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ahathaway
Thu Feb 28, 2008 3:46 pm

Nice layout!

bravzfan08
Sun Dec 16, 2007 9:00 pm

surge is my SUPERhero!

chainkilla
Mon Dec 10, 2007 4:51 am

Surge is my hero!

bravzfan08
Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:06 pm

lol, so much for that prediction.

bravzfan08
Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:05 pm

yay!

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Who Are These Guys? Mount Saint Mary's


Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:09 pm

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[  Mood: Cool ]

Northeast Conference Champ: Mount Saint Mary's Mountaineers

Mount Saint Mary's University is a private, Catholic, and liberal arts college near Emmitsburg, Maryland. Founded in 1808, the school is the oldest independent Catholic college in the nation and second oldest Catholic college period, behind Georgetown. The Princeton Review recognizes MSM as one of the best private schools in the state. The school's National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes draws hundreds of tourists yearly and has been used as a site for prayer and deotion. Former basketball pro Fred Carter is probably their most famous alumnus along with the first American Cardinal, archbishop of New York back in 1864-to-1885.


MSM believes we will recognize their university by a church steeple

Unlike the other victors I've mentioned, Mount Saint Mary's was never expected to win out. The 4th-seeded Mountaineers first beat Quinnipiac 80-70 to start their bid for the title game. They won despite 5'9 sophomore guard and 14 point per game scorer Jeremy Goode go 3-for-11. They also missed 15 free throws. Having a top bench effort didn't hurt though. Freshman Jean Cajou scored 20 points while soph Kelly Beidler grabbed 15 points, 8 boards, 3 rejections. They combined to go 4-for-10 behind the arc, the rest of the team going 2-for-11. In the semis, the Mountaineers met first-seeded Robert Morris. Entering with a 14-game winning streak, Robert Morris were heavy favorites after beating MSM twice though by only eleven combined points. But this one wasn't even close. After a 38-31 outscoring of RMC in the first, Goode and his sixth and seventh men scored a combined 51 points in an 83-65 whooping. A 9-1 run after the score became 44-40 put it away as Robert Morris never got within ten after that spurt. The Mountaineers allowed just 4-for-22 shooting behind the arc against a 3-point specialist squad. Robert Morris did have four double-digit scorers, but they allowed MSM to shoot 54% and 6-for-12 from deep including 5-for-6 from Cajou, Biedler and Goode.


A cat or something on some M signifying some sort of Mountaineer

The championship sealed the Mountaineers first NCAA bid since 1999. Leading Sacred Heart by five at the half, the Pioneers took the lead early in the second but fell apart to lose 68-55. An 8-0 run in the middle of the second followed by hitting 11 of 12 free throws to end the game won it. Sacred Heart shot just 29%, 16-for-55, and an even more unsightly 2-for-19 from deep. Only one starter scored in double figures for the Mountaineers, Goode of course, despite going just 2-for-8, but he got help from Cajou (15 points, 6 boards, 3-4 treys), Beidler (15 points, 4 boards) and Sam Atupen (12 points, 4 boards). The most surprising part of this run is leading scorer in senior guard Chris Vann went 6-for-14 in just 72 minutes played for 21 total points. That's half his expected total, but the bench found enough total points for the surprising upset and NCAA bid. Those guys finished off an 18-14, 11-7 in conference campaign. With an RPI of just 159, 197th ranked SOS and an 0-3 record vs. the RPI top 100, the Mountaineers clearly had zero, make that a negative hope of an at-large bid.


Jim Phelan with his ultra-awesome bow-tie and upset at the people laughing at it

Coach Milan Brown will be heading to his first Big Dance. Their 1999 appearance was thanks to Jim Phelan, the most recognizable, ok, least non-recognizable, name from Mount Saint Mary's lure. Their former head coach won 830 games in 49 seasons with the Mountaineers. That's right, he's ranked with Dean Smith and Bob Knight among coaches with 800 victories. It took five years for assistant Brown to follow his path. Another member of the one-game-and-out-club-without-a-fucking-doubt club, Mount Saint Mary's brings a bench and physical attack along with the ancient memories of Phelan to the table ... a table they will lose. Sorry!

Posted By: Surge
2104 Comments Reply

Who Are These Guys? Part II: Portland State


Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:36 pm

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Big Sky Champ: Portland State Vikings


The mascot is apparently some sperm critter

The largest student body of any university in Oregon, Portland State University was founded in 1946. The public school is part of the Oregon University System with both Oregon and Oregon State. With a significant amount of night classes and Saturdays, the average age of the students is actually around 25. Graduates include current Spurs bench player Ime Udoka and former NFL quarterback Neil Lomax. Just like Belmont, they also have a Miss America in Katie Harman.


Katie Harman has nothing to do with the Vikes basketball team, but are you complaining?

Three years ago, the weaker PSU met a shot at the NCAA tourney. After an 11-3 conference run they met Weber State in the conference tourney and lost by 10. Now they seem ready. Behind a 23-9, 14-2 in conference campaign, PSU like Belmont finished the season on a run with 14 wins in 15 games. They started the year with three losses to Pac 10 teams, all blowouts, but did have an out of conference victory over Akron. The second half of the year was utter domination, possibly in part to those tough early losses. In the tourney, the Vikes beat Idaho State 72-61 behind 20 from junior Deonte Huff, their second leading scorer. Miniscule guard Jeremiah Dominguez had 16 in the big win. They would then set the school record with their 23rd victory, a 67-51 blowout over Northern Arizona, who scored just 20 at the half. Juniors Andre Murray and Huff led the way with 30 points combined with 14 more from 6'8 sophomore Kyle Coston, only his fourth double-digit game this season. The defense yielded 34.5% shooting and forced 22 turnovers in the championship win.


Guard Deonte Huff's ability to levitate should pose matchup problems

The Vikings will be making their first trip to the NCAA tournament this season. The squad is coached by Ken Bone, who is approaching 300 wins in this his 16th season. Primarily led on the floor by Dominguez, a 5-foot-6, 150 pounder from Salem, and his 14.3 points per game and 4.1 assists, Portland State depends on the three. The Vikes are 15th in the country at with 285 treys and Dominguez leads the way with 82 makes while hitting 43% of them. Huff brings 13.9 per 6'11 Vancouver center Scott Morrison is at or near double digit scoring for the third straight season at 10.6 per and averages 1.7 blocks after a career-best 2.2 last season. Morrison ranks fourth in Big Sky history with 182 blocked shots and is the only player from that 2005 regular-season champ and choke.


Jeremiah Dominguez is just 5-foot-6, but now he looks shorter

Like Belmont, they seem like first round fodder.

Posted By: Surge
6819 Comments Reply

Who Are These Guys? Part I: Belmont


Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:34 pm

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I know what you're wondering. Who the hell are these teams making the field of 65? I mean, we know 31 teams automatically get in thanks to winning their conference tournament, but that doesn't mean we know anything about them. 14 teams have already earned a bid, and these teams are not too familiar with anyone. Anywhere, except there. Which is nowhere. Well then, like a good/shitty reporter, I've got the scoop (of shit) on each of these squads.

Atlantic Sun Champ: Belmont Bruins


The rabies-infested mascot with Jack Nicholson's eyes Bruiser the Bruin

Belmont University is located in Nashville, Tennessee founded in 1890. It's a private, liberal arts school and the state's second largest private university. The campus holds about 5,000 students, give or take a few hundred, as does the team's arena, the Curb Event Center. The team's colors are navy blue, red and white. Renowned for its music studies, Belmont U. has produced several of today's country stars and a couple American Idol finalists proving that taste is not necessarily part of college. A couple notable graduates include country star Brad Paisley and Miss USA 2007 Rachel Smith. The school is extremely solid academically, ranking 11th in the South in masters degrees.


Rachel Smith shouldn't skip a meal anytime soon

Belmont is no stranger to the tournament. This year will be their straight season in after winning the Atlantic Sun. In 2005, they finished their conference season 15-5, 20-10 overall and lost to UCLA 78-44 in the first round. Last year they met Georgetown after going 23-9, 14-4 in conference only to lose 80-55. Their all-time leading scorer is John Behling, who played from 1987-1990 racking up 2,823 points. Behling holds the school record with 58 points in a single game as well vs. Lipscomb in 1989 and season average of 31.5. But Robert Barnes, who played from '55-57, has the all-time scoring average at 28.1 compared to Behling's 26.4. From 1969-1972, Joe Gaines was the team's star rebounder averaging 13.9 boards his freshman year then 17.6, 18.61 and then 18.64. Their Moses Malone has 700 more career boards than the person second on Belmont's all-time list. Enough of the past, though, onto the future, or the present. Whatever.


