Sunday, November 30

The First Month of the Larry Brown Era

The Larry Brown era is now a month old. As predicted, the Cats are off to a slow start at 5-11. The good news for the team, December's schedule should be more favorable. They open with two winnable games against Minnesota and OKC at home and have games against Washington, Golden State, and Memphis. The schedule sets up so that going .500 for the month should be attainable.

With a month in the books, let's take a look back at the team's progress.

Game High Scorers (record in those games)
Gerald Wallace: 5 (1-4)
Jason Richardson: 3 (1-2) (Shared lead with Felton in a win)
Raymond Felton: 4 (3-1)
DJ Augustin: 4 (1-3)
Shannon Brown: 1 (0-1)

The most mercurial of the scorers on the team has been Raymond Felton. In the team's five wins, he's shooting a whopping 60 percent from the field (35-58). In the team's eleven losses, he's shot only 31 percent.

Emeka Okafor and Jared Dudley are the only two shooting over 50 percent from the field. Despite leading the team in FG%, the problems getting the ball to EO50 show up in his field goal attempts. He is fifth on the team in attempts, and has only 12 more than Adam Morrison who has played 250 fewer minutes.

DJ Augustin leads the team in 3-point attempts, After starting the season connecting on only five of his first 29 attempts, he's hit 17 of his 30 3-point shots in the last six games. Gerald Wallace has made only 8 of his 34 3-pointers (23.5%). Matt Carroll has shot just two for sixteen behind the arc (12.5%).

Gerald Wallace has shot 113 free throws, Emeka is a distant second at 61. Okafor's struggles at the line continue. He's hit on just 54% of his attempts. The only player shooting over 80% from the line (with more than 18 attempts): DJ Augustin (90.2%).

Individual Stats
Only once has someone other than Raymond or DJ led the team in assists (J. Richardson 5 v. Detroit)

Gerald Wallace (34) and Raymond Felton (28) lead the team in steals. Jared Dudley is third with ten steals.

Emeka Okafor (26) and Gerald Wallace (12) are the only Cats with double digit blocks. Collectively, the team has been blocked 34 more times than they have blocked their opponents.

The team has four players with more than 30 turnovers. The two pointguards, Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor. Sean May has as many turnovers (11) as he does made field goals.

According to John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating, Gerald Wallace has been the most effective Bobcat (18.04). His ranking is 52nd in league. Second: Shannon Brown (17.67). Third: Jason Richardson (16.2)

Team Record
Three of the teams first four losses were by double digits. Since then, they've only lost once by ten or more.

Four of the team's losses have been to first place teams.

The team has only lost once to a team that is currently sub .500 (Milwaukee)

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Thursday, November 27

Happy Thanksgiving!

We here at the ASD want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving (we're under order not to call it Turkey Day, because that's like calling Christmas, Presents Day).

A quick tip of the cap to both of Charlotte's professional teams. On Tuesday, many of the Carolina Panthers rookies and cheerleaders visited Uptown Shelter to serve a Thanksgiving lunch for some of the city's homeless. The Panthers website has the story as well as a video and HERE's some coverage from the perspective of the shelter.

Before departing on their current road trip the Bobcats and Jillian's hosted a Hoops and Hopes Dinner in conjuction with A Child's Place. The event featured all of the players and Lady Cats serving dinner to underprivileged families. After the dinner, the players took the time to play games with the kids as well as sign autographs. A video and a photo gallery of the event can be found on the Bobcats homepage.

Great job by both teams. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the leftovers.

- The ASD

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Charlotte Bobcats: A 3-year Erection...

...because you can't resurrect something that never was.

Opinions of ESPN's Bill Simmons are as polarizing as anything in the sportsblogosphere this side of Charlie Weis. Personal feelings aside, the man knows his NBA. He has once again taken the time in his most recent article to touch on the Bobcats,

In a 'Which NBA team would you NOT want to take over based on location, attendance, ownership, cap flexibility, can't-miss commodities on the roster and spending ability?' debate, the final choice has to come down to Charlotte or Washington ... and I'd have to go with the Bobcats. They are locked in to nearly $130 million over the next three years for Emeka Okafor, Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Matt Carroll and Nazr Mohammed. Just look at that sentence for a second. Charlotte's new marketing campaign should be, "The 2009 Bobcats: Giving hope to wanna-be GMs across the country!
As if I've not already bitten off more than I can chew by trying to get into the race to become college football czar, I feel prepared to tackle another task: The Bobcats wanna-be GM. While others try to figure out what's going on with the economy, or how to keep the turkey moist, I am wrestling with how to fix the hometown team.

First things first, the mission is to win a championship. The goal is not to squeak into the playoffs as an eight seed. If you build a team with a championship in mind, the playoffs will come. If, however, you build a team with the goal of making the playoffs, the championships (or even Finals appearances) won't necessarily happen. It sounds simple, but on a daily basis it's easy to lose sight of the vision.

Next, we need to establish Charlotte's place in the NBA. While it's a beautiful city, it's not an elite destination for star free agents. Few teams in the Association are (New York, Boston, LA, and Miami), but the signifance is the team can't expect to build primarily through free agency (ala New York 2010) or even blockbuster trades (Boston 2008). Looking at similar teams that have made the Finals in the last twenty years, they almost exclusively have two of their top three scorers drafted by the team (or involved in a draft day trade). The Spurs Big 3, Dirk and Josh Howard for the Mavs, Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson for the Nets, and the list goes on and on. These teams would then add pieces to their core; some bigger, like Jason Kidd, and some smaller, like the random guys on the Spurs bench.(Digression: the only team that doesn't fit this mold in the last five years: Detroit who were the beneficiaries of a particular inexperienced GM trading for Jerry Stackhouse. Sorry Bobcat fans. The silver lining: the only two teams that have done it in the last ten years, the other being the AI-led Sixers were both coached by Larry Brown.)

Building through the draft gives smaller market teams a better chance at locking up potential stars, Chris Paul for one will be staying in New Orleans, but likely wouldn't have gone to New Orleans as a free agent.The NBA salary cap rules also work to aid retention and a little extra green from the home team never hurt. Once the core is in place, veterans will be much more interested in joining the team for reasons other than a paycheck. Because these players often have a higher price tag it's best to add them last. Teams that are interested in making the playoffs will often add them first, which hurts the team in the long run. A better team means worse draft picks, means needing to add another veteran (and their contract) through trade or free agency. When teams go this route the window for a championship is at best a few years. Teams that win rings often have to get bounced a time or two before developing the chops for a Finals run (read the first several paragraphs of the above mentioned Simmons article). Building through veterans doesn't allow this, so unless the team is at one of the elite destinations the likelihood of catching lightning in a bottle is extraordinarily small.

So, the big question, how do we get the Bobcats to that level? This isn't a dry cleaner, it won't be done in a day. My plan will take two years to start having results on the court. That does not mean the Finals in 2011, but a young core taking their lumps in the playoffs should be possible.

PATIENCE. (Not to be confused with INACTION)

Let's take a moment and go back to Mr. Simmons original statement, “They are locked in to nearly $130 million over the next three years for Emeka Okafor, Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Matt Carroll and Nazr Mohammed.” Every smart person in the NBA knows that the Bobcats are currently attempting to trade from a position of weakness. Be it the contracts or the obligitory arm-flailing, knee jerk reaction to a GM not used to Coach Brown's antics, everyone knows where the Cats stand. Trading from this position will result in either the team taking on more salary (just under a different name) or not receiving fair compensation. All of the trade rumors that have surafced this season have pointed to the team trying to make the playoffs, but not building towards a championship.

The Bobcats front office needs to focus on two things this season. Deciding if they want to build around Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace or neither. If the answer is neither, they're both eligible to be traded, but for the time being should not be shopped. Recommendation: Look to move Richardson, but not if it means taking on a longer salary and only if the team is compensated with young talent, draft picks, expiring contracts or the other team takes on another salary (Nazr or Carroll). Gerald Wallace can be a piece of the building of the new look Bobcats, but he's by no means untouchable.

The other focus should be deciding what to do with Raymond Felton and Sean May. Raymond should be the re-signing priority, but the cost may be too much (6-8 million). Teams like Atlanta and Philly could well be in the market for a starting point guard this off-sesaon and paying Raymond starter money to backup DJ would not be a wise investment. Before scoffing at the suggestion of Sean May, consider this: Forwards that can score from the post, the elbow, the top of the key and the wing aren't exactly common, they're by no means Honda Accords. May's value has certainly dipped with his weight issues, but some team will give him a chance because of the tools he posesses. Again, it's price dependent but signing May at a discount price could be a coup if his head and heart are in the right places. Recommendation: Try to re-sign both, but with what Raymond will likely demand, probably only re-sign May.

