December 27, 2012
Tim Tebow reportedly asks out of Wildcat packages: Many news outlets reported over the weekend that New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow asked not to be utilized in the team’s wildcat package on offense for this weekend’s game. According to the report, Tebow has been disappointed at not being named as the starter after Mark Sanchez was benched. His frustration can be understood to a degree as the Jets went with unproven rookie Greg McElroy, but if the reports are true, that’s a bad move on his part. Above all else, Tebow has to be a reliable member of the team and play as requested by the coaches – even if he doesn’t feel he’s being utilized properly. If he feels he’s being treated unfairly, he can always ask for a way out. But as long as he’s being paid by the franchise and is a member of the team, Tebow should participate in any way the coaches see fit.
Cleveland Indians sign Nick Swisher: The Cleveland Indians made a bit of a splash in MLB free agency by signing outfielder Nick Swisher away from the Yankees. Swisher hit 24 home runs and drove in nearly 100 runs in New York last year and will provide a boost to the Cleveland offense. The move is especially helpful for the Tribe as they recently traded away Shin-Soo Choo. And at 32 having had a pretty healthy career, Swisher should still have a few more years left in the tank.
Jabari Parker commits to Duke, reports backlash: High School basketball sensation Jabari Parker, widely regarded as one of the top two recruits in the class of 2013 committed to Duke last week. Afterwards, he reported being harassed on Twitter. He responded by saying he’s ‘just a kid’, but the fact is that it’s just something he’ll have to learn to deal with. Having a Twitter account is one thing athletes use to connect better with fans, but the flipside is that not everyone will be thrilled with what they do or say. I’m not condoning harassment of athletes on the social media site (particularly ones still in high school), but Parker will need to realize it’s only going to get worse as he advances to college and, presumably, the NBA.
Indianapolis Colts clinch playoff berth: The Colts did the unthinkable this weekend by making the NFL playoffs with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck at the helm. When the Colts decided to make the difficult move to transition away from Peyton Manning, most figured it would take a few years to get back to the postseason. But Luck not only had a monster rookie campaign, breaking Cam Newton’s rookie season passing record, he’s led Indianapolis to an unthinkable ten wins so far. The Colts’ management has to be absolutely pleased with the way things have worked out under Luck. He was expected to be a star in the league, but few could have seen this much success in only his first year.
DeMarcus Cousins in trouble … again: Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was recently suspended indefinitely by the team for conduct detrimental to the team. The exact reason hasn’t been specified, but Cousins and coach Keith Smart reportedly argued in the locker room at halftime of a recent game and the player was benched in the second half. Cousins wasn’t even permitted to leave the locker room during the benching. Even worse was the fact that this isn’t his first brush with trouble this season. Cousins was suspended for a game after striking the Dallas Mavericks’ O.J. Mayo in the groin earlier this month. He was also suspended by the league for two games after an incident with San Antonio Spurs’ announcer and former player Sean Elliott back in November. For his part in the locker room incident with Smart, Cousins has since admitted he was wrong. But the Kings may be fed up with his actions lately and the indefinite suspension could last a while. If so, you have to applaud management since Cousins is the team leader in points, rebounds, and steals, and one of the few attractions the franchise has.
Texas’ Myck Kabongo has season-long suspension cut: Texas guard Myck Kabongo was recently suspended by the NCAA for the rest of this season, but last week had it cut to 23 games. Kabongo reportedly lied to the school about receiving improper gifts, but was found to have not lied to the NCAA. More alarming for me, though, was Texas coach Rick Barnes who said his thoughts are with Myck and his family and that he ‘feels’ for him. So let’s get this straight – a player lies to the school that provides him with a free education and a place to display his athletic talents, but is then treated as if he did nothing wrong and is virtually being tortured. Got it. I don’t deny that everyone makes mistakes, but Kabongo deserves to sit this time out. Instead of feeling bad for him, Barnes would sound much more credible if he said he was disappointed in his actions.
