Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins

It has now come out that Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins were suspended because they were caught in a car with a bottle of cognac and a bottle of vodka, and there are reports that a bag of weed was found near where they were stopped by UConn police (Wiggins also received a summons for driving with a suspended license).

Now I understand why Calhoun has suspended them and I actually agree with the decision. Anytime a player has a run-in with the law, they should be punished accordingly. The weed is one thing. They have been drugged tested, with results to be released Wednesday, but if they pass that (which hopefully they will), then I don't see how you can reprimand them for it. We're talking about the campus of a large state school, where you can't walk 100 feet without being in the viscinity of weed.

But the alcohol is another issue entirely. Before anyone goes and jumps down their throats for possessing booze while underage, go back and think about what you did in college. 99% of underage college kids drink - that's just the culture of an american college campus. Maybe I'm being optimistic, but I believe that they bought that booze for when they returned from the road trip to Indiana. And if they wanted to come home from the trip and drink with their friends, is it really that big of a deal?

Yes, they are dumb. When you have so much riding on basketball (scholarship, potential pro career), it is not worth it to risk getting caught, damaging you reputation, and missing games, the medium through which a player proves his pro potential. Let's be realistic for a minute. When you are a star on the basketball team at a school like UConn, there are going to be plenty of people who would be willing to bring you whatever you wanted in exchange for friendship - being "cool by association".

Now, Wiggins as already been suspended this year for failing a drug test (the student athlete handbook at UConn says that for a first failed drug test, you are automatically suspended for 30 days from practicing/playing with your team, a punishment which Wiggins served in October. Second offense is 60 days, and the third offense is the remainder of that academic year.) If Wiggins fails this drug test, he is probably done for the season, and possibly will never play for the Huskies again. And given the rumor that he is a HUGE pothead doesn't help his cause.

Critics are always complaining the big time D1 athletes are not true STUDENT-athletes, but when they make the mistakes every college student makes, they get harsh punishments and blasted in the media. And its not just these UConn guys, it happens to players all over the country in every sport. Athletes are held to a higher standard because they are the face of their universities. Sometimes I feel bad for these guys, because they are, in fact, kids. 20 year olds. Just because some one is really good at putting a ball in a hole doesn't mean they are more mature than the kid that plays X-box all day and drinks all night. All I'm saying is cut athletes some slack. They're kids, doing what kids do at college. I agree there needs to be some sort of comeuppance, but let's not blow all of this out of proporation. Continue reading...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

College Basketball 1/28 - Five OT's?

Baylor 116, Texas A&M 110 5OT
In one of the longest games in basketball history, Baylor outlasted Texas A&M in 5 OT's to win a thriller 116-110. Baylor, playing as a ranked team for the first time since 1969, got 36 points, which included 22 in the overtimes with 11 coming in the final stanza, and eight assists out of Curtis Jerrels and 19 points and 18 rebounds from Kevin Rogers. The high final score says otherwise, but this game was a hard-fought, grind-it-out, defensive battle. Combined, the Bears and the Aggies shot just under 37%, committed 69 fouls, had 8 players foul out, and shot 106 free throws. The loss was A&M's third consecutive, all in conference, while the win helped solidify Baylor's ranking and status as a top team in the Big XII.

Kevin Love, UCLA
I didn't want to do it again, but after his performance this week how could I not give Kevin Love POTW honors. UCLA went 2-0 on the road against the Oregon schools, led by Love who averaged 21ppg, 19.5rpg, 2bpg, while just turning the ball over three times and shooting 64% from the floor. With all due respect to Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon, and Derrick Rose, Love is emerging as the best freshman, and maybe the best player, in the country. And the best part of his game doesn't show up in a box score. He plays great interior defense and understands positioning and the use of angles in the post as well as anyone, which, along with strength, allows him to compete with superior athletes. I know it has been beaten to death (thanks Jay Bilas), but the most underrated part of his game is his passing ability, specifically outlet passes, which is so important to starting fast breaks and picking up easy buckets.

On the heels on a blowout win over Marquette, UConn went on the road to beat conference foe Cincinnati in a dogfight 84-83, a game where they were down 12 with five minutes left and pulled out a victory. Then on Saturday, one day after news broke that Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins were suspended indefinently, UConn had to travel to Assembly Hall to take on Eric Gordon and the No. 7 Indiana Hoosiers, and if that wasn't enough AJ Price was so sick he was puking during timeouts. But the Huskies were able to pull out a 68-63 victory, one which Jim Calhoun said was almost as satisfying as the win over Duke in the 2004 Final Four. Great week for UConn - the two wins go a long way towards building up their tournament resume.

1/30 Memphis @ Houston - With the exception of their matchup with Tennessee, Memphis' trip to Houston may be the only threat to the Tigers perfect season. Houston is one of the few C-USA teams that can match the athleticism of Memphis.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Robert McKiver, Houston - McKiver is one of the best scorers in the country, averaging just under 20ppg. If he gets hot, Houston will have a chance.

1/30 Kansas @ Kansas State - This game pits the last two undefeated teams in the Big XII. Kansas may be the best team in the country, but noone has been hotter than K. State of late.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sasha Kaun, Darnell Jackson, and Darrell Arthur, Kansas - All-world freshman Michael Beasly must have a big game for the Wildcats to have any chance to win, and this formidable front line of Kansas is tasked with that job.

1/30 Texas @ Texas A&M - A&M's win over Oklahoma State was nice, but the Aggies really need to build some momentum after a three game conference losing streak.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: DJ Augustin, Texas and Josh Carter, Texas A&M - Augustin may be the most talented point guard in the country after streamlining his body, but Josh Carter is one of the best players you've never heard of.

1/30 Vanderbilt @ Mississippi - Two of the last six undefeated teams in the country both have struggled since starting SEC play, and both desperately need a win to right the ship.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Dwayne Curtis, Mississippi and AJ Ogilvy, Vanderbilt - Intriguing matchup of two of the most under appreciated big men in the SEC.

