Friday, February 27
From the Guys over at The Love of Sports, a top ten list of NCAA tournament MOPs that faded away after their one shining moment. Some names that will make you say, "Oh yeah, I remember that guy," and of course, our very own Charlotte Bobcat Sean "Bowser" May is featured.
Top 10 Missing in Action Most Outstanding Players [The Love of Sports]
Thursday, February 26
I love reading Seth Davis's columns on SI.com, but today's is extra juicy. Sitting down with an NBA scout, he gets opinions on several prospects at the next level. We've discussed many of them here or on the podcasts, but it was interesting to read how our opinions differed and concurred with an actual scout. One of the biggest disagreements is about Georgetown's Greg Monroe, about whom I've personally stated I'm not a fan. According to the anonymous scout, "Oh, he's my favorite. For me, it's him or Griffin as the top picks from college. His upside is off the charts, and he's probably the most cerebral player in the draft." He also talks about Stephen Curry (he loves him), but he points to another facet of Curry's game. When you listen to ten different people talk about a player and they all point to different aspects of his game, how can it be a question of whether or not the kid can play at the next level? His remarks about Ty Lawson were also spot on, with a key statement thrown in at the end, " I've never been crazy about his leadership skills." A quick read, but covering a tremendous number of players. Lastly, I knew Blake Griffin wasn't 6-10.
Being a Connecticut fan, I was elated with the Huskies' 93-82 victory over Marquette, placing them in first in the Big East for the moment at 14-2 in the conference and in number one seed position at 26-2. Jim Calhoun, who has faced some scrutiny lately for his spat with a douchebag reporter, picked up his 800th career win joining some pretty elite company. A.J. Price had 36 and a sick crossover while Stanley Robinson looked like his old self as he had 19 and 10.
The Golden Eagles lost more than the game though as senior guard Dominic James broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. James was one part of the three-headed senior guard trio for Marquette along with Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. If you are a fan of college basketball or sports in general, you cannot help but fell horrible for this kid, who from all appearances seems to be a good person, and who is undeniably a star on the court. The fates are not always just in how they dole out their courses of action, and this one appears a bitter card dealt to James and Marquette. Coach Buzz Williams was emotional after the game discussing James but indicated the team would move on and compete. The Eagles are assured an NCAA tourney bid but how far they can go is now more a mystery than it usually is come March. After the game several of UCONN's players and Calhoun offered some words to James but I'm sure there will be no comfort for the young man who has played his final college game.
Duke survives a hostile environment with hostile screens in College Park. [ESPN]
The Gamecocks virtually have their tickets punched. [FoxSports]
It's just Clemson being Clemson. [SportingNews]
Mizzou stays hot. [SI]
The recap of these games and the rest of the action. [Rush the Court]
Wednesday, February 25
Today, the Carolina Panthers cut offensive linemen Jeremy Bridges, running back Nick Goings, and wide receiver DJ Hackett. Of the three, Bridges will be missed the most but his off-the-field transgressions have been multiple. Hackett, signed last year, had largely been a disappointment and hopefully this means Dwayne Jarrett will be the third receiver for the entire season (We here at ASD think having a guy make huge 3rd down catch after huge 3rd down catch is reason enough for him to get a helmet). Nick Goings, leaves having served as one of the most under appreciated players in franchise history. He's done everything for this team, from special teams to running the rock in the NFC championship game, but struggled mightily this past season.
One Panther that some were thinking (hoping?) would get cut Ken Lucas, was not released, but GM Marty Hurney's comments seem to show the Panthers are thinking much like their fans, "Ken's here at this point. We're always talking and working on things. But I'd rather talk about what we've done at this point because anything else is speculation." The team also restructured the contract of Landon Johnson, another free agent disappointment from a season ago. (ESPN)
Woohoo double digits! We discuss roundball of the college and professional varieties. Who's the most likely to make the Final Four and who could be on the outside looking in. Did any of the trades in the NBA change the landscape and who are the teams to beat looking ahead. We ask all the tough questions in sports including ones about SBTB and ugly uniforms. Cleet questions his leaders and Catfish is glad at least one media member is getting a second chance. Please listen and leave your opinions below. Thanks for checking us out and you can download the podcast HERE.
Tuesday, February 24
The University of Vermont and the University of Northern Iowa are small examples of a deluge of budget cuts college athletic departments are facing. Vermont will be cutting baseball and softball at the end of this academic year and Northern Iowa will eliminate baseball. Some people contend that sports are recession-proof but when you consider college athletics on the smaller scale, these are the kids who are going to feel the brunt of the economic downturn with states slashing funding to colleges.
The professional sports leagues are the ones who will be most untouched by the current crisis. Player salaries, TV deals, and advertising are not going anywhere for the pro ranks but it does not mean they are being left unscathed. Roger Goodell is taking a pay cut, and many other NFL teams as well as the league office have let employees go. This problem does not afford sports an immunity even though it is one of the most socially relevant facets of American culture.
The Dow closed at its lowest point yesterday in 12 years. That basically means that the market growth that occured since 1997 never happened. It is just like the picture Marty McFly has with him when he travels back to 1955. He, his brother and sister begin being erased from existence. Unfortunately I cannot hop in a delorean and go 88 miles per hour, go back in time and tell all the banks to stop giving out bad loans.
While pro sports feels the crunch, it is the smaller college programs that are in the vice. Vermont and Northern Iowa are just small examples in what is sure to be a rough period for the smaller programs of college sports. Having been through this personally in college, it is no solace to these young men and women to have their athletic directors come and talk to them about the reality of economics and how they must now pay for someone else's mistakes.
Monday, February 23
Woohoo, I get to guest host the weekend recap. First off, Dwight Howard did this:
Both Duke and Maryland won, preventing them from incessant criticism for not only their play, but also their uniforms. The Terps knocked off Carolina in overtime, and the Heels had only 5 assists, their lowest total since... 40-12. A week after Duke fans were suicidal complaining about lack of athletic recruits and the inability to play against the top teams, they knock off Wake Forest and conveniently forget all those things they said. Coach K's hip was hurting, so the game didn't count.
Texas knocked off The Oklahoma Blake Griffins after Blake got a concussion from a stiff wind. Griffin will accept all of his Player of the Year awards in a bubble to ensure no recurrences.
People are getting in a tizzy over combine numbers, but just remember Anquan Boldin ran a 4.7 and then caught 100 balls his rookie year.
The Bobcats are done.
Davidson needs to win the Southern Conference tournament or risk being left out. 1 top 50 win does not equate to an at-large bid. Gregg Doyle disagrees, but this team lost 3 of it's top 4 scorers all of whom were seniors, and while Andrew Lovedale has filled in admirably, the team is not nearly as good as it was last year. I loved their run and hope they get in, but this isn't Cinderella 2, it's more like Teen Wolf Too.
