January 2, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Adrian Peterson barely misses Eric Dickerson’s record: I’ll admit that I was among the doubters not believing that Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson could break Eric Dickerson’s long-standing record of 2,105 rushing yards in a season. But Peterson shocked me (and probably a lot of other people) in rushing for 199 yards, coming much closer than expected. In the end, he fell only nine yards short of the goal and despite the happy face he may put on this week, it’s hard to imagine he’s not at least a bit disappointed. Peterson still should have a few more productive seasons ahead of him, but reaching the rarefied air that he did this year may never happen again. Even if it doesn’t, though, congratulations are in order for an MVP-type season and one of the best ever for a running back. Plus, the win over the Packers gave the Vikings a playoff berth and ultimately, that’s a pretty nice consolation prize for Peterson.

Drafted in April, Andrew Luck is now taking the Colts to the NFL Playoffs.

Avery Johnson fired as coach of Nets: The Brooklyn Nets made a fairly surprising move by firing head coach Avery Johnson. Assistant P.J. Carlesimo is leading the way for now, but the franchise also has an eye on Phil Jackson. For Johnson, it was a tale of two months. The former NBA guard had the Nets out to an 11-4 start in November and looking like one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. But then came a 3-10 stretch in December and that ultimately cost him his job. Part of the reason for that downfall can be attributed to the loss of star center Brook Lopez, who missed six games due to injury. But with so much talent, more was expected of the team at this point in the season. Johnson should get another opportunity with a different team down the line, though. Before serving as the Nets’ coach, he led the Dallas Mavericks to the playoffs in each of his four years with the franchise and also took them to the NBA Finals in 2006.

Hideki Matsui retires: Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui ended his long career by officially announcing his retirement last week. Matsui spent a total of 20 seasons playing Japanese and American baseball and in ten major league seasons, he hit 175 home runs and batted .282 with the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Tampa Bay Rays, and Oakland Athletics. Even factoring in his 332 home runs in Japan, Matsui still isn’t a likely Hall of Famer. But he was certainly an above-average major leaguer. Matsui finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2003, was a two-time All-Star, and won a World Series Most Valuable Player Award.

Three Rookie quarterbacks make playoffs: When a rookie quarterback leads a team to the NFL playoffs, it’s a big accomplishment. When three do it in the same year, it’s probably time to call the Mayans for another apocalyptic prediction. That’s what happened this year as the ColtsAndrew Luck, the RedskinsRobert Griffin III, and the SeahawksRussell Wilson led their franchises to the postseason. The amazing thing is that none were just along for the ride, either. Luck broke the rookie passing record, throwing for more than 4,100 yards this season, while Griffin had the NFL’s second-best passer rating and Wilson tallied 26 touchdowns and more than 3,000 yards.

Kevin Ollie named permanent UConn head coach: Ollie, a former player, was named as UConn’s permanent head men’s basketball coach with a reported five-year deal. Following the retirement of Jim Calhoun, Ollie was given the job on a sort of trial run with only a one-year deal. But so far this season, he’s steered the Huskies to a 9-2 record and convinced the administration that he was capable of leading the program. Replacing Calhoun is a tough task and Ollie will have his work cut out for him if he wants to achieve as much as the former coach did. The key here is that the new deal will make things much easier for him on recruiting. Instead of telling prospective players that he hopes to still be on the job next year, he can now virtually assure them that he will.

Brandon Roy hopes to continue comeback bid: Just a few years ago, Brandon Roy was one of the top young guards in the NBA. In his first four seasons with the Portland Trailblazers, Roy averaged nearly 20 points a game and made three All-Star teams. But knee issues forced him to suddenly retire after a disappointing 2010-11 season. Roy made a comeback this year with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but is still suffering with the condition and has only appeared in a few games so far this year. Roy has weighed another retirement, but is hoping to get back on the court after dealing with the chronic knee pain. The decision has to be difficult for him. He’s still young enough that he could have several seasons in front of him if the pain can be treated. But at some point, the conditioning day in and day out to be able to play has to be a burden.

February 22, 2011

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NBA Second Half Forecast

By: Joe Williams

Now that the NBA All-Star Weekend has come and gone, it’s time to focus on the second half of the season. There are a lot of questions to be answered in the coming weeks. How will Carmelo Anthony change the Knicks? Can the Lakers reach a fourth straight NBA Finals? Who is going to come out of the Eastern Conference? What will Blake Griffin do next?

The one thing I do know is that I shouldn’t have eaten that last eggroll. While I try to recover, let’s take a look into the crystal ball and see what the NBA has in store for the rest of the season.

Feb. 23

As the trade deadline approaches sources say talks heat up for a major trade involving the Toronto Raptors. When the deadline passes with no deal made, word comes out that the United States and Canada were close to a Toronto Raptors for Nashville Predators trade. Sources say both sides will continue trade talks in the offseason.

Feb. 24

With the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York already a done deal, no major deals are expected at the trade deadline. The biggest trade of the day is a deal between the Lakers and Nets. The Lakers send Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian to New Jersey in exchange for Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian.

March 11

Looking for a spark, the Lakers turn to their past and sign Mark Madsen for the rest of the season. Madsen was part of the Lakers championship teams in 2001 and 2002 and was known for his celebratory actions from the end of the bench. “Nobody supports a teammate better than Madsen,” said Kobe Bryant. “He is always the first to give me a high-five when I do something great.”

April 13

Denver goes into the final day of the regular season tied with Utah for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Nuggets win on a buzzer-beater by Timofey Mozgov (the rookie center who was nearly a deal-breaker in the Carmelo Anthony trade).

Playoff teams in the East: Boston, Chicago, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Charlotte.

Playoff teams in the West: San Antonio, Dallas, Oklahoma City, L.A. Lakers, New Orleans, Portland, Phoenix, Denver.

May 17

The Cleveland Cavaliers pick up their biggest win of the season and come away with the first pick in the NBA draft lottery.

June 2

The NBA Finals begin in Boston as the Celtics host the Dallas Mavericks.

June 16

Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks celebrate winning the NBA Championship in Boston with a 95-89 Game 7 win.

June 20

With the end of the NBA season and the threat of a work stoppage looming, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban purchases a Dairy Queen. “Who knows when we will play
basketball again?” Cuban says. “I care about my players. These guys have families. If they can’t work for me as a Dallas Maverick, they can work for me at Dairy Queen.”

There we have it. The second half of the season should be exciting and full of surprises. We better enjoy it while we can. My Magic 8 Ball says the outlook for basketball next season does not look good.