December 3, 2012
Bowl game lineups set: College football’s massive bowl game lineup is now complete and, as expected, Alabama will face undefeated Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game. That’s not a big surprise as the Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in last week’s SEC championship. Even though the Irish are the undefeated team heading into the big game, expect powerhouse Alabama to be favored. While Notre Dame has struggled in several of their lesser games against the likes of mediocre teams such as Pitt, Purdue, and BYU, Alabama has plowed through the difficult SEC nearly unblemished. Notre Dame’s schedule was also a tough one, but the early pick here will be the Crimson Tide.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa projected to fall short of Hall of Fame: Three of MLB’s biggest stars of our generation, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa, are on the ballot for the sport’s Hall of Fame for the first time this year. But with their names tied to steroid use, all three will fall short of induction according to a recent survey taken by the Associated Press. Approximately 100 voters took part in the survey, and Clemens and Bonds received about 45% support while Sosa picked up only about 18% (75% is needed for induction). Even if the trio doesn’t get in this season, there will be plenty of opportunities for them down the road. But for Clemens and Bonds, the news would be particularly difficult to swallow since both were probable Hall of Famers before their alleged use.
ACC adds Louisville: After the defection of Maryland, who is headed to the Big Ten (or B1G … whichever you prefer), the ACC acted swiftly by adding Big East team Louisville. The move was somewhat of a surprise to many as Connecticut had been the trendy pick to receive the invitation. But the conference made it clear that they wanted a ‘football school’ with the move. The Cardinals aren’t a powerhouse by any means, but they have had some success in the Big East and was the conference’s champion this season. Louisville’s program needs to have some more good seasons to establish a bit of consistency, but current head coach Charlie Strong has them moving in the right direction.
Phoenix Suns offer money back guarantee: Desperate to hold onto a fan base not all that thrilled with the team’s rough start to the season, the Phoenix Suns are offering a money back guarantee for their game against the Dallas Mavericks this week. If fans at the game don’t think they’ve had a fun time, the franchise will reportedly offer them their money back according to this ESPN article. I don’t know all the details, but while this may sound like a good idea, part of me thinks the team may have been better off making this offer with a bad team in town. The Mavericks aren’t off to a great start so far, but are a pretty good team. And I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to have a good time when my favorite team wins.
Rick Majerus passes away: Popular college basketball head coach Rick Majerus passed away last week after heart failure. Majerus was most recently the coach of Saint Louis’ basketball team and took a leave of absence from the team earlier this year before the season began. He will probably be most remembered for his jovial personality, but Majerus was a pretty good coach as well. He took the little-regarded Utah Utes program to the NCAA championship game in 1998 and made them into a regular tournament team. Also, in his 25 years of coaching, he had only one losing season. It’s safe to say that he’ll be missed.
May 7, 2012
Despite assembling a trio of some of the league’s biggest stars last year, the Miami Heat were unable to win the NBA championship, falling to the Dallas Mavericks. They received a bit of a pass since it was their first season together, but that won’t be the case if Miami fails to bring home the franchise’s second title this year.
The Heat may not have been the Eastern Conference’s best team this year, but there’s little doubt they are the favorites to advance to the Finals because of the huge rash of injuries to key players.
Miami’s already on the brink of disposing of the New York Knicks, leading their series 3-1 in the first round. The Knicks might have been in better shape against LeBron & Company if they were a bit healthier. New York was already without rookie sensation Jeremy Lin (knee injury) since late March. But then came Iman Shumpert’s torn ACL and a bizarre hand injury to starter Amare Stoudemire, who somehow thought punching a fire extinguisher case out of frustration after the team’s Game 2 loss was a good idea. After sitting out the third game, Stoudemire returned for Game 4. But missing Lin and Shumpert has definitely hurt the team in this series.
The Chicago Bulls, perhaps the best team in the entire league with a 50-16 record, were dealt a cruel blow in their first round series. With only a little over a minute to play in their first playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers, star point guard Derrick Rose tore his ACL and, just like that, his season was over. Rose was the team’s leader in scoring and assists and without him, the Bulls have been a shell of their former selves. Chicago won that first game, but has fallen short in the past three without Rose. And as if that weren’t enough of a hurdle to overcome, the Bulls lost center Joakim Noah in Game 4 to an ankle sprain. Even if they can somehow fight back and make it a series against Philly, there’s little chance they could do much more in the playoffs.
