Monday, November 30, 2009
The ACC-Big Ten Challenge begins tonight with a yawner of a game between Virginia and Penn State.
This series has been played every year since 1999. The ACC has won the Challenge in all ten seasons. Duke is a perfect 10-0 in the Challenge. Wake Forest is 8-1. Clemson is 8-2. Michigan State is lone Big Ten school with a winning record in this event (5-4).
The ACC is 62-35 in the Challenge. This year could be different. This year should be different.
The Big Ten is regarded as the top conference this year. The ACC saw a lot of talent head off to the NBA draft (nine players) or graduation. Big Ten only saw two of their guys drafted (B.J. Mullens and Goran Suton) and didn't lose as much to graduation. That allows the Big Ten to be a bit more experienced and cohesive at this time. Both conferences boast three ranked teams (Duke, North Carolina and Clemson in the ACC; Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State in the Big Ten).
There are a few more reasons why I think the Big Ten will break the streak and win their first Challenge:
-Georgia Tech won't participate. The Yellow Jackets were one of the worst teams in the ACC last year, but have improved with Derrick Favors roaming the paint. They are better than Virginia, NC State, Miami and a few other ACC schools that will be playing.
-Michigan State is better; UNC lost a lot. The jewel matchup during this week is Michigan State at North Carolina. You probably remember that the Heels blew out Michigan State by 35 in the Challenge last year. They returned to Ford Field in April and blew out the Spartans again in the National Championship game. This really isn't a rematch since most of the star-power of the Tar Heels is currently playing in the NBA. Michigan State lost Suton and some other parts, but most of the team that lost in that title game is back.
-Weird matchups: Why is Maryland playing Indiana and not NC State? I feel that NC State could beat Indiana in a battle of the two worst teams in these conferences. Instead, the Wolfpack plays Northwestern, who look to go to their first NCAA tournament in school history. Maryland can win that game and should be playing them instead. And why is Ohio State hosting Florida State and not Clemson???
This isn't to say that the ACC doesn't have a chance to continue their dominance. There are several games that could go either way. So here is my prediction:
Penn State at Virginia. Virginia wins (ACC 1-0)
Maryland at Indiana. Maryland wins (ACC 2-0)
Michigan State at North Carolina. Michigan State wins (ACC 2-1)
Northwestern at NC State. Northwestern wins (tied 2-2)
Virginia Tech at Iowa. Va Tech wins (ACC 3-2)
Wake Forest at Purdue. Purdue wins (tied 3-3)
Boston College at Michigan. Michigan wins (Big Ten 4-3)
Duke at Wisconsin. Duke wins (tied 4-4)
Florida State at Ohio State. Ohio State wins (Big Ten 5-4)
Illinois at Clemson. Clemson wins (tied 5-5)
Minnesota at Miami. Miami wins (ACC 6-5)
Wait. Did I just give the ACC another win? Hmmm. Maybe the streak will continue. But even if I'm wrong, there are plenty of swing games and I have five road teams winning ... which goes against the grain. During the Challenge, the home team has won 67 of the 97 games.
Lawrence Frank and Charlie Weis spent all last week knowing that they wouldn't be holding onto their jobs for very much longer. Both Frank, the head coach of the New Jersey Nets, and Weis, the head coach at Notre Dame, were on borrowed time and were looking straight at that shiny guillotine.
Both were fired in successive days this week. Frank, who was reported to be fired all weekend, finally was shown the door before the Nets 17th straight loss to open the current season. Notre Dame waited until today to officially fire Weis, who says he already has had phone calls about offensive coordinator positions in the NFL.
Weis deserved to get fired. He had five years to mold the Fighting Irish into his kind of program. The offense, at times, looked powerful but the defense was lacking. Also, some decision-making just didn't make sense. He could recruit very well considering Notre Dame's strict requirements, but he just couldn't max all that talent.
While 35-27 doesn't seem to be a horrible five-year record, it doesn't sit well at Notre Dame. This is a program that hasn't won a National Championship in 21 years. That was also their last Heisman Trophy winner. They've been walking around the last two decades like a celebreality star: famous for what they used to be.
Weis was given every opportunity to pull this thing around and he just couldn't do it. Losing at home to Navy ... twice ... can do that to you.
Over in New Jersey, Frank was fired because ... well ... uh ... well they had to do something! The Nets are one loss away from setting the NBA record for most consecutive losses to start a season. Apparently, that's Frank's fault. He was 225-241 in his six-plus seasons with the Nets. He won two Atlantic Division titles and finished second once during that time. But the Nets have become one of those teams who decided to enter the Free Agent Sweepstakes of 2010. They gave away all their best players in salary dumps and are relying on young guys and role players to keep the ship afloat.
