Montag, 21. Februar 2011
MORAGA, Calif. -- Utah State forward Tai Wesley heard the boos that rained down on him at McKeon Pavilion and loved every second of it.
The senior dominated the second half of a BracketBusters game at Saint Mary’s on Saturday night, scoring 17 of his 22 points after halftime and finishing with 11 rebounds to lead the Aggies to a 75-65 win -- a desperately needed victory to silence critics who claimed they hadn’t beaten a proven opponent.
After Utah State (25-3) stopped Saint Mary‘s 19-game home winning streak, Wesley indicated he thought beating the Gaels would lock up an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament should one be needed.
“Hope so,” Wesley said. “You’d think so, but we don’t need to get caught up in that.”
The Aggies trailed by as many as 12 points and were down by nine at halftime, but during the break, coach Stew Morrill told the team it would be feeling great by the final buzzer after they had won. He reminded Wesley that Saint Mary’s wasn’t doubling him in the post and that the preseason WAC player of the year had been waiting his entire career for a night like this one.
Despite making only one field goal in the first half and playing with a broken nose he broke a few weeks ago, Wesley ignored the previous 20 minutes and went to work. He saw his shots start falling, helped three Saint Mary’s post players foul out, and relished the bad guy role in a hostile environment.
On one play, he set a vicious screen that sent Gaels guard Matthew Dellavedova sprawling to the floor, and the two exchanged some words after a break in the action.
“He literally said he wanted to kick my a--,” Wesley said. “I said, ‘Let’s go.’”
Dellavedova, who continued his struggles and went 3-for-10 from the field, said he didn’t remember what was said. The two were quickly separated, but the Saint Mary’s crowd jeered Wesley for the rest of the game. It only stopped when he’d silence the fans with buckets.
“Love it,” Wesley said. “If you’re getting booed, you’re doing something right. You’re getting under their skin. You’re making them hate you.”
Saint Mary’s, which needed the win just as much coming off an RPI-killing loss to San Diego on Wednesday, saw Mickey McConnell get hot in the first half and finish with 16 points, but was limited to 28.6 percent shooting in the second half.
When Clint Steindl drained back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to six, the Aggies responded with Brady Jardine's back-breaking contested dunk for a 3-point play with 2:26 left.
“We don’t care that we showed the nation we can beat people,” Jardine said. “But for our team to know we can beat a top-25 team on the road, that’s something we’ll remember.”
The Gaels might have to win the West Coast conference tournament to get off the bubble and to guarantee a spot in the Big Dance. Meanwhile, the Aggies have brushed off their critics who say they haven't beaten a notable opponent.
“Weak schedule, strength of schedule, we hear that every year,” Wesley said. “Honestly, we don’t care.”
Morrill went on to list the reasons why this was the signature win the Aggies needed: the Gaels are leading the WCC, had been unbeaten this season at home, and the event is called BracketBusters.
“It must mean something,” Morrill said.
Sonntag, 20. Februar 2011
Patrick Kane likes to go out and drink. That’s been well-documented, and not news to anyone. There are hundreds of pics of him out on the town debauching himself posted all over the internet. And that’s his choice. He’s an adult and can do whatever he wants.
But not everyone can follow the alleged lead of Mark Grace, who did his partying and supposed “slumpbusting” in Lincoln Park, the near north side etc. and still performed for the Chicago Cubs everyday.
“Kaner” is missing practice and that severely hurts his Chicago Blackhawks teammates, who are hurting themselves right now. They probably won’t make the playoffs and that means finger pointing will soon commence.
You can start the pointing by reading this Deadspin feature; which lists some interesting facts and asks some tough questions.
The secrecy of the Hawks media relations in explaining his absence from practice doesn’t exactly help Kane’s image, or the situation in general.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He doesn?t have a real nickname, but he is also a regular contributor to the Tribune?s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
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As of lately, besides being the 2010 King of the Ring, Sheamus hasn't really done anything relevant since losing the WWE Championship to Randy Orton at Night of Champions last year. Is there a reason behind that? From what I've read online, yes.
There is one name that is behind the Celtic Warrior's spotlight being turned off: Kevin Dunn.
Kevin Dunn is the Executive Vice President of Television Production and reportedly has the second biggest say in the company's creativity direction behind the CEO, Vince McMahon.
So I'm sure everyone's main question is why?
Supposedly Kevin Dunn hasn't been too impressed with Sheamus ever since he ran away from the Nexus a couple of Raws ago. I frankly don't really remember the episode in question, but obviously the episode stayed sharped in Dunn's mind.
Mr. Dunn is not a fan of Sheamus and is the reason behind his King of the Ring attire. The King's attire is supposed to mock the Superstar.
Hopefully I'm not the only one that fails to see how this mocks the athlete but hey, we're not in Mr. Dunn's mind, are we?
I don't really see how Sheamus's push was derailed seeing as how he's in the Elimination Chamber tonight for the Number One contendership. But I guess him actually winning it is another story in itself.
Now I'll say this, I'm not too much a fan of Sheamus's but he isn't the worse I've seen. I would honestly rather have him as WWE Champion over The Miz but he had his time, right? He isn't bad on the mic, in the ring he doesn't excite me but he does work well with the older and younger talent, he is a decent heel so why Dunn and McMahon would push him back bewilders me.
What bothers me is that the WWE builds up this character, invests all their time trying to make him into this bad ass heel, make him champ, make him undefeated, King of the Ring and then ... he gets mocked.
But it happens everyday in the WWE. Do you guys remember former World Heavyweight Champion and All-American, American, American Jack swagger? Ah yes. I wasn't too much of a fan of Swagger's but he did put on some good matches and had a lot of promising talent. Ever since he lost the Championship, he's slowly joining the ranks of the mid carders on Smackdown.
I did read that Swagger's push was slowed down because of his attitude backstage. He reportedly acted as if he was better than everyone else in the locker room and to be honest, he had a right to be. His attitude wasn't coming of a Champion yet Vince wants his Superstars to keep up their gimmicks 24-7 so where does the line get drawn?
As everyone knows, Sheamus' push had a lot to do with Triple H's liking of him so what does this mean?
Will Sheamus be joining the John Morrison's where pushes are given and taken back even quicker? Or do you think this will only be temporary since Triple H's position behind the scenes is growing?
Tell me what you think! And thanks for reading!
Filed under: MetsNEW YORK (AP) -- Former New York Mets player Tim Teufel is among the hundreds of Bernard Madoff investors who have been asked to return bogus profits from the fraudster's Ponzi scheme.
A court-appointed trustee sued the former second baseman in December, demanding that he return roughly $1.2 million he collected from investments with Madoff over the years.
The suit doesn't accuse Teufel of any wrongdoing or knowledge of Madoff's crimes, but said the hefty returns he thought he earned were actually made up of money stolen from other investors. Similar suits have been filed against many other Madoff clients as part of an effort by the trustee to return as much money as possible to its rightful owners.
Teufel, now the manager of the Mets' minor league affiliate in Buffalo, said he couldn't comment on the suit, but he said it wouldn't affect his job.
We’ll fire in the tidbits as we get them leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade buzzer:
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge wasn’t kidding with his recent proclamation that the Celtics want to make a deal before the deadline.
The Celts, according to sources briefed on Boston's thinking, have joined their conference rivals from Chicago in pursuit of Cavaliers swingman Anthony Parker.
The Celts covet an extra playoff-tested shooter/defender as much as the Bulls, with Marquis Daniels out indefinitely and Delonte West missing much of the season so far. Yet it remains to be seen whether either of the two teams is willing to meet Cleveland's asking price.
The Cavs are seeking a quality draft pick or a young big man with promise in exchange for Parker, who’s averaging 11.5 points and shooting 47 percent on 3-pointers in February.
Surrounded by these maelstroms, there was a monster, too. At least, that's how Washington coach Lorenzo Romar described Arizona forward Derrick Williams.
"Derrick Williams was obviously a monster," Romar said.
The description seemed apt. After all, it was Williams' monstrous swat of short jumper from Darnell Gant with a single tick left on the clock that put an exclamation point on the Wildcats’ thrilling 87-86 victory. It was Williams' ferocious 26 points and 11 rebounds -- both game highs -- that were the cornerstones of an eighth consecutive victory. The win puts the 13th-ranked Wildcats on the cusp of their first regular-season Pac-10 title since 2005 with four games to play.
That block prevented a seventh and final lead change taking place over the final nine minutes of a chippy, physical game. And it was awfully close to a goaltend.
"Luckily, they didn't call the goaltend," Williams said. "I believe if we were at Washington, they might have called that. Good thing we were at home."
Arizona, unbeaten at home, improved to 23-4 overall and 12-2 in the Pac-10. Washington, the preseason conference favorite, fell to 18-8 and 10-5 in the conference, which is now a two-team race between the Wildcats and UCLA. The Bruins take a 10-3 conference mark to California on Sunday and will play host to Arizona on Feb. 26.
But what most inspired the 14,619 fans who packed the McKale Center was a sense that Williams and coach Sean Miller are leading the Wildcats back under the Klieg lights of the Big Dance. After a 25-year NCAA tournament appearance streak ended last season, Arizona will not only be dancing in March, it likely will do so as a high seed.
Oh, the coach and the players talked the talk of just focusing on the task at hand -- you know, got to win the Pac-10 first -- but everyone knows the program has traveled a vast distance in Miller's second season.
"Going back to last year, we never had any feeling like this," Williams said.
Washington didn't make it easy. It rarely is for the Wildcats, who won a triple-overtime classic at Cal on Feb. 5 and have two other conference wins by a single basket.
Arizona led the entire first half and boosted its lead to 12 early in the second. The Huskies, however, started pushing the pace and making shots -- they got their first tie at 68-68 with 9:14 left -- most particularly Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who nearly matched Williams' monstrousness. He scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half, was 12-of-19 from the field, grabbed nine rebounds, dished four assists, blocked six shots and snagged three steals.
But he also got outfoxed in a head-to-head matchup with Williams near the basket late, getting called for traveling with three seconds left.
The Huskies immediately got the ball back, however, when the ensuing inbounds pass from Solomon Hill to Lamont ''MoMo'' Jones bounced off Jones' leg. Hill said after the game that the turnover was a "miscommunication." The Wildcats were out of timeouts, Miller said, and should have tossed the ball long, instead of doing a quick, short feed.
But that merely set up Williams for his heroics.
"Derrick Williams is just an incredible player," Miller said. "He's such a gamer. He's so clutch."
Miller then gently suggested that the sophomore, who likely will enter the NBA draft this summer, should be ranked among the Wildcats all-time greats.
Of course, many of those greats led the Wildcats to one -- or more -- of their four Final Fours.
While clearly the star, Williams doesn't do it alone. Hill, for one, made the Cats’ final basket when he put back an offensive rebound off a blocked shot. In fact, the difference in the game was rebounding, particularly on the offensive glass. In a battle of the Pac-10's top two rebounding teams, Arizona dominated, owning a 35-22 edge, including a 16-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
The rebounding battle also was where both teams seemed to often find offense from each other. The Huskies pushed the Wildcats around in an 85-68 win in Seattle on Jan. 20. The Wildcats, who clearly didn't enjoy the visit to the Emerald City, haven't lost since.
Winning is not new to Arizona. "Everyone in here has seen this before," Miller noted.
Yet these Wildcats might just be a bit scrappier than previous celebrated vintages. They aren't there yet. But they've got a monster and a supporting cast that appears hungry to get there.
Samstag, 19. Februar 2011
A week after the last undefeated team in the nation (Ohio State) lost its first game of the season (at Wisconsin), the rest of the prospective No. 1 contenders -- and No. 1 NCAA tournament seeds -- haven't fared any better on the road in conference play.
Kansas lost at Kansas State. Pittsburgh lost at St. John's. And, yes, Texas lost at Nebraska. Everyone just keeps losing.
The Longhorns' 70-67 loss was certainly the most surprising. Texas had won its first 11 Big 12 games in comprehensive fashion, dominating lesser Big 12 foes at home and on the road. Rick Barnes' team pasted Texas A&M in College Station and Austin. They locked Kansas down in Allen Fieldhouse. Only once, in a 69-60 win over Baylor last Saturday, had the Longhorns' margin of victory been inside single-digits. UT's defense wasn't just the best in the Big 12. It was the best in the nation by a wide margin.
But the Longhorns ran into a pretty good defensive team in its own right. Nebraska entered Saturday's game with the No. 14-ranked adjusted efficiency defense in the country and the No. 2-ranked D in Big 12 play. That defense was stellar: Texas shot 36.4 percent from the field and 12-of-36 from inside the arc, well below the Longhorns' season two-point field goal average of 49.5 percent. Much of that was thanks to some impressively tight defense on Jordan Hamilton, the brilliant sophomore wingman whose unique array of mid-range moves usually carves defenses up. Instead, Nebraska forced Hamilton's game to the perimeter, where he shot 11 3-pointers and made only three -- his only made field goals of the day. Hamilton finished 3-of-16 in Lincoln.
Excellent field goal defense is usually the Horns' specialty, but Texas got a taste of its own medicine Saturday. Save for a thrilling late comeback in the final two minutes of regulation, Hamilton and Co. couldn't keep pace, and the Huskers held on for their biggest win of the season.
There are a few takeaways here:
- It's hard to win on the road in conference play. In case you needed another reminder, here you go.
- Nebraska is a legitimate bubble candidate. No, the Cornhuskers' computer profile won't make you swoon. No, a 6-6 Big 12 record isn't the sexiest mark in the world. Yes, the losses to Davidson and Texas Tech are disconcerting. But any team with three top-50 RPI wins (even if one is against Oklahoma State), two of which came against Texas A&M and Texas, has a place in the bubble conversation going forward. And ...
- Even dominant teams are capable of losing more than few of their remaining games.
But this trend doesn't stop at the top four. In fact, seven of the current Associated Press top 10 lost this week. Joining the top four were Notre Dame (lost to West Virginia 72-58), Georgetown (lost to Connecticut 78-70 on Wednesday), and Wisconsin (lost to Purdue 70-62 on Wednesday). (Only Duke, San Diego State, and BYU survived.) Those losses are a microcosm for a larger trend we've seen all season, a combination of takeaway No. 1 above: home teams have a major advantage in conference play regardless of talent and there are no great teams this season -- a grating refrain you've probably heard a thousand times by now.
I'm not exactly sure that's true. After all, Ohio State is still 24-1, and many a "great" team have fallen to the Badgers in Madison. (And, as Doug Gottlieb noted on our podcast Friday, Wisconsin basically had to play a perfect second-half to knock off Ohio State at home.) A road loss to Nebraska -- again, one of the best defensive teams in the country, and the second-best in the Big 12 -- is nothing to be ashamed about. Pittsburgh has handled the majority of its daily Big East death march with unique ease. Duke has two road losses and that's it. Are we sure these aren't great teams? Relative to what?
Still, even if it's true, we seem to trot out that "no-great-teams" cliche every year. It's like a reflex. If one team isn't a clear national title favorite, we assume everyone must just be mediocre.
We won't know whether that's true until these No. 1 seeds clash in the NCAA tournament. We won't really be able to say any team among OSU, Texas, Kansas, Pittsburgh, and Duke is great -- or non-great, I suppose -- until one team has a chance to make a defining NCAA tournament run. For now, things are bunched at the top, and we just don't know.
There are a couple of things we do know. The first is that none of these teams is likely to drop off the No. 1 seed line thanks to this week's losses. All four have done too much to date to have those odds undone by one loss.
But it is fair to say the No. 1 seed situation will be interesting to watch in the coming weeks. Duke could now make a pretty significant case that its r�sum� is just as good as any of the teams on the No. 1 line. And while most of the teams above the Aztecs just keep losing, San Diego State -- let's not forget Steve Fisher's team, huh? -- just keeps winning. (It won at Air Force Saturday.) Were SDSU to win out the rest of the way -- which would include next Saturday's rematch with Jimmer Fredette and BYU, as well as the season closer versus Colorado State -- they would be 28-1 heading into the Mountain West tourney with six top-50 RPI wins, a top-five RPI of their own, and their only loss being on the road to BYU, another top-five RPI squad. Would San Diego State get a No. 1 seed then? Better yet, could we then starting calling them a great team?
That would still be too early. In the end, San Diego State will play by the same rules as the rest of the top 10: We may or may not have a great team in that group, but whether we do or not won't be decided by a few mid-February conference road losses.
Fact is, as of Saturday, we just don't know. We may have five great teams. (Hey, it could happen.) We may have three, or two, or one. We'll find out in the NCAA tournament. Until then, when someone starts trotting out that annual "no great teams" chestnut, don't buy in. At least not yet.
Kobe Bryant needed only a quick survey of the All-Star rosters for the names to jump out at him. "We're playing the Celtics and the Heat," he said. "And the Hawks." Forget that last one. It's those first two that should spice up Sunday night's game on Bryant's home floor, particularly the presence of a record-tying four players from that hated team in green.
Sheffield hinted at his retirement in December when he attended the Winter Meetings at Walt Disney World to pitch financial advice to active players. He last played for the Mets in 2009, and finishes his career with a .292 average, 509 home runs and 1,676 RBI over 22 seasons in the major leagues.
Those gaudy figures could give him a great shot to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame several years down the road, and Sheffield -- known as much for his bluntness as his bat during his career -- is not shy about his credentials.
"I am sure it will be mentioned and debated but from my standpoint I know who is in the Hall of Fame," Sheffield told the Post. "A lot of them don't belong in the Hall of Fame. If someone wants to debate me, check the stats."
Spring Training battles are just beginning, yet that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty to talk about in terms of prospects trying to win jobs. Let’s take a look at some of the latest news:
Is Domonick Brown the favorite to win the Phillies rightfield job? According to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly (click here for the article) manager Charlie Manuel virtually said as much before backtracking.
He was first quoted as saying Brown, “is kind of the first choice there”. Then he clarified the statement later on saying, “By ‘first choice’ I mean I want to put him out there and play him a lot. He’s going to get a lot of at-bats [in spring training].”
Brown will battle with Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr., but it appears to be just a matter of time before Brown takes over full-time. Brown hit .327 with 20 HR and 17 SB in just 343 AB splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2010. He is viewed as one of the premier prospects in the game and is a must own option in all formats, though you want to try and get him as a reserve just in case he starts the year at Triple-A.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star said in an online chat (click here to view) that it is unlikely that Eric Hosmer is brought up prior to September if at all.
There’s nothing earth shattering here, considering the team has Billy Butler and Kila Ka’aihue in place at first base for 2011. Hosmer hit .338 with 20 HR between Single-A and Double-A, but has just 195 AB above Double-A. In time he will be a must-own option but, for now, he should be left for long-term keeper league owners.
In the same chat Dutton noted that 3B Mike Moustakas could reach the Majors by June. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if he reached Kansas City before then.
Moustakas reached Triple-A in 2010, hitting .293 with 15 HR and 48 RBI (overall he hit .322 with 36 HR and 124 RBI). He is one of the premier prospects in the game as we head into 2011 and with Pedro Feliz and Wilson Betemit the only people standing in his way, it is just a matter of time before he becomes a fantasy force.
He is worth drafting in all formats immediately, especially considering that he plays a weak position.
Jon Heyman of CNNSI recently said (via Twitter) “riggleman just said he doesn’t completely rule out bryce harper, 18, reaching majors this yr if he thrives ‘at every level’." It seems hard to believe that the Nationals would rush the 2010 first overall pick, considering his age.
Could he get a taste of the Majors in September? That’s possible, but I wouldn’t go into the season expecting anything more than that.
The Rockies top offensive prospect, C Wilin Rosario, is said to be about 75 percent recovered from ACL surgery according to Jim Armstrong of The Denver Post (click here for the article). The article says that Rosario “could stay at extended spring training before being assigned to Double-A Tulsa or Triple-A Colorado Springs”.
With Chris Iannetta slated to open the year behind the plate Rosario wasn’t going to be a factor early on. However, given how impatient the team has been with Iannetta in the past, seeing Rosario reach the Majors would not be surprising. He hit .285 with 19 HR and 52 RBI in 270 AB at Double-A in 2010 and, if he does reach the Majors, will be a good play in all formats.
Keep him on your radar, though right now he should only be drafted in the deepest of formats.
What are your thoughts on this news?
**** Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here. ****
Make sure to check out our other Prospect Reports as we wrap up 2010 and head towards 2011:
- Ackley, Dustin
- Archer, Chris
- Britton, Zach
- Chisenhall, Lonnie
- Cousins, Scott
- Iglesias, Jose
- Kipnis, Jason
- Lawrie, Brett
- Mesoraco, Devin
- Pineda, Michael
- Ramos, Wilson
- Revere, Ben
- Taylor, Michael
THIS ARTICLE IS ALSO FEATURED ON WWW.ROTOPROFESSOR.COM
"(Griffin's) explosiveness is higher than mine's ever been," James said.
LeBron also called DeMar DeRozan his "sleeper," but it was clear that he, like the rest of us, sees Griffin emerging as the champ.
Video of LeBron's comments can be seen in the clip below.
It was good to be back in the ballpark.
The Arizona Wildcats introduced their new and improved but oh-so-familiar lineup to the Arizona fans. Due to the new metal bats, power might be a "once in a blue moon" thing, but they're loading on contact and speed to get the job done.
First baseman Cole Frenzel showed some added athleticism in the field and on the basepaths.
"He lost a little weight, he's getting himself into good playing shape, he's a little more athletic than people give him credit for." Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said after the game.
Cole stole two bases; now everyone can do it.
"Everyone in the lineup," said injured star outfielder Steve Selsky after the game. "Jett might steal every once and a while, but he's the last one to seal. Everyone else in the lineup can steal, even (Alex) Mejia."
The real star of the show is Arizona's ace sophomore Kurt Heyer. Heyer started the game with four perfect innings and left the game after the seventh inning with eight strikeouts and no earned runs. Reliever Matt Chaffee followed Kurt's masterful performance with a little one of his own, striking out three batters in two perfect innings.
North Dakota State's starter Kyle Kingsley only lasted 3.1 innings, allowing four runs and not striking out a single batter.
Kyle Simon starts game two of the opening series looking to top Heyer.
Freitag, 18. Februar 2011
LOS ANGELES -- It seems even David Stern is getting tired of all the Carmelo Anthony drama.
In an interview at All-Star Weekend on Thursday night with FanHouse's Sam Amick and Chris Tomasson, the NBA commissioner was asked if the constant speculation about where the Denver star, who is on the trading block, soon might be playing has become somewhat of a negative for the league.
"Yes, I think that,'' Stern said. "Honestly, it can't be helpful getting to the place where the sport is so popular now and the ruminations about it in the media so over the top, in a good way, I suppose, that if a player doesn't sign a new contract, the speculation begins.
"In fact, it's now gone to the next level. Poor Dwight Howard (of Orlando). He's out there playing his head off and the media is, 'Oh, where's he going next?' What is that all about? It's ridiculous.''
There has been speculation about where Howard might play after his contract could expire in the summer of 2012. Stern was asked how he might change the situations involving Anthony and Howard.
"I have some great ideas,'' Stern said. "But it would be less employment for the (Fourth) Estate (the media). It's what we live with. That's what we do.''
- A lot of the best basketball players on the planet just don't make it to the NBA for one reason or another. Fantastic video where a number of Wizards talk about some of the best players they ever faced.
- Dwyane Wade tears up talking about having his sons -- who have been part of a custody battle -- here at All-Star weekend.
- John Hollinger (Insider) on Reggie Miller's Hall of Fame snub: "For Miller to be excluded from that company is absolutely shocking. My hope? That this is the insult that finally motivates the NBA to turn its back on Springfield and build its own Hall of Fame. We briefly gained hope that the Hall would change its ways when former Phoenix Suns czar Jerry Colangelo took over, but it's been two years and absolutely nothing has changed. It's still the same insular club that votes in secret and won't even reveal its members, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how that method has impacted the quality of the voting. Whereas the baseball Hall of Fame process has led to very public debates about candidates' worthiness -- and, in the recent case of Bert Blyleven, a dramatic reassessment by the masses -- nothing similar will ever happen in basketball as long as this closed process remains in place. Instead, look for more mediocre college basketball coaches to waltz right in, while perennial NBA All-Stars wait at the door."
- Blake Griffin watches videos fans have sent in with dunk suggestions.
- Brandon Jennings returns to Compton.
- David Thorpe breaks down every player in the rookies vs. sophomores game.
- Infiltrating All-Star parties.
- It was twenty years ago (can you believe that?) that Dee Brown pumped up his sneakers in the dunk contest. Now he's coaching in the D-League.
- Sure, they all hang out, hug and smile. But do All-Stars still hold grudges against each other during this weekend?
- Chris Bosh was on Conan O'Brien. They thumb wrestled.
- Blake Griffin was on Jimmy Kimmel. They did not thumb wrestle.
- Perhaps the best night of Rashard Lewis' career to date.
- Was Bill Laimbeer an elite 3-point shooter, or (as a big man) just a groundbreaking one?
Reggie Miller won’t make the Hall of Fame this year.
Apparently, he wasn’t even deemed good enough to be on a list of finalists that included Maurice Cheeks and Reggie’s long-time teammate and friend, Mark Jackson.
Now, I love both of those players, but anybody who thinks they belong in the Hall ahead or instead of Reg is -- quite simply -- drunk.
The drive from coastal San Diego to greater Phoenix? A prolonged exhale, Hoffman grateful that his new life as a former ballplayer still includes baseball.
"I don't know what I would have done had I not been able to get on the highway and drive out for spring training," said the save king, who retired from pitching last month. "Sitting at home, it would've have been like, 'I'm missing out on something.' "
It's an odd sight nonetheless, Hoffman with fungo bat, standing on a mound yet well behind the rubber, eyeing not the catcher but a Padres pitcher in front of him.
Don't call him Coach Hoffman, though. That title fits his older brother Glenn, San Diego's third-base coach.
Derrick Rose grabbed the microphone and thanked the fans for making him Chicago's first All-Star starter since Michael Jordan in 1998. Then he went out and showed why they made a wise decision. Rose had a career-high 42 points and the Bulls headed into the break with an impressive 109-99 victory over the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.
STANFORD, Calif. -- Given a chance to praise his team for winning 10 of its past 11 games, UCLA coach Ben Howland said the Bruins were improving and then countered with a compliment -- a backhanded one.
“I know we’re great for television,” Howland mused. “This is a great team for TV ratings and keeping the fans involved for the sponsors all the way ‘til the very end.”
In surviving Stanford on the road with a 69-65 win, UCLA once again showed off its propensity to let opponents back into the game. But a Bruins team -- one that is without a single senior -- ultimately did not break and managed to maintain second place in the Pac-10 standings.
Howland might have a few more gray hairs because of it, but young UCLA is growing up before his eyes.
A month after needing to claw its way back against Stanford at home, the Bruins never let the Cardinal have a lead. Aside from Jeremy Green draining three 3-pointers in the final minute and a half to make the game a little too close for comfort, the 19-7 Bruins controlled the game and looked very much unlike last year’s much-maligned squad that not only missed the NCAA tournament, but also went 14-18.
The Bruins start two sophomores, a freshman and a junior college transfer at point guard in Lazeric Jones -- who plays with wrapping over his sprained left wrist -- and team has gotten better with time.
Reeves Nelson, who had 18 points and seven rebounds, might play out of control sometimes, but continues to be reliably productive. Tyler Honeycutt, who hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points overall, might take an ill-advised shot every now and then, but continues to show off a skill set that makes him a future pro.
And 6-foot-10, 305-pound freshman center Joshua Smith, who had 13 points and nine rebounds while coming off the bench in order to stay out of foul trouble, has gradually learned to effectively throw his weight around and make a meaningful impact inside.
“He's like two guys out there and takes up a lot of lane when he's in,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins told reporters. “It reminds me when I played against Shaquille O'Neal. He's different than any other different post player you face in college.”
At one point 3-4 after a loss at home to Montana, UCLA is now in a position where Smith is talking about winning the Pac-10 outright.
Games against first-place Arizona and a road game against preseason favorite Washington loom, but during this stretch, the team has taken care of business at home and is now focused a road sweep in Northern California that would make those games all the more important.
“Now we play more together,” Smith said. “Early in the season when we made mistakes, guys were yelling at each other.
“We’ve grown up a lot. Every game, we’re learning that much more about ourselves.”
After the game Howland brought up the positives of each player before then mentioning areas of improvement. The 35-26 rebounding edge against Stanford was welcomed, and the defensive effort of Malcolm Lee was noted as usual, but Howland also knows the team must cut down on turnovers of the unforced variety.
“We have to continue to grow and get better at it,” Howland said.
Should the growth and winning continue, it’ll be that much more of a reason for television viewers -- especially those in March -- to stay tuned to what's brewing at UCLA.
Donnerstag, 17. Februar 2011
1. Kemba Walker broke out of a prolonged shooting slump, scoring 31 to lead Connecticut to a 78-70 win over Georgetown. He took the game over in the second half with 21 points, more than he’s been averaging in his previous eight games (17.3 ppg). Walker also added 10 assists and seven rebounds. He’s just the third player this season to post a 30-point, 10-assist game (Myron Strong, D.J. Cooper). The last time a power-conference player did it was March 12, 2009. That’s the date of the epic six-overtime Connecticut-Syracuse marathon where both Jonny Flynn and A.J. Price went for at least 30 and 10.
2. At halftime against Georgia, Vanderbilt was a mess. It had shot just 21.6 percent, and the top two scorers had done nothing. Just one game removed from his career-high, John Jenkins was scoreless. Jeffery Taylor was 0-for-10. But in the second half, Jenkins came alive with 21 points, including five 3s. Georgia scored only three points in the final 9:46 as Vanderbilt came from behind to win 64-56. The win is particularly impressive when you look at Taylor’s shooting performance. He went 2-for-18 from the field, and is just 3-for-25 over the last 2 games. It’s the worst shooting performance (min. 15 attempts) by an SEC player since Florida’s Matt Walsh went 1-for-15 against Alabama in 2004.
3. The most shocking result of the night was in San Diego, where the 5-21 Toreros knocked off No. 23 Saint Mary’s 74-66. Consider that two of San Diego’s wins had come against non-D-I schools and it’s even more improbable. But a team with only one player averaging over 10 ppg had four starters in double figures. This one was all about the second half. Trailing by eight going at halftime, San Diego shot 66.7 percent in the second half and hit 6 of 7 from 3-point range. For Saint Mary’s, Mickey McConnell and Mitchell Young combined for 45 points on 20-for-30 shooting, but the rest of the team shot just 26.7 percent. The Toreros now have more wins over the RPI top 50 than teams like UAB, Utah State and Cleveland State.
4. Speaking of Cleveland State, Norris Cole hit the court for the first time since his 41-point, 20-rebounds effort on Saturday. He didn’t quite have a repeat performance against Wright State, but the Vikings still came out on top 74-72. Cole finished with 16 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. He’s averaging 20.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 5.6 apg on the season. Since 2000, only three players have averaged 20-5-5 over a full season: Evan Turner, Ricky Minard and Speedy Claxton. Cleveland State got all 74 of its points from the starting lineup, and has now gone three consecutive games without a point off the bench.
5. Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum is listed at just 6-3 and 185 lbs, but plays like a much bigger man. On the season, he’s averaging 22.3 ppg and 8.3 rpg, which puts him in the top 10 in the nation among guards in both categories. On Wednesday, he did his best Norris Cole impersonation. McCollum posted 31 points, 15 rebounds, five steals and two blocks, but the Mountain Hawks fell short in overtime to Colgate. As impressive as McCollum was, this game actually belonged to Colgate’s Mike Venezia. He scored 11 of his career-high 27 points in overtime, and connected on 5-for-8 from 3.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- John Wall raised his arms triumphantly and checked the scoreboard one last time to make sure it showed all zeros.
At last, the rookie knew how it felt to win an NBA road game.
"Like Christmas," Wall said.
Nick Young scored 31 points, Wall added 19 with 14 assists and the Washington Wizards snapped a 25-game road winless streak to start the season with a 115-100 win Sunday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who one game after ending their own historic losing streak fell back on bad habits.
Inspired by a speech over Sunday morning breakfast from coach Flip Saunders, the Wizards built a 25-point lead in the third quarter, held on as Cleveland clawed back within 11 in the fourth and got their first victory away from home since April 9 at Boston.