The Orlando Magic were another team expected to contend for the title. That all changed, though, once star center Dwight Howard went down with a back injury late in the season. Power forward Glen Davis has stepped up in his absence, scoring 20 points a game in the playoffs and pulling in nearly ten rebounds. But the team clearly misses Howard, who was their regular season leader in points, rebounds, blocks, and steals. Howard’s defensive impact is just as important as the one he makes on offense and the Magic are a weaker team on both ends without him.
There are also the aging Boston Celtics. The Celtics have been relatively healthy, but shooting guard Ray Allen missed the first two games of their opening series against the Atlanta Hawks. He’d been out for the past month with bone spurs in his foot, and even though he’s back, is still trying to get back into game shape.
Miami isn’t a lock to win the East by any stretch of the imagination. The Indiana Pacers are having a strong season and as one of the league’s best rebounding teams, could give the Heat some trouble. And the Atlanta Hawks’ sixth-ranked defense might be able to challenge Miami’s explosive offense as well. The Heat are a combined 6-2 against those two teams in the regular season, but in the playoffs, the intensity will be ratcheted up significantly. Despite all that, though, it’s clear that with all of the injuries to the Eastern Conference this season, Miami has a clear shot at reaching the Finals again.
March 12, 2012
With the NBA’s trade deadline coming up this week, a number of teams will have their eye on some heavily coveted players. Who knows what this year’s deadline will hold, but here are some key players that could be wearing different uniforms come next week.
Dwight Howard – The Dwight Howard fiasco has been one that’s dominated headlines all season long and even dates back to last summer. The Lakers have been the team most linked to Howard and their ability to land him will depend on how much they want to give up. A package of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum would almost certainly get the trade done, but I have serious doubts that trading two All-Stars for Howard would improve Los Angeles all that much. The Chicago Bulls have also been linked to talks concerning Howard and his addition would give point guard Derrick Rose another offensive weapon. Stay tuned.
Rajon Rondo – The Celtics claim that they aren’t actively pursuing offers for Rondo, but his name has been linked to so much speculation since the season began that it’s difficult to believe he’s untouchable. The young point guard just turned 26 and likely hasn’t hit his prime yet. Boston will probably consider trading him, but I expect it will take a considerable haul for any team to land him.
Pau Gasol – If the Lakers don’t go for Howard, a trade of Gasol probably isn’t all that likely, but it is possible. Gasol and Kobe Bryant have been put off by all of the trade talk concerning the power forward and the team may feel as if they need to deal him at this point. If Gasol does get traded, the Lakers will almost certainly demand a star in return since they are a legitimate championship contender with him.
Andrew Bogut – Bogut is one name starting to surface in some reports, which isn’t surprising since the Bucks haven’t made a great deal of progress during his time with the franchise. He’s not a star, but as a 27-year old 7’0” starting center, he’s certainly a valuable commodity. One thing that might hold up any deal for him, though, is the fact that he’s sat out since late January with an ankle injury. Another thing to consider is that the center is owed nearly $30 million over the next two seasons. For a player averaging a modest 11 points and eight rebounds this season, that amount could scare teams away. Even so, there will be teams willing to gamble on him if the price tag is right.
Jeremy Lin – Okay, just checking to see if you’re paying attention.
Chris Kaman – For any team in need of a center, but unable to land Bogut, Chris Kaman could be another viable option. Kaman has put up eerily similar numbers compared to Bogut this season and is only about two years older. Like the Bucks’ center, Kaman isn’t a star. But he’s a solid starting center in the league and should have several more quality seasons ahead.
Josh Smith – The Hawks forward is one of the most versatile players in the NBA. Smith fills up the box score nearly every night, but is apparently growing frustrated in Atlanta, and reportedly asked to be traded. The Hawks have been a good team with him, but haven’t reached the heights of some of the top teams in the eastern conference. If the Hawks do decide to trade him, they’ll likely need to pick up a power forward in return as they’ll be particularly thin at that spot.
Lamar Odom – I don’t expect Odom to be traded, but there’s no doubt the Mavericks have been disappointed with what he’s brought to the team. Odom clearly didn’t want to be traded out of Los Angeles and it’s shown. This year in Dallas, he’s averaging career lows in points, rebounds, and assists and has been absent for various reasons, missing several games this season. Still, Odom being moved during his first season there may be a longshot. Not only are the Mavericks not likely to give up on him already, but with his disappointing season, getting a good return for him would be extremely difficult.
