Monday, July 30, 2007

Ole Miss OOC schedule

The Rebel Basketball team and AK recently released the OOC basketball schedule. While the schedule does not have powerhouses like Memphis and UConn, it still is a very solid schedule with quality oponents.

The Rebels will open the season with two NIT teams from last season in South Alabama and MVSU. Both teams fell victim to the Rebs last season, but could serve as good early season indicators of the team's ability. The Rebs follow these games with contests against Lamar and Troy before starting the difficult part of the schedule.

After the game against Troy, the Rebels will play host to the New Mexico Lobos and new coach Steve Alford, UCF, who finished second in the CUSA behind Memphis, and then the always dangerous Winthrop. The Winthrop game will be played in Jackson and should be one of the more entertaining games of the season. Winthrop is fresh off a recent Sweet 16 appearance and has become widely known as an upset machine the past few years. After this game, the Rebs will travel to NOLA to take on the Privateers of New Orleans. This is another team that was on the schedule last year.

Following this road battle, the Rebs will fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico to participate in the San Juan Shootout. Fellow 20 game winners Clemson and Depaul will also be in this tournament and could face Ole Miss. I'm sure the Rebels would welcome a matchup with either of these two teams to boost RPI/Strenght of Schedule and to showcase the talent on their team for the SEC play that is just around the corner. The Rebs then will play in-state rival Southern Miss in Southaven, MS and will hope to prove their dominance over this familiar foe. AK will wrap up the OOC schedule with Alabama A&M before starting the tough SEC schedule.

The best part of this season is the scheduling job done by Andy Kennedy, White and all the other assistants. The staff was able to bring in some quality opponents to Oxford and was able to schedule all of the home games during times when the students will be on campus. The students proved to be a huge difference maker last season for the team and Kennedy and the staff are hoping that the same is true for next year.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Interesting Stat

This is for those of you who still say Ole Miss shouldn't have fired Cutcliffe and that O doesn't know what he's doing.

Since 1996 Ole Miss has had three coaches and signed the top player in MS 8 of those times. Let's see how the coaches did in grabbing those players.

Tubberville - 3 years as a head coach and signed the top player in MS three times.
Cutcliffe - 6 years as a head coach and signed the top player in MS two times.
Orgeron - 3 years as a head coach and has signed the top player in MS three times.

If Ole Miss was so well off under Cutcliffe, how come he couldn't convince the in-state talent to come to Ole Miss? The guy is a good coordinator, terrible coach, and left this team in big trouble. Stats don't lie.

The Roster has been filled

The Grizz came to terms with SG Casey Jacobsen tonight. Jacobsen signed a one year deal. Details of the contract were not released per team policy.

CJ is going to provide a good bench guy who can come in and nail three pointers. Many fans are upset over the signing but I don't think they realize all we were looking for was a guy who can come in off the bench when neeeded and give us a few minutes. With the money we had available, this is a great signing.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Well, it would be surprising...

Tony Barone was recently on Sports 56 and told Grizz fans that the Grizzlies were going to sign someone that would both "please and surprise" the fanbase. I thought this was the first sign that my Matt Barnes prediction was going to come true, however, reports have been circulating lately that Casey Jacobsen is going to be that signee.

While this would surprise me, it isn't exactly pleasing. Jacobsen is a great, pure shooter. He has also been out of the NBA for the past two seasons playing in Europe. Casey has dominated the European league garnering Finals MVP and lofty offensive numbers. He is playing against inferior talent though.

Chris Wallace said there were four issues the Grizzlies needed to address this offseason: frontcourt, point guard, three point shooting, defense on the wings. The Grizzlies vastly improved our front court problems with Darko Milicic and Andrew Brown, shored up the PG position with the return of Kyle Lowry and by drafting Mike Conley, Jr, and could fix the three point problem by signing Casey Jacobsen. This still leaves us with a defensive weakness on the wing. While Mike, Gay, and Jacobsen would be a potent offensive threat, they provide little help defensively. I was hoping Wallace could have lured Matt Barnes here and solved both problems with one player. However, I would be content with Casey Jacobsen and I'm still excited about the direction this team is going under Chris Wallace.

Huge news for Rebel Roundballers

Andy Kennedy and the Rebels recieved huge news today when Malcolm White was declared eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse. White is the most highly recruited player in Rebel basketball since Justin Reed. Most everyone had written White off and he was expected to attend prep school. Now, White will add to a great mix of veterans and youth. White gives the Rebs even more length and athleticism. He makes the Rebs at least 2 deep at every position on the court now. Take a look at the roster.

PG - Chris Warren (Fr) Trevor Gaskins (Fr) Brian Smith (Sr)
SG - Eniel Polynice (So) David Huertas (So) Zach Graham (Fr) Rodney Jones (So)
SF - Wesley Jones (Jr) Terrence Watson (Jr) Huertas/Graham/Polynice
PF - Malcolm White (Fr) Kenny Williams (Sr) Jones
C - Dwayne Curtis (Sr) Jeremy Parnell (Sr) Kevin Cantinol (Fr)

This is a versatile line up that will allow Ole Miss to play a half court game or run all day long. The talking heads are predicting a down year for Ole Miss, but I don't think they realize how improved this team is. We have four seniors on the team, lost three last season, are taller, more athletic, and have a head coach with one full season of head coaching experience under his belt. I'm expecting big things from this team.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

We're singing Go Cubs Go

I've been reluctant to write anything about the Cubs lately. It hasn't been because of poor play, but because I've been afraid of jinxing this cursed franchise. The Cubs have been on fire since the supposed implosion early June. The turmoil started with a fight in the dugout between ex-Cubs catcher Michael Barrett and star pitcher Carlos Zambrano. The two were seen exchanging words in the dugout and Zambrano began throwing fists at Barrett. The fight then continued in the dugout after both players were pulled from the game. The next day there was more controversy when Cubs manager Lou Piniella was ejected after blowing up after a call at third base. All the so called experts began saying that this team was in trouble and steps had to be taken to right the ship. I disagreed, I thought these two events, especially the Zambrano/Barrett fiasco would bring the team together. I was right.

Since June 3 the Cubs have been the best team in the league and are now in contention for the NL central and the Wild Card race. It hasn't been one player, or one side of the ball that has spurned this turn around. The team has been solid up and down the line up and pitching staff. A scary thought for the opposition is that the Cubs are starting to get healthy. Cliff Floyd has been battling nagging injuries, Henry Blanco has been sidelined by a strained right shoulder, Kerry Wood has been dominant in his rehab starts, Wade Miller is coming on, closer Ryan Dempster is expected back any day, and Daryle Ward should be back in a couple of weeks. Derrek Lee is also currently serving a five game suspension. The Cubs have been able to overcome the lack of these players with solid performances from Mike Fontenot, Theriot, Carlos Marmol, Hill, Marshall, and other Cubs youngsters.

Right now, the Cubs are 2.5 games out of both the Wild Card and NL Central lead and are poised to take over the NL Central with the return of their better players and the newly discovered talent from the "fill-ins."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rebel Club Meeting

I went to the Memphis Rebel Club meeting tonight to hear what the coaches had to say about their upcoming seasons, recruiting, and various other topics. The only disappointing part of the evening was the absence of Andy Kennedy due to recruiting. I'm glad that he put recruiting infront of the meeting, but I was really looking forward to his talk. Despite his absence, the meeting was enjoyable and has increased my excitement about the direction of the Athletic Department.

Few thoughts/observations about the night

-Woohoo, Miss Americas
-The crowd seemed unsure whether or not to boo or clap when Pete Boone was announced to speak
-It's upsetting to me that we can't get enough money to build a basketball practice facility.
-The new baseball stadium is going to be amazing
-Next year has to be the year we finally make it to the CWS, there are no excuses.
-Seth Adams appears to be our starter this season
-Mico is on track to qualify
-Was Coach O dropping hints on Powe?
-QB appears to be our only glaring weakness in football, WR would be our next weakest position.
-Tiger High sucks.
-NO redshirts!

Damnit, September needs to get here soon.

Grizz sign another

The Grizzlies signed PF Andre Brown today to bolster their frontcourt. Brown will replace Alexander Johnson in the rotation and will hopefully provide more athleticism off the bench in situations where he is needed. Brown is 6'9", 245 pounds, and is known for his athleticism and dunking ability. The knocks are Andre are his jumpshot, range, and less than mediocre post moves. The Grizz don't really need a back to the basket player with Pau already feeling that need, so Brown could be a much better fit in this system than Alexander Johnson.

He's basically a poor man's Kenyon Martin. Here's a video to prove it.

I'm still waiting for that Matt Barnes signing...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Random thoughts (Grizz, Cubs, Dolphins, Rebs)

The Grizz signed Darko to a contract recently. I'm a huge fan of this deal, although numerous people have voiced concerns over signing such an unproven player to a multi year deal. This people are morons. Who else did the Grizz have to chose from that was proven? An aging Jamal Magloire, D-league journeyman Mikki Moore, and equally unproven Anderson Varejao? Darko is clearly the best prospect out of these players. He is 22 years old, 7 feet tall, 275 pounds, can pass, shoot, bang down low, block shots, and has a copious amount of untapped potential. If that's not enough to convince you Darko was a great signing you should remember we hired one of the best big man coaches in the league in Mark Iavaroni as our new coach last month. Also, Vareajo and Moore, older players whose stats are no better than Darko's, got signed to contracts of equal or greater length. Kudos to Chris Wallace and a job well done so far.

On another Grizz related note...why are we trying to sign Juan Carlos Navarro? This is a guy who has never played in the NBA, was a second round pick, and is 27 years old. Yes, he has been tearing up the Spanish leagues over the past few years and has continually improved his game, but he is a 6'3 unproven shooting guard. I really hope the only reason Wallace and the Grizz are pursuing JCN is not because they want to suffice Pau's whining...A much better option for the Grizzlies is Matt Barnes. Barnes had a great year last year could come relatively cheap. Barnes has not garnered the interest he though he would after this past season and could come relatively cheap. The knock on Barnes is that he is a product of Don Nelson's system and does not have the ability to contribute to other teams. However, the Grizz are basically implementing the same system Nellie used in GSW so even if Barnes is a product of a system he will be in that same system and hopefully be able to continue his improvement and contributions.

How about those Cubbies? 16 of their last 20 and the best team in baseball since June 3. I would just like to say to all those who told me I was crazy for predicting the Cubs would turn it around after the Sweet Lou outburst and Barrett-Zambrano melee that the Cubs would turn it around. While the season isn't over yet I'm liking how the team is performing lately

Don'ty look now but not only are the Cubs cruising along but they are also getting healthy. Kerry Wood has made a rehab start and is on his way back, Ryan Dempster is scheduled to play today, Wade Miller has begun his rehab, and Henry Blanco should be back soon too. Not only are they getting healthy but they also just acquired Jason Kendall from the A's. Kendall is one of the better hitting catchers in his career but has struggled some this season with the A's. Let's hope all he needs is a change of scenery.

