Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NBA Preview: Western Conference

The more and more I look at my pick of the Heat as Eastern Conference champ, the more and more I cringe. But as much as I want to back out of it (and I almost edited that post about 5 minutes after posting) I just can't find myself picking the Celtics or the Bulls or the Stones or even the Wiz kids. I have still yet to see a team in the East that can stop a healthy Dwayne Wade. And by the end of the season, he will be healthy...hopefully, or else I'll look like an idiot.

But enough chit chat, let's get to the Western Conference...

Western Conference preview
1. San Antonio Spurs
They are boring. They are no fun to watch sometime. I dislike them so much, I had a devilish grin on my face at Scorekeeper's as I watched LaMarcus Aldridge drop 27 on Tim Duncan. But you can do whatever you want against these Spurs...except win. The Spurs just don't lose when it comes down to crunch time and all the chips are on the table.

It's basically the same squad that dispatched every comer in the West (with a little help from David Stern suspensions) with Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili leading the way. These three are as good as any three in the NBA if you ask me. And what makes them truly unique is Ginobili's ability to stand in the background as compared with loverboy Parker and Gentile Giant Tim Duncan. He swallows his ego even though he could be a more prominent piece on a worse team. Throw in a great defender in Bruce Bowen and deadly 3-point shooters like Michael Finley, Brent Barry, and Big Shot Bob and you've got a juggernaut that's got a couple more years of dominance ahead of long as Timmy stays healthy.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Michael Finley
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Bruce Bowen

2. Phoenix Suns
They added Grant Hill and got rid of Kurt Thomas. So essentially they traded in a few more wins during the regular season for the one defender who could hold Tim Duncan below 30 points in a playoff game. It only becomes one of those wise decisions that leads to a championship if Amare Stoudemire becomes that solid defender we all know he has the athletic ability to be. Don't get me wrong this team will still be one of the best with Nash, Marion, Amare, Diaw, Barbosa and the like. But they've been one of the best for the past few years. This season is all about Title or bust. My gut tells me they haven't done enough to be anything but bust.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Boris Diaw
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Marcus Banks

3. Denver Nuggets
It may surprise some people that I have them ranked ahead of the Mavs. But have you looked at their starting lineup. AI, Melo, KMart, and Camby all in the same starting lineup. That's two former leading scorers in the NBA, a guy who finished No. 2 in defensive player of the year, and last year's defensive player of the year. All in the same lineup. And don't take for granted how much better Melo and Iverson will play together now that they've had an entire training camp to get on the same page. This is a team that could really sneak up into the upper echelon this year.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Kenyon Martin
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Nene

4. Dallas Mavericks
They basically got the worst draw ever when they had to face Golden State in the first round last year. Don Nelson exposed every one of their weaknesses. This is exactly why I believe the Mavs are going to take a step back this year. Everyone knows their weaknesses, and they haven't done anything to fix them in the offseason. The entire team is overrated. Devin Harris is not a championship point guard. Jason Terry is on the decline. Josh Howard, to me, is nothing more than a nice piece. He isn't the quasi-superstar that some people make him out to be. Nowitzki will never be the No. 1 option on a championship squad. And Erick Dampier...well enough said.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Trenton Hassell
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Jason Terry

5. Utah Jazz
That deep run to the Western Conference Finals surprised a lot of us, but it was more a function of the Mavs losing. Utah matched up perfectly with Golden State. But let's not forget, this team has a bona fide star in Deron Williams, who plays alongside two very legitmate big men, Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer. The key to a jump in wins comes down to one man, though. If Andrei Kirilenko can return to the level of play he showed two seasons ago, this is a team that could get back to the Western Conference Finals with the right breaks. But Jerry Sloan hates AK and the feeling is mutual, so I'd expect some kind of trade before the deadline.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Ronnie Brewer
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Andrei Kirilenko

6. Houston Rockets
This is how big the gap still is between the Eastern and Western Conferences. I would pick the Rockets to win the east. I'm a huge Yao Ming fan, but he has yet to show he can make it through an entire season unscathed. McGrady's chronic back problems also worry me. Talent-wise, they are amongst the elite in the NBA. But you can't tell me with a straight face that McGrady won't miss 10-15 games with some sort of injury. And once you stopped laughing from trying to keep a straight face with Tracy, I would win again when you couldn't tell me with a straight face that Yao won't miss 10-15 games with an injury of his own. That accounts for the five seed, and without home court advantage, I just don't see them making the jump.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Luis Scola
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Steve Francis

7. Memphis Grizzlies
This is my surprise pick amongst the West. I think the Grizzlies will make the leap from worst team in the conference to playoff squad. They signed Darko Milicic, who I promise will be a difference maker this year. Rudy Gay, my favorite player from the city of Baltimore, is only going to improve. Then, at point guard the Grizzlies have Kyle Lowry coming back. Lowry would have been rookie of the year last season had he not gotten hurt. Oh yeah, they also drafted Mike Conley, Jr., who is a stud. They've also got my man, JCN, from the Wizards. Mike Miller averaged over 18 points a game last year, and he's back too. Oh wait, I forgot their best player...Pau Gasol is back from injury. And let's not forget who their new coach is: Marc Iavaroni, Mike D'Antoni's former right hand man from Phoenix. If Lowry and Conley can be as good as advertised at point guard, this team just has too much talent to fail.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Kyle Lowry
Player Who Will Get lots of Coach Frowns: Damon Stoudamire

8. Los Angeles Lakers
This another team that really didn't do that much in the offseason. They replaced Smush Parker with Derek Fisher, which is a move I like. This team has banked its entire season on the development of one big man: Andew Bynum. They for some reason think he's the new Jesus in waiting, which accounts for their refusal to trade him. Well, they better be right because this is a make or break year for the young Bynum. If he doesn't emerge as a consistent third threat behind Kobe and Odom, the Lake show might have to go into full out rebuilding mode. That being said, I just don't see a squad with Kobe Bryant on it not making the playoffs. He'll will them to the No. 8 seed if he has to. Now if he gets traded, this team is a cellar dweller.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Derek Fisher
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Jordan Farmar

