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February 13, 2015

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Page 16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY 13, 2015  | Happy President's Day to All of My Boxing Friends In honor of President's Day I have gathered Some photographs of boxers with some of the Presidents of the United States. I hope you enjoy them and I wish all of you a very Happy President's Day Richard Nixon, Rocky Marciaxlo, John F. Kennedy Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Carter Ronald Reagan and Muhammad Ali George H.W. Bush and Floyd Patterson Ronald Reagan and George Foreman Bill Clinton and Muhammad Ali Joe DiMaggio, Dwight ]isenhower, Marciano Rocky Tony Janiro and Harry S. Truman Theodore Roosevelt John Ruiz and George W. Bush A TIMELY LEGACY- It was a strategy that won games, frustrated opponents and often resulted in vocal calls of derision from fans of the team that found itself trailing in the closing moments to basketball powerhouse North Carolina. If done to perfection there was little action, just passing the ball around from team- mate to teammate on the -perimeter as the precious minutes and seconds ticked away on the clock, bringing victory ever closer. It was the "four corners" offense, a tac- tic employed as the game neared its conclusion. That's what it was like to play North Carolina when it was led by Head Coach Dean Smith, a basketball coaching legend and Hall of Famer who died February 7 th at the age of 83. A man who grew up on the plains of Kansas, he al- ways played within the rules, regarded players as family and never used profanity in practices or games. In his 36 years at the helm, his program was never accused of any violations by the NCAA. Some 97 percent of his players graduated. But woe to the opponent who fell behind the Tar Heels in a tight game with less than five minutes or so remaining. Then, if North Carolina re- gained possession, a classic contest could abruptly be transformed into a passing drill on the perimeter as Smith ordered his squad to hold the ball rather than seek another shot attempt. The only way an opponent could get the ball back under such circumstances was to foul an NC player or (rarely) intercept a pass. Dean Smith's teams knew the drill well, carried it out almost to perfection and increased Smith's career win total by successfully employing it. The shot clock, introduced into men's college basketball in 1985 (45 seconds from 1985 through 1993, 35 sec- onds since then) effectively ended "four corners" as a realistic strategy. The tactic wasn't outlawed. But now, any possession is limited to no more than 35 seconds, rendering the use of "four corners" impractical. So, every time you see a college game on television and the shot clock runs down, you'll think of Dean Smith, a basketball immortal whose strategy in the game's clos- ing moments leaves a legacy that probably will last as long as the game itself. NOTHING TO BE PROUD OF -- When Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said on national television that he had not read a book since the ninth grade, it was a state- ment that generated many questions. Gronkowski grew up in the Buffalo, N.Y. suburbs and attended Williamsville North High School for three years before transferring to Wood- land Hills High School (out- side Pittsburgh) for his senior var. After obtaining his diploma from Woodland Hills (we refuse to say graduated), he enrolled at the University of Arizona where he played two seasons and was listed as a pre-business major in his official athletic depart- ment biography. He was drafted by the Patriots in 2010. Since, by his own admis- sion, he has not read a book since the ninth grade, we wonder how he passed his sophomore and junior year classes at Williamsville. An additional question is how he successfully completed his senior year at Woodland Hills and obtained a diploma. We wonder what his scores were on the SAT exam. We also wonder how he was able to gain admission to Arizona and then pass two years of classes there, thus remain- ing eligible to play football. Another question should center around the high school and college faculty members who had Gronkow- ski in class. How could such a student pass the classes taught by those faculty mem- bers? Indeed, how could a student pass two years of classes at the University of Arizona without reading any books at all? This sad situation doesn't reflect well on those faculty members and the adminis- trators of those institutions who now must attempt to explain how a student could somehow meet their stan- dards without reading a book since the ninth grade. We would love to hear an expla- nation, but we doubt one will be forthcoming. A FOOTNOTE FALLS -- It was a minor statistic, but it did stand for something. It meant that the Bruins had not experienced the most significant embarrassment that can occur on a power play. For as the B's entered the contest against the Dallas Stars at the Garden on February 10th, no team had scored a shorthanded goal against the Black and Gold this season. In fact, the Bruins had a singular dis- tinction in that category. As the B's started their 54 m game of the season, every other team in the NHL had allowed at least one short- handed tally during the course of the 2014-2015 cam- paign. The singular exception was the Bruins. That changed during the game with Dallas as the Stars found the range for not one but two shorthanded scores in a 5-3 victory over the B's. The loss also meant two vital points went by the boards as the race for the two wild cards slots in the Eastern Confer- ence grew tighter. Now they face a challeng- ing five-game road trip. By the time they return to Causeway Street on February 24 'h %r a ame against Vancouver we should know what shape the Bruins will be in for the home stretch of the season in .'arch and April.