Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Six Pack

Photo Credit:
Tragedy struck the Oklahoma State campus this past November when women's head basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were both killed in a plane crash just a game into the season. But today, in a story worthy of a Disney movie, the Oklahoma State Cowgirls capped off an emotional season by winning the school's first WNIT Championship with a 75-68 win over James Madison. "I have never been more proud of a group of young ladies than I have this group," said Jim Littell, Budke's former top assistant who took over as head coach after the crash. "They set the goal in November to pay honor, and I promise you they paid honor today and in this tournament." Junior Toni Young led the Cowgirls with 25 points in the final while sophomore point guard Tiffany Bias contributed 17 points, 11 assists and 5 steals.

Photo Credits: &
The crafty lefty just keeps on trucking. Jamie Moyer, who will be FIFTY years old in November and missed all of 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, is going to be a member of the Colorado Rockies on Opening Day 2012. Moyer beat out 22-year-old Tyler Chatwood and 28-year-old Guillermo Moscoso for a spot in the Colorado starting rotation and will get the ball on April 7th against the Houston Astros. Moyer made his major league debut way back in 1986 and has just kept on keeping on, and now he prepares for what will be his 25th major league season. Moyer enters the year with 267 career wins and is in position to become the oldest pitcher to get a win in Major League history.


There's an expression in basketball when you're missing a lot of shots that goes: you're throwing up so many bricks you could probably build a home. Well today, Kobe Bryant could have built a small village. Bryant opened today's game against the Hornets with 15 straight misses, but rallied to hit a game winning 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in L.A.'s 88-85 win. Bryant finished with just 11 points on 3 of 21 shooting, but he did help the Lakers snap a two-game home losing streak. Not surprisingly, the 15 straight misses are the most ever for Kobe to start a game.

Photo Credit:
Once upon a time, Stephon Marbury was considered one of the NBA's elite point guards. Drafted fourth overall in the 1996 NBA draft, Marbury made a couple all-star teams, and was one of the league's more prolific scorers for the better part of a decade. Then he got a little weird and tattooed the side of his head and sort of fell off the map after a brief stint in 2009 with the Celtics. Well, now it seems that Marbury has put himself back on the map, just not in this hemisphere. The 35 year old guard just led the Beijing Ducks to their first-ever Chinese Basketball Association title, beating the defending champion Guangdong Tigers 124-121 to win their best of seven series four games to one. Marbury scored a game-high 41 points in the decisive Game 5. Former Houston Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks had 33 points for the Tigers in a losing effort.

Photo Credit:
The 2011-12 season has been a trying one for American defender Eric Lichaj. After scoring in his first appearance of the year against Hereford in the Carling Cup, the 23 year old Aston Villa back sustained a hip injury that required surgery and kept him out of action until last week. After coming on as a late sub in last weekend's loss to Arsenal, Lichaj made his first start since August 23rd and made it a memorable one scoring his first ever Premier League goal and earning an assist in Villa's 4-2 loss to Chelsea. Now healthy, Lichaj could get a look from U.S. National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann to help shore things up in the back. Lichaj started the last 4 games in last summer's Gold Cup for the United States. Lichaj wasn't the only American to enjoy success in England today as Clint Dempsey scored his 13th goal of the Premier League season and 19th across all competitions for Fulham in their 2-1 win over Norwich City. Dempsey breaks his own American Premier League scoring record set last year when he scored 12 times for the Cottagers. American keeper Tim Howard also had a good day as he made a pair of saves in Everton's 2-0 shutout win over West Bromwich Albion. It was Howard's 3rd clean sheet in the last 8 days.

Photo Credit:
Somehow, despite all my failed picks in this year's NCAA Tournament:

Louisville losing in the first round to Davidson
Duke reaching the Sweet 16
Vanderbilt making the Final Four
Florida State reaching the Elite Eight
Murray State reaching the Elite Eight

I still managed to pick the two teams in the final correctly. Thank you Kansas and Kentucky for salvaging my bracket. Now all I need is for the Wildcats and Player of the Year Anthony Davis to win on Monday and it'll have been a successful madness for me.

Friday, March 30, 2012

U.S. Women's Olympic Basketball Roster Announced

Photo Credit:
Five former UConn Huskies highlight the roster for the U.S. women's basketball team that will be headed to London for the Olympics this summer. Eleven of the final twelve roster spots were announced today as the U.S. prepares to bring home a 5th consecutive Olympic Gold Medal. This year's U.S. squad features 7 former first overall picks in the WNBA draft and collectively has won ten gold medals between them. Here's a look at the 11 players currently on the U.S. Roster who will be coached by the University of Connecticut's Geno Auriemma:

Final Four Preview - Kansas

Kansas Jayhawks (31-6)

Regular Season Big 12 Champions
#2 Seed Midwest Regional

Tournament Wins:

W 65-50 vs #15 Detroit
W 63-60 vs #10 Purdue
W 60-57 vs #11 North Carolina State
W 80-67 vs #1 North Carolina


#5 Jeff Withey - Junior - 7'0" 235 lbs - The seven foot Withey is a phenomenal shot blocker and even blocked 10 shots in Kansas's Sweet 16 win over North Carolina State. Withey is ranked 60th among NBA draft prospects by ESPN analyst Chad Ford and projects to be a late first round pick in this year's draft.
Photo Credit:

Final Four Preview - Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes (31-7)

Regular Season Big Ten Co-Champion
#2 Seed East Regional

Tournament Wins:

W 78-59 vs #15 Loyola (MD)
W 73-66 vs #7 Gonzaga
W 81-66 vs #6 Cincinnati
W 77-70 vs #1 Syracuse


#0 Jared Sullinger - Sophomore - 6'9" 265 lbs - Sullinger surprised a lot of people when he came back for his sophomore season at Ohio State. A strong, physical player with a high basketball IQ, Sullinger has turned in a second straight strong season for the Buckeyes and has averaged 18 points and over 8 rebounds a game in their four tournament wins. Sullinger is projected to be a Top 10 pick in this year's draft if he declares.
Photo Credit:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Final Four Preview - Kentucky

