Monthly Archives: January 2009

Michael Redd Out For the Season – Bucks Can Actually Be Worse

   The Milwaukee Bucks are cursed. They haven’t made the playoffs since the ’05-’06 season. They haven’t made it to the NBA finals since the ’73-’74 season. They haven’t won an NBA title since the ’70-’71 season. Now, in the ’08-’09, the Bucks have just lost their leading scorer and face of the franchise to a seasonph2009012501329ending ACL/MCL injury. As a Milwaukee native, Redd’s injury is depressing to me, but does not come as a surprise. The Buck’s have, for years, disappointed me. So why should this year be any different?

   I’m not saying that Redd’s injury is the Buck’s fault. And my heart goes out to Redd, he is a stand-up guy and i wish him a speedy recovery. But, I already accepted defeat when the season started. It’s not like the Buck’s don’t have talent. Even without Redd in the rotation, the Buck’s have playmakers. Former number one overall pick Andrew Bogut is a solid center. Forwards Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva add experience and Jefferson is the Buck’s second leading scorer with just over 17 points a game. The Buck’s also have young talent in rookies Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Joe Alexander. However, no matter who is on their team, the Buck’s can’t manage to get anything positive going.

   In a state dominated by football, the Milwaukee Bucks have had some trouble drawing support. They are a small market team that has not had a block-buster player on their roster since Ray Allen nearly a decade ago. And with the loss of Michael Redd this season, the Bucks will be reeling even more for leadership on the court and a reason for fans to come to the game.

   As much as I love the Bucks and the city of Milwaukee (it really is a beautiful city, if you are in the area, I suggest you check it out) the best thing for the franchise may be a move. The Supersonics moved away from Seattle, changed their name (to the Thunder) and settled in Oklahoma City. The Thunder may have the worst record in the league but they have been selling out their stadium and have strong fan base. Perhaps more importantly, the Thunder have stimulated the Oklahoma City economy. If the Bucks can’t turn it around in the next couple seasons, I could see the team being sold again and moved to another small to medium market that does not have a basketball team. St. Louis, Albuquerque, and Pittsburgh are all possible prospects. I hope that doesn’t happen. However, an NBA franchise is a business, and business isn’t good when you are as bad as the Bucks.

Bracket Buster: Missouri Tigers

   Well, since I am a student at the University of Missouri and this is my blog, I think it’s okay to draw a little attention to my school’s basketball team. Last season, the Missouri Tigers basketball team was a joke, going 16-16 and their players constantly getting in to trouble with the law and the University. This season, head coach Mike Anderson has turned the team around. With one of the best freshman classes in Mizzou basketball history and the seniors playing better than ever, the Tigers are 17-3 and are looking at their first tourney berth since 2003.

   So why are the Tigers so good this season? Depth and aggression. Nine players get regular playing time and are making an impact. In the starting line-up, seniors DeMarre Carroll (F) and Leo Lyons (F) are averaging double digits in scoring. Experienced players Matt Lawrence (G) and J.T. Tiller (G) are adding valuable minutes with scoring and steals. However, the most exciting part of the MIzzou Tiger basketball team may be the freshman. Marcus Denmon (G), Keith Ramsey (F), Miguel Paul (G, Chris Paul’s cousin), and Kim English (G) all come off the bench and make a huge impact in the game. One of the reasons why the Tigers are beating opponents by an average of 25.4 points is because there is no drop off of talent from

Freshman Keith Ramsey blocks a shot in Mizzou's 97-95 win over Oklahoma State

Freshman Keith Ramsey blocks a shot in Mizzou's 97-95 win over Oklahoma State

 starters to their bench, just lack of experience.

 

   It’s not like they are beating up on nobodies. The Tigers have already beaten Cal by nearly 30, USC by 11, and Georgia in Athens. Their only losses are to no. 15 Xavier by four points, a underrated Nebraska team by four points, and no. 24 Illinois (a game in which they got blown out in, the Tigers one REALLY bad game all year.) Missouri is in second place in the Big 12, with a 4-1 record.  

   The Tigers aggressive style of play also has them overwhelming teams. Constantly on the attack, the Tigers force an obnoxious amount of turnovers a game and, consequently, a number of fastbreak points. The teams quick hands pay off: the team averages 10.8 steals a game. Despite the speed that Missouri plays with, they have the second best assist to turnover ratio in the nation with 1.6:1. With 5 guys running around on the court, stealing the ball, heaving it down court, and making fast lay-ups and quick jump shots, watching the Tigers is more like watching a playground basketball game instead of a collegiate game.

   While the TIgers aren’t (yet) a top-10 team, they deserve to at least be in the top-25. More importantly, when March rolls around, I wouldn’t want to play them. They are young. They are deep. They average 85.5 points a game. They allow only 65.2 ppg. And, worst of all, they aren’t getting any respect.

Miz-Zou-Rah.

Kansas Basketball Coach Bill Self Recruiting Issues

   Last week, during a week long evaluation period where no coach was allowed to talk to recruits, Bill Self

Kansas basketball head coach Bill Self

Kansas basketball head coach Bill Self

 broke that rule. After a high school tournament involving ESPN top 100 recruit John Wall, spectator Bill Self (Kansas head coach) went up to the player after the tournament and allegedly said, “I can’t talk to you, but you really played well.” Well DUH, you can’t talk to him. SO DON’T DO IT! By talking to that recruit, Self risked the reputation of not only himself, but the entire school at Kansas. Before this event, Kansas was already on a three year probation from other basketball and football recruiting violations. What Self did was gutsy, but unethical. I know you coach for Kansas and all, but that doesn’t make you better than everyone else. You still have the follow the rules. The University of Kansas doesn’t deserve the punishment as much as Self does. Unfortunately, the entire program will likely have to pay for this man’s mistake. The punishment for Self’s actions are to be determined.

 

-Pierce

Super Bowl XLIII Prediction

   So after months and months of games we have two teams remaining to battle it out for NFL supremacy. The cinderella story Cardinals are in their first ever Super Bowl and look to win their second ever NFL title.warner_cardinals_celeb_2 The Pittsburgh Steelers look to become the NFLs all-time leader in Super Bowl wins. That would give them 6 Super Bowl titles with a win.

   I really like the Cardinals. They have an experienced quarterback and running back in Kurt Warner and Edgerrin James, a young defense, an outstanding secondary, and the best receiver in the league: Larry Fitzgerald. It is hard to not respect the Steelers, however. They come in to this game with the best defense in the league and a strong power run game as always.

   This match-up really intrigues me. Offensively, the Cardinals are playing better than anyone. They pass the ball well and run when needed. Cardinals head coach, and former Steelers offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt is an offensive genius that has a talented arsenal at his disposal. As for the Steelers, as mentioned before, are playing some down right nasty defense. They are first in the league in points allowed and total yards allowed. This game actually reminds me a lot of the 2009 College Football National Championship game, when Oklahoma’s high flying offense played Florida’s tough defense. The result will be the same, the Steelers will win their 6th Super Bowl title.

   As much as I like the Cardinals offense, the Steelers defense is out of this world. There are play makers atsuper-bowl-xliii-logo every level. Nose tackler Casey Hampton will suck up Cardinal runners. The best linebacking corps (James Farrior, Lamarr Woodley, Larry Foote, and James Harrison) in the world will blitz, cover, and harass the Cardinals all game. All-pro saftey Troy Polamalu will do it all, as usual. On offense, the Steelers can get it done. There will be a healthy dose of running backs Willie Parker and Gary Russell. Quarterback Ben Roethisberger will manage the game, getting the ball to his tight end Heath Miller often. Look for WR Santonio Holmes to get incorporated in a variety of ways as well, especially if Hines Ward is battling an injury.

   The true test will be that of the Cardinals defense. The Steelers don’t exactly bring fireworks on offense, but the Cards almost choked against the Eagles in the NFC title game. If the Cards defensive front can get pressure on Roethisberger, they have a chance to rattle him and force him to make a mistake. Blitzing is going to have to be a necessity. If the Cardinals do not attack, attack, attack on defense, they will lose this game.

   It won’t be anything special, just Steeler defense and a power run game. But, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be Super Bowl champions once again. The Cardinals do have a chance at that first NFL title. Larry Fitzgerald needs to have a big game and the Cardinals defense needs to force turnovers. But, don’t count on it.

Pittsburgh: 31 Arizona:23

(Lack of) Security in College Basketball

   Last night I was watching the Marquette-Providence game, when I witnessed an interesting event on the court. A Marquette player accidentally hit Providence guard Jeff Xavier in the eye with his elbow, causing the eye to swell and a break in the action. An away from the ball foul was called and the teams lined up for a Providence free throw. Suddenly, out of theph2009011800137 stands, came a man, marching right toward the players and the officials. The man was later identified as Jonathan Xavier, Jeff Xavier’s brother. Jonathan seemed to only want to have a word with the officials and the player that injured his brother. No one was hurt and both Xavier brothers were escorted off the court.

   However, what was amazing is that Jonathan Xavier had no trouble getting on the court. By the time security had got to him, he was already at the officials and the players. What if he had a knife? A gun? Or what if he just used his fists? How and why did nobody stop him? I have been to a lot of college basketball games, I am in college, and there is very little security in the stadium. It isn’t like football, with cops and metal detectors and the whole nine yards. I have never been through a metal detector or even patted down at a college basketball game. Someone could sneak a weapon into the arena. Even worse, someone could get onto the court and wreak havok.

   The NCAA, both Marquette and Providence, and the entire sports world was very lucky nothing happened in this instant. But, take this as a warning, folks. Every crime creates mimics. The next time we may not be that lucky. 

-Pierce

Head Coaching Changes in the NFL

   It seems as though as soon as the regular season ends for non-playoff teams, the blame game starts. The first place most teams look to put that blame, is the head coach. Going into the offseason, 6 teams were looking for new head coaches. I am going to rate each teams new coaching choice on a scale from 1 to 10. Enjoy.