Coach Rick Byrd saying, "look, it's as if Jim Tressel's sweater vest looks gangsta next to me"

Belmont started the '07-08 season 9-7. Except for an 81-79 loss to Kennesaw State however, the Bruins went unbeaten from that point on going 16-1 to finish 25-8. They finished 14-2 in conference, but the only thing that mattered was the tourney. With an RPI of 82, SOS of 226 and their weak conference, Belmont had to take the tournament for another NCAA bid. They obviously did that, but the first game wasn't easy. Facing third-seeded East Tennessee State, Belmont trailed at half 44-40 and trailed by ten with just six minutes left. A 9-0 run made it 63-62 with just under two minutes to go. Then star senior guard and leading scorer at 14.2 per game Justin Hare (who also has a 3.87 GPA and is listed as a member of ESPN the Magazine's Academic All-Americans) hit six free throws off two fouls and one technical giving them the lead and ultimately a victory. Belmont shot just 9-for-39 from behind the arc including ten straight to start the second half. Still, the win put them in position for the title game vs. Jacksonville, who they cleaned up 79-61 behind 51% shooting and a much better 13-for-29 game behind the arc. Juniors Matt Dotson and Shane Dansby combined with Hare for seven 3's and 44 points. They held Jacksonville's sophomore stud Ben Smith to only 3-for-16 shooting, and he was the Dolphins only player with more than seven shot attempts. They also forced 17 turnovers in the big tournament bid-sealing win.


Quintessential awkward whiteness with a determined face from Alex Hare

Belmont, as you can, see depends heavily on the three-point shot as they rank first in the country with 349 made treys, 13 more than second place VMI. However, not a single Bruin is among the top 100 in threes made. Rick Byrd's style has been the 3-point shot. His team was 19th last year with 282 makes, 17th with 257 two years ago and fourth with 292 back in '04-05, their last non-tourney team. Hare, mentioned as a potential genius in science stuides, has led Belmont in scoring three years in a row now, the 14.9 this year being his second best behind the 15.6 two years back. The 43% shooting is the worst of his four double-digit scoring seasons but after shooting around 78% from the line most of his career, Hare shot 91.5% this season. See kids, just a little hard work. Dansby, a transfer from Murray State, is second on the team at 13.8 PPG and leads the team with 6.2 rebounds per. Dotson averages 11.3 points to fill out the double-digit scorers while hitting 41.7% of his treys, his 71 total trifectas leading the team.

Belmont will likely be first round fodder for whoever they face, but now they get some credit.

Posted By: Surge
2391 Comments Reply

Who Are These Guys? Part III: Austin Peay


Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:32 pm

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Ohio Valley Champ: Austin Peay State Governors

APSU was founded back in 1927 when a school left Clarksville, Alabama unoccupied to create Rhodes College in Memphis. It started as a school for only rural, white teachers but desegregation forced a minor change in the title. The school has become one of the fastest-growing institutions thanks to a nearby army program at Fort Campbell. Alumni include current NBA player Trenton Hassell, Baltimore Orioles reliever Jamie Walker, and former NFLers Bonnie Sloan (first deaf player), Percy Howard and Jeff Gooch. Hassell is BTW the school's all-time leading scorer averaging 19.4 points and hitting 122 treys in three seasons. As a senior, he was an honorable All-America selection with 21+ points, 7.8 boards and 4.5 assists with 39% three point shooting.


A star at Austin Peay, Trenton Hassell's NBA highlights start and end with getting traded for Jason Kidd last month.

Winning 11 of 12 down the stretch, the Governors finished 24-10, 16-4 in conference play. Austin Peay beat Tennessee-Martin in a difficult 78-77 showdown in the first game of their tourney behind leading scorer junior forward Drake Reed's free throw with 2.2 seconds left. The 17-16 Skyhawks gave the Governors all they could handle trying to earn a postseason bid leading by as much as seven in the first half. Austin Peay led by seven with six minutes left, but OVC player of the year and the nation's fourth-leading scorer Lester Hudson refused to let it get away. He scored the Skyhawks final ten points beginning at the 3:36 mark. But in the final moments, Reed took it inside and got a foul called. He missed his first free throw but hit the important one for the victory. In the championship vs. now 15-17 Tennessee State, the Governors had no such trouble as they did vs. TMU leading 40-25 at the half and winning 82-64. Allowing Austin Peay to go 9-for-15 behind the arc, the Tigers closed the deficit to only 14 in the second half before falling.


Rebecca Loos has no connection to coach Dave Loos, thought I'd mention that

The OVC championship is the Governors' fourth and first since 2002-03. That year, Louisville downed them in the first round of the Big Dance, 86-64 after a 23-8 season, 13-3 in the OVC. Coach Dave Loos has led them to all three conference championships and has been coaching APSU since 1990. Reed averages a team-best 14.6 points and 5.7 boards a game, and the well-balanced Governors have four others in double digit scoring. 5-foot-9 guard Derek Wright, 6'5 senior Todd Babington, sophomore Wes Channels complete the three-guard combo all between 11 and 12 points a night without a player taller than 6-foot-6. All average 26 or more minutes. 26th in the country with 267 treys, the Governors fill it up from deep but surprisingly rank third in the country with 593 free throws with Reed ranking among the NCAA's best there. The Governors beat a fellow Who Are These Guys? teams in Belmont twice, once in November 71-56 and once again a month later 93-84.


Drake Wright may have just hurt his groin, ow, indeed

An athletic but undersized squad, Austin Peay is hoping for not being a 15, 16 seed and making something happen with their fast guards and aggressive inside-outside attack.

Posted By: Surge
2656 Comments Reply

Calder Trophy


Wed Mar 12, 2008 11:38 am

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[  Mood: Amused ]
[ Currently: not surprised Philly gave up a 3-0 lead and 55 shots in a 4- ]

It's only right I discuss two candidates here at once considering that they're, you know, teammates. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have helped carry the Blackhawks back into half-decent respectability. Chicago, on pace for its first winning season in six years, has benefited from these two guys playing alongside the unheralded top-10 goal scorer Patrick Sharp. Kane was the first overall pick in 2007, and he's put together an excellent campaign: 16 goals, 43 assists, 59 points, -7, 6 PPG, 17 PPA, 42 PIM, 18:13 ATOI. The points total leads all rookies. Kane started the year with ten assists in his first nine games, and the Blackhawks were the surprise in the NHL behind him and Toews. Though he's slowed down a bit since that memorable October, Kane's been one of the more reliable passers and setup guys in the league, even among the non-rookies. His buddy Toews may have been well on his way to the Calder all by himself if it weren't for an injury that sidelined him for all of January and a week into February. The former 3rd overall selection two years ago still ranks fourth among rookies with 45 points in 52 games. The 19 goals are second, and his other numbers are also pretty impressive: 26 assists, +9, 4 PPG, 13 PPA, 32 PIM, 18:38 ATOI. 6-foot-2, 200+ pounds, Toews' highlight of the year was the ridiculous goal he scored on Colorado earlier this season. Centering the line with Sharp, who's scored 34 goals in part due to their aid. At 33-30-7, Chicago is seven points out of a playoff spot, and they likely won't get that spot with three other teams between them vying for the eight seed. But their goals total is up to 202, one more than they scored in '06-07 in a dozen fewer games. They're certainly improving with their rookies leading the top line. Only question is how much longer before that top line becomes one of the top ones in the NHL and leads the Blackhawks back to the playoffs after a long time hiatus.

Nicklas Backstrom has had little trouble adjusting to playing with Hart leader Alexander Ovechkin. Backstrom's an unselfish player who doesn't really have a great feel for sniping or playing the net, which is pretty much perfect for Ovechkin who has no problem with that whole shot taking and goal scoring task. Backstrom centers for one of the top 3 players in the NHL, and he is in part due some credit for Ovechkin's 50-goal and possible 60-goal campaign. The Caps fourth-overall selection in '06, Ovechkin by the way announced his name, leads all newbies with 47 assists. His other numbers aren't bad either: 11 goals, +5, 3 PPG, 18 PPA, 22 PIM and 18:42 ATOI. Backstrom started the season off slowly with 14 points in 26 games, but with new coach Bruce Boudreau working wonders for Ovechkin, Boudreau also had a big impact on Backstrom. The new offensive style yielded 14 points in December and 14 more in January. His ability to find the open guy is no surprise and is clearly his main strength, and he's lived up to the Swedish name of passing and not scoring. Well, he did have one score recently that he'd like to forget versus Pittsburgh, a goal that ended up in the Pens favor and brought Ovechkin to his knees. It's no wonder the Caps are still fighting for a playoff spot with the first 60-goal scorer in the NHL since Super Mario a dozen years ago.

Ask any non-NHL fan who Tobias Enstrom is and calculate the percentages who knew. Then ask NHL fans who he is, and then calculate that. What do you find? Well, the latter percentage is about a couple points higher if that. The 23-year old defenseman is about as well-known as any other defenseman. Still, his numbers bear mentioning thanks to his rookie-leading 24:37 average time on ice, a good two minutes ahead of Edmonton's Tom Gilbert and 18th best in the NHL. In addition, he tops rooks with 22 PPA to go with other stats: 4 goals, 33 assists, 37 points, -1, 3 PPG, and 34 PIM. He's the team leader in ice time, assists and only three points behind Ilya Kovalchuk in points with the extra man advantage. Only Niclas Havelid has ended up with a positive +/- for the Hawks this year making the -1 seem impressive despite it's mediocrity. A former eighth-round pick, taken 239th overall, has not bothered Enstrom's status as one of the best rookies in the game. His ice time has to impress considering nobody knew him and he steps in to play 30 minutes, including a career-high 33, in two consecutive games just a couple days ago. The Swedish also clearly leads the power play, and those 22 PPA is tied for eighth in the NHL. Currently second-to-last in the NHL it's no surprise he doesn't get his due, but make no mistake, Enstrom's developing into an elite blueliner.

