Friday, April 29, 2011

Risk, Reward, Sure Thing! Part II

If you want a Steal, think HEELS!!!

The 2nd round of the NFL starts today at 6:00 pm on ESPN, and if you are hoping your team can get a steal in this round or the next few, you are in luck. There are quite a few good players left on the board, like Da'Quan Bowers and Ryan Mallet.

The North Carolina Tar Heels have some really good players that have not been drafted. The reason they were overlooked in the 1st round is that many of the Heels players' draft stock was hurt by all the off the field issues of the past season. This includes Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin, and Greg Little who missed the entire season. So, many of the Heels are risks this year, but if a team takes a chance on them in the later rounds these guys could deliver huge rewards!

Marvin Austin can be a little lazy and his motor is in question, add this to all the off the field drama, and you have a 1st round cabiler pick still on the board. Austin has size and speed close to a player like Warren Sapp. Austin would be a real steal in the 2nd or 3rd round.

Bruce Carter is a sure thing. Will he be great, maybe, but he is a sure fire NFL starter. He has a burst of speed that translates to production in the NFL. Carter used this burst to block a ton of kicks in college and he can close the gap on the ball in a heartbeat. He would be a great player to pick up in the next few rounds.

Da'Norris Searcy is another player who could really be a steal in the later rounds. Searcy is 6 feet tall and weights 223 lbs. so he has good safety size. 223 lbs. is a bulky man when he is only 6 feet tall, yet Searcy is a great kick returner. As safety or return man, Searcy could make an impact pretty quickly for some NFL team. Searcy would be a great value in the 3rd or later rounds.

Some other Heels who could be steals are Greg Little (good size, strong, and athletic), Quan Sturdivant, Kendrick Burney, and Deunta Williams (who is a head hunter who put viscous hits on ACC offensive players).

Some other players from the Heels who maybe drafted or at least have a chance to make a NFL roster are: Charles Brown, Johnny White, and Zach Pianalto, and even T.J. Yates (small chance).

Why Hasn't Da'Quan Bowers Been Drafted?

His knee has scared away lost of teams.

As I watched the First Round unfold last night, I was shocked as team after team passed on Da'Quan Bowers, the stud DE from Clemson.  I've heard that questions arose at the combine about his knee, and evidently a lot of teams are afraid to draft him.  Some have even taken him completely off their draft boards!  His size, athleticism and skill are hardly matched by any other DE in his draft class, but here he sits after Round One.  Why?

Evidently, his knee injury is pretty serious, as some have said he may need microfracture surgery to repair it, which would most likely cost him his rookie season.  I understand how that could scare many teams away from paying him tens of millions to sit his first season.  Teams who make huge investments want quick returns.  

When I heard "microfracture" surgery, the first two names that came to my mind were Greg Oden and Yao Ming, two NBA players who have been decimated with similar knee injuries and haven't played in two years.  This HAS to be what NFL organizations are thinking about as well, wondering if Bowers will miss out on a long career.  

I decided to do some research and found an EXCELLENT ARTICLE regarding these injuries and pro athletes.  It has been documented that NBA players careers declined at a much faster rate than NFL players, and it states that the corrective microfracture procedure actually HELPS PROLONG NFL careers! 

Certainly, now that we're out of the tens-of-millions-of-dollars contract round, somebody has to take Bowers quickly, I would think.  Since the Patriots have the first pick tonight, if they don't want him, don't be surprised if they trade down again for more picks and another team moves up to grab Bowers. 

I would be shocked if he lasts more than the first five picks tonight, as his potential value far outweighs his slotted contract price.  If the Falcons are going to trade five picks for Julio Jones, I'd trade a couple more and moved up and get Bowers.  Bowers and Jones would give Atlanta two premium talents at two positions of need (pass rusher and playmaker). 

Don't Buy the Hype:  Draft Da'Quan Bowers.  He's more than worth the risk. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why The Falcons Shouldn't Trade Up To Get A.J. Green

He would look good in Falcon red and black, but at what cost?

Let me first say this:  If the Falcons do move up and get A.J. Green, I will be glad to have him as part of my favorite team.  Heck, I might be the fat white guy walking around in his jersey, but I don't think this would be a wise move by Tom Dimitroff. 

Bottom Line:  It's too costly for the Falcons.

The thought of having a guy like A.J. Green lining up across from Roddy White is enough to cause opposing defensive coordinators to lose sleep.  Green is the best offensive skill player in the draft and will certainly be a top five pick.  The cost to move from #27 to top five would be counter-productive for Atlanta.  To move up 20+ spots will cost at least a 1st, 2nd, 3rd-4th and probably another early pick in next season's draft (2nd).  The inability to move players in draft day deals, due to the complications from the lockout, is no help either.  The Falcons have too many holes to fill on defense to give up that many early picks for one offensive player. 

There is an alternative though:  Trade up for Julio Jones.  This is still a reach as well, as Jones is likely to go in the top 10, but the cost of a pick around 8-12 is much less than a pick in the 3-5 range; maybe only the 1st, 2nd this year and maybe only one more pick (2nd-3rd) next year.  To me, this is still counter-productive for the Falcons' needs, but it's much more prudent than a huge jump for Green.  The difference in talent between Green and Jones is much less than the difference in cost.  Julio Jones is the better bargain 

There is only one player in this draft I would pay that price to move into the top five, and that's LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.  He would fill a HUGE need for the Falcons on defense and special teams.  If he falls past #4 to Cincinnati, don't be surprised if the Falcons do pounce on the best player in the draft. 

