time.
"The local Denny's had lava plant rocks e_SEmD rocks from nearby volcanos with flowers actually growing out of them e_SEmD on each table.
"An older couple wearing their Kentucky warm-weather clothing was looking at one of the rocks when the waitress told them they were for sale in a nearby store if they were interested.
"After a long look, the man asked the question only a Cats fan could: 'Does it come in blue?'"
It turns out Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl wasn't the only live wire in his marriage. His ex-wife, who now goes by her maiden name of Kim Shrigley, is using funds from the divorce settlement to open Alimony's Hair and Nail Salon in Knoxville.
In case you missed the story in the Knoxville News-Sentinel last week (USA Today followed up with a severely abridged re-write), it quoted Shrigley as saying of her venture, "It's pretty ballsy."
Alimony's offers hair and nail service. Shrigley hopes to someday add Botox treatments, facials and waxing.
The store's name, Alimony's, is written in green cursive on a sign. The "i" is dotted with a red heart.
"The heart up there is to be that extra pain in the ass," Shrigley told the Knoxville newspaper.
By the way, Shrigley's salon offers a 15 percent discount to clients who receive alimony (no divorce papers are needed for proof).
Suites for Auburn
If everything goes according to plan, Kentucky basketball will be behind Auburn when it comes to luxury suites. This means something if you use luxury suites to measure basketball stature, and athletic administrators who want to maximize each sport's revenue potential notice the luxury suites.
Auburn officially broke ground on Aug. 29 for a new $92.5 million basketball arena and practice facility. The arena is scheduled to open in the 2010-11 season.
The 9,600-seat arena will have 12 luxury suites that will not only open inside the facility, but will also open on the outside of the arena for multiple entertaining opportunities throughout the year.
Rupp Runt Larry Conley did the commentary for ESPN's telecasts of the Las Vegas Invitational. Before the Friday session, he cautioned against the urge to label North Carolina as unbeatable. After working the Paradise Jam, Conley said UConn could beat No. 1 UNC. The Huskies had the country's best four-guard tandem, he said. . . . Illinois and Travis Ford's Oklahoma State head the field for next year's Las Vegas Invitational. Other teams are Utah, Bradley, Presbyterian, Seattle, Wofford and Utah Valley State.
To former UK Coach Joe B. Hall. He turns 80 today.
"It beats the alternative," Hall quipped when asked last week about turning 80. "I've been very blessed. I'm still able to be active."
His activities include a sports talk radio show with former U of L Coach Denny Crum, football, basketball, baseball, golf, tennis, fishing, hunting.
Hall planned to visit his daughter and her family in Fayetteville, Ark., where he'd attend the Arkansas-LSU football game on Friday. Son-in-law Mike Summers coaches the Arkansas offensive line.
Then it's off the following weekend to the Marshall County Hoopfest, where Hall looks forward to watching Scott County play.
We caught up to Hall at the daily session of the "lunch bunch." Hall and a colorful bunch of buddies meet for lunch and companionship.
"No agenda," Dick Robinson said, "but many subjects covered."
Of course, the group ponders the Cats. Hall called Patrick Patterson "a coach's dream." But such topics as real estate, politics, music and the famous 1960 Gary Francis Powers spy flight can be discussed.
One participant, Charles Farris, 92, plotted the weather for the Powers flight, which was supposed to take off in Pakistan, spy on the Soviet Union at high altitude and land in Norway. When the Soviets downed Powers' plane, it became an international embarrassment for the United States.
Other members of the "lunch bunch" include former congressman Larry Hopkins and Don McGuire, who sang with the noted 1950 group "The Hilltoppers" while attending Western Kentucky University.