Brandon Dubinsky had nine points entering the new year, but apparently he made one hell of a resolution. Since his slow start, the Rangers winger has put up 22 points in 31 games, much of that while being paired with Jaromir Jagr. Clearly, that's helped him out: 13 goals, 21 assists, 34 points, +4, 5 PPA, 79 PIM and 13:47 ATOI. Though not the workhorse nor the special teamer the others are, Dubinsky is fine just playing for a playoff team knowing he's been a gigantic part in their resurgence from a slow start. Playing with Jagr has to be the best part of his career, and the 21-year old has had a +11 since 2008 began. His shots have gone up increasingly each month as he's adjusted to a veteran-laden squad not trying to mix in rookies but just accepting their involvement if they succeed. Drafted at the end of the second round in 2004, Dubinsky's become one of the Rangers few developed ossibly emerging as their first since Marc Savard or even Mike York. His physicality combines with his ability to center a line with Jagr and Sean Avery, both having benefited from Dubinsky's generosity. His toughness has been a big part of their 13-game point streak and subsequent playoff seeding improvement to sixth. A good two-way player, the goalies can thank him as part of a defense yielding just 171 goals on the year, third-best in the NHL. We'll see if Dubinsky matches his linemate Jagr's career, but more likely than not, he'll be solid center for years to come.

Posted By: Surge
1941 Comments Reply

Philly Update


Mon Mar 10, 2008 11:44 am

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[  Mood: Amused ]
[ Currently: one of the few NOT hung over right now ]

Sixers 119, Bucks 97

The Sixers were led by Thaddeus Young's 22, Sammy Dalembert's 18, and five other double-figure scorers in a 119-97 blowout over Milwaukee. They beat Milwaukee by 43 the last time the two faced, but this game was on the road. They beat Milwaukee big time in the fastbreak points, 30-4. With their 12th win in 15 games, the Sixers are only a half game behind first place in the East. They've won their last five versus sub-.500 teams by an average of 25.4 points. This game was utter domination by Andre Miller and the fastbreak and Young benefitted with several easy dunks in the first half, including 10 points in the first quarter. As a team, the Sixers (30-33) did well in the first too, scoring 33 in the first quarter and 32 more in the second for a 65-43 lead at the half. They exposed the Bucks porous D to the tune of 11 first-half layups or dunks. Dalembert owned the paint, going 8-for-11, grabbing 10 boards and holding Andrew Bogut to one point and two rebounds in 27 minutes. Miller had nine assists, and Philly had 24 as a team.

The Sixers now get a true test on the defensive end after scoring 119 on Phoenix, 106 on the Clippers, 117 more vs. Seattle/OKCity, and finally 119 on Milwaukee. They'll face the Boston Celtics, currently an NBA-best 49-12 and first place in the East. The Celts have won eight straight and have scored 113 and 116 on Philly the two times they've met. Both those games were before Philly switched to the Suns fasbtreak, forced offense style, but Boston is among the best transition defenses in the league with James Posey combining with the obvious elite in Kevin Garnett. Kendrick Perkins has been producing good numbers as the number five or six option in the last four games with 13 points (68% FG), 13 boards and 4 blocks per. Boston scored 119 on Memphis and 116 vs. Chicago the day before winning both games by twenty plus points. All of their March wins are by double digits including a ballyhooed 12-point win over second-place Detroit. Yeah, it should be a measuring stick for this young team, that's for sure. Good luck boys.

Our Soul is Back

The Philadelphia Soul played with enthusiasm in the second half and beat the Chicago Rush 60-49 to start the year 2-0. Trailing 28-26 at the half, including getting four defensive penalties in the second quarter alone to go with a pair of missed extra points, the Soul stepped up in their last half to get back in it. Superstar corner Mike Brown was a big reason for the comeback with INTs on back-to-back Rush offensive plays resulting in Tony Graziani tossing a pair of TDs to Chris Jackson. That lifted a 36-35 lead to 50-35. Jackson had three TDs on the afternoon. Graziani, perfect yet far with 14 TD to 0 INT this season, both league bests, and finally looking like he'll live up to the biggest contract in AFL history, was 21-for-32 with five touchdowns, another rushing. His passes included a 34-yard pass to Larry Brackins on the Soul's first offensive play. Brackins has 199 yards and 5 TD this year, Jackson 204 and a tied-for-the-league-lead 7 TD. The inexperienced Rush offense got off to an OK start with 4 TD in the first half, but Brown and co. were able to hold off a starting unit with six newbies while overcoming their own penalties and lack of discipline in the process. Brown also returned a kickoff 54 yards for a touchdown in addition to his pair of pickoffs. And despite his missed extra points, kicker Connor Hughes nailed two field goals in the second half to build the lead and keep the Soul on top.

Their division mates the Cleveland Gladiators and Dallas Desperados are both 2-0 while the New York Dragons are 1-1 and the Columbus Destroyers are winless at 0-2. Philly will go home to the Wachovia Center to face the Dragons Sunday at 2 ET.

Kendrick Stinks Again, Pitchers news

Japan certainly would have been better than this. Starter Kyle Kendrick struggled in his second consecutive start Sunday with six runs allowed in two innings with seven hits, two walks and just one strikeout. In his last 4.2 innings, the surprising rookie has yielded 13 runs on 16 hits. Kendrick's not a K-machine, and Ks don't depend on your defense. It's a very simple sabermetric conclusion that when you don't force the D to make plays on grounders, flyballs or line drives, your ERA goes down. Kendrick had just 49 K in 121 IP last season and that looks like it's killing him this Spring. Without a fifth starter taking advantage of the Phillies' weak rotation to grab the final spot, Philly was depending on the top four guys (Hamels, Myers, Moyer and Kendrick) to produce respectable numbers to help avoid the expected deficiency at that fifth rotation spot. So far, Kendrick has done nothing worth mentioning. With a 16.43 Grapefruit league ERA, Kendrick and his buddies have a 6.11 ERA as a team. Then again, maybe all this is just bullshit. Cole Hamels had a 6.10 ERA last year, and we know what happened next. Kendrick will be in the rotation in April no matter what happens, let's just hope the Phils entire staff decides to actually show up the first month of the season this time.

As for the rest of the game, the Phils lost 9-4 to the Blue Jays. Ryan Howard, apparently immune to whatever's going on with the pitching, had hit .444 this Spring and hit his second homer Sunday off of Jesse Litsch. Unfortunately for them, Litsch was stellar otherwise allowing just one other hit, no more runs and striking out six in four. Vernon Wells had four RBI for the Jays and Lyle Overbay and Aaron Hill each contributed two hits and two runs. Francisco Rosario contributed 3.1 solid innings and has pitched in all of Kendrick's outings as a reliever and now has a 1.04 ERA in Grapefruit League play. Philly faces Pitt at 1 today with fifth-guy-in-the-rotation candidate JD Durbin pitching as is Tom Gordon.

Some bad news about Adam Eaton. It seems Mr. 0-2 with a 15+ ERA this Spring has a herniated disk in his back. The MRI revealed that he also has arthritis in the back. Still, the medical terms are scarier than the ailment and he'll likely be fine opening day and could pitch several times before then. Signed to a ridiculously stupid 3-year, $24.5M deal, the back might bother him for the rest of the year unless he gets surgery, which will likely sideline him for the duration of Spring and perhaps into the season. Philly, as I mentioned, is beyond fucked in terms of rotation options. Travis Blackley has sucked, Chad Durbin is not worth much if anything and of course Eaton refuses to live up to his athleticism and potential. Kris Benson? Who knows right now? We could pick somebody off the street to help the red and white.

There is good news on the injury front as Brad Lidge will throw off of a mound today. Two weeks since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on his right knee, Lidge is ahead of schedule with his pitching plans. He was listed as out anywhere from 3-to-6 weeks when he threw the first pitch of March and slipped and got the knee injured. We'll see if there's a shot he could actually be ready for the season opener though it seems more likely he'll pitch come the second week of the season. But before all that possibilities and future considerations, we just want to see the guy throw a pitch in a Phillies uniform without going down in agony.

13 Phillies were cut from the roster. The Phillies made 13 cuts from big-league camp.

Quote:
They optioned righthander Joe Bisenius, lefthander J.A. Happ, and infielder Brad Harman to minor-league camp. They also reassigned righthanders Ron Chiavacci and Zack Segovia; lefthanders Brian Mazone and Joe Savery; catchers Tuffy Gosewisch and Lou Marson; infielders Jason Donald, Mike Cervenak and Andy Tracy; and outfielder Valentino Pascucci to minor-league camp.