Head of the MLB Player's Association, Donald Fehr has spoken up about the assertion that all baseball players are now considered guilty,
"If that's the judgment, it seems to me that is entirely wrong," Fehr said Monday. "We know what happened in 2003. The number of positives we had was slightly over 5 percent. That means that slightly over 94 percent was negative." (AP)
Fehr's stance is not surprising, but his math could use some work. For some as intelligent as Fehr, this seems more calculated rather than a failure at doing math in public. Here's the problem (haha, math... problem...), 104 players tested positive. Each of the 30 teams has a forty man roster that it takes to spring training where the tests took place. 30 times 40 = 1200 and 104/1200 = 8.667%. This may seem like splitting hairs, but Fehr tries to assert that just over 1/20th of the baseball players were using steroids, when in fact, it's closer to 1 in 10. Fehr's as shrewd as they come, and this was merely an attempt to dupe folks that are the product of a lazy society, figuring what's the difference. He had to know that sum... oh man, I can't stop.
Saturday, February 21
This loss was painful. Needing to win between 18-20 of their remaining 30 games, the Bobcats fell to 1-2 after the All-Star break. Unlike the first matchup of the week against the Magic, the Bobcats did not play well, and weren't in the game for nearly the entire second half, and this was the first game this season, where the team collecively looked rattled. The game started out physical, but by midway through the second quarter the officials had found their whistles, at least on one end of the court. The refs doing a poor job did not cost the team a victory as it did earlier in the week, but if anyone had doubts about Dwight Howard's Star status, they need only watch these two games. Howard's ability to not get called for moving screens, hacks, and offensive fouls can only be attributed to the time honored tradition of the NBA making sure the stars stay on the court.
When people explain why they don't watch the NBA, the star treatment is often one of the reasons mentioned, and having watched the Cats get man-handled by Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu being allowed to armbar his defender to the side every single time he dribbles, I completely understand the argument. For the Bobcats to be effective they need to play solid defense, but they aren't even given the opportunity, when faced with the additional task of trying to stay in front of their man fighting through moving screens and constant forearm shivers. This may sound like sour grapes, but there is no disputing that a no-call on Howard cost this team the first game and the lack of calls had the players attention far more in the second game, which attributed at least in part to the poor play. Between Hedo and Dwight in the two games, they attempted 43 free throws. The Bobcats as a team attempted 39 during the two games.
The Bobcats playoff chances now reside somewhere between slim and none, but Magic fans shouldn't get too excited. Their team is good, on some nights very good, but they are not playoff good. Dwight Howard has played undisciplined basketball since the All-Star break, they just happened to be playing a team that has less credibility with the refs than A-Rod has with anyone. The team fired up a combined 58 threes in the two games against the Bobcats, and while that may work in a first round contest, it won't cut it against either of the East's top teams. Once Howard isn't the biggest name on the court, it will be easier for officials to properly call fouls against him, and just wait for LeBron or Pierce to sell that ridiculous Hedo locked arm clear out.
I don't have an issue with the Magic, I like Van Gundy and Howard, but seeing your team getting jobbed because of their perceived standing in the league is frustrating at best. This team worked hard to out-rebound a front line that dwarfs them, both in pay and size, but due to a lack of name recognition, they end up on the losing end of two games. Congratulations Orlando, you guys have a nice little team, but just as Dwight Howard met his kryptonite over the weekend, this team will meet their's in the playoffs in the form of a team with more name recognition.
Friday, February 20
Thursday, February 19
This jubilant fellow above is Carl Johnson, a sophmore offensive lineman for the University of Florida football team. He is expected to be a starter next year and protect the holiest of quarterbacks, Tim Tebow. It appears Johnson has a slight problem with temporary restraining orders. One week after being told to stay away from the petitioner of the order, Johnson plopped himself down on a campus bus mere feet away from her (I'm guessing it is a her). The charge is a "first-degree misdemeanor for contempt of court" and Johnson spent Monday evening in jail. The restraining order was brought about by the petitioner needing protection from "sexual violence" and I think we all know what that means.
The spokesman for Florida said they are "reviewing the matter" and here is the real shocker: there was no comment from Urban Meyer. He is "out of the country" so I guess technology fails once the perimeters of the United States are breached. Meyer loves preaching about how great his players are and to his credit he kicked off the other two Gators arrested since November, but they did not play significant roles like Johnson is expected to this fall. It will be interesting to see how Meyer handles this situation when he returns from whatever secluded location he is in at the moment.
Four players in all have been arrested in the last ten months. Somehow this is gently gliding under the national radar. Maybe it is the A-Rod story, or Favre retiring again, or maybe college football likes to protect those they think represent some purity of the game. The first thing people associate with Florida football is Tim Tebow, and perhaps that induces the theory that all of the Gators' players and actions are represented by his pious lifestyle. If you read the police reports however, they tell a different story.
It was evident when Miami traveled to Gainsville this past September; the Hurricanes were the brunt of many jokes about their players being criminals yet which program has had the most legal trouble in the last few years since Randy Shannon has taken over. The most notable problem with the law Miami had was Robert Marve, who will now be transfering, breaking the side mirror off a car when he was being redshirted as a freshman. Make all the "You can't spell thugs without the U" signs all you want, but the proof is in the police reports.
Now I am not so bold as to suggest that Miami is the pinnacle of law-abiding football players, our past speaks for itself and who knows if an incident will occur this very day where somebody does something stupid but this is a national phenomenon at the top football schools. Athletes who are given a sense of entitlement and praised simply for their skill on the field are certainly prone to acting outside the boundaries of the law when they get to college where they are treated like royalty. Florida is not immune to this kind of behavior and even though Tebow is going to be one of the four letter networks meal tickets this upcoming season, the school deserves as harsh a criticism for this type of action. Last year, schools like Georgia and Penn State were singled out for their off the field problems. ESPN took an incredibly hard shot at Joe Paterno and Penn State for their "lack of control". Yet the hallowed program at USC at a player charged with a felony that was allowed to play in the Ohio State game with that charge still on him, and we have already been over Florida's problems. Their seems to be a double standard for programs that most definitely exists in the polls and awards voting, but now it has even appeared in how the media covers off the field problems.
Florida Gators offensive lineman Carl Johnson arrested [Palm Beach Post]
Wednesday, February 18
A groan often heard around these parts (Charlotte) is the desire that Dwight Howard would have come to the Bobcats. The draft in 2004 did not allow the newly formed Bobcats the luxury of a number 1 pick. They traded with the Clippers and moved to the number 2 pick and chose Emeka Okafor after the Magic took Howard. There is no doubt that Howard is the more dominating player right now. Look at the man's deltoids for instance, I think he has to turn sideways to get through doors. Okafor is a solid post player but he is only 6'10" and watching the two side by side last night you could see Howard has the more gifted genetics. Mek finished with 14 and 9, which is about his season average of 14 and 10.7. He also fouled out and if you think he was cut any slack by the refs playing a guy who has become a face of the NBA, do not kid yourself.
The key play in the game was J.J. Redick hitting the game-tying three with 8 seconds left to send the game into overtime where the Magic eventually won 107-102. From the recap shwon below you can see that Howard was dominant in the middle all night, finishing with 45 points, 19 rebounds, and 8 blocks. I emplore you to observe Dwight Howard's screen on Raymond Felton (2:00 in the clip).
