Thursday, April 18, 2013

Stop Complaining About NBA Early Draft Entrants!

You see these guys wearing your favorite school's jersey.  They smile.  They get up for your big rival.  You know what they bring your team and how good they could be.  You blog, tweet and call talk radio about them.

But you don't know them.  You think you do, but you don't.

Every year, we have a lot of guys leaving college early to put their name in the NBA Draft.  A lot more than you think do not get drafted.  They could be relegated to the NBA's D-League or try to carve out a career overseas.  They aren't all Anthony Davis.

Every once in a while, your team has one of these guys bolt.  This year for my beloved North Carolina Tar Heels, Reggie Bullock fits that bill.  He is leaving after his junior year to get into the NBA Draft.  He may be a 1st round pick, but will most likely have to wait until the 2nd round to hear his name called.  What!!!  What is he doing!!! He's giving up on playing at UNC for one more season ... his senior season ... on what could be a highly ranked squad just to maybe make it in the League?

I would kill for that one season!

But I'm not him.  I didn't come from where he came from.  I don't have the financial considerations that he may have.  I mean, how many people get this opportunity?

No, Bullock really isn't ready for the NBA.  He will be a one trick pony in the league.  A nice shooter who can guard a bit out there ... but not much else.  At UNC, he'd be a key cog in the upcoming season with those abilities, but it won't translate as well to the League.  Who knows?  He could have a Hubert Davis kind of productive career.  Or he could have Joseph Forte's career. 

Still, I can't fault him.  The Heels fan in me would love to have him back for his senior season.  But I can't fault him.  Why?

*This is a very weak draft.  I seriously doubt Bullock will develop much more skill-wise than he has to this point.  He'd be the same cat next year as he is now.  May as well go now since the draft is so weak.  This draft ... he could crack the first round.  Next year with that amazing 2013 freshman class entering the draft, Bullock's stock will suffer.

*His class is gone.  Remember that Bullock came to Carolina with Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall.  Both just finished their rookie seasons in the NBA.  Barnes is in the postseason.  Marshall had a rough start but started to play well when the Suns gave him a chance down the stretch. 

*From what I've heard, he is one of those kids who has a meager background.  He and his family needs money.  I can't fault him for that since he isn't sure any money would be available if he waited. 

So cut these kids some slack when they leave.  There may be more than meets the eye.

Who Is The Favorite For Andrew Wiggins?

Andrew Wiggins may be the best high school prospect
since LeBron James and has four schools hoping he
chooses them
If you are a college basketball fan, you are probably aware that Andrew Wiggins is the top recruit in the 2013 class.  He may be the best high school player since LeBron James back in 2003.  Not only is he good, he still hasn't made up a college choice yet.  That fact has kept him one of the buzziest names on Twitter and a guy that has four fanbases sweating and fawning over.

The Final Four is (alphabetically) Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.  And unlike most recruiting that goes on, there really is no read on this at all.  No leans, no educated guesses.  All there has been is speculation and cryptic reading into everything he says.  Still, there is one thing we can do:  guess.

Of the four, here is why I think he will and won't go to these programs and the percentage I have them truly in the running.  Again, we go in alphabetical order.

PRO:  Both his mother and father were athletes at FSU.  His high school teammate and friend is heading to Tallahassee.  Wiggins doesn't crave the limelight, so Florida State wouldn't be as big a spotlight as Kansas, Kentucky or Carolina.  He would be the definite star there and would have an offense that would feature him and his talents.  He'll put up big numbers.  Leonard Hamilton hasn't had the talent that North Carolina or Duke has had, but they have continuously been among the elite in the ACC.  He'd get to face prime competition in a league with North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse, Miami, Notre Dame, Pitt and Virginia in it.

CON:  Of the four schools, FSU is the nowhere near as elite.  The Noles not only didn't make the tournament like Kentucky, they weren't even close.  While FSU isn't as TV-friendly as the other schools, Wiggins would become a really big fish in a really small pond.  And while the Noles have been one of the better programs in the ACC, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are joining the league and wins will be even tougher. 

COACH:  Hamilton has been an NBA coach and his defensive style fits Wiggins' game.  However, he easily has the worse credentials of the four with no Final Fours and no championships (he was an assistant on Kentucky's 1978 title team). 

