Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What a Day This Should Have Been - Midweek Wrap Up

Today should be the day. We should be unable to work, too excited to concentrate on our jobs. We should be thinking about Jeff Francis, Matt Holliday, and Todd Helton. Instead, I'm still fixated on Joel Skinner's stop sign, Casey Blake's double pay and error, and the mysterious disappearance of Travis Hafner's bat at the worst possible time. As the great Frank Costanza once said: "Serenity Now." The good news - I won't miss my son's first Halloween.

So now that our baseball season has come to a sad end, the Browns, Cavaliers, and Kansas Jayhawks will be getting the majority of the focus, but you can bet I will be talking Tribe offseason and do a wrap up at some point soon. I have pretty much neglected my other teams since October 1st, but the Tribe will always be at the top of my list. Lets start this morning by going around the horn.

Browns - The bye week actually came at a pretty good time for Browns fans, so they could give their full focus to the Tribe, but now, the eyes of Cleveland are focused back on Berea. At 3-3, the Browns unbelievably are only a game out of first place thanks to the Steelers loss at Denver Sunday night (not like any of us watched a second of that game as it was on at the same time as Game Seven.) With the winless Rams on the schedule this week, can the Browns actually put together back to back wins for the first time in four plus years? With the offense rolling the way it is, anything is possible. It also helps that the Rams are maybe the worst team in the NFL right now and has an offensive line that's
Peter King calls "one of the worst in recent NFL history. Maybe in all of NFL history."

Will Jamal Lewis' foot give him the opportunity to play this week in the dome? Both Lewis and the Browns would love that (as would I as I am working on a trade for him for my fantasy team); the Rams are 24th in the NFL against the run, allowing 129.6 yards per game. Expect the Browns offense to keep on their staggering pace; The Rams defense allows over 27 points per game. Under QB Derek Anderson, the Clowns offense has averaged over 32 points per game, including 41 points in their last game, a win over Miami.

With the Rams up next, a very winnable game, followed by a home date with Seattle, all of a sudden, the November 11th meeting with Pittsburgh looks like it could be a battle for first place. Did I really just type that? I shouldn't have. Knowing this franchise, the Rams could get their first win, the Seahawks could come into to Cleveland and knock them off, and then the Steelers could manhandle them in Pittsburgh. Just like that, the season could unravel. That is why this week's game is so important. Look at what happened in Oakland in week three. A blocked field goal is what is standing between the Browns and a 4-2 first place record. In the NFL, anything is possible and anyone can beat anyone; unless you are playing the New England Patriots.

Cavaliers - Well the season starts a week from tomorrow with Dallas coming to town. The Cavaliers will raise their Eastern Conference Champions banner to the currently empty rafters at The Q. Halloween night most likely won't be a treat for Lebron James and his depleted crew. As flawed as last year's team was, they still had enough to get to the Finals. Three key pieces of the rotation won't be on the floor next Thursday for a team that had a short rotation to begin with. PF/C Anderson Varajao, SG Sasha Pavlovic, and PG Eric Snow all won't be uniform.

Varajao and Pavlovic's contract situations have been well documented and both are currently holding out; a practice which is rarely done in the NBA. 99 out of 100 times a restricted free agent who cannot get a long-term deal finalized, signs a one-year "tender" offer which allows them to play and become an unrestricted free agent at season's end. Varajao's agent Dan Fegan has been described as the "Scott Boras of the NBA," not a good sign if you are a Cavaliers fan. He is much more important to the Cavaliers success than Pavlovic. Right now, Mike Brown has only three big men he can trust, Zydrunus Illgauskas, Drew Gooden, and Donyell Marshall. Z is always a threat to get hurt and is at his best when he doesn't have to play over 30-35 minutes a night. Gooden is solid, but isn't half the defender "The Wild Thing" is. Marshall isn't getting any younger and like Z, is better when his minutes are limited. Let's hope his three-point shot returns this year as well. He started to look old last year, but still is an excellent rebounder.

