While the baseball season has started, there still is an NBA season going on folks. And it is an amazing one too.
You've got the Western Conference, where nine teams are seperated by just 5.5 games. And there's a three way tie for seventh between Dallas, Golden St and Denver. Did I mention that all three teams sit at 45-28? If you put those three teams in the East (or the Least as it should be called) they'd occupy the 3,4 and 5 spots in the conference. Talk about tough break for whoever finishes ninth (and if I had to make a choice it will be Dallas. Sorry J-Kidd. Maybe you can force your way out of Dallas too.)
All the best players are in the West, save for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett. Every night in the West you can see a matchup of Chris Paul, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant or Baron Davis. Not to mention Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol.
Oh, and there are a couple players like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash and Shaquille O'Neal flying under the radar. Thats about 13 of the top 20 players in the league. Throw in Amare Stoudemire, Deron Williams and you basically have 75% of the league's top players in one conference. Hardly fair play.
As it stands, the Western Conference playoffs will possibly showcase 8 out of the top 10 teams, and also each matchup will be an NBA Finals- like atmosphere. San Antonio-Houston? Lakers- Warriors? Those matchups just ooze excitement.
The NBA is back in full force. The West is exciting as ever, and you can still potentially se LeBron try to take down the mighty Boston Celtics in round 2. No more image problem NBA fans, just great basketball. Welcome back.
Hey guys just thought I'd give an update on baseball as I always do and here's my thoughts. So last week baseball started and was played in Japan. Now those two teams came back to play spring training games again and on Tuesday they will play each other Tuesday night. There are a few problems I have with what went on. First off, the games were started at 6 am in the morning. I know this because stayed up all night to see the game. Now they did show this game again at 2 pm, but if you know the score of a game already most people would not want to watch it, unless maybe you're a huge fan of those two teams. Second and most important, can someone tell me the point of starting the season for these two teams and then having them go back and play spring training games. I mean who thought up that brilliant idea? I saw a poll on ESPN about how 85% of the US thought we should have opening day or night played in the US. So the fans don't like it, I don't like it and I'm sure many of the players dislike it as well. Especially since many of them tend to get some sort of injury or sickness from the trip. Now I think it's great and all trying to integrate the countries with baseball, but baseball is the American past time. It may even be more popular there than here, but they have their own teams to watch. So all in all it's just an annoyance to have to deal with this.
The Jets did not give Laveranues Coles the new contract he'd been wanting, but the two parties did come to an agreement. A comprimise. The Jets are going to guarantee 11 million dollars for Coles' two remaining years on his contract. Coles was vocal about wanting a new deal. And some unnamed Jets veterans were outspoken (possibly Coles) about the contracts given to New York newcomers. (Hey, I'd be mad about Calvin Pace's contract too)
I'm ecstatic that the situation didn't go on longer and L.C. didn't end up holding out. It's also nice to see when athletes act responsible and considerate when voicing monetary displeasure. Too many times I've seen players holdout and bring their distractions to their teammates.
JaMarcus Russell couldn't agree to a contract for almost two months after he was drafted 1st overall. He was one of my favorite players up until that holdout. Now I have no respect for him. (Well I shouldn't say 'no respect'. I'm impressed that he's stayed in Oakland this long. If I were him, I would have taken a Dave Chappelle trip by now. Anything to get out of there.) The holdout left the Raiders with some uncertainty and Russell hurt his chances of starting as a rookie.
So finally Coles and the Jets can agree to a deal.
And finally an money issue with a disgruntled player does not end ridiculously.
There's a rule that may be implemented in the NFL that would control the length of a player's hair. Those in support of the rule want hair to be short enough to see the name on the back of a player's jersey. They say it's for safety issues, which is understandable, but I believe it's an attempt to clean up the League's image.
They are trying to make people forget the stereotype that all black people with long hair are thugs or rastas (mostly thugs in the NFL's case. Ricky Williams ain't around anymore.)