Kentucky Wildcats (36-2)

Regular Season SEC Champion
#1 Seed South Regional

Tournament Wins:

W 81-66 vs #16 Western Kentucky
W 87-71 vs #8 Iowa State
W 102-90 vs #4 Indiana
W 82-70 vs #3 Baylor


#23 Anthony Davis - Freshman - 6'10" 220 lbs - The projected number one pick in the draft can do it all. He rebounds, he blocks shots, he can score, he can defend multiple positions, he makes free throws... Davis is averaging a double-double in the NCAA Tournament and has blocked 18 shots through the first four games.
Photo Credit:

Final Four Preview - Louisville

Louisville Cardinals (30-9)

Won Big East Tournament
#4 Seed West Regional

Tournament Wins:

W 69-62 vs #13 Davidson
W 59-56 vs #5 New Mexico
W 57-44 vs #1 Michigan State
W 72-68 vs #7 Florida


#10 Gorgui Dieng - Sophomore - 6'11" 235 lbs - The big sophomore is an excellent rebounder and a big-time shot blocker as evidenced by his 7 blocks in the Sweet 16 against Michigan State. Dieng leads the Cardinals with 32 rebounds so far in the NCAA tournament. He is the 102nd ranked prospect on ESPN analyst Chad Ford's draft board.
Photo Credit:

Herculez Gomez Strikes Again

Herculez Gomez cannot be stopped these days. The Santos Laguna striker found the back of the net for the 7th straight game last night as he delivered a 30th minute finish against Toronto FC in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. Toronto FC, the last MLS team standing in the tournament, did manage to salvage a 1-1 draw thanks to goal by Chilean defender Miguel Aceval off a free kick.

Gomez now has 9 goals and an assist in his last 7 games across all competitions:

2/26/12 @ Guadalajara - 1 goal
3/03/12 vs San Luis - 1 goal
3/07/12 @ Seattle Sounders - 1 goal
3/10/12 vs Puebla - 2 goals, 1 assist
3/14/12 vs Seattle Sounders - 2 goals
3/24/12 vs Querétaro - 1 goal
3/28/12 @ Toronto FC - 1 goal

The good news, Gomez has even caught Jurgen Klinsmann's attention. Per the U.S. coach's twitter account:

Another goal for , who keeps finding the net. Well done!

Gomez and Santos are back in action this Sunday at Toluca.

Tuesday Trivia - Thursday Edition

Spent the last few days in lovely Grand Isle in a hotel with a 12" tv, a door that didn't lock from the inside, towels that would grate cheese and no internet so we're a little late with this week's trivia. And since Thursday Thrivia doesn't quite have the same ring to it, we're still going to stick with Tuesdays moving forward.

Last week's question:

Only six times in tournament history had a 15 seed advanced to the second round including Norfolk State and Lehigh this year. The previous four 15 seed winners produced exactly one NBA first round draft pick. Who was it?


Photo Credit:
Freshman Steve Nash led the 15th seeded West Coast Conference (WCC) Champion Santa Clara Broncos to an upset win over 2nd seeded Arizona in the first round of the 1993 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Nash would stay at Santa Clara for all 4 years before getting drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 15th overall pick in 1996.

This week's question:

Photo Credit:

  What was the U.S.'s starting lineup for the 'Miracle on Ice' game versus the Soviet Union back in 1980?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Mailbag

How many steps are you actually allowed in NBA Basketball without dribbling before you are called for a travel? And jumping? I watched a highlight of the Bulls-Magic game last night on ESPN, and a top ten play was Dwight Howard making a bucket from the paint… after he stopped dribbling… pivoted… jumped to a new location… pivoted again… then made a jump shot. Seriously? – Trucker D., San Francisco, CA

The NBA. Where Traveling Happens. Ok, this is how the rule ACTUALLY reads...

Parkhurst Scores First Goal in Denmark

It took four seasons and over 80 matches, but defender Michael Parkhurst has finally scored his first goal in the Danish Superliga. The FC Nordsjælland center back has been playing extremely well this season, and his play recently earned him a pair of starts for the U.S. National Team this past January against Venezuela and Panama. FC Nordsjælland has never finished higher than third since their promotion to the SuperLiga in 2002, and they currently sit in second place a full 7 points clear of AC Horsens.


Photo Credit:
Unless you're a defensive end or Ron Artest, it's generally not a good sign if you're wearing the number 91 when trying to make a team. However, usually you'd hope for a little more than this kind of anonymity. Ironically, this is actually isn't just some run-of-the-mill soon-to-be-forgotten minor leaguer. Minor League Guy is better known as Oscar Taveras, a 19 year old outfielder who is the 3rd ranked prospect in the Cardinals organization according to Here's the scouting report:

"Since making his U.S. debut in 2010, all Taveras has done is hit. Whenever he was on the field in 2011, he was red-hot, interrupted only by a hamstring injury that cost him a month. He would have easily won the Midwest League batting title with enough at-bats and he more than held his own as one of the youngest players in the Arizona Fall League. He makes consistent hard contact, and although he doesn’t draw many walks, he doesn’t swing and miss much either. If the power starts to come -- and it should -- he will profile perfectly as a right fielder who could hit in the middle of a lineup, perhaps sooner than many would think."
Photo Credit:
The Dominican born prospect hit .386 in 78 games last year, and in a few years he might be in need of a name change... to Major League Guy.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It's Official, Tim Duncan is Old

Photo Credit:
Generally speaking, when NBA players are held out of games a reason is given. If you peruse through Sunday night's boxscores you'll see a wide range of explanations:

Coach's Decision
Left Ankle Sprain
Suspended by League
Fractured Left Thumb
Right Thigh Contusion
Left Abductor Strain
Back Spasms
Sore Right Ankle
Strained Right Groin
Left Patella Tendinitis

You know, run of the mill stuff. And then there's the explanation for why San Antonio's Tim Duncan - a 13-time all star and 4-time NBA Champion - didn't play against the 76ers tonight:

Image taken from:
Tim Duncan apparently didn't play because... he's OLD. BURN! Duncan turns 36 next month and the playoff-bound Spurs are likely just resting him up for their stretch run, but it's good to see some people out there still have a sense of humor. Despite not playing, Duncan still managed to pick up a technical foul from the bench in the Spurs' 93-76 win.