Their best player, point guard Devin Harris, missed the first ten games of the season. Courtney Lee, Yi Jianlian, Jarvis Hayes and Keyon Dooling have all missed time. And, again, the Nets dealt away Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter over the past two seasons. That must be Frank's fault, too.
Such is the life of a coach. Both Notre Dame and the Nets are very attractive jobs. Notre Dame still has the name recognition and that sweet television deal with NBC. They have resources that most other programs envy. The Nets have some nice young talent with Devin Harris, Lee, Yi and Brook Lopez. They also have a bunch of cap room to try to nab one of those max guys next summer. Add to that the fact that the Nets could be owned by the richest man in Russia and the team still plans on moving to Brooklyn means that the job could be in high demand.
Since Black Friday, the biggest sports story has been Tiger Woods smashing up his car at 3am. With all the wild rumors flying and the fact Tiger is seemingly hiding from both the media and police officials, this story won't be going away any time soon.
But is this coverage down the fairway? Or is it out-of-bounds?
Let me just say that this has brought about ... yet again ... that whole MSM vs Blog argument. MSM is angry that blogs are starting or chasing these rumors and that it's tough to convey the actual facts of the incident. Blogs are just saying that the MSM is mad that they're being scooped. That whole MSM vs Blog thing has been hashed out before and has grown tired, so I won't go back to it here.
You can go to friend and colleague Alana G and read her take on this issue. I agree with much of what she said. I'm one of those guys who cannot stand the the "reality TV world" we currently live in. I don't need to see people who used to famous ... or ones dying to become famous ... and their daily lives or over-dramatized problems. I'm not a big fan of blogs who skirt the stars day jobs in an effort to find seedy details. I don't care for it and I don't look at it very often.
But, like my television, I can change the channel. I don't need to watch "Cheaters" because there are 300 other channels with stuff on. I don't need to go to Deadspin.com or TMZ.com because I can read other blogs (like YARDBARKER!!!). I really don't care if Tiger was cheating on his wife and she caught him in the act or whatever.
That doesn't mean that those sensational-driven shows or websites have no place in the world. There are plenty of people interested in them so they deserve to be there. Like I've said before, if no one wanted it, it wouldn't be there. And if enough people are craving more information on this Tiger Woods story, then there will be shows and websites ready to find it for them.
Which is what makes me laugh about the MSM. Be high and mighty all you want, but every news organization has someone down in Orlando trying to dig and scoop for the latest tidbit of this story.
As for the original question, I don't think this is totally out of bounds. It is a bit overkill that I have to hear little rumors or people reading into Tiger's web post on an hourly basis. How many people know someone who cheated on their spouse? How many know about when the spouse gets angry when confronting their adulterous partner? How many fender-benders and all that have you seen? But Tiger is learning what any superstar has learned at some time or another: the bigger you are the harder you fall. What is insignificant about most people is vital info when it's about you. It doesn't matter who you are ... even if you're the President of the United States. Tiger should understand this and come out publicly with some insight on what's going on.
After all, if the rumors are true, then Tiger made the bed he's sleeping in.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Who knew that the marriage between Allen Iverson and Memphis Grizzlies wouldn't work out? Oh, yeah -- everyone. Hard to believe that little song and dance that the two sides did when he signed during the offseason would end badly.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
When I was growing up, Notre Dame mattered. It really doesn't anymore. Their last championship team was back in 1988. That team beat then-No. 1 Miami, won at then-No. 2 USC and beat then-No. 3 West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl for the National Championship.
That was 21 years ago. None of the high school kids that the Irish are recruiting remember that. They were babies when the remember the Irish's last elite season (a 12-1 campaign in 1993).
During those years, Miami had one of the greatest runs in college football history. From 1983 to 1991, the Canes won four National Championships. During that time frame, the Canes rolled up a 96-13 record. Now, Miami had a nice run earlier this decade, but this isn't the same feared program it once was.
Their main rival, the Florida State Seminoles, were also among the elite. FSU won at least 10 games every year from 1987-2000. Since then, the Noles haven't looked the same. After dominating the ACC during it's first nine seasons in the league (and 11 of their first 12), Florida State looks more like just another run-of-the-mill team. Since that streak ended, they've hit double digits in wins just once.
Add to that the fact that once mighty Nebraska is an afterthought, Oklahoma and USC has fallen on mildly tough times this year while Michigan will miss the bowl season yet again.
That doesn't mean that those great programs are all down. Alabama, Ohio State and Texas will be playing in BCS bowls. And new titans like Florida are flexing their muscle.
Still, it doesn't seem the same. Look at the rankings right now. Boise State? TCU? Cincinnati? Those are three of the top six ranked teams in the country. This could be the weirdest bowl season we've ever seen. Our BCS bowls (aside from a Florida/Alabama vs Texas title tilt) won't have that traditional flavor. How does a Florida/Alabama vs Cincinnati Sugar Bowl sound? Or Boise State vs Iowa in the Fiesta? TCU vs Georgia Tech in the Orange? Makes that Oregon-Ohio State Rose Bowl zing, doesn't it.
