The Sports Scoop

My View on the World of Sports

So the Committee Does Know Basketball

 This is post is probably coming a little late, but I was just talking about this today, so I thought I’d write it down.

After all of the heat the NCAA Tournament Committee took for their selections, it actually looks like that might have gotten it right.  I don’t recall ever seeing so many top seeded teams winning, and my bracket has suffered immensely because of that.  Aside from Wisconsin, who just isn’t the same team without Brian Butch as weird as that sounds, the rest of the higher seeds proved to be “who the committee thought they were!”

Looking back, you can still argue they messed up a little with leaving out Syracuse.  ncaa.jpgThat’s the one slip up.  They definitely should be been in over Arkansas, but in reality, did the committee deserve the lashing they received over that? 

I really think that no matter who is put in the tournament, there is going to be a plethora of columnists saying how bad the committee messed up.  It’s a tradition.  I already once mentioned John Feinstein and his hating ways.  His friend can make better selections with a six pack in him. But then again, don’t we all have that buddy, or maybe that buddy is yourself, that could put together a better bracket over a few cold ones? 

It’s fine that we bash the committee really, it gives us something to talk about and debate.  How about we give some credit where credit is due now.  I saw Selection Committee Chair Gary Walters get drilled with question after question about their reasoning behind all of their picks.  Now, it looks like his committee knew what they were doing after all.  Maybe CBS should bring the guy back and show him some love.

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March 26, 2007 Posted by | Basketball, NCAA, NCAA Tournament, Sports | 1 Comment

I’ll have a Number 32, Hold the O.J. Mayo

O.J. Mayo, the high school senior touted my many as the number one prospect for the class of ’07, recently finished his high school career.   To put an exclamation mark on his four years, this is how he completed his season.

It’s not the greatest video, but what you can see is Mayo throwing the ball into the stands after a dunk and subsequently getting ejected.  I learned of this through deadspin, who has a better video, if you want to check that out.  Deadspin says that it’s difficult to argue that it wasn’t worth it for him to throw the ball into the stands and get ejected.  I am honestly not sure how to react to this, the action and deadspin’s statement.

My initial attitude toward this situation is that there is no place for that.  Correction, the place for that is with the And1 Mix Tape Tour where the games don’t matter and it’s just for entertainment.  I’m glad he got ejected and hope Tim Floyd has a good plan in place to try and contain this kid’s ego.  It seems to be that he is all about self promotion.  That happened in the state championship game, where team accomplishments should be first and foremost.  Instead, Mayo took the opportunity to shine the light on himself.  That should tell you something about the character of this soon to be USC Trojan.  As others have already mentioned, O.J. must spell it “teim” because with him, there is definitely an “I” in team.

What baffles me even more is the fact that this isn’t his first headline for misconduct.  He had a marijuana situation that has since been dropped and was ejected earlier in the season for knocking over a referee.  He has all of this negative media surrounding him, and then he just builds on it with this.  In my opinion, it’s a little too early to be defying the system already, but I guess he’s just practicing for the future.

I can see the counter arguments already.  It was his last game, the game was already practically over, the fans went crazy over it, he got punished for it by being ejected, blah blah blah.  In reality, all of those things are true except the talented part, which has yet to be proven on at the college or professional level.

I have seen a lot of film on this guy, and he looks to be a solid player.  But we see this kind of self promotion all the time in professional sports, and it only leads to negative situations.  Teams are starting to learn that distraction players break up teams no matter how talented they are.  There are tons of talented players out there that won’t bring the extra baggage.  Mayo better learn to check his ego if he plans to cash big checks in the future.

March 21, 2007 Posted by | Basketball, O.J. Mayo, Sports | 8 Comments

Cinderella Who? and Other NCAA Tournament Thoughts

After watching over 14 hours of college basketball in the past two days, I feel it is only appropriate to discuss what has transpired.  Here are a few of my thoughts from the preliminary action.

   –  The term “Cinderella” is being extremely overused and needs to retire.  Winthrop was dubbed a Cinderella team by ESPN a few hours after they beat Notre Dame, even though half of the United States predicted that outcome.  If Jackson St. beat Florida or Niagra stunned Kansas, then I could see how we might have a Cinderella case on our hands.  Last year, George Mason was a definite Cinderella because no one picked them to win anything, and they ended up going far.  You need to have both of those qualities to be a true Cinderella.  So let’s not get too Cinderella-happy though and start dubbing every team that beats someone ranked higher them.

