Monday, February 27, 2006

The Final Week Of The Season


The NCAA hoops season is coming to a close with a bunch of bubble teams still out there.  Here is a list of huge games [that involve bubble teams] coming this week...


Cincinnati at Seton Hall.  These are considered to be the teams squarely on the bubble....but probably in the dance if the season ended today.  Seton Hall needs this game, since it is at home, and they've been struggling down the stretch.  Cincy would love this game as a probable clincher to their dance hopes.


Duke at Florida State.  Duke is obviously in...but Florida State is trying to get in.  I have them in....but most bracket sites don't.  A win over Duke here could vault them into most bracketologist's "last four in" category.   An impossible win, you think?  Remember, the Noles went to overtime at Cameron against Duke...lost by a point...and that was the game that caused ACC officials to be suspended due to bad calls made against FSU. 

Texas at Texas A&M.  The Aggies are kinda in the same boat as Florida State.  They are on the extreme fringes of the bubble...but a win over one of the best teams in the nation could put them on the radar of getting in. 

Kentucky at Tennessee.  Tennessee just lost at home and may be looking for a big game against a rival.  Kentucky would sure like to get this win, and if they do I think they're in the tourny.  The Wildcats don't want to have a 2-game slide heading into the final game of the season against Florida. 

Colorado at Kansas.  The Buffs are one of those teams that no one sees eye to eye on in the bracket world.  Some see them as a soft team in a down conference.  Some see them as a quality team on the national scene.  How they perform in Lawrence could determine which side wins this arguement. 

Miami at Maryland.  Winning this game won't get the Terps in....but losing it will most likely knock them out.  Miami has a snowballs chance at getting into the dance.

Kansas State at Nebraska.  Nebraska may have made it's bed by getting waxed by Texas A& a win here is a must.

Indiana at Purdue.  Indiana has played poorly down the stretch against the dregs of the conference.  They must win and win convincingly.

Marquette at Louisville.  Marquette, I believe, is in.  Louisville, I believe, is out.  But, if the Cards win this one and have a strong showing in the Big East tourny...ya never know.

Auburn at Alabama.  A win, and the Tide are in.

Mississippi State at Arkansas.  See above


Memphis at UAB.  Big game for both teams.  UAB is a fringe tourny team and would love a win over Memphis here.  A win, and their tourny resume skyrockets.  Memphis needs a win like this to stay in the #1 seeding discussion. 

UCLA at California.  Cal looked good at times in a loss at Washington....and needs to look good against UCLA.  I think they are in even if they lose this...but a win would be nice for their nerves.

USC at Stanford.  Both teams are on the backside of the the loser here might as well get ready for the NIT.  The winner may end up there too.

Syracuse at DePaul.  Well, DePaul put a hurtin' on Seton Hall's resume earlier in the Syracuse, watch out!.  The Cuse has been limping to the finish line and that's something that may hurt them when the selection committee meets.


Seton Hall at Pittsburgh.  Friday night Big East hoops.  If the Hall loses to Cincinnati...this pretty much becomes a must game for the Pirates. 

Bradley at Creighton, Northern Iowa at Missouri State.  These are four of the possible six [So. Illinois and Wichita State are the others] that have a good shot at getting to the dance.  So, let's git it on!

"You Can Close the Book on the Olympics........Thank God!!!"


Of course the subject line is stolen from Bob Uecker's "Harry Doyle" in "Major League".....but the last two words were uttered by my wife as I told her the Olympics were indeed over.  Here is that, and some other musings.

ON TO VANCOUVER:  The Games are my wife's shows are on [and the only two NBC shows I watch, "The Office" and SNL, are back].  I still love my ideas I stated on How To Make The Winter Olympics Better.....but the 2010 Vancouver Games could be a success to us in more ways than one.  Since the most beautifullest city in North America is three hours behind the east events will fall into place at good programming times.  Not to mention that American athletes [including all participating NHLers....if the NHL does participate at all] will have easy commutes to the games and, I think, have a better shot at medals. 

NEGRO LEAGUES:  Today, a 12-member committee will be meeting to vote on 39 candidates from the Negro Leagues to be elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame this July.  If a candidate gets 9 votes, he's in.  Quite a great thing, when you consider all the great players that came thru those leagues....and many who never left.  The committee is made up of true Negro League historians who actually know what they're talking about.  I'll have more on this when the announcement comes. 

TEXANS CONSIDERING A DEAL:  Very smart.  Five weeks ago, I made a blog entry called Hey, Texans....Don't Draft Vince Young!!....and they may actually be heeding my word [notthe Young thing....but drafting #1 overall].  I think D'Brickashaw Ferguson is the guy they need to target....but he isn't worth the #1 overall pick [but he won't go past 4th].  Click on the link to see why I think this is a great move for Houston.

NBA PLAYOFF PROBLEMS:  It took just two years in for the inevitable NBA playoff problem....the two best teams meeting in the conference semi-finals.  The way it is set up now, the Mavericks and Spurs [easily the best teams in the West] would play each other in the Western semis.  Not cool, eh?  Well, the NBA needs to address this.  They cannot do what the NHL and NFL does, which is re-match everyone up in the 2nd round instead of having a true bracket.  The NBA doesn't like that.  The solution most are considering is seeding the three division champions and the best non-champion in the first round.  So, under that system if the playoffs ended today, Mavs would be #1, Spurs #2, Suns #3 and Nuggets #4.  Of course, making the Nuggs the #4 seed would mean that the #5 seed, the Clippers, would have home court advantage over Denver since they have a better record [that's been an NBA rule]. 

Now, don't scold the NBA for this problem.  Even the NFL has had issues with this.  Take this year, for example.  In the divisional round of the playoffs....the Colts [who had the NFL's best record] drew the Steelers while the Broncos got the Patriots.  Denver had the better matchup since Pittsburgh had a better record than New England and was the hottest team in the NFL at the time [and, uh, still is].  And look what happened.   

NFL, SLOW YOUR ROLL:  One of the reasons the NFL is at the head of the class in the sports world is that it is a year 'round thing.  Truth be told, the season is pretty short [just 4 months with a 1 month playoff]...but there is never any stop in activity.  Right now is the combine, which the NFL Network has been covering all week.  We have the draft, free agency, mini camps, blah blah blah and then it is training camp time once again.  C'mon, NFL....take some time off.  After the Super Bowl....just wait a month until getting back into the grind again.  We all need it. 


KG'S BAD PASS:  Alright, let me say this first;  sure a basketball to the face hurts....but not enough to be taken out on a stretcher.  If ya don't know, Kevin Garnett was called for an offensive foul during a home game.  KG was upset with the call, and lobbed the ball toward the stands.  Apparantly, it hit some dude in the face.  The dude acted like he was shot, or something, and had to be taken out of the arena on a stretcher.  Oh my god!!  I'm sure there will be a lawsuit coming [which will most likely be followed by him dropping it when KG gives him some shut up money and a signed pair of sneakers].  KG went over to offer his apology and the guy gave him the "there's no way you can apologize for this" look.  Even the Wolves site said "Before leaving, Garnett went over and apologized to the fan. Later in the period, the fan was taken from the Target Center on a stretcher - which appeared to be a bit much - and was booed by the crowd."

Kenny Williams on The Big Hurt


"He's an idiot. He's selfish. That's why we don't miss him."

"Jerry has done everything over the course of 16 years to protect that man, to make accommodations for him, concessions for him. He loaned him money, at times, when he needed money.  If he was any kind of a man, he would quit talking about things in the paper and return a phone call or come knock on someone's door. If I had the kind of problems evidently he had with me, I would go knock on his door."

"We don't miss him, by the way.  If you go out there and ask any one of my players or staff members, we don't miss him.  We don't miss his attitude. We don't miss the whining. We don't miss it. Good riddance. See you later."

"I'm a general manager and I'm supposed to be above these things. But again, when is enough enough?  He brought us to this point. So, OK, you want to play this game? You've got it. You got it. He's the Oakland A's problem right now. ... He better stay out of our business. He better stay out of White Sox business."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Yo' Guide To College Basketball's 2nd to Last Weekend...Uh, In the Regular Season

Go to my "HOOPS ASSASSIN" by The SPORTZ ASSASSIN every morning as I update them every night. 


I have Duke, NC State, Boston College and North Carolina as locks....with Florida State, Maryland and Virginia still fighting to get in. 