CHANCE HE COMES:  26% - Just not as gifted a program as the others and the thinking is that if he went here it would be solely to please his parents

PRO:  Bill Self may be the best coach of the four.  In his visit to Allen Fieldhouse, Wiggins said he enjoyed the atmosphere there the best.  Kansas offers a big-time program that isn't in as big a fishbowl as Kentucky or North Carolina.  The Jayhawks went the furthest last year by advancing to the Sweet 16.  Self is 3-0 against Roy Williams in their current jobs and split NCAA title tilts with John Calipari. 

CON:  Wayne Selden is another big time recruit that Kansas has got and he plays the same position and game as Wiggins.  Kansas loses a lot from this year's Sweet 16 squad and would be starting fresh.  They have a nice crop of freshmen coming in, but Kentucky's is better.  While the Big 12 is a very good league, he may not feel he is getting the push that he has been looking for in his opponents. 

COACH:  As I said, Self may be the best actual coach of the bunch.  I told you his record against Roy Williams and John Calipari.  At their current schools, Self is the lone one to miss the NCAA Tournament.

CHANCE HE COMES:  18% - I think Kansas looks really good to Wiggins, but Selden being there and a roster overhaul may scare him away. 

PRO:   John Calipari can sell a ketchup popcicle to a woman in white gloves.  His short run at Kentucky has included sending guys exactly like Wiggins straight to the top of the NBA draft boards.  The incoming class may be the best in the history of college hoops.  They have commits from the top PG, SG, C and PF.  If Wiggins joins, they'd have a clean sweep and make them the odds-on favorite to cut down the nets in Dallas next year.  Wiggins wants to be able to win in his lone season in college.  Coach Cal's style fits Wiggins with the dribble drive as well as the attention to defense. 

CON:  Would the Wildcats roster be a bit crowded?  Not only did Calipari bring in a large, talented class but the heralded, but underacheiving class from last year has guys coming back.  He doesn't need Kentucky to get to the top of the draft.  Wiggins also shies away from attention which isn't a good thing to be in Kentucky.  His desire to compete against the best won't be quenched in the usually light SEC (his best competition would be in practices).  He may rather be the man instead of just one of the big time recruits. 

COACH:  Calipari's main selling point is that he gets these amazing amount of talents together and gets them to perform at a high level.  Sure, last year puts a dent in that, but the 2012 class doesn't have this kind of talent.  Calipari, like Hamilton, has NBA coaching experience.  Plus, Cal could have yet another No. 1 overall pick this season (Nerlens Noel) to join Derrick Rose, John Wall and Anthony Davis.

CHANCE HE COMES:  28% - Kentucky is hot right now, and the appeal of being part of the most legendary class in history and a shot at a title may pull him in.

PRO:  The Heels could have the top returning team among the four.  As of now, the Heels lose just two players of note and their best NBA prospects would be sticking around.  Not only is UNC the school of Michael Jordan (and Wiggins always wanted to be "like Mike") but it is the school of Vince Carter, the Raptors great and Wiggins is a Toronto fan.  Roy Williams' attacking running style would really showcase Wiggins and allow him to score a ton.  Also, he'd get to face his "rival" Jabari Parker, who is at Duke.  Plus, the competition would be tough with UNC's scheduled to play Duke twice, Kentucky, Syracuse and (most likely) Louisville as well as a top Big Ten team. 

CON:  The Heels have underacheived a bit of late.  They haven't reached a Final Four since 2009.  It isn't known if Reggie Bullock's move to the NBA will help or hurt the decision.  Wiggins "legacy" would be tough to acheive in an arena where dozens of jerseys already hang.

COACH:  Roy Williams is the lone Hall Of Fame coach of the lot.  He has as many NCAA Championships as a head coach as the rest of the group combined.  He has more Final Four appearances as the other coaches do ... combined.  He also is known as the guy who got Michael Jordan to Chapel Hill.

CHANCE HE COMES:  28% - North Carolina has been  darkhorse in this race.  They return the best roster of the four schools and have less of the unknown as the other schools.

These odds change basically every day.  Or with every interview done.  Or every rumor.  Take it as just one person's guess to this entire courtship. 

What Would I Like To See Week 17 Look Like!

The NFL Schedule will be released tonight.  As we all know, the final week of the season is made up of nothing but divisional matchups to help ensure we have at least one game with something on the line (like last year's Cowboys-Redskins matchup for the NFC East title).

So how would I like to see Week 17 look like?