That isn't to belittle those newbies to the party. Boise State has become a force, nationally. Cincinnati and TCU have been pretty good for a while now and have finally broken through to elite status. The fans of those programs should be excited and they deserve everything they get.
Still, the BCS doesn't want this. They don't want Cincy, Boise and the Frogs in their huge games. Their sponsors, who are already in a financial bind, don't need to see ratings fall off because the glamor teams are gone.
What's funny is that all those bowl games people make fun of because ... well, what's the point? ... will be the ones that will interest the most people. The Holiday Bowl might do well with an USC-Nebraska matchup. Ole Miss vs Penn State would be a great Capital One Bowl. Either Virginia Tech or Miami vs Pittsburgh in the Gator Bowl would be nice. Z
Me? I'm looking forward to a West Virginia-North Carolina rematch in the Meineke Bowl.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
LeBron James, to some people, will become as great as Michael Jordan (yeah, I'm not in that camp). King James is already looking Jordan-esque right now.
No, no, no ... not in the winning championships kind of way. Nope, in the "I could have been great in another sport" kind of way.
See, LeBron thinks he could've been an NFL star. He was a very good football player in high school and, who knows, could have had a professional career had he pursued it instead of basketball. Who knows?
Then again, Michael Jordan was convinced that he could've been a great baseball player had he kept with that. When Jordan attempted to try pro baseball out, it didn't work out. Granted, Jordan was in his 30s and hadn't played competitive baseball in over a decade, so it's unfair to say that he wouldn't have made it. Still, the odds are against it.
It's easy for LeBron to think he'd be a great football player. We'll never know if he's correct.
I'm watching ESPN's First Take and they were debating the power rankings. Basically who is better -- the Colts or Saints?
Well, Scoop Jackson has a problem with the fact that the Patriots "gave" the Colts a win last week. You all know that Pats' coach Bill Belichick made a controversial decision to go for a 4th-and-2 at their own 28 yard line, while holding a six point league with just over two minutes left in the game. The thinking is that Belichick's bad decision led to the Colts victory more than anything.
Uh, no. You can't say that. You can't say that the Colts didn't just beat the Patriots.
First off, the Colts MADE THE PLAY to stop the Pats from gaining the first down. New England completed the short pass, but a jarring hit and tackle forced the receiver to bobble the ball and stuffed him from getting those last few inches. They made the play.
Second off, the mere fact that Belichick went for it instead of punting the ball shows the kind of dominance the Colts had during that fourth quarter. Indy erased a 17 point lead as Peyton Manning torched the Pats pass defense.
Then ... and try to wrap your head around this one ... you have to factor in the unknown. Okay, say Belichick did punt the ball to the Colts. Do you not think that Manning couldn't have driven down the field (probably about 70 yards) with over two minutes left and two timeouts? Well, Belichick thought that, which is why he decided to go for it.
Yeah, Belichick should have punted it but it wasn't like the play they ran was a dud. It should have worked. Heck, it did work.
Well, until the Colts defender made the play to win the game.
Monday, November 16, 2009
No. 1 Florida (SEC Champ)
No. 2 Alabama
No. 3 Texas (Big XII Champ)
No. 4 TCU (highest ranked non-BCS Champ)
No. 5 Cincinnati (Big East Champ)
No. 6 Boise State
No. 7 Georgia Tech (ACC Champ)
No. 8 LSU
No. 9 Pittsburgh
No. 10 Ohio State (Big Ten Champ)
No. 11 Oregon (Pac-10 Champ)
No. 12 Oklahoma State
FIRST ROUND (Dec 19)
12p-Oklahoma State at Cincinnati
3:30p-Pittsburgh at LSU
3:30p-Oregon at Boise State
8p-Ohio State at Georgia Tech
SECOND ROUND (Dec 26)
12p-Ga Tech/Ohio State at Alabama
3:30p-Cincinnati/Oklahoma State at TCU
3:30p-Boise State/Oregon at Texas
8p-LSU/Pitt at Florida
That wasn't the case tonight during the Patriots-Colts game. Bill Belichick went too far outside the box.
I get the strategy. You don't want to give Peyton Manning the ball and plenty of time to go down the field and win the game. So, with it 4th-and-2 on their own 28 yard line, Belichick rolled the dice and attempted to pick up the two yards which would pretty much end the game. And if not for a questionable spot, it would have worked.
The pass to Kevin Faulk was oh so close to the first down marker. The official, who was behind Faulk, determined that he bobbled the ball as he caught it and the forward progress that he initially had was void. Because the Patriots used their final timeout to set up that fourth down play, they couldn't challenge the play.
