Phil Jackson evaluates Syracuse basketball’s Final Four loss to Michigan on Twitter

Phil Jackson on Twitter

Former NBA coaches Kurt Rambis, left, and Phil Jackson live-tweeted the 2013 Final Four games and offered thoughts on Syracuse basketball. (Photo via @JeanieBuss)


The 2013 NCAA Tournament has come to an end for the Syracuse basketball team after the Michigan Wolverines beat the Orange 61-56 on Saturday night. It marked the end of Jim Boeheim’s fantastic postseason turnaround after an embarrassing 61-39 loss to Georgetown on March 9 — SU went on to the Big East Championship and then defied bracket expectations with a run to the Final Four, and everyone’s looking for answers why Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair, Brandon Triche and the rest of the Orange aren’t playing Louisville for the championship.

“Zen Master” Phil Jackson, one man who knows about winning, may have the answers. In his first attempt at live-tweeting, the legendary NBA coach shared his thoughts during both Final Four games (the first being between Wichita State and Louisville) while hanging out with former Los Angeles Lakers star Kurt Rambis.

“Don’t know who to pick as fav in this game..opponents must have a good game plan vs @Cuse must have high/low active posts vs the zone AND good shooter and rebounders and Michigan has the shooters,” Jackson wrote in a series of tweets. “Orange people are very quick defensively, but Cardinals and Orange teams met in the Big East finals and played during regular season… vs zones one if it’s a 2-3 zone you must mismatch point gd offense-if it’s a 1-3-1 must use 2 gd front.”

Some more highlights from the 67-year-old basketball guru’s live-tweeting of the Syracuse-Michigan showdown:

  • He didn’t offer NBA scouting reports on other players, but said Syracuse’s Carter-Williams “is a nice looking player-good size, handle, and can shoot from range… I’ve been educated on MCW, but he has the right form and I like his stroke.”
  • On Michigan’s Mitch McGary “Kurt and I laughed at the same time when McGary flinched on that pass @KRambis”
  • SU’s leading scorer C.J. “Fair is more than a Fair shooter…he’s good”
  • On momentum: “mo is on the orange side and it’s going to be a tight one”
  • On the Wolverines in the second half: “Poor shot selection by that yellow team…” and “Two bad plays by Michigan…McGary got up in the air to pass and then that 2 on 1 break-you must pass the ball” and “even if that was their last time out coach Beinlein had to get control of team. OOPs what was that call…?”
  • On UM’s defensive strategy for the last 15 seconds of the game: “Can’t let Orange get a 3 off…foul on the floor, but under 10secs…”
  • After backup guard Trevor Cooney tanked a layup attempt to tie the game: “Well-well it’s over and so am I…thanks for the intercourse all you bball fans.”

Jackson, who just joined the social network 10 days ago, is still learning how to share his thoughts in 140 characters or less but has already been verified on Twitter and gained more than 230,000 followers since his first (somewhat nonsensical) post explaining why he’s @PhilJackson11 and not another number: “11 champ;ipnsikp[ ringhs.” (The former coach of teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls has 11 NBA championship rings and, as you might have guessed, @PhilJackson and @Phil_Jackson are already taken by other users on the site.)

“How many people know what a wheat shock really is? @krambis when I was a kid I helped my uncle bring in the harvest-he used a threasher,” he wrote during the Wichita State-Louisville game, explaining the Kansas-based team’s name of the Shockers. “First you had to cut the grain and put in in a shock and then transport it to the threasher. the combine did all the jobs at one time.”

So welcome to Twitter, Mr. Jackson. And thanks for sharing your thoughts on the end of an unforgettable season for Syracuse basketball fans. We’ll see Boeheim back as coach in the ACC next year — and I’ll be back with more lipreading tweets during games. And hopefully we’ll all see Jackson back coaching in the NBA soon.

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Syracuse basketball’s Jim Boeheim retiring? How tweeting on the wrong account can really screw things up

Syracuse University's official Twitter account posted a link to a blog rumor about Jim Boeheim's possible retirement. The tweet has since been deleted.