If you beleive this to be a legal screen, then you sir are an idiot and possibly retarded. This was probably even a hold in football. The Magic are a marquee team now since Howard has donned the superman persona. The Bobcats are 11 games under .500 and a franchise not especially lauded over by the league. I guess this is how the NBA works, you have to establish yourself first to get the calls to be
right accurate in the closing seconds. Don't get me wrong I love Dwight Howard and what he is doing for basketball, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade or a malesting a moving screen.
Tuesday, February 17
In the past ten days, there have been (at least) three costly elbows thrown in ACC games. Two players, Miami's DeQuan Jones (video here) and Florida State's Solomon Alabi (video) were ejected from the game for the transgression. Duke's Kyle Singler, who threw his at the reigning National Player of the Year, was not. While, at first glance, this may appear as bias against teams from Florida, or simply the lower profile schools in the ACC, the actual problem lies in the NCAA rule book (big shock, there).
Singler's elbow came after the play and the officials saw the play and called it without a review. In the other two cases, it took a video review to determine what had transpired. Under the current NCAA rules, the officials must call either invoke the fighting penalty, resulting in a flagrant foul (with ejection) or nothing at all. Both players clearly were outside the rules of the game, therefore ejected. With no leeway to operate, refs are being forced to either lie (by saying nothing happened) or throw a player out when it's not necessary. In both cases, the opposing player was actively trying to bait the player and succeeded, but in neither case (despite Greg Paulus's and Chas McFarland's heroic flops) was the elbow nearly as brutal as the one Gerald Henderson threw at Tyler Hansbrough, but all received the same penalty and in the two most recent cases it hurt their team's chances to win far more than Henderson's did.
The NCAA should address this immediately or run the risk of forcing refs to eject a player during the NCAA tournament, potentially ending a team's season. If the referees were allowed to assess a technical foul (as they did against Singler) after video review, it would be better for all parties involved. In the event you think the NCAA is too busy, you should be reminded that just over a month ago they found time to issue a memo about tights extending below game shorts.
According to Mr. Ford's newest column on ESPN.com, he's outlined five trades that should happen. Number two on his list, is the Bobcats sending Gerald Wallace to the Trailblazers for Raef LaFrentz's expiring contract, Sergio Rodriguez, and Nicholas Batum. Ford describes the trade as such:
Why should the Blazers do it?
This is the perfect market for a team like Portland to pick up an excellent player without giving up much in return. Rodriguez and Batum have promise, but Wallace is the real deal. He would add the kind of toughness and versatility that could put the Blazers over the top.
Why should the Bobcats do it?
They are rebuilding this team in Larry Brown's image. This deal gives them some young talent, but more importantly some cap space. Given their recent moves, they could use it.
Will it happen?
The Blazers are in an enviable position. They have what might be the best asset in the NBA right now in LaFrentz's contract.
Sources say that they have their choice of Wallace, Richard Jefferson or Caron Butler if they're willing to send a few young players and LaFrentz's contract. Wallace, Jefferson and Butler all have their strengths, but for the Blazers' needs, I think Wallace is the best fit.
Rodriguez is a guy who still seems to struggle with confidence in his shot and it effects his whole game. He can penetrate and pass, but he's still not polished. Batum is actually the one piece I would like to see the Cats acquire (how often do you hear 20 year old and poise in the same breath?), but it's a hard sell when faced with the option of giving up Crash. LaFrentz is little more than an expiring salary at this point, and would likely not be with the team past the end of the season.
As to the assertion that this team needs cap space, I'm inclined to disagree. All of the trades have been building for now and not a rebuilding process. This trade (like the rumored Felton deals) points counter to that movement. We've discussed on previous Bobcats Planet podcasts that this team will not be a prime time player in the 2010 off season, which would mean, they'd have to wait for the next season, conveniently when the team will have a healthy amount of cap space. If they let Wallace go and want to be players in this off-season, what are they going to be looking for? A difference making small forward, like a... umm... give me a second... Gerald Wallace?
My fear is that if they do this trade as a salary dump, they may be doing so with the intent of keeping Raymond Felton and could potentially end up overpaying him (as they did with Emeka) and end up less a player with the same lack of cap space, but for a longer duration. If they aren't looking to re-sign Felton, then you risk losing two of your toughest players on the court, and the core that you've built is half young guys building to the future and half a group that's prepared to take the next step now. This team's toughness is derived from both of these players, a quality that cannot be overlooked, particularly in a Larry Brown system.
Forgive me, if I'm a little bit giddy today. I don't like to bask in other people's misfortunes, but when it's the team that ripped my heart out, I may have to do a little jig. The Hornets have abandoned all hope of relevance this season, by trading Tyson Chandler for Joe Smith, Chris Wilcox, and DeVon Hardin. When George Shinn's Hornets were here in Charlotte it became an all too common theme of watching one of the team's best players leaving town for monetary reasons (then GM Bob Bass was routinely overlooked as a top executive for his ability to bring quality players back, despite being in the position of being forced to make a move). The only justification for this most recent trade is those same monetary reasons. The Hornets tried to shed the albatross that is Peja's contract first, but with no takers, GM Jeff Bower had no choice other than trading the untouchables (Paul and West) than to move Tyson Chandler. On the flip side, the Thunder are looking like the new Blazers, with a solid young core and FIVE first round picks in the next two years. New Orleans fans, take solace in the fact that at least Mr. Shinn didn't order CP3 moved, like he did with Grandmama, Zo, and G-Money like he did here in Charlotte, just don't be fooled into believing that this move is solely because of the economy. This is who George is, and this is what he does.
During a recent recording session Cleet and I discussed baseball and steroids. Often a topic used by sports radio hosts, to get through their day without having to do any work we weren't sure if people would want to hear our thoughts on the matter. But with Bud Selig's most recent comments, we decided to post. It's not a full podcast, but just the baseball discussion. Mr. Selig's comments started a little something like this, "I don't want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to this or he didn't care about it," Selig told Newsday in a Monday phone interview. "That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I'm sensitive to the criticism." (ESPN) Perhaps his most egregious comment (in my mind) was this, "Starting in 1995, I tried to institute a steroid policy," Selig told Newsday. "Needless to say, it was met with strong resistance. We were fought by the union every step of the way." So, Bud you're willing to have a lockout in the name of money, but integrity falls a little lower on your list of priorities. Great precedent. You can download the podcast HERE.
Allow me to digress, for two quick questions. First, if steroids weren't such a widespread problem, would it have made Moneyball the quintessential way to assemble a baseball team? Second, baseball writers had to know what was going on, but with homerun chases and fans pouring back to the sport, it made them indispensable to their papers, so they were willing to ride the gravy train. Now, they sit in a position to play baseball gods with these player's careers and hopping on the high horse in the name of the game has become a standard practice. Should baseball look at having fans vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame? Perhaps two long-tenured season ticket holders from each team could be selected to participate in place of the writers, for the duration of the steroid-era voting. Just a thought, but if baseball wants to clean up it's image, everyone needs to be held accountable.
