WELCOME TO BERNIE BITS
Good morning, good afternoon, hello, how are ya — and what’s for lunch?
1) Did the Cardinals lose a game to the Dodgers on Wednesday night? I must have fallen asleep. And the crazy thing is, I had a fuzzy dream … something about Carlos Martinez retiring only two hitters and getting cannonaded for 10 runs in the first inning. Did the Cardinals win?
2) The biggest headline from Wednesday: Mike Krzyzewski will retire as Duke’s basketball coach after one more season. This will be an enormous loss for the petty Coach K haters and the legions of mewling harridans that despise Duke. Doesn’t matter. He’ll walk away as the greatest coach in NCAA men’s basketball history.
Coach K has the most victories, 1,170. He’s won five national championships, the first in 1991 at age 44 the fifth coming in 2015 at age 68. (How’s that for staying power?)
He coached the Blue Devils into 12 Final Fours, nine NCAA championship games, 35 NCAA Tournaments and 25 Sweet 16s. His teams have spent a record 126 weeks ranked No. 1 in the AP men’s college basketball poll.
Along with UCLA’s John Wooden, Krzyzewski is one of only two coaches to win at least five NCAA men’s basketball championships.
Coach K has the most coaching wins in ACC history, and his Duke teams won 12 regular-season ACC titles and 15 ACC tournaments.
His distinguished career includes five Olympic gold medals for USA basketball, three as head coach. He’s won three FIBA World Cup gold medals. He’s been inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame twice — as Duke’s coach, and for his work on the coaching staff of the 1992 Olympics “Dream Team.”
Coach K has been able to adapt and evolve with the times: culturally and tactically, in recruiting, and in the way he utilizes personnel. He won the 2010 national title with a senior-stacked roster, then claimed another NCAA championship in 2015 with “one-and-done” talent that stopped off in Durham before heading to the NBA.
He’s had 67 Duke players drafted into the NBA including 40 in the first round. Twenty-one Coach K assistants became head coaches at other NCAA programs.
No men’s college basketball coach can match the scope of this incredible career. Not bad for a guy raised by working-class parents in a tough Polish neighborhood in Chicago.
Not bad for a guy who graduated from West Point and served his country.
Not bad for a guy who had to spell his name from the lectern when introduced as Duke’s new coach in 1980 — with the Duke Chronicle introducing him with this next-day headline: “Krzyzewski: This is not a typo.”
Hey .. but by all means, hate on. You see, that’s another reason why Krzyzewski is the greatest of all time. The level of rancor directed at him simply reaffirms that greatness. Only the best of the best can drive resentful humans insane by winning repeatedly and at the highest level over several decades, and getting it all done the right way.
4) NHL: Vegas took its best shot — lots of shots — at Colorado on Wednesday but still couldn’t win Game 2 of the second-round West division playoffs. After the Avalanche routed the Golden Knights 7-1 in Game 1, they had to go to overtime to defeat VGK 3-2 in overtime Wednesday.
Vegas gave Colorado it’s toughest test of the postseason to date, outshooting the Avs 35-13 at even strength in Game 2. Vegas was so dominant in possession time and shot quality, their expected goal share at even strength in Game 2 was a remarkable 69.3 percent.
As the Blues found out in getting swept away in four games by Colorado, Vegas can’t crack Colorado goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
The Avs are 6-0 in the playoffs, with the cool-headed Grubauer posting a .943 save percentage overall including a .957 save rate at even strength. Through six games Grubauer’s high-danger save percentage at even strength is a preposterously superb .903. Colorado’s flashy, speedy and prolific skaters get most of the attention, but Grubauer has been just as important for the Avs so far.
5) In disposing of the Blues and taking early command of the Vegas series, Colorado has scored 75 percent of the goals in their six games. That’s crazy. Simply crazy. But the Avs have indeed outscored the Blues and Golden Knights 30-10 overall and 19-6 at even strength.
6) As you probably know, Our Town’s Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum are gone from the NBA playoffs after one round. Tatum’s beaten-down, shorthanded and dysfunctional Boston Celtics were bounced by the Brooklyn Nets in five games. Beal’s Washington Wizards were thumped in by Philadelphia’s 76ers in five games.
7) Don’t blame the St. Louisans. In the first-round loss to Brooklyn, Tatum became the sixth-youngest player ever to average at least 30 points per game in a playoff series. He scored an astonishing 40.7 points per game over the final three games of the series, including his 50-point attack that led Boston to a win in Game Missing three injured starters, the Celtics were down to just two regular starters against an opponent led by Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn’s circus-maximus offense averaged 123.4 points in the five games. Beal averaged 30 points, 6.2 rebounds and four assists vs. the Sixers but the Wizards were no match for Philly’s size and inside muscle.
8) Beal, 27, finished second by a sliver to Golden State’s Steph Curry for the NBA’s scoring title this season. Beal became only the sixth player since the NBA-ABA merger to average 30-plus points in back-to-back seasons. Beal and backcourt mate Russell Westbrook need help. After his team’s elimination by the Sixers, Beal vowed to lead the effort to improve the Wizards for next season.
“D.C.’s an unbelievable market, a true sports town. I don’t see why nobody wouldn’t want to be interested in coming to D.C.,” Beal said via postgame video conference. “My recruiting will definitely start tonight, or tomorrow.”
9) Tatum, 23, has averaged 21.6 points in 50 career postseason games for Boston. Among Celtics that have competed in at least 30 postseason games, Tatum’s scoring average ranks third all-time behind Larry Bird (23.8) and John Havlicek (21.6). Fourth on the list is the late, great St. Louisan Jo Jo White; he averaged 21.5 points per playoff game.
The Celtics are in a state of flux. After Boston’s early postseason demise, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge announced his retirement after 18 seasons of running the franchise. Coach Brad Stevens is moving to the front office to take over as the director of basketball ops. He’ll lead the search for a new coach.
This much is certain: as the Celtics transition to what’s next, they’ll lean on Tatum as their centerpiece. They are fortunate to have him.
“The kid is one hell of a player,” veteran Boston center Tristan Thompson said of Tatum. Thompson had a key role on Cleveland’s 2016 NBA championship team led by LeBron James. Thompson envisions sustained excellence for Tatum.
“One day he’ll be holding an MVP trophy,” Thompson said. “That’s his potential. He has a chance to be the best in our game. If you ask LeBron and the older guys, Jayson Tatum is a good person to pass the torch to. Then the league is in good hands.”
10) Enigmatic Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko has given Russia a boost at the IIHF hockey world championship tournament, helping the Russians reach the quarterfinals for a match against Team Canada. Reports on Tarasenko are positive, and that’s an encouraging development for the Blues.
At first I wasn’t sure if it made sense for Tarasenko to join Russia after the Blues’ drubbing by Colorado. What if he suffered another injury? Tarasenko’s career has already been damaged, and sidetracked, by three shoulder surgeries.
But more than anything Tarasenko needs to play, and that’s why Blues GM Doug Armstrong was in favor of No. 91’s participation in the IIHF tournament.
Including the postseason Tarasenko has played in only 42 of the Blues’ ensuing 140 games since the end of the 2019 Stanley Cup run. By playing Tarasenko will sharpen up and gain confidence. And the Blues can get another look at his progress. I see no reason to expose Tarasenko to the Seattle expansion draft and risk getting nothing for him. He’s a risk, yes. But if he can get back to normal, Tarasenko’s high-impact talent would be a substantial factor in the Blues’ mission to improve next season. And it’s a gamble worth taking.
Thanks for reading …
Please check out Bernie’s sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen live online and download the Bernie Show podcast at 590thefan.com … the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.
Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz
For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.