The Week 9 Podcast is up with our Mid-Season Awards, MVP, OPOY, DPOY, OROY, DROY, and Playoff predictions from here on out. Also we preview the week 9 games coming up this week. ENJOY!!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Week 7 NJST Podcast brings the arrival of an OLD friend. Tommy, Johnny, and new addition Showtime discuss last weeks games and preview this weeks games, including the rival game on Monday Night, Giants-Cowboys, in which Tommy and Johnny are basically going to kill each other over. ENJOY!!!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Well the Podcast is finally here!!! The New Jersey Sports Talk Podcast is in full affect. Myself and Johnny Hardenfels talk about the Week 3 games and also preview the upcoming Week 4 games. We also dive into a little gambling for you gambling addicts. Enjoy and spread the word!!
Click play underneath to listen to the first NJST Podcast!!! Week 3: NFL
Friday, July 9, 2010
As I was watching this LeBron Special/Decision/Completely unnecessary one hour special last night, I was receiving more texts and calls and emails then I've ever gotten at one time in my entire life. It's probably because I'm a sports nut and I always text or call people with the craziness that happens in sports. However, last night I couldn't even find the words to respond to anyone. The moment last night was so unbelievable, crazy, completely unnecessary, selfish, stupid, silly, you could go on and on and on with the adjectives to describe the events that took place last night.
So I had decided that I wouldn't respond to any one's texts or calls because I just had so much racing in my mind, and I would instead just write about it. But where do you even start? How can you even describe what transpired last night? The single greatest/most famous/most influential athlete of the past 7 years and of the next 12 years was about to LITERALLY rip out Cleveland's heart and throw it into a big pile of dog-you know what. Actually that's not even enough to describe what he did to Cleveland. It was more like taking a knife and slowly cutting a circle around their heart, pouring gasoline on it, and burning it for a slow, long, painful hour. And now their dealing with the most excruciating next-day pain any sports franchise has ever felt. I don't even want to see what's going on in CLeveland today.
Last night I just felt awkward. Like I was more uncomfortable then Jim Grey, who arose from the dead, to do the LeBron James interview. My thoughts were and still rambling. They have no continuity, they have no organization, and neither will this article. So we're just going to go with as many random thoughts as I can think of. Let's see how far I get before I start defending LeBron again..
1. The biggest question I have is about LeBron's mental make-up. I wrote on Twitter yesterday that LeBron may not be wired or built the way that we and the media as expected him to be. There is a certain gene/DNA make up (I'm convinced) that certain athletes have that just pushes them to a new level mentally. MIcahel Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and you're starting to see it with Kevin Durant, this ability to stop everything around them, not care about what anyone is going to say, and just go out and get the job done. Bill Simmons wrote yesterday about the 08 Gold Medal game, where all of the players were afraid to step on each others toes to take over the game, until Kobe decided he had enough, and went into screw-you mode, and took over for the win.
LeBron just isn't wired like that. He just isn't. Plain and simple. He is the most freakish athlete I've ever seen, and anyone has ever seen, but sports is 80% mental and 50% physical (Thanks John Madden). And while that sounds silly it's kind of true. The game is more mental then LeBron believes in, and this is why he is going to Miami. He needs to be the second guy. He needs to be the Robin to DWade's Batman (thanks Skip Bayless), he needs to be the Nicole Richie to Paris Hilton. Which is a shame because he is only 25. You can try that stuff when you're 31 on you're next deal, but not now.
2. God I feel for Cleveland. I'm not going to go into the ramifications about what night felt like because I have no idea. In addition to what I wrote before, it just sucks. Plain and simple. He was Cleveland, and now he just left that city for dead.
3. Let's not crown Miami just yet. Seriously, I know so many casual NBA fans who think that Miami automatically won last night. You don't win with 3 guys. They have NOBODY ELSE on their bench. Ask the Lakers if they could win with Kobe, Gasol, Odom. Miami has no size, and don't tell me Chris Bosh is size. He plays outside with a mid range jumper, he has no physical game. You need the Derek Fischer's, the Steve Kerr's, the Toni Kukoc's, the Bruce Bowen's, the James Posey's, the Kendrick Perkins. You need those guys to win. That being said...
4. Don't be surprised if you see a certain 7'2" 300 lb center join the Heat within the next week at the mid-level exception. Mark it down. Shaq O'Neal will be down in South Beach if he can drop his ego.
5. Fully expect the Heat to sign Mike Miller as a swing guy/defender/shooter. The Heat are going to be attractive for most veterans just for the sheer fact that they have an immediate chance to win. Players like Jason Williams, Louis Amondson, and Mike Miller will all be fleeing to get there.
6. I still don't think the Heat was the best Basketball fit for LeBron. The Bulls just seemed so much more like a better fit. Rose (perfect second guy), LeBron, Boozer (low post scorer), Noah (Banger//Rebounder/Defender/Energy), just seemed like the perfect lineup to challenge any type of team. They would have size, inside scoring, outside scoring, players that could score with LeBron on the bench (something that they couldn't do in Cleveland), and they would have a great balance of defense. Maybe I just study this stuff too much I don't know.
7. Still feel horrible for Cleveland. Sorry, I just had to made it be known AGAIN.
8. The Knicks have to be the next biggest loser here right behind Cleveland. They prepared for years to have a run at this guy and it seems like they weren't even in the discussion. Now the Knicks fans are talking themselves into Melo/CP3 next year. Easy Knick fans.
9. Credit to Steven A Smith and Chris Broussard for sniffing this out a week ago. That's just good reporting and they got a lot of crap for it.
10. Which LeBron are we going to see now? Are we going to see PG LeBron? Me-Me-Me LeBron? The more Magic-like LeBron, or the more Jordan-like LeBron? I think this is what you'll see from LeBron next year: 22-23ppg, 11apg, and 8-9rpg. We might actually see LeBron at his full potential, but we don't see that now because of all this smoke still in the air. We need to just wait and let the dust settle and let the team play out. It may be the greatest thing to ever happen to LeBron (I just spilled a little more gasoline on Cleveland, sorry).