The only surprise here is the wording. Personally, I don't get the difference between optioning and reassigning but apparently they couldn't say EVERYONE was reassigned or optioned. They needed separate sentences to denote the difference.

Posted By: Surge
2211 Comments Reply

Rookie of the Year


Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:35 pm

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Kevin Durant
Tied 123-123. 10th game of his professional career. At this point, the 19-year old had just 18 points on 7-for-17 shooting. His teammate, guard/forward/nobody Damien Wilkins had 41 and might have been the go-to guy here. But he was drafted second overall for a reason right? 2.1 seconds left in OT. Nick Collison inbounding. Atlanta crowd on its feet. The Sonics were considering Wilkins, he got a screen by Chris Wilcox and was ridiculously wide open going towards Collison. Collison didn't care, and he looked to the top of the 3-point arc. And there he was. The project. The wonder. The freak. The future. The now. He stepped and grabbed a slightly off-target pass with ease, no wasted motion in jumping to his right. His defender just happened to be the guy below. As he turns, he's off-balance, but he has no time to waste. The shot has to go off, and he puts in his left hand as always, reaches up as high as those insanely long, skinny arms can go. He's off balance. He's fading away. He's got the outstretched arms of a 6'9 rookie in his face. He might have been hit on the arm. It didn't matter. The ball sailed, hit the back rim and goes through. Kevin Durant had arrived.

So far, this season was about what everyone expected with Seattle. They're 16-46 and 3.5 games ahead of last-place Miami for the most lottery balls in the draft lottery in the off-season. They've been playing young players and like how those things normally work out, it hasn't worked into wins this season. Add in the continual woes with David Stern and the city of Seattle has a home for the Sonics along with Las Vegas and Oklahoma City vying for the team and the forgotten men in Green are just fucking lost. Durant has had to be the team's shining star and was expected to be their leading scorer and the league's new phenom. It's no surprise he leads all rooks in points per 36 minutes at 20.9 points per game. The clutch shot versus Atlanta is excellent now but more of a sign of things to come. Durant's got a lot in his skill set. He can drive, dish, shoot, defend, and of course hit big shots. And while it's no surprise he's dominated at times (see: 35-point games versus Indiana and Milwaukee in an eight-day span), it's also no surprise the kid has a lot left to learn.

As well as his overall output has been, it's been a learning process for the former Longhorn. His true shooting percentage is just 50% (40.5% FG, 28% 3pt 86.9% FT), lower than those of Al Thornton, Luis Scola, Carl Landry, Al Horford, Juan Carlos Navarro, Jamario Moon, Thaddeus Young and several other rookies. He's also got 3.2 turnovers per 36, at least one more than all of his contenders for the award. Though 6'9, Durant's grabbing just 4.4 boards per 36 and only dishing 2.5 assists per 36, too. The supposed all-around player, the future Kevin Garnett, is still a year or two away, clearly. But his expectations were high. Comparing his year to LeBron's rookie season, he seems fairly similar.

Per 36 minutes
Durant: 20.9 points (40.5 / 28.1 / 86.9), 4.4 boards, 2.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks, 3 TO)
James: 19.1 points (41.7 / 29.0 / 75.4), 5.5 boards,m 5.9 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.7 blocks, 3.5 TO)


Durant has found his limitations as the year has gone on. A 3point ace in college at 40.4%, his obvious decrease is due in part to his teammates weaknesses and in part due to his difficulties behind the arc versus better veteran NBA defenders. Thus, after lobbing SEVENTY three-point attempts in his first full month in the NBA, his attempts have decreased severely to 12 in February. Through four games this month, Durant has just two three-point attempts, and he's shooting 49% as a result. There's also the aggressiveness which is what he needs to make up for his lacking 3point game, as he's had 335 free throw attempts this year, 22nd in the NBA, and only Dirk and Billups have higher percentages at the line among guys with 300 attempts.

Mainly playing as a guard this year, Durant's been asked to guard the big boys and not necessarily just the Kobe Bryants and Dwyane Wades at two-guard, but the Steve Nashs and Baron Daviss at point, Defense has been a learning process just like shooting. That's somewhat worn him down at times, and having a team full of youngsters won't make it easier. Durant's clearly the elite of his teammates, and opponents know it often covering him closely with their best defender. If he can add a few more pounds next year, and the Sonics don't lose talent, Durant could take his game to another level like LeBron did in his 2nd and 3rd years before approaching another hemisphere this season, but Durant's got plenty of time.


Al Horford
He didn't mean to do it. The player was coming right at him, and he had to try and make a block. A 6-footer with a big heart, what was the big man to do? He was trying to run with one of the fastest points in the NBA. This followed a bad pass from a teammate, but he hustled down the floor anyway. He wasn't looking to hurt the smallish guard. He's only 160, 165 pounds after all, and the big man around 245. There was no comparison. Dipsy-doodling, he tried to avoid the big man, but the big man jumped a little early. The guard couldn't avoid the large right hand coming crash down across his head. As a result he fell. The fall in mid-air didn't seem too bad, but then his neck couldn't control his head, and the back of his head hits the floor. The big guy is standing there, looking nervous and worried. Al Horford had just sent TJ Ford home and possibly ended his career.

He apologized, going to TJ Ford's hospital room to talk to him directly. His play was old-fashion hard basketball, he was coming back on D and tried to prevent an easy layup, he could have easily treated it as he had done nothing wrong. But he felt much differently. He then waited for Ford to finish his neurological and spinal tests. The concern is great in such a physical sport, and it may appear a little feminine. But you then face Al Horford in the lane and lets see if any of that girliness gets wiped all over your ugly mug. His 11.3 boards per 36 lead all rookies, and he also gets around 1.2 rejections as well. A 49% shooter, he's lived in the lane this season. He also had his second double-digit scoring month in February at 12.3 per 36 with 12 boards as well.

Considered a you-get-what-you-see type at the draft without the elite athleticism but filling the known tough, consistent, hard interior role that so many teams sorely lack, Horford got drafted in the top 10. That February month included a 15-point, 20-board outburst, which hinted his potential, against the Lakers in a 98-95 win. He's not Tim Duncan, sure, and he might never develop into more than a 15-16 point-per game guy at the peak of his career. At the same time, his role is clearly defined unlike so many NBA players who can't find their niche. Horford has lived up to it and shows no signs of falling apart from that post dominance we'll be seeing for at least 10-12 seasons. Clearly Atlanta's other elite player next to Josh Smith, Horford remains the team's best option as the player to carry the team to a playoff berth. Sitting one game back of New Jersey, Atlanta acquired Mike Bibby to hopefully make their first postseason trip since 2000. He also got ROY honors last month, the first time a non-Durant did (Scola got co-honors too).


Luis Scola
San Antonio knows their international talent. They consistently find the right guys to fit their system and always get steals at the end of the first round to help their already-best franchise get even better. Some of those players end up as trade chips, such as Beno Udrih and now ROY candidate Luis Scola. Hey, not everyone fills a need right now. Scola, originally thought to be staying in Spain which might have been the reason for the trade for another international player and a second-round pick from Houston. San Antonio knows their international guys, so perceivably Scola was going to either bust or just be an overrated pickup. But hey, he was the Spanish League MVP in '05 and '07 and still only 27. His Argentinian team beat the U.S. and captured Silver at the tourney of Americas as he won the tourney MVP award, the same team that won the 2001 tourney and 2004 goal at Sydney. But hey, San Antonio had Manu, Parker and Udrih turn out as more-than-standard late-first round talents, so they know what they're doing.

They must have made a simple clerical error then. Scola has lived up to the preseason hype of a two-time Spanish MVP and Argentinian national team stud coming to America. In November, he was very inconsistent, in part due to his PT. He had three 20-point games in a four-game span going 30-for-46 in those 3, but he had 63 points in the month's other 13 outings. He had four double-digit scoring games in December, but the new year brought some newfound consistency. Over 36 minutes, his averages are pretty good: 14.8 points, 9 rebounds, 53% FG, and around two turnovers. Those aren't horrid numbers, especially considering that he's picked it up recently in the actual numbers instead of theoreticals. January saw a jump in minutes from around 19 to 24 and his points and boards jumped while his FG% remained solid at 47%. He went off in February though hitting shots a t a 63% clip and a 12/6 line.

Houston was 13-0 that month, mostly without Yao. In fact, in winning 21 of their last 22, Scola has been a huge spark with 16 double-digit scoring efforts and 11 games with 7 or more boards. In their most recent whooping of Dallas, Scola had 12 points, 9 boards 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and only one turnover. Formerly the fifth or sixth options, he's now possibly the third guy behind TMac and Alston. He's played tough D such as holding Brandon Bass to 3-for-9 shooting in that Dallas game, and though unspectacular in the athletic department, he gets the job done just as he had in Argentina and in the world competitions. The numbers he puts up are the epitome of hard work via skill training and post moves while fans and coaches are wondering just how he put up 12 points on the board. Kinda reminds you of players on a certain other team in Texas, doesn't it?