1/31 Indiana @ Wisconsin - Two of the favorites to win the Big Ten square off in what promises to be one of the best games of the year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Eric Gordon, Indiana - Indiana relies so much on Gordon's scoring and playmaking ability to win, and Wisconsin does not have many wings to throw at him. Look for him to get back on track after struggling against UConn.

2/2 Tennessee @ Mississippi State - MSU, despite being 5-0 in the SEC, is still looking for a signature win for their tourney resume. Tennessee in on the short list of teams that can earn a #1 seed.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Chris Lofton, Tennessee and Jamont Gordon, MSU- The preseason All-america Lofton has yet to get his scoring on track, while Jamont Gordan is one of the most complete all-around players in the country - he averages 18ppg, 6rpg, and 5apg.

2/2 Stanford @ Washington State - After UCLA, probably the two best teams in the Pac-10 meet in a battle of big front lines.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Aron Baynes, WSU and Brook/Robin Lopez, Stanford - Another battle of underrated bigs. Aron Baynes will have his work cut out for him with the 7-foot twins.

2/2 Pitt @ UConn - Two teams heading in opposite directions. UConn has been one of the hottest teams in the country while dealing with the suspensions of Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins, while Pitt has been skidding after beating Duke early in the season thanks to the injuries to Mike Cook and Levance Fields.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: DeJuan Blair, Pitt and AJ Price, UConn - Hasheem Thabeet and the Huskies front line tend to struggle against big, strong posts, and the freshman Blair is that to a T. AJ Price has emerged as the best point guard in the Big East after playing some great basketball the last month. In the last month he has been able to get into the lane at will. Continue reading...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


There are two teams in college basketball I really cannot figure out due to unbelievable inconsistency - the Kentucky Wildcats and my own UConn Huskies.

Last night Kentucky knocked off No. 5 Tennessee last night, 10 days after they ended the undeafeated streak of the No. 12 Vanderbilt, running their record to 8-9, 2-2. Is this really the same team that has lost to Gardner-Webb, UAB, Houston, and San Diego? Kentucky's biggest problem this season has been the injuries sustained by sophomores Derrick Jasper and Jodie Meeks - they have played a combined 14 games this season. Couple that with learning new coach Billy Gillespie's system, and what you have is a team still searching for an identity.

Kentucky has been a completely different team since starting conference play. As I mentioned, they knocked off both Vandy and Tennessee at home, and both their losses were tough roadies against Mississippi State (without Meeks and Jasper) and Florida (where they lost in overtime), but look around the country - road wins have been tough to come by anywhere. I've discussed this before) - Billy Gillespie coached teams are tough, scrappy, and defensive minded group of guys, and when you play a grind-it-out style like that, you need some depth. It doesn't have to be great depth, but you need bodies to run out there so the starters can get a rest. Ask anyone who has played the sport - playing good defense for an extended period of time will take your legs from under you. When Meeks and Jasper were out, Kentucky had literally zero bench - Patrick Patterson, Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley were playing 35-40 minutes a night. But with those two back, Gillespie finally can actually use a rotation.

Basically, what has happened is Kentucky has found their identity. In their last four, they've held Vandy to 73 in 2 OT's, MSU to 69, Florida to 61 in regulation, and Tennessee to 66. Those are four very good teams. And now that they have a couple wins under their belt and a little bit of confidence, you can almost see these guys buying into the system. With talents like Patterson and Crawford, and the Big blue faithful behind them, this is not a team you will want to face come March.

To me, UConn has been much more of a mystery. With the exception of a home loss to Providence last week, UConn really has won every game it should have. They've hung with the big boys - lost to Georgetown on a three by Roy Hibbert (I'm still bitter about that one), it took everything Memphis had to beat them, and they thoroughly dominated Marquette. They haven't had any injuries - yet (knock on wood). In fact, Calhoun has been the only one to miss a game, and that was because he had a stomach virus. And noone on the team has really been a disappointment - in fact, many have been suprises. Hasheem Thabeet has been more than you could ask for offensively - providing 10ppg and shooting FT's at a 75% clip. AJ Price has returned to the form that made him a heralded high school player. Dougy Wiggins and Gavin Edwards have been very capable role players, with Wiggins providing great minutes and energy when he gets a chance. So what has been their problem?

I never, ever, EVER thought I would say this about a Jim Calhoun coached team, but this year's Huskies have not provided consistent intensity and focus during games. Yes, when they can play with anyone in the country, but that is because they are in the game emotionally. I was embarrassed to say I was a UConn fan watching them play Providence. I really, honestly felt like I cared more about winning that game than they did. It seemed to me that they thought that since they had just gone into DC and outplayed Georgetown that Providence was going to roll over for them. The same thing happened to them in Cincinnati after they blew out Marquette - with the exception of a run at the end of the first half, UConn was outworked and outplayed for the first 35 minutes of that game. Luckily, they made some plays down the stretch to pull out the W.

Basketball-wise, UConn has three main issues they need to deal with. The first is defending three pointers. They allow opponent to shoot 37% and make 8 3's a game, and routinely lose the other team's shooters. Getting to shooters is just a focua thing - recognizing who can hurt you from team, and making sure there's a hand in his face. The second problem they have is defending the pick-and-roll, mainly Thabeet. Cincinnati's entire offense in the last 15 minutes of the game was running a pick-and-roll for Deonta Vaughn with whoever Thabeet was guarding, and UConn had a terrible time stopping it. Thabeet is too slow and immobile, and thus is not able to hedge a screen his man sets (off the ball screens as well), which is probably one of the things he will pick up as he gets more experience (he has only been playing basketball for five years). Regardless, if Cincinnati's bigs could hit anything outside of a lay-up, UConn would not have won last night. The last problem is that UConn does not have anyone that can throw an outlet pass. In fact, Thabeet and Adrien may be the two worst passers in the history of basketball. This problem is compounded by the fact that UConn wants to run. By waiting the extra two seconds, and letting the defense clear or having Price come back and get the ball, UConn loses any numbers and advantage they would have had on the offensive end.