In the interest of full disclosure, I recently exchanged e-mails with someone whose been writing about the NBA far longer than I, and I argued that trading Gerald Wallace was the most logical step to cap freedom and that it should be done sooner rather than later. So, I'm a flipflopper, which could be damning to my political career, but is much better than Buyer's remorse.

If the Bobcats cool off on the trade talks for a bit, as the playoffs approach other teams will start to get anxious about improving their team and may see fit to pay more. Take for example Cleveland, as the LBJ to NY chatter reaches fever pitch, the organization is going to feel pressure to deliver a championship in the delusional hopes that it might convince the King to stay. If they continue to play with the idea of using Lebron at the four, they may see fit to acquire a small forward. Suddenly, Wally Szczerbiak or Ben Wallace (and their expiring contracts) become valuable trade chips. They decide to move Wally, in hopes of acquiring an athletic small forward that can be a jack of all trades and with little need to be a scorer and a shooter to replace the outgoing Wally. Now, the draft picks they can offer won't be very appealing so they have to offer someone not in their primary rotation. Gerald Wallace and Matt Carroll for Wally's expiring contract, JJ Hickson and (maybe) a late first rounder? It's just an example, but the Cats likely won't score anything close to that if they trade either Wallace or Richardson now.

Remember the motto: PATIENCE. Not trading either by the end of this season isn't detrimental to the progress of the team. The offseason priorities should be securing a backup PG, re-signing Shannon Brown, and possibly Sean May. The team's cap space will be limited, but there are only a few restricted free agents to keep an eye on. Outside of Danny Granger the market is fairly bare (for the younger players we want to target). The most important choices will be in the draft. Other than point guard, the team should look to take the best available player, preferably a forward.

Heading into next year, a lot of the large contracts (excluding Emeka's) become more trade friendly. Matt Carroll's will have three additional years, but provided he rediscovers his shot, he'll be a deal at less than $4 million per for two of those three seasons. Jason Richardson will have only one more year, the prefect length for a team in need of scoring and looking to make a serious playoff push. Even Nazr will only have one more year, but his contract will be the hardest to move. If the Cats stick to acquiring young talent, draft picks, and expiring contracts, the team should be primed for success in 2010.

Adam Morrison will have had two years back from his injury and his role in the NBA should be clear. Picking up the options on DJ, Alexis (maybe) and Jared will be no brainers and provided the team has been succesful in moving either Richardson and/or Wallace, they should be a player in the free agent market. The Cats will not be in the running for the crème de la crème, but there are plenty of mid-level free agents that could help push Charlotte's team towards their first playoff berth.

The roster would look something like this:

DJ Augustin, Shannon Brown, Adam Morrison, Jared Dudley, Emeka Okafor, Sean May, Alexis Ajinca, two lottery picks and one or two 2nd round picks.

If Jason Richardson is gone the roster should have either another young talent or a late first round pick. It would be great to keep Gerald Wallace, but if not hopefully the team will receive something similar.

In addition, the team would have a good amount of room under the cap to add either a very good player or a couple solid players.

Many of the details will depend on the potential trades and draft picks, but if the Bobcats follow this plan the playoffs should be within reach, the team will have a young core led by a point guard entering his prime, speckled with veteran leadership, room for growth, and be free of the albatross contracts currently restrticting movement. Just remember, stay patient, grow through the draft, and add large veteran contracts only after the young core is in place. Well, I'm off to Dubai!

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Wednesday, November 26

Week 13 NFL Mr. Green Locks

I'm throwing this together today because obviously tomorrow is Thanksgiving and the bossman has given the office a half day today! Last week my upsets were way off but I still came out 4 games up and push myself over the century mark for wins. Another abbreviated version of my NFL picks after the break.

Last Week: 10-6
Season: 107-68

TEN at DET: Titans- It's going to be a gloomy scene in the motor city this year.

SEA at DAL: Cowboys- Another clunker. Unless you enjoy torture turn the volume to zero on this broadcast.

ARI at PHI: Cardinals- Speaking of gloomy atmospheres, D-Nabb might want to invest in some ear plugs.

CAR at GB: Panthers- I think the Panthers will turn this around and have the Lambeau faithful turning on Rodgers.

IND at CLE: Colts- And like that (puff), Brady's gone.

BAL at CIN: Ravens- Baltimore better take this win while they can get it.

SF at BUF: Bills- The Bills have really shown they can beat up on the bad teams (except the Browns).

DEN at NYJ: Jets- Is this really happening?

NYG at WSH: Giants- I never expected the Giants to be this good.

NO at TB: Bucs- You're not dropping 51 on Tampa.

MIA at STL: Dolphins- There will be no further ramming in St. Louis this year.

ATL at SD: Chargers- Funny that this outcome would be kind of an upset.

KC at OAK: Chiefs- The Apple Cup of the NFL.

PIT at NE: Patriots- This should be a good one.

CHI at MIN: Bears- The game clock should go by quick with all the running in this one.

JAC at HOU: Texans- This game falls under the "somewhat unappealing" category.

The quick Clue fact today since I'm about to breeze out of the office is focused on food since we are on the eve of Thankgsgiving. As the guests sit down to dinner they begin eating a Cantonese dish which is later revealed to be monkey's brains. Enjoy the games and the holiday.

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Remembering Sean Taylor

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the death of Sean Taylor. For so many fans of the University of Miami and the Washington Redskins it was a shock and a heartbreaking moment. For me personally, being a alumnus of Miami and having been there when Taylor was on the field and getting to see him play in person at the Orange Bowl was special. The reason that those felt so much emotion when Taylor passed away was because we felt the emotion that Taylor played the game with. There was a raw energy that Sean brought to the field every down of every game. He will be missed by fans because we lost one of the great football players of our generation, he will be missed by the Redskins because he was a friend and teammate, and most of all he will be missed by his daughter and the rest of his family.

There was a lot written and said about the murder by people who presumed to know exactly what transpired. Pretty much all of it was garbage and sports media figures sitting on high and dealing out the judgment. They are too many to name but the most egregious and reckless example was by Colin Cowherd. The complete breakdown on the ignorance of his statements were made in a great article from the DC Sports Bog last year and can be found here. The funny thing is how he is still unapologetic about it if it comes up, the man truly sets a new standard for douchebags.

The day after Taylor was killed I heard a local radio station discussing the incident. They were not too brash to be making the completely idiotic statements of others (which proved to be false by the way), but they were speaking with no knowledge on the subject and allowing a person who called himself a Miami fan to call in and give his thoughts. This so-called fan of Miami was also a Dallas Cowboys fan and is allegedly over 50 years old and still in college. Furthermore he lives in Sacramento so I have no idea why he calls into a show that is on in the southeastern region of the country and why the show allows him to call in. I decided to write into the show and share my thoughts. They were met with a terse thank you and three word response. That certainly rubbed me the wrong way but it is up to the host of the radio show what content drives his show and it is apparent that in this case it is not the intellectual or even factual side of sports. After the break, I have posted the email I wrote to the radio program. Below is the video tribute from FedEx field that was shown last year.

