Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More Gilbert, the Wiz, Barry Larkin and more

I have had one helluva couple weeks here, and I'm really not sure how I made it through it...but I did. It started with the Manny Harris-Alex Legion piece which has received some local media attention. Apparently 1130, the local sports talk radio station in Ann Arbor was actually considering giving me a call to talk Michigan hoops. But alas, they thought better of it, and I'm not sure whether to be happy or sad about it. But now that exams/school are over for the time being, I can blog like never before.

I wanted to start out talking about the Wizards. They've been slippin' and slidin' since Antawn went down with a knee sprain. I'm going to be honest, I really thought they would keep on rolling given the fact that everytime Gilbert faces some form of adversity he responds in a big way. But I think his little outburst after that dreadful Portland loss shows that he isn't quite ready for primetime yet. We have to remember the guy is just 25 years old and is being thrust as the face of a franchise. I hope he learns something from this, because in the past when he had little outbursts nobody outside DC gave a shit. But now that he has transformed himself into a big time star in this league, his every quote, every move will be dissected. According to reports him and Eddie Jordan have worked things out, and are "on the same page again". Let's just hope they get a nice win over the woeful Sixers in a couple nights, so we can head into the All-Star break on a good note.

C'mon fellas: Let's be friends

I didn't get a chance to blog about it right after it happened, but on Saturday night at halftime of the MInnesota game, I got the opportunity to talk at length with former MIchigan and Cincinnati Red shortstop Barry Larkin. He was being inducted into the MIchigan Hall of Honor. And yes I asked him the requisite questions about how awesome it is to be in the Michigan Hall of Honor, but I was more concerned with his thoughts on the Nationals. If you don't know, Larkin is a special assistant to the GM for the Natties. Here are some of his thoughts on the upcoming season:

When I asked him what he thought the team would do: "Don't get me wrong, this is going to be a rebuilding season. We are just like the Braves from the late 80s. We need to build from within before we make any drastic moves"

On new manager Manny Acta: "Manny is more of a guy the front office can mold. Frank wasn't going to change his ways, whereas Stan (Kasten) can start fresh with Manny given the fact he is a first-time manager."

On Zimmerman: "Man, Zim is one of those heady guys. He just knows what to do. I really don't expect any type of sophomore slump because he just has something about him that makes it impossible for me to think he is going to anything but what he did last year."

On Kory Casto: "He's definitely got a shot to start in left field, but his defense is suspect because he used to be a third baseman"

On the pitching: "We'll see, hopefully a couple of those guys will show us something. I really can't say much more than that because I think the entire organization is taking a wait and see once we get down to Florida approach."

Talked to him for like 15 minutes. A really nice guy

Basically I got the sense from Larkin that this is going to be a tough year. He had no problems with saying that. He echoed everything I've heard coming from the mouth of Stan Kasten. If you haven't read it yet, check out today's Tom Boswell column in the Washington Post. He gives some insight into what to expect and how this year's Nats compare with those late 80s Braves teams.

Also wanted to comment on tonight's HUGE Michigan-Michigan State game in East lansing tonight. I'm actually not going, but I will most certainly be watching on TV. Anyone who is picking Michigan to win this game is pretty stupid. State is coming off four-straight losses and they've had 5 days to stew about it. And lest we forget, this isn't a Tommy Amaker coached team. You can be sure Tom Izzo is going to have those guys fired up and ready to kick some ass. At yesterday's press conference Dion Harris admitted as much saying, "There's no way those guys are going to come out firing at anything but high cylinders." Also at yesterday's presser, I asked Tommy Amaker if he thought there were any breakdowns in the defense given the fact that they allowed the second-worst offensive team in the Big Ten (Minnesota) to score 80 points and shoot over 50 percent from the floor. He answered with a "Minnesota's offense is very underrated especially now that Spencer Tollackson is back. By no means are they a bad offensive team." Although I wasn't happy with the answer he gave me, I atleast believed that is what he believes. But then 15 minutes later someone asks "What do you guys need to improve upon?" And of course he answered "Well looking back on Saturday's game I think it's clear our defense needs to get better." To say I was pissed would be an understatement. But atleast Michael Rosenberg made fun of this contradiction in his column appearing in today's Detroit Free Press.

But yesterday's press conference was not all depressing. I was talking to one of the assistant coaches who I've gotten to know because of the Manny Harris investigating I did. And with Michigan State coming up tonight, I asked if they were going to let Amadou Ba come. If you don't know, Amadous was a bench warmer on last year's team, and at the Breslin Center he was confronted by a fan, and he promptly shoved the guy onto the ground. A big deal was made of it and Ba was suspended for two games. Well here's what the assistant coach said:

"They made us suspend him for two games, but it probably would have been a better penalty if they made us start him in those two."

He literally comes to every home game
and a lot of the away ones too. I really
don't think he has much of a life.

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