All-in-all, UConn has enough talent to make some noise in conference play and in the NCAA tourney. The question will be which UConn shows up. Continue reading...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

College Basketball 1/21 - Four Top Ten Teams Tumble

Another exciting week that included top tens UNC, UCLA, Georgetown, and Texas A&M (twice) losing and saw Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado put up a rare triple double (10 points, 12 boards, 10 blocks).

Maryland 82, UNC 80
North Carolina State 79, Miami (FL) 77 OT

With many great games this week, including the seven upsets of ranked teams Saturday, it was difficult to narrow it down to these two great ACC games. Maryland, the same team that lost back-to-back games at home the American and Ohio, went into the Dean Dome and knocked off undefeated North Carolina 82-80 thanks to a basket from Bambale Osby with just 21 seconds left. UNC had three shots at the end, but Tyler Hansbrough's jumper bounced off the rim at the end. All in all, Maryland outplayed and outworked UNC. James Gist and Osby out-physicalled Tyler Hansbrough - not an easy feat. Couple all of that with UNC's inability to shoot and score consistenly, and you have the perfect recipe for an upset.

NC State's "upset" win over a very average Miami team had one of the best finishes I have ever seen. Watch the highlights here. Despite a three point play with 30 seconds left to send the game into OT, the Wolfpack found themselves down four with just under a minute left in the game, having gone scoreless thus far in the extra period, when Courtney Fells knocked down a tough pull-up three with a hand in his face. After a Miami free throw, NC State super-frosh followed up a miss with a tip-in with 4 seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Gavin Grant stole the ball and made a lay-up to win the game, but no one saw it live because ESPN cut to a shot of Sidney Lowe on the Wolfpack sideline, and the hands of fans were in the way of the regular camera. Neither of these teams will compete in the ACC, but it was an awesome ending.

Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall
The freshman Hazell led the Pirates to two much needed home wins over South Florida and Louisville by averaging 25.5 points. Over the two games, he shot a whopping 13-25 from three, while picking up six steals along the way. Against Louisville, Seton Hall was down 14 with 12 minutes left when Hazell went nuts. He scored 14 in the final 12 minutes, including four three's, the last of which put Seton Hall ahead for good 81-80 with four minutes left. These two wins were huge for the Pirates, who lost tough ones to UConn, Pitt, and Marquette the start league play, if they have any hopes of making the NCAA tournament.

The Minutemen earn the TOTW honors with a 2-0 week, beating Dayton on the road and knocking off a very-game Charlotte team at home. This week was huge, considering the quality of the A-10 this year and UMass's upcoming schedule - @ St. Joe's, home for Xavier, @ Duquense. In the 82-71 win at Dayton (who had not lost at home this season, including a win over then No. 6 Pitt) UMass was in control for most of the game. They jumped out to a 15-3 lead, and with the exception of a Flyers' run with 10 minutes left, the Minutemen never looked back. UMass overcame a rebounding deficit of 50-35 by using penetration to get open looks from three, and they capitalized on those looks going 13-30. Against Charlotte, UMass did much of the same, knocking down 11 three's to pull out a dog fight 86-79. Ricky Harris led the way by averaging 23ppg, shooting 50% from the field, hitting 9-18 threes, while only turning the ball over three times in over 30 minutes per game.

1/22 Drake @ Creighton: 16-1 Drake, fresh off a win over second place Illinois State, takes on the third place team in the MVC. Drake may be the best team-you-don't-know-about - their only loss is to St. Mary's.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Leonard Houston, Drake - The senior will have to pick up his game with backcourt mate Josh Young being out.

1/23 Baylor @ Texas A&M: First real test of the season for a 15-2 Baylor squad that sits stop the Big 12 standings. After losing big twice last week, A&M is looking to turn around their fortunes. FYI - Great article on the Baylor program's resurrection.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jospeh Jones/DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M and Kevin Rogers, Baylor - With Rogers being the lone big man on a team full of talented guards, his play against the big and strong front line of A&M will go a long way to legitimizing the hot start by the Bears.

1/24 Dayton @ Xavier: Another in the seemingly endless run of great games coming out of the A-10. Winner should be considered the early favorite to win the conference.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Brian Roberts, Dayton - As UMass proved, the key to beating Dayton is stopping to explosive Roberts (held him to two first half points). Xavier has a laundry list of athletic wings they can throw at him.

1/24 Washington State @ Arizona
1/26 Washington State @ Arizona State
: After this road trip, Wazzu will have gone through there two toughest road trips. The Arizona State match-up could be for first place in the conference if Oregon can knock off UCLA Thursday, and may set the record for slowest pace and ugliest game of the decade.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jordan Hill, Arizona and Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State - Wazzu has been susceptible inside this year (see Kevin Love's 27 point, 14 board performance), so these guys need to have a game for their team to have a chance.

1/26 UConn @ Indiana: Fresh off a big win over Marquette, the Huskies head into Indiana with a little confidence. Could be a trap game for Indiana, with UConn being out of conference and coming right before a trip to Wisconsin.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: DJ White, Indiana and Hasheem Thabeet, UConn - Thabeet has a reputation of shrinking when facing great big men, and White is as imposing of a center as there is in the nation. Eric Gordon will get his, so slowing White will be key for a UConn upset.

1/26 Mississippi @ Mississippi State: In-state rivalry pits the two best in the SEC west. Both teams are looking for their first legitimate win.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jarvis Vanardo, Mississippi State - He leads the nation in blocks at 5 per game, and staying out of foul trouble will help to counter Ole Miss' attacking style. Continue reading...

A Look At Conference Play

Although college football season has ended, it seems that Saturday's are still the day of the upset - yesterday eight ranked college basketball teams lost, with seven of those losses coming to unranked opponents (Duke knocked off Clemson). True, not all of these games should should be considered upsets (Stanford beating No. 25 Arizona State or No. 24 Miami losing to North Carolina State), but when five of the top sixteen teams in the country lose to unranked and overmatched foes in one day (more on Saturday' upset special tomorrow), it makes you realize how topsy-turvy our college basketball universe is. Which is why I love it.

I know it is still so early in league play, but let's take a quick look at how the standings are shaking out in the BCS conferences, as well as the A-10.