All three of those bubble teams are on the road this weekend.  Florida State, which has beaten both Virginia and Maryland recently, heads to Virginia Tech to face a team that had bubble-itis not too long ago.  While FSU is looking pretty strong right now, they can't afford to lose this one with Duke on the horizon.  Maryland heads to the white hot North Carolina.  The Heels smacked down the Terps in College Park several weeks ago.  Maryland has a better RPI and SOS than Florida State....but their record isn't too attractive right now and they have suffered beatdowns at the hands of both FSU and Virginia.  Losing this one won't kill their chances....but may hinder them.  Virginia heads to Clemson....and Littlejon Coliseum isn't an easy place to play. 


Sure, much of the buzz will surround the Villanova-UConn battle on Sunday....but they, along with Georgetown, West Virginia and Pittsburgh are locks.  Their fight will be for whom gets the top seed in the Washington DC bracket....and who may end up out in another time zone.

Waiting on the bubble are Marquette, Cincinnati, Seton Hall and Syracuse.  A Marquette win at Notre Dame would pretty much lock them in.  The others have work to do.  Cincinnati nearly pulled off that clinching upset of Villanova.  Still, the close loss looks good to the committee and bumped their numbers up a bit more.  They have a sort-of bracket buster game agaisnt Seton Hall next week.  The Hall must go to DePaul first.  Syracuse has a tough game at Georgetown.  If anyone is a weak link right is Seton Hall with the poorest RPI and SOS of the bunch.  All three of these teams have a Big Dawg game left....Cincy gets West Virginia, Seton Hall gets Pitt, and Syracuse gets Villanova. 

Convential wisdom is that with the soft bubble and the strength of the Big long of none of these teams completely go down the toilet....they will all be in. 


Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois are gonna be dancin'.  The rest is still up in the air.  Iowa faces Illinois in the Big Ten's biggest game.

Michigan and Wisconsin are as close to being locks as you can get.  Wisconsin gets surging Minnesota [which could make a late run for a NCAA bid] at home.  A win in that game will most likely get them in.  Michigan has to go to Ohio State.  If they can come out with a win bet they're in.  Just as long as they don't get run outta the building...they'll be fine.  Indiana faces Michigan State in Bloomington.  This may be it.  If Indiana wins, they look like they could be a tourny team.  With a loss...well, their bubble burst. 


The big dogs are in.  Texas, Kansas [who have a big game on Saturday] and Oklahoma are in the dance.  The Big XII should be able to pry another bid out of their collection of brothers....but who deserves it?

I think Colorado.  If they win their final two home games [starting with Missouri this weekend] they will be in.  A slip...and it may not be.  Nebraska just smacked Colorado and are trying to right their ship.  They have an RPI in the 90s and have struggled down the stretch.  Texas A&M is still around....and they [surprise] get Nebraksa at home on Saturday.  The loser will most likely be done.


I think UCLA and Washington are in.  After that it is a crapshoot.

Arizona should get in....since they have a strong RPI and the 5th toughest schedule in the nation.  Oh,and their final three games are all in Tuscon.  California has a good shot....but must go to Washington this weekend.  On the fringes is USC and Stanford.  Most likely, both are done.  If USC can run the table [they have Oregon State at home this weekend...then go to Stanford and Cal]....they have a legit chance.  Stanford may not get a chance. 

But, this is the Pac-10.  Where Washington can beat UCLA twice.....then lose to Washington State twice.  Where Cal is in 2nd place with just 4 conference losses.....but half of those losses came to the two worst teams, Oregon State and Arizona State.  Yet, Stanford knows their place.  They are 2-5 against UCLA, Washington, Cal and Arizona....and 7-1 against the teams behind them.


Tennessee, Florida and LSU are all in.  Probably Kentucky and Alabama too.  Arkansas and Vanderbilt a little different.

And what a weekend this should be in the SEC.

Kentucky heads to LSU in the first of three horrid games for the Cats [they get Florida at home then at Tennessee].  With their numbers, Kentucky should get in.  But if they, say, lose all three of these games and then get tripped early in the SEC 18-14 record may not cut it.  Even if you have an RPI and SOS that will improve with the sked.  Alabama plays host to Florida...and this could be an attention grabbing win for the Tide.  Sure, Florida is struggling a bit the past month or so....but a win by Bama puts them in.  Arkansas is at Tennessee...and an upset there may get that 6th SEC team in.  If not, Vanderbilt will try to take that spot by winning in South Carolina. 

How To Make The Winter Olympics Better


Alright, I'm not gonna go back and rehash what I've hated about these Torino Olympics.  Just go to these blog entries for a refresher course:

Dude, These Winter Olympics Are Sooooo Bogus!!
How Weir-d?
Oh, Those Wacky Olympics

I will tell you what I've liked.  Torino.  Looks like a cool place to go....the games have been hotly contested by the Euros....and there hasn't been a whiff of a real scandal of these games. 

But, as you know...the American Hype Machine fell flat on it's face and the ones that actually performed have to hold news conferences about how they hate each other.  Not to mention that the ratings for the games are horrible.  This is where I come in.  There is much room for improvement for these games.

PUT THEM BACK IN THE SAME YEARS AS THE SUMMER GAMES:  In 1994, the IOC began the Winter Games for the two years between the Summer Games.  So now, we get Winter Games....two years...Summer Games....two years...Winter Games...and so on.  Move it back.  Start in 2012.  After the Vancouver Games on 2010....have a quick turnaround [like they did in 1992 to 1994] into the next Winter Games in 2012.  Hold it in February....and then you have the London Summer Games about 6 months later.  It works all the way around.  Look, we all know about the Summer Games for a while before they begin.  The Winter Games would be the appetizer for the Summer Games and would get more pub.  Media member would have their Olympic Troop assembled and ready for both games....just like it used to be. 

LET SOMEONE OTHER THAN NBC DO THE GAMES:  Nothing at all against NBC.  But, let one of the other networks do it.  That's called "competition".  I'm all for keeping the Summer Games on NBC....but let CBS or ABC get the Winter Games back [or let Fox get a hold of 'em] and maybe show us something different for a change.  No offense to NBC, but their stock of sportscasters over the past few years has been from Nascar and Arena Football. 

COME UP WITH A BETTER PLAN FOR VIEWING:  Look, we Americans are selfish and want our games live in primetime...but it obviously doesn't work that way.  We learned this the hard way when the Summer Games were in Sydney and the Winter Games in Nagano.  We had no idea if what we were watching was live, taped from earlier in the day, or last week.   We loved the Salt Lake Games since they were here and on live during our normal viewing hours. 

So the television networks need to come up with something a bit better than "tape delays" suspense highlights.  In the age where every body has a cell phone and most are linked up to the internet....everyone knows what happened.  If I watched ESPNews just once, I know the deal.  There is no "suspense".  Have the nads to show the live stuff on during the day [sorry soaps] with a nice a neat wrap up hour or two or three at night.  Don't have the games live on USA, uh Bravo, uh MSNBC.  Most people have no idea what channels those are!  [Well, leave men's figure skating on Bravo].

This, of course, lends to people caring to watch something they know....but it happens.  That's why highlight shows [like SportsCenter, The Soup, um...the NEWS] come in handy.  If there is it in all is drippy drama.  Instead, the nightcast act like we have no idea what happened....and that all this crap is going on all at once.  It's like watching a golf tournament at different venues.  "And now we go to Sasha Cohen at the rink".  ESPN does a great job in this area.  Their "instant classics" get good ratings because people want to be in the know.  They can say they watched it live....even if they didn't. 

UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS AMERICA....AND WE DON'T CARE:  Sorry,but the Winter Olympics are at a bad time for us.  They started, like, a week after the Super Bowl ended.  The American sports brain is trained for Super Bowl....some chill time of a couple weeks....then March Madness.  During these Olympics, we've had spring training camps opening in baseball, an NBA All Star Game, college hoops getting down to the wire and the normal NFL trappings. 

Dude....the freaking WINTER X GAMES were going on at the same time!!!!

With all that going on,you cannot expect us to shove that aside and watch ice dancing, speed skating and biathalon....can you???

And my biggest change....

MOVE SOME OF THE SUMMER EVENTS TO THE WINTER GAMES:  We have pretty much snowy events in the Winter Games.....and everything else gets to go to the Summer Games.  Why?  This is 2006...not the early 1900s when logistics was a much harder task.  We don't even have REAL snow anymore, for crying out loud! 

So, move volleyball to the Winter Games.  We still have beach volleyball in the Summer Games [and NBC loved showing it!].  So why not have the indoor volleyball event in the summer games?  Really, hockey is the lone "team sport" in the Winter adding that could be beneficial. 