11. How are we going to remember the Cleveland Era? Because honestly, I think that they'll remember him for that 1 hour special. Which sucks, because he made that city so much money, brought the city so much happiness, yet now the city is completely turning against him. Is it his fault that the owner and general manager brought in minimal talent around him. Yea I know he wanted Mo Williams and Shaq, but where was Amare at the trade deadline? Or Chris Bosh? In my opinion, Dan Gilbert has no reason to freak out the way he did....
12. ...Which leads me to his letter. What the hell was he thinking? Why would you put that letter out. I understand you're upset because LeBron was being completely selfish last night. But honestly, who is going to want to go play for an owner that will undermine someone who made him millions of dollars over 5 years, and someone who made you famous, and someone you brought butts into your seats. I just thought it was childish, naive, and just silly. Sometimes you have to take the higher road. Yes, LeBron was selfish last night, but he still had the mind-frame to thank Cleveland and say that he loved everything he did there with the team.
13. Final Thought: Secretly I think LeBron is scared. I think he is afraid of that moment in the NBA Finals or in the Playoffs when he knows the world is watching, and he has to be the one to make THAT play. And we have always given him the benefit of the doubt, because he's LeBron and he throws powder, and he flies through the air with the greatest of ease, and he sends opponents shots 5 rows deep, and he takes off from 7-8 feet with his head over the rim already. But at the end of the day, this is the difference between he and Kobe/MJ/DWade. Those guys find the way in their mind to erase everything that's going on, and focus on embracing that moment. They actually wanted that moment to happen. And LeBron just doesn't. He wants to be a part of it, but he just can't.
The move to Miami just completely explains his personality. Now we know the true LeBron. A guy who has all the talents in the world, but just doesn't have the mental makeup to launch him into legendary status. Think of him as more of a Scottie Pippen, or a Dr. J, or a Karl Malone. Someone who had all the talent, and all the opportunities for THE MOMENT, but just couldn't find the mental audacity to finish. Which is why he's now in Miami, because we all know if they get into that situation down 1 with 0:10 seconds left, the ball will be cleared out, and it won't be for LeBron James. It's going to be for number 3.
For Years I've defended LeBron on everything. Given him the benefit of the doubt. Now I think I'm going to stop. I didn't like anything about last night. I really didn't. I wanted him to go to Chicago, NY, or even the Clippers for the NBA's sake. I can't defend him anymore because what I feared all along has come true. He's not a legend. He can't be anymore. Legends win championships as the Alpha Dog. Yes they have help, of course. No one has ever won a championship in any sport without help. But the difference between him and MJ/Kobe/Larry/Magic/Duncan is that they were the lead dog and NO ONE questioned it. Everyone in the known universe knew who was getting the ball, and who was the Alpha dog on the team.
LeBron has thrown that out the window. Now he can only be a guy who was an unbelievable player who captivated us for years with his high flying dunks, his fly-swatting blocks, and his once or twice a game-plays that make you sit back and say, "Wow, this is guy is truly one of a kind." He'll never reach that Pantheon level on a team where he is not the lead dog. That's just not how it works. But that may not be what LeBron cares about. And who are we to blame him, it's his life, it's his decision, now he has to man-up, and live with it. Good Luck LeBron.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
I know, I know. At this point, I have no excuses. What could I possibly be doing for a month, not writing any articles, while the NBA Finals are going on. I almost feel like a horrible parent who is never there for his kid's youth soccer game, and then randomly pops in every 4th week to see how his son or daughter is doing, and then after the game the child just ignores the parent as they walk to the car. Too much? I don't care, that's how I feel.
I do apologize for being in exile this past month. I WITNESSed LeBron James fall out of the playoffs (plenty of pun intended there). Then I watched the Boston Celtics steam roll through the next series leading us to ANOTHER Boston - LAL series. Great, just what the NBA needs, another series that happens 50% of the time in all NBA finals. On top of all this, the NBA Playoffs have flown by quicker then Justin Beiber's rise to super stardom. So you can see why I'm a little bitter.
So after game 1, everyone and there mothers/daughters/fathers/grandfathers thought that the series was over and LAL was going to sweep, which is typical because in this country we are all prisoners of the moment, and flavor of the week specialists. Kobe was headed to his 5th ring and there was already talk of him being better than Michael Jordan.
Stop. Stop it right now.
Game 2 quickly brought all of those people back down to earth. The first half of the game was incredible, and probably the most exciting offense half of the NBA Playoffs. Both teams were executing flawlessly, hitting tough shots, and creating. On top of that we saw an "MJ-like" performance from Ray Allen who had 7 threes in the first half and had Kenny Smith tweeting "I'm gonna go kidnap Ray Allen so he don't break my record!" I love Kenny.
With Peirce/Garnett/Perkins no showing tonight, the game was in the hands of Rondo and Allen. And boy did they deliver. The lakers had a similar situation going on with Artest/Fisher/Kobe not really playing at the level they did in game 1. Artest was dreadful and Fisher was just out there to be out there. it seemed like Kobe was just going through the motions until about 2:00 left in the second quarter when he realized that the Lakers were in for a battle. (Bring on the Kobe-mancrushlove) He just seemed disinterested until he had that realization.
On to the refs. Good god almighty. I can't even say that the refs leaned towards Boston with their calls, but If you believe that I can't exactly say that I don't disagree. (that was about 5 double negatives) While a lot of the calls favored Boston, and ultimately got Kobe into foul trouble, the Lakers did hold a 39-22 free throw advantage. So the refereeing was atrocious both ways.
Ray Allen and Rondo stole the show though. If it wasn't for Ray's first half they Lakers probably win the game handily. Rondo, who had Kobe guarding him with 5 fouls, was constantly in attack mode, realizing Kobe didn't want to pick up his 6th foul. Leading to an explosion in the fourth quarter by Rondo.