On our weekly Bobcats podcast, we often pause to wonder where could the Bobcats executive Michael Jordan be at any given time, because it usually is not focusing on the task at hand which is to improve the team. Although this season, the Cats are moving in the right direction we still love to find out where MJ could be hiding out. Thankfully, the guys over at Kissing Suzy Kolber think they have the answer. He has been hitting the links with none other than Tony Romo. KSK was lucky enough to have their conversation on the course here.
Monday, February 16
"A Scottsdale police officer first saw Richardson driving 67 mph in a 40 mph zone Sunday night and followed him, police said Monday. That's when the officer clocked him at 90 mph in a 35 mph zone and pulled him over.
Police said Richardson admitted to speeding and identified himself as a Suns player. The officer saw Richardson's son in the back seat of the car and that he was not in a child seat."
Jason was also cited in December for a possible DUI. The Bobcats have to be feeling even better about their trade both on the court and off.
Behind the gutty play of point guard Ty Lawson, the North Carolina Tar Heels overcame their lowest score output of the season to defeat the Miami Hurricanes 69-65 last night. Miami got everything they wanted defensively out of the game: they held UNC to 38.8% shooting, Tyler Hansbrough only notched 8 points, and the Tar Heels only shot 8 free-throws. The problem for the Canes was on the offensive side of the ball, for everyone other than Jack McClinton. He had 35 last night, and over the last three games for Miami facing Wake Forest, Duke, and UNC has 101 points. McClinton had 53.8% of the points for Miami. Brian Asbury added 12 but no other player had more than 6. McClinton's play has been outstanding and if he was able to get some help, the Hurricanes would not be on a 6 of 8 skid with their tournament hopes dwindling each week. "I'd rather score two and have us win," McClinton said after the game putting the correct attitude forward but his numbers of late have been impressive. With unlimited range and a sweet, quick stroke it is hard to imagine Jack only scoring 2 and his latest run of games against top-ranked competition has him at the forefront of ACC player of the year consideration.
It would be quite a long shot if McClinton won ACC POY but then again that is his speciality. Jack has made 79 three-pointers this year which is more than any other player in the ACC and his 47.9% from behind the line is second only to Ty Lawson and Jeff Teague, both of whom have less than half the 165 attempts McClinton does. McClinton is one of four ACC players averaging over 20 points per game; Hansbrough leads the conference at 21.1, McClinton and Douglas are next at 20.3 and Jeff Teague is at 20.2. These four have to be at the top of the list although others like Tyrese Rice from BC, Sylven Landesberg from UVA, Kyle Singler of Duke and Ty Lawson deserve mention as well.
McClinton simply is the Miami team, without him they would probably be below .500 overall. He has been in double digits all but one game this season and that includes the game where he was ejected in the first half for his love tap against Ohio State. He also is an outstanding free-throw shooter, a career 87.5% shooter in college and second only in the ACC history to J.J. Redick. Perhaps his most impressive stat over the last 3 game stretch was brought up by Catfish. McClinton's points per shot was 1.63 over this stretch, and that is with him hoisting 62 shots in the 3 games combined. His total PPS over the season is 1.45 and that is with him having the fourth most shot attempts in the ACC.
As far as an NBA career goes McClinton has the quick release, the fiery attitude and the pure shooting ability off the dribble or off the catch to be an NBA player, the problem is going to be his size. Jack is thicker than his contemporary Stephen Curry, but McClinton only stands 6'1". The size issue may hinder his draft status but I have to believe he will at least get a shot somewhere in the league. McClinton's ball handling is average but he does not distribute the ball well enough to be an NBA point guard, even though he averages 3 assists per game and has a 1.2 AST/TO ratio. Of course his assists might be higher if his teammates could make some shots now and then.
McClinton has won the respect of his competition and has proven to be one of the best shooting guards in the ACC if not the best. He will likely fall short in ACC player of the year and with Tony Douglas, Jeff Teague, and Ty Lawson at the same position, he might not even make first team but his value to the Hurricanes has been irreplaceable to the slim NCAA Tournament hopes they now cling to.
Article here from Kevin Armstrong last Friday on McClinton's background and his personal journey. [SI.com]
Rock Band is a fun game, but my problem is that you have to be completely focused (sober) to play it successfully. And why the hell do I get stuck with the drums, I have no rhythm whatsoever. Xtra Medium does have the killer vocals though, especially on the female singer songs. Here are some happenings from the weekend as we rehydrate for the upcoming week.
Catfish pointed out this article in NY Times Magazine by Michael Lewis, who wrote Moneyball in case you did not know, on Shane Battier and the NBA. [NYTimes.com]
Stealstrong: Someone pilfered Lance Armstrong's bike. [Yesbutnobutyes.com]
Dick Stockton continues to haunt the Chicago Bulls. [Rumors and Rants]
Hank Aaron says he does not care if Bonds holds the record, probably because everyone will know who the real king is anyway. [AJC.com]
The H-O-R-S-E trophy seemed to be crafted by a 3rd grader. [Deadspin]
Marshawn apparently does not have a funtional brain under all thsoe dreads. [PFT]
Joe Posnanski weighs in on the steroid issue. [JoePosnanski]
Some college football storylines to mull over, but I doubt Oregon should be at the top of the list. [SI.com]
Shaq and Kobe make nice nice, Shaq dances with a mask that is too small for him, West wins All-Star game. [Yahoo!]
The Simpsons should have gone off the air years ago in my opinion, but they have a new intro for their HD switch-over. [YouTube from my boy Echowood]
Friday, February 13
While discussing the '92 Dream Team a co-worker and I got on the subject of Charles Barkley. Strictly discussing his playing days and avoiding the subjects of his unabashed statements, right guard commercials, tossing of people threw bar windows, spitting on little girls, getting DUIs, insightful work on TNT, or his gambling problem, our quandry focused on which team Sir Charles we associate him with. While my slightly older co-worker (just a few years) sees him always as a 76er, my memory is more etched from his 92-93 campaign with the Suns when he won the MVP and led Phoenix to the finals where they lost to Chicago in 6. In truth Barkley was in Philly for a longer time and was a great player for what amounted to some horrible teams. My co-worker referenced the NBA Superstars video highlights from Barkley in Philadelphia with his short, tight shorts, and sure enough, YouTube did not let me down. Below is the magic that is the ornery round mound of rebound in his 76er glory days.
Thursday, February 12
With a little more than a month to Selection Sunday, the tournament picture is becoming much clearer and teams are either breaking through or getting exposed. After the break we examine Duke's washout against Carolina, UCONN's winning streak, teams that are starting to gear up as the season winds down, and teams that were getting lots of attention that are starting to falter a bit. Also, another look at VMI as they get more love from the national media.
Duke's collapse not on Coach K
After trailing early, Duke exploded for a 52-44 lead at halftime and it was done by driving the ball and playing an up-tempo counter to the Heels' hot shooting. As the second half began one had to wonder if Duke could keep up the pace while the conditions inside Cameron Indoor reached sauna-like levels. As the game wore on, it was the North Carolina players, particularly Hansbrough and Ty Lawson who stepped their game up and eventually overwhelmed an exhausted Blue Devil team 101-87.
