Friday, November 30, 2007

The Feeling of Winning It All...We wouldn't know Anything About That

What does it feel like to have your team win it all". If you are from Cleveland (and not on Medicare) obviously you do not know the answer. And please don't bring up the now defunct Cleveland Crunch who won 3 championships in the 90's. That team did not have the heartbeat of the city. They were NOT like the Cleveland Force that captivated 20,000 fans nightly at the Richfield Coliseum in the 80's with the likes of Kai Haaskivi and Bernie James. But even that team could not bring home the ring (or whatever it is they bring home in MISL).

Yes many of you Ohio State contingents can proudly boast that you know the feeling. Being a somewhat casual OSU fan I was excited during the 2002 Championship but not overwhelmed. There were no tears running down my face nor a feeling of great pride. Whenever I run into a true Boston fan the question gets asked about their title back in 2004- the answer almost everytime- "the best feeling in the world". But what about the second? Do these fans still have the same feeling after winning it this year? Do Patriots fans still get the same chill in the back of their neck every time Kraft hoists Lombardi over his head? It's a question many of us Clevelanders would love to be able to answer.

But the fact remains once we get something we long for we take it for granted. The Spurs could not even sell out the home opener this year. They did not sell out the first round of last years playoffs. Why? Simple- the fans have had the privilege to be part of 4 championships in the past 7 years. They have been there and done that. Look at the Atlanta Braves fans- 14 division titles in a row (that consecutive title streak should have had more press). Those fans got fat and lazy and just expected their team to win year after year. The stadium would sit half empty during the regular season which meant for the rest of us only 20,000 annoying tomahawk chops instead of 53,000. On a side note- that chop should be officially outlawed everywhere and immediately.

Lets talk to Spurs fans in 15 years- when they will reminisce about the glory days of Robinson and Duncan. They will long for the chance of being able to watch a quality team. And then there is the lowly dreadful Florida Marlin fan. These fans are not worthy of 2 rings in their 15 year existence. Can you imagine a Marlin fan sporting a Renteria jersey to a Browns game. Talk about a death sentence. But the fact remains since 1949: Florida Marlins 2 rings- Cleveland Indians NONE. Even the Arizona Diamondbacks in the league since 1998 have 1 ring. Maybe it's the old adage "Ignorance is Bliss". These newer teams do not have the weight of their city on their shoulders.

Look at Carolina and Jacksonville. They each reached the Conference Championship in their second year. How did the Browns finish their second year back in 2000: 3-13. Right now is a great time for Cleveland sports. If the Browns can take care of business the next 5 games then Cleveland will have for the first time in history all 3 teams in the playoffs during the same year. Did you hear me correctly- ALL 3 TEAMS IN THE PLAYOFFS. In a city that is financially at the bottom of the barrel- this means lots of cash infused into the downtown area. And for the fans it means pride. And to mathematicians 3 teams in the playoffs means a higher probability that one day someone like a Buffalo Bills fan will ask us What does it feel like to win???

Posted by: Randy Rash

Bill Walker Pisses Himself

Don't miss this from last night's game. Get a very close look at Bill Walker in this video. Focus on the K State bench. He gets the urge to urinate during the game, stuffs trademarked KSU Power Towels down his shorts and pees on them. He then drops the urine soaked towels onto the court, and resumes play. K State Fans should be proud.

The Worst of Times...1997 Kansas/Arizona Revisted

I remember it is if it were yesterday. March 21, 1997. My beloved Kansas Jayhawks were the #1 team in the country. They blew everyone out en route to a 34-1 record. There were future NBA players all over the team. They were a veteran club with four scholorships seniors (Scot Pollard, Jacque Vaughn, BJ Williams, Jerod Haase), a superb junior class (Raef Lafentz, Billy Thomas, CB McGrath), a solid sophomore class (Paul Pierce, TJ Pugh, Ryan Robertson), and future Hall of Famer Roy Williams manning the ship. Then Miles Simon and Mike Bibby walked into my life and ruined it.

Arizona took down everyone #1 that night 85-82 and survived a flurry of missed game-tying three-point opportunities by Robertson, Thomas, and lastly Lafrentz. The memory will always stick with me. In honor of the KU/Arizona game last Sunday, I emailed some of my college buddies to get their rememberence of where they were that night. Take a look.

TD of MTAC: The night before the game was when Spring Break started. We were all scheduled to leave the next day. My plane ticket home was supposed to be during the game, so I had to figure out another option. I stayed up on night thanks to .....i can't get into my only option was a 6 AM flight home. I got home, slept all day, then geared up for the game at home with my father.

As I watched the game, I never once thought we'd lose, despite trailing for most of the game. Everytime Simon hit a shot, it seemingly hit front rim, back rim, side rim, and in. Then he'd smile running down the court. We couldn't stop Mike Bibby and Jason Terry. AJ Bramlett became one of my most hated players of all time, as he grabbed big rebounds all night and yelled after he made put-backs. Michael Dickerson was hitting every big three. Was this really happening?

Most of the game on the KU side however was a big blur until we began to make our comeback and I began to scream at the TV. My pops, a man who has thrown a fit or ten over a sporting event in his day, even told me I needed to relax. Down 10, my alltime favorite Jayhawk, Billy Thomas, was hit two threes and I believe Robertson hit another. Suddenly it was a one point game. After Simon hit two free throws. KU had one last chance. Thomas missed an open three, Vaughn ended up with the ball and dished an open look to Robertson, a move to this day still irks me, who missed. Lafrentz had the last chance. His three from the corner was off the rim and it was over.

I was stunned. I didn't know what to do. I just stood there in shock. Did it really just happen? Was my dream season over? As Williams told his team after the game "life isn't always fair." I had to take a walk. I went outside in shirt sleeves in a Cleveland 35 degree evening and just walked. 45 minutes later I came back. I couldn't watch highlights or the rest of the tournament for that matter. It killed me to do so. All I know is that night KU went to the line just 13 times and Arizona went 27. Arizona coach Lute Olsen to this day never gave KU any credit for being great. That's something that has always stuck in my craw.

The Danimal: Oh Yes, the spring of 1997. I stayed in Lawrence opting out of going home or on some college spring break trip. I wanted to be there, on campus the moment they made the final 4. It was a feeling I thought I would be entitled too going to such a school with a deep basketball tradition. The entire tournament was shaping up to be a classic with 3 out of the
Phat 5 as #1 seeds.

Living at the corner of 19th and Mass, Sean and I had a straight drive down to the Granada. The place was packed as they were showing the game on their big movie screen. We couldn’t find any seats so we sat down on the steps leading down to the dance floor… where we spent many on nights listening the LA Ramblers, Big Head Todd, Government Mule, The Deal, including that one night we watched the Buatchs’s little sister hump a floor monitor, but I digress.

I don’t remember much about the game, but do specifically remember Olsen’s half time interview. He was asked if he was worried about KU’s depth and if he was worried that his team might get tired with such a short rotation. I remember him saying that KU looked tired, and he could not have been more right. Zona hung around the rest of the game, and we left when there was no hope left. I Guess KU made a slight comeback, but to this day I have not seen it. All I remember is the two last shots, Sr. Leader Vaughn giving up a 3 to Sophomore Ryan Robertson, his miss, and then Raef’s miss out of the corner. After that I kicked a hole in my door disgusted… that pain will never heal. That was to be our time, our moment, but I should have known better.

Money: I remember it last it was yesterday. I was studying abroad in London (don't want to bring up bad memories for us). With the time change and other things, I went to bed without knowing the outcome of the game. I remember waking up the following morning and heading straight to the computer room to check the score. As I was walking down the stairs, a friend of mine who went to Arizona was walking up the stairs. She smiled at me and said, "Nice game, you always have next year." I was shocked and pissed. The fact that we lost and the way she said will forever be embedded in my mind.

Stu: One of the hardest days of my life. I was actually on a plane to Los Angeles and my lay over was in Denver. On my way to the gate I stopped at a bar and there was 1 minute left in the game. I still remeber Raef heaving the ball in the air in desperation trying to get that ball in the net. I then went to the bar did 3 shots of Jaeger went to my plane and passed out hoping I was having a bad dream. I got to L.A and had the worst spring break I have ever had. One of the worst days ever.

PPierce: The stage was set for an epic weekend at KU. Although many were gone for Spring Break, Danimal and myself stayed behind to enjoy our first Final Four run of our tenure in Lawrence, KS. It was going to be incredible. Parties on Mass Street, girls everywhere and lots of other things I cannot mention on work email. The destination would be The Granada and their wall size projection tv.