Football is by far the most popular sport (Nascar is not a sport) in the United States and it becoming more corporate than ever. The majority of old white businessmen do not relate to black people and still stereotype them. So Goodell and the boys think that cutting hair is a good way to close that gap.
Pacman Jones had dreads when he made it rain. He's the poster boy for derelicts in the NFL. And what does he have that most players don't? Dreadlocks. Long hair.
Come on guys. You didn't think I would notice? You're trying to get rid of the 'hood' image in the NFL. A safety issue is a great cover up, but I'm not stupid. I just wish other people would see this for what it is.
If you're an NFL player who is forced to cut his hair, ask if you can use the 20 dollars spent as a tax write-off.
Okay… the Jets missed out on a bunch of receivers. Gaffney went back to the Pats. So did Randy (We’ve stopped talking because of this). Berrian went to Minnesota to freeze his buns off and Colbert went to the Broncos apparently.
And the wide-outs left in the free agent pool aren’t great. The best is Nate Washington and he’s a restricted free agent looking to be overpaid. Don’t even suggest the Jets should look into getting Eddie Kennison, David Givens or Eric Moulds. All of them are pretty much done with their career. I would have liked it if they jumped on Isaac Bruce when he was cut. But they didn’t.
So that leaves the Jets in a tight spot. They can either settle for someone like Reche Caldwell to fill the spot McCareins left. Or they can look to the draft. Hmmmm. Decisions… decisions………………………..
Let’s look to the draft.
Malcolm Kelly 6’3” 220 lbs Oklahoma 49 rec – 821 yds – 9 tds in 2007.
Kelly has very impressive size. I’ll take anyone who is that big and runs a 4.5 in the 40 yard dash. He has very reliable hands and put up above average numbers for the Sooners in all three of his college years. He is not afraid to go and get the ball. The Jets need someone with that quality due to Chad Pennington’s hanging passes (I was going to write ‘balls’) and Kellen Clemens’ inaccuracy. Kelly is very aware on the field. He always knows where the sideline is and keeps focused when there is a hand in his face. I would definitely draft this guy.
DeSean Jackson 5’10” 169 lbs California 65 rec – 762 yds – 6 tds in 2007.
Jackson is a player that can effectively use his speed to dodge tacklers and weave through traffic. Jackson has more impressive stats than Malcolm Kelly in three years but his small size is a big problem for me. The Jets definitely do not need another small guy. Jackson ran a 4.35 in the 40 and is a very good receiver prospect… just not for the Jets. He is also a return man, but the Jets have enough of those.
Devin Thomas 6’1” 213 lbs Michigan State 79 rec – 1260 yds – 8 tds in 2007.
Thomas is another fast guy (4.4 40 yard dash) with good size. He can put himself in a position to catch passes and will out muscle defenders for position. He put up MONSTER numbers in 2007 but the most frequently asked question about him is ‘How did he get 79 catches in 2007 but only 6 in 2006?’ That would not be my main concern when looking to draft him. I would worry about the amount of drops he had during 2007. It’s a problem for Thomas to hold on to the ball in traffic. I don’t think Jets fans want someone who drops more passes than McCareins on the squad. Regardless, Devin Thomas is a very good athlete and moves well for a man of his size. The drops make me uneasy but I would still draft him because of the amount of raw talent he has.
Only 19 catches…? He must not be good, right? Hahaha… Wrong! In fact Sweed is a very impressive target for any QB to have. His 2007 season was cut short after he re-injured his left wrist. This causes some concern for any team, but he has tremendous upside. He is 6’5”, runs a 4.52 in the 40 and can outjump any defensive back for the ball. He gets in great position for every catch and his size alone allows him to get separation. Sweed is monstrous when he is on the field. He towers over the defenders. The Jets need a guy like this.
James Hardy 6’7” 220 lbs Indiana 79 rec – 1125 yds – 16 tds in 2007.