Al Thornton
The season was done before it started. The Clippers had lost Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston. They weren't coming back. Period. That's around 30 points per game from two starters. Taken 14th overall, he was the epitome of a player who had hit his roof. Whatever he gives in his first year, expect it until he retires. Nothing special. But what was he? He's 6'7. He can't post up the league's top PFs, he can't defend the league's faster SFs. He's a tweener and not the Shawne Merriman, Demarcus Ware type that could benefit in that role. No, he's a man without a position but just production. With the team in disarray and totally dependent on Corey Maggette and Chris Kaman, they needed that type of guy anyway, an athletic player who can help post up and give points right now. At first, he did nothing. Well, if the experts were right, he'd be a pretty bad player for the rest of his career if 6.3 points per game and 34% shooting is the best he's got. The Clippers with another terrible draft pick, right? Well, no, Al Thornton didn't exactly fall on his face.

With time comes consistency. Thornton's finally seen time in the second half to the tune 31:48 minutes versus 22:30 a night. Forgotten on the West Coast, Thornton's become maybe the second-best scorer from this draft. Built shorter but much more stouter and stronger than Durant, Thornton can both post up and beat a defender off the dribble. He's a ball handler who just dominates at 6'7 in the post when you put someone smaller to take away his dribbling abilities. He's a SF and PF, 6'7, 220, but also capable of stepping back and knocking down treys. He may be 24, but who cares? That's only a year or two less of production, and players tend to struggle in their first few years anyway. Polish is always warranted some times.

His numbers started looking good starting with San Antonio December 22nd, right before Christmas. With a career-high of a baker's dozen in scoring up until then, Thornton gave the Clips a Christmas present despite the loss with 25 points, though the rest of the statsheet was rather empty. A 23-point, 9-rebound, 4-assist game a month later in a 31-point win over Sactown led to his increasing minutes totals to 30 minutes. His most recent domination was a 27-point effort versus the same Kings. Thornton's done it with the veteran point Sam Cassell gone and Tim Thomas hurting. With ballhog Corey Maggettee and a rather averagely effective big man in Chris Kaman, Thornton's become the team's #3 option ahead of Cuttino Mobley. Whether starting or off the bench, Thornton's been beastly.

The per 36 minute stats read 17.5 points, 6 boards, but he's struggled defensively all year. He seems like another one of those good statline guys on very bad squads, a Juwan Howard, Antonio McDyess or, well, his should-have-been teammate Elton Brand before his playoff appearance. Still, Thornton's polished games has shown off in some power dunks and sick dribbling but his rookie tendencies show in a recent 10-turnover game versus Philly and then going 1-for-9 versus the Lakers. Still, the potential's there for a really productive Gerald Wallace type guy, a reliable scorer with some athletic prowess who can excite a crowd. Too bad the Clippers, likely minus Elton Brand next year, will not help him with the pieces to show that talent off on national TV.

Posted By: Surge
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Hart Trophy Candidates


Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:03 am

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Who's Gonna Get His Hart?


Alex Ovechkin
It's about as obvious as it gets here. Alexander Ovechkin (54 goals, 38 assists, +17, 18 PPG, 11 PPA, 28 PIM, 359 SOG, 23:03 ATOI) matched his 92-point total last year in fourteen fewer games. His +/- is 36 points higher than '06-07. Ovechkin leads the league in goals, points, power play goals, and shots on goal. Ovy is also 3rd in the league among forwards in ice time. But the main reason for his success came from an early coaching shift. He had 14 goals and 9 assists through his first 21 games and a 0 +/-. Then 52-year old former minor league coach Bruce Boudreau, a well-known coach to NHL insiders but virtually unknown to everyone else, became interim coach Nov. 22. As a result, he shifted the offensive gameplan to force more shots and scoring and man did Ovechkin fit it to a tee. 6-14-1 at that time, Boudreau turned the Caps season around as they started scoring 3.6 goals a game versus the 2.5 previously, and Ovechkin was the main reason. He has 40 goals and 29 assists in the 47 games with a +17. He's also got the willingness to hit, and hit hard. He's not necessarily Gordie Howe, but it's hard not to see a comparison nonetheless. He's single-handedly taken over teams and it's resulted in the Caps making a surprise playoff push. Now with an outside chance at 70 goals, Ovechkin only needs a playoff berth to lock up his first Hart. It will be interesting to see whether his teammates help him get there. Adding Cristobal Huet to the net, Sergei Fedorov (28 points in 50 games with Columbus) to the scoring charge and Matt Cooke for some brawn. It's still been a dozen years since Super Mario scored 69 goals for the Penguins, now a Russian sharpshooter is closing in on the mark.


Evgeni Malkin
Sidney Crosby went down for six weeks. Surely, Pittsburgh was screwed. Well, they would be if it weren't for another Russian on the Hart list. Evgeni Malkin (38 goals, 51 assists, +12, 13 PPG, 22 PPA, 72 PIM, 232 SOG, 21:14 ATOI) stepped up and became the team's stud guiding them through the stretch without the posterboy. No, they didn't dominate, but Pittsburgh held its own with Malkin scoring 14 goals and 22 assists in 21 games. Currently fifth in the league in assists, Malkin's become one of the premier-passing centers in the league and one of the more creative and dynamic players in the NHL along with his teammate Crosby. But therein lies Malkin's problem, he is the second best player on his team. Crosby won the Hart last year and he was among the best players this year before going down. Malkin not being the most deserving player on his team could be a slight, but when you're second in the league with 89 points, it's a difficult argument to make against him. Malkin alone deserves consideration because he kept Pitt afloat and dominated without the no. 1 kid.


Jarome Iginla
Carrying a pretty average offense, Jarome Iginla (40 goals, 39 assists, +26, 13 PPG, 13 PPA, 270 SOG, 21:32 ATOI, 55% FO%) has virtually single-handedly carries the Flames' offense to the sixth-seed in the playoffs. Iginla has notched 20 more points than teammate Kristian Huselius, second on the team with 59 points. Daymond Langkow's 25 goals are the closest to Iginla, and only Dion Phaneuf has attempted 200 shots as well. He's been Evgeni Malkin but for the entire season. He's been Alex Ovechkin but able to string together a playoff squad. The 184 goals Calgary has scored put them fourteenth in the NHL. Iginla also has a chance tonight to break Theo Fleury's career goals record as a Flame. Iginla begins the list of the player's on the outside trying to get the Hart Trophy from the top two, but there's a legitimate opportunity if Ovechkin misses the playoffs.


Martin Brodeur
He reached 500 wins. He brought New Jersey back from the dead. He has pretty much made every Devils start for the infinitieth straight season. Marty Brodeur (63 games, 37-21-4, 2.15 GAA, 92.1 SV%, 4 SHO) is obviously inhuman, but he's making a case for yet another Hart nomination. Despite being a goalie, the Vezina is just not acceptable for Brodeur. After a 5-10-1 start, Marty won nine straight for the Devils and had three other stretches with three or more victories in a row. Did I mention he's 41? Well, with only 178 goals scored, the Devils have needed the middle-aged Brodeur like they've needed him every season since he joined the crease. Losing Scott Gomez to the Rangers and Brian Rafalski to Detroit, watching Patrik Elias not match his 69-point 2006-07 season, and having Jamie Langenbrunner get injured, the only constant New Jersey fans know is the guy in the net. Brodeur's delivered titles before and there's no reason to think that the currently in 1st place Devils won't have yet another opportunity this season. There's no mid-life crisis possible for New Jersey's sake this year.


Roberto Luongo
Like New Jersey, Vancouver is no scoring machine. With only 179 goals, every little save Roberto Luongo (58 G, 29-20-9, 2.23 GAA, 92.1 SV%, 6 SHO) is magnified. In November, Luongo had three consecutive shutouts versus Chicago, Anaheim and Columbus. He had 49 saves on 51 shots in a February 21st win vs. Nashville, 47 saves on 49 shots in a difficult shootout loss to Detroit, and six other games with 32 or more saves. Vancouver has a -1.9 shots differential and the Canucks have depended on the backstop they traded Todd Bertuzzi for. For his Hart chances though, Luongo has been rather inconsistent. The inconsistency has left Luongo one of the better goalies but not elite enough to push him toward the Hart's elite contenders.


Nicklas Lidstrom
It's tough to put a defenseman in Hart consideration. Nicklas Lidstrom (7 goals, 50 assists, +39, 2 PPG, 21 PPA, 34 PIM, 26:50 ATOI) though has very little antagonism in putting him among the top players in the league. On the best team in hockey with 94 points, 8 more than second-best New Jersey, the Red Wings have two players in the top 10 in points in Pavel Datsyuk (78 pts) and Henrik Zetterberg (76 pts). Still, it's hard to argue that the best player on the team is the old defenseman with no Hart Trophy nominations to his name but now a losing streak starting with his departure. Lidstrom, whose +39 leads the NHL and 50 assists lead all defensemen hasn't played more than 3 minutes in one game since the 17th. The Wings were 3-3-1 without him, but what's not working in his favor is the team was 0-6 right before this streak with him in the lineup. We'll see how the Wings do in the couple more games without him, and that could help determine his Hart chances. Lidstrom is a stud, but it will be tough to get voters around Datsyuk and Zetterberg and the whole greatness of the entire Detroit team concept which has hampered bids for Lidstrom's Hart in the '90s and '00s.

