The Game

Last night I went to two ball games in La Grande. The Eastern Oregon women’s and men’s teams handily beat the teams from Corban University in Salem, Oregon.

I went because I love to watch games, not the professional contests of huge and brilliant athletes, but the games of high school and college students playing to win, playing to feel the flush of a 3-pointer going down, an intercepted pass, a single to right in the bottom of the ninth. And, maybe, with a small shred of a dream that it will continue, that I can take what I’m experiencing now to a next level—that I can do this forever.Read Rich’s Post →

Steve Kerr, Rez Ball, and Hope in Sport

“Sports is a refuge but not a hiding place from the world of violence.”

Golden State Warriors basketball coach Steve Kerr said that in an impassioned press conference right after the Uvalde shootings. Or someone retrieved an old quote to go along with his new press conference tirade about gun violence and Congressional inaction.

It doesn’t matter when he said it. The knowledge that Steve Kerr’s father, who in 1984 was the President of the American University in Beirut, was killed by a gunman, gives him creds beyond his basketball celebrity.Read Rich’s Post →

Rez Ball Update at Eastern Oregon U.

When i wrote about the Arlee Warrior basketball team and Abe Streep’s wonderful book about them, Rez ball in Montana, and the problems successful Native high school athletes have making it to and in the college game, I did not know that one of the key players followed in Abe’s book, Brothers on Three, just completed a very successful season in my backyard, at Eastern Oregon University. A Montana friend gave me the news, and here’s what I learned from the EOU web page:

“Junior guard Phillip Malatare was named the Newcomer of the Year and was tabbed First Team All-CCC. He garners the award after being a guiding force for the Mountaineers in 2021-22. ..

“Malatare was the Mountaineers’ go-to option on offense this season as he averaged 19.2 points per game 27 games played. He started 26 contests and averaged 30.6 minutes per game. His 19.2 points per game were second highest in the league as he shot 48% from the floor. He shot 83.3% from the free throw line, which was fourth best in the CCC. He was eighth in steals at 1.4 per game and ranked 10th in assists at 3.3 per game. He was also 13th in the CCC in rebounding at 5.9 per game. He scored in double figures in 24 games this year and had an EOU career high of 29 points against Whitman College. He also posted five double-doubles on the year.”

I’ll be following Phillip Malatare and “Rez Ball” in La Grande next year!

Rez Ball-2

I don’t know when I first heard the term “rez ball,” but I’ve been watching Nixyaawii School on the Umatilla Reservation play basketball for years, and that’s where I got my idea of what it is. It’s more passes than dribbles, move the ball, and offense coming off pressure defense. It’s no-look passes and going to the hot shooter in the game, ofttimes for threes.

Once, in Joseph, Nixyaawii was having their way with the Joseph girls. It must have been 2017, when Mary Stewart led the Golden Eagles to the state championship. She would bring the ball up nonchalantly, then dribble quickly to the side and nail a three, or fire an overhead pass to a girl who’d moved deftly to the rim for an easy layup.Read Rich’s Post →