Wow, this draft is filled with big receivers, but none are bigger than Hardy. He’s 6’7” with great hands and a 4.5 40 yard dash. You can’t go wrong with that. Like the other tall guys, Hardy uses his size to get in great position and make difficult catches. He is the best goal line threat, which is exactly what the Jets need after last season. He holds several single season and career receiving records for the Hoosiers. I could see him holding a lot of records for the Jets.
It is imperative for the Jets to go out and draft a big receiver. DeSean Jackson could be a good fit, but I think the best fit is to have a tall wide out.
Also, I’m not suggesting that the Jets should take any of these guys at number six. None, I repeat, NONE of them are worthy of a number six selection. I would, however, like the Jets to trade down and take one of them later in the 1st round. They can get a lot by trading their pick. Maybe the Cowboys’ two picks in the 1st. But that’s another topic for another day.
And if they don’t draft a receiver and they don’t trade down… well, theres always Keyshawn.
Just a few quick points regarding the seedings. I will do a full region-by-region breakdown later in the week.....
- I thought the committee did a great job. I have no problem with most of the seedings. The weakest number one is Kansas.
UCLA is interesting. They have to be put on the one line, but could be prone to an early upset. But I don't think the committee could justify not putting them on the one line. That goes into the decision to. Can we justify not putting this team higher? In the case of UCLA, I don't think you could.
- If their was ever a team that benefited from getting red hot at the precise right moment it has to be the Pittsburgh Panthers. Pitt's a four seed.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Anyone who has read my columns since the Super Bowl knows that I just don't like the Panthers. I question whether this hot streak alone is worthy of a four seed. Do they really have four seed talent? They did win the Big East, beating both Marquette and Georgetown in the process, but you almost have to throw that out for purposes of this discussion. Of course, winning the post-season tournament of what is, top to bottom, the best conference in the country is impressive and certainly deserves to knock you up a few seeds. But in the case of Pitt, four is way to high. This is a team that finished the regular season out of the top 25. They finished 26-9, which is quite good. They also finished 10-8 in conference play, which is not so good. Everyone has their own philosophy on what carries more weight: conference or overall record. I come from the school of thought that conference record does. I like to measure teams up against identical competition. You can't always do that when looking at overall record. The Panthers are a team that lost six games in the final six weeks of the season. I see that as a glaring statistics. Three of those losses came in succession in the middle of February. Marquette blew them out on the 15th of February, Notre Dame beat them by 12 six days later, and Louisville edged them on February 24th. Pitt lost again, this time by 14 to West Virginia, in their second to last game of the year. Take the Big East championship out of the equation and this is a bubble team that ends up getting a nine or ten seed, not a four seed. You could counter that early in the season Pitt was one of the better teams in the country. That may be true, but once conference play started, the team took a major step back. That's a red flag in my book, and a mighty big one at that. You could also use the injury excuse. That's a valid one, but I still don't know if it should carry any weight come seeding time. I guess you could say that if they didn't have all the injuries, then they would have a lot better of a resume. This can be said about a lot of teams. The selection committee should not be in the prognosticating business. A resume is a resume. Lets compare Pittsburgh to the other four seeds in the nation. Connecticut: They finished the year ranked 15 in the nation. They lost two games in the final two months of the season. Now, those 2 games came in the final two weeks of the season and they lost to West Virginia in the Big East tournament, but I think a four seed is perfect. If they win the Big East Tournament, their probably a two seed. So dropping them two spots based of that is right on.
Vanderbilt: They finished the year ranked 17th in the country. Vandy won nine of their last 13 in a weak SEC. I know that this isn't a great stat because of the weakness of the conference but there's one stat that I love about Vanderbilt. That stretch included a seven game winning streak. During that streak, Vandy beat Kentucky (who, despite the 11 seed, had a better conference record then Vandy) and Tennessee. Those are two impressive victories. I don't know if a four seed is deserved for them either (maybe more of a 5, 6), but they have a far better case then Pittsburgh.
