Bearcats partying like it’s 1995

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Burlingame finished the regular season with a 20-2 record, reaching a state tournament for the first time since 1995. The Bearcats hadn’t won 20 games in a season since 1995-96.

The last time Burlingame’s boys basketball team played in a state tournament, Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” was a top-10 hit, “Seinfeld” was No. 2 in the TV ratings (behind “E.R.”) and “Seven” was a revelation on the big screen.

Twenty-two years. It’s been a long drought for the Bearcats, whose last appearance at state was in 1995. The players on the current team were several years away from being born, virtually nobody had any clue what the Internet was, and Hootie and the Blowfish was the most popular band on the planet.

Burlingame hadn’t been to a state tournament since 1950 before that season, so advancing to the Class 2A tournament in Manhattan was special. I remember it well because I was a freshman at Kansas State.

While most of the town drove the 70 miles from Burlingame to the Little Apple, my roommate Steve, also a BHS alumnus, and father walked from Marlatt Hall to Bramlage Coliseum. We arrived early enough to catch most of the opening game that day, which pitted No. 1 seed Frankfort against No. 8 seed Inman, both traditional state powers.

That game was memorable for several reasons. For starters, Inman pulled off a stunning upset, rolling past the Wildcats 78-65. The most memorable thing about that game was an athletic guard named Greg Friesen, who willed his team to the win with 37 points. Time and time again, Friesen slashed through Frankfort’s defense for short jumpers and layups.

Frankfort had a great player of its own, an all-state guard who scored 28 points on an array of floaters, long jumpers and drives to the basket. I remember watching that senior walk off the court with his head down, his high school career over much sooner than he expected.

Little did I know that I’d meet that Frankfort player in, of all places, Centre, at the end of the 2007 season. An assistant coach introduced him to me after Burlingame’s 70-65 loss to White City in a regional semifinal game. I remember talking to him about that 1995 game. All these years later, he still hasn’t watched tape of that loss to Inman.

You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m talking about Creighton Winters, the longtime coach who took over the program in 2005, battled through the occasional lean year and has put together perhaps the best team in school history in 2016-17.

For the longest time in Burlingame, the biggest problem was that a coach wouldn’t stick around. It’s impossible to build a program when you don’t have consistency.

About the time Winters started at BHS, the youth programs in Burlingame finally had traction. A few years later, a group of boys began playing basketball together. By the time they got to junior high, they simply didn’t lose. By the time they got to high school, Burlingame was ready to build a program. A few years later, those boys were ranked among the top five teams in Class 1A-Division I.

Going into the final weeks of the season, Burlingame appeared to be the favorite to win a tough sub-state in Olpe. The Bearcats were hot after losing in the Lyon County League tournament, using a close loss to Lebo to fuel a dominant second half of the season.

Then, of course, came a devastating injury when their starting point guard suffered a torn ACL in the final game of the regular season. I’d seen the look on Winters’ face after the game before, back in 1995 in Manhattan.

Many, including myself, felt the injury was going to cost Burlingame its first state tournament bid in decades. Fortunately, we were wrong. The Bearcats, a tough, gritty group, put on an impressive display of teamwork in sub-state, crushing a dangerous Southern Coffey County team and smothering a Lebo team with 10 seniors to end the long drought.

The community finally got a taste of success during the past two football seasons with trips to the Eight-Man I semifinals. Now, it gets another bite in the form of a three-hour drive to Hays for a state tournament.

Burlingame has ended a number of droughts in the last few years, including trips to the state semifinals in football, league titles in football and basketball, and a trip to a state basketball tournament. It’s about time another one comes to an end: winning a game at state, something the Bearcats have never done.

The last time Burlingame played in a state tournament, it played a Berean Academy team that had virtually no tradition. In the 22 years since, the Warriors have been to several state tournaments and won a championship in 2010. Let’s hope this year kick-starts a similar run for the Bearcats.

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Being small-minded in a small town

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Burlingame’s football team was big-time last season and could be big-time again in 2016, but one bad decision could make the town small-time. The Bearcats were 11-1 last season and reached the state semifinals.

“To develop good citizenship.”

It’s the fourth goal outlined in the Burlingame Unified School District policy index. Some of the folks in town might want to refer to that before they make a mistake and run a good coach off.

It’s not every day a school district asks a coach to resign after leading a team to its best season in a decade, but that appears to be the case in Burlingame, where longtime coach Creighton Winters could be out of a job soon.