We got there early in eager anticipation of a beat down. With NBA players such as Raef Lafrentz, Jacque Vaughn, Paul Pierce, Scott Pollard and Billy Thomas, we could not be denied. Unfortunately someone forgot to tell that to Miles Simon, Michael Bibby and co.. I'll never forgot those smug looks, smiles and winks on Miles Simon's face throughout that game. His floater couldn't be stopped in the lane and we had no answer for Freshman Michael Bibby's pull up 3's. Which had us all asking the question "why don't we have any guards that can bury three's like Arizona?" Ten years later we finally do, thanks Roy. Their guards made our All American Jacque Vaughn look like an over-hyped fraud (which he was but thats for another article). We had no answers especially with Mr. Floorburns himself, Jared Haase, on the bench with an injured wrist. Although I doubt his pasty a** would of been able to slow down Simon and Bibby.

Dejected, depressed and pissed off, Danimal and myself left the game early. We could watch no more. Little did we know that enroute home the Hawks were in the midst of a great run, cutting it to three. We got home just in time to watch our All American Jacque Vaughn pass up an open three. As Raef's desperation corner 3 point attempt fell short, it was over and Danimal's steel toe boots met his bedroom door. Little did we know that this was just the beginning and 10 more years of agony were upon us.

The Cavaliers Without Lebron....YIKES

Wednesday Night. Detroit, Michigan. The Palace of Auburn Hills. Lebron James' first appearance in Detroit since his all time great 48 point performance in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavs came in winners of five straight and a night after handing the Celtics aka The PGA Tour just their second loss of the season. All five Cavaliers starters played more than 40 minutes. The question I most want to know is why didn't I bet the Pistons? They were such a lock. My brother called it the day before in an email: "They'll lose by 20."

That isn't the point. A nightmare that you never think could happen, popped up. Lebron was driving to the hole and was raked across the hand by Detroit's overpaid scrub-dog Nazi Mohammad. He immediately grabbed his hand. He went to the Locker room and didn't return. He came back after halftime with his shooting handed wrapped and tape around his fingers. Predictably, a five point deficit became 20 real fast. The final score was 109-74. The diagnosis for now is a sprained finger, but if it is indeed broken and Lebron misses time, the Cavaliers obviously are in serious trouble.

No Larry Hughes, no Donyell Marshall, still no Anderson Varajao, and potentially no Lebron. Things could get real ugly real quick. Imagine for a second what the Cavs will put out on the floor without him: Boobie, Z, Drew Gooden, Sasha Pavlovic, and Devin Brown. They will be backed up by Ira Newble, Damon Jones, Dwayne Jones, Eric Snow, and Demetris Nichols.

That team wouldn't win 20 games in a full season.

Everyone is scared, and they should be: "I didn't know anything was even wrong until I looked around at the start of the second half and he wasn't there," said forward Drew Gooden. "That was a shock and a surprise. It's tough to not have him out there -- he's our leader -- but we have to keep playing. Injuries happen, and you can't just give up." "We just hoped that it was nothing serious and hopefully it isn't," said Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

It's a Cleveland fan's worst nightmare for the King to go down. The good news is it isn't a knee. Its a finger, but if it requires surgery, he could be out for months. The Cavaliers would instantly become unwatchable and a team everyone could easily defeat. Check out a couple of columns addressing the situation. They all are in agreement, the Cavs are screwed without Lebron.

Cavs are who we Thought They Were - Tony Mejia, CBS Sportsline

This Could be Trouble - Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Lebron Hurt in Cavs Loss - Brian Windhorst, Akron Beacon-Journal

MRI Confirms James has Sprain -

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Is Derek Anderson the next Kelly Holcomb?

The Browns are off to a 7-4 start and quite frankly, I don’t know anyone that saw this coming, especially after watching the first 8 years of the new Browns, much less the opening game fiasco versus Pittsburgh, with Charlie Frye at QB.

Out of almost nowhere, Derek Anderson has emerged as maybe the NFL’s biggest surprise this season. With DA’s meteoric rise up the NFL food chain, the question has to be asked, is this guy legit or simply another One Hit Wonder like Kelly Holcomb?

You may recall that Holcomb showed flashes of brilliance, including a playoff performance versus the Steelers in 2002 where he lit up the Pittsburgh defense in yet another heart breaking Browns playoff loss. More often than not, however, KH was throwing into double coverage, having happy feet in the pocket, and looking overall like the journeyman backup that he has since become.

Skeptics will argue that DA is nothing more than KH with a bigger arm. They will argue that his biggest offensive outputs have been versus bad teams with lousy defenses. DA is also criticized for not being a heady player, inaccurate on short routes, and too often forces balls into tight windows where they don’t belong. Furthermore, his critics will point to his college career at Oregon State, where he was intercepted far too often, and lost many big games. Ultimately, despite being a 6’6 QB with a huge arm from the offensive PAC 10, DA was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 6th Round and relegated to the practice squad.

I, however, think the Browns may be on to something with the 24 year old from Scappoose, Oregon. With the immense help from a rising talent in Offensive Coordinator, Rob Chudzinski, and a talented trio of receivers in Braylon Edwards, Joe Jurevicious, and Kellen Winslow, the Browns offense has become flat out dangerous. DA has been making ALL the throws since he was inserted into the lineup in week 2. He’s shown signs of maturity as he has become more accustomed to checking down to his backs and tight ends, when deeper routes are covered. And he’s even engineered 2-minute drill comebacks that have led to Browns’ victories.

It’s important to remember that Derek Anderson was a top high school prospect coming out of High School. He was the 1st individual ever selected as the 3A Player of the Year in football and basketball in the same season ... Scappoose High won the Oregon state football title his senior year ... Selected the top QB in the state and 2nd in the nation by SuperPrep Magazine at the conclusion of his senior year. SuperPrep All-American pick and rated the magazine's 10th best player in the nation ... Also earned All-American honors from PrepStar and Student Sports ... USA Today Player of the Year for Oregon.

He was recruited to OSU by then head coach, Dennis Erickson who knows a thing or two about putting college players into the NFL. He then played 2 years at OSU for former NFL head coach and offensive minded Mike Riley. A three-year starter, Anderson was the 1st QB to lead the team to 3 bowl games during the school's 112-year history ... Possesses 20 of the top 50 passing marks (281 yards or more) in OSU annals ... Only the 2nd player in Pac-10 Conference history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season. Ultimately, It was Riley who told Phil Savage that he should check out his 6’6 quarterback, as Riley was convinced that DA could one day start in the NFL. By comparison, Kelly Holcomb was an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State, of the Ohio Valley Conference.

So what does this all mean for the Browns and their prize rookie Quarterback, Brady Quinn? We’ll if I were Phil Savage I would do nothing except continue to trot DA out behind center every Sunday. Regardless of what happens the rest of the way for the Browns (5 games left in regular season), DA has earned the right to start next season as the Browns’ #1 QB. At some point during the 2008 season, the Browns should truly know what they have at QB. If DA continues to grow and develop, he must be kept as the long term answer at QB. At which point, I would trade Brady Quinn and find a veteran to be the backup. Until then, I would ride out 2007 and 2008 with DA as the starter and BQ the backup. Everybody knows that BQ is only one hit away from assuming the reigns. It’s a must in today’s NFL for playoff contending teams to have 2 quarterbacks.

After watching 1st Round QB draft pick, after 1st Round QB draft pick, become busts in the NFL, I am not comfortable putting all of my eggs in the BQ basket. Conversely, after watching guys like Kurt Warner, Trent Green, even David Gerrard, and of course Tom Brady, come out of nowhere to put up big numbers in the NFL, I’m willing to see if Derek Anderson can join that group too.

So, is Derek Anderson nothing more than today’s version of Kelly Holcomb? I say no. Think more like Mark Bulger.

Posted by: Ags

Dire Straits in Bloomington?

What is it with IU basketball these days?

As an IU alum and dedicated fan, watching the Hoosiers over the last ten years or so has been terribly frustrating. Through the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, the Hoosiers were a national powerhouse year in and year out. Since that time, they’ve basically been reduced to a 20-10, easy second round out kind of squad.

Even during the well documented end of the Bobby Knight era at IU, you knew that the players on the court were going to play hard, because if they didn’t, they’d find themselves firmly attached to the bench. But when Mike Davis took over, that feeling changed a bit.

Talk to anyone and they’ll tell you how great a guy Mike Davis is. And while I don’t doubt that for one second, he was never ready to take over the reigns to the IU program. Despite a scrappy team that caught fire in the 2002 tournament and rode the momentum to the championship game, Coach Davis’s IU squads were for the most part, uninspired, careless and lazy. And to IU fans, those characteristics are beyond inexcusable.

With Mike Davis gone, and Kelvin Sampson taking over a new era of IU basketball has begun. But what will this era be remembered for?
Six games into his second season as head coach, Kelvin Sampson is undefeated at home, landed arguably the biggest recruit in IU history in Eric Gordon, and has a team this year that should compete for the Big Ten championship – some even say the Final Four.

Kelvin Sampson has also brought NCAA sanctions with him from his Oklahoma days, took part in additional recruiting violations since arriving in Bloomington, lost junior A.J. Ratliff for half the year due to sub-par academics, suspended his second best freshman, Jordan Crawford three games for violating team rules and lost prized recruit Bud Mackey to DRUG TRAFFICKING charges. What’s going on here? Are we becoming the next UNLV?

Is winning at all costs worth it? And where do Hoosier fans draw the line? Too many phone calls are ok, but we’d never actually pay recruits. Maybe we’ll ignore graduation rates for awhile, but drug trafficking is taking things too far.

Only time will tell what type of mark Coach Sampson will leave in Bloomington. I truly believe Hoosier Nation has given him a very short leash to work with and isn’t happy with a program that does things the wrong way. That said, I’m even more confident of our growing restlessness for that coveted sixth national championship banner.

Posted by: P

More Scoops Than Baskin Robbins

Here is some interesting and really good gossip on the coaching search at Michigan. As you know, Lloyd Carr is out and it seems that LSU coach Les Miles is a shoe-in for the job. Or is he? Read this and see what you think. Keep in mind this is all rumor and speculation:

Sources think it' s Miles, but some interesting stuff on Carr & Miles that I wasn't aware of. The Kirk Ferentz issue is fairly complicated. Obviously, he is strongly connected with Mary Sue Coleman, and he grew up on Michigan (Royal Oak) until going to hs in PA and his daughter went to school at Michigan. As a former assistant and then head coach at Iowa, he has known Lloyd Carr for many years and they share many of the same philosophies about football (running the ball ,time of possession, playing conservatively in the 4th quarter).

It was set up for the past two years that Carr would retire out after this season. Carr’s contract has deferred comp provisions that don’t require him to be head coach in July, 2008 in order to get paid out, and the assistants contracts are all guaranteed through the end of the 2008 regular season. Carr had promoted Mike Debord to OC in 2006 with the hope that the former Central Michigan coach and Michigan OC (96-00), would succeed and there would be a transition with Debord as HC without any major staff changes. That plan was working pretty well, until the first half of the OSU game last year, and then things have just fallen apart.

AGAIN, THIS IS RUMOR: At some point last year, Ferentz visited Bo in the hospital. While in AA, he met up with Carr and Coleman. After that conversation, I believe Carr began to see Ferentz as a viable alternative –someone that he respected that would not change things dramatically. Carr is a very strong supporter of Ferentz being the next head coach, because he really does not have any internal coaches that would be taken seriously (maybe English in a few more years, but the D struggled with 7 new starters this year and he has only had the job 2 years).

Had Carr retired last year, there would have been a very high probability that Ferentz would have become the next Michigan coach. He is a coach that is highly respected, whom Carr and Coleman consider to have a lot of integrity, and would seem to fit very well with the existing personnel at Michigan and a safe pick in that he had proven he could win the Big Ten.

Things changed dramatically after the Appalachain State loss. It was readily apparent that an offense supposedly loaded with talent (henne, hart, Long, Manningham, Arrington) was not even prepared to start the season and was being outplayed by a football minnow. I can’t tell you how pissed the season ticket holders and big $$$$ donors were after that game- unheard of at any Big ten school and especially Michigan. Then Michigan got wiped by Oregon, and Carr himself told the AD that he was definitely done-he just didn’t have the energy to do it anymore and the stress was too much for him. The team has basically gone for several years now with a head coach in name only, as English (DC) and Debord (OC) basically function independently of each other, which is why things look like a mess at times.

At that point, the donors, ticket holders and AD realized that the program was in much more of a decline than many had realized (very antiquated strength and conditioning program, poor offseason workout structure, far more disciplinary problems than in the past, and the recruiting is struggling with the Carr rumors running the past two seasons- last year they missed out on several of the top in-state kids, which is pretty rare). The big money donors and alums began looking for the homerun candidate and Miles stepped to the forefront.

Miles has a long history with Michigan. He played for Bo, he coached for Bo, he left with McCartney and coached at Colorado, and he returned to coach for Moeller. Moeller’s staff had some huge divisions amongst the coaches where they just hated each other. Guys like Miles and Cam Cameron were seen as extremely arrogant, brash and aggressive and that did not go over well with Carr, who was the DC. When Moeller resigned and Carr became interim head coach, Miles was out there door in an instant and Cameron wasn’t far behind.

Miles’ and Carr’s dislike for each other played out on the recruiting trail for years. The dislike spiraled and spiraled.

This is what Carr meant in his resignation speech when he said that certain issues would be left on the recruiting trails (it was directed at Miles). But the current coaching staff (Debord, Loeffler and others) continue to just bash Miles through the media and surrogates on the message boards claiming that there are “ethical” issues concerning Miles. They are hoping that someone like Ferentz would come in and not completely overhaul the entire program, starting with firing most of them.

AGAIN..THIS IS RUMOR/SPECULATION. Miles, though, has huge support amongst the alums, big donors, and within the Athletic Department. On the internet, over 80% of the posters support Miles as the next coach in the polls. Even if he can be quirky at the end of games (not always coaching according to Hoyle like bombing it into the endzone on 3rd and 8 with 14 seconds left), he is seen as the fiery, emotional leader than can bring back the intensity and physical play Michigan has been lacking for many years now. And he is a great recruiter. He is a homerun candidate that is begging for the job (sent word to Martin that he WILL take the job if offered).

Carr, though, will not support Miles no matter what and despite their purported reconciliation. Hence, Carr and the current coaching staff are allegedly backing Ferentz as the anti-Miles candidate. This is a strong constituency because ultimately Mary Sue Coleman may cast her vote.

The third major candidate will be Brian Kelly of Cinn. He won 2 national titles at Grand Valley State (in Grand Rapids), won the MAC with Central Michigan (basically winning 80% of his games at a school that Debord couldn’t win 50% at), and is proving himself at Cinn. He has some skeletons though, as MSU did not hire him last year because of his notorious temper and a purported racial incident (was defending some players claiming that in their culture they don’t cooperate with the police after a shooting). Without a doubt though, the guy is a fiery competitor.

In the end, I think it will be Miles-but not without some shouting and hurt feelings. There is a very vocal minority very strongly opposed to his being head coach, but he is the sure fire homerun for the AD with the donors and alums. And his intense style and excellent recruiting likely has the highest ceiling as far as future success. He may not be the gamecoach that Ferentz and Kelly are, but he would overhaul the system and royally kick some ass until the things started working again. He is also aggressive in games and a dramatic departure from the ultra conservative world of Lloyd Carr, and most importantly-he goes outside of his system to hire top assistants everywhere that he has gone. Jimbo Fisher, Gary Crowton, Bo Pelini-he just goes out and hires the best guy without the cronyism.

Coast to Tyus Edney against Mizzou

Kansas 87 Florida Atlantic 49 - Since i've been in sales meetings all week, I missed tonight's game. You won't get your big recap, so here it is: Brandon Rush led the Jayhawks with 17 off the bench. Darnell Jackson replaced Sasha Kaun in the starting lineup and scored 13 and Darrell Arthur shook off a knee injury to lead KU to the W, spoiling former KU star Rex Walters' return to Allen Fieldhouse. Playing without injured guards Sherron Collins and Tyrel Reed, Jeremy Case and walk-on Conner Teahan stepped in with a combined 16 points on 4-5 from deep. Teahan is now a crazy 8-10 for the season from three point land.

UCLA 83 George Washington 60 - UCLA welcomed back PG Darren Collison with a blowout win over GW at Pauley. Collison played 26 minutes off the bench and scored 14 points while dishing out five dimes. Kevin Love had a strange stat line, going 2-4 from the field and 7-10 from the line. Russell Westbrook led the Bruins with 19. UCLA looks like the most complete team in the country with the way they play D.

North Carolina 66 UCLA 55 - Want to know why Ohio State lost a game in which they led at the half? Freshman Kosta Koufos was 1-10 from the field and the Buckeyes were outrebounded 54-38. Wayne Ellington scored 23 to lead a Tar Heels team playing without starting PG Ty Lawson. OSU Frosh John Diebler broke out of his slump with 19 points.

Georgetown 66 Old Dominion 48 - Roy Hibbert scored 14 and Austin Freeman 11 to avenge last year's bad loss to the Monarchs. Despite being outrebounded by ODU, the Hoyas controlled the game and won going away. I just always find myself rooting against JT3 and his team thanks to his a-hole father.

Texas 98 Texas Southern 61 - DJ Augustine had 20, Damien James had 19, and Justin Mason had 16 for the Longhorns who annihilated Texas Southern. Rick Barnes has his team running all game long and it is working. The problem is his lack of depth and overuse of his starters. This will haunt them come March. Mark my words.

Texas A&M 76 Alabama 63 - Four starters were in double figures for the under the radar Aggies. The one who didn't, DeAndre Jordan, may be their best player. The Aggies are for real and will be tested this weekend when they travel to Tucson to meet Arizona in what could be Lute Olson's first game back on the bench. PF Richard Hendrix had 19 and 12 for the Tide.

Michigan State 81 NC State 58 - Which Spartan team will show up each night? Last night was the good Green as the Spartans blew out a solid NC State team. Drew Neitzel had 17 to go with Goran Suton's 16. It makes one wonder how you can blowout the Wolfpack and barely scrape by against Oakland U.

Xavier 93 Oakland 68 - Watch out for Sean Miller's Musketeers. Unlike MSU, Xavier blew away Oakland thanks to all five starters scoring in double figures.Josh Duncan had 18 and 8 and Stanley Burrell had 17.

KU quotes from

Mario Chalmers on the defense stepping up from Sunday: “We know we’ve got a big matchup with O.J. Mayo coming up, and we just want to work on our defense. And I think that’s how Arizona stayed in the game with us, because our defense, we couldn’t stop Chase (Budinger) and we couldn’t keep them off the boards, so we just tried to do a better job of that tonight.”

Mario Chalmers on the upcoming matchup with Mayo: “He’s a pretty good player, but I think we’ve just got to keep somebody on him at all times, don’t let him get open shots, make every shot he takes tough...We know we can make an even bigger name for ourselves if we can stop O.J. and stop USC, and they know they can make a big names for themselves if they beat us, so it’s competition.”

Darnell Jackson on his first start of the year: “It doesn’t make a difference to me at all. If I come off the bench or start, I still have to do my job...When they call your name and you run out there and everybody’s yelling, it gives me a lot of energy, and when I’m in the game, especially if I was just to get a steal or take a charge, it just makes my momentum go higher.”

Darnell Jackson on the prospects of going on the road for the first time: “It’s gonna be a lot different because the circle’s gonna get a lot tighter, we’re not going to be playing at home, so when we’re out there, we’re gonna have to make sure we execute and make sure we don’t give them second chances at their home court.”

Bill Self on starting Darnell Jackson over Sasha Kaun: “I think that he’s earned that. I think he’s played well and I think Sasha’s labored, and maybe that will get Sasha going a little bit, but if we’re gonna experiment and do some different things, it’s best to do it early on. And I’d say right now that Darnell’s earned that right to start.”

Bill Self on Brandon Rush’s performance: “I thought tonight, he probably wasn’t as aggressive tonight as he was against Arizona, but he was aggressive shooting the ball. One thing about it, when Brandon’s gotten in the game, he’s given us some offense off the bench when he first checks in usually. But he looks better and better, doesn’t he? He’s moving better, and his moves to the basket aren’t quite what they will be, and tonight when he tried to elevate on that first one when the guy blocked his attempt down, I think that’ll be a finished play a month from now.”

Bill Self on O.J. Mayo coming up this weekend: “I can tell you a little bit, but I haven’t studied them at all yet. O.J.’s terrific. He could be the best player we’ll play against all year. He could be. But there’s a lot of guys like that, but he’s that good.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

College Football...I Just Don't Get It

As I watched my beloved Jayhawks gag away another big stage contest, something was different this time. The air outside was cold and the turkey coma had just worn off. Not only was this late November and not late March (the time of year we've all grown accustomed to feeling sick with defeat) but I really didn't care. Perhaps I am just the product of attending a basketball school. We have been programmed to ignore college football season for so long because we just weren't relevant. In fact, in the 13 years that I have been associated with The University of Kansas, this was the first time I've ever gathered at a bar, with friends to watch a Kansas football game. I think I attended a total of 2 football games in my 4 years in school and one of those was parents weekend. Isn't that what you have to do during parents weekend???

I really don't think that was it though. My issues have to do with the sport itself. I have trouble rooting for and watching a sport that rewards such mediocrity. The crescendo of College Football is obviously the National Championship game. However, throughout the holiday season schools and fans will cheer on their teams in meaningless bowl games. Yes I said meaningless. I just don't get it. So your team won the bowl. Big deal. What does that mean? Congratulations, you had a 6-5 record and were lucky enough to have some committee select you to play in a game because they think you will draw a big crowd. To be bowl eligible a team needs at least 6 wins. Wow 6-5, one game over .500 and your season should be deemed a success? In the NFL it is every teams goal to reach and win the Super Bowl. In Major League Baseball a team plays to win the World Series. College basketball has the tournament and the NBA has The Finals. I understand that college football has a national championship game and a champion is eventually crowned, although having a computer determine the game is an issue for another article. But please curb your enthusiasm because your team has made it to the Motor City Mediocrity Bowl.

Posted by: PPierce, aka Mr. Negative

Insanity in The Nati

Please someone stop the madness. Tell me what I am reading is a joke. In my next life, I need to come back as an average baseball free agent. In the latest headscratcher in a market which will never correct itself, Cincinnati Reds and closer Francisco Cordero have reached a preliminary agreement on a four year $46 million deal. Almost $12 million a year for Francisco Cordero? This is a guy who is coming off a career year with the Brewers with 44 saves and a 2.98 ERA. A solid year definitely. Did you know that his road ERA was 6.55 and he blew six saves chances? Opposing hitters swung the sticks to the tune of a .337 batting average in those road games. The previous year, he was ousted as closer in Texas and traded to the Brewers where he resurrected himself.

That is all fine and dandy, he is a major league closer. Keep in mind he Reds play in the notorious band-box Great American Ballpark, where homers fly out like no other stadium in baseball. To give a guy who a volatile track record close to $12 million dollars a year at age 32 (33 in May) is ludicrous. Are the Reds nuts? What was wrong with David Weathers last year? For just $2.25 million, he saved 33 games and compiled a 3.59 ERA. His road ERA was actually 2.87, better than his over four and a half home ERA. Weathers will most likely move to the setup role, a spot the Reds could never seem to fill last year.

Deals like this are why Tribe GM Mark Shapiro seems to be a step ahead. You think in this market (similar to Cincinnati) he would ever take a chance on that kind of jack for a guy like Cordero? No way. Next year, the Reds have $13 million tied up in Adam Dunn, $9 more in Ken Griffey Jr, and now almost $12 in Cordero. Nobody else makes any serious jack worth speaking of, and this team still has a long way to go. Cordero did the right thing for himself, but this is a straight up cash grab and a stupid move by the Reds.

Coast to Tyus Edney against Mizzou

The second night of the ACC/Big East challenge had a couple of marquee matchups. You also had Minnesota travelling to Florida State where an FSU team who had previously lost to Cleveland State, knocked off Tubby's Gophers 75-61. MTAC fave Frosh Blake Hoffarber led the Gophs with 12. Stat Guru MG's UVA Cavaliers buried Northwestern 94-52 and Kentucky only beat 0-5 Stony Brook by 10 in Rupp Arena.

Duke 82 Wisconsin 58 - Talk about a statement game. The cover of this week's ESPN the Magazine had a header that said "Is this the end for Coach K?" Yeah, I don't think so. PG Greg Paulus scored 18, Freshman Taylor King added 15 off the bench, and the stifling Devil full court pressure Defense completely rattled the Badgers into 18 turnovers. Duke came out smokin and led by 23 at the half. The cruised the rest of the way and looked cohesive doing so.

Indiana 83 Georgia Tech 79 - The talk of the night wasn't about the game, but rather the mysterious indefinate suspension of IU PG Jordan Crawford for a violation of team rules. Without their top guard off the bench, Kelvin Sampson essentially went with a one man bench (PF Mike White) to bring this W home. Eric Gordon, playing all 40 minutes, was fabulous again, scoring 29 and getting to the line a whopping 16 times. He did, howver commit eight turnovers. DJ White chipped in a much needed double double, 18 points and 14 boards. Don't let this win fool you, The Hoosiers looked soft.

Clemson 61 Purdue 58 - KC Rivers was the man for Clemson, carrying them to the winners circle with his 18 point, 12 rebound night. The Tigers are now 6-0. Seriously, this game was a bore and I have nothing more to say about it.

Memphis 104 Austin Peay 82 - Man does Memphis have depth. Six players scored in double digits, led by Chris Douglas-Roberts' 23. PG Derrick Rose had his usual ho-hum 19 point, 12 assist game, and Joey Dorsey came strong with a double double of his own, 10 and 10. Nine players logged 17 minutes or more.

Pittsburgh 80 Boston University 53 - The Panthers are now 6-0 after the win. Their wins are over Houston, North Carolina A&T, St. Louis, Mississippi Valley State, Buffalo, and now Boston. Look up cupcake schedule in the dictionary and you will see a picture of the Pitt Panther. Their next two games are against Toledo and Duquesne. That's an embarrassment.

Tennessee 93 North Carolina A&T 59 - Good to see Chris Lofton rounding back into form. He led the Vols with 24 in this blowout win in Knoxville. The player of the night however was Tyler Smith, who was a perfect 7-7 from the field, scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. He will be the difference this year for the Vols. They finally have a true post presence.

Enjoy Him While You Can

NOTE: This column was written before Lebron's incredible performance in the 109-104 OT thriller over Boston. The Cavaliers dealt the Celtics just there second loss of the season. Lebron scored 38 points, including 11 in OT and 14-15 from the line. Oh, did I mention his 13 assists?

"...and with the first pick of the 2007 draft, the Portland Trailblazers pick LeBron James."Sound far fetched? Not really, since LeBron would have been picked in this past year's draft had he gone to college and stayed all four years. I hope this scenario accomplishes two things: 1. You appreciate the level of greatness he has achieved at the ripe old age of 22. 2. You appreciate that the Cavs actually have him. I remember growing up and savoring any mention of a Cleveland athlete in the national media. The SI with Joe Carter and Cory Snyder was a remarkable thing. I realize that did not turn out very well, but it was still so cool to see my team on the cover back then. Now, one of our players has his own shoe, an SNL hosting appearance, and his own bubble gum flavor. Pretty wild stuff.

Yet to me, the most intriguing part of LeBron is that at every stage of his development, his doubters have voiced their opinion louder than his supporters. Yet, he continues to get even better and defy the Mr. Negativities that saturate the media landscape. Let's think about the following:

When he was drafted, many said that he could not live up to the hype - that the pros were much better than St. Ignatius or St. Agnes. By the way, did the Cavs surround him with nurturing veterans that could show him the ropes? Not exactly. They gave him the most selfish player (Ricky Davis) and the most unmotivated player (Darius Miles) in recent memory. It was kind of like having Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan babysit your 12 year-old daughter. You just hope you come home and she doesn't have a tattoo, a boyfriend named Brody or Spencer, and a belly piercing. So, what does LeBron do with this motley crew? He avoids caving to negative peer pressure (pretty unusual behavior for an 18 year-old) and gets Ricky D. a one way to ticket to irrelevance. He also helps the Cavs win 18 more games than the year before and gets them within a game of the playoffs.

Last year, there was a talk of exhaustion from a busy offseason and an overall lack of caring or effort. One scribe even said that he was likely the next Martina Hingis. The result? The first NBA finals appearance in team history,which was highlighted by a playoff game performance for the ages.

Going into the year, there were again cries that LeBron was too busy being a Global Icon and not working on his jumper, his free throws, or his marital vows (remember only white QBs get to have babies out of wedlock). The rose of the Finals appearance had quickly wilted and the Cavs were victims of a double shakedown by a couple of role players that would have made Paulie and Furio blush.

His first game of the year was a disaster as he was scoreless in the first half en route to a 2 for 11 performance. Or was it a disaster after all? Perhaps it was a message to management, his team, and the league that this is what the Cavs are without me. That game is now a distant memory as LeBron is averaging over 30-8-8. These are indeed NBA Live 08 numbers.

So, what does this mean? In my opinion, he is the best player in the league. End of story. Perhaps end of the decade. Why? Because he could do anything anyone else can do in the league. If you put him on Phoenix, there is little doubt in my mind that he could match Nash's assists numbers. If you put him on Orlando and said that he has play in the low post, he could match Howard's rebounds and blocks. If you extracted his conscious, he would outscore Kobe nightly. If you let Jeff Van Gundy coach him, he could keep the other team (and his own team) from scoring 80 points a game.

Does this mean that he is perfect? Absolutely not. He still struggles from the line (75% should be the goal - few great men of his size have ever shot better than that). He could learn to move without the ball better. He could learn to be a little more consistent in his effort. However, people have to remember that basketball is a 48 minute game of chase and you can't sprint the whole time. To me, LeBron's supposed weaknesses are actually great news. He still has upside, which is a wonderful thing to have at age 22! Even better than that, he is ours for another few years.

Remember, having a star like LeBron is like dating the hottest girl in the school. After a while, you start taking her for granted. You get annoyed by her once cute flaws. You start to think that you could do better. The next you know, you are broken up. The problem is that you are still you, and she is still the hottest girl in the school. Is this a stretched analogy? Not really. If LeBron leaves, he will still be LeBron, and we will still be Cleveland fans.

So, the message is, shut up and enjoy this while it lasts, just in case it ends in a few years...

Posted by: Stat Guru MG

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"One Constant" in Detroit

More fun and frivolity with Rob Parker in Detroit. The columnist for the Detroit News who usually gets blasted by bloggers for being below average penned a doozy on Friday claiming that Lions owner William Clay Ford told the coaches to throw the ball to Calvin Johnson. The rookie first round pick has been basically ignored by offensive genius Mike Martz until Thursday when he became featured in the offense and dropped many passes in the first half of the loss to Green Bay. Today, head coach Rod Marinelli went ballistic, calling the report "a lie" about 5 or 6 times in a row in his talk with reporters. Marinelli became agitated and added that only he and Matt Millen talk to Mr. Ford. Posted by The Deez.

Ford Calls Johnson's Number - Rob Parker, Detroit News

Fan vs. Fanalyst

By definition, you are a sports fan. Otherwise, you would not be reading someone else’s blog about Cleveland sports. The question at hand is whether you are also a fanalyst? Unlike ginormous, fanalyst is not yet accepted in the modern dictionary or in any Scrabble tournaments as far as I know. Fanalyst is just a word that I made up as I was thinking about the Browns’ win Sunday.

You see, the fan in me is ecstatic that if the season ended today (if only we were so lucky), the Browns would be in the playoffs for the second time since they were resurrected. However, the analyst in me knows that we are at best a decent team that has taken advantage of an extremely easy schedule. If you doubt the latter, please know that we have only played three games against the top 16 teams in the league according to Sagarin’s ratings, and we are a lovely 0-3 in those contests.

The fan in me loves that the offense is third in the league in scoring, but the analyst in me knows that defense wins championships and ours has given up the most points in the league. By the way, these numbers are not unrelated. Our high scoring offense typically scores quickly (often due to a short field courtesy of the defense or Mr. Cribbs), which puts our defense back on the field with limited rest. In our past three games, do you know how many drives the offense had that lasted more than six plays? Six out of thirty-seven, excluding kneel downs. It’s even worse when you consider that two of these long drives were the last drives of the games. You see, the fan blames our defense, while the analyst knows that the defense is put on the field way too quickly and way too often.

The fans cheers Derek Anderson onto victory, while the analyst gets nervous that he is Kelly Holcomb with better bone density. The fan actually doesn’t care if Derek Anderson is the answer to our prayers, while the analyst worries about his touch and his decision making and that we could go 10-6 this year, miss the playoffs, and never learn one thing about Brady Quinn other than he looks as foolish in a Browns wool hat as you did when you were seven years old.

These intra-mind battles can be harmless until the analyst in you starts rooting to be right instead of allowing the fan to root for the win. What am I talking about? I am talking about saying, as many of us did earlier this year, “Romeo can’t coach. He is not a leader of men.” Then, for the rest of the year, you suffer from an unconscious battle. You want us to win, but a small part of you wants to be right. This is the turmoil of being a fanalyst.

I actually suffered from this syndrome during the Indians surprising run. I was very bearish about the Tribe at the beginning of the year. The fan in me loved the glowing predictions of success from baseball’s leading analysts, but my analyst saw Delucci, Blake, Michaels & Nixon as a modern version of Manning, Jacoby, Cox & Bannister. The analyst in me kept telling everybody about how our lack of speed and athleticism were dooming the team. So, with the Tribe treading water as late as August, the fan in me was disappointed, but the analyst in me loved being right. I got bailed out when the Indians finally summoned Gutierrez and Cabrera from the minors and traded for Lofton. My fan and my analyst were now aligned – we could win and I could be right. It was ecstasy.

But what happens when this does not occur and your fan and your analyst remain at odds with each other? My advice is simple. Unless you work for ESPN and are paid to be analyst, just F'ing root for your team to win.

Posted by: No Titles in Over 100 Seasons - Stat Guru MG

Yanks Talkin' Johan/Tribe After Bay?

The old saying is the rich get richer. Well it could happen again in baseball. It is getting to be such a tired act, but the way the current system is built, this is the way of the world. According to the Associated Press, The Twins and the Yankees are having preliminary discussions regarding Johan Santana. So let me get this straight, the Yankees will have the best player in the game, A-Rod making $27 million a year, and if they pull this off will have to sign Santana long term, most likely in the $20 million a year realm. Derek Jeter makes $18 million a year. Mariano Rivera just signed a three year deal for $15 million per. Jorge Posada just signed his deal for $12 million a year. Is this a friggin joke?

Brian Cashman has got to be smarter than this, doesn't he? Notice he has been extermely quiet this offseason now that Hank Steinbrenner has taken over the reigns from his father. Hank has become the moronic quote machine, walking right into his fathers footsteps. Cashman has said for months that he won't trade his three top pitching prospects. Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Joba Chamberlain. Don't you get the feeling that if these three were in the Brewers farm system, nobody would be talking about them the way they do and they wouldn't be held over every other team's head? Of course. Its the Yankees, and over-blowing everything is a way of life.

All I know is they were taken down in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of your Cleveland Indians in four games and they haven't won a playoff series since 2004. That's what a $200 million payroll gets you evidentally.

In the meantime, according to yesterday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The one party confirmed to have spoken to the Pirates about Jason Bay is Cleveland, and that should be no surprise. For one, Huntington came from the Indians and knows their system better than any. A rookie general manager will want to be ultra-certain about the return for someone like Bay. For another, the Indians are a good match, having exceptional depth of starting pitching and catching.

Put Jason Bay in left, hit him between Victor and Hafner and call it a day. Give em Stiff Lee, Marte and Shin-Soo Choo. Make it happen Shappy!

Varajao Ain't Walkin Through That Door

Out of the clear blue sky, our good buddy and resident flop king Anderson Varajao has decided to speak and let the world know the Cavaliers and Danny Ferry have done him wrong. In his first interview in months, the Brazilian sixth man and key cog in the Cavaliers run to the Eastern Conference Title says he is essentially done in Cleveland. He told's Chad Ford the following:

"I wanted to come back," he said. "I love the fans and I really love my teammates. But there are others there that have made it very difficult. It's gotten to the point that I don't want to play there anymore. I'm just hoping for a sign-and-trade at this point."

He told Ford that Ferry showed up in Brazil unannounced to offer him a contract, going behind his agent's back. That didn't sit well with agent Dan Fegan or Andy: "I was shocked," Varejao said. "He showed up and wanted me to sign a contract. I told him he's got to talk to my agent. He didn't even up his offer. I guess he thought if he just showed up, I would just sign whatever he gave me."

"It defies logic for the Cavs to accuse Anderson of demanding too much money on a long-term deal while at the same time refusing to allow Anderson to sign a one-year deal for less money, especially when they retain his Bird rights next year." Fegan said. "It begs the question: If their offer is truly fair, what are they afraid of?"

More From Varajao: "I'm willing to go and play in Europe if that's what it takes," Varejao said. "I know it's a risk and I'll be a restricted free agent next year, but at least I'd be happy. I don't think I'll be happy in Cleveland knowing that I was [almost] the lowest-paid player there for three years and am still paid much less than players on the team that I outperform. Life's too short to be unhappy."

All Ferry could do is defend his position: "From the start of free agency, we told Anderson and his agent that the ability to communicate with him directly was going to be very important to the process," Ferry said. "The trip was done because our communication with Anderson was no longer available to us."

You want my take? Varajao can tell me all he wants that he is getting screwed, but he and his agent both think they are better than they are. I said it before, he isn't nearly the player Drew Gooden is, yet wants more money than Drew's three year, $22 million deal. That said, Ferry going to Brazil around Fegan was a total chump move. He should hold firm, stay in Cleveland, and work a sign and trade. Call it a day and move on.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Emmitt Smith...So Bad, He's Good

I love Browns Head Coach Romeo "Cornell," and evidentally, so does Emmitt Smith. Seriously, does anyone think he will last more than this year? That'a a bigger lock than Artie Lange dying before he's 45.

More Browns National Love and Other Musings

Again, I apologize for my tardiness today as I know Monday is a big day here at MTAC. I've had some opportunities to peep a little bit of the national love coming to the Browns. I wanted to make sure you were all kept abreast of the happenings. That is what we do here at MTAC, we keep you informed, while trying to make you laugh. Speaking of which, I was down at the game yesterday, and I've decided that other than Ohio State fans, there is no group that exemplifies the phrase "lowest common denominator" than Browns fans. Drunken buffoons everywhere yesterday. What am i talking about? Drunken buffoons every week. Just once I;d like to go to a game and not get beer spilled on me. Just once. Not likely though. That said, its so nice that they are actually putting a good product on the field for us to watch. Here are some national takes:

Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback -

Coach of the Week
Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel. Now he's got them playing defense. The ex-Patriot has the Browns 7-4 with five games left, and he has them playing better defense than we thought they were capable of, at least on Sunday against Houston. "RAC [his nickname] has been grinding us, working us hard, making sure we get better every week on defense,'' Willie McGinest said via cell phone Sunday. "The best thing he's done, on both sides of the ball, is get rid of the individuals on this team. Everyone here's a team guy now.''

The Fine Fifteen (page link)
9. Cleveland (7-4). Braylon Edwards has a combination of physicality and hands equal to any young receiver in football.

Ten Things I Think I Think (page link)
c. Jamal Lewis has more than a little bit left.

Week 12 Judgements - Clark Judge, CBS SPORTS

3. Oh, yeah, we better include Romeo Crennel in that (Coach of the Year) conversation, too. The guy could wind up 12-4. I'm serious.

Pete Prisco's Week 12 Grades - CBS SPORTS

Browns B-: Jamal Lewis had a good day running the ball and Derek Anderson was good again. The best thing for the Browns was that the defense had a good day. They had two big picks.

Browns Showing the Swagger of a Playoff Team - John Clayton, ESPN.COM

Make sure you read that entire article. Its great stuff for a Browns fan. Clayton says: But this was more than a one-man show. It was a statement game for the 7-4 Browns, the NFL's Cinderella team. Instead of looking like some lucky squad that fortune has shined on this season, the Browns had the look and feel of a playoff team, one that doesn't beat you with tricks but with physical play. You can see their swagger, their confidence.

Edwards Turns Blue Collar for Browns - Jason Cole, Yahoo Sports

Another good read. Cole says: After two years of physical and emotional frustration, Edwards is rising nearly as fast as Cleveland is turning itself into a contender.

I'm Swamped, so I'm Cheating on the KU Coverage

I'll be honest with you, my real job is kicking my ass this morning. I want to give you more breakdowns of the Browns and the Kansas win over Arizona. Instead, its cut and paste time. There was lost of interesting reads, and while I know you are looking for my takes, take a look at my in game diary from last night's KU game below as well as my last Browns postings.

Kansas/Arizona coverage:

Bill Self on Rush’s final shot in regulation: “I’m glad it didn’t go in, because we need to play five more competitive minutes like that and have some good things happen. I mean I would have been really glad if it went in, but since we won the game, we needed five more minutes to execute with the pressure on.”

Bill Self on what he learned about his team from this one: “I know that we don’t play smart. We had a chance to crack the game open and had about six straight terrible offensive and defensive possessions consecutively. So we played stubborn, which is very frustrating. Instead of playing to our strengths, we play stubborn. And I know we don’t rebound - our big guys don’t rebound. And also we’ve got to figure out who our lockdown defender is. Brandon’s not ready to be that yet....From a positive standpoint, once the game was 40-40 at halftime, they weren’t going away. It was going to be a close game no matter what. I thought that it was good we played in a tight game, thought it was good we had to execute form behind and make free throws with the pressure on. There were a lot of good things that happened. I do think we have tough kids, and I do think we’re poised. But we play stubborn. And what I mean by that is we know what we should do, but there’s that inside of us saying ‘Yeah, but I can do this.’ And it doesn’t play out to work, and it certainly didn’t work tonight.”

Bill Self on his plan for using Rush going into the game: “We were going to play Brandon 20 minutes. Medical staff said he was feeling good, looking good, wasn’t fatigued, so play him more. But if Tyrel hadn’t gotten hurt, if Russell hadn’t committed those two silly fouls to end the half to give him three, and then Rod gets called for the touch foul to end the half to give him three, if those things hadn’t happened, he would have played 20. And the outcome would have been different. So we were fortunate.”

Bill Self on getting the ball into the big men more: “We have to see it. And then if we see it, it’s a confidence standpoint to get the ball to them. But to me it looked like our post guys were wide open, our guards didn’t deliver the ball at all. We’ve got to play through Darrell. The sooner we learn that, the better off we’ll be. We still haven’t quite figured that out yet. So hopefully we’ll get better at that.”

Bill Self on Rodrick Stewart’s performance: “He was good. Rod was good. He’s got to become a lockdown defender, but he was good. He played very well, played smart, took care of the ball, I thought it was probably his best collegiate game.

Bill Self on Russell Robinson: “I don’t know what it was, but it was not good. He’s been so consistent for us, and hopefully tonight was just one of those nights where things just didn’t go well.”

Brandon Rush on KU benefitting from a game like this: “It was an overtime win, it was a grind-it-out game, and we needed one of those, with the last couple of games being blowouts. It’s not good that I missed that shot, I wish it would have went in there and the game would have ended five minutes earlier.”

Brandon Rush on how his knee felt afterwards: “I’ve been looking forward to playing an entire game. I feel fine, no soreness, no nothing.”

Brandon Rush on joking with UA’s Jawan McClellan following his halfcourt miss: “I was laughing at Jawan. He was talking about the shot. I guess before the end of the game, he’d said ‘don’t make a miracle’ or something like that. I said ‘One almost came true.’”

Brandon Rush on guarding Chase Budinger: “That could have worn anybody out. I was probably guarding him 25 minutes of the game. Those screens started killing me, running around, getting hit, getting hit, left and right, they were moving on the screens a little bit, but I ain’t complaining about it.”

Darrell Arthur on the lift KU got from Rush’s 36 minutes played: “It just makes the whole team play better seeing him out there playing, doing good. It just makes the whole team come out and play. When we see him play hard, we’re going to play hard.”

Mario Chalmers on Rush’s 36 minutes played: “Going into the game, I didn’t think he’d play 36 minutes. But in the back of my mind, I knew he’d play a lot of minutes tonight because we’re short with Sherron out and when Tyrel got hurt, so we knew he had to play a little bit more.”

Mario Chalmers on his lob to Rush in OT: “It didn’t surprise me. That’s our bread-and-butter. Every time one of us drives, we look for Brandon to go back door. And he’s always there. That’s a play we work on in practice and stuff, so we knew he could do it.”

Quotes courtesy of

No Kan Do for Cats - Bruce Pascoe, Arizona Daily Star

Rehab Dividends Obvious - Tom Keegan, Lawrence Journal-World

Rush to the Rescue - Gary Bedore, Lawrence Journal-World

KU Pulls it Out - J. Brady McCullough - Kansas City Star

Lastly, some quick hits from me:

1. The announcers didn't mention it last night, but Freshman Point Guard Tyrel Reed left the game with a tweaked ankle and didn't return. That is why Rush was pressed into 36 minutes of action. I like Reed's game and we needed him badly last night. When Jeremy Case was inserted for his three horrible minutes of play, the offense sputtered. Self was smart enough not to go back to him again.

2. Man, did KU miss Sherron Collins last night on so many levels. They didn't have the guard depth they normally enjoy. With Russell Robinson in foul trouble, Mario Chalmers had to play the point, something he isn't that comfortable with these days. Also Russ wasn't on the floor to guard Freshman Jerryd Bayless who school the other KU guards for 17 points. The offense was stagnant. Other than Rush, nobody could knock down an outside shot. Sherron is the man who stretches the defense and opens everything up for everyone else with his quickness. As I said, we miss Sherron badly.

3. Arizona dominated the offensive glass. that is inexcusable for a team with four big bodies. Self ripped the big men in the post game presser saying "our big guys don't rebound." Sasha Kaun is so much bigger than anyone he matches up with, yet it doesn't translate on the glass. He has got to be more physical. Shady Arthur also tends to shy away from contact and takes too many fadeaway jumpers, taking himself away from offensive rebound opportunities. Still, he was pretty good last night, with 20 points. I won't rip my guy D-Jack, and Cole Aldrich sniffed the floor for maybe 30 seconds last night, which was a curious move in my opinion.

4. Anytime Chase Budinger wants to play for my team, he is more than welcome to. He has the sweetest stroke in college.

5. We played like garbage, couldn't hit a jump shot to save our lives, yet still came away with the W against a game Arizona team. KU has a long way to go.

7-4 and I am a Loser

At the beginning of the year, I placed a bet with this guy I know. After seeing what I saw in the preseason, I took 6-10 and below, he took 7-9 and above. I thought this was the absolute lock of the century. TE Kellen Winslow knew better. "I told you we were going to turn some heads" he said after the 27-17 win down at the Lakefront. I was there. It was cold. The crowd was great. The defense actually showed up. It was almost like the old days. We've got ourselves a legitimate playoff contender here in Cleveland, and I still can't believe it.

Kellen Winslow is an absolute stud. You can have Antonio Gates, give me K2 all day long. He may have the best hands in the NFL. Every single time the ball is thrown to him, he is seemingly double-covered and he gets drilled. He is playing with a partially torn shoulder and a bad knee, yet every week he gets 100 yards receiving and makes big catches. Today was no different as he caught 10 for 107 and a TD.

Give the Defense the nod. As bad as they have been all season, to hold the high-powered Texans passing attack to 17 points is a feat. With a healthy Andre Johnson at WR, they had their full arsenal working, yet Johnson only had three catches for 37 yards. The Browns defense forced three turnovers and they needed all of them. This was the epitome of bend but don't break. Rookie Nickel back Brandon McDonald seemingly was everywhere when they needed him.

I can sit and praise the D, but they are still way below average. There was still no pass rush, the middle of the field was wide open the entire first half and QB Matt Schaub exploited it. Kamerion Wimbley continues to regress. My Uncle who I sit next to at every game calls him a "fly weight." He cannot handle a double team and is easily getting pushed outside. Leigh Bodden gets burnt way too often for you #1 corner back. Willie McGinest is probably great in the locker room, but he is finished on the field. No speed. None. The middle of that D-line is as bad as it gets. All of this is going on defensively, yet somehow, the Browns keep winning and are now 7-4.

Jamal Lewis ran for his contract yesterday. The game plan looked as though it was to pound the Texans early and often and wear them down so the Browns Big O-line could take over in the fourth quarter. While there were some curious play calls (Jason Wright up the middle on 4th and 1?, Vickers up the middle on 4th and 1?), Lewis got stronger as the game wore on. He finished with 132 yards on 4.6 per carry with a touchdown. He ran hard all game long and opened up the field for Derek Anderson. I still think RB is the most overrated position in football and I wouldn't give Lewis a long-term deal next year, but he doesn't look finished the way the Ravens thought he did.

Joe Jurevicius - I love that man. Seriously, how glad are you that this guy plays for our team? Every team needs a WR like Joe. He runs precise routes, never drops passes, and is an excellent blocker. While his numbers weren't spectacular (5 catches for 55 yards), but his effect on the field cannot be measure by numbers. Give me a team of 53 guys like Joe and you'd never lose. The guy is all heart.

Derek Anderson got it done. DA didn't have his best day - he was high and wide on several throws - but when he needed it, his big arm showed up and he threaded the needle. On two of his TD passes, i thought once the ball left his hand he was crazy. The first being the Braylon Edwards TD. It looked as though DA was throwing into triple coverage and the next thing you know, Braylon showed up right between the three defenders and fell into the endzone. Winslow's TD was a pass only a handful of QB's can make. It was from seven yards out and K2 wedged himself between two defenders. DA shot a cannon that Winslow snagged for the TD. A weak armed QB gets that pass picked off. The Browns are no 7-3 with Anderson as starter and have won five straight at home. Unreal.

Defense Now Complementing the Rest of the Team - Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Anderson's Passing Gives Lewis Freedom to Run - Bill Livingston, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Smashmouth - Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Lewis Wins Respect and Proves Worth to Browns - Patrick McManamon, Akron Beacon-Journal

Winslow Battered but not Beaten - Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon-Journal

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Second Half

9:10 Not a good sign when Rush is supposed to only play 20 minutes and he played 15 in the first half. Plus he has started the second half with Robinson on the bench. D Jack also starting the second half for Kaun.

9:14 Sasha gives us a patented retard offensive move that doesn't even hit rim. The backboard is bruised. Budinger draws a Rush foul on the other end. 44-40 Arizona. We need to wake up. This means you Mario Chalmers.

9:15 Man are these refs whistle happy. Arizona's four big men all have three fouls. Two of KU's guards have three fouls. 44-42 after Rod Stewart drains a pair of free throws.

9:17 Rod buries a jumper from the free throw line. We are tied at 44. He is playing with a ton of confidence. Arizona turnover. Hi-lo from Stewart to Kaun. 46-44. Timeout Arizona. I am being way to serious. My sister in law just sent me pictures of her dog. Should I look at them or not?

9:25 Robinson re-enters the game and shoots an airball. Lets hope the tendinitis isn't bothering him. Why are we struggling with this average team on our home floor? Have I mentioned how much I hate Miles Simon. I want to punch him in his bald fucking head.

9:29 Rush comes out of the game. We become a turnover machine. Three straight times. All of a sudden we can't score. My boy The Buatch calls me. Says he missed the first half because he "forgot the game was on." Vintage. I'm out of sync now.

9:32 AJ Feeley hits Greg Lewis for his second TD. Its 21-17 Eagles. No shit. My 8:52 is way off. Oh lord...Case is back in the game.

9:35 Steal by Stewart and a MONSTER THROW DOWN over Bayliss. He is jacked up. We are tied at 48.

9:36 Timeout Arizona. Jay Bilas makes the first mention of the 97 Arizona upset over KU. F You asshole! Do I really want to recall my alltime worst college basketball loss? I still cant believe Jacque Vaughn passed up that open three to dish to Ryan Robertson. What a puss. Not the way you want your career to end.

9:39 This bad lineup is yanked. Case almost gets picked by Bayless. Within one second, Self pulls him for Mario. If Case never played again it would be too soon. 51-50 Arizona. We are getting killed on the offensive glass.

9:42 Budinger for his fifth three of the game. He's got 22. 54-52 AZ. If you had the over on 8:52 on Brady you win. He just hit Jabar Gaffney for a TD. 24-21 Pats.

9:45 I just realize I will be missing a ton of great games this week with my weak sales conference and events going on. Can't wait for team building. Self calls a T.O. as we cannot get anything going offensively. Bilas says KU's inability to make outside shots is killing them. He is right. 56-5 Arizona. Shady just picked up his fourth foul with five left.

9:50 Mario basket and one on the drive, he falls to the floor and flexes his biceps. Weak. Mario, get up, shut up, and make your free throw. You are losing by a point at home to an unranked team and you have played like garbage most of the night. Act as if, dude. 58-56 under three minute TV timeout. Mario going to the line.

9:52 He missed. That's called karma.

9:55 Mario misses a wide open three with the score tied at 58 and 2:30 left. More karma. Then he commits a foul on the other end. Arizona in the one and one. Self pats down the rug. 60-58 2:15 left.

9:59 Shady misses a fadeaway after Budinger hits his. Under a minute left and KU is down two. Ron Franklin has called Jordan Hill "Lee" five times this half. KU has the rock with 35.7 left.

10:01 Ticky tack foul call on Nic Wise. Mario back to the line for two to tie the game. First one....Good....KU 11-16 tonight....Second one....Good....62-62. Shot clock off. Timeout Arizona. Franklin says "KU doesn't want to lose to Chase back to back nights."

10:05 The ball ends up in the hands of Brielmeier who misses a J. The ball ends up in the hands of Rush who shoots from half court...literally in and out. Unbelievable. OT. I love Jay Bilas. Dud is so negative tonight.

10:07 Stewart basket and one. KU up three. Budinger comes down and buries a three right in Rod's face. Tied at 68. Budinger has 27. The kid is sick. He also has a nose only actor Adrian Brody could love.

10:11 Wow, Budinger misses a front end. Shady sticks a put back on the other end. He;s got 20. KU up 69-65.

10:12 Breilmeier throws a bad pass, Rush steals it gets an uncontested jam! KU up 71-65. Timeout Wildcats. The crowd is electric. The wheels are coming off the wagon for the visitors.

10:14 Chalmers hit Rush for a sick backdoor alley oop! Nice to see some semblance of halfcourt offense by KU. Of course on the other end, Mario gets caught napping and Bayliss grabs a three point play. Its a three point game. Vintage Mario. Half the time he doesn't use his head. Reminds me of a young cousin Steve.

10:17 Budinger fouls out. Rush at the line for two. Splits the pair for his 1000th career point. 12.2 seconds left 74-70 KU with Robinson going to the line. Bilas rightfully says "Kansas has done nothing more tonight than survive." Robinson buries both. I agree with Bilas. 76-72 KU win. It was ugly, But we will take it. I guess that Brandon Rush 20 minute deal is out the window.

Lets Go In-Game Blogging...again

Sick opening put together by ESPN. Showing some great shots of our fine University. I love KU Hoops in HD. Sorry Football fans, KU is and will always be a Basketball school. Well, we are back giving this another try tonight. It worked well last time out and it was a KU laugher. Ron Franklin and Jay Bilas on the call. Lets see how many times ole' Ronnie boy can mis sthe action and get players names wrong. My man isn't what he used to be, but still has the good pipes.

8:01 Ron Franklin just spoke of Arizona missing their head coach "Lou" Olson. Rod Stewart still in the starting lineup, Rush coming off the bench. Eagerly anticipating Sasha Kaun's foul trouble.

8:06 Darrell Arthur in the posts, bowls over Jordan Hill for a charge. We still haven't scored. 4-0 Arizona.

8:07 My first sighting of Arizona assistant coach Miles Simon. Also known as my most hated player in my college basketball life. Foul #2 on Jordan Hill as Shady scores.

8:09 Russell Robinson a sick crossover and dish to Sasha for the "thunder jam."

8:10 Brandon Rush enters the game. Within 30 seconds, Rush hits a three and a layup off a steal. Think he makes a difference? Timeout Arizona. Ron Franklin says "its a 9-0 run by the Wildcats." It was time to retire five years ago Ronnie. 9-4 KU.

8:12 Darnell Jackson buries his first jumper. I get my first partial of the evening. 11-4. Under 11 TV timeout.

8:15 Shady puts up a serious brick from just inside the three point arc. Luckily, AZ turns it right back over. Rod Stewart scores off a Rush airball. 15-7 Hawks. The BCS standings just flash on the bottom of the screen. Missouri is #1. I just threw up in my mouth. West Virginia is #2, followed by Ohio State and Georgia. The Bulldogs are the best team of that bunch.

8:19 Bill Self hi-lo action at its finest. D-Jack hits Shady for his signature jump hook. 20-9, under 11 TV timeout. Arizona has seven turnover already and looks weak. It could be our swarming D.

8:23 Our first Cole Aldrich sighting. A sideline shot of bitterman Kevin O'Neill on the Arizona sideline. He is a red-ass in a sweet suit.

8:25 Bret Breilmeier basket an one for Arizona. I see he is from Mankato, Minnesota. I go there once a year. It is one of the most miserable towns in America. I'd advise you to never go there unless its mandatory. Chase Budinger buries a three. 22-18.

8:27 Russ to Sasha for another jam. 24-18 TV timeout. My wife leaves the room to go look for thank you notes online for our eighth month old son. Women are from Mars.

8:28 It took a whole minute for the Patriots to score on a pick six from AJ Feeley. Like the Eagles have any shot tonight. At least Feeley is married to the extremely hot women's soccer player Heather Mitts.

8:34 Budinger for three again. 26-24, timeout KU. He's already got 12. Nobody in college has a sweeter stroke. Self's rug is sticking out of the back of his head for real.

8:36 O'Neill brings Kirk Walters back in the game.

8:36 Walters fouls Arthur on a jumper. 28-24. So much for the goofy White guy.

8:36 Walters sits back on the bench. Budinger hits another three. 28-27. I smell trouble. We can't guard him. My lips are so chapped from today's Browns game and my chap stick has conveniently dissapered.

8:37 31-29 TV timeout. Brian Westbrook scores on a 1 yard TD run. Pats and Eagles tied at 7. How long until Brady throws a TD pass? I'll give it a guess on the time: 8:52. Lets see if i'm right.

8:45 Shady spilts another pair. KU now 4-8 from the line. 33-31. This bad free throw shooting is such a tired bit. Three Arizona big men have three fouls, yet we aren't taking advantage at the line. Two Jerryd Bayliss free throws and we are tied at 33. We are sleepwalking.

8:47 Major guard foul trouble for KU. Robinson just picked up his third. Stewart has two and is on the floor. Now Rush has to play more minutes than the doctors would like (already at 10). Lets see what Tyrel reed can do. 35-35. under 2:30 left.

8:50 B Rush for three. He's got 10. The crowd comes alive. 40-35. On the other end, Stewart picks up his third foul. Self has to go to...gasp....JEREMY CASE. Right now, our backcourt is Reed and Case. Man do we miss Sherron Collins.

8:54 D Jack swats Bayliss at the buzzer, but Jawaan McClellan buried a three the previous possession. We are tied at 40 at the half.

What I don't like is that KU shot over 50% from the field and are tied. I was also way off on the Brady TD pass call.