Second Thoughts: Bar has been raised for Grant’s homecoming

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 25: Head coach Anthony Grant of the Alabama Crimson Tide coaches from the bench during the CBE Hall Of Fame Classic consolation game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sprint Center on November 25, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 25: Head coach Anthony Grant of the Alabama Crimson Tide coaches from the bench during the CBE Hall Of Fame Classic consolation game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sprint Center on November 25, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Our Girl Scout cookies arrived last week and I was excited to get a couple boxes of Tagalongs. Never got into the thin mint craze. Our neighborhood scout Erin has a couple years of selling left, but what does a hungry guy do when the girls age out? There’s gotta be an app for that.

The reaction on my street to UD's hiring of Anthony Grant was mixed. Some people loved it, some didn't. How times change. When Archie Miller was introduced six years ago nobody had heard of the guy, but Flyer fans were happy. They just wanted to be rid of Brian Gregory and his three-man weave. Now the bar has been raised.

I like the Grant hire, if for no other reason than to lower the blood pressure of the Flyer Faithful, which for years has had to sweat it out in March when rumors began circulating about their coach. (It seems comical now, but years ago Gregory was rumored to be going to Notre Dame to take over for an embattled Mike Brey, who has proven to be one of best coaches in the country.)

Grant is a guy who will be comfortable roaming the UD sidelines, hopefully for many years. He’s not old (50) but he’s not one of those young guns athletic directors just have to have to pacify big boosters. Grant can recruit and he obviously can coach. Just ask Coach K, whose Dukies fell to Grant’s VCU upstarts in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

Grant spent three successful years at VCU before going to Alabama, where he had one losing season in the long shadow of a guy named Saban. Grant was the guy who set up Shaka Smart, who went to the Final Four in his second season at VCU. The only downside to this hire: Grant can’t bring Russell Westbrook with him from Oklahoma City.

Grant’s initial challenge will be to put a respectable team on the floor next season. The incoming recruiting class isn’t strong, and its crown jewel could be following Archie to Indiana. McKinley Wright, a hot-shot point guard from Minneapolis, is wavering. And if there’s one huge position of need for the Flyers, it’s point guard. Maybe Grant can lasso a graduate transfer or dip into the JUCO ranks. The next signing period starts April 12.

The Reds' rebuilding program continues this season, and it might take longer to complete than the Arcade. First pitch is Monday at Great American Ball Park. The boys in Vegas don't think Cincinnati has made any progress. Their "over-under" in the sports books is 70.5 — for the second straight year. That means if you bet the "over" and the Reds win 71 games, you win.

The Reds won 68 games last year, their worst season since, well, 2015. They were rebuilding that year, too. I think I read that Cincinnati has seven rookies on the roster (and one is named Rookie, LOL) and that Bronson Arroyo is scheduled to pitch next week in St. Louis? I’m going to bet the mortgage on the under.

The NIT wrapped up Thursday night with TCU steamrolling Georgia Tech 88-56 in Madison Square Garden. People make fun of the NIT, but you can't tell me the TCU kids would have rather made the NCAA Tournament and lost in the first round.

Tech coach Josh Pastner embraced the NIT. He even paid for Tech students’ tickets to the Yellow Jackets’ first-round game against Indiana. Maybe he had bonus money tied to winning a few games, or maybe he’s just a good guy.


Knucklehead of the Week

Argentina soccer star Lionel Messi has been suspended for four World Cup qualifying matches for yelling at an official during a match with Chile. He must have really let it fly because FIFA probably would prefer that its biggest names play instead of sit. Messi “vehemently” denies any wrongdoing and said he was yelling at the air. I get that; I do that all the time when I’m cleaning my gutters. Anyway, Argentina’s soccer federation honchos have a great team of lawyers working on an appeal.

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