Maybe move boxing to the Winter Games as well.  Boxing gets overlooked in the Summer Games and could soar in the Winter.  Again, an indoor event so it matters not when it is held.  Stuff like badmiton, ping-pong and weightlifting could also head over to the Winter Games.  That doesn't work for every sport.  Don't move gymnastics....because the Winter Games already have ice skating.  Don't move basketball....because it would screw up every existing league in the world to make that move.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Jason McElwain's Big Game

                         [Beyond Rudy: Athena Senior Inspires]

Normally, when I log on and the Welcome Screen pops up....the first thing I do is click it off.

Not this time.

Check out this article:  AOL News - Autistic Team Manager Makes Hoop Dream Come True

Quite a remarkable tale, which hits a bit to home since my wife has a cousin who is autistic so I am just amazed at this. 

McElwain is a member of the Greece Athena High School basketball team....but never played.  He usually just sat on the bench as the team manager [handing out water bottles, keeping stats]....which is cool with him since this is the sport he loves.

With Greece Athena holding a blowout lead with four minutes to play in the final home game of the year.....McElwain comes in and nails SIX 3-pt shots and dumps 20 points in an amazing display of shooting.   After the game, he was carried off the court and cheered for his feat.

So, to NBA stat nuts, he has a 240 ppg average per 48 minutes.   

Please, if you have a little that story. 

Deadline Day in the NBA

Wednesday brought us the biggest draft deadline deal....{scroll down the blog to read my take on it}....but Thursday brought a flurry of minor deals.

SONICS GET:  Earl Watson, Bryon Russell, a 2008 second-round pick and cash from the Nuggets.
NUGGETS GET:  Reggie Evans, Ruben Patterson and Charles Smith.
BLAZERS GET:  Voshon Lenard and Brian Skinner.
KINGS GET:  Vitaly Potapenko and Sergei Monia.

Interesting "mega" deal.  Denver makes out like the bandit here.  They give up Leonard and Russell [whom they weren't using] for Patterson, Evans and Smith.  Patterson gives the Nuggets that defensive hound they can harrass other swing men with.  Evans is a beast of a rebounder which they need with K-Mart, Camby and Najera trading places on the injured list.  Seattle gets a defensive minded point guard and some piece of mind with Potapenko and Evans gone.  They're moving on to the Collison-Petro-Swift era.  Portland gets rid of Patterson and gets a veteran shooter and veteran big man.  Kings get salary cap help in the coveted 2007 free agency period. 

CAVALIERS GET:  Ronald Murray
SONICS GET:  Mike Wilks and cash.

This is a "we need someone to replace Larry Hughes" deal.  While Murray isn't Hughes, he can score and could bring back some of Hughes' missing numbers.  He's a liability on defense, however, so shotblockers better be ready.

HORNETS GET:  Marc Jackson and Linton Johnson.
NETS GET:  Bostjan Nachbar

This deal was essentially made by the Hornets to add frontcourt depth.  With Chris Andersen being thrown out of the league for substance abuse, the Hornets have been making these mini deals of late [Aaron Williams, Moochie Norris] to add some help for a playoff push.   The Nets get rid of Jackson's attitude and get back a guy with some good athleticsm who may surprise with New Jersey's attack.  Or not. 

HEAT GET:  Derek Anderson
ROCKETS GET:  Gerald Fitch

Not a bad risk for Miami at all.  If Anderson can play, he's the perfect intangible guy [and unselfishly so] that they really need.  If he can't get healthy, well, all they lost was Fitch. 

CAVALIERS GET:  Lee Nailon and 2006 second-round pick
SIXERS GET:  conditional 2006 second round pick. 

The minor-est of all deals.  Philly dumps problem player Nailon back to Cleveland for nothing of much merit.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Stevie Franchise Finds A New One


Bad trade.  All the way around.

In the NBA, trades are made with the pocketbook in mind [one of the best and worst things about NBA economics].

In the NBA if you are over the salary cap [or would be if the trade was made], you must trade salary for salary.  Hence the reason Penny Hardway was a powerful card on trade day.  You see, Penny's $15.7M salary number this year comes off the books when his contract ends this summer.  In the NBA, you could either keep that piece....let it expire....and use that money saved on some new blood.  Or, you could deal the piece away for an expensive guy already under a contract.

The Magic want the expiring contract.  The Knicks want the new expensive guy. 

Orlando is essentially admitting it is starting from scratch again.  Call it The Curse Of Shaq or whatever...but the mighty Magic plan of 6 years ago is gone.  The big, big money they had to bring in Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill has turned into waiting for Penny Hardaway [via the trade to Houston to get Francis and the trade to New York to get rid of him] and Grant Hill to leave their cap numbers and walk out the door.  That would mean $15.7M this summer.....and $16.9M next year. 

Of course, this is par for the course in Orlando.  After Shaq left, the Magic has seemed to continually be a big player in the free agent market, even netting big fish, but getting nothing concrete from it.  Grant Hill's career essentially ended once he got to Orlando while T-Mac's became more scrutinized.  While the deal to bring Francis in, many felt, was a bad one for got worse when you figure that their big free agent summer at the millenium ultimately netted them a playoff appearance, Trevor Ariza and another shot at spending their newfound cash. 

Orlando is building around their new star, Dwight Howard who they selected with the #1 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.  They also got Darko Milicic [the #2 pick in the 2003 Draft] in an earlier deal, Carlos Arroyo [in the same deal] and have young guys like Jameer Nelson, Trevor Ariza and, most likely, a lottery pick in the June draft.  So, they have a potential superstar big man....a so-called bust who is just 20 years old....and a young backcourt with promise....with a high pick coming up and a ton of money to throw out there in the next TWO free agent summers.  Oh, and with a state without tax. 

That, at least, is called a plan. 

So what of New York??

The Knicks have Steve Francis [3 more years, $48.5M], Stephon Marbury [3 yrs, $60.3M], Jalen Rose [1 yr, $16.9M], Mo Taylor [1 yr, $9.7M], Eddy Curry [5 yrs, $48M], Quentin Richardson [4 yrs, $33.6M], Jamal Crawford [5 yrs, $43.1M], Shandon Anderson [1 yr, $7.2M] and Jerome James [4 yrs, $24M] in contracts just added in the last two years. 

There are all-star contracts with no all-star players.  Sure, if Francis and Marbury get their crap together, they can become a lethal backcourt combination.  But what says that they could function that way???  Francis has been a coach killer everywhere he's gone and refused to (a) feed it to Yao and then (b) move from the point in Orlando.  Marbury's had numerous chances to lead a team and has failed pretty much every time.  And Larry Brown demands so much from his floor generals. 

Regardless of any of this....the Knicks are barely a playoff calibar team.  They could get there in the weak bottomed East.....but there is no way they can compete with Detroit, Miami or Cleveland.  Even Indiana and New Jersey have much brighter futures.  This team costs $130M to put out on the floor....nearly $1.6M of salary per be a sub-.500 also ran.  That is FOUR times more than what the Charlotte Bobcats are paying their roster.  It is double the price for the defending champion Spurs.  In fact, you could buy the Spurs and the Pistons for $121M....and still have $10M left over for concessions. 

So what is the Knicks plan??  To make the playoff in NBA Live '07???  This expensive roster may be good for a playoff cameo but still doesn't make them worth anything on the elite scale of the Eastern conference.

At least they still have Channing Frye.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bubble Update - 2/21


Alabama-Arkansas.  Just like I said on my "HOOPS ASSASSIN" by The SPORTZ ASSASSIN blog yesterday [check it out as I update it every night with the implications of that night's games on the bubble]:  "In the SEC, Alabama heads to Arkansas which could be an elimination-type game for both teams.  Both are on the bubble in the SEC with a surging Kentucky on the other side that might lock a bid in before either of them.  Alabama needs this road win to stay away from the10-loss mark right now [which could be a killer for them heading into the SEC tourny]...but at the same time, Arkansas can't afford to lose at home to a team they can beat.  The game is on ESPN at 9 pm"

Well, it was the big game.  Arkansas came back from down 18 points to roll the Tide by a bucket.....65-63.  Huge game for the Razorbacks who couldn't afford losing at home, especially to a team that's on the bubble with them. 

Here's the rest of the best from last night....


Virginia.  They needed that huge win over Boston College to keep their slim tourny hopes alive.  Up next, they head to Chapel Hill to face the equally hot Tar Heels.


Seton Hall.  They followed up a loss to Notre Dame by getting beat by another non-NCAA team St. John's.  Not too good for a team teetering on the bubble.  They have a HUGE game against Cincinnati [another bubble team] this weekend.