That's a move I could get excited about.

Why I Wouldn't Draft Cam Newton With The #1 Pick

Who is Cam's #1 fan?  Cam, of course.

According to ESPN sources, the Carolina Panthers have narrowed their choices for the #1 pick in tonight's NFL Draft to 4 players:  Patrick Peterson, A.J. Green, Marcel Dareus or Cam Newton, with many believing Newton is the best choice of those four to go first.  There is no way I would draft Cam Newton with the first pick and here's why:

#1 He's too big of a risk to take a $75-90 million dollar flier on.  In my opinion, Cam Newton's measurable statistics are OFF THE CHARTS; SCARY GOOD.  His size combined with his talents form a quarterback that could potentially be unlike any we've ever seen, and I really mean that.  However, it is no guarantee that he could step in and be a NFL capable quarterback in year one, and to pay $75-90 million dollar "project" just isn't happening in today's sports landscape. 

#2 He doesn't have what it takes between the ears.  A lot can be said for how efficiently Newton ran Gus Malzahn's ultra-fast power spread attack at Auburn, but unfortunately, the NFL game is not played at that pace.  In college, teams can overcome you with athleticism and speed, but the NFL game is much more a game of chess, due to the fact that all teams have speed and athleticism.  Preparation, thought and sound decision-making reign supreme, and those are not strengths for Cam.  During John Gruden's QB Confidential (great show by the way) Cam couldn't even name a play that he ran at Auburn!  They ran everything off a wristband using colors and numbers, which doesn't happen in the NFL.

#3 Can he stay out of trouble?  Plenty has been made of his 13 brush-ups with the law, including his theft of a laptop while at Florida, along with his pay-for-play allegations at Auburn.  To say this guy has a good head on his shoulders would be farcical, based on his past indiscretions. 

To make a $75-90 million investment (Sam Bradford got $86 million at #1 last year) on a player with this many question marks would be quite a gamble for an embattled franchise with a new coach.  If the Panthers are dead set on Newton as their guy, they should trade down a pick or two, grab an extra pick, draft him at #3 and save about $20 million.  It seems as though Marvin Lewis is in love with Cammy-Cam, so I doubt he lasts past #4, since Carson Palmer is threatening to retire in Cincy.

This reminds me so much of 2001 when Michael Vick was drafted by the Falcons, and I am convinced the Panthers brass has studied that comparison as well.  Vick was a talent unlike anything we'd ever seen, but his poor decision making and questionable character set the Falcons franchise back.  The same could happen if Carolina takes Newton. 

NFL Draft Tonight, Join Us For the Action!

Will you be watching?  You should be!

It's Christmas and New Year's all rolled into one for most NFL fans tonight!  The NFL Draft:  Where teams get better and some teams get, well, laughed out of the building, usually the Raiders.  Join Matt and I tonight as we watch the Draft and chat about it live here on the blog.  I am working on a live chat box for the site, so drop by and comment on each pick as it happens live.  Who will be the draft winners?  Who will be the losers (Oakland, probably)?

We will also be posting leading up to the Draft as well, covering topics such as:

Why I Wouldn't Draft Cam Newton at #1

Why the Falcons Shouldn't Trade Up For A.J. Green, but Might for Julio Jones

Also we will be analyzing each upcoming pick and making projections as well.  JOIN US TONIGHT!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Risk, Reward, Sure Thing! Part I

Some pro prospects are worth the risk. They may have weaknesses, but their strengths will overshadow all doubts about them and the reward could be huge. Adrian Peterson was a risk because of his injury issues, he would have been the number one overall pick, but he was viewed as a risk. The Vikings took a chance on Peterson and the reward was, well, history. There is another Peterson in this draft, but there is no risk there, Patrick Peterson is a sure thing.

Big Risk!

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Biggest risk in the entire Draft. Newton is the next great bust! Draft experts will ask what happened to Cam and why did he fail, in the future. There is no reason to have to look back and wonder. Guys who make six digit salaries will excuse there miss evaluation of Newton, as that is easy to look back in retrospect, and not pick him number one. They will go on to talk about his college career, national championship, Heisman, etc. But remember this blog entry that Cam will never be a great QB in the NFL. Newton has everything you want in a football player except he can't throw and he isn't a high IQ guy. Well, those are the number one and two traits you want in a QB. Cam Newton is another athlete who wants to play quarterback, this has never worked, yet some real geniuses keep trying to make square pegs fit in round holes. It's like communism, fails everytime, but people keep trying it and swear it will work, the next time. I hope my Panthers trade Cam if they draft him, if not they will take a risk that will have no reward.

Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas
Ryan Mallet has all the tools to be, not a good QB, but a great one. He has tools similar to Joe Flacco, but he is bigger and better in every measured skill. Mallet is a lot like Newton in the sense that he has the tools, but the IQ and off the field problems have come into question. The difference between Newton and Mallet, is that Mallet can really spin it and last time I checked that's what QBs better be able to do in the NFL. Crazy idea to want a QB who can throw the ball, right?! One big part of Mallets' risk factor is that Bobby Petrino has never produced a great pro prospect, but he has never had a QB like Mallet who destroyed SEC defenses with his arm two years in a row. Ryan has many very desirable skills and physical traits (cannon for an arm, 6'7, etc), but have you seen his hands? Mallets hands have to the biggest hands of any NFL QB ever and as you may know many great QBs have big hands (Brett Favre, Drew Brees, etc). Mallet may fall to the 2nd round and if he does this might be the steal of the decade. Mallet is a big risk, but the reward could be as big as his giant frame and arm. A pure passer with his skills and size could be, scary!