9. Golden State Warriors
They looked unbeatable for awhile there, but I expect the Warriors to come back down to Earth this year. They did prove that when they play with maximum effort in front of that raucous crowd, they can contend with anybody in the league. The only problems are that half their games aren't in Oakland and I don't think there's a way to play at breakneck speed for 82 games. With the Grizzlies' jump to playoff team, someone had to drop out. Throw in my doubt about Baron Davis surviving an entire season unscathed and you've got enough reasons why this had to happen.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Matt Barnes
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Baron Davis (because of injury issues)

10. New Orleans Hornets
I just don't believe in Byron Scott, awesome coach. Yeah, he led the Nets to two straight title appearances, but then why would they get rid of him almost immediately if he was actually a legitimate coaching talent. Everyone's up on this team because it overachieved last season and they may have the best young point guard in the league, Chris Paul. Tyson Chadler can rebound with the best of them, but their success hinges on the play of Peja Stojakovic. If he can channel his inner-Sacremento King, then they've got a shot. My intuition tells me he won't.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: David West
Player Who Will Get Lot of Coach Frowns: Bobby Jackson

11. Sacremento Kings
They've got some nice players with a lineup composed of Ron Artest, Mike Bibby and Kevin Martin. But in the west, when you're go-to player on the offensive end is Kevin Martin, you don't have much of a shot at contending. Btw, if anyone knows what happened to Brad Miller's skills, he could really use them now. Oh yeah, it doesn't bode well when your coach (Reggie Theus in this case) includes "Head Coach at Deering High on Hang Time" on his coaching resume.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Ron Artest
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Brad Miller

12. Minnesota Timberwolves
This is the conventional pick for worst team in the loaded west now that KG is in Boston. But they've got a decent little (atleast good enough to stay out of the cellar) with Randy Foye, Al Jefferson, Corey Brewer, and newly-acquired Antoine Walker. I think they are the scrappy, never-say-die team in the West.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Gerald Green
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Sebastian Telfair

13. Portland Trail Blazers
I've got to add a disclaimer to this ranking. I had the Trail Blazers as the worst team in the west before watching them put up a good fight against the Spurs in San Antonio last night. They've got last year's rookie of the year, Brandon Roy, playing alongside this year's breakout star, LaMarcus Aldridge. Expect some big things out of this team in coming years if Oden fully recovers from this knee thing.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: LaMarcus Aldridge
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Jarrett Jack

14. Seattle Supersonics
This team is going to be bad. Kevin Durant is by far and away their best player, and he's atleast two years from shining in the starring role. He's just too damn skinny to be a dynamo star in this league right away. They've essentially got a bunch of bench players in the starting lineup surrounding Durant, making it hard for me to believe the Sonics will muster much of a fight. The highlight of each game will be that one play every 10 minutes when Durant does something unreal on the court.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Nick Collison
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Wally Szczerbiak

15. Los Angeles Clippers
We've seen this script before. Team loses top player — in this case Elton Brand — to probably season-ending injury and the team tanks it in order to get the No. 1 pick. When all is said and done, I'm predicting I will be able to write the prio sentence in reference to the 2007-08 LA Clippers and it will make all the sense in the world. This will be the worst team in the entire NBA. I'd draft Corey Magette in any fantasy draft because he's in a contract year on a awful team. It's a match made in heaven for a ball hog like Corey.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Chris Kaman
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach frowns: Tim Thomas

How the Playoffs Will Go Down
Spurs vs. Lakers -- Spurs in 3
Mavs vs. Grizzlies -- Mavs in 4
Suns vs. Grizzlies -- Suns in 4
Nuggets vs. Rockets -- Nuggets in 5

Spurs vs Mavs -- Spurs in 6
Suns vs. Nuggets -- Suns in 7

Spurs vs. Suns -- Spurs in 7

I want to pick the Suns. I really do. I love the way they play. I'm a Steve Nash guy. I'm an Amare guy. I have a slight mancrush on Grant Hill. But when all my chips are down, I have a problem picking against Tim Duncan. He is by far and away the most complete, most skilled big men in the game today. He is one of only two or three players currently playing that I have certainty will go down in the hallowed annals of the game. And anyone who says they don't have anything to play for is off the mark. They've never repeated as NBA Champs.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NBA Preview: Eastern Conference

Like I've said all along, I'm doing an NBA preview post this season. And this isn't some joke to me. I've done some thorough research this year courtesy of several preview magazines and my newfound ability to watch hours upon hours of NBA TV. This season, with the help of NBA League Pass, I will become completely enthralled with everything NBA, and as many of you know already that means a lot of Wizards and a lot my favorite player, Gilbert Arenas.

And since this is going to be long, I'm separating it into an Eastern Conference post and a Western Conference post. Speaking of which, this is the season I think the East finally takes some steps toward regaining some credibility in regards to to the West. Looking back now, Lebron James' ridiculousness aside, I think it's a total joke the Cavs made the finals last year. They were literally a one-man team. Give them credit, they won the conference, but the fact they won just goes to show how bad the East was.

The rankings here reflect how I think each team will be seeded come playoff time. That means it isn't necessarily in order of each team's records. This is going to be comprehensive so if you want to see how I think the playoffs will fall out, go check the bottom of this post immediately. I'm also going to include a player on each team that I think will step up and take a step back int he upcoming campaign. So if you want to actually know something about the greatest league in the world....

Eastern Conference preview
1. Chicago Bulls
Luol Deng showed he can carry a team last postseason when he absolutely destroyed the Miami Heat. Ben Gordon can put up 20 points whenever he wants. But their calling card hasn't changed one bit. Scott Skiles gets this team to play ridiculous defense. There aren't many teams that can take it to the rim on a consistent basis when Tyrus Thomas and Ben Wallace are patrolling the lane. The Bulls might have the best front court depth in the East, having added Joakim Noah and Joe Smith to go alongside Wallace, Thomas and Andres Nocioni.

Frontcourt depth is nice, but when they are all average at best on the offensive end, it's a problem. Without a premier offensive stud, the Bulls desperately need a third scorer to complement the solidness of Deng and Gordon. Kirk Henrich isn't that guy and should be the sixth man if the Bulls could have their way. That being said, the defense night in and night out will get them the best record in the east. But the playoffs depend on a dependable scorer.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Tyrus Thomas
Player That Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Ben Wallace

2. Boston Celtics
They're the talk of the NBA having added KG and Ray Allen. Everybody's considering them the new "Big Three". And rightfully so, considering each scored atleast 22 points per game last season. There's only two problems, though. They have no one besides their big three...and I don't think there's enough shots for the three of them to coexist. For this to work, someone is going to need to take a backseat. You can have two stars who demand the ball, but having three is next to impossible. There's just not enough shots to go around. Paul Pierce is someone who demands the ball to be successful. Ray Allen needs the ball off screens to get that shot off. So that leaves KG. Will he defer to win a title even though he's probably better than both Allen and Pierce.

If he does, there's no telling how far this team can go. Nobody will be able to match up with this trio (not even this biased Wiz fan can say Gil, Caron and Tawn are better than them). Oh, let's not ignore the fact that the Celtics have no one to back up Rajon Rando at point guard. And despite his promise to be a better shooter this year, I can't get past his 20 percent clip from 3-point range last year. Rando probably won't hurt their chances until conference title time, though.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: James Posey
Player That Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Rajon Rando

3. Washington Wizards
Now, I know what you're saying to yourself. How can we take thi seriously when we all know what a ridiculous home team bias Mark has? But I'm not saying they will have the third-best record, I'm just predicting the Wiz kids to win the Southeast Division, which would put them in the third slot come postseason time. No one can deny that before the injury bug hit them, the Wizards had the best record in the Eastern Conference. Their style of play creates huge issues for teams like the Bulls and Pistons. Besides Boston (if the cohesion works) boasts a better scoring trio than Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, and Gilbert Arenas. Add in my prediction of an Andray Blatche emergence, and this is a conference contender in my opinion.

There are certainly some issues, though. Will this team actually play defense for more than a game at a time? Can Gilbert return from his knee injury (he's been a little too passive to me this offseason)? Now, with Etan Thomas likely gone for the season with heart issues, the Wiz must rely solely on Brendan Haywood in the post to contend with the likes of Garnett and Shaq. Remember, Haywood sits down to pee, so that's a huge issue. But I have an inkling the D will be a little better and Gilbert will round into top form about a month into the season. The lack of any inside difference maker (unless Blatche does something remarkable) could be their downfall.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Andray Blatche
Player That Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Brendan Haywood

4. Detroit Pistons
They've got the same team as last year, only a year older. It seemed like this group gave up in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavs last year. That being said, the hunger has to have returned given the amount of criticism they got from the Detroit media this offseason. This is probably the Stones last chance to realistically make it to the NBA Finals. If they can stay healthy, though, they know how to win basketball games and should be in the thick of things in the East. But the age factor really concerns me injury wise.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Rodney Stuckey
Player That Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Jarvis Hayes

5. Miami Heat
They've still got Shaq and Dwayne, so they will be a force to be reckoned with if they can make the playoffs. But Wade will likely miss a good chunk of the early part of the season, and Shaq hasn't shown he can play an 82-game season in quite some time. They added Ricky Davis last week after getting anal-ravaged by the Bulls last year. I can see guys like Wade and Shaq finally getting him to put his greediness aside for once. Hopefully, they can sneak into the playoffs because we all know if Dwayne and Shaq are healthy, they can carry a team to the NBA Finals.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Ricky Davis
Player That Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Smush Parker

6. New Jersey Nets
This just goes to show how improved the east should be this year. The Nets are just getting completely lost in the shuffle. They've got Jason Kidd, VC, and Jefferson — all three of whom can score 25 on any given night. If Nenad Kristic can finally get healthy (that's a big if) that's four very capable players in the starting lineup. The keys to the season are going to be the play of Jamaal Magloire and Vince Carter. If Magloire can create that defensive precense desperately needed to combat Garnett and the like, this team could very likely go a long way. And if Vince doesn't settle for too many jumpers, his game is as good as anyone's in the NBA. That being said, Kristic is still on the shelf, and we all know VC has no balls around the basket.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Jamaal Magloire
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Marcus Williams

7. Toronto Raptors
This team is good, scary good if they can stay healthy. The only problem is the key to the Raptors success is Chris Bosh and he's been hurt a lot this preseason. he says he's healthy, but for some reason my gut tells me he's going to miss some time this year because of nagging stuff. Andrea Bargnani showed last year why he was a No. 1 pick, displaying potential to be quite the complement to Bosh. I'm expecting a big jump in production from him. Is it enough to make them one of the elite? I don't see it. They're one player away.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Andrea Bargnani
Player Who Will Get Lot of Coach Frowns: Jorge Garbajosa

8. Cleveland Cavaliers
Yeah, I know you might have let out a deep gasp at putting the defending conference champs this low, but you had to see it coming with my intro to this. They added virtually nothing in the offseason, and still haven't settled contract disputes with Anderson Varejao or Sasha Pavlovic. I have zero respect for Mike Brown the offensive coach, and I'm still not sold on LeBron being a 48-minute player the entire regular season. They're counting on Daniel Gibson producing like he did in the playoffs, but he came down to earth against the Spurs in the Finals Yes, LeBron can get this team to the playoffs again. But last year was more a product of everyone sucking ass than the Cavs being any good.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Larry Hughes
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns:Donyell Marshall (the fact he still gets minutes boggles my mind)

9. New York Knicks
Oh yeah, they got Zach Randolph. Another player who demands the ball in the low post to go alongside Eddy Curry. But the Knicks say they like it on opposite sides of the paint, so it will work. I don't buy it and I'm definitely not sold on the whole Zach Randolph is going to stay out of trouble now that he's moved away from the dangerous streets of Portland, Oregon and into the tranquility of New York City. They have the talent to make the playoffs, but there's too many egos to massage, and not enough role players. The Steph-Crawford-Curry-Randolph quartet could work with the right coach, say Phil Jackson, but Isiah Thomas is notorious for being a fucking moron (I love how I just said thas if no one knew that).