Duke and UNC are 1-2, but would expect (or hope for) any different in the ACC? After that - who knows. Boston College is tied for second, but they have lost to Robert Morris and were absolutely manhandled by Kansas at home. Clemson started out hot, but look to be taking another nose dive in league play. Miami? Please. Maryland? They lost to AU and Ohio, but handed UNC their first loss. Virginia Tech, Florida State, Wake Forest - the model of inconsistency.

With every team already playing at least five games, Georgetown is the only team to have lost less than two. And with teams like Marquette, Pittsburgh, Villanova, West Virginia, etc. in this conference, who are the two teams that are currently tied for second place in conference play? Cincinnati and DePaul, who are a combined 17-18 and have logged L's to teams like Belmont, Bowling Green (Cinci), North Carolina A&T and Illinois-Chicago (DePaul). Wide open, if any of about ten teams get hot they can make a run at a regular season title.

What is probably the weakest of the BCS conferences, the Big Ten really only has three teams that will be able to compete for a title - Wisconsin (5-0), Indiana (4-0), and Michigan State (4-1). Purdue and Minnesota have had hot starts, but neither have enough talent to continue to play at the level (see Minnesota's 2-3 start to league play). The only other possible contender is Ohio State, but they are too inconsistent and rely on jump shooters too much.

BIG 12
Kansas may be the best team in the country, and remains atop the conference standings, but behind them there are only four teams with one loss or less. One of those four is Texas (to be expected from a team that's been ranked as high as #5). Granted its still (very) early - the Big 12 has only played three conference games - but the other three, all ahead of Texas, are Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas State.

PAC 10
The Pac 10 has started to unfold the way many expected - UCLA and Washington State at the top, with five or six other teams battling it out for what looks to be six-bid league. The only exception has been Arizona State, a young and talented team that has jumped out to a (4-1) start.

Everyone knew about Tennessee this year, but did anyone expect Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Florida and Vanderbilt to be the next four best teams? Admittedly, this is a down year for the SEC (it would take a borderline miracle anyone other than these five to make the tourney), but three of these four teams are rarely considered basketball "powers", and the fourth (Florida) lost pretty much the entire team that won back-to-back titles.

The Atlantic 10 should be in this conversation this year with five or six different teams that could play their way into at-large bids. How good is this league? Top 25 Rhode Island is sitting at 1-2 in conference play. The only problem is with so many quality teams (Xavier, Dayton, UMass, URI, Charlotte, St. Joe's), they are going to beat each other up as is evidenced by every team having lost a league game two weeks in. Continue reading...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chris Bosh and Steve Nash in the Wall Street Journal

I found this interesting article in today's WSJ about athlete's creating their own internet ads. I really like the one from Steve Nash, he looks like he's a pretty good soccer player.

Athletes' New Game: Their Own Web Ads
Low-Budget Spots Put Stars in Control of Their Marketing

January 17, 2008; Page B5

Basketball star Chris Bosh, known for his power and finesse around the basket, is trying out a new off-court move.

Mr. Bosh, with help from his girlfriend and brother, recently wrote and shot his own Web commercial. The ad, in which Mr. Bosh takes on the persona of a Texas-fried used-car salesman to ask fans to vote him into the National Basketball Association's All-Star Game, has become something of an underground hit, racking up more than 376,000 viewings on YouTube.

Steve Nash's ad

Mr. Bosh isn't the only athlete moonlighting as an adman. Steve Nash, an All Star who usually represents Nike Inc., enlisted Lola Schnabel, the daughter of artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, to shoot a self-styled Web ad for the shoemaker. The spot, "Training Day," is a pseudo-documentary look at Mr. Nash playing basketball (including dribbling while riding a skateboard), soccer and tennis in New York, his off-season home. It ends with the Nike swoosh.

Most athletes promote themselves relentlessly, and Web sites and blogs are almost de rigueur among sports stars. Messrs. Bosh and Nash go a step beyond that, effectively taking the creative reins from the professionals and selling themselves directly through their ads. At a time when user-generated content is all the rage, marketers and the athletes say it's only natural that celebrities, too, would want to exert more control, and they expect more such ads to come.

For marketers, the user-generated trend is a double-edged sword. When it works, the results can be thrilling for a company, because the promotion is cheap to produce and the message is organic. But there is always the danger that the maker of the message will go too far, creating a public-relations mess that the marketer later has to clean up.

"It can go sour," says Dean Crutchfield, senior vice president of marketing for branding firm Wolff Olins. "You can't really control a strong celebrity like an athlete."

Mr. Nash, who plays for the Phoenix Suns, says he is happy with how Nike has marketed him but felt he could come up with an ad that reflected more of his personality. There was little financial risk to Nike, since the campaign would require no ad buy. He says he got the idea from the young fans who take pictures of him with cameras and phones during his informal workouts. "There's such an appetite for the ordinary stuff I do every day," he says.

Chris Bosh's ad

Mr. Nash received little input on the shoot from Nike, which pays him about $1 million a year to promote its sneakers, although the company provided one of the two cameras and edited the piece.

Both ads were done on the cheap. In Mr. Bosh's case, the shoot took all of an hour and cost him $20 -- and $15 of that was for the cowboy hat he sported, he says.

A Nike spokesman said the company has no problems with Mr. Nash's ad and welcomes other athletes to follow in his footsteps. "If an athlete remains true to him or herself and respectful to others and the brand, then it is hard to envision a conflict," Dean Stoyer said in an email.

The ad by Mr. Bosh, who plays for the Toronto Raptors, spoofs the low-grade used-car ads he grew up watching in Dallas. "Fillin' out these ballots is as easy as cow-tippin'," Mr. Bosh, sporting a bolo tie and a fake gut created by a T-shirt stuffed into his clothes, proclaims in the ad.

"I wanted a cheap, cheesy feel to it," he says.

Mr. Bosh has one of the richer pay packages in the league. The Raptors are paying him more than $13 million this season, and he has sponsorship deals with Nike, Rogers Communications Inc., Upper Deck Co., Topps Co. and Frameworth Sports Marketing that are worth a combined seven figures, according to a person familiar with the deals. The purpose of the new ad was to drive traffic to his Web site, says Hadi Teherany, who runs the site, which includes news about Mr. Bosh and a blog, as well as T-shirts for sale.