Earlier this year Catfish pointed out that Coach K was doing a better job this year with distributing minutes to his starters and involving the bench more frequently to balance both stamina and scoring. All of the players were hot, the court was moist, and all the uniforms were soaked through. Carolina's trademark light blue looked about 4 shades darker by the end of the game and all the players looked like they had just run through the sprinklers. Yet, it was Duke who showed the affects in the game.
Breaking down the minutes, the teams were similar across the board. No player logged more than 34 minutes. Lawson, Ellington, and Henderson were the only players with 34 minutes played, Hansbrough, Scheyer, and Singler had 33. Both teams had 7 players with double-digit minutes in total. Minutes were not the factor here, it was conditioning. In my opinion this should go on the strength and conditioning coach for Duke. If conditions get like that in your home building, you should be the team taking advantage not the visitors. It reminds me of a D-II school here in Charlotte, Queens University. Their basketball gym is known as "The Oven", it is painted on the wall of the place, and it can get ridiculously hot in there. I went to basketball camp there one summer and played in a summer league so I can attest to how the conditions can get. Queens uses that to their advantage though over their incoming opponents. Cameron Indoor is not as famed for its heat as The Oven but Duke's players should be well-prepared for it and the fact that it led to their sloppy shot selection and deteriorating defensive effort is on them.
Connecticut stil rolling
UCONN does not have the offensive firepower that Carolina does, but their defense has increasingly gotten better this year as evidenced in their 63-49 victory over Syracuse last night. The Cuse had been averaging 80 points a game going into last night, but led by Hasheem Thabeet in the middle, the Orange only shot 31.7%. The Huskies still have two games against Pittsburgh and a trip to Marquette and of course the Big East Tournament, but they are on track for a 1 seed. This season they have only allowed 80 points or more 3 times and have held opponents under 50 4 times.
With Thabeet getting praise and press for his shot-blocking and shot-altering, I must admit there is a developing officiating discrepancy in his favor. Like Tyler Hansbrough of last year, the refs are now giving Hasheem a lot of latitude on borderline calls. Last night he finished with one foul, but probably committed 3 or 4. Earlier in the year I was blowing the whistle (see what I did there?) on Thabeet getting unfair treatment because he was so big, particularly in the game against Gonzaga, but now it seems to have swung the other way. People have so much respect for his shot-blocking ability which is impressive that he is not called for all those instances when there is contact. His ability to stay on the floor is a key for the Huskies in the tournament.
It appears to be another Selection Sunday anxiety for our friend the Concierge and the Orange this year. The good news for Syracuse is they have early wins this year over Florida and Kansas in Kansas City and a victory at Memphis. The bad news is that they have been awful lately and are in danger of finishing sub .500 in the conference. Facing their old rival Georgetown this Saturday is a cruicial game for them. After that only the games at St. John's and home against Rutgers should be sure victories. It may once again come down to how they play at MSG in the Big East tourney to determine whether they get in or not.
Teams on the rise: Mizzou and Dayton
There are some teams that are hitting their stride and could possibly be Sweet 16 contenders in the tournament. Two that stick out to me are Missouri and Dayton. Missouri was nuder the radar until their last second victory over Kansas on Monday night. Many people may not recognize the coach of Missouri, Mike Anderson, but he has taken teams to the tournament before. Anderson began as a Nolan Richardson assistant and was at Arkansas for 17 years. His first head coaching job was not with the Razorbacks with whom he toiled for so long and even won a national championship in 1994, but with UAB out of Conference USA. He led the Blazers to post-season births in all four seasons there and in 2004 he guided them to an upset of the number 1 overall seed Kentucky to advance to the Sweet 16. It has taken him a couple years to get the Tigers going, but now has them playing his kind of ball with his kind of players. Quinn Snyder seems like a distant memory at the moment in Mizzou.
I brought up Dayton on our podcast last week as a sleeper in the A-10 and they opened up some eyes last night as they took down Xavier 71-58. The Flyers dropped a bad one to Charlotte before this big win but still stand at 22-3 and have wins at Marquette and now against Xavier. They are not a team that will blow you away with the rest of their schedule, but they have been winning and could make some noise in the tournament. Xavier has dropped a couple of games lately, but do not discount the Musketeers just yet, people who did that last year saw them make a run to the Elite 8. (*sidenote: I had Xavier in my Final Four last year, gahhh what a call that would have been)
Teams on the slide: Wake Forest and Marquette
I know I just praised Dayton for winning at Marquette and now I am going to criticize them but both the Eagles and Wake are locks as tourney teams. Marquette lost its hold on first place in the Big East and now faces some tough games to close out conference play. The first of their consecutive loses, a 57-56 loss at South Florida can be seen as simply a slip-up, but they followed that with a 102-84 pounding by a dangeours Villanova team. Marquette is not in any danger of completely losing control but they need to be playing good ball when the tourney starts. They still have Connecticut, at Louisville, at Pittsburgh, and Syracuse left on the schedule. Buzz Williams has to keep their heads up.
Wake Forest has slipped to 6th in the ACC after dropping a game to a bad NC State team 82-76. Since reaching number 1 in January, the Deacons have dropped 4 of 6 including a 27 point drubbing in Miami last week. They still have the accomplishment of beating both North Carolina and Duke and their resume is strong enough to get a decent seeding but they need to get the momentum that propelled them to their lofty status back. Florida State, at Duke and Clemson are the only games that should give them trouble left on the schedule. If they do not finish at least 9-7 in the ACC they could be looking at a 8 or 9 seed.
The VMI story does not get old
As a former coach in college athletics, I cannot tell you how much I admire VMI head coach Duggar Baucom. His story is so compelling and I hope VMI makes it into the tournament not just because of Baucom, but I want to see them use their up-tempo style of play against a tournament team. There was a great article in Sports Illustrated recently on the coach, the team, and the Holmes twins. A similar article from the NY Times can be seen here.
Only one thing turns my eye towards soccer, and that is the World Cup. I cannot stand watching soccer, I totally dislike it as a sport, but there is something about the Cup that just ignites the patriot and sportsfan in me. Last night the US team which bombed in the last World Cup in 2006 beat their rival Mexico 2-0 in Columbus, Ohio. Michael Bradley, not destined to become a household name, scored twice in the victory. Just to show how much of a rivalry this is, when the Americans last played in Mexico, the fans in the stands were chanting "Osama" so this win had to feel especially good. Soccer will slip back to where it belongs after this win fades, but it was a chance to see the promise of a good American showing in 2010 in South Africa.
Bradley's double leads U.S. to World Cup qualifier win over Mexico [CBSSports]
Wednesday, February 11
No game inspires more cliches than the Carolina Duke rivalry. Tonight, when Soulja Roy leads his troops into battle, you're guaranteed to hear how far apart the two shools are, see the Jason Capel shot (isn't it funnt how so many Duke fans love this moment, and it was a loss and Coach K wasn't a part of it), and about how Larry Brown and Art Heyman took the rivalry to a new level. Many Duke fans... correction, some older Duke fans that realize that the program existed before Coach K and the '91 season will tell you that fight cost Duke the championship. I'm not above saying anything nice about Duke, but it generally involves their women and birthing hips, which in certain company isn't considered complimentary. With any further ado, here's the top ten individual performances by Carolina players in the rivalry.
