Archive for March, 2009

To Be A Wildcat or Not To Be…That Is The Question…

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by sportsguru09

Behind Door #1: 8 Years, $35M at College Basketball’s Mecca

Behind Door #2: Another year, no love and another overrated team in a pathetic conference

Mr. John Calipari, which do you choose?

The answer is simple… GO TO KENTUCKY. What better way to prove yourself? Move to Lexington, become a jockey for their thoroughbred basketball players, and restore the tradition and prowless that Kentucky hasn’t seen since the Pitino era. To boot, you get $35M to do so. Sounds like a winner to me, but hey, I’ve been wrong before.

Calipari has taken an above average Memphis Tiger team to the NCAA Tournament multiple times in his career there starting in 2000. Just last year his team was in the Championship Game, only to blow a late lead and lose to Kansas in Overtime. This year, Missouri exposed them for what they really were in the Sweet 16…overrated and untested…and knocked them out early, much earlier than so-called bracketologists predicted. 100111All in all, however, that’s neither here nor there in this debate. Now, let’s shine light on Calipari’s current predicament: coach Kentucky or continue at Memphis? We’ll strictly stay with pros and cons, don’t worry folks.

PROS:

1 – $$$$$$$$$$$$…Can anyone else spell cash?!?! John Calipari has been offered an 8-year, $35M deal to move to Kentucky and coach the Wildcats
2 – Getting to coach at one of, if not the most, prestine and richest basketball schools in the country and of all time
3 – Calipari will be a motivational blessing with a great reputation among Wildcat fans with what he’s done at Memphis over the last 9 years
4 – You get to follow Billy Gillespie who clearly had no idea what he was doing with a young, talented 2009 Wildcat group
5 – His coaching legacy will now live in the same place as Rick Pitino and Adolf Rupp…that’s pretty good company if we’re talking college basketball
6 – Calipari can leave behind the criticism and the “under-appreciation” he got while coaching Memphis who plays in an overall weak and shallow conference. He will be able to truly prove himself in a high calibar conference with lots of talent and physical play and a high level of competition
7 – I heard the Kentucky Derby’s pretty sweet to attend in person…
8 – Mr. Memphis will be able to develop a young, talented set of ballplayers, including Jody Meeks, who could make a run at Player of the Year during the 2009-2010 season
9 – $$$$$$$$…Did anyone mention money?!?!ncb_ap_calipari_200

CONS:

1 – Calipari will be taking over a set of players who are unproven and will have to live up to Wildcat standards (i.e. Pitino and Rupp) of performance over the course of their and his career
2 – By leaving the Tigers, Memphis will likely lose recruits and Calipari’s abandonment will likely leave a bitter taste in the Tigers’ mouth. They will have to start all over. But who knows, this may not even be a concern of his.
3 – Calipari will no longer be able to cakewalk through a pushover conference and literally guarantee himself recruits and a conference title each basketball season going forward. With Memphis, regular season and tournament championships were literally locked up before the year even started and a high seed in the Big Dance usually followed suit.
4 – He won’t be getting paid as much unless he regotiates his contract…which could get ugly…it usually does…
5 – He’s already married so he won’t be able to “shmooze” with any of the ladies in Lexington…we all know they’re reputation…heard of Ashley Judd?

Clearly, the odds favor the pro here. It looks pretty clear-cut as to what Calipari should do. But to sum it all up, we’ll just use the wise words of Jerry Maguire to pave the way for Mr. Calipari and his decision…SHOOOOOOW ME THE MONEY

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Tom Izzo…The Magician…

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2009 by sportsguru09

He’s done it again. Tom Izzo has pulled yet another rabbit out of his hat. Instead, this time it was a 2009 Michigan State Spartan.

Courtesy of psufanblog.com

Courtesy of psufanblog.com

Izzo and his “under the radar” Spartans have stepped back onto the NCAA stage and stolen the spotlight heading into the Final Four…in Detroit, Michigan. Home Sweet Home State? I think so. Izzo has taken a bunch of unknowns outside of Michigan and turned them magically into another overachieving unit that has simply played flawlessly throughout March Madness and the NCAA Tournament. Whatever tricks that Izzo has had up his sleeve have proved brilliant in the team’s journey through the NCAA field. This says a lot about Izzo and his leadership. Though I cannot stand the Big 10, you must give credit where credit is due. Outside of the Michigan State campus, if you asked someone, including me, to name one member of their current roster they and I would’ve laughed and said “Who cares? They’re not going to do anything anyways.” And there you go folks, I was wrong. I’ll admit it. Shoot, they’ve proved us all wrong, even so-called bracketologists. NO ONE, and I mean no one, had them in the Final Four of their pick’em bracket, let alone winning the dance and cutting down the nets. Why would you have? They play in the Big 10! That’s strike 1. But Izzo and company have simply stunned the College Basketball world and booked their trip to Detroit where they are likely to sell the place out with Spartan fans so close to home. It’s going to be ruckus and absolute pandemonium when State steps onto the court…

izzo_mainDo I think Michigan State has a chance against UConn and likely UNC this weekend? Well, Izzo’s already proved me wrong once getting his guys to play outside their minds. Why not two more games, huh? I think he’d tell you they’re pretty good…but that’s just a hunch. Don’t count them out…It could be another night at Izzo’s Magic Theater. We’ll just have to wait and see, but for now, buy your tickets folks and get out your wands. You’re in for a treat. Nobody knows how he does it, but he’s got the right touch..the magic touch if you will.

Welcome to Durham Mr. Curry…

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by sportsguru09

Today is a great day. Finally, Duke has found a true guard that will replace Jon Scheyer after he graduates next year. A shooting guard of the future… Did they find a big man? No, but hopefully that’s next. Instead, Seth Curry of Liberty University has officially transferred to become a Duke University Blue Devil starting in 2010-2011. For now, he will sit out the ’09-10 season in order to keep 3 years of eligibility once the year is complete. I know Durham is churning right now and can’t hardly wait to get next year underway, done, and start the 2010 season. As for me, how pumped am I? Well speechless is an understatement…is ecstatic more like it? Another dynamic scorer and somebody else for Duke’s opponents to think about when Kyle Singler is the last of Duke’s 3 headed monster left in two years. Some even think that he may be better than his older brother, Stephen Curry, who is a potential NBA lottery pick out of Davidson.

Courtesy of espn.com

Courtesy of espn.com

For Coach K and the Blue Devil faithful’s sake, we all hope so. Everyone has already watched Stephen Curry do his thing on the hardwood on College Basketball’s biggest stage. Now, it’s his brother’s turn. Where better to do this than right up the street at a prime Division 1 University with rich basketball tradition? His dad Dell (who was great in the NBA by the way) will be so proud (and not have to drive as far to come see his boy play).

What does this mean for Duke? Well, I know Kyle Singler’s happy right now. Once Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson graduate next year, Kyle will be the go-to man in Cameron Indoor. Now, the more opponents worry about Curry when they both step on the court together, the more Singler will be able to score at will and knock down treys. If anything, at the point guard position, this gives Elliot Williams and Nolan Smith some much needed security handling the ball. Worst case, if one struggles, Coach K can move Curry to point and let one of the other two get a different look from the shooting guard position in 2010. Smith will be a senior and Williams will be a junior at the time.

Courtesy of goduke.com

Courtesy of goduke.com

Probably the most coveted transfer in the College game today, Curry will fit right in with Duke’s offensive scheme and provide a nice defensive boost on the other end when he finally is eligible to get out on the hardwood. The Blue Devils and their Hall of Fame coach have finally taken the next step towards cementing a championship-caliber team for the future. Now, they will officially be just one “big man” away from dominating the ACC and the entire country on the hardwood in the ’10-11 season. Look for the Dukies to surpass the 30 win mark next year, but count on it even more in 2010. Mark your calendars…can’t wait for the opening night in Cameron Indoor two years from now…think the Cameron Crazies are getting ready?…I think so…

O, and in case you forgot, guess what Seth? You’ll get to stick it to those very Hokies from Blacksburgh and their “leader” Seth Greenberg probably twice a year. Good decision huh? You betcha. See you in Cameron son…

Anyone remember Tiger Woods?

Posted in PGA with tags , , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by sportsguru09

Hey folks, just an fyi, Tiger Woods is back on top! I know everyone was too busy today to watch Carolina destroy Oklahoma, but the PGA Tour added another highlight to their early season. Tiger Woods, from 5 shots back to start the day in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, came back to make a birdie on the 72nd hole to beat out Sean O’Hair. Want to know how? Take a look…..


Courtesy of YouTube

Is he the most clutch athlete ever? Maybe…

Scottie Reynolds…The Hero…

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by sportsguru09

The 2009 Villanova Wildcats and their superstar Scottie Reynolds are going to Detroit for the Final Four. Why? See it for yourself folks, SCOTTIE REYNOLDS IS CLUTCH….


Courtesy of YouTube

Up by 5 with less than a minute left, Villanova left Sam Young alone in the corner to knock down a huge 3-pointer and claw back to within 2 points with around 30 seconds left to play. With an inbounds play to essentially put the dagger in UConn’s heart, the ‘Cats threw an inadvertent “touchdown pass” to the other end of the court, only to have it stolen by Pitt and sent up the floor to Lavance Fields. As Fields crossed mid-court, he was fouled and was sent to the line with 5.5 seconds left to tie the ballgame and send it into Overtime (or so America and Pitt thought). Under pressure, Fields knocked down both free throws and tied the game. With no timeouts, ‘Nova threw a lob off the inbounds to Dante Cunningham who fed Reynolds streaking up the court. As time expired, Reynolds dribbled his way into the lane into traffic and threw up a 6-foot prayer that went through the net and booked Villanova a plane ticket to Detroit.

March Madness got its best game of the tournament last night. Two heavyweights in a knock down-drag out fight that ended with the last possession and a dramatic buzzer beater by ‘Nova’s best player. Congrats Jay Wright, I hope your guys win it all. Since you beat Duke, I by default have to root for you to now win the whole tourney. See you in Detroit….

Blake Griffin or Tyler Hansbrough?…

Posted in College Basketball, NBA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2009 by sportsguru09

Who will be a better NBA player, Blake Griffin the OU Sooner or Tyler Hansbrough the Baby Blue Tar Heel? My answer is Griffin. And let me preface this post: my position is not a result of my hatred for Hansbrough and the Tar Heels. The Duke-Carolina rivalry aside, Griffin is much more athletic and an overall bigger powerhouse. Hansbrough is a real “creative” post player and finds ways, ugly or not, to get the ball in the hoop. As much as I hate to say it, Psycho T does it quite frequently, thus taking over the ACC All-Time Scoring Record previously held by my boy J.J. Redick. But honestly, can you see Hansbrough throwing up that trash in the NBA? The likes of Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’ Neal, and others will stuff it and probably throw it 12 rows deep and turn it into a souvenir.

Courtesy of yardbarker.com

Courtesy of yardbarker.com

Griffin, however, can actually go coast-to-coast, with speed, and smash the ball through the hole overtop of multiple defenders. Both are great college players, but how does that translate into the NBA? Let’s compare the two by NBA potential in the skilled categories:

Strength – Advantage Griffin…Griffin is an absolute monster underneath the basket and has a great presence that keeps opponents out of the lane when they drive and is able to do whatever he wants on the Offensive end. If you watch him play, the whole game revolves around him. Why? Because no one else can physically stop him. Hansbrough is also a tough guy but does not seem as dominant in the post. He’s a scorer but doesn’t tend to throw people around in the paint.

Speed – Advantage Griffin…Hansbrough, though great in the post, struggles to outrun anyone down the court. He has great court presence and vision, but fails to physically beat defenders out on the break. Griffin, as we’ve seen at multiple times throughout the year, has stolen the ball underneath his own basket and left everyone in the dust on the way back down the court only to throw down a ridiculous dunk while defenders sit back and watch.

Dunking – Advantage Griffin…See above…Griffin is a man-child all by himself. In overall dunking ability, able to jump higher, Griffin is a great lob-catcher and more talented in the alley-oop department than Psycho T. Hansbrough is not nearly as explosive or fun to watch. Put the two in a dunk contest and Griffin wins hands down.

Post Play – Advantage Hansbrough…I definitely give the nod to Tyler here. Somehow, someway, Hansbrough finds ways to score against multiple defenders in the paint. Trust me, I know. I’m a Duke fan…he’s done it four years in a row, in Durham gosh dang it. It’s ugly, but it works. Griffin tends to be a better one-on-one player and because he’s a more skilled ball handler, tends not to go down and sit in the paint. However, because Hansbrough finds home underneath the basket, I’d take him over Griffin if you need a great post scorer. Yes, Tar Heel fans, I am applauding Hansbrough’s ability…though it sure isn’t pretty.

Ball Handling/DribblingAdvantage Griffin…This definitely goes to Griffin. Without a doubt, Griffin would dribble around Hansbrough. Not to take anything away from Psycho T, but Griffin goes between the legs and around the back much better and on a more frequent basis to school defenders soon before posterizing them.

Defense – Advantage HansbroughIn the defensive block, Hansbrough has better court sense and the ability to take a charge. As dominant as Griffin is on the boards, he is all risk or all reward in trying to block shots. When’s the last time you saw him take a charge? When an opponent drives the lane, Hansbrough steps up and usually takes one for the team, risking his body to get a turnover and the ball back.

Rebounding – Advantage Griffin…Has anyone seen Griffin’s stats this year? I can’t even count the number of double-doubles that Griffin has had this year. Simply put, when you average over 20 points and close to 15 rebounds over the course of a season, you deserve Player of the Year honors. When the ball is up for grabs, count on Griffin to use his brute force to get the ball wrapped up securely in his arms for whatever NBA team is lucky enough to draft him.

One on One Ability – This is a wash, but are great in finding ways to score, no matter who’s guarding them.

Overall, Griffin has more talent and will likely find it easier to get playing time and make an immediate impact in the NBA. Hansbrough will likely be a 7th or 8th man and be a role player until he finds his way onto a team that needs a talented Small Forward. Both will be taken high in the NBA Draft, but look for Griffin, assuming he stays healthy, to be a better talent in the professional arena.

Want a look at Blake Griffin’s athleticism? Check out the video….see for yourself…

Courtesy of YouTube

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Saturday’s Elite 8 Predictions and Thoughts…

Posted in College Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2009 by sportsguru09

After last night’s chalk results, the NCAA Tournament is on to the Elite 8. Tonight, we’ll see Villanova-Pitt and Missouri-UConn. Below is my analysis on each game and my prediction as to who will make it to Detroit and represent in the Final Four….

Villanova vs. Pittsburgh

In the late night matchup, Pitt faces off against another Run ‘n Gun type squad and will have their hands full with Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats. If they think they’re going to cakewalk to the Final Four as everyone once thought they would, think again. Pitt hasn’t impressed me yet so tonight they better show me something, especially Lavance Fields. Show the nation that you can lead your team and not rely on DeJuan Blair and Sam Young each time down the floor. Pitt’s tournament journey has been far from easy so far as each one of their games has been relatively close and down to the wire. Shoot, Pitt even struggled to knock out East Tennessee State. Tonight should be no different though. I think they’ll do just enough, once again, to take down the ‘Cats and move on to Detroit.

Though Villanova is hot right now, I think their “gas” finally runs out later this evening.

Courtesy of rushthecourt.net

Courtesy of rushthecourt.net

After watching them dismantle my Dukies the other night, I have been more than impressed by what Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham have done on both ends of the floor. Nova’s hawk style defense has been shutting opponents down from 3-point land and has made it tough for anyone to establish a balanced offense. However, they haven’t seen size like Pittsburgh and I think that because Nova has a smaller team, they will get largely out-rebounded and be hurt by second chance points. Look for the ‘Cats to shut down Lavance Fields but not be able to contain DeJuan Blair and/or Sam Young. One of them is bound to go off tonight. It won’t be of any surprise to see Blair or Young put up a monster double-double. Though I do give the guard play advantage to Villanova, I just don’t think it will be enough. I see the ‘Cats racking up fouls inside the paint and giving Pitt the opportunity to cash in at the free throw line. It will be competitively close on the scoreboard the entire game, but Pitt pulls it out in the end. Congrats Jamie Dixon….see you in the Motor City.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 78, Villanova 73

Missouri vs. Connecticut

UConn-Missouri…intriguing. No one knows a lot about the Missouri Tigers but they have been the dark horse in this stage in the tournament, without a doubt. Where did they come from? Who cares, they’re lights out. UConn, however, has done its job and taken care of business each round with Thabeet leading the charge and A.J. Price following close behind…like everyone thought they would. Tonight, UConn will match up against Mizzou’s pressure defense and fast-break offense and will hope to slow the game down enough to take over and move on. I think this game stays close for a while but UConn pulls away in the second half when the Tigers finally struggle to shoot it….

Look for Thabeet, assuming he stays out of foul trouble, to have a big night against the Tigers’ less-than-big-men down in the paint. Thabeet should take full advantage of size differential and he’ll likely get four or five dunks/layups being so close to the basket.

Courtesy of usatoday.com

Courtesy of usatoday.com

On the other end, Mizzou will have to rely on the three point shot…look for them to be hesitant to drive to the hoop because of UConn’s monster in the middle. I give Missouri a chance here, but just a little one. They might surprise everyone by leading at half time but look for UConn to continue to go inside and if Mizzou doubles down, UConn will take advantage of open looks from behind the arc. If I had to guess, Thabeet will likely go for 22 points and 11 rebounds, doing it all for the Huskies. Huskies roll late and Jim Calhoun gets another ticket to the Final Four…

Prediction: Connecticut 82, Missouri 71