Since the video went up in late December, Mr. Bosh's site has seen a surge in new, unique visitors, Mr. Teherany says. Mr. Bosh also saw an 86% jump in his All-Star votes in the week after his ad appeared from the week before, according to the NBA. By comparison, fellow Eastern Conference forwards LeBron James' and Kevin Garnett's respective tallies climbed 28% and 27%. (They maintain a wide lead over Mr. Bosh in overall votes.)

In part thanks to the ad, Mr. Bosh now has his own "brand channel" on YouTube, which pays him 55% of ad revenue earned there. The site says he is the only athlete with that arrangement.

How much money has Mr. Bosh made so far?

"It's not a great amount of change," Mr. Teherany says.
Continue reading...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Best Dunks 2007-2008

For those of you that like highlights, here are some of the best dunks from the '07-'08 season. Enjoy.

- Jerome Dyson on Gardner-Webb and Joey Dorsey at MSG
- Deron Washington on David Pendergraft of Gonzaga in the Great Alaska Shootout, and then on Geary Claxton
- Russell Westbrook on Jamal Boykin
- Tyler Hansbrough on 7'7", 360lb Kenny George
- Mario Chalmers tip dunk on the whole Georgia Tech team
- Dar Tucker from DePaul on a half court oop. Love the announcer on this one.
- Raymond Sykes of Clemson against South Carolina. It looks like he slows down to wait for the defense. Continue reading...

Monday, January 14, 2008

NFL Playoffs

What a weekend of playoff football. Four great games played, four great story lines.
-Packers vs. Seahawks: In damn near blizzard conditions at Lambeau Field, the Packers destroyed the Seahawks 42-20. After fumbles led to two short touchdown drives for the Seahawks in the first two minutes of the game, Brett Farve engineered touchdowns on the next six Packer possessions to put Green Bay into the NFC Championship game for the first time since 1998, when they lost to John Elway's Broncos in the Super Bowl.
-Pats vs. Jags: Getting into a quarterbacking competition is not what you want to do with this years Patriots, but that's exactly what happened Saturday night. Tom Brady outdueled David Garrard en route to a near perfect game. Brady ended up 26-28 (both incompletions were drops) for 262 yards and 3 touchdowns in what was probably the best game a quarterback has ever had.
-Colts vs. Chargers: With LdT, Philip Rivers, and Antonio Gates injured, the Chargers were able to outlast Peyton Manning and the Colts. Thanks to a 56-yard scamper on a screen pass by Darren Sproles, a fourth quarter drive led by Billy Volek and Michael Turner, and two big defensive stops in the last three minutes (one of which came inside in the red zone), the Chargers advanced to the AFC championship game.
-Giants vs. Cowboys: The other Manning out performed a struggling Tony Romo to help lead the Giants to the NFC title game. The biggest drive of the game came at the end of the first half, on the heels on a 20 play, 90 yard, 11 minute drive by the Cowboys. Manning led the Giants to a :53 second touchdown that tied the game at 14 and erased any momentum the Cowboys had established. The game ended with Romo throwing an interception in the red zone.

I can't remember the last time I was so excited about the NFL playoffs. You have the NFL record holder for rushing touchdowns in a season playing against the record holders for passing and receiving touchdowns. You have one team playing for a perfect season. You have the underappreciated and overshadowed career underachiever facing possibly the greatest to ever play. Any of the four possible combinations for the Super Bowl will be intriguing. Personally, I hope the Packers beat the Patriots, ending New England's bid for a 19-0 season and allowing Brett Farve to retire on top. Continue reading...

College Basketball 1/14 - Roy Hibbert Are You KIDDING Me?

Georgetown 72, UConn 69
Congratulations to Kentucky for finally playing like themselves and handing Vanderbilt their first loss, but as much as it kills me to do this, Georgetown's 72-69 victory over UConn on Saturday is my GOTW. This was a great game from start to finish, as the crowd and both teams seemed to have a little extra energy in what has been a rejuvenated rivalry the last few years. Georgetown jumped out to a quick 9-1 lead and kept the lead for essentially the entire first half. AJ Price and the hot first-half shooting of Doug Wiggins (5-5, 13 pts) kept UConn within four at halftime (42-38) despite Jerome Dyson and Hasheem Thabeet both picking up two fouls.

The second half was a different story as UConn, still in foul trouble, started to get easy buckets on fast breaks and Georgetown started to miss some 3's. But that changed. Down 63-58, freshman Austin Freeman hit a three from the wing, and after a Jeff Adrien jump-hook and a thunderous fast break dunk from Dyson that put UConn up 67-61, Freeman hit another triple. On Georgetown's next possession they got two offensive rebounds, the second of which led to a wide-open three from Jesse Sapp which tied the game. Two Thabeet free throws and a Patrick Ewing Jr. lay-up had the score tied with under a minute left, but Price missed a tough lay-up off the glass (he got fouled ...) that would have put UConn ahead. At the other end, the Hoyas wasted 33 seconds off the shot clock before Roy Hibbert (yes, that Roy Hibbert, the 7'2" center) hit a three from the top of the key with four seconds left in the game. I'm still in shock.

The biggest problem the Huskies have right now is that they cannot defend three-pointers well at all, mostly because they are a poor shooting team and thus don't get practice defending the three. It cost them against Notre Dame (late three's by Rob Kurz and Kyle McAlarney) and it cost them again Saturday. Even in the Gonzaga loss, second half three's by Jeremy Pargo hurt them down the stretch. Until the last six minutes, UConn had done a pretty good job against Georgetown (6-18, Jonathon Wallace was only 1-7), but Georgetown hit four of their last five treys to win it.