Tomorrow night we shall see who wants to take control of this series. Boston is shaky at home, and after only 1 day off, both teams should be exhausted. Maybe the crowd at the Garden will bring the energy for the Celtics. Maybe the real Kobe Bryant will show up. Maybe the Lakers will get out on Ray Allen, and maybe Artest can return from his one game sabbatical. All I know is I'm ready.
Monday, May 10, 2010
If you told me before the Cavaliers-Celtics series, that the series would be tied 2-2 after 4 games, someone would have a 29-18-13 and his name is not LeBron James, and Cavs losses had LeBron deferring to his teammates during crunch time, I would have told you that you were either high, or you're living in a fantasy world, you know, something like the island in LOST.
Yesterday afternoon, we "witnessed" another ho-hum game from the Cavaliers and another inspired effort from the Celtics, which got me thinking, is this really on LeBron and co, or does it go deeper than that? While I understand that the players play the game and they are the ones who ultimately determine the outcome, but at some point coaches do step in to lead the team back on course once they stray off. There's a reason why these coaches are making millions of dollars. They do actually help the team, unless you're the Cavaliers. Last year, I wrote that Mike Brown was in the bottom 10 coaches in the NBA, and he is the absolute WORST adjustment maker in the NBA, and this is standing true to today. We saw him last year not adjust in the Orlando series, ultimately losing in 5 games. And now we see him not adjusting in this series, with the chance that they are going to lose in 6 or 7 games.
Flash over to the Lakers for a minute....Is it any secret why Phil Jackson has 10 rings? He's had great players, but he is the master of managing that talent, much like Joe Torre in baseball. He knows how to push the right buttons, how to motivate in different ways, and adjust to certain situations, and he lives by that old adage, "Survive, and advance." This is what the playoffs are all about. In the 1st series for the Lakers, we saw Russel Westbrook reek HAVOC on Derek Fischer through 4 games. Heading into the 5th game Phil (and Kobe) decided that they had enough leverage and help to put Kobe on Westbrook, while Artest stayed on Durant, and ultimately that decision won them the series, and it is decisions like this that have made Phil Jackson the best basketball coach in the NBA. These decisions date back to his Chicago days, when Stockton would be going off on Ron Harper, he would assign Jordan to lock him down and do his job on defense to suffocate the Jazz on offense.
Flash back to the present....
Mike Brown, yet again, is coaching this team out of the series. The excuse isn't LeBron and his teammates anymore. In fact, there is no more excuses, it's time to just shut up and play. But the Cavs will not win this series playing the way Mike Brown wants them to play. Let's break this down for a minute...
The Cavs have the deepest most talented team in the league. They can play small, big, quick, slow, half court, full court, run and gun, any style they want. You're playing a team that's core consists of guys in their late 30s. So why is Mike Brown playing right into the Celtics hands by playing Shaq, and slow Varejao big minutes? Is it because his name is Shaquielle O'Neal and you feel intimated if you don't play him? Bill Simmons pointed out the other day via twitter, that the best lineup the Cavs can play is Mo Williams, Delonte West, LBJ, Antawn Jamison, and JJ Hickson. JJ Hickson is averaging about 5 minutes per game. 5 minutes!! Every time he comes in the game he makes plays happen. Why not play this 4th quarter line-up, sprinkle in some Anthony Parker and some Varejao for defensive purposes, and just run the Celtics into the ground. This, once again, proves that Mike Brown does not understand the importance of making adjustments. He hasn't grasped "it" yet, about coaching.
On to the most important change that Mike Brown is REFUSING to make. Paul Peirce is "considered" their "top player" by the casual fan, and sometimes I feel like Mike Brown thinks like the casual fan. Paul Peirce's legs are DONE. You can easily guard him with Anthony Parker, or a feisty Delonte West, or maybe even Jamario Moon. There is no need to have the best perimeter defender n the Eastern Conference play against someone who can be shut down by another defender, much like the Lakers with Artest and Durant. However, stubbornly, Mike Brown believes that Peirce could kill them if LeBron is not guarding him.
I have news for you Mr. Brown....
Paul Peirce isn't the guy killing you! If you haven't noticed, there is a man by the name of Rajon Rondo who's nearly averaging a triple double against everyone who has guarded him. So why not stick LeBron James on him for the rest of the series, just to get done and advance? Is it so crazy to put a 6'8" freak of nature defender on the ONE player who is killing you? It's no longer the Big Three in Boston. As Magic Johnson so eloquently put last night, "It's the Big ONE, and the little Three, now!" And to an extent, he is right.
It makes sense to put LeBron on Rondo for the remainder of the season. He is the creator, he is the play-maker, he is the one who gets the "little three" going and the Celtics go as Rondo goes, plain and simple.
Hopefully Mike Brown will snap out of his funk for the remainder of the series. Maybe he should go to Phil Jackson's school of coaching because there he would learn how to adjust. He needs to learn how to get the most out of his athletes. The Cavs have enough fire power to score if LeBron has to expend energy on defense. It's why they went and got an Antawn Jamison and a Shaquielle O'Neal, so they can use LeBron wherever they need him. But now it's time to realize that they need him to be that 1st team all defender that he is. For his sake and the Cavs sake, I hope Mike Brown wakes up from that dream world he's living in.
Monday, April 12, 2010
As I was driving my Ice Cream truck yesterday, unable to see the Masters up until the 13th-14th hole, I was pondering about writing a column recapping the Masters. At the time I figured Tiger was going to make some improbable run, and Phil was going to be there in the end giving Tiger all he could handle. I also thought KJ Choi would be the dark horse to sneak in and give Tiger and Phil trouble. And I also thought Lee Westwood would fall so far off that he might not even make the top 3.
Let's just say, I was 1 for 4.