In that instance, you punt the ball. The risk-reward is so great in going for it. The reward is that you pick up that first down and you drain out the clock, winning the game. The risk is that you give Peyton Manning the ball back with just 30 yards to gain for the game winning TD. The reward for punting the ball is that you make Manning go 70 yards or so for the game winning score. The risk is that he actually does it.
Rodney Harrison, who retired from the Patriots this year and stepped into an analyst role for NBC (which televised the game), said that this was the worst coaching decision he has ever seen Belichick make.
Again, I'm all for going for the throat (I believe that if you score a TD really, really, really late in a game to get within a PAT of tying, you should go for the two-point conversion instead) but you have to have the will power to hold back your impulses a bit.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I didn't know that the NBA was around in 1909, however. ESPN.com listed the top rookie performances ever and Jennings' effort ranks fifth (behind guys named Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry and Earl Monroe). It's just that, apparently Jennings did this before Wilt, Earl and Rick.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Today is the day that Harrison Barnes is going to announce where he will be spending his college days. He's so talented that those days will amount to less than a year before he shoots off into the NBA. However, major programs want him just because he can be that dominant in that one year and it's a great recruiting tool.
I'm excited because North Carolina is on the list. I don't know if it near the top, but none of the schools seem to have the advantage (though UNC, Duke and Kansas have come at him the hardest). He could say any of the schools on his list, which also include Oklahoma, UCLA and his hometown Iowa State.
While Barnes will make some fan base elated, he'll tick off all of the others. That's too bad because what do you want the kid to do? His heart is where his heart will be and we should just accept that. Of course, if he picks Duke instead of Carolina then Tar Heel fans will make him their top target. Then again, many Tar Heel fans don't realize that we nearly nabbed hated-Devils Christian Laettner and Danny Ferry, too.
The guy is 17-years old. When you were 17-years old, did anyone other than your crazed college-obsessed uncle care where you went to school? Did anyone hate you because of the decision you had to make? Of course not ... not millions of fans you didn't.
Again, I'll be on pins and needles waiting for Barnes announcement. Yes, I'm dying for him to go to North Carolina but if he doesn't ...
All I ask is that you don't go to Duke, man.
Skill dunks are fun but power dunks are so much better. Doing a wildmill when no one is guarding the basket isn't as cool as punching one on somebody's grill.
Dwyane Wade did the latter last night on the Cavs' Anderson Varejao. SICK! I'm not the biggest D-Wade fan but this is one of the nicest dunks I've seen in quite some time. I'm a sucker for true posterization (or "getting YouTubed" to the youngin's).
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I was chatting with a buddy/co-worker of mine, Antoine, and we were discussing who the greatest NBA players were. From there, we started slotting our picks and having quite a debate about this guy being better than that guy. The debate lit a fire in me that I came home and just had to blog about my top ten list.
Then I got to thinking that I should get other people's lists. I know people around this great land who are bright and intelligent and very opinionated on this subject. So I invited them to contribute their lists and I would compile them into one mega-list ... which is what this post is all about.
My contributors (which are named at the bottom) range in ages from 20 to 50+. From places like Florence, KY, Corpus Christi, New York City, Utah, Cincinnati, Charlotte and Los Angeles. I used the same points system that a college poll would use and grant the top player 10 points, second player 9 points and so on. Below is the list that the 20 people came up with.
I invite you to give me your top ten in the comments section below.
No. 10-LeBron James (27 pts): The fact that he's here is obviously because people expect greatness from him for years to come. I don't see it that way, myself. Yes, LeBron could become one of the ten best players to lace them up but he isn't right now. Some of the younger voters had him ranked high while many of the other voters left him off their ballots. If we did this list ten years from now, this may be correct. Right now, I think Hakeem, Tim Duncan, Jerry West or Elgin Baylor deserved this slot more.
No. 9 -Shaquille O'Neal (29 pts): Shaq could have been one of the most dominant players ever. When he put his mind to it, he was. The problem is that there is the perception that he didn't put forth maximum effort preparing for a game or even a season. I also think the fact that he's fallen off a bit affected some of these rankings. Still, Shaq was among the greatest to ever have played this game.
No. 8-Oscar Robertson (61 pts): The Big O was the original triple threat. He could score (averaged 30+ points in six seasons), assist (he was the first player to average 10 assists for a season) and could rebound (the only guard in history to average at least 10 boards a game in a season ... and he did it three times). If not for the fact that he played in Cincinnati and Milwaukee, people would realize just how great he was.
No. 7-Bill Russell (68 pts): One of the most interesting votes I had. Russell is really hard to gauge. Some ranked him high because of those 11 championships he won. Some ranked him low because they felt he wouldn't be that special in today's game. Others ranked him high due to the fact that he stood up to Wilt Chamberlain and beat him time and time again. Others ranked him lower because those Celtics teams were packed with Hall of Famers. It really is hard to figure out where to exactly place Russell.