Kevin Love, UCLA
Love averaged 19ppg, 10.5rpg, 4apg, and shot 67% from the floor in a 2-0 week for the Bruins in Pac-10 play, but it was his performance against previously unbeaten Washington State that earned him POTW honors. He had 27 points and 14 rebounds and dominated the paint in a game that was not as close as the final score (81-74) indicated. Love dominated the match-up against 6'11" Aron Baynes, holding him to 8 points and 7 boards. In a game that was billed as a match-up of the two best teams in the Pac-10 and two final four contenders, UCLA came out looking like a much better team.

Kentucky only played one game this week, but it was a dandy - a double-OT thriller over then-undefeated Vanderbilt. As I've discussed previously in this blog, the Wildcats have had a very tough year this year. Heading into their SEC opener against Vandy, they were 6-7 and coming off a blowout loss to rival Louisville. They needed this win to not only boost morale and start the SEC season off right, but if they have any hope of making the NCAA tournament they are going to need to make a great run in conference play. Tonight may have been just the kick start they needed. Kentucky was up big the entire game, and blew a 16 point second half lead to allow Vandy to force overtime. Earlier in the season they would have folded, but against the Commodores Kentucky kept fighting and kept scrapping and willed out a six point victory. They were led by freshman center Patrick Patterson (23 points and 12 boards) and PG Ramel Bradley scored 20 points and made big play and big play down the stretch.

1/14 Georgetown @ Pittsburgh: Two of the best in the Big East square off. Pitt is coming off a couple losses and trying to prove they can still compete in the league with injuries piling up.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: DeJuan Blair and Sam Young, Pitt - Can these two rising stars compete with the Hoyas dominating front line of Roy Hibbert, Patrick Ewing Jr., and DaJuan Summers.

1/16 Florida @ Mississippi: Both teams are looking to prove that they belong among the big boys in the SEC.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Marreese Speights, Florida and Dwayne Curtis, Mississippi - Great match-up of under-the-radar post players - Speights' athleticism vs. Curtis's strength.

1/17 Vanderbilt @ Tennessee: It looks as if the SEC title will come out of the Volunteer State this year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Shan Foster, Vanderbilt and Chris Lofton, Tennessee - Maybe the two best shooters in nation, look for both to have big games with the spread-the-floor styles of these teams.

1/19 Clemson @ Duke: After starting the year on a long winning streak (again), Clemson has lost three out of five before bouncing back against FSU. The Tigers are looking to avoid another collapse like last year. Beating Duke would help.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Trevor Booker, Clemson and Kyle Singler, Duke - Can Singler (and Duke) match-up with Booker's (and Clemson's) athleticism?

1/19 Notre Dame @ Georgetown: Two similar teams with very similar styles of play. If you like great shooting, watch this game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: DaJuan Summers and Patrick Ewing Jr., Georgetown - No one on Notre Dame can match-up with the size, athleticism, and mobility of these two forwards.

1/20 Marquette @ Connecticut: Great backcourt match-up. UConn still needs to get over the hump against the best teams in the league, and could use a signature win.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: AJ Price, UConn and Dominic James, Marquette - Both came in as freshman the same year, with Price receiving McDonald's All-America. Now, James is receiving the honors.

1/20 Oregon @ Washington State: Wazzu shut down the high powered offense of USC. Can they do the same against a better Oregon squad?
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Maarty Leunen, Oregon - The 6'9" forward has been playing great, averaging 15 and 10, and his three-point shooting ability will be key if the Ducks hope to spread the floor. Continue reading...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Roger Clemens, Steroids, and Congress

I've been trying to stay mum on the Roger Clemens issue because I love the Rocket, but with what has come to light in the last few days I feel the need to comment.

I'm sure you all have heard the phone conversation that Clemens recorded between himself and his former trainer Brian McNamee - the man that accused Clemens as well as many other current and former players of using steroids in last month's Mitchell report. Many times on this tape McNamee says to Clemens something along the lines of "Just tell me what you want me to do, and I'll do it. I don't want to go to jail, my son is sick" to which Clemens responds "I just want you to tell the truth" or something similar. Admittedly, I have not heard the tape in its entirety, only the clips that were played on Sportscenter. Using my super-human intuition, from what I heard it seems like they are discussing the upcoming Congressional hearing where both men will be under oath, and McNamee is saying he does not want to lie under oath (bad idea, just ask Barry Bonds) and Clemens is saying the only thing he can to try and clear his name. With Clemens suing and McNamee filing a countersuit, I really don't know what the hell is going on.

Personally, I feel like McNamee is telling the truth. None of the other players that McNamee snitched on has denied what he said, and some have even comfirmed his story. Clemens is 100 years old, and up until last year he was pitching like he was 25. That doesn't happen naturally, especially with power pitchers like Clemens. Finesse guys like Greg Maddux, Kenny Rogers, Jamie Moyer, and Tom Glavine can get by because they succeed by hitting their spots, using the movement on their pitches, and just outsmarting hitters. Clemens blew people away. You think someone like Johan Santana or Josh Beckett can be as successful when they lose 8 mph?

All that being said, Clemens is doing wonders convincing me otherwise. He lawyers, publicists, and whoever else are absolutely earning their salaries when I am questioning what is painfully obvious. Maybe it is just because I am a optimistic sports fan, or a die-hard pinstriper, but those seeds of doubt keep growing in my mind.

Whatever ends up happening, the most upsetting part for me is that since Congress has pushed back the date of the hearing, I will no longer be able to attend - I leave DC January 20th. Oh well. Continue reading...

Monday, January 7, 2008

College Basketball 1/7

With conference season, the meat of the College Basketball schedule, starting this past week, BIAH will become much more focused on the NCAA. Instead of doing a top-25-type post on Mondays, I am going to instead do a run-down of all that happened in the past week and will happen in the upcoming week.

North Carolina holds on the beat Clemson 90-88 in OT thanks to a three-pointer by Wayne Ellington with 0.4 seconds left. The story of this game, however, wasn't that UNC held on to its undefeated record and #1 ranking. What you should take from this game is that the ACC has a third contender in Clemson (the other being Duke). Clemson really should have won this game. They held Tyler Hansbrough to 12 points on just seven shots. UNC hit big shot after big shot, including two three's in the last two minutes to erase a seven point deficit. Ellington's final shot in overtime almost should not have happened. Watch the play. David Potter gambled and missed a steal on Ty Lawson's pass that setup Ellington's three by mere inches, and James Mays', flying at Ellington, barely missed blocking the shot. But like they say - great teams win games when they don't play well. More on this below.

Wayne Ellington, UNC and Kyle McAlarney, Notre Dame
Ellington averaged 26.5ppg, on 70% shooting from the floor in two wins, for UNC, including a career-high 36 in the win over then No. 19 Clemson. As I mentioned above, Ellington hit the game winner with 0.4 seconds left in OT, and carried a team struggling offensively. Clemson spent the whole game collapsing on Hansbrough and the rest of the UNC frontcourt, daring their perimeter players to beat them. Ellington did.
As much as it kills me, I have to put McAlarney on this list. He carried Notre Dame to conference victories over West Virginia and my UConn Huskies. Other people, including teammates, put up better numbers than K-Mac did this week, but it was his complete role reversal in the two games that convinced me. Against the Mountaineers', Notre Dame PG Tory Jackson spent the whole game in foul trouble, and K-Mac responded with 9 assists to just 1 turnover. In first half where ND built a nine-point lead, K-Mac had 7 assists (with no turnovers) and stabilized the offense. Although he only scored 7 points on the game (3-11), it was this lack of a second point guard that killed ND last year (McAlarney was suspended last year after being caught with pot). Against UConn, K-Mac exploded for 32 points, including 6-7 from deep, and 5 assists with no turnovers. He was responsible for the huge lead ND built against the Huskies (in the first eight minutes ND went on a 26-10 run, he had 14), but he also hit two daggers at the end of the game when UConn had come back - a pull-up 3 with 2:39 left and a floater, over 7'3" Haseem Thabeet, with 37 ticks left to put ND up four and essentially end the game. All told, these were his numbers: 19.5ppg, 7apg, 0.5 t/o, 64% 3pt, 38.5mpg.

Vanderbilt and Xavier
Vandy remained undefeated after big wins over Iona (97-73) and Rice (76-58), and pulling out a dogfight against a very good UMass team (97-88). The Commodores have had an incredible season on the backs of Shan Foster (21ppg, 55% 3pt) and Andrew Ogilvy (19ppg, 7rpg). Vanderbilt had been largely untested, with their best win being at DePaul, before the game against UMass, but they were able to beat the Minutemen after falling behind by 13 in the first half and not taking a lead until 9:40 was left in the game. Vandy should still be undefeated when they visit Tennessee on the 17th.
Xavier earned TOTM honors by blowing out Kansas State (103-77), Virginia (108-70), and Auburn (80-57), three major conference teams, two of which (KSU, UVa) at at-large hopefuls. The three wins boosts Xavier's record to 12-3 heading into league play in a very strong A-10. Xavier's M-O has been the same all season - balanced scoring from an experienced, unselfish group. 19 times a player reached double figures in scoring in the three games, with 8 different players reaching that mark. Xavier, a team that has had a lot of tournament success in the last few years (remember that elite 8 run in '04), has the make-up of a team poised for postseason success again this year.

1/9 - Mississippi @ Tennessee: Ole Miss puts its undefeated record on the line in Knoxville. I, for one, haven't had an opportunity to see Ole Miss play this year. Should be a very entertaining matchup, pitting the up and down play of Tennessee with the pressure defense of Old Miss.
-Players to Watch: JaJuan Smith/Ramar Smith, Tennessee - With Chris Lofton not playing up to All-American standards, the rest of the volunteers backcourt need to raise their game.
Chris Warren, Mississippi - As the freshman PG goes, so goes the Rebels. Really looking forward to seeing this guy play for the first time.

1/9 - Arizona @ Arizona State: Arizona State tries to stay undefeated in the Pac-10 against the visiting Wildcats. Arizona is a much different team with Jerryd Bayless (has already missed three games this year) than the team that lost to Oregon.
-Players to Watch: Jordan Hill, Arizona and Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State - The perimeter players from both teams dominate the headlines, but if Bayless is out, then the game will be played closer to the deliberate pace of the Sun Devils, meaning this battle in the paint could determine the winner.

1/9 - Rhode Island @ Dayton: Gotta love the A-10 right now with five teams vying for an at-large bid. This is the first of many great league match-ups.
-Players to Watch: Brian Roberts, Dayton - One of the best players noone knows about. Has carried this team to a few victories, including the 31 he put on Pitt and the 28 he dropped on Louisville.
Will Daniels, Rhode Island - Big, strong swing man that has been getting NBA scouts recently. Reminds me alot of a Josh Howard when he was at Wake Forest. Not sure who from Dayton will be able to match his strength inside and quickness of the perimeter.

1/10 - Washington State @ USC, 1/12 Washington State @ UCLA Danger game for the Cougars against USC. I really doubt that Wazzu will make it through this trip undefeated. I don't think they have enough scoring power to beat the high-octane Trojans or score against the stalwart D of the Bruins.
-Players to Watch: Russell Westbrook, UCLA - Everyone knows about Kevin Love, Darren Collison, and Josh Shipp, but the athletic freshman is really coming into his own. Did anyone happen to see the dunk he had at Cal this weekend?

1/12 - UConn @ G'Town, Notre Dame @ Marquette: Each of these four Big East teams are still trying to find out how good they really are. UConn and ND both looked good this past weekend so this is a real gauge for both. Everyone knows abut G'Town and Marquette.
-Players to Watch: Hasheem Thabeet, UConn and Roy Hibbert - 7'3" vs. 7'2". Thabeet controlled the lane against ND's Luke Harangody (10 blocks, held him to 5-23 shooting). Will be interesting to see if he can do the same against a struggling Hibbert. The match-up may favor Hibbert, however, because he finally gets a chance to pay against another lumbering center.
Kyle Mcalarney, Notre Dame and Dominic James, Marquette - Coming of POW honors, K-Mac looks to match-up with the Marquette's great backcourt. Continue reading...