I listen to your show whenever I get the chance. Therefore after listening for a short time yesterday and receiving the news today of Taylor's passing, I feel compelled to write you my thoughts. I am a graduate of the University of Miami and was fortunate enough to be enrolled when the team won its 5th championship in 2001. Being a true green and orange Hurricane, it is often a difficult task to separate myself from loud-mouthed fans, ignorant sports fans, and people who either live through or thrive on the belief that the program exists to fulfill a macho thug-like purpose. Yes we all know the stories from the 80s and early 90s, I still have my Sports Illustrated with the cover of "Why the University of Miami should drop Football.", but having gone to the school, lived and worked for the community and the school itself, having gone to the archaic concrete monument that was the Orange Bowl, I can tell you there is a special connection with the U and its true fans. And it burns me that when I do listen early in the week often I hear the stuttering voice of one Stanley from Sacramento. It infuriates me to the limit of a rational person being angered by a voice on a radio. I doubt Stanley went to Miami since I hear jokes about his 8 semesters at Sac. St. and as I said true fans do not share his stupid, blunt, and absolutely idiotic comments when it comes to Miami. Nothing angers us more than to hear people like him give us a bad name. We know we will never be liked, and judgments will be made, but we believe what our current coach Randy Shannon believes; that victories and passionate play on the field can occur without a reliance on unacceptable behavior and disrespectful attitudes. The U will never shed its image, but strides have been made. Miami became a poster child for college programs of this era, Florida St. and Nebraska among others had just as many disingenuous characters and reprehensible behaviors as we did. But to be a 'Cane fan is to accept the brunt of this criticism.
Miami is actually an academic institution of great note. The very treatment given to former Hurricane Kevin Everett shortly after his catastrophic injury in Buffalo was a result of the Miami Project to cure paralysis developed at the University. As a result Everett will walk again one day after doctors thought initially he was going to be confined to a chair for life. We are not a large public institution, we are not a Florida where we open the flood gates every August and allow the cattle to usher forth and then receive their degree and then create generations upon generations of fans through sheer numbers. Instead we are a small community just as passionate about our team as anyone if not as high in head count.
The fraternity of former players of the U is one I am not a part of but has big appeal for kids coming to the school, and makes them a part of a family they keep in close contact with. Former players from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Edge James, Clinton Portis, Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp and countless others are always seen on-campus and at games supporting the program. Many of these players come from the troubled communities of South Florida. Their struggles and success though the game of football unite them and keep them forever linked in life and so sadly, their death. Randy Shannon is one story of success out of these dark places, and therefore I think is the best leader the program could have. Yes their have been personal foul flags, brawls, and some run-ins with the law, but their have been so many more degrees earned, careers launched, and brotherhoods formed in the process.
Sean Taylor was an electric player on the field, who while at UM, never got into trouble, but afterwards in the NFL had some off-field trouble and committed a horrid penalty in a play-off game. He was quiet when it came to the media so little is known about his candor. By most accounts, after the birth of his daughter he began to change his ways and it is so senseless how his opportunity to do so is cut short. No matter his troubles he did not deserve this. Many details and theories and social commentaries will come out following this event, but I want you to know that the Hurricane family is hurting today and will be for awhile. Just after Brian Pada, Chris Campbell, Al Blades, and all the others we were hurting. But Taylor was headed for a transcendent career on the field and hopefully what would have been a tranformation off it. He was a symbol of the U and of how the twisted athletic priorites of our society can rescue a child that that very society abuses. I never had a conversation with Sean but I feel like I lost someone close.
As I get closer to earning my masters in Sports Studies and heading out for a career in sports media, administration, or otherwise I take stock of the important role sports play in our society and the folly we sometimes run into in letting our passion blind us to reason. I felt obligated to share my thoughts with you on this subject as you can see it is close to my heart and would like to you to pass a message to Stanley and people like him the next time he comes on your show: 'You do not represent the true spirit of Hurricane football, you are a glorified bafoon of an extreme attitude you believe to be courageous'. Please hang up on that jackass the next time he wants to stutter on about what the 'Canes should do. Yes our football team has been downright awful the last couple years and those of us wiser than others have kept quiet and are preaching patience. His loud mouth antics spit in the face of what our program has been and what it can be in the future. Again I am profoundly saddened today but know the Hurricane family will weather the storm.

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Buffalo Sabres Slumping

"We're in tough right now." So says Sabre head coach Lindy Ruff. Our beloved ASD hockey team is in the midst of a 5 game losing streak. During the streak they have been outscored 25-9 and currently sit 9th in the Eastern Conference standings. After leading the NHL early on in GAA, Ryan Miller has become more like mesh netting than a stone wall. The Sabres most recent loss was to the Islanders 4-2 at home with Patrick Lalime giving Miller a rest.

The Sabres try to get back on track tonight against division leading Boston whom they are 1-2 against this year. What's going on? Did we give the Sabres the kiss of death? Hopefully they turn it around because ahead on Friday and Saturday they have games against Pittsburgh and Montreal.

"Sinking Sabres Ready for Rough Stretch." [Buffalo News]

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Jimmy Patsos You're a &%&*#&!

Mike Gundy is a man. Aron Ralston is a man. Jimmy Patsos you are no man. Patsos, the head basketball coach at Loyola (Md). Last night, his Greyhounds took on the Davidson Wildcats, falling 78-48. There is no dishonor in losing to a ranked team, but Patsos's antics deserve to be ridiculed. He decided to implement a Triangle-and-two defense. Instead of guarding Davidson's two best scorers he stuck two defenders on Steph Curry for the entire game. Full Court. The result was Curry standing in the corner (almost certainly at the instruction of his coach, Bob McKillop), while his teammates played four on three. With Loyola leading 9-4 early, Davidson reeled off 18 straight points and Patsos did not change his defense. When the Wildcats scored 19 straight later in the game, Patsos remained unwavering. With just over three minutes left in the game and his team trailing by 30, Patsos continued to double Curry as he stood at midcourt. Curry, previously the nation's scoring leader, finished with 0 points on only 3 shots.

Again the problem is not losing, but doing so without a shred of class. Patsos seemed quite pleased with himself (and his agenda), "Anybody else ever hold him scoreless? I'm a history major. They're going to remember that we held him scoreless or we lost by 30?" Patsos knowing what he did was detestable felt obligated to point out he's not just a clueless dad rec league coach, "I know the fans are mad at me, but I had to roll the dice as far as a coach goes. I'm not some rookie coach, I won a national title as a top assistant coach to Gary Williams. For 13 years I spent on Tobacco Road. I coached a couple of No. 1 picks in the draft. And we scored 48 points. That's the problem that Loyola basketball had today." Oh, so you're a scumbag with credentials? Congrats, Mr. Gecko. Patsos even managed to earn the scorn of Davidson coach, Bob McKillop, a coach known for his class, "It seemed to me they were willing to risk the game at the expense of locking Steph up," McKillop said. "When you put two people on somebody and you do it for 30 minutes and at the end of the game, you have to wonder what the reasons for that are."

The unflappable Curry once again rose above stating simply, "I don't think irritate is the word. Just confused. When they're down by that much and still allowing us to get open shots. It kind of surprised me.” Coach Patsos, you could learn something from this young man. Most telling of how classless Patsos's performance was, his own school's game recap won't even mention the pathetic tactics he used. In fact, they're so embarassed at the way they shutout a National Player of the Year candidate, Curry's name isn't even mentioned in the article. Jimmy Patsos, you're right you'll be remembered, not for shutting out a tremendous player, but for selling out your team to further your own agenda. You may have once been a coach on the rise, but now you'll never be anything other than an infamous loser.

AP recap and more quotes HERE.

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Tuesday, November 25

The 'Fullet' Headlines 2003 Championship Game Rematch

Syracuse guard Andy Rautins is sporting a, shall we say unique hairstyle this season. While watching part of the Orange's 89-83 win over #17 Florida in the CBE Classic last night, XM and I noticed the new look. I'm not sure if the above pictures do it justice but it appears to be a fauxhawk on top with the characteristics of a mullet down the back. XM then dubbed it the "Fullet". Rautins had 5 three-pointers in the first half and finished with those 15 points. The win was a big one for the Orange who have taken heat in the past for not leaving the state of New York early in the season and playing a soft pre-conference schedule. It is a stigma that has left them out of the last two NCAA tournaments. Tonight they face #22 Kansas who won the other semi-final over Washington in Kansas City on ESPN2 at 10:00.

Kansas and Syracuse squared off in the 2003 Championship game with the Orange winning 81-78. Gerry McNamara had 6 three-pointers in the first half and Melo of course won the MOP with his 20 in the game. Hakim Warrick had the big block on Michael Lee with the time winding down as Jim Boeheim finally cut down the nets. That was also the last Kansas game for Roy Williams who had an interesting interview with Bonnie Bernstein after the game. Thankfully this match-up provides an opportunity to once again show said interview. Go B-squared, twist that knife, no mercy!

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NFL Week 12 De-Cleeting: A Thin Line

Once again we were at XM's place to watch the Saints obliterate the Packers last night 51-29 and while trying to enter a zen-like state where Tony Kornheiser's comments escaped my auditory senses, I jotted down my observations from the NFL action I watched this weekend. One thing that definitely stands out is how wafer-thin the line is in the NFL from success to failure. With 5 weeks left, teams once thought in the driver's seat could be holding onto the bumper as the playoff car speeds away. More NFL senseless insightful rabblings after the break.

We won't get fooled again.