No. 6-Kareem Abdul Jabbar (103 pts ... 1 first place vote): I feel that Kareem, as usual, was forgotten about. People who remember basketball in the 1970s and 80s know how great Jabbar really was. He was a dominant force when he came into the league and was insanely consistent up until his retirement in 1989. Six titles and six MVP awards! The sky hook alone should have him in everybody's top five.
No. 5-Larry Bird (107 pts): Here was an interesting case. I found that many people ranked Bird alongside Magic Johnson on their lists. Unlike most on this list, Bird wasn't the most gifted athlete but this man had a killer instinct and the will to win. He also turned the three point shot into a deadly weapon and made the All-Star shootout contest the must-see event.
No. 4-Kobe Bryant (113 pts ... 4 first place votes): Kobe is the most interesting and debated man on this list. The fact that he's this high while still in his prime years in amazing. What was also amazing is that people who hated the Lakers and/or really hated Kobe ended up voting him very high. I got a lot of "I hate him, but he's one of the greatest ever" comments. Think about how powerful that is. Nobody on this list is as disliked as Kobe is, but only a few guys rank higher among the greats.
No. 3-Magic Johnson (123 pts): Full disclosure: Magic is my favorite player of all-time. I've made my arguments in the past that Magic was better than Jordan, but that's for another time. What I remember most about Magic is that nobody in the history of the league could control a game like he did. Yeah, Jordan and Wilt could do what they wanted, but Magic knew exactly who should get the shot up and make it as easy for them as he could. He was a wizard with the basketball and a genius of the game.
No. 2-Wilt Chamberlain (141 pts ... 5 first place votes): This is who I picked No. 1. The man was dominant. The man was a freak. Sorry, but an 100-point game!?!?! Averaging over 50 points for an entire season?? Unreal! He's the only player in NBA history to average at least 40 pts a game for a season and he did it twice. He owns the top three season scoring averages of all time ... and five of the top seven! In 1968, he decided to show up his critics who said he was selfish by leading the NBA in assists that year! The list goes on and on and on ...
No. 1-Michael Jordan (185 pts ... 10 first place votes): This was kind of expected. Most of the people that were in their 30s or younger had Jordan at the top of their lists. He was the icon of that generation of fans. Magic and Bird took the league by storm and out of the darkness, but Jordan elevated it to the top of the mountain.
Others receiving votes: Hakeem Olajuwon (26), Tim Duncan (23 pts), Jerry West (18), Karl Malone (17), John Stockton (10), Kevin Garnett (10), Scottie Pippen (7), Charles Barkley (6), George Mikan (5), Elgin Baylor (4), Julius Erving (4), Isiah Thomas (4), Clyde Drexler (4), Pete Maravich (2), Kevin McHale (2), Penny Hardaway (1) and Steve Nash (1).
Pretty intense list, eh? When looking at it as a whole, it looks pretty fair. Sure, guys like West and Baylor didn't get the love they would have had I extended my search for "older" fans but that's to be expected.
Here are the people who voted: The Sportz Assassin, Tony Curd, Derrick Highsmith, William Morgan, Eddie Bowling, Charles Martin, Joe Foster, Wolf, Laker Mike, Deron Denton, Bax Deal, Laurie Edwards, John Cutler, Luther Fisher, Emanuel Smith, Yannis Koutroupis, Capricorn, Ktmdog, Bonnie Valente and Yossef Shamir.
Again, please share your lists, gripes and debates in the comments section below.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
#1-Florida (SEC Champ)
#3-Texas (Big XII Champ)
#4-TCU (highest ranked non-BCS Champ)
#5-Cincinnati (Big East Champ)
#7-Georgia Tech (ACC Champ)
#10-Iowa (Big Ten Champ)
#12-Oregon (Pac-10 Champ)
FIRST ROUND (Dec 19th)
12p-Iowa at Georgia Tech
3:30p-Oregon at Cincinnati
3:30p-Ohio State at Boise State
8p-USC at LSU
SECOND ROUND (Dec 26th)
12p-Ga Tech/Iowa at Alabama
3:30p-Cincinnati/Oregon at TCU
3:30p-LSU/USC at Florida
8p-Boise State/Ohio State at Texas
Monday, November 9, 2009
Okay, the college hoops season has officially begun. Well, it will tonight. About 7:00pm, the North Carolina Tar Heels will take their retooled team against the Florida International University Isiahs. This will probably be FIU's biggest moment in the sun which is why they got Isiah Thomas in the first place.
Enough about that. Tonight is more about the defense of a championship. It's hard to say "defending champs" when Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Danny Green and Wayne Ellington are now in the NBA, but it's the same Hall of Fame coach with the same jerseys on. In fact, the Heels team that suits up tonight will probably yield better NBA talent that the team that won it all last year.
The one thing that these Heels have this year that the didn't have last year is experience. Yes, Deon Thompson is back and he's been a starter for most of his career. The only other player that was formerly a long-time starter is Marcus Ginyard, and he missed most of last season with a foot injury. Everyone else is taking on a bigger role.
Ed Davis, the darling of the Final Four to NBA scouts, is poised to become a star. He would have been a high lottery pick if he came out last season and could be a top three pick next year. Fellow sophomore Larry Drew II has the task of following ACC Player of the Year Ty Lawson ... who followed up Raymond Felton. A lot will be asked of Drew since he's the lone point guard with any experience, albeit as backup to an irreplaceable Lawson.
Everyone else is being asked to step up. Roy Williams would love if John Henson can come in and take the starting small forward positions. Henson, Davis and Thompson would form an unbelievable front line. Henson's fellow freshmen Travis and David Wear will add to that depth with their size and fundamental skills.
The wildcard is sophomore Tyler Zeller. Remember that Zeller soared at the beginning of last year as he replaced an injured Hansbrough. But a wrist injury in the second game of the season caused him to miss most of the rest of the season. Despite red-shirting, he came back to play the last few games and in the tournament so he could be part of a championship team. If Zeller, a 7-foot high flyer, can get back to where he started ... which word is that he is ... then this team could be unbelievable.
Well, the frontcourt could be. The backcourt consists of the iffy Drew and solid, but unspectacular Ginyard. Freshmen Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland, who would be the guy to take over if Drew can't cut it, will see a lot of minutes. The backcourt wildcard is Will Graves. Graves was actually the Heels' best long range shooter last year but he was suspended by Coach Williams for an undisclosed infraction. Now back, Graves is looking forward to being the guy that can stretch the defense in order to let those big men the freedom to dominate.
This should be a fun year for Heels fans. This is a very good team with awesome talent ... and none of the pressure! The last two years have been tough because Carolina fans entered the season wanting to fast forward to the NCAA tournament. There is no pressure on this team since they are so young. They'll make mistakes and they'll make us jump out of our seat. Oh, we want another championship and this team could bring us one ... but it's alright if they don't.
Oh, Harrison Barnes ... come join in the fun.
Who knew that the marriage between Allen Iverson and Memphis Grizzlies wouldn't work out? Oh, yeah -- everyone. Hard to believe that little song and dance that the two sides did when he signed during the offseason would end badly.
Iverson has played a total of three games ... all off the bench ... before taking a leave of absence from the team. Now the word is that he's contemplating retirement. The Answer is correct. Quit.
Iverson should hang them up. It's obvious that (a) the only role for him in today's NBA is as a bench contributor and (b) he doesn't want to do that. It's obvious that winning isn't the most important thing to him or else he wouldn't have signed with the lowly Grizzlies in the first place (would taking a lot less money and a bench gig with the Cavaliers or Heat be a bad thing?). Before Iverson decides to leave the NBA for whatever else he may want to do, he should consider one thing:
Did the NBA kick him out first and make the decision for him?
Despite how you may feel about Iverson, he is a Hall of Fame player. No one with his smallish build has ever done the things he did. And though he never won a championship, he almost single handily took the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals. He was a great player and hopefully will be remembered as such.
The key word is "was". He still is a good player who still can score in bunches. The problem is that teams don't need a guy with his skills of today starting and disrupting the team's flow. Look what happened in Denver once he left. He could cut a nice extended career out of being an offensive spark-plug coming off the bench but that's not his style. Again, the NBA has made the decision for you.
It's a shame that it had to end like this. Iverson in a Memphis uniform will be a sad chapter to a great career ... one that could have been better. To most fans, his "practice" rant will be the thing most people remember him for. That, and for being a gunner. And for unofficially ushering in the hip hop culture into the NBA. He also was a great scorer or something.
So say good-bye to the "bad guy". We probably won't see Iverson's mug much longer since he really doesn't seem like the guy to stick around the league in any other capacity. As you know, he's either the star or nothing at all.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Then you watch. As Rodney Dangerfield used to say, "it ain't funny -- it's freakin' funny." I DVR'd it and started to watch it as my wife was taking a shower. After nine minutes, I rewound to the beginning and waited for my wife to get done and watch it with me. She loves it. My wife, who doesn't understand a lick of football and who could care less about fantasy sports, was absolutely rolling.
It's an FX comedy (new shows come on Thursday nights at 10:30-ish) and comes with all kinds of basic cable no-nos. They cuss (they dropped the P-word about ten times in the last episode), they have sexually taboo subject matter and Jon Lajoie singing perverted songs. Lajoie is best known for his odd internet videos. His birthday song at a five-year-old's birthday party is classic.
It isn't for everyone. The course humor can rub some people the wrong way. But if you are a South Park/Eastbound & Down kind of person, then you'll love this show.
Friday, November 6, 2009
I like Nike. I like adidas. I wear both (among others). I also liked the fact that Marcus Jordan ... so of NBA legend and Nike spokes-god Michael ... decided to wear his dad's Nike kicks instead of the school's contractually obligated adidas.
Again, it's nothing against adidas. But I love the way that he thumbed his nose at the shoe company. No one does that anymore.
Anyone who is a basketball fan is well aware that shoe contracts are a big-time thing. These companies pay a lot of money to get their name plastered all over campuses and uniforms. Penn State football refuses to put players' names on their jerseys, but they sure as hell have a Nike logo front and center. They aren't the only ones.
Marcus Jordan is right. Blood is thicker than dorm water. You cannot expect a kid whose dad is Mr. Nike to start wearing adidas under any circumstances. Central Florida promised Marcus that he could wear Air Jordans ... but adidas smacked that idea when they found out. Once Marcus wore the Nikes in a game, adidas killed the deal with UCF. Way to make a mountain out of a mole hill.
If adidas didn't make a big stink about this, no one would care. Do you really think anyone gives a crap that the University of Central Florida is rocking adidas??? This isn't like North Carolina and Nike being bosom buddies. This is a school that most people have never even seen play a minute of basketball. This is a school that loved the fact that Michael Jordan's son was playing for them. They wanted Michael Jordan's brand ... but needed him to wear adidas clothing.
I'm not saying adidas didn't have the right to back out of the contract. A deal is a deal and UCF broke it. But if you think that adidas left with their dignity, you are mistaken. They look petty. Marcus Jordan would still be wearing an adidas jersey, but Nike kicks. No one would notice; no one would care.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The NBA Draft in the 1990s was a time of change. In the 80s, we saw people leaving college after their junior years. In the 1990s, players were starting to leave after their sophomore years. Then, in 1995, Kevin Garnett pushed the envelope into the first high school player in two decades to declare for the draft. Since that moment, the draft hasn't been the same.
But, we will always remember the #1 overall picks in the draft. We can run them off like we run off the list of champions. And what an odd mix it is.
#10-Michael Olowokandi [1998-Clippers]. He was a project when he was drafted...but it just didn’t pan out. As a Clipper, he was routinely outshined in LA by some other center that shares the same arena. He did develop into a 12 ppg scorer...but then left ClipperLand for Minnesota where he posted the worst numbers of his career. And that is saying something. Stats: 8.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg
#9-Joe Smith [1995-Warriors]. Not your average Joe has made his way around the NBA. Playing only three years in Golden State, he's been to Philly, Minnesota, Detroit, Milwaukee, Denver, Philadelphia (again), Chicago, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Cleveland (again) and now Atlanta. Staying in the league this long says something about what he is worth. What makes this pick look worse is the fact that McDyess, Stackhouse, Sheed and Garnett were picked directly after him. He will probably be best known for having a "wink wink" agreement with Minnesota that he'd sign low short term and the team would hook him up long term. That action cost the Wolves 4 first round draft picks. He has the EXACT same birthday as me. Stats: 11.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg
#8-Elton Brand [1999-Bulls]. It's tough to peg Brand. He's been an All-Star twice and an Olympian. He also had a controversial exit from the Clippers and hasn't been the stud the Sixers wanted him to be. Injuries have stalled his career in the past two seasons and his lone playoff appearance was in 2006. Stats: 19.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg
#7-Larry Johnson [1991-Hornets]. LJ brought excitement and attention to Charlotte. Once Grandmama put on the teal...the franchise went from expansion to legit. A back injury and a big contract forced him up to New York where he played on the 1999 Eastern Conference Championship team. His 4-pt play is legendary in playoff lore [mainly because he wasn’t touched]. Stats: 16.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg
#6-Glen Robinson [1994-Bucks]. He is the 2nd leading scorer in Milwaukee Bucks history. He went to the 2000 and 2001 All Star Games. One of the better scorers in the league...he averaged at least 20 pts in 8 of his first 9 seasons. Stats: 20.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 82% FT
#5-Derrick Coleman [1990-Nets] Drafted by the Nets, but starred for the Sixers and Hornets, Coleman is the classic example of potential never fully realized. Many people foresaw him as the forward that would change the game. We saw glimpses of it in Jersey and at times in his other stops...but he spent most of his career injured. He started only one All Star Game . Stats: 16.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg
#4-Chris Webber [1993-Magic/Warriors]. Originally drafted by Golden State, Webber was dealt to the Warriors for Penny Hardaway moments later. C-Webb’s career on the Bay was short, but he helped get the Washington Bullets to the playoffs and was the centerpiece in getting the Kings into the playoffs as well. He has a nice bounce back season with the Sixers in 05-06 but that was short lived. He led the NBA in rebounding in 1999. Stats: 20.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 4.2 apg
#3-Allen Iverson [1996-Sixers]. Like him or hate him...he’s has been one of the NBA’s best players. A 6-foot tall wrecking ball...Iverson gave max effort every single game. He’s won the scoring title four times ...something only Wilt, Jordan and the Ice Man ever did. His scoring average is 5th all time. He has an MVP award... and single handidly took the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals. The second half of his career has been marred with questionable behavior. "Practice", crying his way out of Philly, stunting the growth in Denver, blowing up the Pistons and now sulking with the Grizzlies. Stats: 27.1 ppg, 6.2 apg, 2.2 spg
#2-Tim Duncan [1997-Spurs]. Three NBA titles and two MVP awards sit in his trophy case. The Admiral’s injury brought Duncan to San Antonio, but his leadership is what lifted the former ABA franchise to rings. He's been named to the first team All NBA team in each of his seasons. You could argue that he's the best power forward ever. Stats: 21.4 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 2.4 blks
#1-Shaquille O’Neal [1992-Magic]. The Most Dominant Ever has 4 NBA championships....3 NBA Finals MVP awards and 1 regular season MVP award. He lifted the Orlando Magic to elite status and brought back the Lakers franchise to the elite. Only player on this list named to the NBA's 50 Greatest Players squad. More than by any player on this list (by far), he has trancended the game. Stats: 24.7 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 58% FG, 53% FT
Sunday, November 1, 2009
#1-Florida (SEC Champ)
#2-Texas (Big XII Champ)
#4-Iowa (Big Ten Champ)
#5-Cincinnati (Big East Champ)
#6-TCU (highest ranked non-BCS Champ)
#8-Oregon (Pac-10 Champ)
#10-Georgia Tech (ACC Champ)
FIRST ROUND (Dec 19)
12p-USC at Cincinnati
3:30p-Penn State at TCU
3:30p-Georgia Tech at Boise State
8p-LSU at Oregon
12p-Cincinnati/USC at Iowa
3:30p-TCU/Penn State at Alabama
3:30p-Boise State/Ga Tech at Texas
I get why Fox did it. I get why Packers fans did it. Fox wants the faces watching the game on their channel and please advertisers. Packers fans have idolized Favre for so long but not feel betrayed by his move to Minnesota. But why do the rest of us really care?
Despite what fans think, there is no loyalty in sports. Also remember that (a) Favre retired, (b) the Packers didn't want Favre as their QB anymore once he decided to come back and that (c) Favre still wanted to play. You can't fault the Packers for their decision (Aaron Rodgers is pretty good) or the fact that Favre signed with the Vikings (great defense, great back, needing a QB).
The hook here is the fact that this is pretty rare. The closest things I can think of was when the Niners pushed Joe Montana out for Steve Young and Montana signed with the Chiefs. The difference there is that the Niners and Chiefs are not rivals and Montana wasn't lobbing grenades on the way out.
Shaq did. Shaquille O'Neal demanded out of Los Angeles in 2004. Like Favre, Shaq had a few zingers as he walked out the door. Like Favre, Shaq had a deliberate rival. However, Shaq's rival actually played which made the hatred a bit more tangible. Favre's rival, Packers GM Ted Thompson, was sitting up in the luxury suites. Plus, Shaq went across the country to the Miami Heat ... which is far from a rival of the Lakers.
The actual closest thing I can think of was Marcus Allen. Raiders owner Al Davis felt that Allen was done and made him a backup during his last few years in Los Angeles. Allen told a national audience that Davis was "going to get me" and there was a lot of bad blood. Allen would leave the Raiders and go to the rival Kansas City Chiefs (coincidentally, with Montana). In Allen's first season with the Chiefs, he would lead the AFC with 12 touchdowns and would win the Comeback Player of the Year award. He would lead the Chiefs in rushing over the next two seasons.
Obviously since they were division rivals, Allen got to play four times at the Raiders den. In his first game against the Raiders in LA, Allen rushed for 85 yards and a sweet-feeling touchdown. Earlier that season when the two teams met at Arrowhead Stadium, Allen rushed for his 100th career TD. Revenge was sweet.
Even back in the olden days of 1993, there wasn't anywhere near the hype as what we've had over Brett Favre today. Allen, like Favre, is a Hall of Fame player. Allen, like Favre, went to a division rival (but Allen went directly to the rival, whereas Favre had a year with the Jets to buffer things). Allen, like Favre, won a Super Bowl with his former team. And Allen, like apparently Favre will, helped lead his new team to some nice success (the Chiefs would go on to lose the AFC title game).
Like Allen, Favre will be forever linked with the franchise he gained his most successes with. Allen's magical run in Super Bowl XVIII is replayed countless times during Super Bowl week. Just like Favre running around with his helmet off is.
Hopefully after tonight, we can all lay this to bed.