What a ton of huge games on tap.  In the SEC, Tennessee heads to Florida for a rematch of a game where (a) Florida suffered their first loss, (b) the rushing the court by Vols fans earned the school a fine and (c) means that 1st place in the SEC East is up for grabs.  Including the earlier meeting, the Gators are just 5-4 since their undefeated start.  The Vols just had their 8 game winning streak snapped in Alabama.  While both teams are pretty much locks to get in the tournament....a possible #2 seed could be had in this game....especially if the Vols can make it a clean sweep of the Gators.  Ohio State faces Michigan State in one of those big seeding-type statements.  Someone will come out of the Big Ten with a #2 seed [I can just feel it] so winning this game would go along way toward both team's resumes. 

But those are games involving pretty much locks.  There are some bigger bubble games, like North Carolina-NC State.  This rivalry will be huge for both.  With a win, the Heels pretty much get their tickets for the dance locked in.  A loss could lead to a very bad week ahead.  For State, it is about seeding.  NC State is trying to vault into host-pod status which would beneficial to them in trying to be a spoiler during the tournament.

Also in the ACC, there are two other HUGE bracket-buster games.  Maryland-Florida State is a matchup of two teams squarely on the bubble.  Neither team can really afford to lose this game...since it will be viewed as an "elimination" type game.  I feel if the Noles lose, they are on the thinnest of ice to get in.  Also, two former Big East rivals go at it when Virginia Tech heads to Miami.  Both are on the outer fringes of the bubble...and the team that loses here pretty much knows that an ACC tournament victory is their only shot. 

LSU at Vanderbilt
Colorado at Nebraska

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Storm Surge


I am not a fan at all of fans storming onto our sporting fields of play in jubilation.  Not really at all.  The only time that I can even accept it is when a TRUE underdog pulls out a huge win.  If Baylor beats Texas in hoops....go out there and enjoy it!  If UNC-Asheville beats Duke in the mountain town....go for it.  But other than those type of circumstances...stop it!

It is stupid and lewd and unsafe.  Worst of all - it is becoming tacky.

The same way that I cringe whenever a football coach gets the ol' Gatorade shower....I know cringe during the "storming the court/field" shots. 

I mean....isn't something "cool" when not everybody is doing it??  I guarantee you that everytime Duke loses on the road, the opposing school's fans storm the court.  Again, if you are St. Augustine's School for the Blind...that's fine.  But not when you are North Carolina.

Yep, I've seen my beloved UNC Tar Heel fans rush the court.  I, honestly, am embarrassed of this.  The #2 all time winningest program shouldn't have their fans storming the court after beating anyone!  They do it to us.  Many programs [if mot 90% of them] should feel the same.  Storming the court means you did something of a miracle....not something expected.  You should be able to expect your team to win. 

It is mainly NCAA football and basketball...where tradition and years of being bullied leads to this.  How many people would be shot if fans stormed an NFL field?  An NBA court?  A baseball diamond?  An NHL rink?  Sure, an idiot gets on there every once in a while....but never the entire stadium.

That's the ESPN in us.  We see those games where teams do it....and we gotta do it too.  And why?  Sure, our school won....but why do I have to run out on the court to celebrate it?  Why do I need to tear down a goal post? 

The SEC is the only conference that I know of that is doing something about it.  Yesterday, the SEC fined Arkansas for their fans storming the court after their win over Florida this past weekend.  Earlier this season, the conference fined Tennessee for having the same thing happened after a win over Florida.  The SEC has set a rule that says "at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area".  And they are following the rule on this one. 

There has also been some other measures taken to ensure things don't get too out of hand.  At events at the Georgia are videoed and have their pictures taken by event staff.  This has a two-fold purpose.  One, it keeps the fans aware that there is security around and that they are noticing you [sometimes, these staffers take your picture of you and give you the Polaroid.  Sometimes there isn't even film in the camera].  And, two, if something does pop off....they have some visual evidence.  Ohio State has the ability to mess with student's financial standing with the institution via fines that the student would have to clear up before registering for classes in the next semester.  Of course, some curb the alcohol sales.  This works....but many of the smaller programs need those alcohol sales to help fund their athletic programs. 

Of course, the institutions see the only problem as legal ones [but clever writing and an announcement during the game covers that].  Essentially, if you get injured in a storming the court's your own fault since you weren't supposed to be on the court anyways. 

Have some sense.  Mouth off to the opponent's fans.  Flip some cars over in the street.  Pour your beers all over a friend.  Just stop storming the court. 


POSTSCRIPT:  About 18 hours after I wrote this....Fox made mention of nearly the exact same thing.  At - COLLEGE BASKETBALL- Kansas' Self deserving of top honors, writer Frank Burlison writes "This whole "Hey, kids, let's rush the floor when our team wins!" thing is getting a bit out of hand, don't you think?  For one thing, it's potentially dangerous as heck. Someone is going to get severely injured in one of these bad dashes for the floor and a whole bunch of attorneys are going to be busy on both sides of the litigation table.  It's all too much a cliché these days.  It's even reached the point in which students spilled onto the floor Monday night in the Carrier Dome after Syracuse edged West Virginia, 60-58.   Granted, it was a critical win for the Orange's NCAA Tournament's at-large bid resume. But it's not like Jim Boeheim's team had knocked off the top-ranked team in the country. The Mountaineers took an 18-7 record into the game and had lost three of their previous four games.  This is one of the top 10 programs in the country, one that won a national title three years ago.   A new rule for Rushing the Floor: Unless the win comes against a top-ranked team or as the result of a frantic comeback and/or last-second shot, the students at a school that has won a national title within the past decade aren't eligible to race onto the floor after a game."

Monday, February 20, 2006

C'MON!!!!! CRAP!!!!

Let's just say that I am not gonna retype that again!!

For the SECOND night in a row, AOL froze up and erased my blog entry that I was writing.  And for the SECOND night in a row....I am refusing to re-write it. just a recap of what I had:

-Ricky Williams is a pothead.

-Congrats to Jimmie Johnson.

-NBA All Stars?  The East had 1/3 of the roster as Pistons [with none starting]....the West had 2/5 of their starters on last place teams.....a 7-footer wins the three-point shooting contest....and a 5-9 guy wins the slam dunk contest.

-Bonds will run away from baseball just like Sammy's doing, Raffy will have to and McGwire did. 

-Check out my Bracketology report at "HOOPS ASSASSIN" by The SPORTZ ASSASSIN...updated every night. 

-Bryant Gumbel won't watch Winter Games since there are a bunch of white people there...and since they are white, they aren't "athletes".  It is a shame, since a Black Athlete won a medal at these games.  Look, I'm not watching the Games either...because I don't care about snowboarding or figure skating or anything else buy hockey.  But I give these people respect since they are the best at what they do....even if we don't care to watch it.  Also, wasn't Rush Limbaugh thrown away for saying pretty much the exact same thing about Donovan McNabb?? 

There was some other stuff....but screw it!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

NBA Midseason Awards....and Such


MOST VALUEABLE PLAYER:  I may get murdered by my Laker friends for this, but the award has to go to Steve Nash right now.  Why?  All his numbers are up from his MVP season of last year....and his team is nothing talent-wise as it was in that season.  Yet, the Suns are set up as the #2 seed in the West despite no Amare, no Joe Johnson and no Q-Richardson.  Many felt that last year his main talent was just figuring out which guy among those three [and Shawn Marion] to pass it to.  Doesn't seem to be the same case this year.  Kobe Bryant is still a candidate, but don't let the awesome 35+ ppg fool you.  Only 7 times since 1976 has the leading scorer went on to win the MVP award.  Five of those times, it was Michael Jordan.  But if somehow Kobe gets his team into the Pacific Division race....his chances greatly improve. 

COACH OF THE YEAR:  I'm going to have to vote for Avery Johnson....with Flip Saunders a close 2nd.  Saunders took over the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions.  Johnson took over a bunch of softies who folded when the pressure came along.  The Mavs still could turn into that pumpkin when the postseason arrives....but this actually does look like a different Mavs team.  They currently have the best record in the West...and are just 1.5 games back of Detroit for the top record in the league.  They actually look like a real team....with defense and everything!   Byron Scott needs to get a shout out as well for taking the horrible New Orleans-less Hornets and making them into a serious playoff contender.  Throw Mike Dunleavy a bone, too.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:  Hands down, Chris Paul.  The Wake Forest product [ACC Baby] has helmed a Hornets team that, somehow, is in the playoff race.  He leads all rookies in scoring and is 7th in the entire NBA in assists.  The only player that is even remotely on the radar with Paul is Channing Frye....but his team sucks. 