There has been another turn in the development of Matt Cassel. He is running the offense now how I thought he would earlier in the season. By now everyone has heard the stat about Cassel throwing for over 400 yards in consecutive games and being only the 5th QB since the merger to do so. The list would be seem more prestigious if Billy Volek were not on it. The 415 Cassel produced was impressive, but perhaps even more relevant was his ability to get the ball to Randy Moss. The Dolphins elected to keep Moss in single coverage and he made them pay for it. Once Randy got the ball early he was rolling, catching 3 TDs and totaling 125 yards while making some spectacular grabs as New England won big 48-28.

The Dolphins did gain decent yardage in their own right but the characteristic of the Patriots defense is its ability to make adjustments in the game. Most opponents get their points early, but then New England finds a way to shut down what they are doing successfully. A big adjustment by the Patriots this week was made from the first game at home against the Dolphins when the wildcat formation led by Ronnie Brown shredded thde defense for 137 yards. On Sunday the Patriots held the wildcat formation to 25 net yards. The common arguement made on the New England defense is that it is "old and slow". It's been said by one member of the media to the next and then been regurgitated by everyone listening to them. You've probably said it a few times yourself. While the defense does have a lot of veterans on it, it does have some young fast players featured this year. Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour on the defensive line should hardly be considered slow for their positions, Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton provide youth and speed at linebacker, and due to injury Brandon Merriweather replaces the aged Rodney Harrison at strong safety.

Still with all that said, the Patriots defense is getting scored on more often than they would like and it will be the big challenge going forward as the offense starts to function better. The Patriots have a big match-up this week with Pitssburgh while the Dolphins are not out of it yet. Miami still has games left against St. Louis, KC, Buffalo, and San Francisco.

Water covers 3/4 of the Earth's surface, the rest is covered by Ed Reed.

Philadelphia truly looks like a team that has given up after their 36-7 loss in Baltimore. Donavan McNabb looked bad in the game and then apathetic on the sideline afterwards. In any shade of color McNabb did not look like someone who wanted to play for his coach or organization anymore. Andy Reid has been coaching in Philly for ten years now but it might be time for him and the Eagles to move on. The other Reed, Ed broke his own interception return record with an 108 yard score off Kevin Kolb's pick. Reed now has 37 picks in his 7 years in the league and has to be considered one of the best safeties in football right now if not ever. Notice in the video that Hakuri Nakamura attempts to get Reed to lateral the ball as he is 5 yards from the endzone which is ridiculous especially after Reed tried to lateral and fumbled on an earlier interception. Baltimore sits on the last playoff spot right now but faces a tough schedule after they face Cincinnati next week which should be their only gimme. They have Washington, Pittsburgh, and Dallas before closing against Jacksonville.

Panthers have a rough trip down I-85.

With a chance to stay ahead in the competitve NFC South, the Carolina Panthers got slammed 45-28 in the Georgiadome. This loss pulls the Panthers into a tie with Tampa Bay who beat them earlier and only one game ahead of the Falcons and two ahead of the Saints. The game started slow for the Panthers on offense as they had two quick three and outs while Atlanta jumped out to a 17-3 halftime lead. In the second half Carolina got the ball moving but it was the defense that failed to keep them in the game. There were 6 4th quarter touchdowns scored, the backbreaker being Michael Turner's 3rd of his 4 with the Falcons up 24-21 and facing 4th and Goal from the 1. The defense which had gotten a pass from last week's poor performance at home against Detroit, now becomes a concern for the Panthers as they head into Green Bay this week and have a huge home Monday nighter against the Bucs in week 14. The Panthers were helpless against the run and missed key assignments and tackles in the passing game. The bright side for the Panthers is that they are 8-3 and problems on defense are probably easier to correct for John Fox and the coaching staff than offensive inefficiencies.

San Diego is the bizarro Indianapolis.

Much like the bizarro Superman that lived in an opposite universe from the real Superman, the Chargers are the Colts from the parallel dimension. The Colts drove the ball down the field and had Vinatieri hit a long game-winning field goal as time expired to win 23-20. This was after San Diego drove down the field to tie, but were unable to run time off the clock due to a penalty or even bring it close and score the winning TD. The polarization of the two franchises in their current state starts with the quarterback. Peyton Manning is quiet on the field but efficient and a proven winner with a super bowl ring; Phillip Rivers has been known to run his mouth at times on the field and has not yet reached the Super Bowl. Joseph Addai is a young dymanic running back; it appears LT's best days might be behind him. Reggie Wayne came into the league unheralded at the wide receiver postion but as turned into one of the best in the league; Chris Chambers has had a lot of expectations but has never reached his potential. Tony Dungy is the epitome of a players' coach and overcame tough losses in the playoffs to win the big one; it's pretty fair to say Norv Turner is not a players' coach and has never been able to take a team to the next level. San Diego's linebackers are fast, flashy, and like to dance; Indy LB Gary Brackett quietly makes big plays week after week. In the front office, Colt's president Bill Polian is seen as one of the best executives in the league; A.J. Smith dumped Marty Schottenhiemer after a 14-2 season because he didn't like him and hired Norv. Inianapolis finally overcame the Patriots and won the Super Bowl after being told they just couldn't win the big one; the Chargers could not get past the Patriots in the past couple of years even after many people were telling them they were the most talented team in the NFL.

The last evidence of the bizarro relationship of these two teams is their records: the Colts are 7-4 and the Chargers sit at 4-7.

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Bobcats Keep the Hope Alive for 72

The Cats staved off their 10th loss with a win over the 76ers last night. Collectively, the best game of the season for DJ and Raymond, they accounted for over half of the Bobcats scoring (48 of 93) and DJ had his first career double-double. The Sixers shot a woeful 3 for 16 from behind the arc while Charlotte was 8 for 14. Bowser got his 3rd straight DNP-CD, but on the bright side Ammo broke out of a slump shooting 4 of 8 and 2 of 3 from range. The Cats will try to get a winning streak rolling on Wednesday at Toronto.

DJ Interview on NBA TV's Game Time
Possible Jason Richardson for Chris Kaman trade? (Last paragraph)
Samuel Dalembert and Theo Ratliff recall having Larry Brown as their coach.

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Monday, November 24

College Football Playoff Announced!

Yes, there is a playoff in college football and the bracket has been announced! Of course we are talking about the FCS formerly I-AA subdivision of college football. Appalachian State is the three time defending champions but are not the top seed. James Madison earns the top spot. The Dukes will take on Wofford this Saturday along with all the other first round games. The Mountaineers are the two-seed and face South Carolina State in the first round on their quest for a quad-peat. Star quarterback Armanti Edwards was injured and did not play Saturday for App due to a hip injury. ESPNU will carry the the App State game this weekend and the second round will be picked up in ESPN Syndication, Gameplan, and while the semi-finals and finals will all be on ESPN2. Here is a look at the bracket which will determine the winner on the field.

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College Football Recap

All last week I sat twitching nervously at the anticipation of Saturday night's Texas Tech-Oklahoma match-up and by the time Catfish, XM, and myself were digging our hands into our third bucket, the game was over. Pretty soon the game was ugly. Oklahoma's dismemberment of the Red Raiders has left the BCS in confusion and possible chaos(big surprise) and now the system that was supposed to have guidelines but doesn't really have guidelines so now on one knows what the guidelines are and again the teams will sort it out on the field, sort of. Even outside the BCS, it was another entertaining and wild weekend in college football.

Guns down

Right from the start, if you had watched the Red Raiders at all this year, you could tell that Graham Harrell was uncomfortable in the pocket during the 65-21 smackdown by the Sooners. It was just like when our waitress gave me a dollar and told me to go to the jukebox and play something because the songs that were on its shuffle made it feel like we were at a poetry reading. I got up there and under the pressure I went for a Doors song but hit the wrong one. I accidentally hit the "Alabama Song" and it was bad. If you've ever heard the song you know what I mean, if not try to imagine a song that is played as you ride on a carousel and then imagine you are on drugs while riding said carousel. After that, the music seemed to grate on my ears no matter what song was playing. Harrell never got settled in and he was not under too much duress. He was off target and made uncharacteristic mistakes. Obviously some of that credit has to go to the OU defense, but the Raiders came out flat, and then that flatness turned into uncertainty which became panic. On the Oklahoma offensive side of the ball, their offensive line is good, damn good. Sam Bradford had time to bake a cake before hitting his receivers and backs in stride. Texas Tech helped fill up the highlight reel by missing tackle after tackle. I knew the Sooners could win this game but had no idea they would completely blow Tech out of the water.