MLS Week 3 Recap

Nine more games this weekend in MLS with everyone but the Galaxy taking the pitch. Here's a rundown of the weekend's action:

Seattle 2 Houston 0 - It was a forgettable night for Dynamo defender Geoff Cameron as he accounted for both of Seattle's goals and Houston lost for the first time this season. Cameron redirected David Estrada's long range shot past a helpless Tally Hall to open the scoring and then just minutes later he fouled Patrick Ianni going up for a header in the box for a penalty kick subsequently buried by Brad Evans. In the end that would be too much for Houston as Seattle's Austrian keeper Michael Gspurning only needed to make two saves for his first MLS shutout.
Photo Credit:

Herculez Strikes Again

Photo Credit:
Is there any American striker hotter than Herculez Gomez right now? Gomez scored in his sixth straight match for Santos Laguna yesterday with a brilliant header off a corner that left absolutely no chance for the keeper. Santos won the match over Querétaro 2-0.

The 29 year old Gomez now has EIGHT goals and an assist in his last six matches, and if I'm U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, this definitely has my attention. Gomez and company now get ready to take on Toronto FC on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal matchup. The Canadian-based MLS side has given up 6 goals in its last two matches so don't be surprised if Gomez finds the back of the net again.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Oh, Canada?

The road to the 2012 Olympics just got a whole lot more difficult for the U.S. U-23 Men's Soccer Team. After cruising to an easy 6-0 victory over Cuba in their opener they went up against gritty Canadian side and came out flat and came up short. You kind of knew it wasn't going to be a good day for the U.S. when star striker Juan Agudelo had an MRI on his left knee this morning that confirmed he'd torn his meniscus in the Cuba game and would miss the rest of the tournament. Still, even without Agudelo the U.S. came out strong, but despite dominating the possession in the early going it produced few good opportunities and Canada was able to gain confidence and battle their way back into the match. Joe Corona, who had a hat trick against the Cubans, was almost completely negated by the Canadian midfield and as a result was taken off at the half for Joe Gyau. The speedy Gyau fared no better though and quite possibly slightly worse as he was a complete non-factor after the break.
Photo Credit:
The U.S. did appear to go ahead 1-0 early in the second half when Freddy Adu sent in a free kick that Ike Opara headed home, but Opara and two or three other Americans were clearly offsides on the play so the goal was negated. Canada kept pressing, winning more and more of the ball and ten minutes later got a well-deserved goal on a Philippe Davies corner played poorly by American keeper Bill Hamid. Hamid came out tentatively, and was beaten to the ball by an unmarked Doneil Henry and suddenly the U.S. found themselves trailing. While there was still plenty of time to come back, the U.S. seemed to lose their composure after they fell behind and started to stray from their gameplan. Opportunities were there, but they were either rushed and squandered or denied by Canadian keeper Michal Misiewicz. Eventually Canada produced a second goal off another corner, this time a short ball played through Davies to Lucas Cavallini and that was the nail in the coffin for the Americans.

So now the U.S. finds themselves on the brink of elimination needing a win against El Salvador on Monday just to advance to the second round, and likely a date with Mexico. They're going to have to do a lot better, and play a lot more inspired than they did tonight, that's for sure. We'll see what coach Caleb Porter and captain Freddy Adu are really made of come Monday. And for the love of God, will somebody please tell the announcer that it's Terrence BOYD and not BODY??

Friday, March 23, 2012

Joba Chamberlain's Ankle Injury is No Joke

Photo Credit:
New York Yankees relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain suffered an open dislocation of his right ankle while playing with his son on Thursday. Now up until a few minutes ago, I didn't know exactly what an "open dislocation" was, so I looked it up... Per Mosby's Medical Dictionary an open dislocation is "a joint displacement accompanied by a break in the skin. Formerly called compound dislocation." So basically, Joba dislocated his ankle so badly, that it broke through the skin... OUCH. The details are still somewhat unclear at this point, but the gist of the reports state that he sustained the injury on a trampoline and according to the New York Daily News, Chamberlain lost a significant amount of blood and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
Photo Credit:
These pictures outline the basics of this type of injury, but they really don't do it justice. Now I have no idea just how severe Chamberlain's injury was beyond the report of losing a significant amount of blood, but if you google images for "Open Ankle Dislocation" you get a pretty good idea for how something like that could really ruin your day. Suffice it to say, the images that you will see are not for the faint of heart.

This is just the latest in a series of unfortunate events that have befallen the 26-year-old reliever. Chamberlain hasn't pitched since June 5th after suffering an elbow injury last year and undergoing Tommy John surgery. He was progressing extremely well in his rehab and there had been talk of him returning as early as midseason, but this injury will most certainly set him back.

U.S. U-23 Highlights vs Cuba - 3/22/12

Here are the highlights from the U.S. U-23s opening match victory over Cuba last night in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Joe Corona (Tijuana) scored three times, Freddy Adu had a brilliant strike from long range and Juan Agudelo hammered home a header as the U.S. took full advantage of an early Cuban red card and cruised to a 6-0 win.

The U.S. now gets set to take on Canada tomorrow night in the second of three matches in the opening round. They will then conclude group play against El Salvador on Tuesday. The top teams from each group will advance to the semifinals. Here are highlights from Canada's 0-0 draw with El Salvador last night.

U.S. U-23s Steamroll Cuba in Opener

Joe Corona scored 3 times as the U.S cruised to a 6-0 win over Cuba in their CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying opener last night. The Tijuana striker opened the scoring a little over ten minutes into the match when Cuban keeper Odisnel Cooper punched away a Freddy Adu offering but the ball came right to Corona who took it off his chest and then coolly volleyed it into the open net. Already with a considerable talent advantage, the U.S. got even more of an edge when Cuban defender Dairo Macias elbowed Juan Agudelo in the face and was subsequently ejected forcing the Cubans to play a man down for the final 70 minutes. As you'd expect the U.S. took full advantage with Mix Diskerud, Brek Shea, Corona, Agudelo and Adu wreaking havoc in the attack all night. Diskerud finished with a pair of assists, Shea had an assist and it was his centering pass that was deflected in for the own goal, Corona obviously had the hat trick, Agudelo buried a header and his pressure in front of the net also contributed to the own goal, and Adu had a brilliant left-footed strike from distance.
Photo Credit:
Still, there were some lapses that a better team might have made the U.S. pay for, and you could clearly hear U.S. Coach Caleb Porter screaming at his team, particular his midfielders, from the sideline about their spacing in the first half. Even after the game Porter wasn't as happy as you might expect a coach who just won a match 6-0 would be referring to his team's play in the first half as "soft" and being surprisingly critical of the overall effort. And you know what? I love it. Porter's job is to get the U.S. to the Olympics, and while he got the result everyone expected against the Cubans, his lack of complacency will pay major dividends when the team plays stiffer competition.

The U.S. is in action again tomorrow night taking on Canada. The Canadians drew with El Salvador in their opener 0-0. The top two teams in each group advance to the semifinals, with the two semifinal winners qualifying for this summer's Olympics in London.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bounty-ful Penalties for New Orleans

Photo Credit:
If you're a Saints fan, you should probably stop reading this post right now, because I'm not about to say anything that's going to make you feel any better about what happened to your team this week. In case you missed it, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell levied an unprecedented punishment against the Saints organization for instituting a bounty system that encouraged injuring opposing players.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kljestan Scores for Anderlecht

Photo Credit:
American and Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan headed home a corner for his 4th goal of the Jupiler League season today as Anderlecht defeated Zulte-Waregem 2-1 and finished the regular season in first place with a record of 20-3-7. Anderlecht now moves on to the postseason where the league's top six teams each play each other twice in a round-robin tournament to determine the league champion. Among the teams that are advancing is KAA Gent who features fellow U.S. National Teamer Mix Diskerud, currently on loan from his Norwegian club Stabæk. Kljestan's success in Belgium recently got the attention of U.S. National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann as Kljestan was a late add to the U.S. roster against Italy, and he came on as a second half substitute for Brek Shea in the U.S.'s historic 1-0 win.

Lushbucket Baseball League Fantasy Draft Results

You know baseball season is getting close when your league's fantasy draft goes down. We held our annual Lushbucket Baseball League Fantasy Draft tonight and the Flying Cave Donkies are poised for redemption. No third place finish this year, it's time to get back to winning titles. We did something a little different this season opting to go with a keeper league for the first time in our league history. Basically we could keep up to three players from our roster last year. Whatever round you drafted the players in originally, that's the round you got them in in this year's draft. Here's how my draft shook out, my keepers have asterisks:

Photo Credit:
1 (6) - Justin Upton - Arizona - OF
2 (11) - Carlos Gonzalez - Colorado - OF
3 (22) - Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh - OF
4 (27) - Zack Greinke - Milwaukee - SP
5 (38) - Buster Posey - San Francisco - C
6 (43) - Asdrubal Cabrera - Cleveland - SS
7 (54) - Justin Verlander - Detroit - SP*
8 (59) - James Shields - Tampa Bay - SP
9 (70) - Matt Moore - Tampa Bay - SP
10 (75) - Josh Johnson - Miami - SP
11 (86) - Heath Bell - Miami - RP
12 (91) - Eric Hosmer - Kansas City - 1B
13 (102) - Joel Hanrahan - Pittsburgh - RP
14 (107) - Dustin Ackley - Seattle - 2B
15 (118) - David Freese - St. Louis - 3B
16 (123) - Neftali Feliz - Texas - RP
17 (134) - Jason Motte - St. Louis - RP
18 (139) - Stephen Strasburg - Washington - SP*
19 (150) - Bryce Harper - Washington - OF*
20 (155) - Joe Nathan - Texas - RP
21 (166) - Peter Bourjos - Los Angeles Angels - OF

As with most years, I went pitching heavy, and once again I'm really happy with my pitching staff. Verlander, Shields, Greinke, Josh Johnson, Strasburg, Matt Moore... That's quite a rotation.  A little worried about the offense, but six of my guys had double digit homers and steals in 2011, and I could see guys like Hosmer, Ackley, Upton, McCutchen and Bourjos taking big steps forward. We'll see how it comes together. Either way, I'm pumped about the season. Let's go Donkies!

T-T-T-Tebow and the Jets

So if you haven't already heard, Tim Tebow is going to be a New York Jet this season. In a deal that has drawn a myriad of reactions from around the football community the Broncos have unloaded their former starting quarterback for a pair of mid- to late-round draft picks. It's a lot to process, so let's break down the pros and cons of the move:
Photo Credit:
PRO - For all of his shortcomings as a quarterback, Tim Tebow won a lot of games last year including one against the Jets. He led his team to numerous fourth quarter comebacks and overtime wins and rallied a 1-4 Broncos team to a division title and a first round playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in which he threw for 316 yards.

CON - The Jets just extended their current starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, for 3 years in a deal worth $40.5M. Sanchez threw for a career high 3474 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2011 and has led the Jets to two AFC Championships in three years.

PRO - Tim Tebow is a really, really good football player. He's a team player. He's a leader. He works hard. He's the kind of player you want on your football team.

CON - Antonio Cromartie, one of the Jets current cornerbacks, tweeted upon hearing news of the trade "Y bring Tebow in when we need to bring in more Weapons for @Mark_Sanchez let's build the team around him. We already signed to 3 year ext."

PRO - Nobody cares what Antonio Cromartie thinks. This is a guy who had trouble remembering the names of his own children. And I'm pretty sure Cromartie was on the field when Tebow drove the Broncos 95 yards for a game winning touchdown AGAINST the Jets this past season. Maybe he doesn't remember that. It's also possible that Cromartie is just not letting go of old college grudges. Tebow went to Florida when Cromartie went to Florida State.