Never mind that the Bearcats went 16-5 this season and won their first Lyon County League tournament title since 2011 and their first regular-season championship in 20 years. Never mind that Winters has coached in Burlingame for 11 years (for perspective, Burlingame had eight coaches in the previous 13 seasons). Never mind that his family has settled into the community, including his stepson, the starting point guard and an all-state quarterback.

One can only hope there’s a good reason for this decision. Let’s hope it isn’t the reason I’ve heard from several sources in the community, including former players and parents: Winters is too negative.

I know Winters fairly well, have since the Frankfort team he played on competed in the same state tournament as Burlingame in 1994. He has never struck me as a negative coach. Willing to chew on his kids when they need it? Absolutely. Any good coach does.

I’ve also been told that a few parents in town have an agenda. In other words, their kids didn’t get enough playing time. This, unfortunately, is not a surprise. It’s also ridiculous.

Parents are parents. Heck, I’m a parent. You want the best for your children. You want them to have opportunity. I get it. But here’s the deal: Competition is a good thing. It makes us stronger. If you want more playing time, you fight for it. You earn it. I guarantee you most kids do not want their parents whining to coaches and administrators about playing time.

This reminds me of the way the school board and administrators treated John Lujano, the basketball coach and an assistant football coach, in the early 1990s. Coach Lujano wasn’t perfect. He was young. He had never coached basketball. He was learning. He was blunt. He yelled. He cussed. He got mad. He made mistakes.

But, you know what, he was a great teacher and a good leader. He was like a big brother to me when I needed one badly in high school. Unfortunately, he was not liked by the powers that be, namely a couple of key board members. As a result, he did not receive tenure.

Many of the students, including myself, were devastated – and furious. So much so that we organized a walkout. More than 100 students walked from the high school to the district office the day of a special board meeting about Coach Lujano. It garnered enough attention that we ended up on the 6 p.m. TV news that night.

It didn’t matter. The board didn’t change its mind, and Lujano left for McPherson High the next year, where he still teaches and coaches. He’s been on the coaching staff for multiple state championships.

The sad thing about this is Burlingame is on the cusp of greatness. The football team reached the state semifinals for the first time in 43 years last season. The basketball team could make a similar run the next two seasons. Almost all of the kids on those teams are back for at least one more year.

To be in Burlingame during the 2015-16 school year was special. The town was ablaze with excitement. The community rallied around a great group of boys who came so close to fulfilling their dreams. Do you really want that to stop?

Before you make this decision, think about a few things: 1. Do you want lose a coach and family over playing time, err, negativity, and risk losing your all-state quarterback? 2. Do you really think anybody is going to want to coach in Burlingame if you treat coaches this way? 3. Do you want the kids in Burlingame to think this is the way you treat people? 4. Do you want to ignore the fourth goal in our own policy?

Make the right decision, the big-time decision. Otherwise, you’re always going to be small-time and small-minded, and deservedly so.

Big 12 rankings, Week 10: Border War, Part II

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Missouri's faith in Haith has translated to a 25-2 record.

We’re one game from the ultimate Border War. Two rivals, both ranked in the top five, for the conference championship. It doesn’t get any better than that.

1. MISSOURI (25-2, 12-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma State, Texas A&M | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Kansas State, Saturday at Kansas

THE RUB: Assuming the Tigers get past the Wildcats, Saturday’s game might rank as the biggest in the rivalry’s history.

2. kansas (22-5, 12-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Kansas State, Texas Tech | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Texas A&M, Saturday vs. Missouri

THE RUB: If Dash Harris returns for the Aggies, Wednesday looks like a trap game for the jayhawks.

3. IOWA STATE (19-8, 9-5) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Baylor, defeated Oklahoma | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Texas Tech, Saturday at Kansas State

THE RUB: One more win should lock up an NCAA Tournament bid.

4. BAYLOR (22-5, 9-5) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Iowa State, lost to Kansas State | THIS WEEK: Monday at Texas, Saturday vs. Oklahoma

THE RUB: So much talent, so little heart.

5. KANSAS STATE (18-8, 7-7) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas, defeated Baylor | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Missouri, Saturday vs. Iowa State

THE RUB: HUGE win for the Wildcats. The reward? Back-to-back games against Missouri and Iowa State

6. TEXAS (17-10, 7-7) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma, lost to Oklahoma State | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Baylor, Saturday at Texas Tech

THE RUB: The Longhorns need two wins this week to secure an NCAA bid.

