June 25, 2018
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Abbott providing leadership at UMaine

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

A few thoughts from near and far …

— It’s been a pretty good month for Steve Abbott.

First he gets Richard Barron to come to the University of Maine to revitalize the women’s basketball program, and by all accounts the Black Bears are lucky to have him.

Women’s basketball coaching giants from around the country, including Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, have only good things to say about Barron, who already has one successful reclamation process under his belt during his last head coaching stint at Princeton.

And with America East among the lowest-ranked Division I conferences for women’s basketball in America, the gap between the bottom and the top might only be a couple of recruits away.

And if that wasn’t enough from Abbott, the former chief of staff for Sen. Susan M. Collins used his political connections to work out a $5 million deal with the New Balance shoe company that will help fund renovations to the university’s field house and Memorial Gymnasium in exchange for 20 years worth of naming rights to the field house and Student Recreation and Fitness Center.

No doubt problems remain within an athletic department that has lacked leadership in recent years, but these early moves suggest Abbott is the right person at the right time for the job.

— Have you ever driven a car 128 miles per hour?

Kyle Busch does it every week on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, and now he’s doing it on the highways of North Carolina.

Busch was stopped Tuesday after passing an Iredell County, N.C., sheriff’s deputy while driving a $350,000 Lexus 128 mph along a two-lane road with a posted speed limit of 45 mph and charged with two misdemeanors, speeding and driving recklessly.

Other residents of the area expressed outrage to the Charlotte News & Observer that Busch wasn’t arrested for driving 83 miles per hour faster than the speed limit.

Busch — who had his wife in the car at the time of the incident — said in a statement released later that day that “I got carried away.”

Busch already is under NASCAR probation for actions at the race track after a May 7 race at Darlington, S.C.

But taking that aggressiveness onto the public highways is an entirely different matter, and NASCAR or Busch team owner Joe Gibbs could send a strong message by suspending their sport’s current bad boy for a race or more.

Yet they won’t.

— The sun finally has returned, or at least that’s what I think I saw while at a high school baseball game in Rockport on Wednesday.

And if you’ve got some idle time and want to experience the warmth and light that comes from the sun, a ballgame is a good place to do it.

Especially this spring, where high school baseball in Eastern Maine is at its most unpredictable.

Just two unbeaten teams remain in the region, and few who follow the sport closely would have suggested at the start of the season that Foxcroft Academy and Wisdom of Saint Agatha would be those unscathed survivors entering Thursday’s play.

The result is an additional benefit to be derived from attending a ballgame. Not only can you catch up with some hometown friends and breath some fresh air, there’s also almost guaranteed uncertainty about which team will emerge victorious, which usually brings a fairly good rate of entertainment return on your time investment.

Just make sure to bring some insect repellent.


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