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Jamal Crawford
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Quentin Richardson

10. Charlotte Bobcats
If the Bobcats had the roster they have now in the 06-07 season, they would make the playoffs. But like I said, the east is much improved. But so are the Boobcats (hehe) with the addition of Jason Richardson. Apparently Michael Jordan is trying to re-create the old Bulls squads with this year's Bobcats. I can see Emeka Okafor as the Horace Grant and Raymond Felton as the B.J. Armstrong. Although they lost the prottypical John paxson when Adam Morrison went down to an ACL tear, they've still got newly-overpaid Adam Carroll to knock down the open jumper. I'm even willing to accept that Gerald Wallace could fill a Scottie Pippen-like role with his deep as shit southern accent and garbage-around-the-basket socring ability. But J-Rich as MJ. About the only thing he's got going for him is the same number as his airness. Sorry Boobcats. I don't see a playoff bid just yet.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Walter Hermann
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Raymond Felton

11. Orlando Magic
Everyone was giving them shit for signing Rashard Lewis to that absurd deal, and I must admit they did overpay for him. But lost in the shuffle was the fact the Magic added a bonafide 20-point a game scorer to go alongside Dwight Howard. And as I walked to class today I started thinking about what that combo could do in the East this season. At first I was optimistic about the possibilities for a team with an up-and-coming-star in Howard. But the cupboard's pretty bare after that. Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick are slotted as their starting guards. And as much as I like J.J. he shouldn't be starting in any NBA lineup right now. No guards, means not playoffs this year in the revamped east.

That's DHoward kissing the rim in high school. WOW!

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Pat Garrity
Player Who Will get Lots of Coach Frowns: Carlos Arroyo

12. Milwaukee Bucks
Their season went down in flames because of Michael Redd's injury last year. redd's back and fresh off an incredible shooting display at the FIBA thing this summer with Team USA. They added Desmond Mason and always-reliable Bobby Simmons is back healthy again as well. The season will come down to the development of former No. 1 Andrew Bogut. He's been a pretty big bust so far, and if he doesn't make dramatic steps this year, his time in the 'Wauk might be dwindling down.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Charlie Villaneuva
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Yi Jianlin

13. Philadelphia 76ers
Talent-wise this is the worst team in the conference. I pretty much don't like anything about the roster except Kyle Korver's shooting ability. Andre Miller has always been good, but blah. Andre Igoudala is a better version of Brent Petway (not a compliment). Their big free agent aquisition was Reggie Evans. REGGIE EVANS! But dammit, they won a bunch of games with this roster full of no-talent assclowns. I just can't pick them lower than this given how scrappy they played. They'll be like the Nationals were in the NL this season.

Player Who Make Me Look Smart: Willie Green
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Rodney Carney

14. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers just straight suck now. Their "star" is on the decline and will likely be traded before the deadline this season. Jim O'Brien was brought in to coach this collection of decent players, but there's just no star. That's a problem in a star-driven league like the NBA. Jamaal Tinsley is not the right point guard for O'Brien, who says he wants to go uptempo even though we all know he's one of those 'we gotta play defense' coaches. Bad team, just a bad team. Expect Marquis Daniels to be the starter eventually.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Marquis Daniels
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Troy Murphy

15. Atlanta Hawks
This team has had so many God damn high draft picks go to waste over the years it's getting kind of ridiculous. Their roster is littered with high selections who have done next to nothing so far. Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Josh Childress, Shelden Willaims. Just horrendous...I like Joe Johnson. Smart move by him leaving Steve Nash.

Player Who Will Make Me Look Smart: Acie Law
Player Who Will Get Lots of Coach Frowns: Josh Smith

How the playoffs will go down
Bulls vs. Cavs -- Bulls in 4
Pistons vs. Heat -- Heat in 5
Celtics vs. Raptors -- Celtics in 3
Wizards vs. Nets -- Wiz in 5

Bulls vs. Heat -- Heat in 7
Celtics vs. Wizards -- Celtics in 6

Celtics vs. Heat -- Heat in 7

I feel like by giving the Heat the No. 5 seed, I've accounted for the prolonged absense of DWade in the opening month of the season. That being said, his legs should be well rested after nearly a season on the shelf. When it comes down to it, in a playoff series with DWade healthy, I just don't see anyone being able to stop him. It would help if Shaq had one of those well-timed renaissance seasons, too. I realize this isn't a popualr pick, with many thinking the Heat are done (which they very well could be). But I just have a problem — a mental block if you will — with picking against a healthy Dwayne Wade.

Western Conference Preview coming tomorrow despite the season starting in a couple hours.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Close Call at Mudbowl

So I realize I haven't posted in awhile, but I have a semi-legitimate excuse for it. Last week happened to be the busiest I've had in quite some time. There were papers to be written, work to be done for the Daily, a Spring Break trip to be planned, and most importantly it was the week leading into Mudbowl. And if you know me, you'd know how seriously I take Mudbowl and everything that comes along with it.

And unlike past years, where we absolutely demolished the competition, this year Beta came to play. Although we were playing without our starting QB, I was still expecting a somewhat lobsided score given our dominant defense and awesome offensive schemes. But then our second-strong QB, Matt Klein, went down with a knee injury in the first half, and it almost forced us to play a pledge in the second half. Luckily, Klein sucked it up and led us to victory, 18-12, in what will go down as the closest, most tense Mudbowl in years.

I'm not talking close, but not really close. This one was in doubt until the final seconds ticked off the clock. So close that Beta should have tied the game on the second to last play of the game, but their receiver dropped what would have definitely been a TD.

That being said, I'm still leaving the University of Michigan with an unblemished 4-0 record in the mud. I really think this year's win may have been the most impressive because our backs were against the wall, we were shellshocked from being in a close game, and yet when it came down to it, we answered the bell and executed when it counted. Graham had an incredible catch to score and keep us stabilized in the first half. Klein ran with what is probably a torn ACL in the second half, and even scored the game winner. I don't think London Fletcher could have done a better job than Chod did at LB...and that's saying a lot coming from a Skins fan.

I've been telling everyone involved that I was happy for the close call. And I defintiely am looking back in retrospect as the winning team. But if we had lost, I'm not sure what sort of mood I'd be in today. Thankfully, I don't have to think like that because a win is a win and I'll take that any day of the week.

It's back to sports from here on out...I may even have another post later tonight. Don't cross your fingers on that, though.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mudbowl's Coming

Let me start this post off by saying that the Daiseke Atomic bomb reference is in fact inappropriate. Now, if I were smart I would erase any memory of even writing the statement. But, here's the thing, I don't really want to take it down. It wouldn't take away what I really said, even though I didn't mean it in a vindictive way. I was just trying to go for one of those "Bill Simmons analogies that elicits a cheap laugh" thing. It probably didn't work, but oh well. If I become a famous somebody and it comes back to bite me in ass....well... so be it.

Now onto more interesting things....specifically Mudbowl.

The tournament to decide who plays us was this past weekend and for the third year in a row SAE will be taking on Beta (ughhh). Clearly, I'm not happy about it given the fact we've absolutely mauled them the past two years in the mud. The girls halftime game will be Kappa facing Tri Delt in a grudge match from last year's semifinals. But honestly, I really just want to get out there and hit someone who isn't in my fraternity.

Barbaric...probably. Awesome....absolutely.

Let's hope there's plenty of TD celebrations again.

Kickoff is slated for Noon since the Battle for the Brown Jug takes place at 330 pm on Saturday. Oh btw...I'm doing the same thing I did last year as it concerns Big Ten Basketball Media Day in Chicago. Since it starts at 9 am central time on Sunday morning, I will be drinking through the night, not falling asleep and leaving Ann Arbor at 5 or 6 in the morning. Then, I will hopefully sober up enough on the four-hour drive to talk with people at the event. For the record, I will not be driving either.

I think I got spoiled over the summer getting to go to so many cool events with big names. It's a itch I've been unable to scratch for almost three months now, so I'll definitely be posting about it. And don't think I forgot about that NBA preview stuff. I got something for you (or is it just me because I may be the only one reading this) coming out later this week.

But I leave you with this. A picture of two girls trying to injure each other in the mud. Man, I can't wait for Saturday.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Francona = Bum

It was great to see Josh Beckett wheel and deal last night, giving the Red Sox a crucial game five win. But when all is said and done, if the Indians win this series in either game six or game seven the blame should fall on one person....Terry Francona.

It boggles my mind that Beckett wasn't starting in game four instead of Tim Wakefield. Wake pitched okay, but in hindsight the guy was coming off an injury and frankly, Beckett is the best pitcher in baseball right now. Not to mention, Beckett has a track record of success in games where he pitches on three days' rest (umm game 6 of 2003 World Series where he just pitched a shutout. No big deal or anything). The decision was right there in front of Francona to make, and he hesitated.

Just terrible. It was an obvious move even if Beckett was a little sore. This is the playoffs. Suck it up and make the tough call.

And it's not like Beckett was going to have to pitch again on three days rest either. With the ridiculous amount of off days during the playoffs, Becks would have been able to pitch game seven on normal rest. Now, the Sox (if they make it to game seven) will have to rest their fortunes on Dice-K, whose mound demeanor has looked similar to someone in Hiroshima looking up to the sky as the A-bomb dropped back in the day (Is that appropriate..not really sure, but I will say I love the Japanese. Speaking of Asians, this Korean kid in my class here at MIchigan wore a shirt the other day that simply said "I speak English". Priceless.)

Granted, Dice K will likely be on a short leash in game seven, and I'm assuming Beckett will be used in relief if necessary. But I just don't understand why you wouldn't want your best pitcher to have the change to start in three games, especially when it's so easily conceivable.

That's the mound face. That's who your season rests on, Francona.

I'm not really rooting for either team in this series, though. I just want a memorable ALCS because I'm fairly certain whoever wins the AL will take the World Series in four or five games. It's a bold prediction, but I don't think anyone realizes how devastating eight days off can be for a baseball team. You simply can't simulate live game action. It's next to impossible in baseball. Look at the Tigers last season; they had five days off before the Fall Classic and got their asses handed to them by a far worse team.

Five Things I Have to Say
1. Who called that South Florida upset? This guy and about 6,000 other people in the media. I'm curious to see if my Oklahoma vs. LSU National Chanmpionship actually happens.

2. I said it last season after the Yanks faltered in the playoffs and I still agree with it: Joe Torre needed to go. I don't even think the Yankee brass should have offered him that lowball one year deal. All the analysts on TV are sucking Torre's dick saying stuff like, "Wouldn't you take a manager who's going to get you to the playoffs year in and year out and win four out of six World Series?" Well, to be honest, with the roster the Yankees have, I could manage them to 90 wins. And I wouldn't wear out my bullpen year in and year out either. The Yanks need a new voice in the clubhouse in order to get over that division series hump.

One year too late if you ask me. Tough times might be on the horizon for the mighty Yanks as well.

3. I'm not going to mince words here. I love the philosophy of Joe Gibbs football. I think that's well-documented. But his handling of scenarios like fourth downs and two-minute drills has just been atrocious. The Skins should be 5-0 if not for some horrendous clock management. Oh yeah, FYI to the powers that be in Ashburn, Va.: I'm a very competent center on my Mudbowl team. I actually won MVP last season just in case you need some extra bodies what with all the injuries.

4. Last night, I was over at a friends house for a girl's 22nd birthday. By last night I mean Thursday. And of course Mario Manningham, Zion Babb and Brandon Minor were there drinking and taking jello shots 48 hours before a huge road night game with Illinois. I'm not sure whether to be upset (which is what I'm leaning towards) or shrugging it off under the premonition that these guys are college students too and they deserve to have some fun. Now, that I think about more though, they can have fun in the offseason.

5. Gilbert Arenas now has a cartoon. It's about a character named "GAZO" and it's going to launched on some website in hopes of getting an actual TV deal. Apparently it's an adult cartoon about a high school outcast. Speaking of Gilbert, I'm going to have a full NBA preview in the next week or so, definitely before the season starts.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rocky Road

They've won 21 out of 22 games. Like seriously? 21 out of 22.

The Colorado Rockies run to end this season will go down in the history books as truly remarkable. This is bigger news than when that fat kid you hang out with that normally doesn't pull ass randomly gets involved in some weird sex fantasy of a random hottie. Every team has its ebbs and flows, but ebbs just don't last this long. They aren't supposed to. No team is allowed to reel off this many wins in such a short amount of time. The law of averages doesn't allow it.

And that's why the worst thing right now for Colorado is this eight day layoff until the World Series. I'm fairly certain the magic is going to wear off once the Fall Classic begins. It just can't keep going. But the problem with guaranteeing this prediction is the fact that the Rockies haven't lost in over a month.

Maybe they've lost the ability to lose. Now that would be remarkable.

I am Troy Tulowitzki in college. Hear me roar!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Predicting the Unpredictable

Three weeks in a row the college football world has been thrown upside down by upsets. But if something gets turned upside down three straight times, what does that really mean? I'm not really sure, and I'm fairly certain most prognosticators have no clue either. So now with the first BCS poll released, and the weirdness that has ensued since the words "South Florida would be playing in the BCS Championship Game if it happened today" became common terminology.

Well I figured I would try to make some sense of all these losses by teams, and try to figure out now, in October, how the college football season will fall out. And since nobody really knows what to make of the current top-10 (considering it doesn't look remotely close to how it did three weeks ago) I decided to sort through the new, in vogue teams. Make sure you pay attention to how little these current BCS polls matter.

1. Ohio State
Remaining potential losses: Michigan State, at Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, at Michigan
As you can see, every one of the Buckeyes' remaining games could potentially end in losses. That being said, if you've watched this Ohio State team at all this year, you'd have noticed that they are essentially like MIchigan's team from last year. There's a ferocious defense that has shut down every team it's faced, and a quarterback gaining confidence with every win. The only thing they're missing is a dynamite running back a la Mike Hart (although Wells is no slouch). This was supposed to be a down year, and this team is now on top of the polls. I could see them winning out, but my gut tells me they've got one loss in 'em. I want to say it'll come against Michigan, but I'd bet on it happening against Penn State in a couple weeks.
Where they'll end up come bowl season: 11-1, Big Ten Champs and in the Rose Bowl

2. South Florida
Remaining potential losses: at Rutgers, at UCONN, Cincinnati, Louisville
I'm not really sure what to make of this team. A road win over Auburn comes off as fluky to me since it happened week one, and the fact that the Tigers just lost to Mississippi State this past weekend. The home win over West Virginia was impressive, but something tells me this team just can't keep it up. They've got a huge one in Piscataway, N.J. against Ray Rice and Rutgers on Thursday night and I'm fairly certain they won't be undefeated after come Friday. In fact, I've got them chalked up for losses against UCONN andf Louisville, too. Call it a hunch, I guess.
Where they'll end up come bowl season: 9-3, 2nd in Big East and in the Gator Bowl

3. Boston College
Remaining potential losses: at Virginia Tech, Florida State, at Maryland, at Clemson, Miami, ACC Championship Game
I really like this team and I'm a big Matt Ryan fan. But it's too bad their schedule is so damn tough. All of their remaining games are against teams that have the talent to win any game. We'll learn a lot about the Eagles this week when they have to travel to Blacksburg to play Va. Tech. I'm predicting two losses in a row against the Hokies and Florida State.
Where they'll end up come bowl season: 10-3, 2nd in ACC and in the Chick Fil-A Bowl

4. LSU
Remaining Potential Losses: Auburn, at Alabama, SEC Championship Game
The Tigers may have lost in gloriously awesome fashion (every game should go to triple OT), but I still think they are the team to beat in all this madness. Even though I listed 'Bama and Auburn as games they might lose, I really don't see a misstep until the SEC Title game. But seriously, they've got BCS written all over them.
Where they'll end up come bowl season: 12-1, SEC Champs and in the BCS Championship Game

5. Oklahoma
Remaining potential losses: at Texas Tech, Big 12 Championship Game
I'm a big Sam Bradford fan, especially after watching a good chunk of the Sooners game against Missouri yesterday. He had one bad game against Colorado, and it looked like it would cost them a shot at the National Title. But now, with the way the standings stack up, Oklahoma has as good a chance as anybody to get to the promised land. The big question is: Will Bradford have another brain fart like he did against Colorado. Unfortunately, I don't see it happening and I expect one of those infamous shit eating grins on the face of Bob Stoops when everything is said and done.
Where they'll end up come bowl season: 12-1, Big 12 Champs and in the BCS Championship Game

6. South Carolina
Remaining potential losses: at Tennessee, at Arkansas, Florida, Clemson, SEC Championship Game
The 'Ol Ball Coach clearly has this program on the right track these days. They lost at LSU a couple weeks ago, but that's more than respectable. When Spurrier benched Blake Mitchell early in the season, I thought it would turn out disastrous, but Chris Smelley has been more than stable behind center. Unfortunately, besides LSU, I just can't see another SEC getting out unscathed given how brutal every week can be. I don't see the Gamecocks beating Florida in a few weeks even though it's a home game, and I'm skeptical if they'll have the moxie to win at Neyland against Tennessee.
Where they'll end up come bowl season: 9-3, 2nd in SEC East and in the Capital One Bowl

7. Kentucky
Remaining potential losses: Florida, at Georgia, Tennessee, SEC Championship Game
Just like South Carolina, I can't see kentucky beating Florida. I have the Gators winning the SEC East. I just think Tim Tebow is that good. But clearly, the Wildcats are way better than anybody expected, especially after going blow-for-blow with LSU yesterday. Unfortunately, they've already lost to South Carolina, so they'll lose any tiebreaker with them. The wild card is going to be their game at Georgia. I don't see them pulling that one out on the road.
Where they'll end up come bowl season: 9-3, 3rd in SEC East and in the Cotton Bowl

8. Arizona State
Remaining potential losses: Cal, at Oregon, at UCLA, USC, Arizona
Ummm...yeah...sorry Sun Devils. You may be undefeated, but I think Churchill High School could be a one-loss team if they played the schedule you just played to open the season. ASU should get a little wake up call in the next few weeks with consecutive games against Cal and Oregon. Then two weeks later, they get USC. Not winning any of those, and I'll give them one more loss for good measure.
Where they'll end up come bowl season: 8-4, 4th in Pac 10 and in the Sun Bowl

9. West Virginia
Remaining potential losses: at Rutgers, Louisville, at Cincinnati, UCONN
The Mountaineers won't go undefeated the rest of they way, I know that. But I do see them beating Rutgers, who will be coming off an emotional win over South Florida (atleast that's what I'm predicting). I do see a misstep amongst the Louisville, Cincy, UCONN gauntlet. The best guess here is that it happens against Cincy. West Virginia will be thanking its lucky stars for parity when BCS time rolls around.
Where they'll end up come bowl season: 10-2, Big East Champs and in the Fiesta Bowl

10. Oregon
Remaining potential losses: USC, Arizona State, at UCLA, Oregon State
I like this team, I like them a lot. And it's not solely based on the fact that they punished Michigan earlier in the season. The Ducks get USC at home, so it sets up nicely. But as down as you may be on the Trojans after watching them narrowly win this week, I can't pick against them...not after what they've done the past few years.
Where they'll end up come bowl season: 10-2, 2nd in Pac 10 and in the Orange Bowl

You'll notice I only have five of the current top-10 slotted in BCS bowl games. That means five spots are still up for grabs. So instead of having no balls and just ending this post now, I present you with how the BCS bowl games will look like after the season comes to a close (For the record, I'm not really sure how they slot teams into specific bowls, so I'm going to do my best in that regard, but if I get all the teams right I'll be a happy man.):

BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans: LSU (SEC Champs, #1) vs. Oklahoma (Big 12 Champs, #2)
Orange Bowl in Miami: Virginia Tech (ACC Champ) vs. Oregon (BCS At-Large)
Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix: West Virginia (Big East Champ) vs. Kansas (BCS At-Large)
Sugar Bowl in New Orleans: Florida (BCS At-Large) vs. Hawaii (BCS At-Large)
Rose Bowl in Pasadena: USC (Pac-10 Champ) vs. Ohio State (Big 10 Champ)

Wait, what's that? Yes, that's correct I picked Kansas to go to a BCS bowl game. But if you look at the Jayhawks' schedule, you'd realize it's prefectly doable. Now, will they actually run the table. My answer is obviously yes, but am I 100 percent certain: Hell no. Atleast this will give me something to root for in the Big 12. Go Colt Brennan, too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

T. Henry and Volume Two

I chose him a few weeks ago the poster child of this blog, and boy has Travis Henry delivered. Not only has this man been in the news for having too much sex, but now he's back on the big screen because of a failed drug test for marijuana. If you're going to get in trouble, I don't think there's two better reasons to be in the doghouse.

Think about it, though. This guy is living the dream right now. Up until this past week, he was leading the NFL in rushing, he's the greatest thing to happen to baby's mamas ever, and it's obvious now that he's a blunt connosieur.

Yes, I realize Travis has said he would take a lie detector test and a hair test to prove his innocence, but that's only because he might get suspended for a year from the NFL. I'm willing to bet this man makes headlines later on this season in a big way. I'm actually hoping he fails his hair test because then he'll officially look like the dumbest man in America.

He's got blazing speed, or so I hear.

Now onto volume two of 5 Things I Need to Say:

1) Michigan Basketball Media Day was yesterday, which marks the beginning of my writing season. Listening to John Beilein during his press conference, I was less than enthusiastic about the Wolverines even reaching a .500 record this season. When a coach tells you, "Our goal is to improve with every game", it isn't exactly a big stamp of optimism.

I was pleasantly surprised by how upbeat and relaxed everything seemed to be as compared to last year with Tommy. All of the players appear happy to be playing basketball again with expectations and pressure lowered from the past couple seasons. Obviously, I'll have more on this team as the season progresses, but I figured I'd leave you with a bombshell prediction of mine.

Junior guard/forward Jevohn Shepherd will be the leading scorer for Michigan basketball this year.

2) The Capitals are looking good sitting at 3-0. No matter what supposed "hockey experts" say, I've learned a couple things over the past few seasons of following hockey. The NHL is always up for grabs because of how much parity there has to be when you have 30 teams that play 18 players apiece every game. I see the Caps being real players and making the playoffs after their long hiatus from the postseason.

3) That 31-3 beatdown of the Lions was a awesome to see from the Skins. Playoff teams don't just beat inferior teams, they annihilate them, and that's just what Gibbs and the Gang did. It was a must win anyways, given the upcoming schedule. At Green Bay and at New England are clearly not gimmes. If we take 1 of 2 of those games and come out 4-2, I would be a happy camper.

4) I decided to watch the NFl pregame shows this weekend and realized I should really just keep it on CBS. Terry Bradshaw has gone absolutely insane, like more insane than ever insane, on FOX. I can't listen to a Cowboy tell me what to think on ESPN (Emmitt Smith). And convincing myself to trust a man with the nickname Poochie just upsets me. That leaves you with JB, Cowher, Marino, Sharpe and Boomer as the best of the worst.

He's famous to you because of NFL pregame stuff. He's famous to me because he knows George Brown.

5) I'm taking on a lot Michigan Daily-wise in the next couple weeks with basketball starting up again, but I'm saying it now that I will actually write an NBA preview this year (like team-by-team breakdown. We'll see if I actually deliver because I've been slacking for a month as it concerns this blog.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Overhypage of Ed Hochuli

Let's just get right to the point of this post. Ed Hichuli reffed today's matchup between the Skins and Lions. And usually the announcers don't talk about refs all that much, except to introduce them to the audience at the start of the game. But if you watch the NFL, you've invariably caught a Hochuli reffed affair. So, shouldn't it be common knowledge now that 1) Ed Hochuli has huge biceps and clearly wears a shirt that's a size too small in order to show off said guns and 2) That Ed Hochuli is a lawyer on the side and gives great explanations of replays, penalties, and what not.

Hochuli is an egomaniac. He needs to be stopped. Refs are supposed to be nerds, not dirty whores with stripes on their shirts.

So please, football announcers, stop saying this stuff on the air. Make me, as a viewer, think that you're getting paid to something other than pick your own ass in a suit while watching a sporting event. Everyone knows about Hochuli. He doesn't need his fucking ego fed. Hochuli is probably the reason this whole Tim Donaghy thing happened in the NBA. Donaghy probably bitched and moaned to some bartender at a random place wherever he lives (because obviously Tim Donaghy has no friends) about how underappreciated he is. I bet he even said something along the lines, "That cocksucker Hochuli. Bet he just fucking slams bitches with his witty remarks and explanations and huge biceps."

So of course, the only way to be the man is to beat the man. So Donaghy decided fixing games was the way to go. And now look where we are. Point of this is: quit kissing Hochuli's ass. He's a ref, and just because he's clearly overcompensating for a lack of something with his way too tight ref shirts, does not mean we have to pay homage to him. And it's egomaniacs like him that are ruining refereedom everywhere. I want us to go back to the days where the only coverage referees got were when they fucked up a call or they tripped overthemselves or a mascot thusly becoming a new installment in the DVD compilation of "Ref's Greatest Moments: The Bloopers of Our Generation".

Dick Bavetta and Patrick actually have something in common. They would both be stars of Ref's Greatest Moments.

Getting away from that cocksucker Hochulu for a moment...I obviously watched the Skins game today and couldn't help but come away impressed. This was a game that I thought had letdown written all over it. I was absolutely terrified of the vaunted Mike Martz passing attack and the matchup problems the quartet of Roy WIlliams, Calvin Johnson, Mike Furrey, and Shaun McDonald presented. But then something weird happened, something that was reminiscent of the old Joe Gibbs. The Redskins came out and absolutely manhandled a decent opponent for 60 minutes.

Don't get me wrong, the Lions aren't great. Heck they might not even make the playoffs, despite sitting at 3-2 right now. But do you see this Lions team finishing any lower than 7-9. I don't think so, not with the offensive weapons they have at their disposal. And let's not forget, the Skins didn't even get any breaks in this game. Detroit had four fumbles, none of which were recovered. Oh yeah, we lost our No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers by halftime too. Just an impressive performance, all the way around. That Green Bay game next week has the makings of a great one.

Umm I was about to shoot somebody after that one fumble where it seemed like every Redskin on the defense touched the ball, but missed as if the ball was one of those watermelons covered in vaseline that they throw in the pool every 4th of July. For a second I thought John Kerry had been picked off waivers this week.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Unbelievable Game

I had to post again because I had a little problem with my boy Matt Holliday. He never actually touched home plate in the bottom of the 13th in Colorado's improbably victory over the Padres. Michael Barrett blocked the plate with his foot and when Holliday slides into home plate Barrett's foot doesn't actually move. Instead, it's Holliday's wrist that bends back. For all we know, that game should still be going on now as I type this at 2:28 AM.

By the way, had the Rockies lost that game, the blame should have fallen squarely on the shoulders of Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. Jorge Julio in a pressure situation? I think a 3-year old could tell you that disaster was right around the corner.

But like I said in the prior post, the Rockie win should give Holliday the MVP award. Someone from that team needs to be recognized. Jimmy Rollins had a great season — and came up huge in the Phillies clinching win on Sunday — but Holliday showed tonight he's a player who can deliver in the spotlight. Oh yeah, and with his performance tonight, Holliday ended this season as the National League leader in both batting average and RBIs.

We'll get to see who the real MVP is in the NLDS. Philly vs. Colorado is a tossup because they both have sicknasty offenses.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Rocky Mountain High

I'm sure Battey is jumping for joy about this 13 of 14 streak by the Rockies. I mean it's just absurd that a team ran up 13 wins in 14 games when the pressure was on. Granted the Rockies were on the periphery of the race for much of the time, but still 13 of 14 to close out the year.

I definitely don't understand the Padres decision to hold Jake Peavy for the start tonight in the one-game playoff either. Why would you hold your clear cut No. 1 when you have a chance to clinch the division. And don't tell me it was out of fear for the one-game playoff. You go for the win right away, that way you could still set up your rotation so that Peavy gets two starts in the division series. Now, Peavy will go tonight and will likely to have to pitch on short rest in the division series in order to get those golden two starts in the playoffs.

That being said, I'm going with the Rockies out of sheer respect for what Matt Holliday did for my fantasy team this season. However, if I were a betting man I would not put money on Josh Fogg, no matter how well he's pitched over the last month.

I wonder if they look to the sky above Coors Field for inspiration from the awesomely amazing mullet man, former Rockie great Dante Bichette.