Da' Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Bowers is a protype 4-3 Defensive End. So, what's the problem, well the knee is. I heard it said that many NFL guys call it a "ticking time bomb." This makes Da'Quan a big risk, but if he falls to the mid of late 1st round he could be a huge reward for some team.

Big Reward!

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Blaine Gabbert is a risk, because all QBs are, and because he is system guy who will be drafted top five. With that said I would take Gabbert over Cam Newton any day. Gabbert looks like an NFL QB and I hear he is great locker room leader. Locker room leadership is much more important than foot speed for a NFL QB. Gabbert (6'4) can really sling it and he stands tall in the pocket, plus he has Tom Brady hair and that has to count for something. There are some risks that go long with any QB and Gabbert is a risk, but nothing can be more rewarding than drafting a franchise QB. Gabbert seems to have all the tools and intangibles to be a NFL franchise QB for a long time.

Robert Quinn, DE, UNC
The only reason there is any risk with Quinn is he has not played football for a year. You just don't know what that does to a guy until he gets back on the field in game action. Quinn looked good at the combine and after a year layoff that is impressive. Robert can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense and Quinn has good DE size, but moves like a linebacker. That is a combination that any NFL team would be crazy about! Quinn would have most likely been the overall number one pick if he had not missed the entire 2010 college season. So, if Quinn falls out of the top 5 it would be a great value and could be a very rewarding pick for a team in the long run.

Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
The rumors that are circulating around the NFL are what make Nick Fairley a risk. Everyone has heard these rumors by now, that Fairley is one year wonder, lazy, and takes plays off. But, I saw his drills and workouts and Fairley moves like DE and yet is almost 300 pounds. I have never seen a man of that size move like that. No one in the SEC could block him and that speaks volumes to his ability. Fairley stole the spotlight from Cam Newton by dominating the National Championship game. Nick could be a very rewarding pick because a DTs with his size and skills can anchor a top ranked NFL defense.

Sure Thing!

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
This one is easy, best player in the draft. Played in the SEC, check, Safety size, check, elite corner speed, check, and on top of that he returns kicks. Peterson is ball hawk and is one of the most dangerous kick returner to come out in a decade. Peterson is just a can't miss!

Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Like Peterson, Dareus played in the best college football conference in the world. He is huge man at 6'4 and 315 pounds and has a great motor. The experts say he can even play some DE and the NFL really like the DE/DT hybrid right now. A DT like Dareus, with his size and skills can make everyone on his side of the ball better (and make everyone on the other side look bad). DTs like Dareus don't always have the sexy stats, but the dominate football games.

Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Castonzo has it all he is 6'7 and 311 pounds. He has the size and the fundamentals to go long with them, which is rare at this time in OT career. Castonzo will come right in and start, and will be a 12 year starter unless injuries prevent it. Castonzo seems to be well coached and smart and that is super important, because a tackle has to learn so much. It seems Castonzo might not go top 10, which means Castonzo will be a steal, because he is a sure thing.

Here are some other sure things or at least guys I really like in the 1st round.
Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado (but he is a risk)
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State (maybe a steal if he goes late 1st round)

I will write about more Risks, Rewards, and Sure things from the later rounds in Part II tomorrow...

Quick Hitter: Sacramento Might Lose the Kings, Who Knew?

Unless you follow the NBA closely, you might not know Sacto is losing the Kings.

Great article HERE by Bill Simmons regarding the plight of the Maloof brothers and their attempts to sell/move the Sacramento Kings.

I honestly had little idea that the Maloofs were in this much trouble financially.  The last time I really paid attention to them, they were opening The Palms in Vegas and seemed to be living like real-life Kings.  They seemed to be on the same level of Mark Cuban in terms of vocal ownership that was well-liked by its fans. 

Simmons goes into great detail regarding the downturn of the Maloof empire, mixed in with some bad luck that has negatively impacted the small-market Kings franchise.  It's definitely worth your time to click the link.   

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tim Duncan Is Fading Fast, And It Hurts To Watch

Is this how it ends?

Let me preface this column by saying the following:  Tim Duncan is one of my top 3 favorite players of all time.  He's right there with Dominique Wilkins and Dirk Nowitzki.  I started liking Duncan when I was in high school and he was still at Wake Forest.  The reason Duncan became my favorite player was the fact that he was successful playing the game the right way, using a tremendous set of fundamentals rather than just relying on athleticism, thus garnering the nickname "The Big Fundamental."   I modeled my game after Duncan's due to my lack of athleticism when compared to other post players I faced. 

It hurts me to say this, but after watching this opening series against Memphis, I'm afraid Duncan has reached the twilight of being a force in the NBA.  Check these highlights from Game 4 last night and watch the play at 1:43.  Tim Duncan gets out muscled and out hustled by Marc Gasol. 

My jaw dropped when I saw that play live.  I even said something about it to my wife, knowing she couldn't care less, but I was so stunned and sad.  Tim Duncan has never been one to be outworked, but he has been outworked all series, as have the rest of the Spurs, against a much more athletic, young and hungry group of Grizzlies.  I, like many, thought Game 1 was a fluke, but it's clearly obvious the Grizzlies are just better than the Spurs and will win the series.   

So far in the playoffs, Duncan is averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per game, a far cry from his dominating performances during the Spurs' championship runs, where 20+ point, 20+ rebound games were the norm.  I don't think it's a matter of heart; no one will ever question Tim Duncan's desire.  It's a matter of ability.  

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of years.  Will Duncan try to hang on, like Shaq (and Brett Favre), and be a mediocre role player, or will he realize his best days are behind him and ride off into the sunset a winner (John Elway)?

Either way, Duncan is one of the 10 greatest centers of all time and a first ballot Hall of Famer.  It's sad to watch when he can no longer perform up to his and fans expectations.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Just call me "El Gato".  I've got at least nine lives.

Evidently the lack of quarterback depth at South Carolina is worse than we all imagined.  According to this article Steve Spurrier and athletic director Eric Hyman have deemed it necessary to give Stephen Garcia another second chance (like, the 4th or 5th one) to be a part of the Gamecock program.  This time he will have a set of "strict" (suuuuurrre...) guidelines he has to follow to remain on the team.

My questions are:  Why hasn't this been done already?  Did he not get a strict set of guidelines the first four times he was suspended?  What makes anyone think that Garcia believes any rules apply to him anyway?  He's gotten away with so much under Spurrier that Ole Ball Coach's voice is akin to Mommy saying "This is my last warning, I'm going to spank you NEXT time." 

Keep in mind, the reason for this suspension was him showing up wasted to a leadership conference and being such a disruption he was asked to leave.  That's really the guy you want leading your team?  I don't think so, unless in Spurrier's twisted mind he thinks Garcia is the only guy who can win him ball games, which I will assume is true, based on this quick reinstatement.

This just goes to validate the assertion I've held about Steve Spurrier for a long time.  PEOPLE GIVE HIM WAAAAAAY TOO MUCH CREDIT!  He won 6 SEC titles and 1 National Championship at Florida, but Urban Meyer won 2 National Championships at Florida in half the time, in a much more competitive SEC. 

Don't get me wrong, he is a great X's and O's coach, but great quarterbacks don't want to play for him.  His schizophrenic shuffling at the position has scared off many top QB's in years past, and when has he ever developed a capable NFL quarterback anyway?  His best were Rex Grossman, Danny Wuerffel and Doug Johnson and they weren't great pros.  Grossman was competent, but the other two were terrible. 

This isn't the first time he's given repeated chances to a star player.  Think back to JaBurglar (Jabar) Gaffney when he was at Florida.  It's obvious that winning is number one for Steve Spurrier and to heck with the rest. 

Stephen Garcia is graduating this May and will be on track to lead the Gamecocks out of the tunnel for their season opener in September.  Does anyone really think he can stay out of trouble for four months after graduation?  When he has no responsibilities but football?  He is a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode again, ready for Spurrier's next second chance.  They really deserve each other.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Silent Science Part 1

Boxing is known to those who love it as the sweet science, but it is truly a dying art or if you will, it has become a silent sport.

Most peoople have no idea that in less than a month a huge fight is about to take place. Even worst than that if they heard the names Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosely, they would not even know that this event is a big deal. Only Pacquiao and Mayweather would raise eyebrows, but even that would not appeal to the average sports fan.

Who would buy the pay-per-view?

I would, but I am one of the few silent fight fans left. Some people even call us the fight cult. A lot of diehard sports fans tell me that boxing is boring and that all the fighters do is hold each other. Boxing is hard to watch until you understand it. American Football would be hard to understand if you had not grown up with it, just ask the rest of the world.

And here lies the problem, (a little history lesson if you don't know). Boxing and the people in and around, it got greedy in the 80's. People like Don King began to bleed the sport. Big fights became pay-per-views. If you don't have HBO or Showtime (maybe) you don't know boxing. ESPN has all the C and D fighters or guys who have 1 or 2 wins and are just getting started. Boxing is like watching minor league baseball and that will not sell to the mainstream sports fans, unless boxing has a thirsty Thursday.

Long story short, the common sports' fan has no idea what is going on in boxing and even diehard sports' fans don't care.

This is sad because I watched a fight Saturday night that was as good a sporting event as I have seen in a long time.

People who love team sports love to talk about the one on one match ups that make a game great, and there are too many match ups in all sports to name, just fill in the blanks _______ vs ________. Well that is what boxing is all about. Two men enter and only one man leaves... a winner.

The Andre Berto vs. Victor "Vicious" Ortiz fight was no exception. These guys had it all on the line and the underdog Ortiz emerged as the winner. Both men were awesome and Berto lost for the first time, but gained fans even in defeat, showing heart, finishing the fight, after being knocked down in the first round!

If you consider yourself a sports purist and didn't see this fight you truly missed out. NBA may be good, but the back and forward action of the NBA, has nothing on the Berto vs. Ortiz fight, with a handful of knockdowns in a fight that went 12 rounds. I will not recap the fight, if you want to check it out, access this article at

This fight should be the fight of the year and both men put an amazing show, and for that I thank them.

The Silent Science remains sweet, too bad other sports' fans missed it!

Part II coming soon...

Taking a Leake, Or Should I Say Leake-A-Taking?

You may have already heard the news story regarding Cincinnati Reds' pitcher Mike Leake's arrest after stealing from a Cincy department store.  It's made the national news.  If not, you can read about it HERE.

I have a few questions regarding this story:
If you make $425,000 a year, as Leake will this season, do you really need to steal shirts from Macy's?  Couldn't you just save yourself the trouble of being arrested and just PAY FOR THEM?  Novel idea there.  Even if he didn't have cash, just swipe the plastic and crisis averted, it less than $60!

Here's my most pressing question, though:
At which Macy's can you get 6 shirts for $59.88?  According to the police report, the six shirts stolen by Leake had a value of $59.88.  I have a hard time finding 2 shirts at Macy's for $59.88!  Heck, it is hard to find 6 shirts at Wal-Mart for less than $60.  Did he use a coupon before he took off with them?  Maybe it would be worth my while to head up to Cincinnati and check out their local Macy's.  It's certainly much cheaper than the Macy's here in Athens.  That's the reason I shop at Belk.

All kidding aside, it should be interesting how this case turns out.  Leake and his legal team feel pretty confident that he will be exonerated once he tells his side of the story.  It could be that an employee at the store recognized him and told him to just have the stuff, who knows.  I doubt he ever serves more than probation, even if he gets that.  I just think it's funny that a pro baseball player making $425,000 has stolen shirts worth less than $60. 

I wonder if has a thing for Lindsay Lohan?  They could make a good couple. 

Monday, April 18, 2011


The Lakers may have a tough time but when the smoke clears I think they will three-peat! No other team accept maybe the Celtics have all the pieces in place to win it all. Boston is old and without and does not have the post players to match up, and to that fact niether does anyone else. Lakers win third in row and here are the rest of my playoff predictions...

2nd Round

Western Conference

(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (4) Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder will make the Spurs look their age, but the Spurs will not go down without a fight. I really want to pick the Spurs here with their experience and tough playoff-ready verterans, but I just think they have too many problems this year. The lack of their trademark defense and injuries being at the top of a long list. So the athleticism of the Thunder will just be too much and the old Spurs will wear out in the end. Thunder in 7

(2) L.A. Lakers vs. (3) Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs will give the Lakers all they can handle. The Lakers will prevail because of their superior post play. Both the Mavs and Lakers have big time scores who can make big play and hit clutch shots, but the Lakers are just too long and tall inside, Lakers in 6.

Eastern Conference

(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (4) Orlando Magic

I like the Bulls personnel and think they should make mutliple deep runs in the playoffs in the future. Chicago has played with passion and hustle all year and as a result they have the best record in the playoffs. Chicago is still young and inexperienced in the playoffs and heart alone will not get it done at this stage.

Orlando has had their fair share of problems this year, but when it counts they play defense and that will be enough to slow down the young firepower of the Bulls. The Bulls have very good big men, but no one can stop D. Howard, Magic in 7.

(2) Miami Heat vs. (3) Boston Celtics

This is the hardest game to pick but it should be a classic! Boston is experienced as a team and their defense should hold the big three in check. The game will be decided inside if Shaq was healthy or if Kendrick Perkins was still there, Boston would have even more of an advantage inside.

But Boston has enough considering the Heat have no inside presence. Boston should beat the Heat up inside, unless James gets down and dirty in the paint and I don't think that will happen (but he could like the way Magic jumped center). Going along with their inside advantage, Boston will beat up the Heat but not just inside but on the permeter as well. Celtics in 7

3rd round

Western Conference

(2) L.A. Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Lakers have too much everything for the Thunder. The Thunder's athletism and high octane offense will make this series fun, but just too much Kobe, Gasol, Odom, Phil Jackston, just too much Lakers. Lakers in 6

Eastern Conference

(3) Boston Celtics vs. (4) Orlando Magic

Boston will have no answer for D. Howard that we all know. Howard is such a force of nature inside that will keep this series competive, but in Celtics are build for playoffs and will beat the Magic in every other facet of the game. Plus Boston has that great home court advantage, Celtics in 6.

NBA Championship

L.A Laker vs. Boston Celtics

Can you say rematch! Both of these team will not get to the championship next year, if they do not get younger in the off season. With that said they will have enough to get here one last time, but Boston will look really old and the Lakers will have home court and an inside advantage. Boston's age and missing big men will make this an easier series for L.A., than it was last year, Lakers in 6.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Flip the Switch!

While the NBA regular season as a product has improved over the last few seasons it still can not match the intensity of college basketball.

But when the playoffs starts the professionals flip the switch! As a basketball purist you have love the effort and high level of play that the best players in the world showcase during this tournament. The first round will have some sub par games, but after that we should all be able to enjoy some top flight round ball! Here are my picks...

Eastern Conference

1st Round

(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (8) Indiana Pacers

I'll take the Bulls in four, for lots of reasons but no reason to bore you with details, Derrick Rose enough said.

(2) Miami Heat vs (7) Philadelphia 76ers

The Heat's star power is just too much for the 76ers. The bottom three teams from the East will not put up too much of a fight, they would not have even made the playoffs if they were in the West. Heat in 5

(3) Boston Celtics vs. (6) The New York Knicks

New York has two great players who will have some great games in this series, but in the end Boston's veteran experience and hard nose defense will be too much for the newly formed Knicks. Celtics in 6

(4) Orlando Magic vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks

This is a hard one to pick as the 4-5 match up should be. Orlando wins but it will be a fight. The Hawks talented wing players will give the Magic trouble. The Magic will prevail because of better coaching, defense, and... that's right you guessed it D. Howard! Magic in 7

Western Conference

1st Round

(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies

The Spurs are old and they stumbled into the playoffs but veterans and experience win playoff games. The Spurs have a ton of both of those, but the Grizzlies are young and athletic. This will cause the Spurs some problems but when all is said and done, Spurs in 6.

(2) L.A. Lakers vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets

Lakers in 5, whatever you can think of is reason enough.

(3) Dallas Mavericks vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers

This series should have some good games. Once again a common theme in the 1st round youth and athleticism vs. experience and leadership. Experience and leadership wins out, the Mavs have too many big time shot makers for the Blazers, Mavs in 6

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have had a crazy year losing one of the games' biggest names and other important players, as well. The Nuggets are a completely different team now, from the one they started season with. Still, they have enough players to make this a series, but the Thunders great young stars will be too much for a team who lacks chemistry and defense, Thunder in 6

The rest of my predictions coming tomorrow...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

NBA Playoff Prediction Time!

Who will be taking this bad boy home this year?

"Any given day" is a quote many coaches and commentators use to describe the ability for an underdog to knock off a better team in a game.  Why this is often the case in many sports, it's not true if you want to advance and win the NBA Championship.  In 2003, when the NBA went to a seven game first round, it took away the chance for early upsets in the playoffs.  Since you must beat a team four times to move on, shocking upsets in the NBA playoffs are very rare.  If you want to win it all, you have to be the best, and get a little help, usually from the officials.  There are no George Masons or Virginia Commonwealths playing for the NBA title. 

Here are my picks for this year's second season:

Western Conference Quarterfinals:
(1) San Antonio over (8) Memphis in 5 games:  This is a conservative choice, as opposed to the sweep most analysts will call.  I think Memphis may steal one at home, but this will be an easy series win for the Spurs.

(4) Oklahoma City over (5) Denver in 6 games:  I will probably watch more of this series than any of the others, with the exception of maybe the Hawks/Magic.  Even though the Nuggets have proven they are still a good team without Carmelo, the fact that George Karl came out and said he'd rather play Dallas than the Thunder should tell you something. 

(3) Dallas over (6) Portland in 7 games:  I think home-court advantage will be a big factor in this series.  Dallas has been really streaky this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if they lost here, but they are the better team, so they should take care of business.

(2) Los Angeles over (7) New Orleans in 5 games:  Even though the Lakers have played poorly down the stretch, they are clearly better than New Orleans, but don't be surprised if a couple of these games are decided late by the Black Mamba.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:
(1) Chicago over (8) Indiana in 5 games:  Indiana has the capability of pulling off more than one win, but I think they will only get one at home. 

(4)Orlando over (5) Atlanta in 7 games:  This one should go the distance.  Atlanta has lost their last six going in to the playoffs, but did win the season series 3-1 over the Magic.  This Orlando team isn't nearly as good as last year's edition (bad trade) and I really wouldn't be shocked if Atlanta won the series.  They will have to win in Orlando to get it done, though.

(3)Boston over (6) New York in 6 games:  Boston is too playoff tested and savvy to let the Knicks take them to the limit.  This is a talented Knicks squad that will make each game tough for Boston.

(2) Miami over (7) Philadelphia in 5 games:  Miami has the propensity to hit the snooze buttons during games, which should let the Sixers steal at least one game in this series, but Miami is too good to not win this series.

Western Conference Semifinals:
(1) San Antonio over (4) Oklahoma City in 7 games:  I really like the Thunder, but i don't think they are ready to beat a team like San Antonio four times.  Maybe next year will be their year, as they grow with Westbrook, Durant and Perkins.  I think the Spurs' home court advantage and big game experience will overpower the upstart Thunder.

(2) Los Angeles over (3) Dallas in 6 games:  I can't see Dallas pushing the Lakers to a game seven, they're just not mentally tough enough to win in LA.

Eastern Conference Semifinals:
(1) Chicago over (4) Orlando in 5 games:  Whether or not it's the Magic or Hawks that Chicago faces in round 2, I don't see either giving them a long series. 

(2) Miami over (3) Boston in 7 games:  This is the series everyone wants to see, including me.  Boston won the season series, but I think the talent of Miami's Big Two-and-a-Half will overcome the older Celtics, with some help from the officials...

Western Conference Finals:
(2) Los Angeles over (1) San Antonio in 7 games:  This will be a great series that I think will be won by the Lakers.  Honestly, I think the Spurs have a deeper roster, but I feel a Lakers win. 

Eastern Conference Finals:
(2) Miami over (1) Chicago in 6 games:  Again, star power wins in the playoffs.  Chicago has a great team, but I don't think they can beat Miami four times out of seven.  I actually think Boston will give Miami a tougher series than Chicago will. 

NBA Finals:  
Miami over Los Angeles in 7 games:  Keeping with the star power theme, I'll take these two, since this is what the majority of the nation wants to see.  I kind of can't believe I'm picking these two, as my gut tells me that Boston and San Antonio are the best teams in each conference.  I think this is the matchup everyone wants to see, so don't be surprised to see some funny officiating to help these two teams.   


Thursday, April 14, 2011

It Seems Like I'm Hating on Auburn, But They Make it So Easy!

It's a Get Well Card, er, Toilet Paper Roll For a Tree!
Since the Cam Newton saga broke last year, I've been accused of being an Auburn hater.  I'm not an Auburn hater, rather a lover of justice, which has yet to be handed down to Auburn.  It might finally come in the form of Chaz Ramsey meeting with the NCAA, however (That Story Here).  But I doubt it.

Back to the task at hand, though, making fun of Tiger Nation.  After Harvey Updike poisoned the Toomer's Corner trees, an outpouring of love was shown for the dying trees, and they were even the stars of their own candlelight vigil.  During this vigil, many items were laid at the bases of the trees as relics or mementos.

Here's the great part:  According to this article the Auburn Library is collecting these "artifacts", some are pictured above, for an exhibit to "preserve this trying chapter in Auburn's history" for Tiger/War Eagle/Plainsmen faithful.  Really a toilet paper art exhibit?  Get well rolls for trees?  I'm laughing as I type this now!  Isn't toilet paper biodegradeable anyway?  How long will this historical archive last?  I guess I need to Google "How long does it take for toilet paper to decompose?" to find out.  In the words of the great John McEnroe:  You can't be serious!

I have tried my best to lay off Auburn here recently and with the exception of the article regarding the HBO special, I have.  But this takes the cake, an exhibit of hand-painted toilet paper and get well cards for trees. 

REBUTTAL TO AUBURN FAN ARGUMENT:  I have to enclose this in each Auburn column I write to combat senseless logic.  If Georgia's beloved hedges were poisoned by a Tech fan, I'd be really mad.  I would want him to be arrested as well.  However, in no shape, form or fashion would I pay homage by writing get well cards, or poems to inanimate objects!  That's ridiculous.

I've heard the people in this video might be Auburn fans as well.  This is must see TV:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why Is Everybody Hating Nate McLouth?

This guy's not as bad as you think.

I don't understand the hate for Nate!  McLouth that is.  Now that he's off to a slow start, hitting .237 after 11 games, many fans and sports writers are ready to ship him off to Gwinnett or Mississippi or Timbuktu.  To say that he doesn't help the Braves is ridiculous.  

Few will argue his defensive ability.  His glove is above average and his ability to run down balls in the gap is better than average, due to his good speed.  His .237 average is misleading as well.  So far in 2011, McLouth has a 1.56 ground ball to fly ball ratio, which had led to fewer wasted AB's.  His strikeout percentage is down as well this year, and 23.3% line drive rate, which is among the top 40 of all hitters in baseball.  This shows that he's consistently hitting the ball hard, just hitting them right at somebody.   McLouth has also been productive in moving runners along, which is important for a number 2 hitter. 

His .293 on-base percentage and reputation for not drawing walks doesn't help his case to hit second, but McLouth is still an asset for the Braves, and should probably move down in the lineup to 7 or 8.  McLouth has proven in years past that he is capable of being a 25-25 guy, but I think those days are in the rearview.  I think a .285 average with 15-18 homers and 70-75 RBI is within reach.  That's solid production, and certainly greater than any other option short of a trade can do. 

I've said it before and will continue to say it:  don't give up on a guy/team because they get off to a slow start in the first two weeks of the season!  Nate's .237 average is 37 points higher than Albert Pujols', but we're not throwing him under the bus are we?  Give McLouth a chance!   


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Travis Leslie Stays in NBA Draft, I Hope This Works Out For Him

There is no doubting Travis Leslie's athleticism

Travis Leslie said today that he will officially be entering the NBA Draft, ending his career at Georgia.  I, along with rest of Bulldog Nation, enjoyed watching Leslie play.  His athleticism led to many highlight reel dunks, and his floor game improved tremendously under the tutelage of Mark Fox.  He became an above average midrange jump shooter and was a hard-nosed rebounder, especially on the offensive glass.  I know I sound like bitter Dawg fan, but I don't think this is a smart move by Leslie.  He could've used another year in college.

The biggest knock on his game is his outside shooting, which is kind of a big deal since he will have to play the two in the League, due to the fact he's only 6-4.  His ball handling needs major improvement as well.  I think he is a very good player, but there are many very good players who don't pan out in the Association. 

Keep in mind, in the NBA, only 1st round drat picks are guaranteed contracts.  Most every NBA mock draft has Leslie as a 2nd rounder at best, which means he will have to fight hard for a roster spot, or live down low in the D-League.  Other mock drafts like this great one had Leslie as a 2nd rounder NEXT YEAR.  Leslie has improved so much in his last two years, that I believe he could have improved his status and possibly have made himself a lock for a guaranteed contract with one more year of college.  

On the other hand, maybe his status will improve with superstars like Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes coming back to school , who knows?  I think this quote from his mother describes the situation best, "He just decided to stay in and take his chances."

If there's one thing everyone can agree on, it's the fact that he's taking a HUGE risk here. 

What do you think?  Should he have stayed in college or is the Draft the right move?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Step Back From the Ledge Red Sox Fan!

Boston-Area bridges should be closed today due to the high probability of jumpers!
Listening to ESPN and Boston television and radio stations, you would think the Red Sox season is already over.  Red Sox fans are saying it's time to fire Terry Francona, send Carl Crawford back to Tampa, Adrian Gonzalez back to San Diego, Jarrod Saltalamacchia back to Texas and beg the Tigers to trade back Victor Martinez. 

Does anyone understand how Major League Baseball works? THERE'S 156 MORE GAMES LEFT IN THE SEASON!  Fans make waaaaaaaaaaaayy to big of a deal about the first few games of a season.  There's a saying that pennants can't be won, but can be lost in April.  That's true if you are 20 games below .500 at the end of the month, but blowing the team up after six games?  Come on.  A team as talented as Boston is not dead because they are 5 games behind the Orioles on April 8.  Ridiculous!  There have been numerous times where teams have been 8-10 games back in July and come back to win the pennant.  For example, the Phillies overtook the Mets after being 6 games down in late September a four years ago, and the Braves were 10 games back of the Giants in late July during the miracle 1993 pennant run.  It can happen! 

Keep in mind that the first six games have all been on the road, and the Sox begin a 10 game homestand today, all against teams from the AL East.  If they start hitting soon, which they will eventually, they could be in first or second by the end of next week.  Please Red Sox fans, don't jump!  The Sox talent will take hold and the team will be just fine. 

DON'T BUY THE HYPE:  The Red Sox are NOT in major trouble and their season is not over, despite the opinions of the talking heads.

Now, if they go winless on this homestand and are 0-16 next week, then...

EDIT:  I'm watching the home opener against the Yankees right now and Robinson Cano hits a 2 run double in the top of the first.  The boobirds are already out!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stephen Garcia Suspended Again. In Other News...

If you want to steer clear of trouble, stay away from this guy!

I mean, really, how many chances/strikes/lives does Stephen Garcia have at South Carolina?  He's like Super Mario or Wile E. Coyote.  

According to Steve Spurrier and South Carolina AD Eric Hyman, this suspension will last the remainder of the spring semester and his standing with the team will be reevaluated in May.  This coming two weeks after Garcia proclaimed, "Nothing bad is going to happen again, that's guaranteed," after his reinstatement from his last suspension.  

If you believe the Gamecock brass, this could be the final straw for Garcia in Columbia.  I'll believe it when I hear he has been dismissed from the team.  Until then, I'll assume he'll be back in time for fall practice and the season, just like usual.  It's like when a kid does something wrong and Mom threatens to spank him, then keeps misbehaving and he continues to get the same threat instead of the deserved butt whooping. 

This quote from Spurrier makes me believe he may actually follow through with a true punishment this time.  "We try to tell him to do the right thing, but like I said, when he gets out on his own, he's going to do his own thing."  This sounds like the Ole Ball Coach has finally realized that Garcia may be a lost cause, even though they need him to win ball games. 

What amazes me about this whole situation is the fact that there is no legitimate replacement for Garcia, if he is dismissed.  For the "great" repuation Spurrier has for recruiting and developing quaterbacks (which is a total myth by the way; when has one of his quarterbacks ever done anything in the NFL?) he only has a kid from Georgia that UGA didn't even want, to turn to.  If he does grow a pair and dismiss Garcia, the chances of a USC repeat as SEC East champions diminish greatly.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Can Tiger Woods win The Masters?

Yes, Tiger CAN win The Masters, but he won't...

In short, Tiger Woods has the capability to win the Masters, but I am sure he won't get the job done this year.  Here's why:  He's not playing at a world-class level right now.  Simple enough, right?

Rarely has a Masters winner come from out of nowhere to win, unlike some winners of other majors, like the PGA Championship.  You have to be on top of your game in all areas to win at August National.  Accurate driving, greens in regulation and a little flat-stick magic are all required to top the leaderboard at Augusta.  Let's look at where Tiger stands in these statistics, compared to the rest of the PGA Tour:

Driving Accuracy: 47.6%, 191st on Tour
Greens in Regulation:  67.6%, 57th
Putts per Round:  29.2, 86th

These stats listed just verify what everyone who has watched Tiger this year knows:  He's not very good right now.  You can't scramble your way to a green jacket and if Tiger can't find the fairway, he doesn't stand a chance.  Combine that with his inability to consistently make the 10-15 foot putts, it doesn't bode well for Woods this weekend. 

However, as we all know, Tiger has the ability to win this tournament.  His talent is undeniable, but it used to be coupled wiith a dogged determination that we haven't seen in a long while. 

I think the odds on favorite to win this weekend is Phil Mickelson, even though Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus are the only back-to-back winners ever.  Here my foursome of potential winners not named Phil:  Nick Watney, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer.  Bubba Watson is another guy I like as a sleeper to bring home the jacket.

Do you think Tiger can win?  If not, who do you like?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Fitting Ending to a Down Year in College Basketball

"We're shooting 18%!  What is going on?"

What a brutal ending to a fun college basketball season!  From the outset of the season, it was obvious that there were no truly great teams this season, and this was the weakest tournament field of all-time in regards to the amount of losses the teams had. 

I never expected to see a national championship played so poorly.  As a matter of fact, last night's game reminded me of my middle school basketball coaching days.  The days where a 6 point lead was insurmountable.  That was the feeling I had after UConn made their run early in the second half.  Missed layups, open 10 foot jumpers, clanking three pointers, Butler looked like a middle school team I coached one year that couldn't throw it in the ocean.  I mean we were doing good to get to 20 each game.

Even though the final score was 53-41. it wasn't like either of these teams played a slow tempo.  Both teams ran up and down the court, neither trying to limit the other's possessions.  It reminded me of JV girls basketball where both teams full court press the enitre game and the final score is 20-18.  The score didn't match the pace of the game, which is what can happen when teams aren't very good.  THAT'S BAD OFFENSE, NOT GREAT DEFENSE! 

The national news is lauding UConn's defensive effort last night, but I didn't see it that way.  They did do a good job of altering some shots under the basket, as Butler scored only ONE basket in the pain all night.  The majority of Butler's shots were from long range, and many were uncontested.  Go back and watch the game and see how many wide open looks that Butler missed.  They shot 18% for the entire game!  That's epically terrible, even for a regular season game in November, much less the National Chapionship game.  Again, that's not good defense, that's bad offense. 

I still am not sure that UConn is the best team in the country, but no one else can lay claim to that in my opinion.  This really was a down year in college basketball.  There were no great teams and the championship game showed us that.  What are your thoughts on last night's debacle?