ALL ROOKIE TEAM:  Paul, Frye, Charlie Villenueva, Andrew Bogut and Salim Stoudamire.  Villenueva has done a great job turning his "horrible draft pick" tag to become the Raptors' 2nd best player.  Bogut, while not dominating, is still performing well in Milwaukee.  Stoudamire was a 2nd round pick who is doing a lot [almost 10 ppg and an excellent 3-pt and FT shooter] in just under 20 minutes per game. 

THE MOST BORING TEAM:  It must be great to be the San Antonio Spurs.  All anyone can talk about is the Pistons run for 70 wins....or how well the Mavericks are playing....of when/if the Heat will find their rhythm....or if the Lakers can get it together for a playoff push....or LeBron's Cavaliers playing well....or the Suns surprising rising despite their massive talent dropoff.  I mean, the Spurs are defending champions, with three rings in the last 7 years, the third best record in the NBA, a 21-3 mark at home and no one cares to mention them or even carry any of their games.  Amazing. 

BIGGEST TEAM SURPRISE:  Whenever who see a record of 30-21 next to the Los Angeles Clippers....well, it is a surprise.  Sure, they had talent to do some damage...but, we've heard that story before.  This team is a legit playoff team.  They possess a big time post precence in Elton Brand.....scarily one of the West's best centers in Chris Kaman....a leader in Sam Cassell that actually won't shy away from failing in order to attempt to be sucessful....and a bunch of role guys that don't try to overstep their roles. 

BIGGEST TEAM DISAPPOINTMENT:  It has to be the Houston Rockets.  Many felt they had a good shot at being one of the elite in the West.  But injuries to Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming have tanked the team.  T-Mac still isn't completely right...which is bad news for a team that is 0-13 when he doesn't suit up.

BIGGEST NAME TO GET DEALT NEXT WEEK:  I think it will be Steve Francis.  The Magic realize the mistake made of bringing him in [under the old regime] and they actually have takers for his bad contract.  If the Knicks do offer Penny Hardaway and some filler...they should take it.  The deal for Darko Milicic earlier in the week just adds to the fact that they are in development mode of a Darko-Howard front line.  They finally get Grant Hill's contract off the books in Orlando can actually be big time players in the next two free agent summers. 

COACH MOST LIKELY TO GET FIRED NEXT:   Rick Adelman of the Kings.  Sacto fans aren't used to not being a playoff team [well, after the first decade, they should've] and Adelman has been on the chopping block for the past few years.  Heck, they were even trying to get Mr Cowtown himself Phil Jackson to replace him.  The Kings went out and got a risk in Ron Artest to try to infuse some life into this team.  If it happens for naught...Adelman will be gone.  Other coaches who need to watch their necks???  G-State's Mike Montgomery and Boston's Doc Rivers. 

MY FAVORITE LIST OF PLAYERS THAT YOU NEVER HEARD OF BUT ARE STARTING IN THE NBA:  Keith McLeod, Kevin Martin, James Singleton, Robert Swift, John Salmons. 

LOCKS:   Pistons, Heat, Nets, Cavaliers:  The first three teams should win their divisions....and the Cavs are better than pretty much all the other "wildcards".
LOOKING GOOD:   Pacers, Bucks.  Pacers need to get Jermaine O'Neal back and to figure out what their rotations are.  The Bucks have a lot of young parts [rookie Bogut inside and comeback player TJ Ford at point] but are playing above .500
IN LIMBO:  Wizards, Sixers, Bulls, Celtics:  The Wiz are underachieving.  They have one of the best scorers in the NBA [Arenas] a darn good forward [Jamison] and a ton of very serviceable parts around them.  Not to mention they play in a division with three very bad teams.  The Sixers also have a good shot at getting in....that is unless Iverson burns out and/or Webber goes down.  The Baby Bulls need to make their push now and the Celtics, well, need to figure out what they are doing. 
DEAD:  Raptors, Magic, Hawks, Bobcats:  If Toronto hadn't started 1-15, they be actually in the playoff hunt.  I feel the Magic are going to start rebuilding this week.  The Hawks are in that mode now.  The Bobcats have had nearly everyone in Charlotte on the injured list. 

LOCKS:  Mavericks, Spurs, Suns:  These teams are far and away the best in the West.
LOOKING GOOD:  Clippers.  Yep, the Clippers are the closest things to locks in the Western conference to the top trio.  Well, and the Northwest champion.
IN LIMBO:  Nuggets, Hornets, Grizzlies, Lakers, Jazz, Warriors, Kings, Wolves, Rockets.  Yep, the chase for the final 2-3 spots in the West will be interesting.  Either the Nuggest, Jazz or Wolves will win the N'west division and a #3 seed.  The other two will have to battle with the Hornets, Grizzlies, Lakers, Warriors and Kings for the other three spots.  The Hornets and Grizzlies look good for playoff spots.....but the Hornets are oh so young and the Grizzlies have such a tough schedule remaining.  The Lakers play a bulk of their games at home...and against the Warriors and Kings.  The Rockets?  Well, if Yao and T-Mac can stay in the lineup - anything can happen. 
DEAD:  Sonics and Blazers.  The sad thing is that they aren't completely dead....just on life support. 

Dude, These Winter Olympics Are Sooooo Bogus!!

I have spent the first week of the Torino games bashing our Team USA's performances.  Sure, we are in the top five of the standings.....and no one has won as medal gold medals as us....but I'm still not impressed.  I mean, 6 of our 10 medals have been in snowboarding, one in freestyle skiing....and the other three in alpine and speed skating. 

What has disappointed me most is HOW we are acting in these games.  From Michelle Kwam turning down her "honorary" spot on the Bode Miller's tank the men's hockey team's slow the women's hockey team falling Johnny Weir's prissy Lindsey Jacobellis showing off and then losing her gold....and these Olympics are being beaten in the ratings by, what Jim Rome likes to call, "American Karaoke". 

Our big gold medal winners talk like they just rolled out of that bus with Jeff Spicoli in the beginning of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High".  Weir blamed his missed medal on a missed bus, dust in his quarters and bad biorhytms in the arena.  In true American style....Bode Miller's brashness has made him more of buzz athlete than his performance.  He's done nothing in the Games, but his drinking and big mouth keep him on our TVs.  We've had members of our nordic combined and team pursuit, uh, teams, blast each other after stinking up the place.  And all this before the chicks get on the ice to figure skate!!!!

Well, I found an article that just tells it better than anything I could write here.  Check out - Winter Olympics- Best and worst of the Olympic week that was on the first week of the Olympic effort.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Just Cancel The WBC!


It was a neat idea....but it keeps getting dumber by the minute.

First off, the hype behind this thing is overblown.  For about a year now I've heard about this tournament....yet I have no idea when it is, where it is or why we are even having it???  [Oh, it is in Phoenix/Orlando/Tokyo/San Juan...and, well, to see how many teams are better than us]. 

We've had Cuba banned from being in it....then allowed back in to play.  Guys are dropping off of teams like flies as the even comes closer.  And my favorite - players who great-great-great grand pappy's ex-wives former stepchild's niece took a dump on one of those island they are eligible to be on their team.  Huh?? 

And the event is nicely set up so that the USA, Domitican Republic, Japan and Cuba are all in seperate pools and should meet somewhere in the semifinals. 

Here is your Team USA:

Starters (4): Roger Clemens, Jake Peavy, CC Sabathia and Dontrelle Willis.

Relievers (10): Chad Cordero, Brian Fuentes, Todd Jones, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, Scot Shields, Huston Street, Mike Timlin, Billy Wagner and Dan Wheeler.

Catchers (3): Michael Barrett, Brian Schneider and Jason Varitek.

Infielders (7): Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Derek Lee, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Chase Utley and Michael Young.

Outfielders (6): Johnny Damon, Jeff Francoeur, Ken Griffey, Matt Holliday, Vernon Wells and Randy Winn.

High School Powers Collide


On Saturday night in Cincinnati's US Bank Arena [which all 16,000+ plus seats are sold out], the #1 and #2 teams in high school hoops will face off for the de-facto National Championship.

The #1 team is Oak Hill...who have 7 players who are lined up to play Division-I hoops next year.  The best one, Tywon Lawson, will be suiting up for North Carolina this fall.   They also have a junior named Nolan Smith who is headed to Duke. 

The #2 team is North College Hill....which houses OJ Mayo, the top ranked player in the Class of 2007 [the #2 ranked player is Oak Hill's Michael Beasley who is headed to Charlotte].  His teammate, Bill Walker, is also a top-10 talent in 2007. 

Oak Hill is used to this.  They've long been a breeding ground for future college and NBA stars [Carmelo Anthony, Jerry Stackhouse, Ron Mercer].  Since they don't compete for a state championship, they are basically a national barnstorming team.  Oak Hill also beat the last Ohio prodigy, LeBron James.....twice.  NCH isn't used to this....and may have some disadvantages in this game.  Their 6-11 center has left the team and Mayo is a bit banged up.


