Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Selection Sunday has come and gone and now we set our sites on fine tuning our brackets. Everyone wants to have the edge in their respective office pool. Everyone wants to have bragging rights when it comes to picking the big upset.
But regardless of our vast knowledge, we all know Janice from Accounting will once again win the pool by picking teams based on uniform color.
This being said it truly is the best tournament in the world. Where else for a three week period can the entire nation come together in the name of basketball? Tides will turn. Games will be decided by last second heroics. David versus Goliath. I am salivating as I write this.
This time last year I went through region by region and listed my power conference player to watch, mid major player to watch, a sleeper pick, potential upset special, my sweet sixteen, my elite eight, and my final four pick.
I will continue this trend with yet another analysis with maybe a little bit extra. It is time to dance!
Power Conference Player to Watch: Ryan Kelly, Senior, Forward, #2 Duke
The Dukies are a different team with this sharp shooting big man than they are without him. The numbers don't lie. They are 18-1 with him in the line up and their only loss was an ACC tournament loss to scrappy Maryland. Of those wins they were against the likes of Minnesota, VCU, Louisville, Ohio State, and Miami, Fla. He strokes the three with great touch for a big man at 48%. He stretches the floor for others on his team to succeed like center Mason Plumlee. He may not be the most athletic player in this bracket but he could very well be the most valuable. Keep an eye on Kelly and the Blue Devils to make a serious run to the Final Four in Atlanta.
Mid Major Player to Watch: Doug McDermott, Junior Forward, #7 Creighton
For the second year in a row there is no other mid-major player in this bracket worthy of consideration than McDermott. He has once again led his Dad's club in scoring at 23.1pts per game and also grabs 7.5 rebounds per contest. He has a multitude of scoring moves and almost does it with ease. He has the potential to lead this MVC stalwart into the next weekend if they can get a break or two against a potential second round match up with Duke. Should be fun to watch him teach the Cincinnati Bearcats how to Dougie. And everyone else how to Dougie!
Player with Best Name in Bracket: Mogboluwaga Oginni, Freshman, Forward, #7 Creighton
May I buy a vowel??? He doesn't see much action, 0.4pts/0.3rbs, and that is a good thing for the announcers ticketed for his match up.
Best Who's Your Daddy: Seth Curry, Senior, Guard, #2 Duke
In his case you could say, "Who's your Bro?" He is the son of former NBA marksman Dell Curry and current NBA three point assassin Stephon Curry. The boy has NBA shooting touch running through his veins. Somebody needs to package and sell that in GNC.
Sleeper Pick: #4 Saint Louis Billikens
They have six players who average between 7-13 points and are a veteran team with a roster full of juniors and seniors. They also are playing for the memory of the late great Rick Majerous who past away. He was a great coach throughout his career and an even better person. These players are hungry to keep his memory alive and want nothing more than to march on.
Potential Upset Special: #12 Oregon over #5 Oklahoma State
Oregon was the winner of the Pac 12 tournament and according to just about every analyst televised yesterday felt they were grossly undervalued. Using this as fuel don't be surprised to see them pull this upset in a 5/12 game that almost every season has one or more.
Sweet Sixteen: #1 Louisville v. #4 Saint Louis, #3 Michigan State v. #2 Duke
Elite Eight: #4 Saint Louis v. #2 Duke
Final Four: #2 Duke
Power Conference Player to Watch: Aaron Craft, Junior, Point Guard, #2 Ohio State
The college games closest thing to Gary "The Glove" Payton we have seen in some time. He has the best on-the-ball defensive skills and quickest hands that allows him to deflect and disrupt would be passes. He averages two steals per game and those are just the ones he is able to come up with on his own. He and his teammates create such havoc on the defensive end it makes up for their offensive shortcomings. Craft averages 9.9pts and 4.6 assists per contest. His confidence has blossomed of late and he is becoming more aggressive in driving to the lane. He needs to attack the basket and dish dimes to guys like Deshaun Thomas and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. If you don't see Aaron Craft's cheeks a flush rosey red color then he isn't having a very good game.
Mid Major Player to Watch: (tie) Tony Snell, Junior, Guard, Kendall Williams, Junior, Guard, #3 New Mexico
The majority of folks would have chosen Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk, but they are a number one seed this year, and I really don't consider them a mid-major program any longer. New Mexico is an up an coming program in a very competitive conference. The Lobos are led by this combo of guards, Snell/Williams, that have created a great deal of happy times in "The Pit". They follow the lead of their coach, former Indiana super shooter Steve Alford, and could take this team to new heights.