February 16, 2012
Nashville at Detroit – NHL – 7:30pm
As long as the winning streak continues, this is must see TV. The Red Wings are banged up, but have continued to extend what is now a record 21-game home win streak. Nashville has already been a part of that streak, and would like to prevent from being on their twice. Add to that they could earn some points against the current #1 seed in the West and this game will be intense and should start off our weekend with a great game.
Kansas State at #10 Baylor – NCAAMBB – 1:30pm
In a rematch of a 75-73 Baylor win in January, Kansas State will look to add another W against a ranked team to their tournament resume. Baylor was undefeated and #4 at the time of their last meeting, but has lost 4 games since then (all to Top 10 teams). Kansas State is coming off a loss to #5 Kansas, and will be playing #3 Missouri 3 days later, so they are in a tough stretch of games. However, they know they can hang with Baylor, so look for them to really buckle down and try and get a big win against a conference opponent.
San Antonio at LA Clippers – NBA – 3:30pm
The Clippers look to continue to prove they are the team to beat in the West against the Spurs, who were one time kings themselves. They catch the Spurs at the right time, with this game being San Antonio’s 6th game of a 9 game road trip. However, the Spurs have recently gotten Manu Ginobili back from injury, which makes them a tougher opponent. “Lob City” has been in full effect lately, and the Clippers are 7-3 over their last 10. The Spurs are 9-1, however, and 1.5 games ahead of the Clippers. Los Angeles has to go through the veteran teams if they want to earn their respect in the West.
#16 St. Mary’s at #14 Murray State – NCAAMBB – 6:00pm
St. Mary’s and Murray St. are both teams dealing with loss, something they aren’t familiar with. St. Mary’s has lost 2 of their last 3, while Murray St. received its first loss 3 games ago. In a HUGE game for both their tournament hopes, these teams will be playing this game like it is a play-in game. Both can score, with St. Mary’s 32nd in scoring and Murray St. 41st. These two mid-major teams know how hard the tournament can be on smaller schools, so watch the intensity pick up as the game goes on.
#6 Ohio State at #19 Michigan – NCAAMBB – 9:00pm
Ohio State beat Michigan pretty good Jan 29th, 64-49 at home. Michigan has yet to lose at home this season however, and will be looking to get revenge on their hated gridiron rival. This will be Michigan’s last chance to get a victory over a Top 10 opponent before the Big 10 tournament. On top of that, Michigan is only one game back of Big Ten leader Ohio State, so this is another game that should be played like a tournament game, at least on Michigan’s end.
Dallas at New York – NBA – 1:00pm
Linsanity takes the Knicks and their 7 game winning streak to the defending NBA Champion Mavericks to see if the streak can continue. Dallas has a 5 game winning streak of their own going, and has won 15 of their last 22. Dallas is tied for 5th lowest Points per Game average in the league, while New York has picked up their defensive intensity recently. Jason Kidd might be the best defender Jeremy Lin has had to go up against, but if he and Amar’e can find each other on the pick and rolls, this game should be great to watch.
Orlando at Miami – NBA 3:30pm
This game is star-studded, and should provide a great offense vs. defense matchup to watch. Miami is 1st in scoring in the NBA, while Orlando is tied for 5th in defense. Miami has won 15 of their last 18, really hitting their stride as we get close to the All-Star break. Orlando is playing well also, winning 7 of their last 10, but you have to wonder how much longer they will have Dwight Howard on their squad. Luckily, we don’t have to worry about that this game, which should provide an up-tempo game, even with Orlando’s defensive numbers.
Colorado at Winnipeg – NHL – 8:30pm
This game might not be on a lot of radars, but to me it seems like a great game waiting to happen. Both Winnipeg and Colorado are just outside the playoffs in their respective conference and see the other opponent as “beatable”. Both teams are allowing 2.8 Goals Against and 2.5 Goals per Game, so this should be a very good matchup. Look for a dogfight with both teams looking to make a push towards the playoffs.