The argument for OU to jump Texas became even stronger because of the margin of vicoty. Yes, there's that phrase again. "Margin of victory" used to be part of the BCS formula but was taken out because if you go by the numbers a win should count as a win. Makes sense, but if you then factor in that a large part of determining who gets the top spots in the BCS are human polls, then we have a problem. The coaches are aware of the problems too and they have started banging the drum for their cause louder and louder. Bob Stoops said after the win "Obviously, now we're in the mix with everybody, with the way we played, you would think ahead." Well Bob that's how you would think except that tiny fact of getting beat by Texas. Yet in truth a lot of people who have a vote agree with Stoops. The Big XII was trying to due its best in a flawed national championship system by annointing the the tie-breaker of the division to the highest rated BCS team, but now with three teams with a legitimate shot it will be the polls and computers that determine who gets to play for the conference title, not what happened on the field in conference.

This just in...Florida is better than the Citadel.

It is not a problem that the Gators have this game on their schedule, it is just curious the timing of when they have it. It is going to be interesting to see if Florida State and famed defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews can do anything to keep the Gators under 50. My favorite quote of the day was from 5th year senior Javier Estopinan, who scored a 1 yard TD run as a present from Urban Meyer for his years of hard work. "(Coach is) stingy with his touchdowns." Javier said. Oh really? Well, that's not surprising to hear, but from one of his own players I find that interesting. Catfish already pointed out this fact(which many other people have since jumped on) but now we get to hear it straight from inside the program. The coach of a team that has scored 42 points or more in 6 straight games, is "stingy" with his touchdowns. By the way Percy Harvin did run one in...from 11 yards out.

The Apple Cup delivers!

Last week I previewed the rivalry game in which both teams were seeking to avoid becoming known as the worst BCS team on the west coast. While I watched this game drag on through the first 3 quarters I started to question my anticipation of watching the game. While it was fun watching the teams provide an exercise in offensive football futility, after 45 minutes of it I became bored with it. But luckily in the 4th quarter Washington State drove down and tied the game sending it into overtime. The game seemed to take on even more appeal as it headed into extra time. At first it was just going to be a team winning and making their rivals hold the title of worst team, but now this meant that the losing team would be provided with extra agony. That agony belonged to Washington and Ty Willingham as they lost 16-13. I honestly felt heartbroken for Ty as he trudged off the field. The Huskies had led the entire game until WSU tied it and then their kicker missed a FG in their half of the 2nd ovetime. Cougar kicker Nico Grasu got to be the hero as he punched the 37 yard game-winner through.

The Cuse wins one for the Gregger

The second to last game of Greg Robinson's career at Syracuse ended with a 24-23 win at Notre Dame. This is another game I was periodically turning to and when the Irish went up 23-10 in the 3rd quarter I assumed the Orange had put up a good fight but the game was over. Robinson had an atrocious record at Syracuse in his time there and the fans are ready to see him go, but I'm happy that he and his team can celebrate a victory like this after such a horrid season.

On the flip side, even the most staunch Charlie Weis supporters have to be cringing after this game. In spite of all that ahs happened this year, there is absolutely no excuse to lose at home to Syracuse. Since Weis took over the play calling, Notre Dame has put up just 27 and 23 points to two very bad defenses. It doesn't get any better for the Irish as they head to LA to get their asses handed to them by USC. The Irish will make a bowl, a very bad one and will most likely face a team that is better than them and can't wait to have a chance to beat fabled Notre Dame.

Then it got ugly

I will share more of my feelings on the Rich-Rod situation in our next podcast, but even though I am not that old, I have never seen a Michigan team look more utterly pathetic than the team I saw on the field on Saturday during Ohio State's 42-7 beating. The Buckeyes lost out on the chance to redeem themselves in the national championship, but depending on their BCS bowl match-up they have an opportunity to get a big win against another BCS conference foe. I'm sure they will rather face a highly ranked team and prove themselves than going against the ACC or Big East winner.

Tom O'Brien turns the tide

Watching NC State's performance on the field as they beat North Carolina 41-10 you would not be able to tell that Chuck Amato coached this team only two seasons ago. The Wolfpack did not commit silly personal fouls, did not turn the ball over, and had smart in-game management. Quarterback Russell Wilson is probably the most underrated passer in the ACC. He can not only make things happen with his feet, he uses it to buy time and find open receivers instead of taking off down field. He made big throw after and ended with 2 TDs on 17-28 passing. North Carolina had hoped to get back on the race for the division title, but instead must lick their wounds and focus on winning a bowl game for the first time in a long time.

Speaking of ACC let downs...

Florida State smashed Maryland's control of the Atlantic Division as they won 37-3 and Myron Rolle got his Rhodes Scholarship. The Noles have the chance to play for the ACC title and the chance to spoil rival Florida's national title hopes next week in Talahassee. Maryland busted out the black uni's but the turtle was not inspiring fear. You would love to champion the ACC's cause but it really has been the case of whoever control's their path to Tampa immediately gets hammered.

Beavers lose Jacquizz but still find a way to win

Ever since Oregon State beat USC when they were ranked number 1, they have played like one of the nation's top teams. They did fall on a close one to Utah, but with their 19-17 squeaker over Arizona on Saturday, the Beavers are still alive for the Pac Ten title. They have to beat Oregon at home this week in the Civil War which won't be easy, but is doable. The Beavers trailed 17-16 but back-up QB Sean Canfield hit WR Sammie Stroughter for a 47 yard pass with less than a minute left. Oregon State has by far been one of college football's best stories this year and Mike Riley deserves a lot of the praise.

Utah conquers the Mormons

In an incredibly hard-hitting game that still had the Mountain West's typical offensive show, Utah secured a spot in the BCS with a 48-24 win over rival BYU. Utes QB Brian Johnson had 4 TDs and threw for over 300 yards in the win. The atmosphere appeared electric as the home crowd cheered their team and chanted "B-C-S" as the clock wound down. Utah deserves the right to play at the very least a BCS bowl game, now they will have to follow Boise State's example, a team they most likely knocked out of a BCS game, and find a way to beat a BCS conference team to be considered one of the best team's in the country.

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NFL Week 12: The Numbers

One number from each game that stuck out above all others.

The Panthers tackle like they are coached by George Fox, not John Fox.

Jets v. Titans – 4 – Following three straight weeks of multiple interceptions, Mr. Number 4 has thrown five touchdowns and only two INTs in the last 4 games for the Jets. His cumulative passer rating for the last month is 103.65 and he's completed exactly 75% of his passes. Excluding his 0 TD and 1 INT game against Buffalo at the start of the month, Favre's only thrown 1 INT against 5 Tds and completed 77 percent of his passes for a 113.64 passer rating.

Texans v. Browns – 5 – Turnovers for the Browns. The turnovers allowed Houston to enjoy a near 15 minute advantage in time of posession despite converting on only four third downs and rushing for 3.1 yards per carry. Houston QB Sage Rosenfels did complete 75 percent of his passes, compared to 41 percent for the Browns signal-callers. Cleveland finished the game with only two third down conversions, three less than their number of turnovers. There has to be a corellation.

49ers v. Cowboys – 5 – San Francisco had six plays from inside the Cowboys 5-yard line in the first quarter, but came away with only six points total. By the time they scored again, it was 29-6 Dallas. Rushing was a problem for the Niners all day, totaling only 26 yards on 1.7 yards/carry. They also had troubles on third down, converting on only twenty percent of their third downs, while allowing Dallas to convert on half of theirs.

Buccaneers v. Lions – 9 – Detroit continues to find ways to lose. Not only did they allow both punt and interception returns for touchdowns in the third quarter, stretching the Bucs leads from four to eighteen, but it was penalties that killed them. 9 of their ten penalties came on the offensive side of the ball, often short-circuiting a drive before it started or, on multiple occasions, in Tampa territory. Collectively, the teams was penalized seven more times for 45 more yards than the Bucs.

Bills v. Chiefs – 54 – The most points ever scored by Buffalo on the road and the second most in team history (58 v. Miami, 1966), and Trent Edwards accounted for four touchdowns snapping out of a month long funk, but the signs aren't all good. The Chiefs converted only one third down, but had 21 first downs. KC also outgained the Bills despite having five turnovers, while Buffalo had zero.

Bears v. Rams – 0.7 – Yards per carry for St. Louis. They had 14 yards on 19 carries. Conversely, Matt Forte had 20 carries for 132 yards (6.6 y/c) and two scores. Like Cleveland, the Rams had more turnovers (4) than third down conversions (3). They were also penalized eight more times than the Bears (11-3) for 71 more yards (85-14).