CON - The Jets already have two backup quarterbacks: Drew Stanton, whom they just signed this offseason and Greg McElroy who they drafted in 2011.

PRO - Stanton and McElroy combined to throw ZERO passes in 2011. Stanton has thrown almost twice as many interceptions as touchdowns in his 5 year career and McElroy was drafted behind Tyrod Taylor, Ricky Stanzi and Nathan Enderle.

CON - In two years Tebow has completed just 47.3% of his passes.
Photo Credit:
PRO - The Jets have historically run a version of the Wildcat offense featuring (until last year) former college quarterback Brad Smith. One would have to think that Tebow could run that offense at least as well as Smith could. Pretty sure Smith didn't win any Heisman's playing quarterback for Missouri. Also Tony Sparano, the man who brought the Wildcat to Miami, is the Jets new offensive coordinator. Tebow could be a perfect fit for Wildcat/short yardage/goal line packages.

CON - The Wildat offense won Miami exactly 0 playoff games.

PRO - A natural leader, and straight-edged guy like Tebow could be a positive influence and help turn the culture of the club around.

CON - The Jets locker room was completely dysfunctional last year. Why expose Tebow to that?
Photo Credit:
PRO - Tebow proved his Freshman year at Florida that he could be successful without being the number one guy. Playing behind Senior Chris Leak, Tebow was still able to shine in a reduced role throwing 5 touchdown passes and running for 8 touchdowns on over 5 yards a carry. That setup only won Florida a National Championship.

CON - Mark Sanchez hasn't demonstrated the mental toughness that would suggest he'll be able to handle Tebowmania. Don't underestimate how uncomfortable things could get if the Jets struggle out of the gates under Sanchez. We saw what happened in Denver with Kyle Orton. Tebowmaniacs have a mind of their own.

All told, I think this can work, but only with Tebow as a situational guy. I'm a big Tebow fan, but he's still got a ways to go before he's ready to be a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL. I know he was successful in Denver last year, but it was by the skin of his teeth. And while he's certainly not a guy you ever want to bet against just because he has an unbelievable will to win, he's also not somebody you'd pick over a Peyton Manning. Let's see what Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano can come up with for their new offensive weapon. If nothing else, I'll certainly be a lot more willing to watch the Jets play next year just to see how it works out. Good or bad, I'm sure it will at least make for entertaining television.

U.S. Men's U-23 Olympic Qualifying Roster Set

Just a day away from the Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament, U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team coach Caleb Porter has finalized his 20-man squad. The U.S. opens up group play against Cuba tomorrow followed by games against Canada on the 24th and then El Salvador on the 26th. Nineteen of the twenty players on the roster were on the squad that defeated Mexico 3 weeks ago with only Philadelphia Union defender Sheanon Williams getting added.

Here's a look at the Olympic Qualifying Roster:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Marvelous Messi

Photo Credit:
Lionel Messi scored three times today in Barcelona's 5-3 win over Granada as he became the club's all-time leading scorer. Messi broke the late César Rodríguez's 57 year old club record of 232 goals when he calmly chipped the keeper for his second goal of the match in the 67th minute. Messi added an insurance goal in the 86th minute to complete the hat trick marking the 8th time this year that the Argentine has scored at least three goals in a game from Barcelona. He's now scored a career high 54 goals in 45 matches across all competitions this season and jumped ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo for the league lead with 34. Perhaps most impressive though is that Messi has already achieved so much that we sometimes forget he's only 24 years old. Barring an injury, there's no telling just how much more the pint-sized forward will be able to accomplish.

Here's a look at Barcelona and Messi's upcoming schedule as he closes in on 60 goals on the year:

3/24/12 - La Liga - @ Mallorca
3/28/12 - Champions League - @ AC Milan
3/31/12 - La Liga - vs Athletic Bilbao
4/03/12 - Champions Leage - vs AC Milan
4/07/12 - La Liga - @ Real Zaragoza
4/10/12 - La Liga - vs Getafe
4/14/12 - La Liga - @ Levante

Tuesday Trivia

Last week's question:

 Who was the last player taken first overall in the NBA draft who won an NCAA Basketball Championship?

Photo Credit:
None of the number one picks over the last twenty years won NCAA Championships. You have to go all the way back to Larry Johnson, the first overall pick in 1991, to find a winner. Johnson teamed up with Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony to help lead the UNLV Runnin' Rebels to the 1990 NCAA Championship and just missed back-to-back titles when they were beaten by Duke 79-77 in the 1991 Final Four.

Johnson is one of ten number one picks to have won an NCAA title. The others are Pervis Ellison (Louisville), Danny Manning (Kansas), Patrick Ewing (Georgetown), James Worthy (North Carolina), Magic Johnson (Michigan State), Kent Benson (Indiana), David Thompson (North Carolina State), Bill Walton (UCLA) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (UCLA). Walton and Kareem both won multiple titles at UCLA.

So what's gone on the last 20 years? Well, for starters, a lot of those guys either didn't play college ball or haven't been staying beyond their freshman or sophomore year so that really diminishes their chances. In fact, over the last 20 years exactly TWO of the number one picks played four years of college basketball. Let's take a look:

This week's question:
Photo Credit:
This past week we saw a pair of #15 seeds, Norfolk State and Lehigh, defeat #2 seeds Missouri and Duke in the first round of the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament. Only four other times in tournament history had a 15 seed advanced to the second round. The previous four 15 seed winners produced exactly one NBA first round draft pick. Who was it?