Detroit Lions – Jim Schwartz

   I wasn’t big on the idea of firing former Lions head coach Rod Marinelli, but I understand the need to

Jim Schwartz

Jim Schwartz

 clean house. Schwartz was the Titans defensive coordinator for the past 8 years and a successful one at that. This past season, Schwartz led a defensive unit that was 7th in the league in total defense and 2nd in the league in scoring defense. While Schwartz was not the best potential coach out there in my opinion, he fits what the Lions need right now: a coach that knows how to win and focuses on defense. Good luck, buddy, it’s gonna be tough. SCORE: 7

 

Tampa Bay: Raheem Morris

   First, I don’t believe firing the coach that led you to three division titles and the franchise’s only NFL title was a good choice. Jon Gruden, basically, led the Buccaneers franchise from obsurity to relevance only to get kicked out after a 9-win season. However, Raheem Morris is a young, energetic, and enthusiastic coach that could either be the next coach of the year or the biggest mistake of the history of the Buccaneers. I like Raheem Morris, I don’t really believe in him yet though. SCORE ON FIRING GRUDEN: 3 / SCORE ON REPLACEMENT: 6

Seattle: Jim Mora Jr.

   Replacing a coaching icon like Mike Holmgren is never easy. Seattle promoted former Seahawks assistant coach and former Atlanta Falcons head coach Jim Mora Jr. I am not big on this head coaching decision because, frankly, its boring. I don’t think Mora has it in him to be the head coach for a championship team. But, he is a safe bet for now. It’s good he is getting another chance. SCORE: 5

 St. Louis: Steve Spagnuolo

   Steve Spagnuolo was the Giants defensive coordinator for the last two season and is a proven winner, winning one Super Bowl with the G-Men and helping the Eagles to another in 2004. The Rams are making the same decision as the Lions, which is the right decision, by hiring a defensive guy. If Spagnuolo can coach the Rams defense into a top-10 defense like the Giants were, he will have been successful in his first season. SCORE: 8

New York Jets: Vacant

   Bone head move by firing Eric ManGENIUS. It’s like the Jets management just wants their fans to be unhappy. The jury is still out on the next coach seeing as there is not one yet. SCORE: -1

Cleveland: Eric Mangini

   The best hire of the season belongs to the Cleveland Browns. They got a steal by getting Eric ManGENIUS fro the Jets. Mangini was successful at New England under Belichick and was building a team in New York before the Jets got impatient. If the Browns give him a chance, AKA MORE THAN TWO YEARS, this man could give the rest of the league a reason to take the Browns seriously. SCORE: 10

Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels

 

Denver: Josh McDaniels

   Like Tampa Bay and the Jets, the Broncos made a mistake by firing a great coach (or in this case, a legend.) Mike Shanahan was an icon in Denver that led them to 2 Super Bowl titles and 7 playoff appearances. Not to mention only 2 losing season in 14 years. You don’t fire a coach like that. The replacement McDaniels looks like he just stepped off the bus after his first day of 9th grade. However, McDaniels has the credetials, serving as a variety of coaching positions for the Patriots during their three Super Bowl wins and 18-1 season last year. McDaniels has big shoes to fill, but he has the experience and the talent to work with to be successful. SCORE: 8 (BUT I DON’T AGREE WITH FIRING SHANAHAN!)


How Good Are the Cavs?

   Well, pretty damn good. At the beginning of the NBA season, all the attention was centered on the Boston Celtics. Now, after a rocky January for the Boston Three Party and the Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be the team to beat in the NBA.cavs

   With Lebron James playing MVP-like basketball, the Cavs are a perfect 20-0 at home and are dominating out west, with a record of 11-1 against the Western Conference. But, can they keep it up? Can the Cavs emerge out of the strong Eastern Conference to go to the NBA Finals? If they play like they are in January in June, then absolutely.

   The key to the Cavs, obviously, starts with forward Lebron James. We always knew James was good, but this good? The Man can shoot, play defense, and (unlike most superstars) pass. He is averaging 27.8 points, 7.1 bounds, 6.7 assists, and 2.0 steals a game. He is the team leader in each of those categories (yes, that mean he is averaging more rebounds a game than Big Ben Wallace.) The dude is straight schooling opponents. He is a matchup nightmare and simply electrifying on the court. But, the Cavs are not a one man team by a long shot. Starting big men Ben Wallace and Zyandrus Ilgauskas are currently banged up with injuries, but back-ups Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson have stepped up and have played solid. The Cavs need starting shooting guard Delonte West to come back from that nasty wrist injury he got a couple nights ago, back up Daniel Gibson will see more PT. Mo Williams rounds out the starting line-up at point guard and he always plays solid.

   When healthy, the Cavs are a deep team. Better yet is that the Cavs are a great team, with emphasis on team. The best team wins championships, which is not always the most talented team. However, the Cavs are banged up right now, with three of there starters battling injuries. Superman Lebron James can only keep playing this well for so long. Sooner or later, he is going to need to lean on the rest of his team. So how good are the Cavs really? When healthy, they can compete with any team in the league. But, right now? Well, they still have the best record in the league. There is your answer.