MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

August 3, 2008

COLUMN: Sooner lessons and other random thoughts...

By Mike Kays

When he signed his letter of intent in February, Muskogee’s Jameel Owens said he was promised No. 4, his number as a Rougher and also the number vacated by OU-ex Malcolm Kelly.

Alas, the team’s roster shows him sharing Kelly’s old number with redshirt freshman Corey Wilson (Carrollton, Texas). Stacy McGee’s number is 92. It was 50 when the other 2008 Rougher to ink with OU and Owens finished up at MHS.

We’re hoping to hear from these guys, along with Muskogee redshirt freshman Jontae Bumpus at OU’s Media Day on Wednesday. Sooners coach Bob Stoops normally has a policy against freshman talking to the media before they play in a game. We’ll see if an exception is made.

Meanwhile, here’s hoping these guys stay grounded in light of the events surrounding Josh Jarboe, dismissed by Stoops on Friday after the player appeared in a 74-second, profanity-laced video in which he rapped about guns and shooting people. The video is circulating on the Internet and appears to have been filmed in a university athletic dormitory, according to Associated Press reports.

The talk shows have been filled with debate about this dismissal. Does it step on Jarboe’s freedom of speech right, as one argument goes? In a way, yes.

But Jarboe put his right to utter video phrases like “I’ll shoot your a-- up like a damn pool table” right behind the 8-ball with his weapons charge earlier in the year, and Stoops decided there would be no re-rack.

“We outlined for Josh the expectations we had for him when he arrived and, unfortunately, those expectations have not been met. Josh needs to learn from this experience. We hope he can move forward in a positive manner,” Stoops said.

End of subject, and good for Stoops. Setting expectations are justified when you’re investing thousands for a kid’s athletic and academic future. Jarboe scratched on two experiences in a year’s time — not a good start for someone with so much promise.

But it’s a good reminder for our guys and any other athlete with such an open door of opportunity.



From the mailbag



A Florida fan of Sequoyah High School e-mailed me following the All-State girls basketball games Wednesday night, taking offense to our staff report that read as follows, “Fort Gibson’s Kendra Dean walked out of her last high school game a winner. Sequoyah’s Angel Goodrich and Lorin Hammer didn’t.” Dean and the Large School East won their game, Goodrich, Hammer and the Small School East didn’t.

Sure this was an All-State game, where selection is a victory in itself. But even in these games, there’s winners and losers. Somehow, we’ve gotten to the point that to make that distinction devalues a person. That’s silly.

The e-mailer also took contention with our mentioning the last time they were together on a basketball court in these parts as relevant to Wednesday’s game. Goodrich and Hammer were part of the Sequoyah team that lost to Millwood, as the article said, for a fourth consecutive state championship in Class 3A. Digesting fully the remark, one should draw from it that to lose a fourth, they had to win three.

Somehow, some way, I think the girls will survive. They’re both on their way to Division I colleges with plenty of wins — probably more than losses — in their future.



Heart and toe



Another situation where losing a championship isn’t so bad: You have to hand it to Daniel Shoemake of Muskogee. While he wasn’t one of two area champions at the World Classic Muay Thai Amateur Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, as recently reported, his second-place finish should forever carry an asterisk.

At 13, he made it to the finals with a broken toe on his right foot, or his predominant kicking foot, suffered five days before the meet. He’s ranked No. 2 in that class for the season and is the son of Gary and Jennifer Shoemake.

“His talent is going to take him far but his hard-working attitude and heart is going to make him a champion in this sport,” said his coach, Kru Ty, owner of Thunder Mixed Martial Arts



Georgia peachy



Here’s a different version of the seemingly out-of-hand alphabet game of national tournaments in youth baseball and softball — the ASAs, USSSAs, NBCs and others — where one or two states can fill a national field: a group of local kids playing for a Georgia team.

Trevor Walch of Eufaula, Matt Helms of Eufaula and Dusten Knight of Tahlequah played for the Triple Crown National Tournament champion Georgia Roadrunners out of north Atlanta late Friday in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the 40-team 18-under division. They took the title with an 8-7 win against Team Georgia out of nearby Marietta, Ga..

Matt Helms, son of Eufaula coach Stacy Helms, was 7-of-16 in the tourney, 3-for-4 in an earlier round game on Thursday against the Indiana Shockers. Walch struck out six batters, walked six and gave four earned runs in two games. He had a no decision after pitching three innings of the title game.

Tahlequah’s Dusten Knight pitched one inning of relief in title game. Oktaha’s Cale Elam and Eufaula’s Ethan Sharp were on the team but returned home before season’s end due to other obligations.