How Weir-d?


To be honest....unless you play in the NHL or you are Michelle Kwan, I probably have never heard of any of our American athletes in the Winter Olympics.

Most Americans haven't.  That's why NBC crams those vinettes down our throats about certain of our athletes.  We get to see and know their heartwarming story, which in turn allows us to root for them as people and not just because they represent our country.

Since I work nights, I get to watch about a smidge of NBC's coverage of the games during my breaks.  On Tuesday, I was introduced to Johnny Weir

To be PC about this.....ol' Johnny Weir basically was everything I expected from a male figure skater.  He talked about how "Republicans" wouldn't appreciate his style and how he doesn't think he's "a diva".  Yet, the feature on him showed him strutting down the street with a fur coat on, huge sunglasses and tons of shopping bags in tow.  I then watched his arm in black straps and another arm wearing white with a red glove.  He was supposed to be a swan!

Well, the culmination of his event was tonight....and Weir did what many in Team USA has done these Games......disappoint.

Apparantly, he missed the bus to get him to the arena.  While he arrived in time to perform, he got to the arena later than he would've liked, and spent a bunch of energy and nerves on just trying to get there.  Weir also said his biorhythms were off.  He said, "I never felt comfortable in this building.  I didn't feel my inner peace. I didn't feel my aura. I was black inside."

He has been "The Mouth" of the Games.....along with Bode Miller.  The rude American.  He complained about his living quarters [there was dust!].  He wants limo services.....not that smelly old bus that he missed. 

Tim Dahlberg of the AP said that "Tonya Harding acted tougher than this guy."

You can find out more about Johnny Weir from his website....johnny weir online.  Interesting stuff [note, Weir was also on AOL Sports: Sports Bloggers Live for the Olympic show]. 

His favorite celebrity is Madonna.

One of his nicknames is "Tinker-belle"

His favorite drink is Peach Nectar.

He loves Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City. 

His favorite designer is Geoffrey Small.  Be warned that has no favorite designer.  He also lists his favorite boutiques.  Um, is Best Buy a boutique??  If so, then that's mine. 

Ok, now I am making fun.....but in all seriousness, the USA has missed the bus.  This was our prized male skater bowing out of the medals.  Kwan has already left.  Sure, we lead with the most gold medals, 6, but most of those are won in the X-games type events.  We need more than just stoners winning our medals!!!!

Sorry....I needed that

Thursday, February 16, 2006



PSYCHO T:  "Psycho T" is the nickname for Tyler Hansbrough, the freshman center/forward for North Carolina.  On Wednesday, Hansbrough dropped 40 pts on Georgia Tech, setting the UNC and ACC record for scoring by a freshman [the record was 38 by Clemson's Skip Wise in 1974].  He also set the Dean Smith Center scoring record.  I may be biased, but he is the ACC rookie of the year and in my mind should win the national honor as well.  With Hansbrough manning the center next year, Carolina should be scary with their NEXT big crop of freshman coming in.  Darn you Marvin Williams!!  Why didn't you stay!!!

BRACKET BUSTER WEEKEND:  In the world of UNC, Duke, UConn and the rest of the high profile NCAA of the best niche events in basketball goes down this weekend.  The Bracket Buster Weekend pits some of the top mid-majors in the land for a few days of national exposure and RPI flavored fare.  Not only can TEAMS amp up their resumes....but CONFERENCES can as well.  The Mid-American Conference can make a good case for multiple bids if their teams perform well this weekend.  This year 100 teams are participating in the fiesta.  I implore you to check out these games.  You have Bucknell, the team that smacked down Kansas in the tourny last year....and are ranked this year.  You have the Albany Great Danes who have matched their combined wins in their first 6 years of D-I ball in this season alone.  Another 2005 tourny story, UW-Milwaukee, will also have an important game against a tough Missouri State squad.  Northern Arizona and Western Kentucky meet in a battle of 10-1 conference teams.  The Missouri Valley and Colonial leaders, Wichita State and George Mason, face off.  You have Samford, statistically the slowest team in the NCAA.   Check out ESPNU, 2 and 360 for some of the action!


MIKE DAVIS TO QUIT INDIANA:  I'm sure the fellas at FIREMIKEDAVIS.COM will love the news that....well....Mike Davis is going to resign at season's end.  Citing stress, and just the overall mood about him around Indiana, he will let someone else try to take a shot at being Bobby Knight's replacement.  On a personal note, I like Davis...and I think he could/should get another shot somewhere else.  I think he'd be a good coach at a southern school, since he did have an ability to recruit southern kids to Indiana. 

EDDIE SUTTON GOES TO REHAB:  In yet another turn in the week in the life of E-Sutton, he told reporters that he will enter rehab for alcohol abuse during his leave of absence....the 2nd time he will have done so.  This adds to his week of car crashes, DUI arrest, medical leave and stories about his deteriorating body.  Odds are that Sutton won't be back as Oklahoma State's his successor, son Sean Sutton, has been taking over for his dad. 

DARKO DEALT:  I won't call him a bust yet, because he hasn't really played....but the Pistons are ridding themselves of their "project".  Detroit dealt Darko Milicic to Orlando for Kelvin Cato.  Cato brings a big body inside and a shotblocker [read: a guy to body Shaq].  Darko will get a chance to play for Orlando, a team going nowhere and most likely willing to develop a few guys.  For those who don't know, Milicic was picked right after LeBron James and right before Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in the 2003 NBA Draft.  Just imagine.....IMAGINE....what the Pistons would look like if they had drafted either Anthony, Bosh or Wade.  WOW!!

G'BYE SAMMY:  With no more roids....ride off into the sunset, Sammy!

JAIL BLAZERS CONTINUE:  Sebastian Telfair was fined for having a gun hidden in his pillowcase on the team's plane.  It was his "girlfriend's gun" and that he "grabbed the wrong bag".  Don't worry, Bassie!  You are now a true Blazer!!  I'm sure Ruben "Hey nanny, wanna see my junk" Patterson and Zach "Momma Said Knock You Out" Randolph will embrace him into the Blazer lore.  Wherever Qyntell "Dog fighting" Woods or Damon "Hippie Lettuce" Stoudamire are....they are proud! 

ISIAH THOMAS SUCKS PT 2:  A month or so ago, I clamored on and on about how much Isiah Thomas sucks.  Striving to stay consistant, rumors are that he is aggressively trying to bring Steve Francis into the fold.  Sure, 4-5 years ago a Stephon Marbury-Steve Francis backcourt would make most GMs drool....well, not now.  Both have well earned reputations as problems....and expensive ones at that.  Thomas can do this move by sending Penny Hardaway and his horrible, but expiring contract down to Orlando.  The Magic gets rid of their biggest headache, and gets some financial freedom heading into this offseason [and will get rid of Grant Hill's contract the next summer].  The Hardaway contract is like a "free coupon" that's burning in Thomas' pocket.  Sure, they are the Knicks and have the resources to keep making these boneheaded financial moves.  I mean, that's fine.  However, none of these moves makes any real sense.  Nabbing Francis is like getting another Marbury...something they don't need.  They just dealt for over-expensive Jalen Rose, a player that "needs" the ball in his hands constantly and loves to get his shot too [and a guy that both Thomas and Larry Brown had issues with in the past].  And this comes after they dealt for Quentin Richardson after last season.  They have, like, 5 small forwards and 5 small power forwards on their team.  And the biggest bust in the NBA free agency, Jerome James, who was rewarded for having a DECENT playoff showing last season by Thomas.  Actually, the biggest bust could be Larry Brown who has done nothing to show that his $10M per year deal is worth any penny.  Of course, Thomas is using his "Penny" to add more headaches to a team with a massive migrane.  Good luck!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Only in sports can you get the terms "bracketology" and "bracketologist".  Well, like last season, I will devote the final month of prepping for the NCAA tournament by keeping tabs on who's hot and who's not in the bubble arena. 

So, for that info....go to "HOOPS ASSASSIN" by The SPORTZ ASSASSIN for all the haps!  I will try to update it as much as I possibly can [hopefully every night]. 

Here is just some flava.