This years Masters had to be the most anticipated Masters in eons. And by eons I mean a really really long time. Everything that Tiger Woods had gone through up to this point was about to be put on the line. Phil Mickelson was dealing with his wife's struggle with breast cancer and dealing with all of the stress that comes with it. Lee Westwood had finished second, third, second in the passed three majors, so would this be the time he broke through? Fred Couples was trying to be the oldest man to win the Masters at 50 years old. Storyline after storyline presented themselves, so we all knew we were in for a doozy.
But the main story is and always will be, Tiger Woods. How would he play? Would he make the cut? Would he win it? Would he be heckled by fans and media members? Will he be a changed Tiger, and not throw his clubs and shout profanity at himself? And most of all, can Golf finally be relevant again with Tiger back.
Well nearly all of those questions were answered. His opening round 68 was so impressive to the degree it had me calling all of my known golf followers (which is about 2 or 3) asking if they had seen the round that Tiger just shot. Golf isn't like basketball, or football, or even baseball. If you take 3 weeks off it's almost impossible to come back and play well the first few times out. If you take 144 days off, like Tiger, it's completely impossible to play well. So what does Tiger do? He shoots an opening round 68, his lowest ever at the Masters for an opening round.
Of course there were other story lines as the weekend went on. We saw Tom Watson and Fred Couples rope in the "over 50" crowd, and had all the old timers rooting for them. Phil and Lee were in the hunt the entire way, along with KJ Choi and Anthony Kim. This Masters was just chalk full of great moments.
Saturday was just crazy. Phil Mickelson gave us all, maybe one of the best three hole stretches in the history of golf. Let's just remember that they're playing in Augusta, the course with the most unforgiving greens in the country. So Phil hits an Eagle at 13 on a solid 8 foot putt. What does he do as an encore? Oh, he hits a 149 yard Eagle in the air with a backspin, dead stick. He wasn't done. Phil takes the next Eagle shot on 15 and bounces it about 6 feet short of the pin, and it starts rolling and rolling and rolling and JUST misses the pin by 3 inches. Phil was on fire. It's like being at a Roulette table in AC, and you're just playing Black and the Middle Column back and forth. And you just hit every single bet, and before you know it you're +300. That's kind of what like Phil was doing on Saturday.
So we get to Sunday and we're set up for a Tiger, Phil, Westwood, Choi run at this thing. Everyone knows Tiger is 0-for-55 when not having a lead going into Sunday. But this felt different. Would he come back and make a run at it?
Well let's just say Tiger had a YO-YO type of day. His first 5 holes, 3 bogies. The next 4 holes he shoots -4.
Are you kidding Tiger??
And then on the back 9, he 3-PUTS inside 4 feet. So un-Tiger-like. You could just see he was losing his composure, and losing his edge. But what does Tiger do? He makes sure that we don't forget him. On the 15th, after a 3-putt Bogey, Tiger sinks an Eagle on a PAR 4!!! Should this really surprise us? This is what he does, he makes us engaged and interested.
But this was going to be Phil's weekend all the way, after his shot on the 13th. I've never seen a player go for a shot like this in my life, AND actually execute it. Stuck behind TWO trees, with 220 yards to the pin. Phil decides, "Instead of laying up, I'm just going to have the biggest pair of melons anyone has ever seen, and I'm going to stick this 4 feet form the cup." CASH!
Right then and there I knew it was Phil's tournament. I was watching live at my boss's house, and we both nearly fell off the couch. We spent the next 15 minutes watching the replay, wondering how in the hell he hit that shot.
So as we all know, Phil gets the green jacket, and a well deserved/earned win for Phil. Now he cements his place in history as one of the better golfers of all-time.
As for Tiger, I think Jim Nantz summed it up best. Bill Simmons tweeted this quote from Nantz, "Through all of this, Tiger manages a 69."
HaHaHa. Comon, you know you laughed a little bit reading that. But all jokes aside (it's really hard to put jokes aside by the way), everything Tiger had gone through, to go out and shoot a 68, 70, 70, 69, is freaking impressive. And this is why we continue to watch Golf and Tiger. It's because you never know what is going to happen. And once Tiger is back in full force, watch out world. He just shot a -11 at one of the toughest courses to play at in the world, after a 144 day lay-off, after being virtually crucified, he rose from all of it and played like the champion he is. All I know is I can't wait for the Summer. Watch out world.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Due to the craziness that is March Madness, I found myself pondering a very interesting and intriguing issue with my friends and people who know a thing or two about basketball. There is no doubt in my mind that March Madness is the most exciting tournament out of any of the major playoffs in this country. Every year we see the upsets we see the drama and we see the expectations. But something just isn't quite the same this year.
So I posed this question between my friends and I, are the upsets from the early rounds worth the loss of the better and more quality teams in the tournament?
At first glance, most people say, "The upsets are what March is all about!" I agree... to an extent. But are the upsets really worth the price of a shaky elite 8 group, and and even shakier Final Four? If you really start to think about the tournament and what the people really want to watch, it becomes quite obvious that it is better for the tournament and the sport of basketball at the collegiate level, that the better teams advance. It creates a quality brand of basketball amongst the final competitors, instead of a team that might just be hot at the right time and is not as well-rounded as another team.
Now, don't get have me mistaken. The upsets are the most drama-filled, entertaining part about March Madness. I love them and I yell like a 6 year old girl every time something crazy happens. Every year millions of people go crazy trying to fill out a bracket and play the roll of the "experts" and be the first people to call a particular upset. Well that's all well and good...before the sweet 16. When it comes time to buckle down and get the best quality basketball, the upsets, in my opinion, aren't welcome after the sweet 16 with two exceptions.
Exception A) There is a can't miss, superstar on the underdog teams that you just simply can't resist seeing again and again. Think Stephen Curry during his Elite 8 run with Davidson.
Exception B) The team that is the underdog is actually much better then their seed projects them to be. Let's think Xavier the past three years, or Tennessee this year.
So what does all of this mean? Well for starters, this years tournament just had too many upsets of teams that just got hot and found the right formula to beat one juggernaut. Northern Iowa beat Kansas because they played in the moment, made threes in the clutch, got lucky that Kansas didn't press until three minutes to go, and just wanted it more than Kansas. Is No. Iowa the better team? Of course not, but this is the classic example of a team that just slips under the radar and catches the juggernauts by surprise. This happened too many times this year (Villanova, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, etc.) and the result is the least interesting Final Four that I can remember watching in years.
You think I'm the only one? You didn't notice the NCAA's stranglehold on that Duke Baylor game? It was so bad at one point that the referees in the game (the final elite 8 game) were so one-sided because they NEEDED Duke to make the Final Four, just for pure marketing purposes and ratings. A Final Four consisting of Butler, Mich. St, WVU, and Baylor would be the least watched Final Four in eons. So Duke out shoots Baylor in free throws by a ton, especially in the second half. Baylor shot something like 6 free throws while Duke was in the 20s. The 20s!!!
Now because of all these upsets of the early, better teams, we're left with a "put me to sleep" Michigan State team against a Butler team that just finds the opponents weaknesses and exploits them. They have no real advantage in talent and they probably aren't even in the top 5-8 best teams in the country. Duke is there because they were given the draw of a lifetime and the toughest opponent they had to face all tournament was a Baylor team that was playing against Duke/the officials. The only real solid team that I see in the Final Four is West Virginia. But even they have had some crazy injuries and a little bit of luck in their game against Kentucky.
My main point here is that, while the upsets are all fun, drama-filled, and they make you call your buddy at work and scream into the phone, "I LOVE MARCH!!!" They do not leave us with the quality basketball that we want to see in the Final Four. Call me a stickler, or a nit-picker, but I want to see quality basketball come the end of March, and I don't think I'm alone in this. I will always be for the underdog, just as long as they stay out of the Finals where the best teams should battle it out. Hopefully the teams in the Finals prove me wrong and we get one hell of an ending to one hell of a tournament so far.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
If you were some kind of a computer hacker, and you understood how to do all of the crazy things that allow you into certain databases of information, and you somehow hacked into Kean's student body database, and you happen to look up the student, Thomas Michael DeRiggi, you would see that he is actually a double major. His first major and the thing that he spends most of his time concentrating on is Physical Education and Health. If you happen to scroll down underneath that you would see that his second major is non other than, Bracketology.
Just in case you live under a rock, and some of you do, it's March.
I repeat....IT'S MARCH!!!
Finally we have something to look forward to other than average NFL Free Agent signings, and pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training. It's that time of the year. It's the most wonderful time of the year. And yes, it is my favorite time of the year (Disclaimer: I have about 5 favorite times of the year, so just bear with me).
Today, Selection Sunday, is one of the top five best days of the year, because it brings us the greatest tournament known to man kind: The NCAA Basketball Tournament. So you guys are asking, What is this blog actually about today? Well let me explain. Year after year after year after year, people fill out brackets to be involved in this fantastic event. I categorized these people into 5 categories that look like this:
Group E (The Paris Hilton Division): These our people who have NO IDEA who played who this year, who is in the tournament, when the games start, hell, they might not even know it's in progress. But these people fill out brackets every year because it's fun to be competitive, and somehow a winner comes out of this group every year.
Group D (The Khloe Kardashian Division): These are people who know what the tournament is, but have no idea about its participants. But these people have a catch, they have someone really close to them who knows a lot about basketball and can give them some hints and tips on who to pick. This is the scariest division, because you always underestimate these people.
Group C (The Billy Crystal Division): These are people who are avid sports fans, but just don't follow college basketball enough to really grasp it. Usually these people are bigger fans of another sport and college basketball is on the back burner.
Group B (The Tom DeRiggi Division): C'mon, what would my own blog be without me naming a division after myself. These people are people who follow the sport religiously and try to find out everything they can about every team before they make selections. In this group you see the majority of people who lose their bracket contests to Groups C through E because somehow these people do all the research, but get consumed by too much over analyzing and then get frustrated because they lost to someone with the intelligence level of Paris Hilton.
Group A (The Joe Lunardi Division): These people, and there's only about 5 in the world, know everything about every team. These people probably get paid to cover NCAA basketball and somehow win their brackets every year. This is about 0.0000000000001% of the population.
Continuing from before, millions of people fill out these brackets without the slightest clue about basketball. They make these rushed decisions because either they don't really care, or they want to be the first to call the major upsets. This is why I'm here. I am going to guide you all in picking the sleepers, the favorites, and the final four along the way. Let's start with a few sleepers to impress all of your friends with:
The most obvious one that I can see is between 6)Tennessee and 11)San Diego State. San Diego State won 25 games this year and Tennessee is so shaky at times that they make other teams better somehow. Take SDS and you'll be a happy camper.
Next I have a gut feeling that 13)Siena is going to beat 4)Purdue. Purdue lost their best player and just hasn't been the same since, and Siena is always tough come tournament time.
Lastly, watch 12)UTEP vs 5)Butler. Butler is riding high on their 5 seed but UTEP is a feisty group and I wouldn't be surprised if UTEP pulls of the upset.
As far as second round match ups go, watch out for 6)Marquette 3)Baylor. Baylor is a scary team but Marquette has been Big East-tested, as I like to call it. Very intriguing match up here.
Watch out for a sweet 16 run by 12)UTEP. If all goes to plan and they win, they will face a shaky Vanderbilt team that I don't trust one bit. If their was a safe sweet 16 run I think you see it in UTEP.
On to the Final Four...
I don't want to spoil my picks or anything but these are just some preliminary thoughts....