Top Tens - 3/20/12


1. Evgeni Malkin - Pittsburgh - 88
2. Steven Stamkos - Tampa Bay - 84
2. Claude Giroux - Philadelphia - 84
5. Jason Spezza - Ottawa - 75
5. Phil Kessel - Toronto - 75
6. Ilya Kovalchuk - New Jersey - 72
7. Marian Hossa - Chicago - 71
7. Erik Karlsson - Ottawa - 71
9. Jordan Eberle - Edmonton - 70
9. John Tavares - Islanders - 70
9. Henrik Sedin - Vancouver - 70


1. Steven Stamkos - Tampa Bay - 50
2. Evgeni Malkin - Pittsburgh - 41
3. Corey Perry - Anaheim - 35
3. Phil Kessel - Toronto - 35
3. Marion Gaborik - Rangers - 35
3. Scott Hartnell - Philadelphia - 35
7. Jordan Eberle - Edmonton - 32
7. Milan Michalek - Ottawa - 32
7. James Neal - Pittsburgh - 32
7. Alex Ovechkin - Washington - 32

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quick Hits

Photo Credit:
Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba is showing significant signs of recovery after suffering a cardiac arrest during Saturday's FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur. The 23 year old spent two days in intensive care following his collapse on the field at White Hart Lane, but is now reportedly breathing independently and responding to family members. Still Muamba isn't out of the woods yet, as his condition remains serious and he'll continue to be monitored in the hospital. Bolton's match against Aston Villa scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed as a result of the tragedy. Fellow players have shown a tremendous outpouring of support over the past few days highlighted by former teammate Gary Cahill unveiling a Pray 4 Muamba shirt from under his jersey after scoring against Leicester City on Sunday.
Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:
American Lindsey Vonn needed just a 13th place finish on Sunday to become the first female skier to earn 2000 points in a single World Cup season. Unfortunately, the 2012 overall champion didn't have luck on her side as she lost a pole at the start of her final run and ended up finishing in 24th earning no points. The disappointing finish to the season should in no way diminish what Vonn did this year though. Vonn won 12 of a possible 37 races, and won the Downhill title, Super G title and the Combined title en route to her record 1980 points. Vonn has captured the women's overall title in four of the past five years.

Photo Credit:
Boston College (Northeast), North Dakota (West), Union (East) and Michigan (Midwest) are your four number one seeds in the 16-team 2012 NCAA Hockey Tournament. Last year's champion Minnesota-Duluth is the number 2 seed in the Northeast region. No school will be making its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, but UMass-Lowell is in the national tournament for the first time since 1996 and Ferris State qualified for just the second time in school history and the first since 2003. If you're like me and have no idea where Ferris State is, it's in Big Rapids, Michigan which isn't to be confused with Grand Rapids, Michigan. Click here for a look at the rest of the bracket and the schedule. The first round starts Friday with the championship game in Tampa, Florida on April 7th.

Photo Credit:
Big John Isner is finally starting to get recognized for more than just being really tall (he's 6'9") and for having played in the longest match in the history of Wimbledon. Over the past month and a half, Isner has defeated both Roger Federer (at the Davis Cup) and world number one Novak Djokovic (at the ATP BNP Paribas Open), a feat that no other player in the world can claim in 2012.  The 26 year old former Georgia Bulldog has seen his ranking rise all the way to a career best #10 in the world.

Photo Credit:
The U.S. fell to 1-5 at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers after getting thumped by Kenya this morning. The U.S. has one match remaining in Group Play where they'll take on Scotland (4-2) before they likely head to the 11th to 14th Place Play-Offs. If the current standings remain in place, that'll pair them up with Uganda, Hong Kong and Bermuda. The U.S.'s only victory in Group B came over Oman, the only team in the tournament yet to win a match. Afghanistan (6-0 Group A) and Namibia (6-0 Group B) lead their respective groups. The top two teams in the tournament qualify for the T20 World Cup held in Sri Lanka this September and October. The ten Full Member Nations of the ICC (Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe) have already automatically qualified.

Photo Credit:
Spanish striker Fernando Torres broke out of a 26-game goal-less stretch with 2 goals and 2 assists on Sunday as Chelsea defeated Leicester City in the FA Cup quarterfinals 5-2. Torres had not scored a goal in any competition since scoring a pair of goals against Belgium's Racing Genk on October 19th in the Champions League. Since that last goal, Torres had been on the field for 25 hours, 41 minutes without scoring. Chelsea has now won four straight since Roberto Di Matteo took over as interim manager after Andre Villas-Boas was fired.

Photo Credit:
Those of you waiting to see Bryce Harper take the field for the Washington Nationals are going to have to wait a little bit longer. The 19 year old über-prospect was optioned to AAA Syracuse on Sunday where he will start the year. Harper certainly didn't play poorly this spring hitting .286 with a pair of doubles in 28 at bats, but he did strike out 11 times including 4 times against the Tigers on Sunday. Harper has just 109 minor league games under his belt in which he's hit .297 with 17 home runs and 26 stolen bases, and his lack of experience may have played a roll in his getting sent down. Still, despite the demotion, the Nats are still very high on Harper and he still figures to be their everyday centerfielder, possibility as soon as later this season.

Monday Mailbag

How much is a championship worth? With the recent movements in the NFL, I wonder what goes through a player's mind when he goes to a team that seems to have no chance at a title but is willing to pay him an extra few million dollars. We know what teams are looking for in a quarterback, but what is Peyton Manning, or any other elite free agent, looking for in a team? - Ben K., Slidell, LA
Photo Credit:
You know I really think it depends on where a player is in his career. A guy in his prime might be more inclined to go after the big payday because he assumes he'll have plenty of time to get that title. However, an older guy who has never won or wants to win one more time might be more willing to sacrifice some money to play for a winning team. You see this a lot in basketball. Last year you saw Mike Bibby join up with the Miami Heat. Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown signed with Boston a couple years back... There are examples in every sport though.

Let's look specifically at Peyton Manning since he just apparently signed with the Denver Broncos. If I'm Manning this is what I'm looking at in terms of where I want to play football:

*Offensive line play. With all the neck surgeries, the last thing I'd want is to play for a team that gives up 5 or 6 sacks a game. The ability to protect the quarterback cannot be undervalued.

*Surrounding talent. At this stage in my career I am only playing because I want to win. I'm not going to sign on to play for a team like Cleveland that is a lot more than a good quarterback away from contending.