Washington State: Finished 21 in the nation. Had a rough end of the year (lost three out of six), but won five out of eight before that. W. State didn't loose a game until January 12th. I don't love to look at early season wins and losses, but that's a stat that's hard to ignore.
The only thing that puts Pittsburgh even near these other three is a conference championship. I just don't know if that's enough...
- Villanova is not a 12 seed. I'm sorry. There a 14 at best. However that's a little low in the bracket to get too worked up about. It's still an interesting point.
- Best game of round one: K-State/ USC: Beasly vs. Mayo.............and some people don't like this tournament.
Okay, if you haven't heard by now, Joe Girardi has his panties in a bunch over the Tampa Bay Rays' aggressive play in spring training exhibition games. Rays minor leaguer Elliot Johnson was running from 3rd to home when the ball was relayed from the outfield. Johnson decided to not let up and destroyed Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli at the plate. The collision resulted in a broken wrist for Cervelli, sidelining him for 8-10 weeks plus rehab.
The big question surrounding this situation is: Should the Rays (or any team) play that aggressively in meaningless games?
Girardi said “I’m all for playing hard, but I don’t think it’s the time where you run over a catcher.”
Elliot Johnson stated “With the time I had there, my options were slide and be out or see if I could pop the ball loose,”
Johnson also said “From my point of view, my job is to score the run...”
Don Zimmer added "I think [Girardi] is out of line, whether he likes it or not."
I can't help but think that the reason Girardi is so upset is because he was a catcher and can understand what Cervelli is going through. But Girardi can't expect people to play by his unwritten rules. It's baseball, and part of baseball is the collision between the base runner and the catcher. Girardi wants to exclude rules but he can't do that. Everybody plays by the same rules and standards. If the rules were meant to be altered, then steroids and performance enhancing drugs would be acceptable in baseball.
Also, why would Elliot Johnson, a AAA player, not try to score? He's trying to make a name for himself and make the big club. That's what spring training is for.
Girardi needs to stop whining. The reason I wanted him to be the new manager is because I thought he wouldn't act like this.
-The Jets definately DO NOT need Darren McFadden. They just signed Jones to a big deal last year, they have Leon Washington who is a great game breaker, and they just got Jesse Chatman. It looks like there is no place for you Darren. Sorry.
-I think it's great that Wilson Chandler is getting some serious burn from Isiah. It's giving me a reason to watch the Knicks again.
Congratulations! You made it through another year of the darkest days in sports. Of course, I'mreferring to the period between the Super Bowl and the beginning of March Madness. The period where each passing day seams to be mired in a malaise of stories without foundation or merit. Stuff that is meant to fill the time because there is just nothing of any consequence to envelope the interest of the collective sporting community. NHL regular season? NBA mid-season? Ticky-tack spring training injuries?...Does anyone care?? Sure, hard-core fans do. But even the most dedicated of fans have to realize that a Febuary 15th Islander game is nothing to get too excited about. But that all ends tomorrow when the Big East and Pac-10 tournaments begin, officially signaling the end of the Dark Days.
Sports lifers rejoice!
I have been counting the days until the Big East tournament for two weeks. This is my favorite tournament of all the smaller tournaments before the big dance. This year will be especially interesting because so many teams have a legitimate chance to win the whole thing. The first six seeds in the tournament all could not only win the Big East Tourney, but could go far in the NCAA's. I guess the only negative to this year's edition can also be viewed as a positive: there are so many good teams. This is a possible negative because only one of those teams needs to do really well to get a bid in next week's big tourney. That team is West Virginia. The Mountaineers are the five seed, but have some awful losses on their schedule. They lost at Villanova on February 20th and at Pittsburgh on February 7th. Then, there was January. WVU had four key losses that could hurt them on the bubble come Sunday evening. They lost at Notre Dame, at Louisville, and at home against Cinncinatti and Georgetown. A bad showing in the Big East Tournament might spell doom for the Mountineers. Other then WVU, I don't see a team in the top six that is in jeopardy of not making the NCAA's. A few teams that could jump into the NCAA's with a big showing: - Villanova: Haven't liked this team until day one. Must be playing Friday night to even get a sniff - Syracuse- Just like their first round opponent, the Orange must be playing on Friday to get in. Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Providence- All need to get to Saturday to have any shot. But for different reasons.... -Cincinnati- Being crushed on Sunday at Uconn hurt them tremendously. This is a team with some talent. But that Uconn loss and a quick Big East exit would be way to much to take. - Seton Hall- There just not talented enough . Bobby Gonzales has done a good job with this crew, but it simply won't be good enough.