Syracuse University’s official Twitter account posted a link to a blog rumor about Jim Boeheim’s possible retirement. The tweet has since been deleted.

Is Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim retiring? Yes, eventually. Is he retiring at the end of the 2012-13 season? Possibly.

The 68-year-old curmudgeon captain has more than 900 wins, all of them with the Orange(men), and all good things must come to an end eventually. But hopefully this isn’t how it ends.

A tweet posted by @SyracuseU, the official Twitter account for Syracuse University, wrote: “Did I just watch Jim Boeheim’s last game in the Carrier Dome? One source says yes.” It included a link to DYST Now, which stands for Did You See That?! and claims to be “Syracuse’s First All-Sports Newspaper.”

Truthfully, it’s a blog. Written by a college freshman at Onondaga Community College. Whose bio says he’s “been fortunate enough to interview several famous people/players such as famous broadcaster, Bob Costas, the first African American NBA player, Earl Lloyd, NFL player, Chandler Jones, as well as many more professional and collegiate athletes.”

The blog entry that SU’s tweet linked to is filled with similar punctuation and grammar errors. It claims “a source close to DYST Now” told the blogger that Syracuse has asked Boeheim to retire in the wake of another unsubstantiated rumor that Athletics Director Daryl Gross is meeting with the NCAA about violations related to last year’s team. At the end, it promises readers “We’ll have update you more as more of this story comes out.”

In other words, DON’T BELIEVE A WORD OF IT.

But the fact that @SyracuseU tweeted a link to it threw a can of gasoline on the fire, leading to a report on Deadspin and likely countless other major sports reporting outlets. As Deadspin even notes, “Everything about this is weird, and the @SyracuseU tweet has since been deleted. The DYST Now page is certainly of questionable authority, but why did Syracuse link to it?”

The answer is that Syracuse University, like many other brands, lets students handle the brand’s official account. This is a mistake. A student made a similar mistake for the school when they tweeted about how excited they were to eat some Chick-fil-A over November break on @SyracuseU’s account. Not only is there no Chick-fil-A restaurant within 100 miles of Syracuse, N.Y., the chain also hasn’t been cast in a favorable light public relations-wise recently.

Basically, it happens when social media accounts are shared by multiple users, where people accidentally post stuff they meant to put on their personal account.

As public relations firm Tanner Friedman writes, “This trouble didn’t start at the moment of careless students tweeting. It started because our culture has anointed college students as ‘social media experts.'” Students should not be managing accounts that represent a professional brand, especially one that’s worth millions of dollars.

Of course professionals can make mistakes, too. Professionals are people, and “to err is human.” But when a mistake is made, a professional can correct it quickly and handle the ensuing PR crisis or face the risk of losing their job. If a student mis-tweets, they’re not going to be kicked out of school.

In conclusion, do not worry about Jim Boeheim. He’s leaving eventually, and Syracuse alumni and fans will have to deal with that, but not now. At the very least, the Orange have an NCAA Tournament to worry about first.

And if you need further reassurance, SU spokesman Pete Moore told the Syracuse Post-Standard it’s not true.

Update: A little more than two hours after the Twitter drama started, @SyracuseU posted an official statement: “#OrangeNation: Earlier tonight a tweet was mistakenly sent. Nothing in the tweet was true or accurate and we apologize for the confusion.”

Update No. 2: The gaffe has now become an Associated Press story, and the 19-year-old author of the blog post tells The Post-Standard he’s sticking by his report, claiming his unidentified source also proved to be right about Dion Waiters going pro.

Update No. 3: Some have told me they still believe students should manage the school’s official Twitter account, because they’re students and should be able to learn. My opinion? Let them create an account for a fake brand and learn that way. A brand’s official social media account is, in today’s world, the same as an official spokesperson or public relations director — which are never students. A professional can respond to the mistake faster and minimize the damage before a non-story becomes a story, and be held responsible whereas a student won’t be fired or expelled. And, again, this isn’t the first time this has happened. As TNIAAM points out, a @SyracuseU tweet in 2011 violated NCAA guidelines when they celebrated DaJuan Coleman coming to ‘Cuse before he had signed a letter of intent.

