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Blinded me with science - Bob Parasiliti column

February 12, 2002

Blinded me with science

By Bob Parasiliti



Writing about sports isn't an exact science.

Believe me, I'm no scientist. I have to cards and letters (e-mails, too) coming in to remind me. "Fan" mail aside, sports is complex subject. Sure, it is all fun and games for the most part, but many story lines are weaved through the fiber of the event. It's like an organized soap opera.

Everyone covering or attending games has an opinion of its important points. For fans, games are the best conversation starter over the beverage of choice.

That conflict of views also explains why no two newspaper or broadcast report is alike. Personally, I've come away from many a game with more than one angle or story. The problem is usually finding the time and space to publish them.

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So, many of that extra information is forced to be saved until I get a beverage of choice.

Here is one of those times. So, crack open a soda while some of my mental inventory of random thoughts come to light.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> The time has come to give Bill Belichick his due as an NFL coach and a defensive mastermind. I knew all he needed was time to prove it.

Years ago, now-Ravens owner Art Modell hired Belichick to coach the Cleveland Browns. It was definitely a no-win situation.

I remember being impressed by Belichick's credentials, even in my formative years as a Cleveland fan. I was in the minority.

Needless to say, Belichick became - and still is - one of the most hated figures in Cleveland sports history. He didn't endear himself to the Cleveland media with his starched demeanor and his closed-lipped interview answers. The contempt came through in reports and columns and became public opinion.

Add to it Belichick - with Modell's blessing - took the ball out of beloved quarterback Bernie Kosar's hands. The move incensed Cleveland fans, sealing Belichick's unpopular fate.

Despite those public relations gaffes, it was obvious that Belichick had a knack for stifling defensive gameplans. Later, in that quiet style, he made his mark as Bill Parcell's assistant with the New York Giants and a scheme to stop Buffalo 20-19 in Super Bowl XXVI (with the help of Scott Norwood's missed kick).

Remember? It was the game when New York's offense slowed the pace of the game while Belichick's defense maintained the tempo and punished the Bills with hard hits everytime they touched the ball.

Sound familiar? St. Louis coach and offensive whiz Mike Martz must have missed that edition of Super Bowl Memories on ESPN before last week's 20-17 loss.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> For my press pass, St. Maria Goretti's Matt Tanner and North Hagerstown's Scott Rice are two players who deserve high praise.

Granted, I haven't seen every team in the area, but I enjoy watching both of them play. Both are unselfish, yet know when to take over a game. They don't have to score to have an effect on their team ... each will rebound, pass and play defense to do their part. They are calm and confident.

The thing I personally like the most is neither seem to have that "look at me" attitude on the floor. In an era when every player wants to be an ESPN highlight, Tanner and Rice play an all-around game ... the way it should be played.

To me, both are a pleasure to watch and cover.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Many fans don't realize it, but Hagerstown Community College's Marlys Palmer runs one of the classiest programs around.

That fact became undeniably clear last Wednesday when the Hawks faced Chesapeake, a school which only dressed five players.

Palmer called off the dogs before they got out of the Kennelrun. She kept her usual starting five on the bench the entire game, using only her reserves. Dana Kline played all 40 minutes.

Palmer took the opportunity to reward reserves for their work with minutes on the floor. The got the chance to run plays in game situations, which can only improve the Hawks come tournament time.

HCC still won handily, but it would have been much worse and more humiliating had Palmer used her starters - even sparingly. There are some coaches who would have taken advantage of the situation to win by 100.

Sometimes, restraint is the better part of valor.

In all three cases - Belichick, Tanner and Rice and Palmer - how you win is as important as winning itself.

More people should realize that only two letters separates "class" from being the "butt" of criticism.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310 or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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