Posted By: Surge
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NBA MVP Watch


Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:02 pm

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[ Currently: packing to go to Florida! WOOOOOOOOOO! BEER! GIIIIIRLS! SUUU ]

Just a short look at the resumes of the top contenders for the biggest awards at the end of the year. Right now, here are the...

NBA MVP Top Candidates...


Kobe Bryant

Can't have an MVP list without #8. The best scorer in the game, Kobe Bryant's recent 52-point performance against the Dallas Mavericks propels him further to the top echelon as the Lakers have pulled off 15 wins in their past 17 games, much of that with the aid of Pau Gasol despite the loss of Andrew Bynum. Bryant (28.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 46% FG, 84% FT, 2 steals) actually had a down month scoring-wise in February scoring 27.2 a night, but he was much more efficient at 50% from the floor and even racking 6 dimes a night. He's done well versus some big teams: 30.7 points and 60% shooting versus Utah, 46 points on 56% shooting vs. Dallas and 31 points and 53% shooting vs. Phoenix. He also has had very complete games versus the Hornets despite only 23 points a night (53%) with 6+ boards and dimes to go along with 1.5 steals and blocks. The defensive edge is key. With a lot of help now on offense in a healthy Lamar Odom, growing Andrew Bynum, veteran presence of Derek Fisher and obviously the Gasol trade, Kobe can put more emphasis on D that the other two candidates might struggle with. After all, he's been on the all-defensive NBA team before for a reason. The guy can guard almost anybody between 6'2 and 6'8. His ability to at least control an opposing star guard or forward adds to his value. Oh yeah, and he can score like fucking crazy. A Lakers no. 1 finish virtually seals his MVP fate even if he doesn't deserve it.


LeBron James
After LeBron mouthed to Spike Lee that he would score 50 in the MSG on his beloved Knicks just a couple hours ago, he delievered with one of the best if not the best performance of the '07-08 campaign. LeBron notched 50 points, 10 assists, 8 boards, seven treys and four steals in one excellent individual effort in a near-loss to the woeful Knicks on the road. Though Cleveland is nowhere near the elite like the Lakers, they have just as much a shot as any team to be underdogs to the Pistons or Celtics in round two of the playoffs. James (30 points, 8 boards, 7.5 assists, 2 steals, 1.5 treys, 1 block, and 49% shooting) has been other-wordly this year, which is saying something. He's pulling off an Oscar Robertson-esque campaign with his statline to go with six triple-doubles. Though his jumper needs work, the rebounds are coming in bunches while the assists are coming from nowhere. The Cavs still look mediocre since the Ben Wallace trade, Wallace and Ilgauskas barely forming any hint of a presence in the paint. Yet, LeBron is still the man he came into the league as and should have even more consideration for MVP than last season. Unlike Bryant, he somehow improved. That improvement should not be negated cause he was still an uber-stud last year and that was well before lighting up Detroit in the ECF. Now, without any real offensive talent around him except maybe the injured Daniel Gibson, LeBron's put the team on his back and then some. Has one player ever scared an entire conference like LeBron had last year and will likely this year? Can they beat the Celts? Most likely, no, they'll fall short, and the Pistons should beat them, too. But hey, who can count out the King right?


Chris Paul
To be a disher and a scorer. The former Wake Forest stud is absolutely tearing up the league this season, and the Hornets have benefitted getting the third-best record in the West. Paul (21 points, 11 dimes, 2.7 steals, 49% FG, 88% FT, 36% 3pt, and 4 boards) got his first all-star bid as a result, and we'll probably see 15 or so more of those throughout his career. He's not the rim-rattling dunker that the other two above are, but the 22-year old is now the best point guard in the game. To go from really good to super stud this year, and to average 20 and 10 like he is, CP3 is doing this without an elite supporting cast. Tyson Chandler is having a career year, David West is an underrated big man and Peja can drain 3s with the elite, but none of these guys would be half the player they are right now with Paul. He has 36 double-doubles this year, but his best effort may have been a 42-point, 9-assist, 8-steal, 5-board, 4-three game against Phoenix February 6th where the 6-footer played 50 minutes and absolutely dominated regulation to keep the Hornets in it. In his most recent game, he has lived up to both Kobe's and LeBron's most recent works by pouring 23 points, dishing out 18 assists, hitting 3 3pters, and turning it over once while getting two steals versus the Hawks. Nash got back-to-back awards from the voters even though he was a point who didn't score 30 a game indicating Paul has a legit chance here. Currently at 41-19, a Hornets 19-3 finish to end with 60 wins wouldn't hurt, but beating out Kobe's Lakers seems priority no. 1 for a chance at MVP.

There are other possible candidates including the Spurs' duo of Ginobli and Duncan, Bosh, Amare and even Garnett. But the top three has really distanced themselves this year, and it should be pretty clear one of the bona fide studs above will get the award come playoff time. I'll look at the Hart some other time in the near future on Spring Break. WOOOOOOOOOOO!

Posted By: Surge
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Tale of Two Murders


Wed Mar 05, 2008 9:26 am

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[ Currently: raring for classes again! AAAAAAAAARGH ]



Sabres 5, Flyers 2

Facing the team currently ninth in the Eastern standings, the Flyers (33-26-8, 74 points) needed a win to hold them off by at least four points from their eighth place position but failed to do so. Buffalo is now one game back of Philly for that final playoff spot behind a 5-2 victory over the Flyers. Jason Pominville and Maxim Afinogenov each had two goals for the Sabres, who had lost four of five while the Fly guys had points in each of their past four. They beat Buffalo last week coming back from a 3-0 deficit and then allowing Danny Briere to hit the game-winner in maybe the most dramatic moment of this season. Briere was out of this game after getting shoved into the boards versus the Rangers Sunday.

It really didn't matter in the third period though as Derek Roy scored just 1:06 in off a pass from Afinogenov. The goal wasn't without some controversy as Roy had gotten on the ice without center Tim Connolly getting off the ice meaning they had an extra man. Roy was on Biron well before anyone had reached the benches for the Sabres. 18 seconds later, though, Pominville put the worry of collusion to rest with his second of the night, and Afinogenov finished off the Flyers and Biron (18 saves) for the night with just over fourteen minutes left in the period. As expected, Biron left the game to a chrous of soundly echoed boos. Just like last week, the Flyers got in a hole versus the Sabres, allowing a 2-0 lead on Pominville's goal 1:02 in and then Afinogenov's just under ten minutes in. Scottie Upshall got a rebound in front of Ryan Miller (19 saves) after a shot from the point from Kimmo Timonen, and he was able to shoot it under the legs of a defenseman and by Biron for his 11th with 5:36 left in the 1st. Steve Downie tied it in the second behind a blocked shot from Jaroslav Modry resulting in a 3-on-2 fastbreak give-and-go between him and Sami Kapanen. Downie somehow lifted the puck with a defenseman all over his stick scoring his sixth. Downie had been in coach John Stevens' doghouse for his lackluster play recently but got off that woes with this goal.

Tomorrow, the Flyers face the Lightning, a team that despite their records always give the Flyers fits. Right now, they have just 59 points, but in two of their three meetings this year the Ning have scored five goals. Of course, after the trading deadline passed last month, the Lightning have gotten a little weaker. Brad Richards and his 51 points went to Dallas (he had 5 assists in his debut, an NHL record for a player's first appearance with a team), and they got their #1 goaltender of the present and future Mike Smith in return. Vaclav Prospal was sent packing to Philly for a defenseman prospect. Jan Hlavac was also traded to Nashville for something I assume. Tampa's also lost 7 of 8. Despite all that, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis are still hanging around as are Paul Ranger, Filip Kuba and Michael Ouellet. Knowing this Flyers team, that's plenty. They'll have to combat the Sabres loss with the continual losing versus Tampa if they hope to remain in that eighth spot.



Tim Hudson had very little trouble with the Phillies bats, and the Braves bats had a similar lack of problems versus Kyle Kendrick. The Phils had five base runners in the first two innings but couldn't capitalize off one of the better groundball pitchers in the NL. Tallying 34 of his 51 pitches as strikes, Hudson allowed one run through 3 and the Braves went on to win 10-1. Kendrick allowed nine hits and seven runs in 2.2 innings as he was scheduled for three. 10 of the 18 batters he faced reached base. Francisco Rosario, a reliever picked up from Pat Gillick's old haunting grounds in Toronto, did register 3.1 scoreless innings giving the team some hope, striking out four in that time. Two of the four Braves regulars in the lineup, Marx Teixiera and Jeff Francoeur, each drove in a pair as did Joe Borchard. Kendrick had agreed with pitching coach Rich Dubee to toss 15 changeups and work on a third pitch to complement the strong sinker which got him 49 strikeouts and a 3.71 ERA last season. He threw only six changes and watched Atlanta continually make contact, though seven of their hits were singles, including five straight hits with two outs in the second resulting in five runs. Tom Gordon didn't fare much better in a possible closer premiere with 3 runs in one inning.