7. OKLAHOMA STATE (13-14, 6-8) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Missouri, defeated Texas | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Oklahoma, Saturday vs. Texas A&M

THE RUB: Nineteenth-year senior Keiton Page had a game for the ages Saturday with 40 points.

8. TEXAS A&M (13-13, 4-10) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech, lost to Missouri | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Kansas, Saturday at Oklahoma State

THE RUB: The Aggies have had a miserable season but could put a dent in the Big 12 race Wednesday.

9. OKLAHOMA (13-13, 3-11) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas, Iowa State | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday at Baylor

THE RUB: The Sooners are in free-fall mode with six straight losses.

10. TEXAS TECH (8-18, 1-13) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas A&M, Kansas | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Iowa State, Saturday vs. Texas

THE RUB: Saturday’s game against Kansas looked like an NBA team playing an NAIA opponent.

Big 12 rankings, Week 7: Clones bring Kansas back to the pack

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Bill Self's piece was disheveled late in KU's loss to Iowa State.

Iowa State did the Big 12 a huge favor with Saturday’s win against Kansas. That loss brings the Jayhawks back to the pack and allows Missouri to retain the No. 1 spot in this week’s rankings despite a stunning loss at Oklahoma State.

1. MISSOURI (19-2, 6-2) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma State, defeated Texas Tech | THIS WEEK: Monday at Texas, Saturday vs. Kansas

THE RUB: Yes, Missouri lost at Oklahoma State. The Tigers still own the best two road wins in the conference (Iowa State and Baylor). This week could make or break Missouri’s Big 12 title hopes.

2. KANSAS (17-4, 7-1) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas A&M, lost to Iowa State | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma, Saturday at Missouri

THE RUB: A win Saturday would have gone a long ways toward an eighth straight conference title. This Saturday’s game at Mizzou is a monster.

3. BAYLOR (19-2, 6-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma, Texas | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Texas A&M, Saturday at Oklahoma State

THE RUB: I’m not convinced this team has recovered from the Kansas and Missouri losses. The Bears have lost their swagger.

4. IOWA STATE (15-6, 5-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas, defeated Kansas | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Kansas State, Saturday at Oklahoma

THE RUB: The Cyclones got the signature win they needed for their NCAA Tournament resume. The way K-State is fading, they’ve got a great shot at a top-four finish.

5. OKLAHOMA (13-7, 3-5) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Baylor, defeated Kansas State | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Kansas, Saturday vs. Iowa State

THE RUB: I don’t expect the Sooners to finish in the top five, but sweeping K-State is worthy of a bump this week. Lon Kruger has done an outstanding job.

6. KANSAS STATE (15-5, 4-4) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech, lost to Oklahoma | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Iowa State, Saturday vs. Texas A&M

THE RUB: The Wildcats can’t drop many more home games and expect to get an NCAA bid.

7. TEXAS (13-8, 3-5) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Iowa State, lost to Baylor | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Missouri, Saturday vs. Texas Tech

THE RUB: The young Longhorns continue to improve and will be a handful for Missouri on Monday in a game they need to win to get into the NCAA Tournament.

8. OKLAHOMA STATE (10-11, 3-5) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Missouri, lost to Texas A&M | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Texas Tech, Saturday vs. Baylor

THE RUB: The Cowboys aren’t good, but their win against the Tigers might end up determining the league champion.

9. TEXAS A&M (12-8, 3-5) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas, defeated Oklahoma State | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Baylor, Saturday at Kansas State

THE RUB: The Aggies are playing better and could get back in the NCAA picture this week against the Bears and Wildcats.

10. TEXAS TECH (7-13, 0-8) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas State, Missouri | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday at Texas

THE RUB: Tech played about as well as it could Saturday and still lost by double digits. Tuesday’s game migh be the Red Raiders only legitimate shot at winning a conference game.

Big 12 rankings, Week 6: Winning at Baylor is better than beating Baylor at home … duh

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Flip Pressey (1) and Ricardo Ratliff (10) led Missouri to a win at No. 3 Baylor. Ratliff dominated the taller Bears with 27 points and eight rebounds.