Thursday, January 3, 2008


So on Sunday I watched the Washington Redskins thoroughly dominate the Dallas Cowboys to clinch the final NFC playoff spot. Watching the Cowboys walk through the last game of the season - one in which they had the opportunity to eliminate their biggest rival from the playoffs - I really got wondering about rivalries in professional sports. Do these players, who are paid an obscene amount of money to represent their team, really care about these rivalries, or are these rivalry games only important to the fans and the sportswriters?

First, let's take a look at how rivalries are created. I see four real ways in which a rivalry can be started: two teams playing in the same division for an extended period of time (think the NFC East, the Redskins, Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles all can be considered rivals); two teams dominate a sport for a time, playing for multiple championships, such that every game between the two becomes a national spectacle (the 80's Lakers and Celtics, or the 90'-00's Tennessee Lady Volunteers and UConn Huskies); the two of the most recognizable players in a sport play for two of the best teams in a conference, meeting in the playoffs multiple times (Jordan's Bulls vs. Ewing's Knicks, or Brady's Patriot's vs. Manning's Colts); or two teams both have storied histories, fabled games, and legendary players, and are in such close proximity to each other, that it only makes sense they are rivals (Duke and UNC, LA Dodgers and San Fransisco Giants, or the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox). You could even break in down to two categories - championship rivalries and division rivalries.

Now in each of the rivalries I have mentioned (and in the countless others I omitted), one win can define a season. Take the 2006 Yankees. The Yankees, despite making the postseason for the 12th straight year, had what many believed to be a disappointing season - losing to the Tigers in four games in the ALDS where they struggled to put up runs with the most potent lineup in baseball. A-Rod had a down year and was booed by fans. For the amount they spent on payroll the Yankees underachieved and as a result Joe Torre was almost run out of town. But will I remember the 2006 campaign for that, or will I think about the fact that the Yankees five-game sweep of the Red Sox in late August was pretty much the reason to Red Sox failed to make it to the playoffs. Yes, I would have loved to see some post-season success that year, but the joy I got knowing that the Bombers kept the Sox out of the playoffs almost (key word almost) made up for my disappointment in their post-season performance. That's how much I despise the Red Sox, and how much that the rivalry means to me. I almost get as much satisfaction out of the Red Sox losing as I do from the Yankees winning. I feel like on Sunday, Cowboys fans felt the same way. Granted, that game had a few mitigating circumstances since the Cowboys had already clinched home field throughout the playoffs, but I still believe Cowboys fans would have loved to be the reason that the Redskins missed the playoffs (yes, I realize that it didn't matter after New Orleans and Minnesota lost, but for argument's sake bear with me).

But that's the problem - it was the fans that would have loved to see it. The Cowboys players looked like they could not have cared less. It seemed that once they got down a touchdown, they mailed it in - like they just wanted that game to be over with. Even their backups who rarely see playing time just did not seem to be playing hard (1 yard rushing for the game, are you kidding me?).

Now I've done a lot of thinking on this topic before, with guys like Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon defecting from Red Sox nation and joining the Bombers, and here is what I've come up with. Fans no longer root for players - they root for uniforms. In this era of free agency, huge contracts, and spoiled athletes, players go from team to team so much in professional sports that it has to be difficult for them to identify with the uniform they are wearing. I mean, can I actually believe that Yankee and Red Sox players care about their rivalry as much as fans when Clemens (Red Sox ace for a decade) and Damon (the epitome of the laid back demeanor of the Red Sox during their 2004 World Series season) can so easily leave Fenway Park to don Yankee pinstripes?

Before I blast them too much, we have to remember that for professional athletes, sports are no longer a game. It is their livelihood. I'm not saying that these guys don't love their sport, that they don't play with a passion, but this is their job. Their career. Let's say you work for Microsoft. Bill Gates offers you $10 million salary for the next four years, but Steve Jobs over at Apple offers you $13 million salary over the next four years. Which do you take? Anyone that says they stay with Microsoft is a liar. Well, isn't that is exactly what Johnny Damon did when he signed with the Yankees? Now I know the argument that $40 million is enough to live extremely comfortably on, and I agree wholeheartedly. But that extra $12 million will mean that another generation of Johnny Damon's family will be able to live without financial problems. Would you be willing to switch your allegiance to ensure that your grandkids could raise their families comfortably? Maybe the example is a little extreme, but that thought has to be on the mind of a lot of guys that leave as a free agent. Just to be clear, being on the other side of these defections is an awful feeling. I remember after the 1998 season, when Bernie Williams was a free agent, almost being in tears when I found out that he was about to sign with the Red Sox (thankfully, Steinbrenner stepped up and gave Bernie $87.5 million over 7 years, $17.5 more than the Sox were offering).

One last point I want to make is that I think the huge money in sports today will make it so that we never see rivalries like there were in the past. In the 80's and early 90's (I'm only 22 so that's about the limit to my sports memories), there were some great rivalries where you would never, ever see someone as good as Clemens or Damon switch sides. Do you think anyone from the Celtics would have gone to Lakers (or vice versa) in the 80's? What about from the Cowboys to the 49ers, or the Pistons to the Bulls in the late 80's and early 90's? Off the top of my head, the only significant contributor from any of these three that switched teams was Dennis Rodman, but that guy is a friggin' martian, and he played on the Bulls five years after that Pistons team was relevant.

In sports today, the only place where you still see rivalries that intense, even between the players, are on college campuses. And the best part is that there are so many. For example, let's look at Duke basketball. Everyone knows Duke - UNC, which last year ended with Tyler Hansborough a bloody mess. But Maryland also counts Duke as its biggest rival, and you could make an argument that half of the ACC does as well. This year is the last that the Tennessee and UConn women will play simply because Geno Auriemma and Pat Summitt hate each other so much. College football may have more than college basketball does, where every rivalry game has a name. Alabama vs. Auburn is the 'Iron Bowl'. Cal vs. Stanford is 'The Big Game'. Hell, even little schools like 1-AA's Harvard vs. Yale ('The Game') and D-III's Amherst vs. Williams('The Biggest Little Game in America') have given names to their rivalry games. Continue reading...