ACC BUBBLE TIME!  "Maryland, just like last year, is showing why they shouldn't be in the tournament.  A very bad loss in Clemson may have killed them.  They've played one of the toughest skeds in the nation but are only 1-7 against the top 50 teams.  They have now lost 5 of 6 game and still must go to Chapel Hill and Tallahassee. "

BIG EAST BUBBLE TIME!  "I nearly have [West Virginia] in the green with their sweep of G'town and their impressive wins at Villanova and UCLA.  They also are a popular tournament team from last year with many of the same cast of characters [ya can't leave Pittsnogle out!!!].  The only reason I don't have them as a lock yet is the fact they have 6 losses already [2 of their last 3] with a remaining sked that has UConn, at Syracuse, Louisville, Pitt and at Cincinnati.  If they fall below the top 4, then they get another tought opponent in the first round of the Big East tourny.  "

BIG TEN BUBBLE TIME!  "Wisconsin has a good chance to get in.  But, aside from a win over Michigan State, they've done pretty much nothing.  Add that home loss to North Dakota State and one in Purdue....and they can't feel completely safe." 

BIG XII BUBBLE TIME!  "Colorado has played an easy schedule and hasn't beaten anybody.  Iowa State does have a win over Iowa....but a loss at home against Iona.  Nebraska's best win was at home against Oklahoma but have just been hammered by Kansas and at Texas.  Kansas State and Texas A&M has no big wins...but some impressive losses.  They all get a crack at another [or two] in this bunch.  Colorado, Iowa State and Nebraska all have shots to get in...but they need to amp it up."

PAC-10 BUBBLE TIME!  "Stanford has even less wiggle room.  Their record isn't attractive at all....and neither are the losses to UC-Irvine, Montana or UC-Davis.  Stanford must, in my mind, run the table to have a chance."

SEC BUBBLE TIME!  "Kentucky is in a bit of trouble.  They are just a .500 team in conference and have been swept by Vandy, who is trying to get in as well.  Kentucky has one attractive win....against West Virginia.  But they were dominated by Kansas and Indiana...and lost to Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina.  To make it all the more scary, they still have to go to LSU, South Carolina and Tennesee and host Florida.  Ouch!!  If they lose all 4 of those games, they'd be 15-13 heading into the SEC tourny.  I think once they get to 11 losses in season [with a 12 in the conference tourny], they are toast."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006's Baseball Innovations











On, Jayson Stark takes a look at MLB's greatest innovations in the past 25 years [since 1981 to you and me].  I'm gonna take that list and rearrange it to my liking...

1-WILD CARD.  I agree that the Wild Card is the greatest thing that's happened in MLB over the past 25 years.  It has created a new "pennant race" that includes more teams and more opportunities.  Since the wild card era has taken place, we've seen the Marlins win the World Series twice [which is two more than their amount of division titles], the Angels and the Giants play in an All Wild Card Series and the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.  To me, it seems the wild card team is a strong playoff contender since they've been in a 'playoff' over the final month just to get into the postseason. 

At the same time, the fact more teams are in it means there is less chances for teams to dump guys to the elite clubs.  Which is good for the balance of the entire league. 

2-REALIGNMENT.  Six division winner makes two more teams happening!  Not just that, but it regionalized the sport much better [well, except for Texas in the AL West].  With the unbalanced schedule now, the division champs usually IS the best team in the bunch....even if the bunch isn't that good [see 2005 Padres]. 

3-FANTASY BASEBALL.  This falls under the "stats" and such in the column, but it shouldn't be underscored how fantasy sports have helped the real leagues.  You may never watch a Royals game if you didn't need Mike Sweeney's output.  While football is still fantasy king, baseball is more of a daily feel and has intergrated tons of new stats and numbers that baseball purists love.   

4-INTERLEAGUE PLAY.  It was lightning out of the gate to see the Dodgers in Yankee Stadium or those interstate or city matchups.  The side effects are that the All Star Game has really taken a hit.  And no one enjoys those Tigers-Diamondbacks series.  I said it many times that they should scale back the interleague games to include the Rival Series and than maybe 1 or 2 more teams in a home-and-home deal. 

5-MEDICINE:  The amazing advances in surgeries and preventive maintenence has been vital in this day and age.  Down time is lessened and long term injuries can be avoided in ways that was dreamed of in the early 80s. 

6-BASEBALL IS ALWAYS ON:  The article talks about ESPN's role in having baseball on a lot.  Well, with the advent of DirecTV and the Extra Innings package, baseball fans everywhere can watch the entire league unfold no matter whom they root for. 

7-RETRO PARKS:  The question I have to ask now is.....will the Cookie Cutter Stadiums be the new retro???  But baseball stadiums actually look and feel like baseball stadiums instead of those multi-purpose eyesores that littered the nation a decade or so ago.   Now, only the Marlins and Athletics share stadiums with an NFL team.

8-BASEBALL TONIGHT:  I will admit, of all of ESPN's league shows....this one is the best.  Why?  Well, it is on constantly and while games are on.  Nothing beats when the show is moving on...then the "dahhhh-da-da-da-da-dahhhhh" comes up with an update.  Again, unlike the other sports....there is usually a full slate on every night so there is a ton to talk about and show.  And they are so knowledgable about every facet of the game. 

9-MORE OFFENSE:  Say what you want...but the only thing good about a 2-1 baseball game is that it goes by quickly.  The good thing about the 10-6 games is that, well, there is more action to watch.  And isn't that why we hate soccer????

10-SPECIALISTS:  Baseball is much more micromanaged then ever because of specialists.  You used to just have a closer.  Then, you had to get a set-up manto get to your closer.  Now, you have a set-up man for your set-up man.  Every team has that left hander in their bullpen whose sole job is to strike out that lefty hitter ina tight pickle in the game.  It shortens the game so that innings 1-6 are more vital to win because the team with the lead calls the shots in innings 7-9.  On the flip side, inserting new pitchers into the game adds a bit of intrigue in case he's cold. 


EXPANSION.  In the past 25 years, baseball has added teams in Colorado, Arizona, Tampa and Florida.  Well, there is THREE World Series titles in there....but a ton of doubt, too.  Tampa is a floormat of a team in a city that might as well be the Yankee's summer home.  Florida is ready to relocated.  Colorado is more of a gimmick team with their launching pad of a park.  Arizona blew it's load out of the gate and is wiped out.  Sure, the league made a ton of money off of these owners....but at what cost?  Talent is diluted and three of those teams don't leave the state for spring training [and they are more known for retirees than anything].    It is good there was no contraction....but there wouldn't have needed to if they hadn't added these teams in.

REVENUE SHARING:  Sure, it is better....but not as big as Stark makes it to be.  Yeah, those smaller teams get a better allowance, but they must spend wisely and have better scouting than the big wigs who can take chances and overpay the market [which is the entire point of the salary cap].  While fans of the Yanks, Sox and Angels can have high hopes every year, smaller teams have to find their spots and pray everything works out.  Granted, more money doesn't equate to a good team [see: Orioles].  Which brings me to.....

THE EXPOS:  Sure, baseball in DC is great.....but the way the Expos were essentially dragged around for three years was cruel.  I mean, it was the worst example of killing a franchise I've seen.  Baseball's experiment in Puerto Rico worked for about, oh, 20 games.  Which should just go to show baseball that NO ONE will go see a bad baseball matter how rabid of a fan base they have. 

THE DRAFT:  Sure, the difference between the MLB draft and the NFL, NBA and NHL drafts is that it is held in season.  Also, like the NHL, most [well, all] of the drafted players won't see big league ball right off the bat.  But, that's not my gripe.  My gripe is that the Asian and Latin players don't have to use the draft.  That's wrong!  In the NBA and NHL, foreign players have to apply for the draft just as the homeland players do.  MLB uses the "secret highest bidder" to begin negotiations with a foreign player.  Which means that go to the Yankees, Dodgers or Mariners.  Imagine if Ichiro or any of the Cuban defectors had to enter the big leagues via the draft!!!

LATE NIGHTS:  I am not saying that baseball needs day World Series games....but hold 'em a bit earlier.  People living in the East Coast must stay up well past midnight to see the outcome of a World Series game.  That's absurd!!  Start the game at 7:00 at the latest!!!  Maybe have the Saturday and/or Sunday games start around 5:00??  And they wonder why kids are flocking to other sports!  When I was 16, I missed most of that thrilling Braves-Twins series due to the fact that I had school the next day and couldn't stay up to see the last 3 innings or so of the games.  I missed the Puckett catch and HR.  I missed most of those great plays in that series....and I am sure many of our young-uns have missed some thrilling post season baseball moments because of this too.  In an era of cable and satellite with 300 channels....people aren't gonna "bump into" the game and watch.  People who want to watch it will be there whenever you hold the games.