The Phils will go split-squad against the Jays and Tigers. Brett Myers will get the start vs. Toronto followed by Shane Youman and Ryan Madson, while the Tigers face JD Durbin, then Clay Condrey, JA Happ and Lincoln Holdzkom.

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Phillies, Sixers


Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:54 am

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Some bad news to start the day: first-base coach and steals guru Davey Lopes has prostate cancer. The 62-year old will have surgery later this month and will miss six weeks. Luckily, Lopes should be able to make a full recovery. The smiling Lopes did a tremendous job with the base stealers last year as Philly stole 138 bases in 2007 versus 92 the year before. Shane Victorino is about as close to Lopes as anyone, and of course he saw his steals totals shift significantly thanks to Lopes' addition. He was on one of the best infields in MLB history back with Tommy Lasorda and the Dodgers, and Lasorda has become one of the most recognizable people in the fight against prostate cancer and detailing men about the situation.

To the good news, the Phillies beat the Pirates yesterday 3-1 behind two of the team's young pitching prospects. Joe Savery, perhaps the second-best prospect in the system behind Carlos Carrasco, pitched two hitless innings, and Josh Outman, followed up with three shutout innings of his own. Savery was drafted 19th overall last summer, and the lefty faced some major trouble in his first outing yielding five runs to the same Bucs squad but calmed down and delivered an excellent #2 outing. He broke two bats in the process. Outman, who yielded four runs in that same game along with Savery, allowed three hits and two walks while striking out two in three innings for the W. The two Phillies farmhands got some help from utility man Eric Bruntlett who had 2 RBI in place of Jimmy Rollins, a start he'll likely never get again. The bullpen also aided the team. Travis Blackley, trying to make the roster and possibly the rotation pitched two shutout innings striking out three in 3 innings with a pair of hits and walks.

Kyle Kendrick makes his second start this Spring, this one versus Atlanta in Buena Vista, FL.



Sixers 101, Clippers 80

The new-look Sixers (28-33) continue to have some exceptional games including this 101-80 win over the Clip. With their new fastbreak style, the Sixers have gone 10-3 in their last 13 reaching five games under .500 for the first time since they were 14-19 (hey, take what you can get). Avoiding a letdown from the Phoenix shocker, the Sixers scored 54 first-half points and 33 in the final quarter, started with a 10-2 run put it away. Six players scored in double figures headed by Iguodala's 18 on 8-for-12 shooting following his 15-for-23 for 32 performance vs. Phoenix. Dalembert added 12 points, 12 boards, 2 steals and 2 blocks, and the Sixers were not afraid to go to him early against Chris Kaman, who finished with just 10 points and 4 boards. Al Thornton had 20 points with his aggressiveness for the Clippers, aggressiveness that resulted in ten turnovers, several a result of offensive charging calls. Tim Thomas did not play because of a groin injury adding to the Clippers woes (206 man games missed this year). Lou Williams added 16 off the bench and had 46 points on the 3-game roadie, and he added eight assists, too.

The head of the resurgence, Andre Miller dealt eight assists after being named last week's player of the week (first player since a certain heavily-tattooed 6-foot scorer to get that honor twice in a season). Behind Miller's ability to both lead a fastbreak and the half-court set, Philly's averaged 102 points the past few weeks keeping them in position for a surprising playoff bid in the horrifically inferior Eastern Conference. Thanks to Miller's point guard skills and ability to break opposing guards off the dribble, the Sixers shot 46-for-78 (59%) and had 28 team assists on those field goals. The Clippers shot just 2-for-9 from deep. Miller's been one of the reasons for the development of Thaddeus Young and Rodney Carney, a pair of long, speedy athletes who plays best on the fastbreak when they can fly to the hoop. Young had 13 on 6-for-7 shooting and Carney 12 on 5-for-9. Though only Lou and Iguodala remain the players capable of creating their own shot, Miller's gladly done so for this youthful team, and the team's made no mistake as to who will lead them on the fastbreak. If he goes down, man are we screwed right now. But as long as he's upright, the Sixers are capable of surprising anyone right now.

Hopefully, the Sixers don't get surprised by Kevin Durant and Seattle on Friday at home. The 16-43 Sonics lost to Philly 98-90 at home in December, back when Philly was 14-17. Durant, who averaged a 18 points on 37.6% shooting last month, his worst numbers for a month in which he played 2+ games. He also had just .4 3s a night while grabbing only four boards. Fellow rook Jeff Green had a career-best 11 points per game last month along with 6.6 boards in another high of 29.6 minutes. Chris Wilcox's February was a lot better than January, averaging 14 points on 52% shooting and 5 boards as opposed to 9 and 4 boards. Earl Watson has finally taken advantage of the 25+ minutes he sees at PG and put up 13 points and 8 assists in 29 minutes while shooting 50% from the field and 48% from deep while rebounding just as well as Durant in fewer minutes. The increase in production has propelled him to the starting lineup.

Posted By: Surge
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Philly Only Post


Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:01 pm

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[ Sleeping Currently: Sleeping  ]

Eagles
What they're saying about the biggest move Philly has made since 2004's signings of Jevon Kearse and Terrell Owens...

Asante Samuel...
"Definitely, me and my agent wrote down a number of teams that we would be interested in, and definitely the Philadelphia Eagles was one of them, you know, at the top of our list. It's always been a winning organization, got a lot of history here, and the fans have always been supportive of their team. I just want a chance to be able to win and get back to the Super Bowl. That's why I picked the Philadelphia Eagles."

"When you come to one that makes you happy, why wait around?"

"I never want to be the type of organization or owner that doesn't keep reloading or going for it. You're always going to have a chance to make mistakes by taking risks. Keep going for it."

Asante's agent...

"Depth at cornerback was a selling point, not a hindrance. That wins ballgames."

Owner Jeffrey Lurie....
"We regarded Asante as the number one available free agent in the NFL, and we're very fortunate to be able to acquire him."

"We're not trying to make a splash, we're trying to find very productive players who will have a big impact."

Andy Reid
"Cornerback is a very important position. When you have an opportunity to get the best one in the business, then you need to look at that. I sure welcome him aboard, and I know (defensive coordinator) Jim Johnson has big plans for Asante."

"He'll have a chance to recover twice this year" (referring to the Patriots' loss to the Giants and the missed INT on the pass to Tyree).

"Asante will be the starting left cornerback. And we'll work things out from there as we go."

"This is over."

Indeed it is, and it cost Philly $57 million over the next six years to put an end to a tremendous signing, a relatively paltry sum compared to the supposed asking price of 10 years, $100 million. But there's so many questions that this signing also raises. Is Lito Sheppard gone? He was the starting left corner, and though he can shift to the right, he's had injury problems virtually every season of his career and that has hampered some successful campaigns. He can still pick off passes with the best of them, especially against Dallas, but with a decent starting right corner in Sheldon Brown, Lito becomes expendable. Or, maybe it is just now a 3-deep secondary.

"When you talk about man-to-man coverage, cover-two corners, a guy that can make plays, get his hands on balls, you feel comfortable about him playing the No. 1 receiver of the opposing offense," McNabb said. "When you look at the guys that we've had in Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown, to add another top corner to that mix puts us as one of the top secondaries in the league."

McNabb was noted this off-season for saying we needed weapons. Well he got one in a sense, and Lito, if dealt, could be the guy who brings a powerful offensive weapon (Larry Fitzgerald?) in return. Of course, this is all just heresy right now. I honestly didn't see us signing Samuel, so this is just spectacular news within itself. He'll give us a legit corner on the left side vs. two of the best bigger receivers in the NFL in our division along with a speedy stud from D.C. But I still hope for one thing: That this deal isn't it.

This Eagles team has a lot of holes to fill. We still need a legit #1 receiver, but even if that doesn't come to fruition, we need better depth. We need another couple linemen, on both sides of the ball, definitely a safety or even two with Dawkins aging and Considine sucking. Another TE wouldn't hurt since LJ is all but gone next season after being franchised this year. A running back to spell Westbrook, someone who can be a weapon and not just a runner who occasionally breaks one like Correll Buckhalter would be excellent. Then of course, we gotta remember, Kevin Kolb may be starting in 2009. If that happens, this team will need the aformentioned weapons and all the help along the offensive line it can get. Certainly, this Asante Samuel move is excellent, assuming he isn't the system CB some propose he is, but we can't be close to done. After all, we were only 8-8 last year. Normally, a season like that usually leads to minor "tweaks" instead of a major reloading. This signing was a great sign that we are going for the Super Bowl.

Also, the Eagles are closing in on former Raider DE/OLB Chris Clemons. The 26-year old had 8 sacks in 16 games last year, only two of which he started. He had five sacks in Washington to start his career in 3 seasons. Clemons will undergo a physical and presumably sign by Sunday giving the team depth on the d-line after releasing former Pro Bowler but not-as-good-as-advertised Jevon Kearse. It'll be interesting to see how this deal shakes out. The Raiders lost out on Clemons cause they (stupidly) gave oft-injured DE/DT Tommy Kelly a ridiculous 7-year, $50.5M deal making him the highest paid d-lineman in NFL history. Yeah, you know, Tommy Kelly. 13 sacks in 49 games and he's already 27. Maybe Kelly found some Superman pills or something, who knows? All I know is Clemons will surely be a good spell for Trent Cole and may challenge Juqua Thomas for a starting spot. We got Victor Abiamiri in the second round last year and could still draft a DE early in the draft this year for more depth.

Phillies
The Phillies are now 2-3 in ST after beating Pittsburgh 5-4. Ryan Howard blasted one off of Pittsburgh starter Bryan Bullington the day before but was 0-for-3 with a groundout in this one vs. Ian Snell, a friendly rival from his days in the minors. Casey Smith's solo shot in the ninth won it. JD Durbin, making a bid for the rotation, struggled with two runs in two innings of work. Gary Knotts got the win with two scoreless innings making him our new potential #4 (I keed). They also played a 'B' game earlier, which featured Brett Myers producing nicely (3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 K, 0 BB) and the Phils winning 4-3. Adam Eaton goes in the next outing vs. Chien Ming Wang and the Yanks. Grapefruit League action Where Nothing Really Amazing or interesting or even remotely worth remembering Happens!

Sixers
The Sixers waived Gordan Giricek to allow him to sign with another team for a playoff run. Giricek was getting some PT (see: 6-7 minutes) after the trade involving Kyle Korver getting shipped to Utah, but making $4 million to sit on the bench of a young and up-and-coming squad wasn't working for him. The 76ers released him under the condition he signs with a Western Conference team. Phoenix seems the likely destination once he's off waivers. The move saves the Sixers a few hundred thousand dollars right now, after the deal involving Korver saved them $4 million off the salary cap giving them $10 million this off-season to perhaps sign a big name F/A.

College Basketball
St. Joseph's (17-9, 8-5), 2nd in the A-10, was shocked last 64-55 in a loss to St. Louis (16-12, 7-7). The A-10 is known for its pretty good equality across the standings, and this game proved it. Tommy Liddell hit three 3s and 10 free throws and scored 21 points and sharpshooter Kevin Lisch hit three treys of his own for 16 leading the Billikens. The Hawks got nothing going all game despite a good height advantage in the post with the 6'9 Ahmad Nivins and 6'8 Rob Ferguson facing a bunch of guys 6'6 and shorter with 7-foot center Bryce Husak only getting 23 minutes. The combo did have 26 points and 16 boards but that fell well short of their capabilities in the paint, and St. Louis seemed to get every single loose ball showing it in their 41 to 28 rebounding edge. One of their stars was Luke Meyer who got 11 boards and consistently harped a bigger Hawks squad with speed and flat-out desire, getting five offensive boards leading to tons of groans and ugghs from the St. Joe's faithful. 6'10 sharpshooter and senior star Pat Calathes was just 3-for-16 including 0-for-6 from deep mostly thanks to the defense of the 6'5 Lidcell. The Hawks were 3-for-15 from outside as a team. The home loss kills their chances at an at-large bid (ESPN's genius RPI guy Joe Lunardi had them in as of his last brackets before the game) and now the team is almost forced to win at Xavier, conference leaders and one of the best and deepest teams in the nation and Dayton, a strong team in its own right to regain that at-large berth.

Posted By: Surge
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Underdog Part VI


Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:34 am

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12th-ranked Xavier (24-4, 11-1) clinched a share of the A-10 regular season title downing Dayton (17-9, 5-8) 57-51. Not a single scorer scored more than 9 points for the Musketeers who won their 16th of 17. Leading scorer senior forward Josh Duncan scored 14 off the bench for a deep Xavier roster. 5'7, 153-lb star Drew Lavender had 9, the other senior star Stanley Burrell had 8, sophomore Jason Love also had 8, another soph forward Derrick Brown had 7 and 6'6 junior swingman CJ Anderson had 6 to fill out the starting lineup. Xavier led by as much as seven in the first half, but Dayton cut it to two, 29-27 at the break. Then the Flyers couldn't score for a 4:33 span in the second half resulting in a 10-point Xavier lead. The Musketeers never trailed. A 6-0 run in a 44-second span cut the lead to three, 45-42 with 7:33 to go, but Xavier kept Dayton off their heels and then hit nine of their final ten free throw attempts to seal it with under 50 seconds on the clock. 6'2 senior guard and leading scorer at 19 per Brian Roberts led the way with 15, but he only shot 4-for-14. Junior Charles Little was the only other player with more than six points with nine. As a team, Dayton was just 38% from the floor while Xavier shot 49% including 14-for-23 inside the arc. The Flyers did grab 15 offensive boards and forced 15 turnovers but couldn't overcome the percentages despite taking 16 more shot attempts. At worst, Xavier can only be tied by St. Joseph's (17-8, 8-4) who they face March 6th. Dayton, which has lost eight of 11, all in conference following a 14-1 start faces two cupcakes before metting St. Joe's themselves on the 8th.

Speaking of the Hawks, St. Joseph's shooters were on fire as they beat Rhode Island (20-8, 6-7) on the road, 90-83. All the Hawks' starters reached a dozen points in this barnburner while URI had three score double figures. St. Joe's shot over 62% from the floor, went 9-for-16 from behind the arc and made 25 of 30 free throw attempts. URI wasn't cold either making half of their 62 shots and 14 of 18 free throws. The starting lineup for the Hawks, all of whom average 11 or more a game so they kept with that trend, saw 18 from sophomore Darren Govens, an 11.1 per game scorer. Leading scorer at 18.5 points per game, sharpshooting 6'10 senior Pat Calathes had 16 despite not hitting one of his three 3pt attempts. 6'8 sophomore and the new Calathes, Rob Ferguson, scored 17 while hitting three treys and 6'9 Ahmad Nivins scored 12 inside. Each had two blocks. Philly junior Tasheed Carr scored 14 to round out the starting five and sophomore Garrett Williamson had eight more in the Hawks' second 90-point effort this year. St. Joe's led by 11 at the half, 44-33, finishing it off with a 12-5 run with a 4-for-6 line from the floor. Then after missing three straight to start the second half, they scored 6 straight for a 15-point lead, 50-35. The lead ballooned to 19 as the Hawks were unstoppable from the floor. Between 17:18 and 5:13 in the second half, the closest the Rams could get was a dozen points. They finally crossed that barrier 19-point per game scorer 6'8 senior forward Will Daniels who had 24. He was 3-for-5 from deep and 7-for-12 overall. In addition, the Rams got 19 from Parfait Bitee, a 6'2 senior from Cameroon who had 25 in a recent game vs. Xavier. Off the bench, 2.8-point per game scorer 6'7 soph Delroy James, who's played just 15 games all year, had 13. Those three combined for 20 of the Rams' final 22 points, Bitee scoring 10, in a comeback effort at the 5:13 mark. It was just not enough as Calathes, who had six points up until the final four minutes, got a layup and then the 81% free throw shooter hit eight of his nine free throw attempts in the final 1:13. The win puts them one ahead of a three-way tie for third in the A-10, and their road gets progressively tougher starting with Saint Louis, then Temple, then Xavier to close out the season. URI, which like Dayton started the year 14-1, will try to stop their four-game losing streak versus second-to-last place George Washington.

Illinois State (20-8, 11-5) downed the Horizon League counterparts Wright State (20-7, 12-4) by a score of 54-46. The Redbirds thus reached 20 wins for the first time in seven seasons. Leading-scorer Sophomore guard Osirius Eldridge had only seven points on eight shots. They needed the 16 points from a junior guard in Emmanuel Holloway who hadn't scored more than ten points all season. Holloway scored the final five points of the first half giving ISU a 22-20 lead at the intermission despite stretches of six and five minutes where they had just one two-point bucket each time. Wright State didn't have it easier, not scoring in the final 4:38 of the first half and first 2:25 of the second allowing an 11-0 run by ISU in that span. That run then became 18-1 over the next 4:25. The lead stretched to as much as 18 with an array of players having to contribute. Senior forward Anthony Slack, soph forward Dinma Odiakosa, and seldom-used freshman guard Alex Rubin each contributed seven points like Eldridge. 5'8 senior Boo Richardson and 6'11 senior Levi Dyer contributed the other 10 points, five each in the effort. ISU shot 11 more free throws and grabbed 10 more boards contributing to the win as both teams made 18 field goals. 14 of Illinois State's field goals were assisted. The 48-30 lead was cut in half thanks to the Raiders 9-0 run with four buckets from four different players in a four-minute span. Then another 7-1 run following a timeout put the score within 3. Their leading scorer, sophomore guard Vaughn Duggins, had just 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting but made two key baskets during that stretch. Senior Scottie Wilson had four as well, 13 on the night. But the lead was too much late, after sending ISU to the line, WSU couldn't get a missed free throw from Richardson resulting in another free throw made and a 5-point lead. Duggins couldn't nail his three pretty much sealing it with :27 on the game clock. It ended an 11-game winning streak. The MVC proved very capable this Bracketbuster weekend, beating Butler, Oral Roberts and Nevada out of conference.

Posted By: Surge
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