Facebook and Twitter were great entertainment Saturday. Really enjoyed Kansas fans comparing their win over Baylor to Missouri’s win over the Bears. Let’s get this straight … you are supposed to win at home. Winning on the road is what determines conference titles. A win at Baylor IS huge. It trumps a win at home. There is no argument.

1. MISSOURI (18-1, 5-1) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas A&M, Baylor | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Oklahoma State, Saturday vs. Texas Tech

THE RUB: Why is Missouri ranked No. 1? Because it has the top two road wins in the conference: at Iowa State and at Baylor.

2. KANSAS (16-3, 6-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Baylor, Texas | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Texas A&M, Saturday at Iowa State

THE RUB: Win a legit road game and reclaim the top spot. Plenty of Kansas fans will blast me for this. My response? Write your own rankings.

3. BAYLOR (17-2, 4-2) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas, Missouri | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Oklahoma, Saturday vs. Texas

THE RUB: Talent is great, but toughness is better. So is coaching.

4. IOWA STATE (14-5, 4-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma State, Texas Tech | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Texas, Saturday vs. Kansas

THE RUB: The Cyclones are looking more and more like an NCAA Tournament team.

5. KANSAS STATE (14-4, 3-3) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas, Oklahoma State | THIS WEEK:  Wednesday at Texas Tech, Saturday vs. Oklahoma

THE RUB: Now that Frank Martin’s gotten his annual suspension out of the way, will the Wildcats take off?

6. TEXAS (12-7, 2-4) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas State, Kansas | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Iowa State, Saturday at Baylor

THE RUB: Rough week for Texas, a bubble team that wasted two golden opportunities.

7. OKLAHOMA (12-6, 2-4) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech, lost to Texas A&M | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Baylor, Saturday at Kansas State

THE RUB: A win at A&M would have been big with Baylor at Kansas State next.

8. TEXAS A&M (11-7, 2-4) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Missouri, defeated Oklahoma | THIS WEEK: Monday at Kansas, Saturday vs. Oklahoma State

THE RUB: The Aggies haven’t looked good all season. Don’t see that changing.

9. OKLAHOMA STATE (9-10, 2-4) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Iowa State, Kansas State | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Missouri, Saturday at Texas A&M

THE RUB: Has Travis Ford suited up yet?

10. TEXAS TECH (7-11, 0-6) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma, Iowa State | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Kansas State, Saturday at Missouri

THE RUB: Maybe Mike Leach can coach the offense.

Big 12 rankings, Week 5: Tigers up, Wildcats down, way down

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How about winning a game? Hear of that one, Frank?

1. BAYLOR (17-0, 4-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Kansas State, Oklahoma State | THIS WEEK: Monday at Kansas, Saturday vs. Missouri

THE RUB: The Bears continue to roll along but have their toughest week of the season coming up with games against Kansas and Missouri.

2. KANSAS (14-3, 4-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech, Iowa State | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Baylor, Saturday at Texas

THE RUB: The Jayhawks nearly got caught looking ahead Saturday. A loss at home to Baylor might cost them a Big 12 title.

3. MISSOURI (16-1, 3-1) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Iowa State, Texas | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Texas A&M, Saturday at Baylor

THE RUB: The win at Iowa State looks even bigger after the Cyclones’ performance in Lawrence. Can the Tigers build on that momentum next Saturday on the road in Waco?

4. IOWA STATE (12-5, 2-2) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Missouri, Kansas | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday at Texas Tech

THE RUB: The Clones got point-planked in the second half, dropping their second straight tough game against a conference contender.

5. TEXAS (12-5, 2-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas A&M, lost to Missouri | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Kansas State, Saturday vs. Texas

THE RUB: The Longhorns are too young to contend this year, but J’Covan Brown is having a hell of a season.

6. KANSAS STATE (12-4, 1-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Baylor, Oklahoma | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Texas, Saturday at Oklahoma State

THE RUB: A horrible week for the Wildcats, who coughed up a nine-point lead at home against Baylor, then laid an egg Saturday in Norman.

7. OKLAHOMA (11-5, 1-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma State, defeated Kansas State | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Texas Tech, Saturday at Texas A

THE RUB: The Sooners finally put two halves together Saturday, rolling to Lon Kruger’s first Big 12 win.

