It’s summer and, after a pretty pleasant beginning to June, someone has finally cranked up the heat on the Crescent City and now we’re all greeting each other on St. Charles Avenue pretending there’s not a stream of sweat running down our backs. Which is why a lot of folks hit the road for a summer break from the swelter and a nice respite. With the hellfire known as August bearing down upon New Orleans, a wave of kids — fresh meat — will hit the city’s campuses as well. The same goes for the sports world, I guess, as the New Orleans Pelicans and Tulane Green Wave have had some interesting arrivals and departures over the past few weeks.
It’s also about staying. In an off-season where the Pelicans were looking to improve their talent around the dynamic duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins the NBA free agency period provided not a bang but a whimper.
The Pelicans biggest signing was the re-signing of point guard Jrue Holiday. The former first round pick in 2009, signed an eye popping 5-year, $126 million contract.
And that was considered a bargain for the Pelicans, if the team had lost Holiday's services they would have had difficulty signing a player of Holiday’s caliber (better than average) for less than that amount. The Pelicans now need Holiday to give them a full season of play which may be a lot to ask from a player who, according to si.com, has missed 37 percent of the teams games over the last four seasons. This is all another example of why you should never raise your kids to be football players.
The Pelicans will potentially have another familiar face coming back as former Kentucky Wildcat Darius Miller returns to the club after three seasons. The Pelicans need someone to be able to hit a shot from outside and Miller has evidently improved that part of his game playing with Brose Bamberg (and winning some championships). So that will be the third Wildcat on the Pelicans and, lo and behold, former first round pick of the Boston Celtics, James Young, is trying to make the team as well.
It’s hard to figure out what goes on behind the green curtains of a program. Sometimes things don’t add up or maybe they are misread. Which, I will admit, could be the current situation with the Green Wave baseball team. If you read this column, you know I am a big supporter of Tulane baseball. Hell, getting to watch them at Turchin stadium has turned me into a college baseball fanatic. Be that as it may, since the baseball season’s conclusion there have been a few incidents that are, shall we say, unsettling.
The first blow came when J.P. France announced he would transfer to Mississippi State. France, as a graduate student, will be immediately eligible to pitch for the Bulldogs. The decision came just a few weeks after France had gone through Senior Day festivities with the Green Wave. So, it’s surprising. Especially given the fact that one could argue that France’s veteran leadership, coupled with Ross Massey’s disastrous sophomore season (0-8, 9.68 ERA), would have made France the team’s Friday starter. Instead, he elected to move on to greener pastures in Starkville.
Even more surprising was the June 30 announcement that freshman pitcher Chase Solesky was leaving the team. Solesky matched an impressive composure with solid stats in his only season with the Green Wave. Solesky (3.84 ERA) went 5-3 in 25 appearances with eight starts for Tulane. In his sophomore campaign, Solesky would have been penciled in as a weekend starter. So, that’s surprising as well.
But why did this happen?
Message boards and pundits point to players’ families not being able to afford tuition without getting a “full ride.” The NCAA only grants 11.7 scholarships for a squad, so there are going to be some guys having to foot a significant bill. I think there is some truth to that.
I also think that’s the way it has always been and this was a rough season for Tulane and maybe there is a lack of faith in the team’s coaches after a tumultuous season that saw a Green Wave team with a ton of returning, veteran leadership bottom out under first year head coach Travis Jewett. Make no mistake about it, when a team goes from winning a conference championship to a losing record (27-31) it’s no stretch of the imagination to think there is an angry wave rolling through the locker room.
We just don’t know and, at this point, have to hope for the best as a new crop of players will replace this year’s team in Uptown.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Nola Brewing’s “Green Wave” Beer
Playlist Recommendation: The Greencards – “Movin’ On”
Around the Way
Some folks just leave the old-fashioned way — by graduation or just chasing those greenbacks. As college players scatter into the ranks of the minor league, if you’re a LSU fan, then your new favorite team is the Vermont Mountaineers. The team is now home to former pitcher Jared Poche and, the pride of Metairie, Greg Deichmann, both members of the Oakland Athletics organization. So, check ‘em out while you can and follow along as they battle teams with such cool names as the Swamp Bats, Steeplecats and Muskrats. Yes, those are real.