*Coaching/Front Office situation. I want to go into a stable situation where I have a good relationship with the coaches and the front office.

*Team philosophy. I want to go somewhere where my style of play will fit into the team concept. As a prolific passer I'm not looking to hand the ball off 40 times a game.

So how did Denver stack up?

O-Line: Well, they did allow over 40 sacks last year, but that was with Tim Tebow under center. Despite his mobility, Tebow was sacked a lot where a better quarterback may have been able to see a throw sooner.

Talent: You can argue that Denver isn't loaded in talent, but they did make the playoffs - albeit in a weak division - AND they won a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Apparently Denver has a free agency plan in place that they drew up in the event Manning signed with them. We'll see how all that comes together.

Front Office: Two words. John. Elway.

Philosophy: Obviously the Broncos aren't going to run the offense like they did with Tim Tebow. With that in mind, you'd expect Manning to get the freedom to run his style of offense.

All in all, I still think if I'm Manning I would've gone to San Francisco. Great defense, great tight end, decent receiver situation with Manningham, Moss and Crabtree, weak division... I dunno, maybe he thinks the road to the Super Bowl is easier going through the AFC. Maybe John Elway is a personal hero of his. Maybe his wife is an avid skier. Who knows. So I guess in summary, there's any number of factors, football related and otherwise, that affect these guys' decisions, and those of us on the outside may never really understand what exactly goes into making them.

Fantasy baseball draft next week!!! Who's looking hot? Also, don't misdirect me because we're in the same league and you want me to get a bad team. (Feel free to make fun of me for being so bold as to ask for advice from my competition.) I did a mock draft, and can't keep from getting so many Braves. I still pick them despite how terrible they're doing in spring training. Also, why are the Braves doing so poorly? I want to blame the players that are being "tried" since it's spring training, but the starters are playing and also doing terrible. Can spring training performance be used to determine how the season will go? - Bama Slammas, Lushbucket Baseball League
Photo Credit:
Bold move, Bama. I suppose it's been a while since you've won the Lushbucket title (2005) so maybe I can give you SOME advice. Let's take a look at who's been hot this spring:

*Ryan Raburn - Detroit Tigers - Heading into play today, Raburn leads the majors this spring with 5 home runs and 16 runs batted in.

*Delmon Young - Detroit Tigers - Young has 14 hits in his first 27 at bats this spring (.519) with half of those hits going for extra bases.

*Lorenzo Cain - Kansas City Royals - One of the pieces in the Zack Greinke trade, Cain is 15 for 29 (.517) with 6 doubles and a pair of home runs.

*Dustin Ackley - Seattle Mariners - Ackley has ten hits this spring, but just one single. The young second baseman also has six doubles, two triples and a home run.

*Daniel Descalso - St. Louis Cardinals - Descalso is hitting .385 this spring and leads the majors with 10 walks.

*Adam Wainwright - St. Louis Cardinals - Back from Tommy John surgery, the former ace has tossed 9 innings this spring without allowing an earned run.

*Mike Minor - Atlanta Braves - Minor leads the majors this spring with 14 shutout innings over 4 starts.

*Wade LeBlanc - Miami Marlins - Opposing hitters are batting just .030 against LeBlanc this spring. 10 innings, 1 hit, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts.

Ultimately, I don't know how much you can really read into any of this though. Last year Jake Fox led the majors with 10 spring training home runs, and then went on to hit 2 in 61 at bats for the Orioles and spent a majority of the year in AAA. So use some discretion when evaluating the small sample size. Along those lines I wouldn't worry too much about your Braves. Unless you're looking at a guy who struggled last year and is still struggling this spring, I think you give the benefit of the doubt to past performance. Good luck in the draft this week, but be forewarned the Flying Cave Donkies are looking to get back to winning championships.

Ok, let's go ahead and talk about the 800lb gorilla in the room, "BountyGate". What are your thoughts about the whole situation and how bad could this screw up the Saints' chances of winning a Superbowl in their home stadium next year? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
Photo Credit:
For starters, let me be clear on one thing. I absolutely love the hard hitting aspect of football. I have no problem with guys getting excited over big hits. I'm not even upset about players getting rewarded for delivering big hits. For me this issue comes down to one thing: the Saints were (allegedly) rewarding players for injuring players on the opposing team. Whether it's putting bounties on player's heads, or giving a guy a bonus for sending an opposing player off on a stretcher, this stuff is deplorable, and it needs to be eliminated from the game. We wouldn't tolerate this in any other sport. Anyone remember Temple Basketball and 'The Goon Game'? Temple Head Coach John Chaney was suspended for the remainder of that season when that happened. Shoot, in the movie The Mighty Ducks, everyone knows that when Coach Reilly sends McGill into the game to take out Adam Banks that there was something morally wrong with that. Adding money on top of that just compounds the wrongdoing. So that's where I stand on that.
Photo Credit:
Now whether or not this sort of thing is commonplace in the league or not, the commissioner has to come down hard, and how hard he comes down will impact how much this affects the Saints. It's really going to come down to whether or not any of the defensive players involved are dealt suspensions. Losing draft picks will hurt them in the long run, but playing short-handed hurts them right now. The NFC South is quickly becoming one of the league's most competitive divisions and the Saints 2012 schedule is far from a cakewalk. In addition to their divisional games the Saints play at Green Bay, at the Giants, at the Cowboys, and at the Broncos (who suddenly have Peyton Manning). AND they have tough home games against the Chargers, 49ers and Eagles. That's a lot of losable games. Given how much better New Orleans is at home than they are on the road, playing without some of their key defenders could greatly impact any hopes they have for homefield advantage in the NFC, which in turn could keep them out of the Super Bowl.