DOUBLEHEADERS:  There are none.  At least scheduled.  Most kids don't realize that DH on the sked back in the day wasn't "Designated Hitter" but "Double Header".  And if a rain-out sets one up on the schedule....the home team holds a "day-night doubleheader" that means fans can leave after Game 1 and new fans come in for Game 2.  C'mon!!  With 81 home games....make it 80 home dates and force every team to host at least ONE doubleheader.  To get your money,charge a bit more for the tix.  I mean, there is nothing wrong with having a lazy Sunday doubleheader where everyone gets a ton of baseball action.  I mean, 6-10 hours of baseball ain't a bad thing. 

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sutton Gets a DUI....and Other Musings

EDDIE SUTTON OUT FOR THE SEASON.  First off, wasn't he supposed to retire after last season???  Well, the 2006 season is up in smoke as he crashed his car the other night....and apparantly he had been sippin on the sauce [he has only been "cited" since there is apparantly a lack of physical evidence].  Sutton has been dealing with a lot of hip and back problems this year and dealing with a lot of stress.  This lends a possibility of the "influence" to be medication and not "the sauce".  Either way, it is sad for E-Sutt to have to go down like this.

THANK GOD FOR EXTREME SPORTS!!!!  I'm not a big X-games guy.  I don't "do the Dew" or eat habenero cheese on everything or have some wild potato chip flavor I love or have these Extreme dots in my deodarant.  But thank God Team USA does!  Right now, we have 5 medals....all of which come from X-games type events.  Well, snowboarding.  We have 4 of our medals in the Halfpipe....with the other coming in the 5000m.  The 5000m event was a gold won by a dude nicknamed the Flying Tomato.  Again, I am not mocking these cats....I'm actually excited that the Olympics are including these newer sports to the stodgy ones they keep in the games.  I am more angry at the fact that the normal winter events aren't being won by us....but the nordic countries [but, hey, when do they ever get to shine?]

SAMMY SOSA MAY RETIRE:  Really?  Man.  What a kwinky dink that he has a lousy season then is thinking retirement right after the MLB is starting to crack down on the roids?  Sosa is an example [among others] of how quickly someone can crash off our sports pedastals.  Sosa was a god a few years ago.  He's one of the all time HR leaders [the alltime Latin HR king] and wore that "baseball been berry berry good to me" charm like a badge of honor.  Now, after roid rumors, corked bats and crybaby tactics toward Cubs management....he's worth a non-guaranteed $500K deal from the old Montreal Expos. 

SHAUN ALEXANDER A PANTHER:  The more and more I hear about it....the more and more I think it is a possibility.  Coming into the offseason, I would have betmoney on Shaun Alexander staying in Seattle.  I still feel that's where he'll end up.  But with various rumors and a little common sense, Carolina does seem to have a strong case.  The Panthers are in the same class as the Seahawks as far as the NFC heiarchy goes....and Alexander would be a key swing vote for them.  Stephen Davis has played his final game in Charlotte...and DeShaun Foster is a free agent.  He'd be much closer to his family [in Northern Kentucky] and back in the south where he went to college [Alabama].  The key was that he got a good luck and the Panthers nucleus while at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.  QB Jake Delhomme was well as Steve Smith, Mike Wahle and Julius Peppers.  Oh, and the entire Panthers coaching staff.  So while teams cannot comment on players their actions they can "sell themselves" to Alexander.  Keep an eye on this one. 

NBA TRADING DEADLINE.  We are about 10 days until the trading deadline...and there are a ton more rumors than good leads right now.  But, like usual, the NBA feeds off of the trading deadline to get that extra push into the playoffs....or into a better seed.  The MLB does the "star for minor league prospects".  The NBA does "B-list star for expiring horrible contract".  So the list of names you will see dealt will usually have a horrible contract to them.  Ya know, someone like Penny Hardaway, Tim Thomas, Keith Van Horn, Scot Pollard, Devean George, Lorenzen Wright, Kelvin Cato, Bonzi Wells and Antonio Davis to get guys like Theo Ratliff, Steve Francis, Kenyon Martin or Mike Dunleavy.   Remember, last year the Kings actually were able to deal away Chris Webber's difficult contract away [um, but didn't work out that great].

Sportz-ing Some New Gadgets


Just one week after dropping heavy cheese on Mrs Sportz' wedding set [she's been without for two years after a mishap with her first set].....I went on a bit of a shopping spree.

Let's just say that me at Best Buy can cause some damage.

Last summer, it was my flat screen HDTV and a few TIVOs for the Sportz Room I have hooked up in my basement.  This time...nothing that extravagant...but nearly as cool.

Yeah, I bit it and got one of those new ESPN Mobile phones [New Cell Phone: Mobile ESPN Cell Phone | Mobile ESPN].  Man, this thing is cool! 

It has ESPN pretty much on demand by hitting the "E" button in the middle of the phone.  Go there, and another world opens.  It has"

*NEWS.  Obviously the top news in sports.
*SCORES AND GAMECAST:  Click there, and you get a screen full of up to date scores.  The Gamecast will allow you to essentially watch the game play-by-play just like you can on  I did so during the UNC-Miami game tonight while me and my wife watched "Just Like Heaven". 
*COLUMNISTS:  The normal ESPN fare.
*VIDEO:  You can watch SportsCenter-esque highlights. 
*HOT CORNER:  The buzz stories.
*ALERTS:  Breaking news to your phone.
*SPORTSNATION:  Like, a place where you can vote in those various polls on SportsCenter.
*FANTASY:  Yep, you can manage your fantasy teams from your phone!!!  I have yet to use this, but it seems to have some promise.
*FAVORITE TEAMS AND PLAYERS:  You can select up to 5 favorite teams...and they'll have icons on the menu.  Go to those icons, and that team's page comes up with n news, scores and other stuff.  You also can select 15 of your favorite players to keep track of.  Nice!

My ringer [which was built in] is the SportsCenter theme.  It uses Sprint....but doesn't go thru Sprint's normal plans....which sucked because my wife and I have Sprint.  But, the plans are pretty reasonable for what you get.  It also comes with a year of ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Insider with it.

I also got the new ARENA FOOTBALL game from EA Sports.  Pretty cool....but you need to work with it if you aren't familiar with the AFL.  The running clock is what got the clock doesn't stop with changing possessions and it's tough for me to catch a kickoff.  But the gameplay is cool....and fast. 

I also bought NHL 06 but have yet to try it out. 

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Some Of The Biggest Sports Betting Scandals


Some infamous sports gambling scandals - NHL -

1998: Former Northwestern football player Brain Ballarini pleads guilty to gambling charges and admits he had run betting operations at Northwestern and the University of Colorado. NU basketball players Dion Lee and Dewey Williams admit they tried to fix games in 1995.

1997: Former Arizona State basketball players Stevin Smith and Isaac Burton Jr. pleads guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit sports bribery in a point shaving scheme that fixed four Sun Devils’ games.

1996: Thirteen Boston College football players are suspended for betting on college and pro football and major league baseball. Two players bet against their team in a loss to Syracuse

1991: Phillies center fielder Lenny Dykstra admits having lost $50,000 in illegal poker games in Indianola, Miss., in late 1989 and 1990. He is placed on one year’s probation by commissioner Fay Vincent.


1989: Pete Rose is placed on baseball’s permanently ineligible list for gambling on sports — he denies betting on baseball at the time. Banned from being considered for the Hall of Fame, in early 2004 he admits to betting on the Cincinnati Reds — always to win, he says — when he managed them.

1985: Tulane ends its basketball program in the wake of point-shaving allegations. The school resumes basketball for the 1989-90 season.

1981: Rick Kuhn, a former player at Boston College, and four others are found guilty of conspiring to shave points to fix basketball games in the 1978-79 season. Kuhn was later sentenced to 10 years.

1970: Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain is suspended for three months by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for a 1967 involvement in bookmaking.

1963: Green Bay Packers halfback Paul Hornung and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras are suspended indefinitely by NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle for betting on their own games. The two star players are reinstated the next year.


1952: Kentucky has its basketball program suspended for the 1952-53 season after a point-shaving scandal. The Wildcats had won the NCAA title in 1951.

1951: Several college basketball teams are caught up in point-fixing schemes. CCNY, Manhattan, Long Island and Bradley are among those involved.

1947: NHL commissioner Clarence S. Campbell suspended Boston’s Don Gallinger and the New York Rangers’ Billy Taylor for life for gambling.

1947: Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher is suspended for the entire 1947 season by commissioner Happy Chandler for consorting with gamblers.

1943: Phillies owner William Cox is ordered by commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to sell the team after admitting he made “15-20 bets of from $25 to $100 per game” early in the season.

1921: Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven other members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox are given lifetime suspensions by commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for conspiring to fix the World Series in the Black Sox scandal.