Patriots v. Dolphins – 4- No, it's not because Matt Cassel lead the New England offense to over 400 yards passing twice, something no other Patriot QB had done (including Mr. Brady). It's because for the first time, he hit connected with 4 different receivers for at least five passes each. One of the things Cassel had struggled with was locking onto receivers, but as Randy Moss said, "Matt is getting in the comfort zone, he's playing some hellified ball." Also, after Ronnie Brown's four rushing touchdowns in their first encounter, he and the Wildcat formation were shut out.

Vikings v. Jaguars – 2 – In only their second road win of the season, Minnesota scored 2 touchdowns in the first 2 minutes of play. The first score was a fumbled exchange returned for a score and the second was set up by a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. This was the third time this season Jacksonville has had their leading rusher held to 20 or fewer yards. Wasted for the Jags, David Garrard's first 300 yard passing game (along with 2 INTs).

Eagles v. Ravens – 108 – The longest INT return for a touchdown in NFL history, scored by Ed Reed, breaking his old record of 106 yards. Approriately for the Eagles, it came with the ball on the 1-yard line, where they've struggled all year, but shame on rookie safety Haruki Nakamura for begging for the lateral from Reed, instead of blocking. The Eagles also had more turnovers than third down conversions, not surprisingly in a loss.

Raiders v. Broncos – 132 – Difference in Royal Ivey receiving yards from Denver's week one victory against the Raiders to this week's loss. The Raiders went 11 of 12 in passing attempts for 160 yards, while Jay Cutler completed just 43% of his passes, his worst percentage ever. Oakland scored their first offensive touchdown since week eight.

Panthers v. Falcons – 83 – Henry Douglas accounted for 188 total yards, scoring on a 7-yard reception and a 61-yard punt return, but it was his 69-yard reception on 3rd and 11 with the Panthers down only 3 in the fourth quarter that proved to be the back breaker. The Falcons would go on to punch the ball in the end zone on 4th down extending the lead to ten. The Panthers would then lose 18 yards in the process of going 3 and out, setting up Douglas's punt return TD.

Giants v. Cardinals – 79 – Percent completion percentage for Eli Manning, who also threw 3 touchdowns to outduel Kurt Warner. Without Brandon Jacobs, the Giants league-leading rushing attack was held to nearly 90 yards less than their average, but Manning was more than capable to pick up the slack. It was just the second time all season the Giants haven't had over 100 yards rushing (@ Pitt).

Redskins v. Seahawks – 17 – Minute time of posession advantage for the Redskins. The Seahawks averaged seven yards per rush, but were only able to muster 20 attempts. Maurice Morris became just the second Seahawk to record a 100-yard rushing game this season. Their passing game continues to struggle as Matt Hasselbeck threw for 103 yards on 12 of 24 with 2 touchdowns, but also 2 interceptions. Seattle has had only one 200 yard passing game all season (Wallace @ SF). Clinton Portis rushed for over 100 yards for the first time since week 8 (the Redskins were 0-2 during that time).

Colts v. Chargers – 24 – The fourth time this season that San Diego has lost in the last 24 seconds of the game. They did everything right, more first downs, more passing and rushing yards, even on turnovers, but they left ninety seconds on the clock when they kicked the game-tying field goal and Peyton Manning was able to move the ball into position for a field goal as time expired.

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Friday, November 21

It's Friday

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Michigan and Duke: You Don't Know [Blank]

Last night the Michigan Wolverines upset the number 4 ranked UCLA Bruins 55-52 in the semi-finals of the 2k Sports College Basketball Classic. It was the first win for Michigan over a top five team in 11 years and set up a match-up tonight against Duke. This got us thinking, these two met in 1992 national championship game. It was the Fab Five versus the defending champs. How well do you remember that 1992 season? We once again present our quiz for a true test of your knowledge. As always feel free to post your score and earn fabulous prizes. Continue on for the brain pickings.

The 1992 Final Four took place in [It's cold there] and featured of course Duke and Michigan in the title game. Duke defeated [No cell phones!] in their semi-final, and Michigan beat [One of the QCs].

The Wolverines were led by coach [No cheating] who had won the 19[#] national title after taking over the team that year unexpectedly when [No cheating] was fired in the last week of the regular season since he had already committed to coaching [No cheating] the next season. Michigan beat [Check your PJ's] in the final that year thanks to some clutch free throw shooting from [Former Charlotte Hornet!]. In '92 the Wolverines had what is probably considered the most heralded freshman class in basketball history. The "Fab Five" consisted of Chris Weber, Jalen Rose, [No cheating],[No cheating], and [No cheating].

Duke came in to the 1992 final four as the reigning champions after they beat [Huckleberry] a year before in [NCAA headquarters]. This came after they beat the undefeated [Shark!] team in the 1991 semi-finals 79-77. In '92 Duke was a heavy favorite but escaped in the East Regional final against Kentucky 104-103 when [Hello] hit the game-winner with [No cheating] seconds left.

The 1992 final was not particularly close as Duke won 71-51. The Fab Five had brought up the phrase "[No cheating]" in reference to their team being a [#] seed going up against heavily favored Duke. The phrase was later used by [No cheating] when they beat a heavily favored Duke team in the title game in 1999. [Eyes on the road] won the MOP of the tournament in 1992 and Duke won back-to-back titles for the first time since [No cheating].

Pencils down!

Answers below:

1. Minneapolis
2. Indiana
3. Cincinnati
4. Steve Fisher
5. '89
6. Bill Frieder
7. Arizona State
8. Seton Hall
9. Rumeal Robinson
10-12. Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson.
13. Kansas
14. Indianapolis
15. UNLV
16. Christian Laettner
17. 2.1
18. Shock the World
19. 6
20. Connecticut
21. Bobby Hurley
22. UCLA ('72-'73)

Scoring Scale
0-1: Can't spell Krzyzewski
2-5: You're out of timeouts
6-8: Member of the Unforgettables
9-12: You own a Michigan Starter jacket
13-15: Sporting a Thomas Hill flat-top
16-18: Own a pair of Bobby Hurley's ITZ shoes
19-21: Think Dick Vitale is insighttful and love watching him call Duke games
Perceft 22: Disciple of Coach K pontificating

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Hines Ward Toughest Man Alive

Earlier this year, Hines Ward broke the jaw of Bengal linebacker Keith River and last night the Bengals took a measure of revenge on Ward's teammate. The hit not only rattled Holmes, but also Ward. On the very next play, Roethlisberger threw the ball to the normally sure-handed Ward. Apparently wary of getting his bell rung, he dropped the ball and dove to the ground like a man on fire.

For those of you trying to figure out the ACC, here's a chart.

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Los Linces Pierden Otra vez

It's a Bobcats bonanza this morning! The Bobcats and Charlotte have failed to click for the most part and now this from the radio broadcasts (the ones the Bobcats almost didn't have), "Starting Jan. 1, Norsan Media will take over the signal of WOLS-FM (106.1), an English-language oldies station. It will carry the Mexican regional format of Norsan's WRML-FM (“La Raza” 102.3), and WRML will adopt a new Spanish pop-tropical format." "Charlotte Bobcats and Duke basketball games currently air on WOLS. Sanchez said the broadcasts would continue until both teams' contracts expire at the end of their seasons." (Charlotte Observer)

The lone silver lining to this story is Mickey Krzyzewski will be able to learn to curse in Spanish after learning how to do it in Mandarin this summer.

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What Could the Cats Get in Return for Crash?

Recent trade rumors have Crash almost certainly on the move, but where could he be headed and what could the Cats be getting in return? Wallace's remaining contract has four years and nearly 41 million dollars remaining. This could make him prime for a salary dump trade, but even in that scenario, it may be better for the long term of the franchise. With Jrich, Mek and Nazr all having contracts that most teams will be unwilling to take on, moving Crash may be one of the only ways to restructure this team sooner rather than later. Anyone that watches him play appreciates his effort and tenacity, but this is one time where business needs to take precedence over loyalty (not that the Bobcats organization would know much about that). On to the potential suitors...

We have a better SF or too much invested in our own): Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Memphis, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Utah and Washington

Not Interested due to 2010 Lebron Lottery: New York and New Jersey

Not interested due to younger versions of Crash: OK City, Phoenix, LA Lakers, and Portland

We're covered at 3, but we have a salary we wouldn't mind dumping: Indiana and Dallas

This leaves nine teams: Atlanta, Cleveland, Golden State, LA Clippers, Miami, Minnesota, San Antonio, Sacramento and Toronto.

Atlanta has very little other than their starters to trade to match salaries.