Divorced Syracuse basketball fan wants custody of kids for day of NCAA Championship if SU is playing

Divorced Syracuse basketball fan wants custody of kids for day of NCAA Championship if SU is playing

In a divorce agreement, a Syracuse basketball fan (like the one pictured above) wants custody of his kids for the day of the NCAA title game… if SU is playing.

As a child of divorce and a Syracuse University alumnus, I couldn’t help but share this story about a truly die-hard SU basketball fan.

An Illinois man, identified only as Michael by Yahoo! Sports’ The Dagger, has made an unusual (and awesome, if you’re a sports fan) request in his child custody agreement. After divorcing, his ex-wife requested custody of their son and daughter for several Jewish holidays, Thanksgiving and Labor Day.

Most other holidays, including the kids’ birthdays, are divided up evenly or shared but dad wants 7-year-old Julia and 5-year-old Liam every Easter, St. Patrick’s Day and the day of two sporting events: Super Bowl Sunday and the “NCAA Men’s Basketball Final until end of game if Syracuse is in.”

That’s right, the father is demanding custody of his children for the NCAA Championship game if Syracuse is playing for the men’s college basketball title. A screenshot of the agreement can be seen at Cuse Country.

“Even though Syracuse has only won the title once and it may not happen for another 20 years, it’s something that’s really important to me,” Michael told The Dagger. “It’s not a holiday exactly, but it is holy to me. Other people define themselves by their religion or race. Frankly, Syracuse sports, especially basketball, football and lacrosse, are a big part of my heritage.”

And even though he now lives 700 miles from Central New York, Michael says he continues to teach his children to root for Syracuse. He even dressed them in SU sports gear and watches Syracuse football and basketball games with them.

According to The Dagger, Michael never attended Syracuse University but grew up in Syracuse rooting for the Orange when they were still called the Orangemen. In grade school, he and his family gathered to watch former SU basketball stars like Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Billy Owens and Rony Seikaly.

Of course, the only time Syracuse won the Big Dance was against Kansas in 2003 under head coach Jim Boeheim, with current NBA all-star (and Team USA Olympic player!) Carmelo Anthony. However, Huffington Post notes that SU’s strong performance this past season and already high predictions for the 2012-13 season, Michael just might get to see his kids on the day of the next NCAA title game.

As a fellow fan who bleeds Orange, I always hope Syracuse’s sports teams win big so I’m rooting for Michael’s request. I was a freshman at the school when Hakim Warrick blocked the shot in the final seconds of the 2003 championship, so I got spoiled early. As someone whose own parents are divorced, I don’t see anything wrong with the agreement — unless it’s a nasty jab at his ex-wife for being a fan of one of SU’s rivals, like Georgetown, UConn or whoever will be next in the ACC… which would just makes it more awesome. Go SU!

Lipreading and live-tweeting: Bring something unique to Twitter during events

Lipreading: Examples of sounds and what mouths look like when saying them

Lipreading: Examples of sounds and what mouths look like when saying them

Twitter is an increasingly fun way to watch live events on TV. By following live-tweets with a #hashtag, you can be watching alone in your pajamas but feel like you’re at a party with thousands of fellow fans who are making interesting observations and comments.

That being said, there’s an important rule for live-tweeting any event — if it’s on TV and being watched by millions, DO NOT TWEET A PLAY-BY-PLAY. Posting “I can’t believe she won that award!” or “And Otis Spunkmeyer passes it to Scrooge McDuck, who scores and puts the Lone Rangers on top” serves no value to a nationally televised event considering other people can watch the same thing — its redundant and annoying. Use Twitter to add a third dimension to the game or show by posting original content or unique reactions.

With that in mind, I started live-tweeting Syracuse University basketball games with #lipreading tweets of what players and coaches, especially Jim Boeheim, are saying when the TV shows close-ups of their faces. Since there’s no audio from them in those shots, I’m adding an extra element to the game that viewers who aren’t deaf and hard-of-hearing likely can’t follow.