The Dolphins are going to suck again this year. Yes, we got Trent Green but did you see our draft? What the hell were we thinking taking Troy Ginn, Jr that high and over Brady Quinn? I'm still in shock over that. Not only did we add zero talent via the draft, Chris Chambers just got arrested for DWI and with freur Goodell in charge he'll probably be suspended a few games.

Just to give Ole Miss a mention I'd like to throw out the fact that I'm not excited at all about having Seth Adams being our starting QB. Let Herrick play!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Are You Ready?

It's about that time of the year again. Yes, football time. Baseball is starting to lose the appeal it had earlier this summer, basketball is in a dead period, and football is two months away. Being a life long Southerner I live for those Saturdays during the late summer and fall, especially now that I attend these games as a student of the best team in the land, Ole Miss.

There's something about the South and football, it like its own religion. This isn't a religion from the end of August to the beginning of January, it is a practice that requires a year long commitment. The "religious" season starts at the beginning of January when the coaches shift focus from on the field strategies to recruiting. It's first big holiday is in February on Signing Day. This is the day when all future players commit to the school of their choice. At times this recruiting process can be as heated as the game itself, especially among rival fans. Signing Day is followed by spring practice and the annual Spring Game, which features the first and second string teams, offense and defense, competing against each other. To me, this is the biggest tease in America, because it only makes us miss football more, when it is still months away. The summer is filled with worries over recruits making the grades and the beginning of trash talk for the upcoming season. September finally arrives and the games begin.

To me, there is nothing better than sitting in the stands and watching two SEC teams slug it out on the field. No other conference has the tradition, talent, or pagentry that the SEC boasts. The SEC produces some of the best NFL players, is the strongest conference in football, and has the best fans in the world. Where else can you see 50,000 packing The Grove taillgating before the game, even though Ole Miss is 3-5, or see 100,000 screaming hillbillies in Orange packed into a football stadium, what other school can boast their crowd is so raucous that they once made so much noise it measured as a small earthquake? You can only find this in the SEC, and that's why the SEC is the best conference in football.

So, we're at the end of July right now, and the season is a little over a month away, and tensions are already high with the anticipation of the approaching season. This season there are numerous things to be excited about, Nick Saban's return, Tim Tebow, McFadden's run at a heisman, a Florida repeat opportunity, and other stories relating to your team of choice.

The story Im going to be following the closest is the QB battle in Oxford between Seth Adams, Michael Herrick and Brent Schaeffer. Seth Adams emerged from the Spring as the apparent leader to be the starting QB for Ole Miss when they take the field September 3 against the Memphis Tigers. However, not everyone is thrilled with the thought of Seth Adams leading the Rebs all season long. Adams was not heavily recruited out of high school and walked on to the football team. He was the most accurate passer on the team last year, stastically, but posesses many similarities to a former Ole Miss QB named Seth Adams. Seth is basically a statue in the pocket and his game relies on being able to make quick, short passes to his recievers. Seth is going to have to improve on his medium range game and his long ball if he wants to be an effective QB in the SEC.

Brent Schaeffer, last year's stater, is another player vying for the starting job. Schaeffer was heralded as the savior of the program when he signed with Ole Miss out of JUCO. He was annointed the starter before anyone ever saw him take a snap and he was instantly loved by the Rebel fans. His relationship with the fans didn't last very long. Schaeffer quickly soured his reputation and became one of the biggest busts in football. A 5 star QB out of JUCO and a freshman standout at UT, Schaeffer is now a sub-par QB who couldn't handle the pressure and quickness of life as an SEC QB. The majority of Ole Miss fans have written of Schaeffer and are welcoming Seth in as the new starter, but I'm still not sold. Schaeffer still is ridiculously talented and has a cannon arm, he just needs to improve his decision making...quite a bit. I also think Schaeffer gives Ole Miss the ability to win games with his playmaking ability. This is something Adams does not have, Adams will be able to keep Ole Miss in games, but I'm not sure he has the ability to rise to the occasion and make the big play to win the game. With the ball in Schaeffer's hands you never know what is going to happen...

Michael Herrick is the third candidate for the job and the darkhorse to get it. Herrick owns the California state record for passing yards and has a strong and extremely accurate arm. The knock on Herrick is size and experience. Herrick has come along since when he first arrived on campus and has put on about 20 pounds and is now a legitimate 6'1". All of his hardwork and weight training may pay off and get him a shot at running the team in 2007. If Herrick steps in next season and takes over the team and performs well the Rebs will see another heated QB competition between Herrick and Jevan Snead the next year.

As it stands, I'm going to go with what I saw in the Spring and predict that Seth Adams is the opening game starter for the Rebs. I will not be surprised to see Herrick playing full time as the season goes along, and the same can be said about Brent. It will be an interesting season for the Rebs no matter who is behind the center.

Fortunately for the Rebs, the second part component of a backfield is going to relieve pressure from the quarterback the position. The Rebels are returning 1000 yard rusher BenJarvus Green-Ellis for his senior year, and have fellow senior Bruce Hall as well as Sophomore Cordera Eason accompanying BJGE. Bruce Hall has put on weight this offseason, the good kind, in hopes of becoming a more powerful runner for the Rebs next year. Cordera Eason wowed both the coaches and the fans this Spring. In the Red/Blue game Eason erupted for 120 yards and was clearly the player of the game. Eason was a four star prospect out of high school and the number one rated back in Mississippi. The Rebs are hoping this three headed monster at tail back are able to carry them through this season and hopefully to a bowl game.

A major question mark for this Ole Miss team is its thin WR corp. The Rebs had a great class when it came to recievers in David Rue, Lionel Breaux, A.J. Jackson, and Roderick Davis, but it appears that only one of these player will qualify. Jackson, Rue, and Davis are projected as falling victim to grade casualties. This leaves Breaux who many have projected as a DB at the college level, but may see time at WR this year due to a lack of depth. The Rebs are returning some young talent at the position. Dexter McCluster will be back in action for the Rebs after he suffered a season ending injury off a vicious hit in the Vandy game. Marshay Green will probably the number one reciever for the Rebs and will have help from Mike Wallace, Shay Hodge, Mico McSwain, and Michael Hicks who all contributed last year. If A.J. Jackson and Rod Davis can get their act together and make it to campus the Rebs will change this current weakness into a major strength.

TE is one position the Rebels hope will be a bright spot next season. The two main targets will be sophomore Robert Hough and senior Robert Lane. Lane is returning from a disappointing junior campaign riddles with nagging injuries and inconsistent play. To Lane's defense, his lack of production can be attributed to the pathetic QB play the Rebs endured. Outside of these two the Rebs don't have any proven players. Former OL, David Traxler has been converted to TE and QB Billy Tapp will also be moved to TE. Greg Hardy can play TE if necessary as well.

The Offensive line, according to the coaches, is the strength of the team this season. Art Kehoe has done a great job transforming this line into a solid group of players. The Rebs are returning 4 of the 5 starters from last year, Andrew Wickers graduated, and they are looking to improve on their solid season last year. The line is anchored by Junior Michael Oher and Sophomore John Jerry. Both players have started as true freshmen and are expected to be high selections in the NFL draft when it's their turn to enter. Maurice Miller had a solid year last year and has made great strides in improving his footwork and mobility according to the coaches. Corey Actis is the heart and soul of the line. Actis is the senior and a blue collar type player who is going to give it his all on every play and try to lead his team to the best of his ability. The final spot on the line is still up in the air. The battle is between Reid Neely, the surprise of the spring, and Daryl Harris who missed most of last season due to a knee injury. The advantage appears to go to Neely, but having Harris on the bench will provide the Rebel O-line with even more depth. Thomas Eckers is another Rebel who saw playing time last year and is expected to contribute off the bench. The Rebels also added a quartet of solid freshmen via recruiting. The most heralded of these signees is Rishaw Johnson who may see some early playing time as a freshman this season. Mark Jean-Lewis is another player who may come in late and vye for a starting position in the fall. Bradley Sowell is the hardest worker out of this group and has gone to great lengths this spring and summer to lose weight and get in better condition to make an impact for Ole Miss. Alex Washington is the last OL signee of the 2007 class who has great size and potential. With the depth and youth of the line, the Rebs are hoping the line can continue to gel and become a dominant force over the next few years.

The Defensive line, like the offensive line, is the a position where the Rebs can pretty much guarantee consistency. The line did not lose any players last year and is returning freshmen All-Americans Greg Hardy and Marcus Tillman at the DE position. The Rebels are loaded at the DE position with Chris Bowers, Peria Jerry, and Kentrell Lockett. The Rebs may not have the biggest Dline in the league but they have a line that is full of speed and strength. DTs Brandon Jenkins and Jeremy Garrett will provide the Rebs with some beef in the middle to clog up the holes. Backing up these two will be Daverin Geralds, who had a great spring according to the coaches, and converted TE Cecil Frison. The Rebs also had a great signing class for DLs. They were able to sign 4 star DT, Ted Laurent, who will contribute immediately if he arrives on campus, Chris Strong who was an Army All-American and will be a monster on the line when he arrives, and two other DTs in Lawon Scott and Justin Sanders.

The LB corp is a major concern for the Rebs. Ole Miss lost Garry Pack, Quentin Taylor, and all-worlds Rory Johnson and Patrick Willis this past season. This has left the Rebs with only two returning LBs in Jonathan Cornell and Antonio Turner. The Rebs are going to rely on transfers and recruits to try to fill in the gap left by the departure of last season's LBs. Tony Fein, a four star JUCO transfer is expected to take over at MLB for the Rebs. Fein is 24, strong, athletic, fast, and a bruiser. While he has some huge shoes to feel, Fein should ease the Rebels concerns of having a player to replace Patrick Willis. Jonathan Cornell will undoubteldy be the second starter at a OLB position. Cornell played significantly last season and will add tremendous speed to the Rebels LB corp. Another JUCO transfer, Lamar Brumfield, is expected to recieve the final LB spot. Brumfield comes to Ole Miss from Compton CC and was named the team MVP while he was there. Also adding depth and speed to the LBs are converted safeties Allen Walker and Ashlee Palmer who will see the field plenty during this season. JAmie Phillips, a transfer from NWMCC, is another surprising player from this Spring who will vye for playing time come this fall. While the Rebels have been charged with the impossible task of replacing two NFL caliber LBs in Patrick Willis and Rory Johnson, Coach O and company have done a fantastic job of recruiting good, athletic, talent that can step in and perform at the LB position.

The Rebel secondary is going to have to replace Charles Clark and NFL draftee Trumain Mcbride this season, but it still returns plenty of experience. Jamarca Sanford is back at his natural position of SS after playing some LB last season, Kendrick Lewis seems to be holding down the FS position, and Cassius Vaughn and Dustin Mouzon are slated as the starting CBs coming out of the spring. Luckily for the Rebs, the depth does not end there. Ashlee Palmer and Allen Walker are Safety/LB combo players who can step in and provide more than adequately if need be, Nate Banks is a seasoned player who will be a great nickel back and back up CB, Terrell Suggs is another player who has seen playing time on the field and will compete for a starting position before the fall. The Rebs also added 4 DB recruits who will probably not see much playing time this season but are capable of coming and filling in if injuries get out of hand in the secondary this season.

Special Teams appears to be solid at Kicker and the return game, but the situation at Punter is iffy. Joshua Shene is coming off a freshman All-American season and hopes to continue his success as a Sophomore. Marshay Green and Dexter McCluster will be our return men, and with those two returning kicks opposing teams are going to have to be careful. While these two positions are more than locked down, the punter question is in the air. Rob Park has been the Rebs Punter the past two seasons, but he has been inconsistent and does not have a great leg. In the offseason, Ole Miss signed a Punter from a JUCO in CA who could come in and take the starting job away from Rob Park.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

SPL Game One

The Grizzlies opened up their Summer Pro League games with a showdown against Yi Jianlian and team China. It was the opening game to the SPL season and it proved to be a great opener. The Grizzlies were able to overcome the Chinese team 86-77, largely in part to the efforts of Rudy Gay.

Rudy Gay excited the crowd early with a nice baseline drive dunk. That dunk was soon outdone though minutes later. Rudy Gay had the ball on the block against Yi, and he was trying to make a move around him to get to the hoop. Gay faked inside, stopped, spun, got passed Yi and...just watch the video.

Gay had a great night for the Grizz shooting 7-11 from the field, 2-3 from three, grabbed 6 boards, 3 assists, 3 steals, and completed the night with 21 points. Gay could have gone off for even more but it was evident he toned down his game in the second half in order to get his teammates more involved.

Gay wasn't the only Grizz to have a solid night, the Grizzlies PGs of the future also proved why they Grizz fans have something to be excited about this upcoming season. Kyle Lowry, a second year player out of Villanova, had two highlight reel dunks on the night, 13 points on 5-10 shooting, and 5 assists. Not to be out done, this year's first round pick, Mike Conley, had 12 points on 4-6 shooting, 3 steals, 5 rebounds, and 0 turnovers in over 20 minutes of play.

Last season's surprise, Tarence Kinsey, picked up where he left off at the end of last year's regular season. Kinsey finished the night with 20 points on 7-10 shooting, including 2-4 from the beyond the arc.

Another notable player is Rod Benson. Benson played 20 minutes and scored 6 points on a perfect 3-3 shooting night.

The Grizzlies did not play 2005 second round pick Sergei Lishouk in yesterday's game. Lishouk is coming off a year where he earned DPOY and was awarded first team honors in his Ukranian basketball league.

The Grizzlies will tip off again Monday against the Detroit Pistons. Game time is set for 5:00 CDT.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Grizzlies Free Agency

This is going to be a short post discussing rumors and speculations concerning who the grizzlies will be pursuing in Free Agency. The Grizzlies are one of the few teams in the NBA this season who have a respectable amount of cap room, unfortunately this is not a huge year for Free Agents. The two biggest FAs this offseason are Rashard Lewis, who has signed with the Magic, and Chauncy Billups, who appears to be headed back to Detroit. These two players are not on the Grizzlies radar anyways, so it their signings are of no concern to Wallace and the Grizz brass. The two players the Grizzlies are concerned about are Anderson Varejao and Andres Nocioni.

Nocioni seems to be number one the Grizzlies list. GM Chris Wallace has even gone down to Argentina to speak with Nocioni about signing a potential deal. Gasol and Iavaroni have also joined in on the recruitment through phone calls trying to sell Iavaroni on the idea of becoming a Grizzlie. One problem with Andres is that he is not an unrestricted free agent. The Bulls think highly of Nocioni and will probably match any offer around the MLE, and barring a mental lapse by Wallace the Grizzlies won't offer anything much higher than the MLE.

Anderson Varejao is the other major player in Free Agency. Varejao is the ideal big man for the Grizzlies new up tempo style from a size stand point. He's 6'10" 240 pound center who can run the floor, hustle, rebound, and has a decent ability to score. While his numbers may not be that impressive he is considered a great up and coming center prospect. The Grizzlies would love to be able to sign him, but like the Bulls and Nocioni the Cavs covet AV and may force the Grizz to do a sign and trade in order to get Varejao.

Darko is another big man that is UFA this offseason. Darko, a former 2nd overall draft pick by the Detroit Pistons, just finished up his most productive season of his career for the Orlando Magic and is looking for a contract in the neighborhood of 10 million a year. He won't get that. Darko, like Varejao, would be another good fit for the Grizzlies new style of play. Darko has some work to do on the offensive end of the floor but showcased his defensive assets last season for the Magic. The Magic are currently trying to unload some of their contracts to free up cap space to sign Darko, but the Grizzlies could tender a rather large contract to him in hopes of luring him away from Orlando.

Mikki Moore is the final legitimate free agent big man the Grizzlies may pursue. I'd rank him last on the list though due to age and size. Moore was a vital part in New Jersey last year, but he is not that bruiser that the Grizzlies are looking for to take some pressure of Pau Gasol. The other knock on Mikki Moore is that he is already over 30, while the other Free Agent big men are no older than 25 and will be around the NBA for a much longer time period.

While the Grizzlies appear to be set a PG, Derek Fisher may be a possible acquisition this offseason. The veteran PG, who spent last season with the Jazz, was released from his contract in order to pursue treatment options for his daughter. Fisher's daughter was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer and he is considering sending her to St. Jude Children Research Hospital for treatment. If Fisher does decide to send his daughter there it's highly possible he may sign with the Grizzlies. However, Fisher is not going to put the NBA first at this time and I wish him and his daughter the best and hope they are able to treat and cure her unfortunate malady.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Team by Team Draft Overview

Portland Trail Blazers - The Blazers had another extremely active draft this year and added 8 new players to their lineup. The past draft the Blazers added LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Sergio Rodriguez, Raef Lafrentz and Dan Dickau. This year the Blazers parted way with Raef Lafrentz and Dan Dickau while adding Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez, Demetris Nichols, Steve Francis, Channing Frye, Taurean Green, Petteri Koponen, and Josh McRoberts. The interesting part of all these additions is the number of point guards that are now on the Blazers roster. The Blazers already had Rookie of the Year, Brandon Roy, Jarrett Jack, and Sergio "Spanish Chocolate" Rodriguez. Through the draft and traded they added Steve Francis, Taurean Green, and Petteri Koponen. That gives them 6 point guards on the roster. One way they may try to solve this problem is to buy out Steve Francis ridiculous contract, put Jarrett Jack on the trading block, or cut some of their 2nd round draft picks. Despite the influx of point guards the Blazers had a great draft night. The best part of their night, besides drafting Greg Oden, was ridding themselves of Zach Randolph and his cancerous attitude to allow them to have a frontline of LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden. The Blazers are the youngest team in the league and probably one of the best thanks to these past two drafts.

Seattle Supersonics - The Sonics weren't nearly as active as the Blazers on draft night but still had a very productive night. The Sonics started the night by making the easiest selection in Draft history by taking Kevin Durant #2. Durant will have an instant impact on the Sonics and could be the biggest star out of this draft class. The Sonics then also took advantage of an inept Danny Ainge and were able to trade a past-his-prime Ray Allen and Glen Davis for Jeff Green, Delonte West, and Wally Sczerbiak. The Sonics not only added quality players but they now have solid Small Forwards to step in and take over if Rashard Lewis decides to leave via Free Agency.

Atlanta Hawks - The Hawks, surprisingly, had a very solid draft. The took instant production down low with their selection of Al Horford at the third slot and added their point guard for the future in Acie Law IV at number eleven. These two players should step in immediately and improve a young, but talented Atlanta team.

Memphis Grizzlies - The Grizzlies took Mike Conley, JR with the fourth pick in the draft. Conley is heralded as the best PG in the draft and has drawn comparison to Nash and Tony Parker. He has blinding quickness, can get to the rim with the best of them, and makes superb decisions once he gets the ball into the lane. He fits in really well the new system the Grizzlies and Iavaroni are trying to adapt in Memphis. The Grizzles only had this one selection in the draft and will probably look to Free Agency to add an athletic big man to complement Gasol down low. Anderson Vareajo?

Boston Celtics - The Celtics moronically traded away their fifth pick in this draft for Ray Allen and Glen Davis. While Ray Allen was a fantastic player and still has some game left in him, he's 32 years old and has two surgically repaired ankles. Allen can't have more than one or two productive years left in him. The Celtics could have taken Jeff Green who could have not only complimented Pierce for the next couple of years but suceeded Pierce as their SF/SG for the years to come. The Celtics other addition, Glenn Davis, is basically Antoine Walker reincarnated. I'm not a fan of Davis as a player, but we'll see if he proves me wrong.

Milwaukee Bucks - The Bucks took a huge gamble at number six by selecting Yi. Not only has Yi refused to workout against other players, but he also refused to work out for the Bucks because they don't have any Chinese people in Milwaukee. It is possible that Yi could hold out from the Bucks camp and/or demand a trade. The value teams would offer for Yi would not be nearly as much as the Bucks could have gotten with the sixth pick and could set this team back.

Minnesota Timberwolves - The Timberwolves took Corey Brewer with their first round pick. Brewer is a defensive specialist who will be a very good player in the Association. There are questions about his offensive ability, but I don't think his deficiencies on this end will hinder his career too much. I am a big fan of this pick, but I don't think he is going to make the Timberwolves a playoff team, even if they end up keeping Garnett.

Charlotte Bobcats - The Bobcats recieved a barrage of criticism from many NBA analysts for their draft day actions, but I'm going to disagree with them. The Bobcats traded Brandan Wright, their selection at #8, for Jason Richardson. The Bobcats had no need for Brandan Wright, they already have Brezec, Okafor, and May down low. The Bobcats desperately needed a SG and they got one of the most exciting ones in the league with Jason Richardson. If the Bobcats are able to resign Gerald Wallace then they will easily be a playoff team next season. The Bobcats also grabbed Jared Dudley at #22. Dudley is a very scrappy player who will hustle and do all the little things for the Bobcats. I felt there were better selections at #22 for Charlotte, but this pick wasn't that bad. I personally would have gone after Afflalo or Fernandez. The Bobcats were also able to acquire Jermareo Davidson in the Brandan Wright deal. Davidson is an intriguing prospect with a Chris Bosh type body. If he fine tunes his skills he could hang around the league.

Chicago Bulls - I was very disappointed with the Bulls draft. They took Joakim Noah. Why? The reason the Bulls weren't in the conference finals this year was because they had no post game. So they sign a guy who will be lucky to average double figures at any point during his NBA career? It makes no sense. The Bulls did select Aaron Gray in the second round who was a very proven scorer in college, but may lake the quickness and strength to be effective in the NBA.

Sacramento Kings - The Kings took Spencer Hawes. Hawes is a decent big man with some good low post moves. However, he can't rebound or play defense, two things the Kings really need. I can't criticize the Kings here because Hawes was the best available pick here considering their needs.

Philadelphia 76ers - The 76ers really surprised me by taking Thaddeus Young at number 12. Even though Young was one of my favorite players in the draft, the pick made no sense from Philly's standpoint. The Sixers already have the other AI, Carney, and Kyle Korver on the wing, so why would they take another 2/3 combo? The sixers then added another 2/3 combo in Derrick Byars in the second round. They did make on smart move in trading Daquean Cook for Jason Smith. Smith is a great scorer who could see some significant playing time in Sixer uni this season.

New Orleans Hornets - This is another team's draft that I was not thrilled with. The Hornets added to their log jam at the 3 spot. The Hornets really needed a three point threat with this pick, they have Peja but he's been injury proned as of late. I would have them expected to try out Nick Young, but Wright will be able to provide them with a stronger defense.

Los Angeles Clippers - The Clippers took the best available approach to the draft and took Al Thornton at 14. Thronton wowed teams with his work out this year, but may have trouble finding a true position in the league. Thornton is a 6'9 tweeer who does not have a true post game or outside shot. However, thornton can approve on either one hang around in the NBA. The Clippers did need a PG since Livingston is constantly injured and Cassell is almost eligible for Social Security and they passed on my second favorite point guard in the draft in Javaris Crittenton. The Clippers did pick a darkhorse candidate at Pg in Jared Jordan of Marist in the 2nd round. Jordan is as fundamentally sound as any point guard in the draft and could be a servicable third point guard on any team in the league.

Detroit Pistons - The took a phyiscal point guard in Rodney Stuckey. Stuckey is described as a poor man's Dwayne Wade and will probably backup Billups next season in Detroit. The Pistons took Aaron Afflalo with their other first round pick. Afflalo is another typical Pistons player in that he is a hard worker, strong, and very team oriented. The Pistons did a great job in this draft in addressing needs and adding backcourt depth.

Washington Wizards - The Wizards also decided to go with the best available pick in this year's draft. The Wizards added Nick Young, a projected lottery selection, to bloster their 2/3 slots. Young was a great scorer at USC who can come in and make a big splash with the Wizards. He's going to be learning from one of the best, and my favorite player, Gilbert Arenas.

New Jersey Nets - The Nets took a huge gamble in selecting NCAA bad boy Sean Williams. Williams was suspended his freshman season at BC and kicked off the team in January for repeated violations of team rules. This is also a player who has publically stated that he enjoys smoking marijuana during his free time. Williams is undoubtedly one of the most athletic players and could be a huge upgrade over Mikki Moore in the Nets rotation with his tremendous potential. The Nets could end up with a huge steal with this pick or the Pac Man Jones of the NBA.

Golden State Warriors - The Warriors took Italian shooting Guard Marco Bellnellii at #19. Bellinelli fits in well with Warriors up tempo quick strike offense in that he moves very well without the ball, is quick, and has a quick shot off the dribble. Golden State is hoping that he fills the role of Monta Ellis off the bench now that Ellis will be starting in place of J-rich. The Warriors also acquired Brandan Wright from the Bobcats who would be a great fit in their run and gun style with his size and athleticism. However, it is being rumored that Wright may have been acquired as part of a bigger deal to get the Timberwolves to part with Kevin Garnett or to replace Biedrins who may be moved to get KG.

Los Angeles Lakers - Kupchak and Buss displayed more ignorance in this draft with the selection of Javaris Crittenton. While I'm enamored with Crittenton's potential in this league, I'm perplexed as to why the Lakers took him. The triangle offense the Lakers run does not require a true point guard and the Lakers drafted a PG in Jordan Farmar last year. The Lakers then wasted their 2nd round pick by taking Marc Gasol. I have personally seen Marc Gasol play numerous times and this guy is not that good. He is the laziest player in any sport I've watched. He has all the talent in the world, but refuses to trim down or get in shape to utilize it to the best of his ability. In my opinion, the Lakers had the worst draft of any team from a needs standpoint.

New York Knicks - The Knicks had a good draft day. Thomas was applauded for probably the first time in Knicks history. With his first round selection he took Wilson Chandler from DePaul. Chandler flew under the radar for many teams but he is a very talented prospect with good size. I'm a fan of this selection and expect to see Chandler having a good career in the NBA. The best part of the night for Knicks fans is they were able to trade away Steve Francis and his awful contract. Francis was part of a log jam at the point guard spot and had an atrocious contract. The Knicks were also able to get a 25 and 10 guy in Zach Randolph who will make Eddy Curry look twice as good as he really is.

Utah Jazz - The Jazz were one of the big surprised this past season and didn't really have any glaring needs to fill, at least through a pick this late in the draft. So, the Jazz picked Morris Almond, one of the best shooters available in the draft. Almond isn't going to blow by anyone in this league, or electrify the crowd, but he is going to hit down any open shot he sees. I like this pick for the Jazz and expect to see them fighting in the playoffs once again.

Houston Rockets - The Rockets drafted the scrappy Aaron Brooks with their pick. Brooks is lightning quick and is fantastic at creating shots with his quickness and ability to seperate. He has also improved his outside shooting capability and can shoot both set and off the dribble. However, he is not very strong and will have trouble guarding some of the bigger point guards in this league and is not a true point guard.

San Antonio Spurs - The Spurs drafted Tiago Splitter of Brazil. Splitter won't be in the NBA next season but will eventually join the team after a year or two. Splitter is another foreign prospect selected by the Spurs and the Spurs are hoping he turns out like their other successful draft picks. The Spurs also got Marcus Williams of Arizona with their second round selection. Williams is a 6'7" SG who came out early but is still expected to be a decent NBA player.

Phoenix Suns - The Suns took Alando Tucker with their first round pick. Tucker is an undersized SF/PF, but has a knack for scoring. He was one of the best players in the big 10 last year and lead his Wisconsin team for four years. The Suns are expecting him to provide a good scoring punch off the bench. The Suns also took a gamble on the inconsistent, yet extremely talented D.J. Strawberry in the second round.

Dallas Mavericks - The Mavs did not have any first round picks but were able to grab Nick Fazekas in the 2nd round. Fazekas is arguably the best shooter in the draft and has drawn comparisons to Steve Novak. I expect Fazekas to provide a good tall shorter for the Mavs next season.

Orlando Magic - The Magic didn't have a first round pick either but they were able to get my favorite second round selection of the draft in Reyshawn Terry. Terry has a great NBA body and skills, but he is a little inconsistent. I'm hoping Terry works hard this offseason to prove his naysayers wrong and become the Gilbert Arenas of his draft class.

Indiana Pacers - Did not have a selection

Toronto Raptors - did not have a selection

Cleveland Cavaliers - Did not have a selection

Denver Nuggets - Did not have a selection

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My Mock Draft

This is my take on how the 2007 NBA Draft is going to shake out.

1. Portland Trail Blazers - Kevin Pritchard and the Trail Blazers are more than likely going to select Greg Oden. There is still the outside possibility of them surprising everyong and taking Durant (Remember the Magic taking Howard over Emeka) but I don't think it is going to happen. Greg Oden is a guarantee game changer the second he steps foot on the NBA floor and that is something Portland needs.
Pick - Greg Oden

2. Seattle Supersonics - This really is the best position to be in the draft. There is absolutely no pressure on the Sonics here. Whereas Portland has to decide on which ridiculously talented player to take at number one, Seattle will automatically take whoever is not taken at number one. This is the first year that I can remember where two players are assumed 1 and 2 in the draft so solidly. Seattle will more than likely end up with Kevin Durant, which will probably effectively end Rashard Lewis' tenure in Seattle and provide the Sonics with a superstar to suceed Ray Allen.
Pick - Kevin Durant

3. Atlanta Hawks - The Hawks really need a point guard and have moronically passed on one the past two years taking Shelden Williams over Brandon Roy and Randy Foye last year, and selecting Marvin Williams over Raymond Felton, Derron Williams, and Chris Paul in 2005 even though they already had Josh Smith, Al Harrington, and Josh Childress at the SF position. Given these past draft blunders there is no telling what to expect from Billy Knight and the Hawks. However, this year is different. They have two lottery picks (#3 and #11) and can afford to pass a point guard at 3 in order to select a big man such as Al Horford or Brandan Wright. I see Knight bypassing Mike Conley at 3 and taking Al Horford to add to his backcourt of Shelden Williams and ZaZa Pachulia.
Pick - Al Horford

4. Memphis Grizzlies - This is probably the most interesting pick of the draft. What the Grizzlies do strongly hinges on how the Hawks draft at #3. The Grizzlies would love to have Al Horford fall into their laps, but probably aren't holding their breath at the Hawks passing on Horford. This leaves five other viable options at 4 in Mike Conley, Brandan Wright, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, and Yi Jinlian. I personally feel the Grizzlies are leaning towards selecting Mike Conley here at number 4, but there have been rumors circulating that Mo Williams may sign with the Grizzlies once Free Agency starts July 1. This could potentially give the Grizzlies 4 starting point guards, which would provide good trade bait but that's a risky road to take. West seems to be in love with Noah, but I don't see the Grizzlies taking him this high when he's projected to be around 6-10. I'm going to say the Grizz take Conley, but will not be surprised to see any of the above mentioned or a trade.
Pick - Mike Conley

5. Boston Celtics - The Celtics are trying like mad to trade this pick and probably will, but I'm going to assume that they hang onto the pick and draft at #5. The Celtics are probably going to look at the SF position at number five at either Corey Brewer or Jeff Green. Brewer is a defensive specialist who creates mismatches on both ends of the floor with his speed, length, and athleticism, while he may not be as gifted offensively he still will be able to produce on the offensive side of the ball at the next level. Jeff Green is another good defensive player but he lacks the speed and explosiveness of Corey Brewer. He has prided himself on being a great passer, hustle player, and goes the extra mile to do the little things right in a game, much like a Shane Battier. While I think Brewer is the smart pick at number 5, the Celtics will take Jeff Green here.
Pick - Jeff Green

6. Milwaukee Bucks - I see the Bucks taking the best available draft approach and taking Brandan Wright here. Wright is an extremely athletic PF, with a huge wingspan, and he is feisty under the basket. It may take Wright a couple of years to make his big impact on the league but he is a grat pick up at this spot for the Bucks.
Pick - Brandan Wright

7. Minnesota Timberwolves - The Twolves are in an interesting position as of late. Kevin Garnett has made it clear that he is unhapy in Minny and would like to be traded. Any trade involving KG is going to bring in draft picks and good young talent for the Twolves, so who they take here at number 7 could hinge on any deals they may already have in place for KG (Suns picks and Marion/Amare?). I think there are only two real options here for the Wolves and that is Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer. I'm going to assume that whoever they deal KG for they'll probably get PFs coming back their way, so I predict the Twolves take Corey Brewer at number 7, or Jeff Green if Boston takes Brewer at 5.
Pick - Corey Brewer

8. Charlotte Bobcats - The Bobcats need a Shooting Guard, however, I think they draft Joakim Noah at 8. Noah will further strenthen their already frontcourt of Brezec and Okafor. The Bobcats have another first round pick at 22 where they can address their needs at SG and have trade bait in Sean May.
Pick - Joakim Noah

9. Chicago Bulls - The Bulls are going to select Washington Huskie big man Spencer Hawes here at number 9. The Bulls desperately need a low post scorer and Hawes is the best available option for them.
Pick - Spencer Hawes

10. Sacramento Kings - The Kings are a terrible franchise in an even worse situation. They're old, have no youth, bad contracts, and are talking about moving out of Sac-town. I see the Kings taking the Chinese big man Yi Jianlian at number 10 in hopes that he pans out to be the next Dirk/Pau and replaces a declining Brad Miller.
Pick - Yi Jianlian (who may be 28 years old for all we know)

11. Atlanta Hawks - Well, unless Billy Knight is purposefully trying to destory the franchise he will take Acie Law here at number 11. Crittendon may be an option, but I think they're stupid if they pass up on Acie Law this late.
Pick - Acie Law IV

12. Philadephia 76ers - The 76ers are going to take Al Thornton here, and they'll still suck.
Pick - Al Thornton

13. New Orleans Hornets - The Hornets need either a SG or SF at number thirteen. Nick Young is the best available candidate for their needs, while Julian Wright may be the best one overall still available.
Pick - Nick Young

14. Los Angeles Clippers - The Clippers have an old Sam Cassel and an oft injured Shawn Livingston at PG. That means the Clippers will take Javaris Crittenton with this years 14th pick in the 2007 NBA draft.

15. Detroit Pistons - The Pistons will probably draft best available and I say that is Julian Wright, although I could see them taking Thaddeus Young early here.
Pick - Julian Wright

16. Washington Wizards - The Wizards will take Thaddeus Young here at number 16. Young is a very talented player who could turn out to be one of the better players to emerge from this draft in the years to come.
Pick - Thaddeus Young

17. New Jersey Nets - Rodney Stuckey

18. Warriors - Tiage Splitter

19. Lakers - The Lakers will take Nick Fazekas here who has been extremely impressive in his workouts and is another player who could have a big impact on the NBA despite being a mid-late first round selection. Fazekas has been great from three point range in his workouts and is considered one of the best shooting prospects in the draft at 6'10.
Pick - Nick Fazekas

20. Miami Heat - Rudy Fernandez from Spain. Eddie Jones is old and needs to retire and the Heat will need a replacement at SG.
Pick - Rudy Fernandez

21. Philadelphia 76ers - Much like their Al Thornton selection, the 76ers will take Daquean Cook who will be ok and they will still suck
Pick - Daquean Cook

22. Charlotte Bobcats - The Bobcats need a SG and I feel that they will take Morris Almond here at number 22. Almond is an underrated Shooting Guard who I feel will have an immediate impact in the NBA. Derrick Byars is another option
Pick - Morris Almond

23. New York Knicks - The Knicks GM is Isiah Thomas so I honestly have no idea who they will select at this spot. Last year they shocked the world and selected Renaldo Balkman, they'll probably do another completely shocking pick here and will be showered by a chorus of boos from the Knick faithful in attendance.
Pick - Taurean Green

24. Phoenix Suns - I think the Suns are thinking Shooting Guard in this situation and will probably go with Marco Belini from Italy. Aaron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler are other options for the Suns here.
Pick - MArco Bellini

25. Utah Jazz - the Jazz will select a white person here due to the fact they selected not one, but two, but three African-Americans last year in the draft and take Jason Smith from Colo State.
Pick - Jason Smith

26. Houston Rockets - The Rockets will take a SG at 26. Two standout SGs are available right here and that Is Derrick Byars and Aaron Afflalo. Byars can be considered more of a 2/3 combo and the Rockets already have that in Tracy McGrady so they'll take Afflalo here at 26.
Pick - Aaron Afflalo

27. Detroit Pistons - Alando Tucker

28. San Antonio Spurs - Derrick Byars

29. Phoenix Suns - Marcus Williams

30; Philadelphia 76ers - Marc Gasol

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

5 things annoying me right now

Here's my top 5 things that are annoying me the most in sports at the moment

5. Roger Clemens
Clemens need to decide if he wants to play before spring training. I'm sick and tired of his old ass getting special treatment from teams. Everyone else has to decide before then, why can he wait? I'm really hoping he is a complete bust and the Yankees spent 20 million dollars for a pitcher who will be there for a 3/4 of the season, and judging by his first start in the minors he may be headed that way.

4. Dice-K
I'm sick and tired of every single on his starts being ESPN's showcase game of the week. We get it! He's a Japanese pitcher that's good. Frankly, I was sick of the guy before he ever stepped foot in America. ESPN ruined yet another player for me. The worst part is the only reason they hyped him up so much is because he signed with the Red Sox, had he signed with any other team other than Boston, Chicago, or the Yankees he wouldn't be getting half the hype he is right now.

3. Horse Racing
Is it entertaining? No, not really. It's a minute and a half of guys beating the shit out of their horse urging it to win a mile long circle race. How come people complain about NASCAR being a sport, but they accept the Derby and all that crap as sport? Horse racing is nothing more than a huge gambling event. No one knows anything about these horses, at least not the average person. People wake up the day of the derby, watch ESPN, check the odds and place a bet. It's not a sport, it's a social tradition. The worst part is that the big horse every year finds a way to stay in the news for too long after it's over. Then there was Barbaro, I was so glad when the horse died so I didn't have to hear about his damn leg anymore.

2. America's infatuation with the NFL
I'm sick of hearing NFL talk all year long. It is completely overrated and is force fed to us by the major media outlets. Prime example, NFL LIVE is the only show on ESPN networking that is year long and pertains to a specific sport. What do they have to talk about in the offseason besides the draft and Free Agency? They nit pick stories that shouldn't be headline news because there isn't enough available and over emphasize every little occurrence in the league.

1. NBA Draft Lottery
I'm going to keep this somewhat short because I'm going to do another entry that's more indepth. Having said that, the Lottery recently crushed any chance the Grizzlies may had been entertaining of attaining that franchise player. The top two players this year, Oden and Durant, are can't miss superstars and the Grizzlies had a great shot at getting both of them. What happened? We wind up with the fourth pick, the worst possible pick we were eligible for.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Draft Lottery

As I'm writing this there are 1 day, 18 hours, 40 minutes, and 15 seconds left until the Grizzlies find out where they will be selecting in this years NBA Draft. I'm extremely nervous right now, because the Grizzlies have the opportunity to get one of the two biggest can't miss prospects in the NBA draft since Lebron and Melo in 2003. These prospects are Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.

-Greg Oden is considered by just about everyone to be the next dominant center in the NBA. He had a phenomenal freshman year at Ohio State, even though he played one handed for the majority of the season. Oden's 7' frame, long arms, and leaping ability make him a monster on both sides of the floor. He is considered by many to be the number one pick in this year's draft, but may fall to number two.

-Kevin Durant is another freshman phenom who is entering the draft early. KD owned everyone in the college basketball world this year. He got voted freshman of the year, player of the year, and got named to every All-American team around. He's a 6'11 small forward who will provide many matchup problems around the league.

Depending on the bounce of the ping pong balls, the Grizzlies should be in line to draft one of these two players and get on track to turning the franchise around.


After watching the NBA playoffs and baseball the past few weeks I've began to pay close attention to the commentators providing us with our play by play and sometimes insightful looks into the game. Some people who I have thought have done a great job are Hubie Brown covering the NBA playoffs and the always solid tandem of Joe Morgan and Jon Miller. Hubie Brown constantly provides great analysis and reasoning behind every aspect of the game he covers. He's lauded as one of the best teachers of the game in basketball as a coach and the way he carries himself over the air really helps people to realize why he is known as such. Then there is Joe and Jon. They have the daunting task of trying to make baseball, a tedious sport to many, interesting to the public. I really admire the job these two do in the broadcasting booth. Joe Morgan is similar to Hubie Brown in that he is always providing analysis on swings, fielding shifts, etc. and trying to educate his listeners on the intricacies and the amount of strategy present in baseball. On the otherside of the booth, Jon Miller is more of the play by play announcer and handles himself in the most professional manner possible. He is always attempting to pronounce players names right, including accents on the foreign players names, and does a superb job of masking whether or not he holds any favoritism towards a particular ball club.

Anyways, watching Wednesday Night Baseball and the NBA playoffs made me start to wonder who is my favorite and least favorite announcer in sports? Well, I've thought about it and here they are.

For my all time favorite commentator the honor goes to Bill Walton.

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(Two of the greatest things together in one)

Walton is abhored by many NBA fans, but I put him on the top of my list due to his insight (or lack there of) and his comedic nature in broadcasts. Walton has become infamous for his numerous phrases he has pattened over the years. Phrases such as "Throw it down big man!" or his always comical "that was the best/worst play in the history of western civilization!." Just to give you an idea of the amazingness that is Bill Walton here are some more Walton quotes.

-"What a pathetic performance by this sad human being. This is a disgrace to the game of basketball and to the NBA. He played like a disgrace tonight. And he deserved it." (Walton throwing it down on Larry Johnson)

-Tony Parker makes a pass, which gets deflected out of bounds by an opposing defender. Spurs ball, no big deal... Walton roars: "Tony Parker just made the worst pass... in the history of Western Civilization!"

-"Greg Ostertag is one of the top centers on this planet!"

-"Steve Nash is the most unathletic player in the league."

-Whenever the refs aren't up to Bill's standards: “Why even have a rulebook?”

-Whenever Walton sees something that displeases him "That was a foul..."
partner "On who, Bill?"
Walton: "On the game of basketball!"(in a very disgusted voice)

These are just a few of many memorable quotes Bill Walton has been gracious enough to bestow on us during his years as the premiere NBA analyst in the nation and why he is the my number one sports commentator around.

Least Favorite:
I tried not to have an announcer from the same sport, I really did. I tried to convince myself people like Dick "I masturbate to the Duke Blue Devils" Vitale, Chris "I'm not that funny" Berman, and Lee "let me tell you something sweetheart" Corso were more annoying than this man, but I sadly could not do so. This man is Stephen A. Smith.

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Smug bitch

Quite Frankly, this may be the most annoying man in the history of Western Civilization. The worst mistake ESPN has made in its years of existence was firing David Aldridge and hiring Stephen A. Smith as its new "expert" NBA analysist. They went from the well respected, spoken, and reasonable Aldridge to the moronic, babbling, screaming, joke of a man that is Stephen A. Smith.

The Stephen A. Smith mistake did not end there, unfortunately. Soon after he replaced Aldridge ESPN came up with the bright idea of giving Stephen his own show called "Quite Frankly." It sucks. People lauded ESPN for giving Stephen this show, he had become the first black man to have his own show on ESPN in its 25 years of operation. Big Mistake. The show originally got a prime spot aounr 9 o'clock, but due to Stephen A. Smith's inability to speak the show was quickly moved to the midnight time slot, soon after that it was cancelled. The worst part of it was that Smith tried to subtley advertise for his show by using the words 'quite frankly" in every segment he did on ESPN while it was still on the air. It drove me insane.

I thought ESPN was done with the Screaming A. experiment, but apparently not. In the past year he has been a fill-in on PTI (my favorite show) and has made it unbearableto watch, started hosting the NBA Coast to Coast, and has recently served as an anchor on Sportscenter. I can't get the man to go away. On top of his annoyingngess he also knows pretty much nothing about basketball. He does nothing but complain about race while he talks about the game and has no actual knowledge of how the game is supposed to be played. This example I found on wikipedia sums up Smith's knowledge the best: "The pick makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, when you think how they traded away Vince Carter, virtually for nothing, again we sit here today, wondering, what on earth is Rob Babcock doing!" Charlie finished 2nd in rookie of the year voting that season. Comments like this have brought the NBA Draft, one of my favorite events of the year, down in the watchability scale. They really need to put the draft back on TNT with Charles and the gang.

So, quite frankly Stephen A. Smith is an annoying, arrogant, loud failure who has to intimidate people into agreeing with him by yelling. And to top it all off, he's a Yankees fan.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bruce Bowen and the Spurs

The Spurs play dirty? No Way! Why hasn't anyone brought this to my attention before?

Oh wait, this has been well known among NBA fans for years. Then why is it that it is the biggest story of the playoffs this season?

It's because no one has made a huge deal about how dirty the Spurs, mainly Bruce Bowen, play until now. Amare and the Suns finally went public on a major stage and called the Spurs out.

When this first happened I was glad someone finally called the Spurs on their style of play, but I was shocked to see the amount of people who had never noticed this before. All you have to do is watch one Spurs game and it's almost impossible not to notice Bowen undercutting a player, elbowing, or any other variety of dirty tactics. Still, I was glad that people were beginning to notice things like this. However, it has recently blown up and more and more people are complaining about the Spurs. While I hate the Spurs as much as the next person I am sick and tired of all these people complaining about how the Spurs play. They've been doing it for three years, it's nothing new, yes it sucks but everyone cheats or plays dirty in the NBA they just do it the most and usually get away with it.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Basketball Recruiting update

In my last post I talked about the great job AK has been doing on the court with the Rebels. I figured it's fitting to talk about how he's doing off the court in this post.

Coach Kennedy was brought in to replace Coach Rod Barnes, who people still defend as being a "great guy and a true representative of the University." Well, to them I say Coach Cut was a good guy, but you still all hated him. Ole Miss fans have a problem caring about anything other than the football team, and turn a blind eye to the success, or lack thereof, in the other programs. Basketball was a prime example. I had been calling for Rod's head for the past couple of years. I thought he was a terrible recruiter, let personal conflicts with players influence playing time (John Gunn and Jonathan Loe), was incredibly boring both on and off the court (big factor to lack of attendance) and that he was simply not that good of a coach. Unfortunately, his status as an alum, and his persona of a "good guy" kept him around longer than he needed to be.

Luckily, Pete Boone canned him one year after deservedly extending his contract for getting one SEC Road win (sarcasm button). My number one choice, Andy Kennedy, was hired and the fans saw immediate results (see article below). However, with one season under his belt how is the new kid on the block handling recruiting for a school with little tradition and dilipidated facilities? The answer is great!

Kennedy, with the help of former Lady Rebels Coach Carol Ross, has convinced AD Pete Boone to provide funding for a new basketball practice facility across from the Gillom Sports Center. This is going to pay huge dividends for Kennedy in recruiting, in which he is doing a fantastic job.

Kennedy entered last offseason with the task of trying to make his team more competitive and athletic. He was able to ink JUCO transfer Kenny Williams, FL prep star Eniel Polynice, and Rodney Jones who all had major contributing roles in the Rebels run to achieving a share of the SEC Western Division Title.

This offseason Kennedy is faced with that same task, but with the added challenge of replacing his three best players from last years team. So far, Kennedy has gone above and beyond the expectations of many fans in this recruiting class. With the departure of Ogide, Hansbro, and Hampton due to transfers and Abernethy, Doyne, and Sanders to graduation Kennedy had plenty of scholarships to handout. So far, his list of commits include Trevor Gaskins, Chris Warren, Zach Graham, Terrence Watson, Kevin Cantinol, Wesley Jones, and it is being rumored that UCLA PF may soon transfer our way. On top of these players, Flordia transfer, David Huertas, will be eligble to contribute.

Let's take a look at these recruits/transfers.

David Huertas
Huertas is a 6'5 combo guard who will see immediate playing time. He'll have two years left to play.

Gaskins is a 6'3 point guard from Georgia who is considered one of the best kept secrets in the state. He is known for his ability to be a prolific scorer and was ranked the 18th best prospect in the state of GA.

Chris is a scrappy 5'11 point guard who has drawn comparisons to A.I. due to his tough nosed style of play. He is ranked the 15th best prospect in the state of Florida and will probably see playing time as a freshman.

Zach Graham:
Graham may be Ole Miss biggest signee of the year. He's ranked the 37th best overall Small Forward in the nation, the 127th best prospect overall, and the 9th best player in Georgia. Graham will add much needed athleticism and size that was lacking at the SF position last season.

Wesley Jones:
Jones is a 6'7 tweener who dominated JUCO last season averaging 24 points a game. Jones is heralded for his ability to wreak havoc down low and stretch the court with his three point range.

Cantinol is the mystery recruit this season. Not much is known about him but the fact that he is tall and athletic. Kennedy is trying to make the team more athletic and acquire big men who do not have to play with their back to the basket. Cantinol is one of these big men, but it is still unsure how he will perform on the next level.

Terrence Watson:
Watson is my personal favorite for best recruit of the year. Watson is coming to Ole Miss from Flint, Mi and recently won the JUCO National Championship with his team Mott C.C. Mott ran a 10 man rotation, a la Hubie Brown, so his offensive numbers are skewed. Despite sharing time with nine other players, Watson was able to garner JUCO defensive player off the year and be named to the JUCO All-American team. Watson is 6'5, but has a 7'1 wingspan that allows him to wreak havoc on anyone on the floor.

Kennedy went into this offseason with two goals in mind: replace the three seniors and make us more athletic. He accomplished both of these tasks this offseason and he still may not be done.

Coach Kennedy

The Rebel basketball team recently completed its first season under head coach Andy Kennedy, and to say the season was rewarding would be an understatement. Ole Miss was predicted by virtually every major magazine and sports outlet to finish dead last in the SEC West, however, the Rebels finished the season with a share of the western conference title at 19-11 (8-8), which is especially impressive considering the SEC ranked second in the nation in RPI. While the players did more than fair share of the work, I have to credit the turnaround this season to Coach Kennedy, current SEC Coach of the Year.

Coach Kennedy inherited a team that basically resembled a good JUCO team. He had a solid, but slow point guard, a shooting guard that took the term too literally, a scrappy undersized small forward, and two solid post players. The bench wasn’t much better with players like Trey Hampton, Xavier Hansbro, and Brian Smith. Kennedy immediately hit the recruiting trail and brought in Kenny Williams, Eniel Polynice, Rodney Jones, and Andy Ogide. Kennedy didn’t just have an impact through recruiting, but he was able to convince key players like Dwayne Curtis, Brian Smith, and others to buy into his system and not abandon the program.

After filling the roster, Kennedy had to teach these Rod Barnes era players how to do a complete 180 and learn an entirely new system of basketball. Rod Barnes, while a good guy, was not the greatest coach and had his teams execute some of the most boring basketball in the league. Barnes prided himself on defense, not 40 minutes of hell type defense, but just solid half court defense. His offense consisted of passing around the perimeter, with little to no movement, for 35 seconds hoping to find an open Dwayne Curtis or taking a three-point shot.

Kennedy came in and told the players to forget everything coach Barnes had taught them about how to play. Kennedy wanted to play an up tempo style, constantly pushing the ball up the court, and implementing a stingy full court press, mixed with man, and zone. Unfortunately for Kennedy, he had not exactly inherited a team full of track stars. Todd Abernethy, the point guard, was a solid player but critics would often point to his lack of quickness as a major flaw. How did Todd and Kennedy fix this? The weight room and conditioning. Abernethy got to the point where he was strong enough to go head to head against any point guard in the league and beat him due to his strength advantage, he would often use his forearm to easily create space and give him that advantage when necessary. While Abernethy did not become the fastest player on the court, he did become the most durable player and could push the ball up and down the court for an entire game without showing a noticeable sign of fatigue. Abernethy’s hard work and Coach K’s tutelage transformed him into, arguably, the best point guard in the SEC this season. Dwayne Curtis is another player who could be considered the antithesis to AK’s style of play. Curtis is 6’8 280 pounds, slow, and cannot jump. He relies on the use of his body and angles to score and rebound. He was a great player for Rod Barnes style of play, but many questioned how effective DC would be in Kennedy’s up-tempo game. Curtis conditioned hard from a pre-season injury and hit the floor running, sort of. Curtis averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds a game this season, which is roughly the same as he averaged under Rod Barnes. Before Dwayne Curtis returned from his injury the team appeared to be flat, but Curtis return to full strength seemed to be the difference for the Rebels who began to go on a tear in the SEC.

Kennedy was able to take these misfits and turned them into a running machine. The Rebels scoring increased their points per game from last season 8.5 points to 73.5 ppg, the defense also allowed 68.9 ppg and forced 16 turnovers per game which was just as good as Rod Barnes defenses of the past. Turnovers were a crucial part to the Rebels success this season. They had a +4.6 turnover margin, which roughly equated to 8 more points off turnovers than the opposition. While many people thought the defense would take a hit with the departure of Barnes and implementing a fast paced offense, Kennedy proved the fans wrong and taught the boys how to play aggressive defense with active hands.

Kennedy and the Rebs are set to play their first game in the SEC tournament tonight against the 6th seeded LSU Tigers. The Tigers are coming off a hard fought overtime victory over the 3rd see Tennessee Volunteers. While the Tigers may not be the most ideal match up for Kennedy and the Rebs, they couldn’t be catching them at a better time. As mentioned earlier, the Tigers are coming off an overtime victory where Tennessee had them running up and down the court the entire game, a style of play that LSU is not accustomed too. To make matters worse for the Tigers, their best player, Glen “Big Baby” Davis, had not played in LSU’s last couple of games and played a total of 40 minutes. Davis was not the only player to log extensive time on the floor, three other LSU plays logged 39 minutes or more. One would hope that the Tigers are unable to rebound from this overtime thriller tomorrow night, and still show signs of fatigue from the fast paced game Tennessee put them through last night.

While Ole Miss may be the fresher team, they are still going to have their hands full trying to deal with a talented, underachieving LSU team. The focus for the Rebels will be trying to keep Glen Davis from getting on track offensively. This job will fall on the shoulders of the injured Dwayne Curtis (big toe), Kenny Williams, and Jeremy Parnell. If these three can find a way to contain Big Baby Ole Miss should win and win easily, and will get one step closer to an SEC title and hopefully a spot in the Big Dance.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Can The Czar

Mike Fratello has been detrimental in the Grizzlies progress as young and upcoming franchise. He has consistently played the veterans over the young and more promising players (Eddie over Rudy), allows no freedom on his team (see Jason Williams, Stromile, and Bonzi fiascos), and can not seem to get his team to execute anything he draws up during a timeout.

As mentioned previously, our buddy Mike seems to have a problem playing the younger players on the Grizzlies. However, this is not a new problem, this is something that has troubled the fans and Jerry West the past two seasons. For example, last year the Grizzlies drafted/traded for Lawrence Roberts, Hakim Warrick, and Anthony Roberson, none of these players recieved significant or consistent playing time during the season. There were points when Fratello played them on a regular basis, but one mistake resulted in pine time for the rookies. I'll start by talking about Lawrence Roberts.

Roberts was acquired by the Grizz from the Seattle SuperSonics for two second round draft choices. Roberts didn't play much, but when he did he played with energy, tenacity, and toughness, he was last year's Alexander Johnson. Roberts got significant minutes on November 9, 2005 in a game against the Boston Celtics, which the Grizz lost by one. Roberts contributed 8 points and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes on the court, but went 0-7 from the free throw line. After this game Roberts playing time diminished greatly and he averaged 5 minutes a game the rest of the season and only competed in 33 games total. After the season, Mike Fratello went on a local radio show and when confronted with the question of why he did not play the young players he pointed specifically to the Boston game where Roberts went 0-7 from the foul line. He claimed playing the young players hindered the Grizzlies and cost them games.
SIDENOTE** Earlier this season the Grizz played at Boston and Roberts went 14-15 from the line in a winning effort, which makes me wonder just how good Roberts could have been last year with continued playing time and not a punishment for one disappointing performance.

Anthony Roberson is another young player who only made it onto the floor during "garbage" time for the Grizz. Roberson was picked up as an undrafted FA and was heralded as the team's best shooter. Unfortunately, Grizz fans never got to see Roberson on the floor. Instead the Grizz fans watched Bobby Jackson, probably the worst shooter on the team, jack up shot after shot throughout the entire season. Now, I'm not saying Roberson would have performed well last season, because there was no statsitical backup to lead Grizz fans to believe Roberson would produce in the NBA as a point guard. Roberson was more of a SG who came out of college too early. The Grizz let him go and he was recently picked up by the Golden State Warriors where he has done pretty good for himself. He is averaging 12 minutes a game and has put in a few scoring performances around 12-15 points and has a season high of 21 points for the Warriors.

Hakim Warrick was the Grizzlies first round draft pick, #19 overall, in 2005. He came into the league as a "tweener' but was considered freakishly athletic with the knack for finishing around the basket (usually with a dunk). Grizz fans immediately started referring to him as the next Stromile Swift, only with a basketball IQ. There was talk of moving Gasol to center, Warrick to PF, and the Grizz becoming a run and gun team, much like the Suns. However, Warrick never was able to find consistent playing time under the Czar. He, like the other rookies, showed flashes of greatness througout the season, but eventually found his way back to the bench due to rookie mistakes that Fratello did not tolerate. Warrick's high point of last season came against the Dallas Mavericks where he dominated Dirk Nowitzki. Warrick completely dominated Dirk on the blocks going 5-5 from the field for 11 points on the night in only 12 minutes. This was the first matchup of the season for the Grizz and Mavs, and seeing that Drik could not guard Warrick one would have thought Fratello would utilize Warrick more in the next Mavs-Grizz showdown, right? Wrong, the two teams faced each other seven more times over the season (including the playoffs) in which Warrick averaged 6.5 mpg, his highest output was 17 min in a blowout playoff loss. A logical fan would have surmised that Fratello would play Warrick more in the remaning Mavs games due to his showing against Nowitzki, unfortunately for Grizz fans their coach is not logical.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Grizzlies Opener Breakdown

Yesterday I made the trek to Memphis to see my Memphis Grizzlies in action on opening night. I must say it was a roller coaster ride of emotions. I got to the Forum around 6:20 and was dismayed to see a very empty FEF. I began thinking that this would just be another down year for the Grizz in attendance, team excitement, and playoff wins.

The game started out with the Grizz holding a slight advantage. Mike Miller was draining threes left and right. Hakim Warrick was ripping down offensive boards like crazy and Big Jake was being...terrible. Damon Stoudamire looked really good. He was making nice cuts and playing sold basketball.

Unfortunately, the game began to slip away from the Grizz as we missed free throw after free throw and a lid appeared on the rim. While we couldn't throw it in the ocean, Quentin Richardson couldn't miss and was raining three balls on the Grizz. The Knicks continued controlling the game up through the fourth quarter and held a 19 point lead with nine minutes left to play. The Grizz were running out of answers and time when The Czar decided to shake up the line up. After a timeout, the Grizzlies trotted out Kyle Lowry, Chucky Atkins, Mike Miller, Rudy Gay, and Hakim Warrick. I thought the Grizz had thrown in the towel and were going to let the rookies get some garbage time. Despite the lineup on the floor the Grizz slowly began chipping away at the lead. With about 3 minutes to go they were only down 8 and the fans and the team began to believe they could win this game. By the time the horn sounded the Grizz had come down from 19 points to send the game in overtime. I was in complete shock.

Fratello kept this lineup intact throughout the first overtime. Rudy Gay, Hakim, Chucky, and Kyle Lowry made key play after key play to keep the Grizz in the game. The clock reached double zeroes once again, but the game was still tied. So, the Grizz went on to a second overtime. The Knicks jumped out to an early lead, and the Grizz were forced to play catch up. Rudy Gay lead the comeback with an amazing steal and dribble behind the back for a lay up to tie the game. However, Hakim Warrick fouled out, a player who had kept the Grizz in the game, and Lawrence Roberts replaced him. Even without Hakim, the Grizz stayed with the Knicks through the second overtime and forced OT number three.

The third overtime was different than the first two in that the Grizz got the lead first, not the Knicks. The Grizz were playing good defense and ripping down the offense rebounds, but the officials eventually took control of the game. The first call came when Chucky Atkins was whistled for his fifth foul on a phantom bump on Nate Robinson as he drove down the lane. Robinson faked contact and threw up a shot and the refs bought his acting job. Robinson sucessfully decreased the lead and the Knicks inched closer. The next call came on a Quentin Richardson drive to the basket where he traveled and committed a charge against Mike Miller. However, the refs didn't see the travel or the charge and whistled Mike with a blocking foul. Q-Rich sank both free throws to give the Knicks a one point lead with six seconds to go. Mike Miller got the ball with the clock winding down and his shot danced around the rim before falling off giving the Knicks a 118-117 Triple OT victory.

Now, most years I'd be upset with the Grizzlies for losing to the Knicks, but this game got me as excited as I've ever been for Grizzlies basketball. This team was playing without all-star Pau Gasol and starting center Stromile Swift. This was also a team who did not play Damon or Eddie Jones the entire fourth quarter. This is a team who was led by rookies to an incredible 19 point comeback to force overtime. This is a team for the future.

Monday, August 28, 2006


I was sitting here contemplating doing my English homework, but only one thing could come to my mind. Sunday afternoon. On this Sunday, September 3, the Ole Miss Rebels will be taking on Memphis State in the first game of the 2006 NCAA Football Season.

If you didn't know, I despise the University of Memphis, I have a deeply rooted disdain for that team and their fans. To me, this isn't just the first game of the season, it is the most important game of the season. Yes, I know it's not an SEC game, and it won't help our conference record, but these Tiger fans have reached a point of absurdity. They actually think they are on the same playing field as Ole Miss. They've been to three bowls, three! The fans are simply driving me insane. On their message boards they constantly belittle Ole Miss and attempt to make it seem as though Ole Miss is the little brother of Memphis. Can they really be serious? The series record is 43-10, you didn't misread that. How can you look at that record and even entertain the though of owning a team?

Now, I will give the Tigers credit where credit is due. They have had good seasons over the past few seasons. Last year they were able to overcome multiple QB injuries and win the Motor City Bowl against Akron. The year before they fell to Bowling Green State in the Mobile Bowl. The year before that they emeged victorious from the New Orleans Bowl against the mighty North Texas State Mean Green. Doesn't that name just strike fear into your heart? The North Texas State Mean Green.

All of these were good accomplishment for the Tigers, but they achieved all of this with their two best players in franchise history, Deangelo Williams and Danny Wimprine. However, these players are gone and the Tigers are left with question marks at the running and QB positions. You can argue Ole Miss is in the same predicament, but we have a highly touted QB in Brent Schaeffer, with SEC experience, and an incredibly deep corp of running backs. Check out the stats and names if you don't agree with my assesments on the running game. I guess this is a good lead into my position analysis for the game Sunday.

Ole Miss - The Rebels are led by JUCO transfer, and former UT standout, Brent Schaeffer. BS is an incredibly gifted player with blazing speed, accurate arm, and can throw with power. He's gotten plenty of pre-season hype and is looking to redeem himself from his fallout with the SEC his freshman year. Expect to see Schaeffer turn some heads with his playmaking ability this game, both with his arm and his feet. BS is accused of not playing against quality competition, but with the type of numbers he put up in JUCO, it's hard to dismiss the fact that he will be a great college player.

Memphis - The Tigers will more than likely have Martin Hankins under center against the Rebels. Hankins is a transfer from SELA and has been hailed as a great passing QB. Last year the Tigers had QB problems against the Rebels when the starter, Patrick Byrne broke his ankle on the third play of the game. Tiger fans are hoping this does not occur again, for obvious reasons, and Rebel fans are hoping it doesn't either. (We're sick of hearing that excuse from the game last season)
Advantage: Ole Miss

Ole Miss - Ole Miss has a completely different running game this season. Last year the Rebels struggled to muster anything on the ground, but with the additions of BJGE, Cordera Eason, Bruce Hall, and the return of Mico Mcswain the Rebels are suddenly a very dangerous ground team. The depth at RB is going to allow the Rebs to use Mcswain in a variety of different ways. Mico can play both the reciever and RB positions, so this will allow him to be on the field with the other playmakers currently in the backfield.

Memphis - Tiger High is trying to fill a huge void at the running position. Heisman hopeful, Deangelo Williams, has left the Tigers and joined the ranks of the NFL and Joseph Doss is left to fill his shoes. Albeit, Doss is a capable running back, but he is small and doesn't have the ability to consistently go up the middle. However, I am not worried about Doss playing a significant impact on this game. The Rebel LBs and Safeties are more than capable of going sideline to sideline to prevent Doss from using his speed to break free.
Advantage - Ole Miss

Ole Miss - The Rebels have two players returning with in game experience from last season, Robert Lane and Carlos Suggs. Despite the lack of experience, there is no lack of talent in this recieving corp. Freshmen Dexter Mccluster and Marshay Green have coaches salivating with their playmaking potential. Other players such as Hicks and Wallace have shown signs of potential on the practice field as well. The recieving corp will probably be the X-Factor for the Rebs this season. Despite the question at WR, the Rebs are loaded at the TE position with Lilly and Lane providing a great two TE combo.

Memphis - The Tigers have a good group of recievers this season. They are also have plenty of on field expeirience. Players such as Taz Knockum, Earnest Williams, freshman Duke Calhoun, Ryan Scott, Mario Pratcher, and Robinzine all expect to have impact plays during the season. While the Tigers have an impressive group of WRs, they are suspect at the TE position.
Advantage - Memphis

Ole Miss - Patrick Willis, nuff' said.
Memphis - Joe Lee Dunn, nuff' said
Advantage - Ole Miss

Special Teams:
Ole Miss - The kicking game is a nightmare.
Memphis - Gibson will be an All-American
Advantage - Memphis

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Team USA

When one mentions USA basketball one word should come to mind. Domination. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case thanks to the past two outings of the USA national team on the world stage. It started in 2002 during the FIBA World Championships. A team consisting of stars such as Baron Davis, Paul Pierce, Ben Wallace, Reggie Miller, and Raef Lafrentz? The team finished an embarrassing sixth place in the tournament losing 3 of its last 5 games. This effectively ended a 58 game winning streak the U.S. held in International competition.

However, the free fall from world domination continued two years later in Athens, Greece at the 2004 Summer Olympics. David Stern organized a group of players led by Stephon Marbury, Shawn Marion, Lebron James, Allen Iverson, and Tim Duncan to compete in the 2004 Olympics. He also chose coaching guru, at the time, Larry Brown to guide this team through the Olympic games. Unlike the 2002 World Championships, the United States faltered from the beginning with a humiliating 19-point beatdown by lowly Puerto Rico. The team struggled through the rest of the games and finished a disappointing third place.

What many people thought as a one-time occurrence after the 2002 World Championships was turned into a fear after the Olympic games? Could it be that the rest of the world has caught up, if not passed the United States? How did this happen? How can we change this? These were all questions people began to ask following the disappointment of the 2004 Summer Olympics.

“Has the rest of the world caught up to the United States in basketball?”

The answer is simply, no. The rest of the world has closed the gap, but they are still far from challenging the United States to the right of being the best basketball nation. Looking at the NBA today you can see the impact foreign players are having on the game. Here are just a few of the International players who have made an impact in the NBA: Dirk of Germany, Pau Gasol of Spain, Manu Ginobli of Argentina, Yao Ming of China, Tony Parker of France, George Muresan of Romania, and Rik Smits of the Netherlands. Just kidding about those last two. If you notice though, no country on there can boast many more all stars in the NBA. Sure, France has Diaw, Spain has Vazquez and Rodriguez, but what other country can boast the amount of bon a fide superstars that the United States has? The answer is no one. The United States still, and probably always will remain, the basketball Mecca of the world.

“How did the rest of the world start closing the gap?”

Even though we still remain the best country overall, the gap has been and is being closed. Why is this? Because the sport of basketball is rapidly growing in popularity through out the world. Thanks to David Stern’s Basketball without Boarders campaign, the availability of NBA games in other countries, and the emergence of foreign superstars people everywhere are being exposed to the game of basketball. It used to be children in Europe and Asia did not have a local basketball player to idolize, soccer was king. However, with the emergence of players like Dirk, Parker, and Gasol kids in these countries have a player to idolize and emulate on the court and reason to follow the game of basketball.

This is not the only reason the Americans have been struggling in International play lately either. Another reason is because we aren’t sending our best players to the competitions. Where are Kobe, Shaq, and KG? We have sent second tier superstars in their place. Now, these players are still better than foreign competition on paper, but they are not the type of players you want to have on a team competing in international basketball. The international game is much different from the American game. The past two teams have lacked players who could thrive in the international system. For example, a three-point shooter makes playing the international game much easier. On our 2004 Olympic team, the best three-point shooter on the team was Richard Jefferson who is a career 32% three-point shooter. The team should have been built with a three-point specialist, a defensive stopper, and mobile center with a mid-range game. None of these criteria were met on the 2002 and 2004 national teams. This also played a contributing factor to the alleged American fall from dominance.

“How can we change this?”

David Stern, who I feel to be one of the greatest commissioners of all time (that’s another article), has taken the appropriate steps to ensuring a turnaround in the upcoming 2006 FIBA World Championships. Stern appointed Duke head coach and basketball genius Mike Krzyzewski to coach the 2006 U.S. National team. Coach K held tryouts in Las Vegas to determine who would field the 15 man, 12 active, roster who would represent the United States. These players who were chosen to tryout effectively committed their services to the U.S. national team for a certain number of years. Coach K did a tremendous job in determining who made the cut and has fielded a team that I feel will easily sweep through the World Championships.

The team roster looks like this:

PG Kirk Hinrich – One of the few true point guards left in the NBA. He is an excellent floor general who can score when called upon and can distribute the ball with the best of them; this is something Team USA has not had recently. His game adapts very well to the International style of play, and his unselfish play and ability to create will make the job of other players much easier.

PG Chris Paul – Paul is the reigning Rookie of the Year in the NBA. He is lightning quick, fearless, a great passer, and an exciting player to watch. He will bring solid point guard skills and some youth and energy to the team.

PG/SG Gilbert Arenas – Gilbert is a rising star in the NBA. He is one of the best scorers in the league and will provide the team with a much-needed outside threat.

PG/SG Dwayne Wade – Dwayne is quickly becoming the most recognizable name in the NBA next to Lebron James. Wade knows what it takes to win, and will do everything in his power to ensure that his team will win. He brings tremendous playmaking ability and more athleticism to the team.

SG/SF Joe Johnson – Joe Johnson provides more three-point capability to Team USA. Johnson surfaced as one of the leagues premiere shooters in the run and gun offense of the Phoenix Suns. Team USA has the capability to play that style of play so look out for Johnson in the fast break situations for three.

SF Carmello Anthony – Carmello Anthony is one of the premiere clutch shooters in the league. He will provide more athleticism and downtown capability to this team. Also, if the team is ever in need of a clutch three expect to see Carmello stepping up and hitting

SF Lebron James – Lebron, along with Dwade could be the catalyst of Team USA. He is one of the most electrifying players in the game and still has 10 years left before people start talking about him reaching the end of his prime. Lebron brings everything to the court for Team USA and will be a key part to the success of the team.

SF Bruce Bowen – Bowen is the defensive stopper the team desperately needs. Bowen has a reputation around the NBA for being able to get it done when it comes to shutting down an opponent. Although he may not be the cleanest player in the league, he’s crafty enough to accomplish it without getting in trouble.

SF Shane Battier – Battier isn’t the most exciting, athletic, or most fun to watch player on the team, but he will do all the little things necessary to ensure a victory for Team USA. Shane does not excel in any one area, but does everything well and he will provide much needed hustle for the team.

SF Antawn Jamison – Jamison will bring much needed veteran leadership and a good mid-range game to the team.

PF Chris Bosh – Bosh will provide low post scoring, shot blocking, and rebounding on the post.

PF Elton Brand – Brand is one of the best scoring forwards in the NBA. He has a respectable mid-range game and a bevy of low post moves that can net him easy baskets during this tournament. Expect Brand to have quite a few double doubles in this tournament.

F/C Dwight Howard – Howard is probably the best rebounder on the team, and will not be afraid of anyone in these games. Howard will be put in there to get rebounds and play tough interior defense.

C Brad Miller – Miller is the ideal center for the international game. He is tall, passes well, good mid-range game, can play down low, and can rebound when called upon. Miller will cause some match up problems during the tournament and could possibly be a triple-double threat if used correctly.

C Amare Stoudamire – Amare is the best center in the league. He is athletic, strong, a great shot blocker, can rebound, and will score against anyone in the league. Even though he is coming off a season long injury, expect Amare to play with heart and energy throughout the tournament.

This lineup contains the perfect balance of athleticism and poise, slashing ability and three point capability, and youth and veteran savvy it takes to win the FIBA World Championships. Coach K has made it clear that the U.S. isn’t going to just win every game of the tournament, but demolish the competition every quarter. I fully expect this team to do just so, and bring the United States back to its rightful spot as the best basketball nation in the world.