10. Al Wood - Carolina's first win over a Duke team ranked #1 in the country (they weren't ranked that high very often back in the day). The Heels were previously 0-2 when Duke was ranked in the top spot, Al Wood led all scorers with 20 points en route to ruining Mike Gminski's final game in Cameron against the Tarheels. Wood also scored 14 in a 25 drubbing of the Devils in the final game of the regular season. Wood's best performance, however, came in the ACC tournament game in which Duke prevailed. Wood had 32 points, the only Tarheel with more than seven in the game, but Duke prevailed behind the G-man's 24 points and 19 rebounds.
9. George Karl - In the only time the two teams have met in postseason play (beyong the ACC tournament), George Karl led the Heels with 21 points in the semifinal round of the NIT. Carolina would go on to win the NIT, and Duke would lose the third place game to St. Bonaventure. More known for his defense, Karl's offensive outburst was key following a knee injury to leading scorer Dennis Wuycik. Forward Bill Chamberlain would win the MVP for the tournament, but it wouldn't have been possible with out Karl's performance against the Blue Devils.
8. Steve Hale - In January of 1986, the Dean Dome opened its doors for the first time, and rather than playing a patsy to insure an easy first victory, the Heels invited Duke to be their first victim opponent. A tightly contested game, saw the Heels emerge victorious 95-92, behind excellent performances by two Heels: Brad Daugherty and Steve Hale. Daugherty posted a double-double (23-11), but Hale had 28 points on 10 of 12 from the field and 8 of 9 from the charity stripe. Hale would later suffer a collapsed lung against Maryland, and while on the bench at Cameron, was chided with chants of "In-Hale, Ex-Hale," a chant that is credited with the start of the national recognition of the Crazies as Dickie V's favorites.
7. J.R. Reid - The most controversial period of the Dean Smith/Coach K rivalry centered around J.R., in 1989 Duke fans had signs that stated, "J.R. can't Reid." For Duke fans, it was little more than (semi)clever word play, but for Dean Smith, a man that had been a part of the civil rights movement, the sign crossed a line. Reid always played well against the Devils, putting the team on his back in a 1988 game, where the team fell short, leading the team to a 20-point beatdown of a top ranked and undefeated Duke team in the first meeting in 1989, but his best performance was in the '89 ACC tournament championship game. Reid led the team in scoring, but with only 14 points it was his defense that contributed most to the victory. Danny Ferry was the National Player of the Year, but struggled mightily against Reid, matching Reid's fourteen points, but on 20 shots and was held to only three rebounds.
6. Raymond Felton - With Duke riding a six game series winning streak, and having won eleven of the last twelve, an unranked Carolina needed a spectacular effort to knock off tenth ranked Duke in March of 2003. Duke was led by JJ Redick, Shelden Williams, Chris Duhon, and Dahntay Jones and had been ranked in the single digits all season, until a one point loss to St. John's (led by Marcus Hatten's 29). One week later, the strode into the Dean Dome to face a Carolina team searching for it's identity with young coach Matt Doherty at the helm. Spurned on by two of their freshmen, Rashad McCants and Raymond Felton Carolina would snap the losing streak. McCants was the top scorer in the game with 26, but Raymond Felton had 18 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds (nearly a crappy triple double) to lead the Tarheels.
5. Bob Lewis - Fresh off the Art Heyman era, Duke had captured seven straight against the Heels (their longest streak in the rivalry, Carolina has twice won eight straight). In January of 1965, Duke was ranked in the top ten and Dean Smith was being hung in effigy. Billy Cunningham famously tore down that effigy and was a big player against Duke in Durham, but it was Bob Lewis who shone through. Lewis's 21 points trailed Cunningham by only one, but his 12 rebounds were instrumental in securing a 65-62 victory over the favored Devils. This was only Dean's second win against Duke in his fifth season at Chapel Hill. Smith would recover to go 59-35 against Duke, and 24-14 against Coach K.
4. Joseph Forte - Perhaps the most forgotten Tarheel of the last twenty years (mostly
because fans of other teams won't let us forget Makhtar), Forte was a one man wrecking crew against the Devils. In 2000, he forced overtime with a dramatic three, but his best show came in Cameron in February of 2001. The game was the first against Duke for rookie head coach Matt Doherty and his team faced an uphill climb against the number 2 ranked Devils led by Jason (now Jay) Williams, Mike Dunleavy, and Carlos Boozer. Forte stole the show, scoring 24 and grabbing 16 rebounds. At 6' 3" he outrebounded everyone, including his teammate, 7-footer Brendan Haywood. Forte won ACC rookie of the year in 2000, and this game helped earn him 2001 ACC POY honors, and also insured that every Duke team that has won a national championship, has also lost that same year to UNC.
3. Jerry Stackhouse and Danny Green - Need you ask why?
2. Tyler Hansbrough - Few games have been as satisfying in for Tarheel fans, than senior night in Cameron 2006. In both JJ Redick's and Shelden Williams's final games in the building, it was a freshman that stole the show, outplaying both of them. Hansbrough had 27 points, 10 rebounds, and even a three pointer to clinch the 83-76 final. Tonight Hansbrough (and Danny Green) will attempt to go 4 for 4 in games at Cameron, something no player has ever done at Carolina (The Heels did win five straight from '73 to '77).
1. Walter Davis - Eight points in seventeen seconds. Along with senior Bobby Jones, who scored 24, it was again a freshman, Walter Davis, whose 31 points paced the team to a 96-92 overtime win against the Devils. Coach Smith famously predicted, "We can win this game. Bobby is going to make these free throws, we're going to put a trap on them and get a steal and score quickly." Jones did, the tem did get the steal, and then a long pass after a missed free throw by Mitch Kupchak to Davis set up a 30-foot bank shot at the buzzer to tie the game in arguably the greatest comeback in college basketball history.
The slate is extremely busy for ASD and friends this evening.
First off, we have our weekly trivia contest a the local pub. After winning 4 weeks in a row we hit a 3 week losing streak but got back on track last week. Luckily, I will not be alone this week as Catfish and Xtra Medium will run the Triangle Offense of useless knowledge. A win means 25 bucks off our tab, a loss means humiliation and degredation in the form of free pizza or a bucket.
The Buffalo Sabres are 8 games over .500 and in 7th place in the Eastern Conference but just 3 points out of 4th. They square off against the Senators at the HSBC tonight.
In the NBA, Catfish is riding high after the Bobcats snapped their 5 game losing streak Monday. Their last game before the all-star break is tonight at home against Washington. The days off will certainly help get everyone healthy, especially Gerald Wallace. The Wizards have lost 8 of their last 10 and the Cats can not afford to drop this one going into the break because with the Bucks most likely out of the playoff picture now with their injuries, Charlotte is very much in the playoff race.
Before the main course of UNC-Duke, my favorite (tied with the CANES) team UCONN hosts Syracuse (ESPN 7 PM) which is the alma mater of our friend the Concierge. Going back to our high school days games between these two have been heated and wagers were made and hillarity ensued. The Orange need to get back on track but will have a tough test tonight in Gampel.