Duke got the easiest ride of all the teams, but I still do not trust them. I wouldn't be shocked if you saw a Baylor, or Villanova come out of that bracket. Also I LOVE, Kansas to the point where I think if you don't pick them to win the whole thing that your either high or you just don't care. I actually love Syracuse's draw because their two toughest opponents, Pitt and K-State, are both beatable teams and I expect the Orange men to roll into Indianapolis. Kentucky is super duper young, and I don't trust them at all. I understand everyone is in love with John Wall and everyone's doing his dance,(Yes, I can do the John Wall dance to perfection), but I'm just not sold on this team in crunch time against a team like, say, West Virginia. West Virginia-Kentucky would be an excellent game to watch, but I love WVU to make the Final Four.
So there is some preliminary thoughts on this years tournament. This year's field doesn't have the WOW factor like some tourneys in the past but it should be an entertaining few weeks. Check back next week as I explain why all of my picks were wrong and you guys should never listen to me again.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Let’s imagine for a second, that any of us actually understand the TV show, LOST. Let’s also pretend that somehow we harnessed the island’s energy and we’re able to skip through time like the island in season 4. Unfortunately this blog post doesn’t include gorgeous woman like Kate, or cool dudes who throw knives or torture people like Locke and Sayid. We’re going to take this time machine back one week to NBA All-Star Weekend (which I should have been at, we’ll get into that later). So just like true LOST-fashion we’re going back in time hold on…
(LOUD CREEKING SOUND)…
(GIGANTIC WHITE FLASH)…
Annnnd we’re here. It’s Friday night. The first event of the day is my new favorite event, the HORSE competition. The dunk contest used to be my favorite contest of the night but it is becoming so bad that it’s getting unwatchable, kind of like Grey’s Anatomy. Last year was the first year they introduced the HORSE competition and it was rather star studded. It consisted of my man-crush Kevin Durant, Joe Johnson, and OJ Mayo. It was pretty entertaining and I thought that this year’s was going to be even that much better. This year Kevin Durant came back to defend his title, which was a plastic horse trophy. But that’s neither here nor there. Rajon Rondo and Omri Casspi were the other two contestants. First Red Flag. Omri Casspi? Maybe I should just leave it for the running diary.
Now, earlier in the day I had called my boy Fitz to come over and watch the Saturday night festivities with me, college style. Just keep this in mind as your reading through the diary. Let’s get into it…
6:55PM – I figured it would be fitting if I gave you my pick to win the whole thing (as if you didn’t know who it was going to be) Mr. Kevin Durant. I picked Durant for two reasons. Last year when the going got tough in the competition, Durant turned it up a notch and showed that competitive mentality that says, “I’m not losing,” and went on a tear making somewhere around 764 shots in a row. The second reason is because he is now my single favorite NBA player, sorry Lebron.
6:58PM – Pre contest odds (according to me), Durant -250, Rondo +150, Casspi +894.
7:00PM – Ernie Johnson is telling Kenny Smith, Chuck, and C-Webb that they have to partner up and coach a player in the contest. C-Webb had first pick and chose Rondo, who is a major sleeper in this contest because he’s very creative on the court. Charles had Kevin Durant but then makes a last minute trade to Omri Casspi (We’ll see how this turns out). This leaves Kenny Smith with Kevin Durant. Deadly.
7:05PM – No sign of Eric Fitz.
7:15PM – The first shot of the contest is an uploaded video from YouTube and every one has to make it or they get a letter. I’m pretty sure that’s not how you play HORSE but OK, let’s try it. By the way, it’s a backwards through the legs bomb from the three line. Yup, this is going to work out well. Charles has no idea why this is a rule, me neither Chuck.
7:18PM – In case you were scoring at home, they all missed. New Lebron/Kobe Puppet Commercial is on. Thye definitely lost all momentum with these commercials. Why not something about Kobe’s 4th ring and asking him where Lebron was last May? Or is that too obvious?
7:21PM – Durant bangs home his first shot from 30 feet. I love him
7:22PM – Rondo sinks the same shot. I thought he couldn’t hit anything outside 5 feet? Casspi airballs his first shot, followed by a quick cut to Charles Barkley doing the Peyton Manning face. Priceless.
7:25PM – Durant’s jumper is so wet.
7:26PM – “That’s what she said.” – Michael Scott, The Office.
7:28PM – Odds for the biggest man crush on Kevin Durant: Kenny Smith +250, Bill Simmons +150, Tom DeRiggi -350.
7:29PM – Chuck may be the worst coach for a HORSE competition I’ve ever seen. It’s a complete awkward silence between he and Casspi, kind of like Tiger and his sex therapist.
7:30PM – Reason no. 46 while Kevin Durant will win: Has that MJ/Kobe killer competitiveness. Everyone is joking around, but Durant is stone faced and ready to win. He will play it cool at first but when he has to, he will light it up for the win.
7:34PM – Don’t know how many times I can say it, this event needs Steve Nash.
7:36PM – No one is really making shots right now. Omri Casspi is about to be eliminated, but is saved by an easy bank shot. It’s at this point we find out that Casspi has never played HORSE before. Oh great, so he’s supposed to have any chance? His odds just went up to +6900.
7:39PM – How long to we have to go until we admit Casspi was a horrendous choice for this competition. He can’t even make up his own shot ideas, coupled with Chuck as a coach. Disaster.
7:45PM – Kenny Smith has an idea for a shot. He brings our a little kid from the front row wearing a Dallas jersey. Kevin Durant shoots the jumper over him and sinks it, followed by 5-6 jokes about how this is realistic because Dallas plays no defense. There’s a reason why these guys win Emmy’s for the best sports show. If you’re still scoring at home, all three sank the jumper over the Dallas defender. Pure comedy.
7:47PM – Audio slip up by TNT – Chuck is complaining about how long this is going saying that he needs to meet up with his family and friends in the other arena. Maybe if you included Steve Nash in this instead of Omri Casspi we would be done.
7:49PM – Because of horrible scheduling, Kenny and C-Webb have to leave to participate in the shooting stars competition, leaving Chuck to coach all three. Yikes.
7:55PM – Chuck mistakenly calls Omri, Omar. In related news, Chuck is an idiot.