Golden State was reportedly already scared off by Crash's contract and they have Corey Magette with a similar (and trade restricted) contract.

San Antonio could be a good fit, but with an aging core and a deliberate front office, they're highly unlikely to take a chance on Wallace's contract.

Toronto would be a bad fit. They need a SF that can make a shot with Bosh and O'Neal on the inside.

So now we're down to five: Cleveland, LA Clippers, Miami, Minnesota and Sacramento.

Why was Cleveland not taken off the list? Ballerblogger has been driving this train for some time, but Lebron at the four is a dangerous weapon. With three capable scorers: LBJ, Mo Williams, and Zydrunas Illgauskus, Crash could be the energy guy that does everything. Unfortunately, the have little to trade in terms of value for the Bobcats. Ben Wallace's $14 million contract would necessitate either another team or another Bobcat contract (Ammo or RayFeon). The only other possibility would be Eric Snow's contract. Snow was someone Coach Brown had targeted as a potential assistant coach and could help tutor the young point guards, but thats what Phil Ford should be doing.

The Clippers appear interested in Crash, despite having Al Thorton as their current leading scorer. The current rumors apparently involve Chris Kaman, but there's another possibility. The Bobcats could potentially land their much needed PF in the form of.... Tim Thomas! He and May could compete to see who can be the most lethargic. Along with Thomas another contract would have to head to Charlotte, possibly in the form of a veteran PG... Jason Hart, who could have his second tour of duty with the Cats. Another salary that could work would be Ricky Davis, but between Thomas and Davis, Coach Brown would probably pack his bags 17.3 seconds after the trade was announced.

Miami poses another interesting possibity. With Marion's contract expiring this year, Crash could be the glue guy between Wade and Beasley. The contract that matches up the best would be Mark Blount who is making approximately $8.5 million and averaging about the same in minutes. Blount has one additional year on his contract, and even if he's paired with a draft pick, it'll likely be no better than middle of the first round in a weak draft.

Minnesota makes sense beacuse they have Corey Brewer at the small forward and Crash would be a good fit, but he is probably not a difference maker to get the Wolves to the playoffs and they have little to offer other than a Brian Cardinal salary dump or some undersized forwards like Ryan Gomes and Craig Smith.

So we're left with Sacramento. Crash's original team, he still has a cult-following out there and with Jason Thompson emerging at the power forward position, the team may look to move Mikki Moore (even if Thompson hadn't emerged, they still might have been). Donte Green, their rookie SF did, however, just have his best game with the team so interest may be limited. A trade for Mikki Moore and John Salmons would give the Cats another scoring option on the wing and a defensive minded power forward. The Cats would have Moore's contract on the books for one more year, and Salmons for two.

The long and the short of all this is there's a limited market for Gerald and his contract. If and when he's traded, the Cats will not get equal return. More than likely they'd get a salary dump or marginal players at best. There's always the possibility of a three way trade, but most of the logical targets for Crash have very little on their roster to offer. The two marquee names that could see Crash as a piece of the three team trade would be Shawn Marion and Al Harrington. There's few to no sexy possible returns for Charlotte, but can a core of Jrich, Emeka, and Crash be a playoff contender? Probably not for anything beyond the first round of the playoffs, so it's in the interest of the team to unload one of the contracts and Wallace's is the most attractive of the three.

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Bobcats Getting Attention (More of the Same)

This USA Today article has some incredible nuggets about MJ (who I previously praised for his attendance) disappearing once again. The Sporting News and Hoopworld also had some interesting takes. More after the break...

From the USA Today article:

Indeed, His Airness landed briefly before taking flight. Only 11 days and six games into the new season, the global icon was gone. He was off to see his sons play basketball, then an overseas jaunt. Jeffrey Jordan, 20, is a walk-on sophomore at Illinois. Brother Marcus, 17, is a high school senior in Chicago.

A Jordan assistant sent an e-mail to a USA TODAY reporter explaining, "With his travel schedule, and the holiday season upon us, I don't expect he will be back (in Charlotte) before December," meaning he would miss at least the next seven home games.

It's worth a read, but the most interesting quote was buried at the very end, When it comes to re-ordering a roster, Brown is eager to dismantle. The Bobcats didn't make many offseason moves, leaving the coach more than slightly vexed — "You know, there are six guys who might not be on our team in two, three weeks."

Bethlehem Shoals of FreeDarko fame has a piece on the Sporting News about the frequent trade rumors revolving around Crash Wallace.

"The depressing thing is, the only logical outcome of this mess is Wallace getting shipped out at a cut rate to make Larry Brown feel better about his view of the world. When, from a pure impact player standpoint, Charlotte needs Wallace far more than any suitors."

It's unusual to completely agree with someone, but wholly disagree with their conclusion, but that's where I find myself in regards to Shoals's assertions. The Cats will have to trade Crash at a cut rate and they do need him more than any other team, but he (more specifically his contract) needs to go. Wallace is not a starter for a serious playoff threat (unless he's paired with a great), but currently he's paid like one. His contract will be on the books for the next four years and if the Bobcats can get it off the books, even if it means taking less in return it should be beneficial for the team in the long term.

Hoopsworld's Bill Ingram weighed in on trade rumors regarding the Nets and the Clippers by saying this, "The catch here is that the Bobcats really want a starting center back in the deal. We all saw the reports that they were trying to get Chris Kaman from the Clippers, and that's exactly the type of player they need next to Okafor in the post." This is infuriating.

A) Based on his size, this is one of the most widely held misconceptions about Emeka, particularly in the media. He's a classic PF (tip of the cap to Newt), 6-10 and banging on the block, but he's not in today's NBA. 4s these days have too much range for Mek and he's not quick enough to guard them either. He has trouble guarding even guarding players like Udonis Haslem, who can hit a free-throw jumper, let alone a baseline shot or a three. Mek's a 6'10" center. He would've been a great PF 20 years ago, but now he's relegated to undersized center.

B) A frontline of Kaman and Mek still has the same problem that surfaced when Mek and Nazr were paired together. Who is going to guard the PFs? Kaman is an upgrade, but hardly a solution. The team would have 20 million per year (up to 25 mill in 2012), or 1/3 of the salary cap tied up into two centers. I understand that people are anxious to see a move made, but another center is not the answer. I know the reports say the Cats are after a center, but I think (hope) that they're actually looking for a power forward and something is being lost in translation.

Two primary things have killed the Cats on the defensive end this season: PG penetration and PFs. Of the PFs that have had good games against the Bobcats: Michael Beasley (25 points), Detroit PFs (combined 27), Zach Randolph (25), Chris Bosh (30), Boozer (26), Hedo Turkoglu (20), and Dirk Nowitzki (32), which of these would Kaman be able to guard?

Unless the FO thinks they can move Mek (not very likely), trading for Kaman still leaves the frontline lacking and locks up more money longterm, further exacerbating a potential turn-around.

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Thursday, November 20

Sometimes You Forget: Hakeem Olajuwon

As time passes, "Sometimes You Forget" is a phrase we use to remind each other and friends that we don't always remember just how good some old players were. Although, MJ was the original impetus of the phrase, tonight we're featuring Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon. At the beginning of the 1995 Western Conference Finals David Robinson received his MVP trophy, but after that ceremony there was very little for the Admiral to smile about. Hakeem averaged over 35 points and 12 rebounds for the series and went on to win the Finals MVP award when they swept the Magic.

During his career Hakeem averaged over twenty points for thirteen straight seasons (21.8 career avg), double digit rebounds for twelve years (11.1 career), and averaged 3.1 blocks for his career. Complete resume HERE.

Other things we YouTube'd this week: Final Countdown, Novemeber Rain, Givin Him the Business and Where Amazing Happens.

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Week 12 NFL Mr. Green Locks

After the first few games of last week it appeared I was heading for a bad week, but I got most of the late ones to end up with another respectable performance. The boss man has me working hard today so I'll try to keep this short, sweet and to the point. This week's picks after the break.

Last Week: 10-6
Season: 97-62

CIN at PIT: Steelers- Does this one really require an explanation?

TB at DET: Bucs- The Lions have continued to improve, and with Graham on the shelf this could be a trap game for the Bucs, but seriously I can't pick Detroit.

PHI at BAL: Ravens- The Ravens will show some defensive pride in this one after getting rolled in New York last week and the Eagles will probably show some more poor decision-making.

HOU at CLE: Browns- Winning this game will give Cleveland fans hope, and like Red said in The Shawshank Redemption, hope can be a dangerous thing.