   –  What is Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s real name?  I heard them called Texas A&M and Corpus Christi, Texas A&M at Corpus Christi, and simply Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.  There’s no doubt in my mind that it really doesn’t matter.  I just thought it was funny that the announcers had no idea either.

   –  The lack of upsets this year is killing me.  The two “big” upsets have been VCU and Winthrop, both of which were not shockers.  After that, almost everything has gone as planned.  The main reason for this is that the lower seeds cannot finish games.  I’m going to pick on Illinois because they absolutely blew their game.  Up by 10 with 4 minutes left, they somehow managed to give the game away.  And that’s a very appropriate way to describe it since they turned the ball over on something like 7 of their last 10 possessions.  If you play the same way you did the first 36 minutes, you should be able to close out a game.  Instead, they decided giving the ball to the Hokies and trying to stop them on defense was a better idea.  The Chicago Bears do the same thing; it must be an Illinois thing.

   –  While we are talking about the Illini, how about that Big Ten!  John Feinstein has to be hating Purdue for winning and loving Illinois for blowing it.  The Big Ten is 5-1 so far in the tournament.  Not bad for a conference that some think only should have had 3 bids.  Now watch as they all lose in the second round – except Ohio State and Wisconsin.

I love this time of the year.  With March Madness in full swing, I do believe it is time to go watch some more basketball.  Go Georgetown!

March 17, 2007 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, NCAA, NCAA Tournament, Sports | 1 Comment

NCAA Tournament Prediction; Hoyas to Take the Title

Michael Wilbon says that he likes Georgetown to win the NCAA Tournament. I have to agree.

Let me start off by saying that I have liked the Hoyas all season. I made them my tournament favorite sometime in early January when they knocked off Notre Dame for the first time. From that point on, they were on ESPN basically every game they played, so I got a good look at them. I really liked how they played and they’ve been my pick ever since.

When the brackets came out, I started out by putting Georgetown in the spot for hoya.jpg“Champion” and went to work from there. North Carolina vs. Texas seems like an inevitable match up, with the winner likely the only competition Georgetown will face before the final four. After that, I have the Hoyas taking down Texas A&M in the semi-finals before handling Kansas in the National Championship game.

Georgetown has the ability to play both up tempo and in the half court. Their defense is solid (held Pittsburg to only 42 points in the Big East Championship) and they get after it on the boards. They shoot free throws at a high percentage and have a difference maker in Jeff Green that they can rely on if needed. This team really has no glaring weakness.

The one thing that I believe can stop the Hoyas is their lack of depth. They mainly use a 6 man rotation with some other players grabbing a couple of minutes here and there. If Georgetown’s players, especially their guards Jessie Sapp and Jonathan Wallace, get into foul trouble, then the bench will have to really step up – something they haven’t been asked to do in big games this year.

Apparently, Georgetown is now a fashionable pick to win the tournament. As much as that should reassure me that I’m on the right track, I feel less confident as a result of the popularity. Maybe it’s because people are on the same wave length as me which is a rarity. Anyhow, I’m sticking with Georgetown to take home the title.

March 14, 2007 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, NCAA, NCAA Tournament, Sports | 3 Comments

Do Players of the Past Receive Too Much Credit?

I have a feeling that could potentially catch some heat for this post, but let’s give it a shot anyways.  Please be gentle with your criticism.

It seems to me that retired players sometimes receive too much credit.  When I say that, I mean that I have heard countless times, “If [insert very good retired player’s name here] were playing today, he would hit 80 home runs,”…or average 40 points per game, or whatever it may be.  You get the idea. 

The same thing goes for teams.  Apparently, today’s teams just aren’t that good.  Even if the Dallas Mavericks finish the regular season with 72 wins and take home the title, they won’t be viewed as equivalent to the record setting 95-96 Chicago Bulls team.  Is it just our nature to assume that things in the past were better?

I thought of a couple of reasons why this might be the case.  First of all, maybe it’s true.  Maybe teams and players of the past were simply better.  Maybe Babe Ruth transported into our era would dominate like no other.  I don’t believe it, but I guess it’s possible.

Longevity is a key factor that I think could explain some of the disparity.  Some of the retired greats earned being called that by playing at a high level for 15 years.  With current players, we are always skeptical of whether or not they can keep it up.  Sometimes I think we are too skeptical.  Like with A-Rod right now, I have heard a lot of talk about how he’s slowing down and whatnot.  Slowing down after a .290/35/121 season? 

I can hardly imagine that the competition 30 years ago was as good as it is today.  By that, I mean that the gap has narrowed between the “good” players and the “bad” players.  You are forced to bring your best every game today because there is not one unworthy player in professional sports.  Except for maybe Ron Artest and Pacman Jones, but that’s another story.  Since there are all good players in the league now, it’s going to be harder for today’s players to put up the kind of numbers that were put up back then.  I really have no evidence to back that up, but I just feel that the overall level of play in sports is higher right now.

Another reason might be that when we look back on players, we tend to think of their primes.  We might overlook struggles in player’s careers and make them seem like they are better than they were.

The more I write, the more I feel like there is no logical way to compare players of different generations.  You can only judge a player or a team by what they did against who they played.  However, I still think that those who believe a player from the past could dominate today is crazy.  Could an all-time great be successful today?  Absolutely.  But I know that I wouldn’t pay Mickey Mantle $100 million per season to play for me today (a little play off of joeyballgame’s blog :)).

March 12, 2007 Posted by | Baseball, Basketball, Football, Sports | 4 Comments

College Basketball Switching to Spandex Jerseys?

While watching my daily dose of Pardon the Interruption, a topic came up that I hadn’t heard anything previously about.  Apparently, some mens’ college basketball teams are going to be experimenting with tight fitting, spandex tops.  I thought it had to be a joke, but they had pictures (which I cannot find) and everything to back it up.  I didn’t catch all of the names of teams who would be giving a shot, but they said that roughly seven will be giving the new uniforms a shot.  Syracuse was the one big name that I remember.

I just have one question.  WHY? 

There is absolutely no need for a uniform change in basketball.  If there is a good reason why they are doing this, I would love to hear it. 

I would mention something about women having to wear spandex tops as well, but I will save myself the ridicule. 

If anyone has more information about this, I am very interested in hearing it.

March 6, 2007 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Sports, Uniforms | 7 Comments

McHale is NOT the Best GM in Sports

Forbes.com recently released its list of the top General Managers in all of sports.  The article ESPN.com wrote about this can be found here.

Basically, Forbes looked at the four major sports and tried to pick out the best GM.  Their criteria were two fold.  First, they looked at how each team performed prior to the arrival of their current GM and compared it to how they performed with their previous GM.  Second, they looked at how each team’s payroll compares to the league median.  The first criterion was weighted twice as important since winning is the ultimate measure of success.

After all of the numbers were crunched, Kevin McHale, the GM for the Minnesota mchale1.jpgTimberwolves, emerged as the best there is.  What a joke!  This is why Forbes should never try to report information relating to sports.  Ever.

McHale should not even be in the top 10.  The data is skewed because the Timberwolves were absolutely horrible before he took over.  Now that they are average, it seems like he had something to do with it.  A guy named Kevin did have something to do with it, but that is Kevin Garnett. 

If anything, McHale should be looked at as one of the worst GM’s in sports for not putting the right pieces around KG.  Garnett is an unbelievable talent, and I think it’s McHale’s fault that the Wolves haven’t been able to make a serious title run during the Garnett era.  They had a little something going with Sam Cassell and Latrell Spreewell, but that got broken up.  Now they are sinking back into mediocrity.

Forbes could have randomly selected a GM and been more on target than they were with McHale.  I don’t know who the best GM out there is, although Jerry Angelo, Billy Beane, Joe Dumars, Brian Cashman, and even Jerry Jones come to mind, but I know that it definitely is not Kevin McHale.

March 5, 2007 Posted by | Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Kevin McHale, MLB, NBA, News, NFL, NHL, Sports | 3 Comments

College Basketball Player of the Year

In a college basketball season that has given us no clear cut favorite for National Champion, I also find myself wondering who the Player of the Year will be.  My top five, in no particular order quite yet, are Acie Law, Kevin Durant, Alando Tucker, Nick Fazekas, and Greg Oden.  Here’s how I think it will all pan out.

      tucker-and-oden.jpg           durant.jpg          law.jpg          fazekas.jpg

5.  Nick Fazekas, Nevada.  He is easily one of my favorite players in college basketball.  I have only seen him play a few times because, well let’s be honest, he plays for Nevada.  Since the WAC really isn’t one of the NCAA’s premier conferences, he won’t garner the attention he arguably deserves.  However, he’s a walking double-double and should be a very high draft pick next year.

4.  Greg Oden, Ohio State.  He’s a huge name and probably was on many people’s Player of the Year ballots before he even stepped on the floor.  In reality, he’s been good but not dominant.  He has shown flashes that he’s the next Ewing or whoever you want to compare him to, but the consistency isn’t there yet.  In all fairness to Oden, he has played the season with basically one hand.

3.  Alando Tucker, Wisconsin.  Wisconsin is my team, but the past couple of weeks have definitely hurt Tucker.  He’s likely to win Big Ten POY, but I can’t picture him taking the national honors over Law or Durant.  Tucker is a great leader and has shown he can do a little bit of everything on the basketball court.  His numbers are good, and he plays a lot bigger than he really is.  Two weeks ago, he was my POY, but two consecutive losses have left me with fewer reasons to justify that.

2.  Acie Law, Texas A&M.  How fun is this guy to watch in the last 5 minutes of a game!  He has an unbelievable ability to make plays with the game on the line.  That might be his biggest downside though, as well.  It seems like unless he has to make a shot, he doesn’t focus as much.  There were at least 3 times in the Texas game last night that he could have put the Aggies ahead late but missed wide open shots or booted it out of bounds.  Regardless, this kid is special and a great leader. 

1.  Kevin Durant, Texas.  I can’t find a good reason that Durant should not be Player of the Year.  He can do it all and is extremely poised for a freshman.  He rivals Law in his ability to make plays with the game on the line.  25 ppg, 12 rpg, 2 stls, 2 blks, 49% from the field, 42% from 3 point land, he can do it all.  Shows great leadership on a young team that needed a leader.  He’s the main reason Texas is going to be a big time threat in March.

March 1, 2007 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, NCAA, Player of the Year, Sports | 6 Comments

2007 Baseball Predictions/MLB Baseball Message Board

With the 2007 Major League Baseball season nearly upon us, I have decidedmlb.jpg to create a message board dedicated to just that.  This will be a place for baseball lovers to go and talk about anything related to the game.  There are already a few posts related to predictions, but I will be adding posts regularly to hopefully spark conversation and debate.  Feel free to check it out and tell your friends about it so we can get some great baseball talk going.  The site is www.activeboard.com/forum.spark?forumID=106169 .

February 27, 2007 Posted by | Baseball, MLB, News, Sports | 12 Comments

NFL Combine Weighs Too Much

Every year we see players’ draft stock move up or down based on how they perform at the NFL Combine.  Every little thing these kids do is put under a microscope, especially the big names. Last year, for example, we had the big ordeal over Vince Young’s wonderlic score.  This year, they are already talking about how Dwayne Bowe isn’t performing well after he was praised the 2 weeks before for having a great Senior Bowl. 

It seems to me like the studs have more to lose than to gain at the combine.  Let’s take Bowe, for example.  He was moving up the mock draft boards, many times ahead of even Dwayne Jarrett.  If he chose not to participate in the combine, his stock would have stayed high.  But because he ran, he’s all of the sudden a worse player than everyone thought.  You see it every year with somebody.

On the other hand, players who didn’t get as much publicity during the season have got to love the Combine.  You will always see a guy who was supposed to be a late rounder move up because he was feeling good that day at the Combine and busted out a 4.31 40. 

Supposedly you can learn a ton about a player by watching them broad jump or run around cones without pads on, but I’m not sure that I buy it.  As a fan, I love the Combine.  Watching the mind numbing 40 times and seeing lineman throw around 225 pounds is pure entertainment.  However, you hear all the time about the difference between football speed and track speed.  If I were a scout, I would stick to the game film.

Maybe that’s why I’m not a scout.

February 26, 2007 Posted by | Football, NFL, Sports | 1 Comment