7:56PM – Omar, I mean Omri Casspi gets eliminated. Thank goodness. There’s no doubt in my mind that I could have beaten him. EJ announces that if time runs short they are going to a 3 point shootout to decide the winner. Great planning, TNT. Why don’t you just hand it to Kevin Durant now. Go ahead.
8:00PM – KD vs RR. Rondo was getting tricky because it is the only way to beat Kevin Durant. Going into a shootout now, here we go. KD by a landslide.
8:02PM – KD has hit 4 in a row, Rondo 4 in a row.
8:04PM – KD hits 8 in a row before missing. Rondo has hit 10 straight. Yes, you just read that correctly.
8:05PM – Chuck is erging Kevin and Rondo to keep going so the TNT producers sweat out how much time they will have to cut out because this is running to long. I haven’t seen Chuck this excited since, well I’ve never seen him that excited actually.
8:06PM – Rondo finally gets the last letter, Durant wins. That was actually way more exciting then I thought it would be. Durant receives an actual trophy. Why? The plastic Horse trophy has so much more meaning. Ughh. Someone put me in charge of this competition.
8:08PM – It’s 8:08. Do you know where your Eric Fitz is?
As I predicted, Mr. Durant wound up winning. But I really think this event needs Durant, Nash, and Lebron. But I also know Lebron will never do it because he is afraid to get beat in something. It’s the same reason why he won’t participate in the dunk contest. Comon Lebron, every great competed in All-Star Saturday, except you. Just do it already. Alright back to reality
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Back in the day, which was a Wednesday by the way, me and my roommates used to discuss for hours upon hours upon more hours about the NBA, NFL, and MLB. Hell, we even threw in some Tennis and Soccer when the occasion presented itself. One thing we always focused on was the future of certain teams and certain players we loved to watch and loved to debate about. I remember endless nights where my roommates Fraz, Fitz, Ricky, and I constantly debated who would go where in free agency, what teams had enough to make a run in the end, and even which celeb athletes would wind up in the oddest situations in the celebrity limelight (See.Kardashian-Odom, Khloe).
Back when I was up at school, we had endless discussions about Kevin Durant, and whether or not he would be the superstar that Fitz and I thought he would be. We heard all the criticisms: He's too skinny, he can't rebound in the NBA, will his jump shot translate when he only shot 30% from three in college? and even the ridiculous notion that some analysts had him being nothing more than a bench player in the league someday. I wonder how those idiots feel now.
I don't mean to toot my own horn. Actually yes I do, what am I talking about....but I knew this would happen with Kevin Durant. Mr. Durant is enjoying an MVP-like season of the likes in which we haven't seen a youngster do since....Jordan? In his last 30 games, Durant has scored 30 points in TWENTY of those games including a stretch of 8 games in a row of 30 or more points. Not only is he scoring, he is doing it efficiently. He's averaging 49% shooting, 38% from three point line, and 88% from the free throw line. Oh, and about him rebounding in the NBA...he's averaging 7.5 a game from the small forward position. Did I mention he JUST turned 21 in September. Oh My God. We could be witnessing the next greatest player in that line of players who changed the game: Magic/Bird/Jordan/Lebron/Durant.
I finagled with the idea of writing a Durant vs. Lebron blog months ago before the season even started because in my honest opinion, I feel like Durant is going to have a more successful career then Lebron will. Think about it logically...
Durant is in Oklahoma City. Not exactly the limelight. Lebron will always be compared to Jordan and he won't be good enough until he wins 6 rings, whereas no one is expecting anything from Durant. There is much less pressure on Durant to win and win now. Lebron is always going to play with scrub-ass (yeah I just made that up) players in his supporting cast because they have a GM with his head somewhere where it shouldn't be. Danny Ferry makes moves like, "Hey let's sign Shaq for 10 million a year when he'll clog the lane and take up space from Lebron, considering our whole offense has two plays in which Lebron just goes 1 on 1 the whole time." Or you hear Mike Brown on the sidelines (wait a second, no you don't because he doesn't actually do anything) screaming at his supporting cast that HE assembled. God forbid they saved the Shaq cap space and signed, I don't know, Jamal Crawford who is averaging 16 a game off the bench for Atlanta.
Let's continue with Durant's dream situation that he's in. He has a GM in Sam Presti that knows how to push all the right buttons at the right time. He doesn't panic and go spend 75 million on Charlie Villanueva or Ben Gordon, drafts the right players like Jeff Green, James Harden, and Russel Westbrook, and he actually understands quality role players that he can get for cheap in order to fill gaps and contribute quietly: Thabo Sefolosha and Nenad Krstic. They have a nucleus that consists of the starting five of Westbrook (most underrated PG in the NBA), Thabo Sefolosha (solid defender, role player), Durant (ahead of his time superstar), Jeff Green (Al-Horford clone but a little skinnier), and Nenad Krstic (underrated Big man), with bench players including James Harden (star in-the-making), Eric Maynor (great backup PG), and Nick Collison (solid rebounder).
Just look at that roster. Combine that with the fact that the Thunder are STILL 13 million UNDER the salary cap. I just got the chills. Can you tell I'm obsessed with this team? Let's take that 13 million and add 3 million to it for expiring contracts and roster moves at the end of the year, and the Oklahoma City Thunder have 16 million to throw around at that coveted free agent class. My lord, could you imagine if they landed Amare Stoudemire, or (gulp) Chris Bosh. Let's break this down into 4 scenarios which all could realistically happen...
Scenario 1: Thunder add Chris Bosh and a lower level guard like, let's say, Rip Hamilton. This gives you a starting five of: Westbrook, Hamilton, Durant, Jeff Green, Chris Bosh. Bench: Harden, Sefolosha, Krstic, Maynor. The Thunder lose a little bit of defense in their starting 5 but gain a knock down shooter in Hamilton and a low post presence that they don't currently have. As well as someone to bang bodies with the Duncans, Bynums, and Yao's of the Western Conference.