SF at DAL: Cowboys- In tough times, companies like to stick to what they know will work and the NFL and the media know that the Cowboys have a huge, if not utterly annoying and stupid, fanbase.

NYJ at TEN: Titans- I think the Titans defense will cause a lot of disruption to the Jets' offense. Personally I hope Tennessee wins this game by 30.

MIN at JAC: Vikings- Simply because they appear on the way up as the Jags look they are beginning to unravel.

BUF at KC: Chiefs- Yeah, I think it's going to get that bad for the Bills.

NE at MIA: Patriots- Man this is a hard game to pick but the extra days of rest and preparation should lead to a classic Belichick performance on the field.

CHI at STL: Bears- The Rams are a good team to lick your wounds against.

OAK at DEN: Broncos- Congrats Broncos you are the Cardinals of the AFC.

CAR at ATL: Falcons- Gasp! XM and Catfish will hate me for this but I think the Panther's struggles from the last couple of weeks bite them this week. I do hope I'm wrong though.

WSH at SEA: Seahawks- Zorn and company get a rude welcome back.

NYG at ARI: Giants- Sorry K-man but I think the Giants will win even though Jacobs is a question mark.

IND at SD: Colts- Years ago it would be considered luck that Indy won those close games earlier in the season, but now it is simply that they have won the big ones and know how to finish games now. Meanwhile, I have a special "Lights Out" dance I want to dedicate to the Chargers on their mid-field logo.

GB at NO: Packers- With Rodgers finally healthy and the defense getting back on its feet, Green Bay is ready for a good stretch run.

The Clue moment of this week inspired by our Mr. Green's lead pipe locks focuses again on Tim Curry. So many memorbale roles for this actor, but one of our favorites was in the movie Congo, which basically took the brilliant book of the late Michael Crichton, threw it on a pile of manure, and pissed on it. Curry's character, Herkermer Homolka, wasn't even in the freaking book! We basically love this movie because of how ridiculously bad it is. There are some great quotes though, including the scene below. Until next time, STOP EATING MY SESAME CAKE!

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Wednesday, November 19

Bobcats Making Room?

A little less than 2 weeks ago, we covered the "imminent" trade of Gerald Wallace. A new move by the Bobcats seems to suggest that someone may be on the move. The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell reports that today the Bobcats waived Andre Brown and Linton Johnson. This move suggests the team could be adding two extra players in a deal (aka 3 for 1). After getting torched by Dirk (yet another power foward), its becoming painfully clear that this roster has no answer for any 4s with range. Unfortunately, Bonnell also reports that the team is merely making room to add another no name big off the free agent scrap heap.

If the Cats can get anyone to take Gerald Wallace, they should take the deal, even if means taking less value (and it will). Wallace's hustle is admirable, but he wouldn't start on any team that has aspirations of anything higher than a first round playoff exit, and he's getting paid starter money at the moment. He's owed forty million dollars over the next four years and any attempt to turn this team around will be accelerated by trading Crash. With trade rumors swirling, it's seemed to have an effect on his play, which doesn't help either.

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Two Horrible Teams, One Cup

This Saturday at 3:00 the University of Washington Huskies will face the Washington State University in Pullman, Washington to decide the winner of the Apple Cup. This rivalry goes back 108 years when the first game was played to a 5-5 tie in 1900. This will be the 101st game in the series and it features both teams in the absolute dungeon of football relevance. The Huskies are 0-10 and the Cougars are 1-10. Despite the putrid performances by both teams this season, a victory in this game will be viewed as memorable as if a Rose Bowl berth was on the line. I personally can't wait to watch this game. The fans of both teams should be in a frenzied state as they try to avoid being named the worst of the worst. Let's take a closer look at the history of the rivalry, the match-up on Saturday, and what winning the game will mean. And yes despite the title, this post is SFW.

The Apple Cup was named so in 1962 replacing the name of "Governor's Trophy" due to Washington's abundant apple crop. Washington leads the all-time series 64-30 but Washington State has won 3 of the last 4. There have been 6 ties, with the last one coming in 1942 when the two teams played to a soccer-like scoreless tie. Of course, we know that due to recent college overtime rules being different than say, NFL overtime rules there will not be a tie on Saturday. Got that Donavan?

To say these two teams have performed poorly this year might be a slight understatement. First let us look at Washington. The Huskies do have the fact that they are winless going against them and with their last game at Cal, they probably will be looking at a winless season if they lose to the Cougars. The season got off to a rough start for the men in purple and gold as they lost at Oregon 44-10. The second game they had, at home versus a ranked BYU team, proved much more interesting. The Huskies fell by one after QB Jake Locker (now out with injury) was penalized for "celebrating" what was thought to be the game-tying TD. But the refs took offense to Jake's ball tossing and docked UW 15 yards on the extra point. BYU blocked the attempt and one the game 28-27. Here is how it happened on the field:

One of my favorite quotes after the game came from Locker, who obviously had to be fuming after the call. He apologized for celebrating, merely saying he plays the game with emotion. Watch any good football team, even a bad football team and you can see how important a role emotion plays in how a team performs on the field. The extra point would have sent the game into overtime only and there is no guarentee that the Huskies would have won but the call was ridiculous nonetheless.

Beside that game, no UW loss has been by less than a TD with a 35-28 loss to Stanford at home being the closest conference contest. The Huskies' average margin of defeat this year has been 26. They have failed to reach double-digits 3 times and were shut-out in a 56-0 loss at Southern Cal. Redshirt freshman QB Ronnie Fouch has not had an easy time filling in for the injured Locker. In his last 3 games Fouch is 34-95(35.7%) for 344 yards and 7 INTs.

Washington certainly has a case for firing Ty Willingham, but this mess is not entirely his fault. Considering there has recently been a big turnover at the school, Willingham should be given more time, but the horrible play on the field this year trumps that. Ty is 11-35 at UW and just 6-26 in Pac Ten games. Just like at Notre Dame, Willingham's tenure will be cut short by impatient alumni and fans. From 1957-2000, UW football had 3 coaches and since 2000, they have gone through another 3. The Rick Neuheisel fiasco set the program way back and it is precisely why Washington is seeking a big name head coach to come in and mop up the mess. Hopefully, Willingham gets a legitimate shot at another program in the future.

So take into account all that has just been said about Washington, and then try to comprehend how Washington State must feel about being 8.5 point underdogs. The Cougars can boast the 1 win that guarentees them they will not have the donut in the win column even if they lose this game. Their lone victory came over Jerry Glanville and the FCS division Portland State Vikings, who are currently 3-7 on the season. Other than, that game, WSU has not come closer to an opponent than their 25 point loss to UCLA 28-3. Their average margin of defeat in their 10 losses is 43.3, they have been shut-out 3 times and given up over 60 points 3 times. Their forray with Southern Cal led to a 69-0 clobbering. It has just been a rough year for Paul Wulff and company. The Cougars' QB, Kevin Lopina has yet to throw a TD pass in 7 games this year. The game wil be in Martin Stadium this year, but Wazzou's last 3 home games were losses by a combined score of 191-42.

As far as memorable wins in the series go, for WSU the 1997 Apple Cup which the Cougars won 41-35 in come secured a trip to the Rose Bowl. That team was led by, you guessed it, Ryan Leaf. WSU also denied the Huskies a Rose Bowl trip 1982 as they got their first win in Pulman in 25 years against UW.

The Huskies have 4 national titles to their credit so any win in a championship year is probably sweet. In the title years of 90-91, the Huskies beat the Cougars, 55-10 and 56-21 respectively. But in recent times, the Huskies' big Apple cup wins have come in the role of spoiler has they denied them a Rose Bowl trip in 2003 and 1981. UW also has the longest winning streaks of the rivalry at 8 which they had twice from 1959-1966 and 1974-1981. A big comeback many UW fns remember was in 1975 when they trailed WSU 27-14 with 3 minutes left. The quarterback of that Washington team? Warren Moon.

The storied 108 year rivalry that exists between these two teams should not be dampened by the lousy teams they have put on the field this year, it should be heightened. Many beleive that rivalries can only exist if both teams are playing at a high level or that one of the teams doesn't dominate the other year after year, but none of that is what makes a good rivalry. What is needed is a true dislike of one fanbase of another and passionate games on the field by both sides. Winning this game does not save either team the embarassment of how awful their seasons have gone, but it would mean so much to the teams and the fanbases if they could look back and say yes we did suck bad that year, but at least we took home the Apple Cup. I for one can't wait to watch the game.

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