Sasha is a different story. I don't know what he is doing here. He should have taken the tender offer and played his way into a big free agent deal. Sasha also has an inflated view of himself. To quote my stat guru Matt G "There are a million Sasha Pavlovic's out there." Sasha sitting also give the Cavs brass a chance to give extended minutes to last year's first round pick Shannon Brown. If Brown can step up to meet his potential, Sasha becomes expendable and the Cavs can save much needed cap space. They also have veteran Devin Brown in the fold.

Eric Snow, who is a key veteran presence on this young team, is out indefinitely after having knee surgery. Mike Brown always knew if need be, he could sit Snow for games at a time, but if called upon, would be ready. The beautiful one, Damon Jones, will be the beneficiary of the Snow injury and the Pavlovic holdout. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. All I know is that the Cavs rotation does not look the one of a title contender. Take a look:


SF Lebron James

PF Drew Gooden

C Zydrunas Illgauskas

SG Daniel Gibson

PG Larry Hughes


PF Donyell Marshall

SG Shannon Brown

PG Damon Jones

SG Devin Brown

C Dwayne Jones

PF Cedric Simmons

SF Ira Newble

Look at that bench....all I can say is YIKES. With the season starting with Dallas and New York at home, followed by a west coast trip to Utah, Golden State, Phoenix, the Clippers, Denver and Sacramento. Again. YIKES.

Kansas Basketball - I'll get into the current team in a few days, but the early signing period is really starting to heat up. As I stated in an earlier blog, Bill Self is going through his worst recruiting run since coming to Kansas at the worst possible time. Even with gobs of playing time available, his top targets have all passed him by. Greg Monroe committed to Georgetown. Romero Osby and Terrance Henry chose Ole Miss. DeAndre Liggins who looked like a shoe-in to continue the Chicago-pipeline to Lawrence, spurned Self for Kentucky.

Yesterday though, Self received some good news in the form of a commitment 6'8, 235 PF Quintrell Thomas out of Elizabeth, N.J. He is a solid rebounder and shot blocker who should be able to get minutes right away with the departures of Seniors Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson, along with the expected NBA bolt by Sophomore Darrell Arthur. “I’m going to one of the best programs in the country. I’m really excited. There’s an opportunity for a lot of playing time. I like the players and coaches. Pretty much it’s quiet there, but you can also have fun when you want to,” Thomas said.

The good news for Self is that he got a commitment of any kind from a front-court player; His other two signees for the 08-09 season are 6'4 SG Travis Releford out of Kansas City and 6'5 JUCO SF Mario Little who played his High School ball in Chicago. The bad news is that Thomas was not even ranked in the top 150 by the scouting service. When KU is getting a guy whose other finalists were UNLV and Rutgers, it may be danger time, especially considering the fact that this year's team has five seniors and expect to lose Arthur and Brandon Rush to the NBA. The frontcourt rotation will be wide open with prized Freshman Cole Aldrich the only lock to get major PT.

Another issue Self may have is how the Thomas commitment affect the recruitment of the Morris Twins, Markieff and Marcus. The Philly kids visited KU two weeks ago and are making their last visit this weekend to Villanova, a school they should already be pretty familiar with seeing as though they are from the same city. KU and 'Nova ar their final two. Marcus is the more highly thought of player, ranked #37 by Rivals. Markieff is no slouch at #74. Then there is top 25 big man J'Mison "Bobo" Morgan, who will announce his intentions on November 2nd - his 18th birthday. Self has worked the hardest on Morgan by a mile. Losing him would be devastating. Rumors have been flying about Morgan over the last couple of weeks. One day, KU is out and Alabama and LSU are the top two. A week later, he is visiting Cincinnati and KU, and UCLA are at the top. Morgan told the Baton Rouge Advocate a few weeks prior he has a top three of KU, LSU and UCLA, though no school has been eliminated.

Isn't recruiting fun?

No comments: