Sunday, February 26, 2006

 

NEW NEW NEW POWER RANKINGS ROTFLMAO

Okay, so, I've been informed that it's been quite awhile since I decided to post anything. The reasons for that are two-fold:

1. I go to college and I would prefer my GPA not look like Pedro Martinez's ERA, circa 1999.
2. I'm really, REALLY lazy.

That said, let us all be quiet, whilst we listen to some new power rankings, replete with each team's odds of winning the whole shebangbang (please also note that the odds aren't directly proportional to the ranking, because I'm damn sneaky):

PS: This week's rankings will only be ten teams, as these are the only ten that I think have a shot to win it all.


1. Duke
--Here's the thing that I discounted with them: They've taken each team's best shot every single night out, because they are head and shoulders above the rest of their conference. The only other team you can say that about is Gonzaga, but the teams in their conference generally suck and they're like light-years ahead of the rest, save St. Mary's. Duke can beat anyone because J.J. Redick has morphed into the alpha-dog of college basketball. His mere presence on the court makes all of his teammates worlds better, as evidenced by Shelden Williams, a good but not great player, looking like the Second Coming, and Greg Paulus, an average point guard at best, looking like he actually belongs on the floor.

Odds of Coach K. raising the hardware and thus extending a new deal with AmEx: 6 to 1

2. UConn
--I'm sorry, Jim Calhoun. I didn't mean to make it sound like I was super dissing your team. Obviously, they're pretty freaking good, as evidenced by their second-half dismantling of Villanova, another likely number 1 seed. Your team has the size, strength, talent, and leadership to win it all. It also doesn't hurt that you have the collegiate version of Jason Kidd running your team, even if he shoots even worse than JKidd ever did. You guys deserve a number 1, and you're going to get it. Ladies and gentlemen, your odds on favorite to win it all this year: The UConn Huskies.

Odds of Jim Calhoun telling everyone how great his team is and therefore pissing off everyone around him, while he dances with the trophy: 3 to 1

3. Villanova
--With apologies to John Calipari, I'm not dropping Villanova any further. If Allan Ray is hurt, then we've got a different story, but I'll maintain they might have won earlier today had Ray not gotten his fourth foul. They haven't truly had a shooting night where it all comes together, and if they get one at the right time, and against the right team, they're going to win it all. And remember folks, in the NCAA tourney, great guard play wins. Don't forget that. Please.

Odds of Jay Wright wearing a $10,000 suit while he has a net around his neck: 4 to 1

4. Memphis
--Maybe the most quietly dangerous team in the country. I really like Memphis when they're keeping teams honest with their outside shooting, because they've got the athletes to run anyone this side of UConn out of the gym. Rodney Carney is really, really good, and when Darius Washington Jr. is playing well they're very nearly unbeatable. My only gripe is that they've been ho-humming it through their schedule, which has been fairly weak. Still, they're lethal as a no. 2 or a no. 1.

Odds of Darius Wash. Jr. draining two free throws to win the whole f'ing show: 7 to 1

5. Texas
--Well, they beat Kansas. By a great many points. However, I'm still a bit worried about their little ball of doo-doo that they dropped on center court against the Okie State Alcoholics. The right parts are in place, but I sense something mildly amiss. Obviously, it's not that amiss, or they wouldn't be fifth, but I dunno if we're gonna see what we need to see from this team when they get into a close game. This is an open book, to be sure.

Odds of Vince Young suiting up and running the picket fence for the winner at the horn: 8 to 1

6. Gonzaga
--As noted before, they still play worse defense than most grade school teams, and as noted before, they haven't necessarily found an option behind the flying moustache, so I'm still not sold on these guys. However, His Filthiness did only have 11 points against Saint Diego, and they still won by 16, so maybe I'm just being unnecessarily skeptical right now. Still...make Raivio shoot, get Battista in foul trouble, and all of the sudden, poof, you've got a very, very beatable team, especially outside the Kennel.

Odds that Adam Morrison shaves his moustache on TV after winning it all: 11 to 1

7. George Washington
--They're only up here because of their record, to be fair. Pops is out for the forseeable future, and that makes them very beatable. However, they do have all the athletes, and they have the talent to make a deep run. I don't know if they can win it, but provided Pops is back and healthy in time, they certainly have the better tools than St. Joe's to do it. One thing that scares me is that they still can't shoot, so they'll have to out-athletic teams to win...which hasn't been a problem for them the previous 2 dozen or so times earlier this year.

Odds that Pops will hold the trophy and then give it GrandPops, aka Karl Hobbs: 16 to 1

8. Pittsburgh
--You can call me a homer, I don't really care. They're one of the 8 best teams in the country, and probably more like one of the six best. There isn't a deeper elite team in the country, and they're definitely in an elite class with UConn, Nova, and Duke when Aaron Gray stays out of foul trouble. The shooting is there more than in the past, the toughness never left, and the intangibles are everywhere. This could be the year they make a magic little run to a place called The Final Four.

Odds that Carl Krauser announces he just got granted 2 more years of eligibility while holding the trophy: 9 to 1

9. Ohio State
--The fighting Thad Matta's have emerged from the boiling cauldron of uncertainty that is the Big Ten and have seized control of the proceedings. They're a much better team than the conference's number 2 squad, Illinois, and they possess that magic ingredient, great guard play, that could vault them to the top of the heap. But as I've said before, the best is yet to come with these guys. Greg Oden arrives next year, and they could very well win it all.

Odds that Thad Matta announces he's taking over at Indiana after the season: 15 to 1

10. West Virginia
--If they shoot, they win. If they shoot, they win. If they shoot, they WILL win. Still my darkhorse pick to win it all, and still the most dangerous team in the country when they're making threes. Can lose to anyone and beat anyone on any night, and that, friends, is refreshing. Mike Gansey could end up playing his way near the lottery in the tourney.

Odds Kevin Pittsnogle holds up the trophy then pawns it for improvements to the trailer: 7 to 1


ON THE CUSP: Marquette...Dominic James is filthy good, Steve Novak is too. 20 to 1
Georgetown: Roy Hibbert...well, as they say, you can't teach height. 25 to 1
Tennessee: Bruce Pearl could well sweat them right into the Elite 8 or beyond. 22 to 1
Florida: Only because I like it when they play as a team. 30 to 1

Big Darkhorse: LSU...all the talent is there...can they put it all together? 25 to 1

Even Bigger Darkhorse: Arkansas...just because. 35 to 1


There you have it. I am The Mauler, these are my rankings.

Friday, February 17, 2006

 

A Dark Day

Come closer children, and gather round, as I tell you the sordid story of a group of men, assembled for the noble purpose of representing their country in athletic competition. It was supposed to be a cakewalk. It proved to be a struggle. It was supposed to be no contest when the best athletes in the world took the court. It was, they didn't have a chance. Most of all, it was supposed to be a coronation; a return to dominance for a team whose foundation had been shaken at the 2003 Worlds, on its home turf, no less. It turned into a debacle.

Let's take a look at the cast and crew that made this bloated melodrama on the hardwood possible. For lack of a better term, we'll call them...

THE CULPRITS:
(In alphabetical order)

Carmelo Anthony
Carlos Boozer
Tim Duncan
Allen Iverson
LeBron James
Richard Jefferson
Stephon Marbury
Shawn Marion
Lamar Odom
Emeka Okafor
Amare Stoudemire
Dwayne Wade

Looks like quite the dirty dozen right there, but this group wouldn't be complete without a coach. A guy that could use the talents of the team to their fullest and get the most out of them. A real players coach, someone the troops could rally around. A coach who could mix egos but also not take any BS when it came time to get down to business. They could have had anyone, but they took Larry Brown.

I'd have preferred Pat Summitt.

You take a look at that lineup, and a few things immediately pop out at you. The first thing that stands out is that there is not a true point guard among those men. Steph Marbury is a scorer, nothing else, and Dwayne Wade is the same way. The second thing that forces its way into your consciousness is that there are no pure outside shooters on the squad. The third, and easily most important aspect of the team that announces its presence, however, is the distinct lack of role players anywhere on the roster.

If I'm Larry Brown, here's what I do when I make my lineup: I've got the most unselfish superstar playing the game today in LeBron James. I make him my point guard and tell him to focus on making plays, everyone else will take care of the scoring. I let him share the ballhandling duties with Lamar Odom, to whom I give the same message. Shawn Marion gets tossed on the court as a power forward. Undersized, you say? Nonsense, he was arguably the best defender on that team, and his running the court would have gotten the U.S. numerous easy transition hoops. I'd throw Tim Duncan out there, as he is the best fundamental player in the game and by far the best big man in the world.

But here's the key: Instead of burying him on the bench, which is what actually happened, I tell my proud veterans like A.I. and Marbury to swallow their pride and play reduced minutes, because the only choice for this team at the swing position is Carmelo Anthony, arguably the best pure scorer on the team. A motivated Melo, playing big minutes alongside LeBron and crew, would have lit it up for his country. It doesn't matter that he wasnt a terrific outside shooter--he had then and still has to this day a terrific midrange game. Melo would have lit it up and really stepped his game up, not pouted like he did for Larry B.

The rest of the veterans would have taken their roles in stride. Put A.I. on the court with Marbury and A.I. would have swallowed his pride and deferred to Marbury because there was no way the inverse would have happened. To that end, Marbury shouldn't have been on this team, period. He can blather on and on about how he averages 20 and 8 a game for his career, but the fact is is that he's one of the worst "good" players in league history.

Stoudemire would have done exactly what he was supposed to do, that being grab rebounds and finish easy buckets inside, and he would have done it well. Wade would have been the microwave off the bench if he'd been called upon to perform such a role. Okafor, Boozer, and Jefferson would have played the roles of defender, rebounder, and "athlete" exactly as they should have. This wasn't the most well-thought out assemblage of players representing the country, but they still could have, and probably should have, won the gold easily. Instead, this is what happened, as if you needed to be reminded.

First off, Larry Brown kept with his moronic tradition and tried to play only his "established" veteran guys. No matter that his usual lineup of Marbury, Iverson, Duncan, Jefferson, and Marion never really meshed, the vets were in there, playing the key minutes. I guess Larry couldn't take a hint after they got busted by Puerto Rico (PUERTO RICO) by 19. He buried his two best players on the bench for no other reason but the fact that they were young guys, and he never came close to finding the right blend of chemistry. What he was left with was a bunch of guys that didn't care and wanted to go home. Iverson tried his best, but he was working with the burden of "Starbury" looming near him, wanting top billing for himself.

In its most generic form, a team is described as a group of people assembled to accomplish a certain goal. In sports, anyone can tell you that a team is a cohesive group that likes each other, and is willing to do anything to accomplish the ultimate goal. Not only that, but the team needs a coach that is ready, willing, and able to get the most out of them, not only for their own good, but in this case, for the good of their country. Larry Brown wasn't that man, and he never will be.

The United States never had a team. Their definition never got past "a group of people."



Coming soon: The 2006 team, and what to do with them.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

 

College Bball Power Rankings or How I learned to love the four-guard offense.

Pretty simple. After the real rankings come out every week, I'll be putting my own list up. I can nearly guarantee that it won't be the same as theirs. Also, like ESPN's, this will be the top 16 teams in the country. Why, you ask? Because I like it that way, so THERE.

1. Villanova
--You beat number one, you are number one. To anyone out there that complains that Duke isn't in this spot, all I can say is that the Wildcats would win by 15 on their home court, 10 on a neutral court, and 5 at Duke. They're fearless, people.

2. Duke
--I might not like him, but J.J. Redick is indeed a player and he carried them to big wins over both UNC and Maryland. Big players play their best in big games. Just remember that.

3. UConn
--Beaten by the only team in the country playing better basketball than they are right now. When these guys are shooting half decently, they're better than the Knicks.

4. Memphis
--10 point win at Marshall is less than impressive until you consider that Marshall beat West Virginia this year. Nuff said.

5. Texas
--Can still be inconsistent at times, but arguably the most talented team in the nation besides UConn. P.J. Tucker is a monster and LaMarcus Aldridge is going to be a scary good NBA player.

6. Gonzaga
--They're here, and not higher up, because I'm still not sure they can 1. Find a reliable second scoring option behind Larry Bird v2.0 and 2. Play a lick of fucking defense.

7. Florida
--It's a lot more fun playing basketball when the five guys on the court actually want to help each other out and make the extra pass. Taurean Green>Anthony Roberson.

8. Pittsburgh
--While the Georgetown game was a bad loss, the UConn game won them a lot of brownie points nationally, as did their befuddling of West Virginia. A legit threat to get to the Elite 8 and maybe further, as their 10-man rotation is starting to really play well. If Ronald Ramon keeps up his shooting, this team makes a deep run.

9. West Virginia
--If Pittsnogle scores, they beat Pitt. Can't drop them that far for losing by 4 when their best scorer lays a half-snowman. Still my sleeper pick to win it all.

10. George Washington
--They play in the A-1o. They're freakishly athletic at every position, they have the best-named player in the country in Pops Mensa-Bonsu, but it doesn't take a genius to see that this team can still be had by a team that makes them shoot jumpers. Still though, they're a legit 3 seed in the NCAA's.

11. Tennessee
--They should probably be ranked higher, just because Bruce Pearl's brand of insanity is so entertaining to watch in action, but they should have handled Georgia easier than they did. Still though, they'll be interesting to watch come tourney time because of the style they play.

12. Ohio State
--Don't be surprised if they crack the top 10 next week. Dominated Illinois, and they've got the potential to be scary good this year and the next few. Terrific storm brewing in Columbus.

13. Boston College
--Only here because the other options didn't deserve this high of a ranking. Still, a gutty home effort against Duke a few weeks back, and they've been going about their business in a workmanlike manner.

14. Georgetown
--A tale of two second halves. Bottled up Pitt in one, got bamboozled by WVU in the other. Still, Jeff Green was a positive constant in both. Could shoot up the board soon.

15. UCLA
--Washington loss was a bad one, but considering their injury situation, this team has been very impressive all season. Ben Howland has them playing some good defense. They'll win big in the coming years.

16. Illinois
--Thou shalt not lose at home to Penn State. Thou shalt not lose at home to Penn State. Thou shalt not lose at home to Penn State. Thou shalt not lose at home to Penn State.



There you have it. Hit me back with comments, imediamente.

 

Nova vs. UCONN and much more

For anyone that didn't watch Villanova and UConn go at it tonight, you missed quite the treat. I watched the game because I knew that tomorrow I'd be too busy entertaining roughly 22 different ladies, so there'd be no time for college basketball. Lucky for me I caught one of the most entertaining games of the year.

First off, a note about Villanova: Their tallest starter comes in at about 6 foot 8. After him, the height chart goes 6 foot 4, 6 foot 2, 6 foot 1, 6 foot 1. By contrast, UConn goes 6 foot 11, 6 foot 11, 6 foot 9, 6 foot 6, 6 foot 3. Seem like a mismatch to you? Yeah, me too--UConn had no chance. Kyle Lowry, who is one of the two Nova starters listed at 6'1", but is more like 5'11", was absurd throughout the first half. He basically eviscerated the Huskies defense like it wasn't even there. Marcus Williams, for all his laptop-stealing excellence, could do nothing to prevent Lowry from getting into the lane. He dropped 16 in the first half and repeatedly forced turnovers on the defensive end. (And to expound on that, UConn should be ashamed of its ballhandling for the entire game. Apparently, no one told any of their frontcourt players that the Wildcats' guards liked to sneak up from behind for steals. Pathetic.)

The opening minutes of the second half were a testament to why UConn is such a great team. They made the necessary adjustments, bottled up Lowry, and forced the Wildcats out of their comfort zone. During this time, Rudy Gay and crew racked up a few easy buckets, and poof, a 33-32 halftime deficit was very quickly turned into a 45-33 lead. Jay Wright called one timeout in the middle of the run, and when that didn't work, opted to let his guys play until the TV timeout. Uh, nice move Jay. Allan Ray, who in the first half couldn't have hit anything if you'd have given him a gun and called him Dick Cheney, suddenly came alive. Four three-pointers later, Villanova was down by 2 and the capacity crowd at the Wachovia Center, which by the way was the largest crowd to watch a college basketball game in PA history, was very much alive. Cue Mike Nardi, the fourth stooge, who had been felled by tonsillitis for the last two games. Nardi came down in transition off of a steal and spotted up for three. It couldn't go in. No way. Nardi hadn't made a shot all game. He wouldn't make another one. No matter. Bottom of the net. The crowd? They were cheering like they'd been told that Terrell Owens had fallen off of a cliff.

The rest of the way, it was unsung hero Will Sheridan that carried the load for the Wildcats, keeping the Huskies at bay on both ends. As the game progressed, Ray hit more huge shots, Sheridan hit everything else, and the Huskies, with a roster full of NBA first-rounders and big-name superstars, came unglued. Rudy Gay, for all his double-double brilliance (19 points, 10 rips) couldn't hit the big shot down the stretch when it mattered the most. A team with a height advantage so absurd it had to be seen to be believed couldn't handle the heat when Villanova brought it into the kitchen.