- Providence- It'll be tough for a team that was a 12 seed in there own conferencetournament to get an at large bid. I think that they have one of the better resumes of the bottom half of the conference. The Friars swept UConn this year but would need to go deep in the Big East to get any consideration on Sunday.
Day One Picks:
#9 Syracuse over #8 Villanova
#12 Providence over #5 West Virginia
#10 Cinncinatti over #7 Pittsburgh
#6 Marquette Over #11 Seton Hall
Day Two Picks:
#1 Georgetown Over #9 Syracuse
#4 UConn over #12 Providence
#2 Louisville over #10 Cincinnati
#3 Notre Dame over #6 Marquette
Day Three Picks:
#4 UConn over #1 Georgetown
#2 Louisville over #3 Notre Dame
BIG EAST CHAMP: Louisville
As much as I like Notre Dame, I don't know if I trust there defense enough to beat a Louisville is a semi-final. Notre Dame scores a lot, but if they go cold for a six or eight minute period, Louisville will pounce. One thing I will say, as good as a lot of these teams are. The Cardinals are too strong of a team at this point in the year to loose to any one of them.
I think Georgetown is tremendously overrated. They pass the ball way too much and will be knocked off. The Hoyas have an easy first game against either Syracuse or Villanova. But once they run into UConn, all bets are off.
The hardest road to Saturday night is definitelyNotre Dame. The Irish would have to beat Marquette (assuming they knock off #11 Seton Hall) and #2 Louisville if they want to get to Saturday night. This is indubitable too difficult for a team like the Irish to take. Too bad to, I like the Irish to win a few games in the NCAA's.
Biggest sleeper: Marquette. They're fast and athletic. If they can get by Notre Dame, watch out...
Hey guys only 16 or 17 days left until opening day and it seems like its going to be quite an exciting season, that's for sure. I'm excited to see how all of the rookies are going to play this year. Will the rookies from last season continue to do as well as they did or will some unfortunately find the terrible sophomore slump? How will the Rodger Clemens situation turn out? Will Barry Bonds actually be signed by the Rays? Are the Mets the team to beat in the National League and will the Cubs finally break the dreaded goat curse? All these questions and more will be answered this year and I for one can't wait to find out.
Looking toward this year I'm sure the drama of all the rivalries will be there as always, whether it be between the Red Sox and Yankees or the White Sox and Cubs, it will be there. So as I said before the season starts soon and it looks to be a thrilling one.
So last night when I was watching the Knicks play against Nick Malone's Hornets, I was happy to finally see Wilson Chandler, Randolph Morris and "Marvelous" Mardy Collins get some burn when it mattered. But then I thought to myself: "Hey, didn't I read this in the paper today?"
Confused...? Well so was I. Until I remembered what Frank Isola wrote in the Daily News yesterday. To paraphrase, Isola stated that 'Morris and Chandler were wasted pick-ups because they are barely used in games and should have a more prominent role because the Knicks should be building towards the future.' I was happy to read that, because I have been saying that since the season started. That's one of the reasons Isiah should be gone from the Knicks.
But is it a coincidence that the same day Isola's column is published is the same day Isiah Thomas has a change of heart? Is Isiah acting according to articles in the local papers? Are Frank Isola and Isiah Thomas in cahoots....? or possibly the same person?
Well it's hard to say at the moment. The details are still coming out and there are still many missing pieces to this conundrum. And the questions still remain unanswered.
In my on-going joy over "The Green Resurrection", I have neglected what has been my signature column in the last month and a half: the college basketball picks column. Eight days and counting until the Big East tournament. Eight days and counting until the "dark days" are over for us here in the sports talk business.....Here's tonights batch....
#15 Purdue at Ohio State- At 17-12 overall and 8-8 in conference, Ohio State probably has to win their last two games AND have an impressive showing in the Big 10 tournament to have any shot of running with the big boys come March 20th. I somehow don't see this happening. The Buckeyes are on a four game loosing streak and have lost six out of eight. They have Purdue tonight and Michigan State on Sunday. Not an easy way for a bubble team to end a year. Purdue, on the other hand, is on the up and up. I like them to go deep in the Big Ten tourney, but not win it. The way they shot against Indiana two weeks ago left a bad taste in my mouth. Unlike Ohio State, Purdue closes out the year with a team who they should beat. Michigan.That will bode well going into the Big 10 tournament next week. One thing does concern me about what we saw in that Indiana game. The Boilermakers are a team that go on long and prolonged droughts. That's not how you win in tournament play. That spells trouble. But look for a nice road win tonight. I like Purdue.
Nebraska at #9 Texas- Texas is a weird team. They are 11-3 in the Big 12, 24-5 overall. But they have three good players and nothing else. Past Augustin, Abrams, and Damion James their isn't much there. They are coming off a bad loss to Texas Tech. I don't need to tell any of you how bad Texas Tech is. Did anyone see them play Kansas last night? It is to the point with the Red Raiders that even Bill Selff feels bad. I have trouble taking any team that looses to Texas Tech seriously. But The Longhorns seam to have Nebraska's number. Nebraska is 0 and 9 all time in Texas. Nebraska is most likely out of the tournament. For the Cornhuskers to be dancing, two things have to happen. First, they have to beat Texas tonight and Colorado on Sunday. Then, they have to get to at least the third day of the Big 12 tournament. I don't see that happening, but hey, Husker fans can dream. Texas wins tonight.
Florida State at #1 North Carolina- This number one spot in college basketball is becoming eerilysimilar to the number 2 spot in college football. No one seams to want it. I was very interested to see who it would end up being this week. I, myself, would have given it to UCLA. This may not be a popular pick, but I have a hard time giving it to North Carolina. Since UNC and UCLA both won on Sunday, it comes down to which of these scenarios you think is worse. Being down 18 to unranked Boston College on the road and making a valiant comeback or only beating unranked Arizona by two on the road. I think the former is worse and that's why I have a bit of an issue with UNC being the number one. In regards to the BC-UNC game, I have heard this rational: "well, if Tyrease Rice doesn't score 46 points, the game is drastically different" Can this not be said about any other game that's ever been played? That doesn't change the fact that it happened. I just don't know if the best team in the country would allow one player to score 46 points, but that's just me. I guess the beauty of it is that their is no clear cut number one. The Tar Heals may not be the best team in the country, but they better beat Florida State tonight. The Seminoles are actually on a mini-winning streak: a whole three games. That ends tonight. UNC Wins.
Florida Gulf-Coast at #20 Marquette- I didn't think I would ever be writing about Florida Gulf Coast. Perhaps a little back round on the Eagles is in order. They are 6-10 in the A-10 and 10-20 overall. The Eagles beat lowly North Florida (1-15 in the A-10) on Saturday in overtime. Prior to that, F-GC lost seven of eight. The Marquette game is the Eagles' final of the year.....Certainly doesn't sound like the Eagles will be helping Marquette'sRPI much. Anyone who has read the blog in the last few weeks knows that Marquette is one of my favorite sleeper teams. This is a year where the top of the rankings are so weak that I could easily see a team like the Golden Eagles going deep into the tournament. Maquette wins this one....dare i say, easily.......