I got the idea for specifically focusing on tweeting lipreading (or lip reading, speechreading) from a German deaf woman, Julia Probst, who reads the lips of soccer players and coaches during matches and tweets them, providing fans with a running dialogue that they would otherwise not be privy to. It’s made me enjoy sports more and I hope to continue it with Orange football this fall and other teams I’m a fan of, like the Boston Celtics, New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox.

Some examples of lipreading live-tweets I’ve posted:

  • #Lipreading Jim Boeheim: “That’s a flagrant…” after Rutgers fouled Dion Waiters #GoOrange #BeatRutgers
  • #Lipreading Jim Boeheim: “Are you kidding me? … [not nice words] Come on, Brandon!” #GoOrange #BeatWVU
  • CJ Fair clearly said “F***, man” after he was fouled. He looks WAY too young for that kind of language. #lipreading #babyface
  • #Lipreading Jim Boeheim: “Listen. LISTEN! You can’t be fouling like that…” to SU’s Rakeem Christmas #GoOrange #BeatWVU.

Everyone can lipread a little bit, whether they realize it or not — being hard-of-hearing, I did speech therapy as a kid so I could understand speech (as well as speak it better). Lipreading is simply the visual interpretation of the movements of the lips, face and tongue. Without hearing aids, I’m 90% deaf but with lipreading, context and residual hearing I can follow conversations pretty well most of the time.

If you can’t lipread, don’t feel bad — just add something different when live-tweeting an event. Give people a reason to follow you on Twitter.

A few additional notes on lipreading or speechreading:

  • So many sounds and shapes look exactly the same, which means only about 30 to 40 percent of speech is accurately visible. “Get the mail” and “Catch the pail” look very similar, for example, and obviously have completely different meanings. Oftentimes, lipreading is only accurate with context (such as listening with hearing aids) and/or visual cues. For example, if a basketball player just made a bad play, you know the coach is more likely to say “That was stupid, don’t do that” than “Taco soup is delicious.”
  • When communicating with a deaf/HOH person, face them and speak clearly and naturally. People change the way they talk all the time — resting your chin on your hand affects speech, as does gum, mustaches, tongue-piercings, talking out of the side of your mouth, etc. Also, when people talk faster or slower it makes it harder to lipread and, when people yell, their mouths get wider and it becomes very difficult to see what they are saying. (Translation: Shouting at deaf people doesn’t help them understand you.) It’s very difficult to read lips on a person’s face/mouth that’s constantly moving or is facing in another direction, too.
  • While many references to hard-of-hearing in comedy lean offensive (i.e. the basketball coach near the beginning of “Van Wilder”) lipreading can be very funny. Marlee Matlin, the only deaf actress to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, starred in a “Seinfeld” episode as a tennis lineswoman who dates Jerry and helps George lipread another woman’s conversation from across the room while Kramer interprets for her in sign language. She thought they said “Let’s sleep together” when they said “Let’s sweep together” — which actually isn’t a likely mistake for a deaf person to make as “sw” and “sl” form very different mouth shapes, but was still a funny example of how a subtle misinterpretation can change an entire conversation’s meaning. For more outrageous (though unlikely) lipreading mistakes, check out “Bad Lip Reading.”

‘Linsanity’: 17 reasons why the Jeremy Lin media obsession is perfectly rational

Even Jeremy Lin is jumping with 'Linsanity.'

Even Jeremy Lin is jumping with 'Linsanity.'

Everyone, especially the media, has become obsessed with New York Knicks breakout star Jeremy Lin. Headlines everywhere are filled with awesome puns about his ‘Lincredible’ basketball skills or his ‘Linsane’ fans but I, even as a Celtics fan, am OK with it. In fact, the media obsession is perfectly rational, and here’s 17 reasons why:

1. The little guy that finally got a chance. At 6’3″ and 200 pounds, he’s not your likely NBA star, especially next to Knicks stars Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. But when Amare took a week off for a death in his family and ‘Melo was injured, Lin stepped up. Big time.