Then of course we have the game of the night and I'm willing to bet Catfish will be lacing the air with some profanities. I cannot see Carolina losing this game but if Duke is going to stay in this they have to shoot more than 34 percent from three and get one or more of the key Tar Heel players in foul trouble. Oh my the officiating should be fun in this one.
The countdown on the clock at the office has already begun...almost gametime.
Tonight North Carolina travels 8 miles down the streets of Tobacco Road to Cameron Indoor Stadium to face their arch rivals on the hardwood. The Tarheels are the favored team and overall the more talented, but that is only a slight advantage when it comes to these two teams. I am not a proponent of trying to determine what is the "best rivalry" in sports. It is an argument that cannot be settled by any statistical figure and what one rivalry means to one fan could mean the opposite to any other. Having grown up in North Carolina however, I can say that this game is always a special event in the state and like most intense athletic contests that are special, the key component is hatred. Both teams and their fans hate each other, some people watching the game hate both teams, some people hate Dick Vitale who is calling the game, some hate the coaches, some hate the officiating but the bottom line is there is so much hate and so much to hate that the game is a release for that emotion.
As once joked on the Chapelle Show, "You got hate in your heart let it out." Sometimes there is a time to throw away the constrictive social morays of self-control and tactful objectivity. It is natural to have hate built up inside you from time to time. Mostly it is not directed personally at others, but rather a discontent with our own selves that breeds the wrath thrown on others. The UNC-Duke game is a perfect chance to project our own feelings of insecurity, anger at things out of our control, and the injustices of the world and manifest them into a 40 minute basketball game. This is easier for the fans of the teams, but it is not hard for people who have no dog in this fight to generate their own because like I stated, the hate comes from within.
For Carolina fans the hate is one that is shared with most of the nation. Duke is seen as a snobby private school for smart unattractive pricks who mostly hale from New Jersey. The school has a sense of entitlement about itself and it has become an easy target for dislike around the nation. Just ask the lacrosse team. On the court, the team is led by Coach K whom supporters believe is a bastion of leading young men to live better lives. The dissenters argue the Rat King has become a bully to officials and do not see the humble nature his admires talk about when he is pocketing huge checks from endorsement deals and speaking appearances. The Duke players receive similar venom from detractors. "Hustlers" like Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Trajan Langdon, Shane Battier, Wojo, and now Greg Paulus are easy targets for hate. Players like this are easily polarizing and it is no surprise why a Duke fan why you love these guys and why as a anti-Duke fan you cannot stand them.
North Carolina may be nationally the more popular team of these two, but there is plenty of room for haters. Similarly to Duke, UNC fans are sometimes seen as haughty self-righteous douches. Sam Cassell once labled them as "a wine and cheese" crowd which is a moniker that has followed them ever since. The perception is that Carolina fans think they are the best, without question and that is a trait that is an easy target for hatred. Roy Williams would seem to be a guy who is hard to hate, but the beauty of hating is that you can always find something you do not like about someone. In Roy's case the weak argument about the 2005 national championship being won with Matt Doherty's players is a popular one. There are also shots taken against Roy for his "aww shucks" persona which has led to comparisons to Huckleberry Hound. Tar Heel players usually are the top prospects coming in so they are usually hated for how good they are, but that cannot stop the hate parade for players like Eric Montross, Rasheed, Stackhouse, and most notably Tyler Hansbrough. Like some of the most infamous Duke hate targets, Tyler draws the ire of ABCers (Anybody But Carolina for the lay people) for the admiration of his hustle and grit. The notion that Hansbrough gets special treatment from the officials adds fuel to the fire as well.
I cannot wait for tonight's contest even though I root for neither team and never have and certainly never will. I could reel off a bunch of numbers, statistics and facts about the history of the games between these two but HBO has a special coming out later this month on it and if it was anything like their show on Michigan-Ohio State they can say it better than I. The hate is what makes it compelling, think about any rivalry in sports; Yankees-Sox, Cubs-Cardinals, Lakers-Celtics, Steelers-Ravens, etc. When something happens between the teams to spark more hatred, the more compelling it is to watch. The characters on both sides that are either adored or hated increases the desire to see that which you hate destroyed. So if you have some anger welling inside you, find something about tonight's game, anything and let that hate out.
Gratuitous videos from the rivlary:
Catfish would like to point out Duke still lost this game:
Joe Forte sighting!
Tyler goes boom (Still think Pyscho T is a lame nickname):
Chris Collins and Matt Doherty not playing nice-nice:
Marvin Williams puts the biscuit in the basket:
Tuesday, February 10
The NBA's bringing back the old classic game of HORSE for this year's All-Star Game (which will feature a cut out of Andre the Giant at backup center for the East), and the three participants have been named. Kevin Durant, OJ Mayo and Joe Johnson will compete outdoors as part of the weekend's festivities. It'll be hard to live up to the hype created by this game of HORSE, which is our favorite, for no other reason than Paul Westphal's blank uniform and the fact that both are identified as amphibious right off the top. Fast forward to the 2:15 mark and realize the Dunk Contest participants should be consulting Westphal.
Mo Williams? I defended the league's choice to pick Bosh over Emeka for the reserve spot on the All-Star team, even after stating the case for Mek to go, but no mas! David Stern hand-picked Mo Williams to fill the roster spot left by Chris Bosh, who will miss the game with a sprained knee. So... if Rashard Lewis is the backup power forward, who is going to take Dwight Howard's spot? Danny Granger? Paul Pierce? All-Star games are supposed to be fun, but should also reward players in the league from ALL teams, not just the ones that appear on TV nightly. I try to convince people the Bobcats do matter as a franchise, but David Stern's standing behind me shaking his head and mouthing, "No, they don't." Thanks Commish.
Less than 24 hours after Cleet and I finished up a new edition of Bobcats Planet Radio, in which we both felt like the team was done moving pieces, a new report has surfaced. Via ESPN:
"The discussions between the teams have been ongoing for weeks, though the parameters and pieces have continually changed. If the deal comes to fruition, the sources said, it would likely include Tinsley, Jeff Foster and a third player (Brandon Rush, Stephen Graham, Marquis Daniels) going to the Bobcats for Felton, Nazr Mohammed and Sean May."
I've loved every trade the team has done this season, but trading Raymond Felton at this point seems questionable at best. That these conversations are even taking place seems to suggest that my assessment the team wanted to keep Raymond beyond this year, was off as well. As the saying goes In Larry Brown I Trust, but bringing in a cancer, and an oft-injured one (the exact opposite of Raymond)like Tinsley, another big man with an injury history in Foster, and a to be determined player for your starting point guard just doesn't add up. The team has made a series of moves this season in which they've brought in pieces that have fallen out of favor with their former clubs, but nothing on par with Tinsley. Earlier this season, I praised this team for being, if not a great team, a great group of young men. Adding Tinsley would appear to go counter to everything this team has built.