Herculez Gomez is on fire right now, scoring goals like it's nobody's business in Mexico. he's showing poise and creativity in front of goal, along with an extremely deft first touch. How long could it be before we see him back in a U.S. jersey, and what kind of impact could he have in his current form? - Cory L., Raceland, LA

I sure hope Jurgen Klinsmann is watching because this guy is red hot right now. Edson Buddle's recent benching in L.A. could result in him moving down on the National Team depth chart as well, so this would seem like a perfect opportunity for Gomez to swoop in and get a shot, no pun intended. If you haven't been following Gomez lately, the 29 year old Santos Laguna striker has scored in the last 5 matches he's played in tallying a total of 7 goals. Three of those came in two matches against the Seattle Sounders in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals. Say what you want about the quality of goals or opponents or what not, but you can't deny the fact that Herculez is getting the job done. With the U.S.'s lack of gifted finishers and capable 1v1 attackers, Gomez could be a great asset coming off the USA bench moving forward. Hopefully he gets an opportunity during the next round of friendlies to show what he can do.

Is it gonna take a miracle of biblical proportions for Cypriot-Side APOEL Nicosia to win the Champions League? I'm not really a fan, but I'm always up for a good underdog story. - Cory L., Raceland, LA
Photo Credit:
Wow. You're talking Miracle on Ice times like a billion. Not only do they have to get by Real Madrid, but then they could conceivably play Bayern Munich in the semifinals, and THEN they'd likely meet defending champion Barcelona in the finals. And this isn't like March Madness where you could steal a fluke win and advance. You have to outscore these powerhouses over TWO matches. Could Nicosia shock one of these teams once? Absolutely. Twice? Highly unlikely. Shock THREE of these teams twice? Put it this way. The former Miss South Carolina would have a better chance of finding Cyprus on a map than Nicosia has of winning the Champions League.

Diego Forlan is one of my favorite strikers. However, he seems to be not really suited to the kind of soccer that Inter plays. Where do you think would be a better fit for him and why? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
Photo Credit:
Forlán replaced Samuel Eto'o at Inter in August and to say the results have been disappointing would be an understatement. He scored in his first goal in his debut on September 11th, but then didn't score again until March. That's like six months. Eto'o scored 37 goals and had 15 assists across all competitions a season ago. Forlán has two goals and one assist this year. That's not going to cut it. Especially when you consider that Inter isn't a 'don't worry, we'll get 'em next year' kind of team. Now I know there have been injury issues that have kept Forlán off the pitch, but the question remains as to whether or not he fits into Inter's system. There's also the fact that the Uruguayan striker will be 33 in May, and with younger options available he may not even be a fit for the club after this year. If that's the case, then what? My opinion? Three words. Major. League. Soccer. Ok, maybe not. Forlán is still good enough to catch on somewhere in Europe if that's what he desires. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go to a mid-level club, like a Fulham or PSG or something, somewhere where they could use a legitimate striker, but there's a little bit less pressure on him. One thing's for sure. With Inter sitting on 11 losses in 7th place in the Serie A, there are definitely going to be changes. 

Why do college players wear t-shirts under their jerseys? - Garrett M., Boston, MA
Photo Credit:
I know you and I brainstormed this a bit the other day. Some of our better ideas:

*They don't want their mom and dad to see their tattoos.
*To hide back acne.
*To avoid chafed nipples.
*Hides the lack of muscles.
*Jerseys are too big.
*Economics. A 6-pack of t-shirts from Walmart is like $3.
*Limits opposing players' access to chest hair.
*Absorbs sweat better than jersey does keeping hands dry.
*Advertising. Hanes pays the bills.
*Sex appeal. Sometimes showing less skin is worth more.
*Some of the gyms are really, really cold.
*Longer sleeves go better with longer shorts.

Anyone out there know the real reason? Assuming of course that we didn't already nail it with one of our guesses.

Was Charles Barkley good at basketball? What made him effective? I don't remember him being super athletic even in his prime, but he was highly effective. - Garrett M., Boston, MA

Let's go to the video tape:

Charles Barkley was an absolute beast in his heyday. In 16 NBA seasons, he averaged at least 10 rebounds per game 15 times and is the shortest player in league history to lead the league in rebounding which he did during the 1986-87 season with 14.6 a game. Dwight Howard (14.9 rpg) is the only player this season averaging more rebounds than that.

A prolific and proficient scorer, Sir Charles shot 54% from the field including a ridiculous 60% during the 1989-90 season. He played in 11 All-Star Games, won an MVP, won two Gold Medals... He was even a good passer averaging nearly 4 assists a game over his career. The guy did it all.

So how did he do it? This guy was the ultimate mismatch. He was too strong for the smaller players to handle him and he was too quick for the bigger players to stay with him. He's kind of the shorter stockier version of the Ron Artest/LeBron James breed of athlete. So Barkley was like the Defensive Tackle to LeBron's Defensive End. The biggest difference with Barkley though is wherever he lacked in skill, he made up for it in desire. He said it himself in the video. No one worked harder than him.

So to make a long story short yes, the Round Mound of Rebound was good at basketball. To say anything less would be uncivilized.

Special thanks as always to everyone who wrote in this week. Also a big shoutout to G$ Meyer for the mailbag's new tagline: "Reading is for Winners, especially when you read Smitty's Mailbag." Got a question for the mailbag? Click on the link at the top of the page or email us directly at

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Breaking Down the Sweet Sixteen

48 games in the books after four wild days of college hoops, and we're down to the Sweet Sixteen. Here's a look at the 16 schools that are still standing:

Photo Credit:
How They Got Here:

Defeated #16 UNC-Asheville 72-65
Defeated #8 Kansas State 75-59

Top Performers:

Points - Kris Joseph 13.7 ppg
Rebounds - Fab Melo 5.8 rpg
Assists - Scoop Jardine 4.9 apg


Syracuse won its last title in 2003 when Hakim Warrick, Gerry McNamara and Carmelo Anthony led them to victory over Kansas in the finals.

Worth Noting:

Playing without starting center and leading rebounder Fab Melo, Syracuse has gotten huge contributions from its bench in the first two rounds of the tournament. Led by junior James Southerland and sophomore Dion Waters the Orange bench outscored UNC-Asheville 31-18 and Kansas State 33-0.