2. Fans catching ‘Linsanity.’ I believe media should report on what audiences care about and, in one week, Jeremy Lin sparked higher ticket prices than last year’s “Melodrama” when the former Syracuse University star first joined the Knicks. His #17 jersey was #1 in the NBA Store this past week, and celebrities like Mike Tyson, Whoopi Goldberg and Mary J. Blige were all spotted at Wednesday night’s game.

3. Harvard University. Far too many professional athletes make academics a small part of their lives — Kobe Bryant skipped college altogether, for crying out loud. Kids look up to sports stars, so it’s nice to see they may start wearing jerseys or hang posters of a guy who had a 4.2 GPA in high school and not only finished college, but graduated with a degree in economics at one of the most prestigious colleges in the world.

4. MSG controversy. Time Warner Cable’s contract with MSG lapsed January 1 after the cable company refused to pay an extra 53 percent, meaning 2.8 million subscribers in New York couldn’t watch Lin until the dispute ended February 17.

5. Talent. You can refuse to believe the hype, but the fact is Lin scored 136 points in his first five career starts, the most by any player since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. He may not have Rajon Rondo’s speed or LeBron James’ strength, but he’s Ivy League smart and can make shots when he needs to — just ask Jose Calderon.

6. Elevates the team. When Stoudemire returned Tuesday, Lin switched to passing — he’s averaged 12 assists in the past two games, and you can expect it to go up when leading scorer Anthony returns from a groin injury. New York also had seven players score in double digits for the first time in 2+ years.

7. Fresh star in an unexciting season. Until Lin emerged, the lockout-shortened season slogged along with too many games crammed in, leading to tired/injured players. Sadly, the most exciting things to happen were either LBJ and Blake Griffin’s back-to-back dunks or Will Ferrell’s hilarious player introductions at a New Orleans Hornets game.

8. First Asian NBA star since Yao Ming. Lin, a Taiwanese-American, is in the minority in the league, but Toronto saw a rare sellout crowd Tuesday thanks to the city’s 11% Asian population that was excited to see him.

9. Ignore the racism. Floyd Mayweather and Jason Whitlock both made racist comments recently, and both MSG and ESPN have been offensive, but to pretend that bigotry hasn’t existed in sports before is naive. Lin doesn’t react to it, even when a teammate made a mock Chinese bow after his game-winning three against Toronto.

10. He never gave up. No team picked him in the 2010 NBA Draft, but he stuck with it in the NBA Summer Leagues and was eventually offered a contract with the Golden State Warriors. The team later waived him to clear up salary cap space.

11. He’s the league’s answer to Tim Tebow. The Denver Broncos quarterback fueled hype for success on the field and his religious beliefs, and Lin is not much different — his mellow playlist includes Christian artists Hillsong and Lecrae.

12. Modesty. Lin wasn’t making millions but made enough to get by, yet he was still living on teammate Landry Fields’ couch until this week. Of course, now that he’s moving into Trump Towers, that may change…

13. That nerdy handshake. He and Fields, a Stanford graduate, pretend to read a book and put on glasses in the dorkiest handshake since the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

14. Even the President is a fan. Barack Obama, the Commander-‘Lin’-Chief, went to Harvard law school so of course he loves the 23-year-old alumnus. “It’s just a great story and the President was saying as much,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

15. His goofy sense of humor. Mashable found his Xanga blog (holy old Internet stuff!) where he joked as a youth about trying different styles for wearing his headband.

16. His name. If Lin’s last name was Okafor, then this hype wouldn’t be as much fun. It may be getting excessive, but let the media have fun with the nicknames ‘Lin-Sync,’ ‘Lin it to Win it,’ and ‘Linsider.’ You know you love it.

17. All he does is win Lin. The Knicks started the season 8-15, despite having two NBA All-Stars and Chandler, who won the Championship with Dallas last season. They won all of Lin’s first 7 games as a starter to finally reach a .500 record.