Scenario 2: Thunder add Carlos Boozer and Raja Bell. Starting Five: Westbrook, Bell, Durant, Green, Boozer. Bench: Harden, Sefolosha, Krstic. Not as flashy of a move as everyone would expect, but that's how OKC works. Strictly a defense move and a low post presence move.
Scenario 3: Thunder add Tyson Chandler. S-5: Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Chandler. Finally gives the Thunder a legitimate center to defend the West centers and rebound the ball. Allowing Durant to get out on fastbreaks and easier buckets in transition.
Scenario 4: I hope your ready....Thunder add Chris Bosh and Jamal Crawford. Oh Jesus. Starting 5: Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Bosh. Bench: Jamal Crawford, Harden, and Krstic. This would be the ideal situation for the Thunder. They get Bosh, the interior presence they need. Meanwhile they're getting the hottest bench player in the league, and someone who is currently averaging 16 a game. This gives them a scorer off the bench to grow along with Harden and to handle the scoring while Durant is out or out of the play.
I'm absolutely giddy over the future of this team. I don't have a favorite team in the NBA, but the Thunder might have to be them. This team with one or two simple acquisitions could be on top of the league for the next decade. Will we be looking back on the decade in 2020 and debating whether or not OKC was the team of the decade? Will Durant be the next one to bust the door in on the NBA like Jordan did in the late 80s and early 90s? Whatever happens, I'm forecasting the future of the NBA with plenty of Thunder.
Friday, January 1, 2010
Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy New Year, and any other Happy-(fill in a made up holiday) that I happened to miss during my month-long hiatus. There's no way you can have a well established blog during the holiday season. I'm convinced. Between the shopping, school finals, decorations being put up, and having to lie to everyone under the age of 10 about Santa Claus...it takes a toll on one's ability to successfully give you readers a free blog every week. But hey, were all about bouncing back in 2010. That's right, it's 2010. Not only am I looking forward to almost finishing college, another first round exit for the Cowboys, Colts fans calling for Jim Caldwell's head because after they win the Super Bowl they'll have 1 loss on it to the (gulp) Jets, and Kevin Durant becoming a bona fide superdee-duper-star right before our eyes, I'm also looking forward to mistakenly writing 09 on every assignment this semester because writing '10 is just too weird.
Man, do I know how to go off on a tangent. Anyway, like I said, this year is all about bouncing back and what better way to do that with the perfect New Years Resolution. Now, people who make New Years Resolution usually make it to the end of January before they decide that they've had enough and New Years is overrated. I say, the hell with that. Us real people may not be able to hold a New Years Resolution, but our sports stars must try and come up with some New Years Resolution's so that they don't drive their fans through a wall with stress and frustration. Oh you're already through a wall with stress and frustration? Me too.
A New Year's Resolution should be something that you can actually accomplish. It should be something that you want to do (or stop doing) that will ultimately lead you to a happier/healthier life. Well with our coveted sports stars it is a little different. Their resolutions have to be well thought out so that they include the well-being of their fans. So let's get into a few people who ABSOLUTELY must make these specific New Year's Resolutions.
1.) Tiger Woods. Jesus, Tiger. Why don't you just go to an Island you own for like 6 months and just stay there. Shoot, you can bring whatever mistress you choose, but just stay out of the limelight for a while. This country forgives quickly if you just apologize. Look at A-Rod, Andy Pettite, and Jason Giambi. Coincidentally, they were all Yankees (shaking my head), but they all apologized and no one says one word about any scandal they've ever been a part of. So Tiger your New Year's Resolution is to apologize, stop calling your mistresses, and just chill out in 2010.
2.) Peyton Manning. Peyton, you need to just chill out. You are insanely good at football that everyone is at the point where they HAVE to like you, even if they hate you. It's all because you work so god damn hard and are so god damn good that every other god damn quarterback looks like they have down syndrome when they play against you. So my New Year's Resolution for you is to chill out in 2010. Let some other player win the MVP award. Let some other team go for the undefeated season. Let some other team win the Superbowl. You're mad annoying Peyton. Stop practicing and studying!!
3.) ESPN. Hey ESPN directors, whoever is in charge of bashing the Cowboys on a weekly basis, maybe it's time to be a little less bias. We get it. You don't like the Cowboys. You'd rather have a big market team like somewhere in New York or Philadelphia or New England win. But I've got news for you. This team is different. So maybe it's time to cut the crap and report news unbiasedly.
Part2.) Hop off Brett Favre's you know what. I mean really. Yes the guy is an iron man. He is a warrior with the uncanny ability to make a play when a play needs to be made. But the love that you guys have over him is really sickening. You've turned me into someone who doesn't even like him anymore because of all of these reports that you guys bring out and how much of an infatuation you have with him. Just please take it easy. There's about 1000 other people in the NFL to report on...in case you were wondering.
4.) Tony Romo. Oh no Tony. Don't you do it. Don't you fool us into thinking that you're going to be different this year. You're not fooling me. You may have every other Cowboys fan fooled, but not me. Until you actually win a playoff game and show us that you can lead this team well into January I'm still having my doubts. So my New Year's Resolution for you is to just be a leader. Show us that you can lead this team and put them on your back into January because the Cowboys only go as far as you go. Plain and Simple.
5.) Brett Favre. It's very simple Brett. Retire. You've given everything you can possbily give to this sport. You've given us countless highlights, countless hold-your-breath moments, and you've even managed to get Brad Childress a contract extension when he may or may not be the top 3 worst coaches in the NFL. Just go fishing somewhere from September-January. Trust me the league will be OK without you. So my New Year's Resolution for you is to enjoy your post-football life. Find another thing to be spectacular at.
Once again, I want to apologize for the hiatus. I promise I will be back in full-swing this year. That is my New Year's Resolution, to be a better writer and hopefully grab an editor along the way. You know, cuz a brotha don't always talk perfect english, ya dig? Have a Happy New Year all!