Credit the Wildcats for executing their trapping, pressing, turnover-forcing defense to absolute perfection. Credit Jay Wright for going with a 3-guard look for the majority of the game to take some of the Huskies inside advantage away, then going with the 4-guard balls to the wall lineup in the waning minutes. Most of all though, credit Villanova's fearsome 5, the toughest, most talented group this side of, well, UConn, for keeping the pressure constant and never backing down for a second. In this matchup of two teams who could very easily walk away from the Final Four as National Champions, it was the much-ballyhooed Huskies who proved to be shrinking violets.



Random Musings from inside my head:

What is the purpose of noting that every car given away on The Price is Right has as part of its options package "California emissions"? Would it be so bad if one of the cars had "Wyoming emissions"? Would Bob Barker's head fall off of his body if this happened? Would the models even know what to do? This needs to happen, and soon.

Secondly, and in fact, lastly, I just want to say that the Olympics would be a lot more fun if there was one live band that had to play every gold medal winner's national anthem at every single event, logistics be damned. Maybe then the Olympics would be even mildly watchable.


That's pretty much all, Happy Valentine's Day everyone, and on a personal note, you stay classy in Chicago SG.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

 

This post had no purpose



Saturday, February 11, 2006

 

UTB Favored Sports Motion Pictures

So I'm sitting here, doing nothing, as usual, and I thought to myself, "Hey, why not compile a list of my personal favorite sports movies and then claim that it represents the views and beliefs of the entire UTB crew." So, being that I have nothing to do for three and a half hours except get paid and look out the window, you all get (drumroll) THE TOP TEN SPORTS MOVIES EVER:

BEST
SPORTS
MOVIES
EVER
(a list)



Honorable Mention: Cinderella Man, Tin Cup, Rookie of the Year, Any Given Sunday, The Waterboy, The Replacements, The Natural, Bull Durham, Slapshot, Mighty Ducks 2, The Sandlot, Hoosiers, Remember the Titans, The Program, Hoop Dreams, He Got Game, The Longest Yard, Raging Bull, White Men Can't Jump, Little Giants, Cool Runnings



Top Movies Where the Team Loses:
4. Cool Runnings
3. Rocky
2. Tin Cup
1. Friday Night Lights

Top Five Funny Sports Movies:
5. Slapshot
4. Waterboy
3. White Men Can't Jump
2. Happy Gilmore
1. Caddyshack

Special Asterisk Movie That Probably Would Have Made The Top Ten Except Poker Isn't a Sport: Rounders



THE TOP TEN:
10. Blue Chips
9. Angels In the Outfield
8. Happy Gilmore
7. Rocky
6. Mighty Ducks
5. Friday Night Lights
4. Major League
3. Field of Dreams
2. Caddyshack
1. Rocky IV

Friday, February 10, 2006

 

Exciting News

For all you fans of some of ComRadio's finest, I've got some exciting news. Never before in ComRadio history has such a collection of talent been assembled for one show. Prepare yourself to hear not only "The Historian" Joey Gulino, "The Grinder" J.J. Terlecki, and "The Mediator" Ryan Chadwick, but also yours truly, "The Mauler".

"That's great Chris, but what's the format?" You ask. Well, it's going to be a college basketball show. But more importantly than that, it's going to be a show where rye bread and Shelden Williams are mentioned in the same sentence. Where long-winded rants off the established topic will be encouraged and not censored. We plan on going bravely where no talk show hosts have gone before, comparing Adam Morrison to Dirk Diggler and J.J. Redick to a walking pile of feces.

You think you've heard it all on ComRadio, but you ain't heard nothin yet.

For anyone that wants to get in on the fun, you could start by dropping some name suggestions for this towering hour of basketball power.

 

Allow myself to introduce...myself

Alright...I'm rather amazed that I actually did this, but I figured I'd try to add something to the UTB site, but have it be a little bit of a different flavor. Anyway, this site is basically going to consist of me adding bonus content on top of UTB podcasts, and occasionally sounding off on whatever I please...which will almost always be sports. Check back in all the time, I'm sure when I get bored, I'll post something here first.

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