8. TEXAS A&M (10-6, 1-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas, Defeated Texas Tech | THIS WEEK: Monday at Missouri, Saturday vs. Oklahoma

THE RUB: The Aggies finally found the elixir they’ve been looking for – Texas Tech.

9. OKLAHOMA STATE (9-8, 2-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma, lost to Baylor | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Iowa State, Saturday vs. Kansas State

THE RUB: The Cowboys have two conference wins. They’ll be lucky to double that total by the end of the season the way they played at Baylor.

10. TEXAS TECH (7-9, 0-4) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas, Texas A&M | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Oklahoma, Saturday vs. Iowa State

THE RUB: Who do the Red Raiders beat?

I’m into fitness, take 10: My first fitness assessment

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The running shoes have been a big part of my newfound health, but I won't be using them as often after my fitness assessment.

A few years ago, a fitness test was not on my want-to-do list. I’d rank it a few notches ahead of a Pink concert featuring Winger as the opening act. After the first assessment test of my life, I’ll be back for more in six weeks to get my body fat measured again. Especially after I was told to eat more, run less and do fewer situps!

These fitness blogs have been rather personal. Weight is a touchy subject, but I think that’s why this blog has been well-read, so I’ll share the results of the fitness assessment.

First, I have to brag. See, the fitness expert listed my body type as “athletic.” Let’s be clear … I have never been an athlete. There’s a reason I was a sports journalist for more than a decade. I did play basketball and baseball in high school. I even hit .500 my freshman year (and, no, not in two at-bats) before inexplicably giving up the sport (regret it to this day). And I still have a steady jumper from behind the arc!

Still, my body type has been fat for a good decade. To be listed as “athletic,” for the broad shoulders and frame to actually be visible, all I can say is …

WEIGHT

I clocked in at 214.8 pounds, my lowest weight since October 2001. That’s right, 10 years. And this 214.8 is much more healthy and stronger than the chubby, Taco Bell-laced 214.8 of 2001.

More importantly, I learned what I should weigh. I’ve said for months that 180 is my goal, and, hell, I thought that was still a little high. Amazingly enough, because of my body type, the ideal weight is between 188 and 199 pounds …

Instead of being 35 pounds away from my goal, I’m 15-27 pounds away. I’ve come this far, might as well go for 188, not 199, right?

BODY FAT

I’ve never had my body fat measured, mostly out of fear. I asked what my body weight was when I weighed more than 300 pounds. At 305, it was likely about 45 percent, maybe more. Think about that for a second. Half my body was fat. Today, it’s 25.6 percent. I’ve lost at least 20 percent body fat in the last 22 months. So virtually all of the 90 pounds I’ve lost were fat.

The 25.6 percent is in the “moderate” range. So long obesity. Sure as hell not missing you. I need to lose 6 percent to be in the “good” range. Once I get to 188 pounds, I’ll be at 14 percent body fat, which is very good.

Me at about 185 pounds in college. I'll look like that again, minus the hair, soon.

OTHER NUMBERS

Cardio assessment: 42.8 (60 percentile). High end of moderate and getting better.

Strength assessment: 65 pounds (fair). Not far from “good.”

Flexibility: 8.3 inches. Awful. I should probably stretch.

Calories: 2,283. That’s what I should be eating every day.

Body age: 42. Closing in on being my age. At this time to years ago, I had the body of a 60-year-old man.

INTAKE

I hate the word diet because that’s not what I’m doing, so I call the food I eat my intake. It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet. Anyway, I was told to monitor my calories. Not because I eat too much, but because I’m probably not eating enough. Doh. This is going to be difficult because I don’t starve myself. I’m rarely hungry. But I’ve got to eat more. If you don’t get enough calories, your body actually stores more fat. …

WORKOUT

I’ve plateaued, and with good reason. Running is great, but my body is accustomed to it. It expects it now. Also, I’ve been working my arms too much when lifting, and I’ve been doing too many situps. I knew all of this, but most of you know I’m pretty damn stubborn. The fitness expect was blunt: “Are you open to trying something different? Because I want to completely change your workout routine.” Less running and situps? Hell yeah, I’m open to that.

I’ll learn more next week when I go back for a quick training session to learn about my new routine.

WHAT DID I LEARN?

That I’m close. That I might have reached my goal by now had I done this assessment a few months ago. But that’s OK. The point is, I’m in good shape. I’m a few months away from looking and feeling the way I’ve wanted to for a very long time. And that my body type is athletic.