Last night the Charlotte Bobcats dispatched of the Clippers and their intrepid point guard Baron Davis 94-73. Sometimes I do forget that the Beard Baron was once a member of the Charlotte Hornets. Catfish and I were privileged enough to be at this game where Davis had one of the best dunks I have ever seen in person on then Minnesota Timberwolf Kevin Garnett. Perhaps this is where KG got his anything is possible inspiration. One of the greatest parts of this event was that there was a group of Minnesota fans a few rows ahead of us and they were making quite a scene about how great they were and how legendary KG was. After this dunk though, they resigned themselves to solemn clapping when the T-Wolves did anything positive.
The video footage is below and although it is fuzzier than the Zapruder film, you get the feel for the dunk. Anything relating to the Charlotte Hornets always brings back the memories from that special little place inside like seeing the old Coliseum and the bee trail flowing out from center court. Throw it down, Baron, throw it down.
Monday, February 9
Pauly Pavilion has been home to plenty of history in its day, and the latest chapter was written on Saturday. Any chance Luke Harangody had of winning the 2009 Player of the Year disappeared. His numbers are comparable to Blake Griffin's and while his team was struggling, that the performances were equitable and he plays in a tougher conference would have some voters leaning his way. All that changed when the Fighting Irish played at UCLA and "the Goad" was held to five points on two of twelve from the field.
He's just the most recent POY candidate to be held in check to the point of single digits. Arizona State's James Harden was kept to just four points in a loss to USC. Tyler Hansbrough had only eight, when Carolina survived thanks to a buzzer beating 3-pointer by Ty Lawson at Florida State. Only a few of the POY candidates have avoided a single digit game, namely Jodie Meeks and Blake Griffin. With Meeks's team struggling through a three-game losing streak, his field goal percentage and chance at the award are slipping. While the award appears to be getting close to defaulting to Griffin, there's still another candidate that will garner some votes. Stephen Curry.
Stephen Curry was also victimized by a low no scoring night, thanks to Jimmy Patsos, but because his team still won by thirty he should feel no ill effects. With so many of the top candidates having rough patches during the season, Curry will become a fashionable choice. It's like people that claim Paul Giamatti is the country's best actor, not because of anything factual, but because he does independent and artsy films and it makes the person saying it feel superior, as if they are smarter than the average person who just can't appreciate that type of greatness. I love Steph Curry as much as the next guy, but it's a thin line between Kevin Martin and Steph Curry, and that line has a name: Jason Richards. Being paired with Richards (a NBA-caliber point guard) in the back court last season enabled Davidson's incredible run, and without that run Curry's name doesn't even enter the conversation. Curry's an incredible player, but if people were going to give Harangody the lean over Griffin because of conference, Griffin has to be extended the same courtesy.
Miami's basketball team comes up with some impressive dunks in losing efforts. First, it was DeQuan Jones insane dunk against North Carolina and now we have Dwayne Collins giving the facial to Greg Paulus in the Canes 78-75 overtime loss to Duke on Saturday. Jones got thrown out of this game for "throwing" an elbow on Paulus after Duke scored a basket. Jones did deserve to get at the very least a technical foul for the play, but Paulus was grabbing the ball as it came through the basket after his team scored and Jones was trying to get the ball to inbound it. Paulus dry humped Jones and when Jones moved his arm to get Paulus out of the way Greg fell to the ground like a Eurpoean soccer player. This reaction is what got Jones ejected, not the actual contact.
It may be my bias on the situation but it seems to me that Paulus is a punk. Wasn't this guy a football player at one time? He seems to flop at ever chance he gets yet he plays defense exclusively with his hands while flailing to fake contact the whole time. It makes it more amazing that he tried to actually block this dunk versus his usual try to draw charge but get teabagged. Anyway, below is Dwayne Collins giving Paulus the business, and an overall tribute to Paulus getting dunked on here at Awful Announcing.
While we all lament at the end of football on the field, I do not view it as the death of sports until August. Yes I suffer, but there is plenty of other games to watch between now and then. If you fancy yourself a football-only kind of person, then you will need some proper distractions to get to next season. May I suggest some beer bottle dominoes?
Thanks to our friends at YesButNoButYes
In his last time wearing a Carolina Panthers helmet, Julius Peppers had a sack of Peyton Manning and a tipped pass which he intercepted off of Jay Cutler in the NFC's 30-21 win in the Pro Bowl yesterday. For those in Carolina still holding out any slim hope of Peppers staying with the team, Julius made it clear he wants to play somewhere else. He discussed the situation on the sideline, on camera with Tiki Barber during the game. In the interview he shared more of his feelings with Barber than he had with any member of the Charlotte media.
From the Charlotte Observer:
"Peppers was asked why he wanted to leave the Panthers, and, specifically, why he wanted to play in a 3-4 defensive scheme (the Panthers play a 4-3 scheme). Peppers said he wanted to play in a scheme that would best take advantage of his ability.
When asked by Barber what it would take for the Panthers to keep him in Carolina, Peppers hesitated, then smiled and said he just wanted to enjoy the Pro Bowl.
Announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth joked that Peppers ran a “line stunt” in an effort to avoid Barber's question."
Collinsworth also went on to say that in a 3-4, Peppers would have more responsbility to stop the run and he did not know if that was the best situaiton for Julius. The Pro Bowl was Peppers's opportunity to gain more interest from other teams and he certainly will have accomplished that with his play and his words about wanting to go elsewhere. The only questions now are who will pay the high pricetag for him and will he play like he did for the Panthers when he gets there?
Sunday, February 8
Up at long last, this episode has final thoughts on the Super Bowl, some stellar (and by stellar I mean dead wrong) predictions about two teams in the ACC, and Catfish already has buyer's remorse regarding one team he declared would get into the tournament. After spanning the nation for all things college basketball, we take a few minutes to look at Nadal/Federer and the biggest jackass since Jimmy Patsos. Recorded Tuesday so feel free to mock us for all that we've gotten wrong and praise us for what little we've gotten right in the comments.
Saturday, February 7
The Bobcats have completed their third trade of the season, this time sending Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown to the LA Lakers in exchange for Vladimir Radmanovic. The Lakers get some cap space for 2010, and the Bobcats get someone to fill the void that Ammo was intended to fill, a wing player that can shoot and play mediocre defense. When Gerald returns he should offer an excellent additional dimension to the team with his ability to consistently knock down the 3-pointer (career 38.6%). Unlike Boris Diaw, the other big man the Cats have added, Vlad is not a skilled ball handler or distributor, but like Diaw his strength is not on the boards, a consideration that the front office has appeared to ignore in all of the trades this season. With this move there is no debate about the goal of the season and the franchise in the short term. They want to make the playoffs, and have mortgaged any short-term roster flexibility in an attempt to get there.
Unless you've had your head buried in a Top Chef marathon, you've heard the news that A-Rod tested positive for two steroids in 2003. As of this moment, we're the fourth site to embed this video and it has just over 20,000 views. Something tells me, that number will rise very quickly. So this post is not because this is cutting edge, but to observe the power of YouTube. For the record, the Yankees are far more damaging to baseball than steroids, but I digress...
Not only does A-Rod deny using steroids, but also defends Barry Bonds, which seems even less surprising now. This interview from 2007, was originally aired on 60 Minutes: