Thursday, March 10, 2011

Going South in South Beach

Let's talk Miami Heat...
  • Why does LeBron, in the crunch time, drive to the left when he is right handed? He needs to drive to the right with a little less force so he can recognize the defensive help and dump it off to the "big" who would be open.
  • What's the point of having quality role players and 3 point shooters if James or Wade aren't going to pass it to them when the D collapses? They spread the floor for no purpose. How about we try a pick and roll with Wade with Bosh about 15 feet out and James running baseline? I wish I was designing their plays.
  • Even if Bosh thinks he sucks in the low post, how about you man up and try it? It may not work but it may attract enough attention to give others a nice shot. Him in the post clears a lane for possible cutters. If it doesn't, then Bosh should go from posting up to face-up, his forte.
  • What's the real reason for this big 3 - to have the media attention or win? Couldn't they have done without one of the big 3 and spend the money on a few good big men. I don't think Big Z and Joel Anthony count as quality. Just look at the Lakers - one dominant guard with Gasol, Odom and Bynum, all giant in size for their position. Or are the Heat happy with the attention and a second round exit? Cause LeBron could of just stayed in Cleveland for that without sharing the spotlight.
  • Does anyone besides the TV ratings want to see a Lakers-Heat final? I feel like the Heat would get dominated inside and it wouldn't live up to the hype of the stars playing in it. Phil Jackson would easily out-coach the Heat because of the experience (not a knock on Spoelstra)
  • The Heat, especially their big stars, need to stop worrying about and responding to what everyone says about them. It's the media's job to rattle you and they are winning. Have a bit of a thick head and ignore it. Just give the usual, cliche answer and let it be.
  • Tracy McGrady for point guard next year. Relatively on fire of late - 10+ points, 5+ assists. Another good offseason, he could be in shape to distribute and cause match up problems at point guard.
  • This team does not play defense. Wade and James only play it when there is a highlight to be made.
  • Coach Erik Spoelstra is not the problem. He has the same principles, methods and plays as Pat Riley. Just cause his players might not be buddies with him, doesn't mean they can't listen and learn from 
Eventually, all will be fine in Miami. We will talk about their growth as a team and the growing pains they went through. They'll get the right players to complement the stars. Nobody will worry about their late game failures because the Heat will put it together on both ends of the court for a consistent period of time. Miami Heat, 2012 NBA Champions.

Baylor Bears in Hibernation

Last year this time, Baylor's basketball team was killer, exciting and had everyone was rooting for them. This year it looks like there will be no magical run in March. Baylor lost to OU in the Big 12 tourney, hours after learning Perry Jones would be deemed ineligible for having his mom receive improper benefits from an AAU coach. Baylor's second best player and likely lottery draft pick has played his last game in a Baylor uniform this season.

All investigations records say Jones had no knowledge of the 3 separate loans his mom received from the AAU coach while he was in high school. The money was used reportedly for rent or travel expenses to a football game in San Diego. All violations occurred in high school and loans were repaid by his mom in a timely manner. So what's the problem? Jones wasn't directly involved even though he received the benefits. He was in high school at the time. From the outside it looks like his mom borrowed money from a friend and eventually repaid most the money back. His punishment is he can't play the rest of this season, coincidentally during the most exciting time in college basketball.

Terrelle Pryor and his buddies, who directly and knowingly benefited from their infractions, were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl because the NCAA claimed the bowl game is special, a "unique opportunity", and they shouldn't be punished for what they accomplished that season. How is the Sugar Bowl any more important and unique than the opportunity to play in college basketball in March? All athletes should be treated equally but they aren't. Pryor and OSU were a ranked team with a potential Heisman candidate. They bring in fans, money, ratings and all the glory. Jones and Baylor were likely to lose in the first weekend of the tourney. They walk in the shadows of the bigger schools in the Big 12 and NCAA clearly doesn't care to give them the same treatment. NCAA investigated Baylor for 3 months and ruled Jones ineligible right before the tourney. An easy way to screw a season.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The BS that is OSU

He just looks shady
Not even Jim Tressel's scarlet sweater vest and perfect tie can make OSU's problems right. If you don't know, the summary is below. 

  • Dec 2010 - 6 OSU players are found to have received improper benefits (getting tattoos) in 2009 in exchange for memorabilia from their 2008 season. And these aren't some random players. We are talking about playmakers like star quarterback Tyrell Pryor.
  • Jan 2011 - OSU punishes 5 of the 6 players with a 5 game suspension (and one for just 1 game) for NEXT season. They are allowed to play in Sugar Bowl and the key interception to win the game is made by one of the players who will be suspended next year. Stupid punishment, come on OSU, make a statement. However, the punished juniors vow to come back next year and not run away from their punishment.
  • March 2011 - Reports indicate head coach Jim Tressel knew about the infractions in April of 2010 but did not report them, which he is contractually obligated to do, to the school . During investigations in December, Tressel, on multiple occasions, said he knew nothing about the infractions.
When wide receiver Dez Bryant was at Oklahoma State and didn't fully disclose his dinner with Deion Sanders, Bryant was suspended for the remainder of 2009 season (9 games).  And that was just for lying, there was nothing wrong with the dinner. Jim Tressel knowingly and constantly lied and OSU's self-imposed punishment is that Jim Tressel is suspended for 2 games in 2011 and he pays a fine $250,000. Those 2 games are at home against Akron & Toledo. I can coach OSU to victories in those games. In comparison, Tennessee basketball head coach, Bruce Pearl, who improperly contacted recruits (these guys aren't even on the team and had no effect on the season), was suspended for half of THIS season's conference games and a reduction $1.5 million in salary over 5 years. Tressel's punishment is no where near a slap on the wrist. In theory, Jim Tressel should be fired. When OSU president was asked if he thought about firing Tressel, he said, "No, are you kidding me?" and  didn't even consider firing Tressel. HOW CAN YOU NOT EVEN CONSIDER IT? I'm not saying you have to but at least have an ounce of thought about asking him to resign. This is the president of THE (please remove the THE) Ohio State University acting like nothing is wrong. We are talking about someone lying in regards to a federal investigation. By the way, Tressel was head coach at Youngstown University when his quarterback was found to have received improper benefits. Though not Tressel's fault, he does have a history. The NCAA is bound to review the punishment and probably come down with a harsher penalty. If this was any other conference, the conference president would try to take matter into his own hands so it doesn't get worse. In this case, the president is Jim Delany. He was one of the guys who lobbied to have the suspended OSU players play in the Sugar Bowl. And he won't say it but it's  because the money it brings him, the conference and the schools. As always, it's all about the Benjamins.

Everything is wrong in this story - Tressel's constant lying, his punishment and relunctacy to admit he was wrong. Everyone at the school has Tressel's back for some reason. No OSU official including the president is honoring the school's moral code. Even BYU suspended a basketball players for having premarital sex with his girlfriend (who the hell even told on the kid? That person just screwed BYU's chances for a title.) I'm sure, for all the wrong reasons, other coaches aren't worried if they can get away with a similar disciplinary action while reaping the rewards. Ohio State had a chance to send a statement to its players, other schools, set a standard in the game and prove its more than about winning. College football already has problems with agents and those not involved in collegiate sports causing player infractions, it doesn't need premier programs and high profile coaches doing the same. As a fan, all I can hope is that newcomer Nebraska wrecks havoc on OSU.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Burnt Orange Ray of Hope

Longhorn fans have read this story before and would gladly put down the book right now and be content with not knowing what happens the rest of the way. Many are starting to believe what happened to UT basketball last year is about to repeat itself. Ultimately, as a fan you have to have hope. You have to believe what was said earlier this season about how this team is completely different from last year is true. Last year, it was obvious, at least to me, the team was just getting by. Before their first loss to KSU, Texas beat A&M-Corpus Christi by 6, Arkansas by 11, Iowa State by 7 & the Aggies by 5 in overtime. Those are close wins considering they beat North Carolina and Michigan State almost like it was nobody's business. Everyone figured the experienced team with highly touted freshman could carry the team. Instead those same players actually were the Achilles' heal as everyone was trying to prove they were NBA ready. Not even coaching can save you, especially when Rick Barnes is quoted saying "I'd give up a national title for all of our guys to be able to live their dream." Though, its out of context, I kind of agree with him.

This year's team has, maybe had, the nation talking about a March Madness road that traveled from Tulsa, San Antonio & Houston. They are younger and somehow more poised than last year. Longhorns quietly, manhandled teams. I say quietly because at times Texas would score 10+ points in a row and I would wonder when did that happen? I felt bad for teams because it was a slow and quiet death. Texas received national attention without being undefeated. Aside from the USC loss, they had legitimate losses where free throws could of won it. Critics saw free throws as their only flaw but it was irrelevant when the Longhorns would blow by their opponents. This years Achilles' heal is themselves. And now the heal seems to hurt more and more. J'Covan Brown tweets he wants more playing time, Alexis Wangmene is suspended 2 games for a DWI and Jordan Hamilton's on court attitude heads south just like his shooting percentage. The first loss in conference play was okay with me because it was around the time Texas would of been ranked #1 but no real fan wanted the target on the school's back. The second loss was flat out inexcusable. And even though, Texas should of won a home game after giving up a 22 point lead just 2 days prior, the loss to Kansas State can be justified. The Wildcats are on fire of late and did steam roll through Kansas. KSU was ranked early in the season, fell off the map due to player and team issues but look like the top 5 team they were supposed to be.

People will begin to wonder how Coach Rick Barnes can let this happen in consecutive years? Anyone can get talent to a major program in a college friendly town. It's up to the coach to tap the potential of the players. Somehow, Barnes has to get the team to buy into what was working. Otherwise, it's another sad year. So far this team is the lone bright spot in Austin considering last years debacle and the struggles the football team had.

If there is any ray of burnt orange hope for the Lohghorn fans who haven't hopped off the bandwagon, it is every other top 10 team struggles just as much, if not more. Kansas held the top spot for a few hours, Duke twice lost as the #1 team, its hard for people to know if BYU is for real or not and the Big East teams are great but they may be beating each other up. Plain and simple there is no real top team and March is upon us so let the Madness commence.