Giants at Redskins
Cowboys at Eagles
Falcons at Saints
Dolphins at Patriots
Vikings at Packers
Texans at Colts
Bengals at Ravens
Jets at Bills
Bears at Lions
Panthers at Buccaneers
Steelers at Browns
Titans at Jaguars
Broncos at Chargers
Raiders at Chiefs
49ers at Seahawks
Rams at Cardinals

This Year Especially ... I Don't Care About The NFL Draft

Every year about this time, I make a post or comment about how I don't really get into the NFL Draft.  I don't hate it.  I don't not watch it.  I just don't get into it.  The draft is long winded, tedious and usually boring to me.  From the long time allowed between picks (which has gotten better) to listening to Mel Kiper Jr pine about this guy or that guy to Chris Berman's schtick ... I've checked out of it.

Here is where I talk about maybe being a Redskins fan has led to this.  The Redskins usually deal away picks every year so it is rare that I can even look to the draft for some salvation.  Obviously, the 2012 Draft was different in that regard.  However, the Redskins picked 2nd in the draft (so I didn't have much of a wait) and we knew for months who that pick was going to be (Robert Griffin III).  I couldn't tell you when any of the Redskins picks this year are just because ... well, I'm not that into it.

It isn't that I'm not a draft guy.  I absolutely love the NBA Draft and will watch the entire thing.  It isn't that I'm not an NFL guy because I've been an NFL Sunday Ticket subscriber for 14 years now and whose wife even calls herself a "football widow" during the fall. 

I will look online to see who those Redskins picks were.  I will then search to see who the heck those guys are.  I also check to see where any UNC Tar Heels go.  I search for info about Mr Irrelevant.  I may look at the draft grades and those odd-ball picks.  Or guys I've heard of.

I won't be sitting on my coach locked into the telecast.  I won't be involved in any mock drafts.  I won't treat the NFL Draft as if it was an actual game.

But that's just me.  Again.

Sportz' NBA First Round Predictions

Here we are again!  The two month trek to find out who will be the 2013 NBA Champion.  And, in reality, this is all much ado about nothing.  To me, only Miami and Oklahoma City have a great shot at it with San Antonio and New York having a puncher's chance.  From there, it is just extra basketball.

#1 MIAMI HEAT vs #8 MILWAUKEE BUCKS:  It seems that every year, some Eastern Conference team sneaks into the playoffs and we have no clue how they got there.  Usually, we don't hear from them after the fact either.  This one is easy:  Heat in 4

#2 NEW YORK KNICKS vs #7 BOSTON CELTICS:  In most years, this one would be the premiere playoff series in the East.  Well, at least historically.  Boston is a bit down with Rajon Rondo out, but this is still a great series.  The Knicks are riding high ... which is the good part of their streakiness.  Boston, like I said, is older and banged up and are obviously emotional after the events at the Boston Marathon this past Monday.  Remember that Game 3 in the Garden will be the first Celtics home game since the horror of the day.  Still, I think New York is playing so well that I have them in 5.

#3 INDIANA PACERS vs #6 ATLANTA HAWKS:  The Pacers are a very good team with no real star power nor are they some team offensive juggernaut like the Nuggets.  The Hawks are that team that just shows up in the playoffs every year and doesn't do much.  This will be a closer series than people will initially believe it to be, but the Pacers are just better and will win in 6.

#4 BROOKLYN NETS vs #5 CHICAGO BULLS:  Probably the best series in the East.  The Bulls have done very well for themselves despite not having Derrick Rose this season.  The Nets have come back from a very slow start to the season to get home court in the first round -- Brooklyn's first time hosting the NBA postseason.  The Nets are the more talented team, but the Bulls get a lot out of what they have.  I have to go with talent and the Nets in 7.

#1 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER vs #8 HOUSTON ROCKETS:  The Thunder will win this series as they are the best team in the West.  Still, the Rockets and former Thunder James Harden will make them work for it.  OKC in 5.

#2 SAN ANTONIO SPURS vs #7 LOS ANGELES LAKERS:  This is an intriguing matchup of two veteran squads that have won 9 of the last 14 NBA titles dating back to 1999.  They are also two banged up squads.  The Spurs have seen Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker in and out of the lineup; the Lakers have seen Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace miss time of late and, obviously, will be without Kobe Bryant for the entire postseason.  The Lakers are playing very well right now, but I got to give the nod to the Spurs.  San Antonio in 5.

#3 DENVER NUGGETS vs #6 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS:  I don't care what team you root for (unless it is one of these teams) you should just watch this series because it will be something to see.  The Runnin' Nuggets against those young Warriors.  Both teams' leading scorer is their point guard (Ty Lawson and Stephen Curry), both teams have high flying dunkers (Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes).  Both teams are deep, they work hard and they crash the boards.  Both teams hustle it.  Great series, but I'll go with the Nuggets in 6.

#4 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS vs #5 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES:  These two played one of the best postseason series of last season.  I think it happens again.  The Grizz are still tough despite a roster upheaval of sorts during the season (the Rudy Gay trade) while the Clippers are as flashy as they can get.  This year, though, I think Memphis gets its revenge.  Grizzlies in 7.

So to recap, my second round matchups will be:

1-Miami vs 4-Brooklyn
2-New York vs 3-Indiana

1-Oklahoma City vs 5-Memphis
2-San Antonio vs 3-Denver

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

R.I.P. Pat Summerall

Pat Summerall meant many things to many people.  Since I'm not a "reporter" type blog, I'm not going to do the same tired biography that you could get on virtually any website.  No, I'll just talk about what he meant to me.

As a child of the 1980s, obviously Summerall is best known to me as one half of the greatest NFL announcing duo with John Madden.  And, folks, I remember when those two weren't as mocked as they were in their last five or so years together.  Summerall's commanding voice paired with Madden's excitable analysis suited the masses. 

The two called 8 Super Bowls together, including Super Bowl XXVI ... the last time my Washington Redskins appeared in (and won) the title.  They also called many Washington Redskins games when I was playing many, many editions of Madden on my Super Nintendo and Playstation consoles. 

When you are a kid, you are usually oblvious to your sports/movie/whatever stars' personal lives or faults.  I didn't know Summerall was an alcoholic while watching him.  Of course, in that time with no internet or 24-hour news channels, it wasn't brought out like that.  While I can't go as far as to say I idolized him or anything like that, he was a major part of my sports childhood as well as my development in understanding the game of football.

Rest well, Mr. Summerall.  You will be missed.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - Elite 8

Just a quick recap of what I saw in my Sportz Room -- filled with TVs that I can watch games going on at the same time.

GAME OF THE DAY ROUND: Wichita State vs Ohio State. Pretty simple, really.  The other three games ended as blowouts, this one actually became a blowout before the Buckeyes made a furious comeback to make it a close one late.  When it looked as if the Shockers would break, they didn't.  A huge three and key free throws late sealed the unlikely berth into the Final Four.

UPSET OF THE DAY ROUND: Wichita State vs Ohio State. Who had Wichita in the Final Four?  Pretty much no one.  Seeing the other schools there isn't a shock, but the Shockers joining them is extremely unexpected.

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY ROUND: Big East. Half of the Final Four is from the soon to be demolished Big East with Louisville as the favorite to cut down the nets.  Second place in this category is the ACC, who will house both the Ville (2014) and Syracuse (in July) very soon.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY ROUND: Big Ten. I can't really say there was a league that had a noticeably bad round, but I'll go with the Big Ten just because they really "underperformed" in the tournament, I guess.  Indiana was the preseason favorite and didn't get out of the Sweet 16.  Wisconsin was upset in the first round.  Minnesota actually won a game and then fired Tubby Smith.  Michigan State didn't make as deep a run as we've grown to expect.  And Ohio State were down 20 to Wichita with a Final Four spot on the line.  You can go through many conferences and have similiar breakdowns, but the Big Ten was THE league this year and got just Michigan into the Final Four.

DUD OF THE DAY ROUND: Michigan vs Florida. This game was, to me, the 2nd most anticipated game of the round (behind L'ville-Duke).  But Michigan made this game a snoozer early and easily chomped the Gators.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY ROUND: Michigan. Again, they just nailed Florida.  This Florida squad was making their 3rd straight Elite 8 appearance yet just looked lost against a hot Michigan team.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY ROUND: Kevin Ware. This will be the underlying story of the tournament.  Ware's broken leg in the first half of Louisville's win over Duke was one of the most horrific and gruesome sports injuries I have seen.  And I am a Redskins fan who remembers Joe Theismann's broke leg when it happened.  Many things jump out at me over this.  The shock of his teammates.  The silence in the arena.  The class of the Duke team.  The love of Rick Pitino and that Cardinals team.  The reaction all across the country and the sports community.


*This has been a wild tournament, but it hasn't been a good one.

*Respect to CBS for not showing the replay of the Kevin Ware injury beyond the initial two that caught what actually happened.

*Yes, Charles Barkley only knows the college basketball he was briefed on.  He's an NBA guy and that's fine.  But I don't mind Charles being there as he does bring some comic relief at times as well as bluntly stating things that others gloss over.  The NCAA just isn't used to that.