Player with Best Name in Bracket: Igor Hadziomerovic, Sophomore, Guard, #13 Boisie State
Maybe the 5.4ppg of this guard will get Boisie over the HUMP and into the second round to face Bruce Weber's Kansas State ball club. Yes, master, we will wait and see.
Best Who's Your Daddy: Madut Bol, Senior, Center, #16 Southern Jaguars
Son of former NBA center, Manute Bol, he sees the floor just under ten minutes per game and he averages just above 1pt and 1rb per game. Not a shot blocking force like his old man but nice to know a Bol is still playing hoops.
Sleeper Pick: #8 Pittsburgh Pathers
The Big East representative, sitting with a 24-8 record, have been battle tested and ready for a rumble. Pack a lunch type of team. Jaimie Dixon is a great coach and really needs a breakthrough in the NCAA tournament after disappointments in past trips. The potential match up with Gonzaga in the next round could be a saving grace for the Panthers.
Potential Upset Special: #11 Belmont over #6 Arizona
Arizona has not fared well against Bruins this year, three losses to UCLA, and why not these Bruins of Belmont. They are led by scorer Ian Clark, a Senior Guard. Belmont was a #14 seed last year and have built on that success and hope to create some excitement in Salt Lake City as a lower seeded underdog. If the threes are falling and the lack of achievement out of Arizona's athletes could be a perfect storm for an upset.
Sweet Sixteen: #8 Pittsburgh v. #5 Wisconsin, #3 New Mexico v. #2 Ohio State
Elite Eight: #8 Pittsburgh v. #2 Ohio State
Final Four: #2 Ohio State
Power Conference Player to Watch: Otto Porter, Jr., Sophomore, Forward, #2 Georgetown
Mr. Everything for John Thompson's Hoyas has literally carried them to the top of the Big East and a 25-6 record. He has all the skills you want in a talent and leader. He puts the ball in the basket in variety of ways. He can shoot the three and also has the strength to go down low and get an old fashioned three point play that would have the likes of Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning proud. He is a potential high draft choice in the NBA draft. His ability to knock down free throws at a high rate separates him from other players in his category. Could bring back glory days of old for G'Town.
Mid Major Player to Watch: Nate Wolters, Senior, Guard, #13 South Dakota State
The poor man's Steve Nash has an all around game that doesn't show nary a weakness. He can fill it up from deep and break your ankles on a cross over and make you look dumb doing it. The Jackrabbits leading scorer, 22.7ppg, has steadily increased his totals over his four years. He has the potential to be a good player at the next level. It should be a great match up against another great guard in Michigan's Trey Burke. If Nate the Great has it raining threes in Auburn Hills it could be another early exit for the Big Ten.
Player with the Best Name in Bracket: Sooren Derboghosian, Junior, Center, #6 UCLA
I don't think the late John Wooden had anyone by that name for sure. The little used center has only logged 7 minutes in heaven but is shooting a scorching 100% from the field. Ok, so he is 1-1 but who is counting!
Best Who's Your Daddy: Tim Hardaway, Jr., Junior and Glen Robinson III, Freshman, #4 Michigan
The sons of NBA nickname hall-of-fame greats Tim "Killer Crossover" Hardaway and Glen "Big Dog" Robinson have definitely made their pops proud. The younger Hardaway scoring 14.8ppg and "Little Dog" Robinson making amazing plays throughout the course of the season. Michigan will need a "killer" performance on a "Big" stage to advance far in this tournament.
Sleeper Pick: #5 Virginia Commonwealth Rams
The "Havoc" they play at VCU lead them to the Final Four a couple years ago. Now they are in a new league, A-10, and have what some consider a better team than what Shaka Smart led to the promised land. It will take yet another full court press and turnovers galore to make another magical run but with a Smart man leading them it would be hard not to put Smart money on VCU.
Potential Upset Special: #11 Minnesota over #6 UCLA
This one game will be decided by one stat. Rebounding. UCLA rebounds like they are playing hot potato. Minnesota, although on a downward spiral lately, rebounds very well. Trevor Mbakwe will need to own the paint and with help from the Hollins boys it should be party time for Tubby and his team.
Sweet Sixteen: #1 Kansas v. #4 Michigan, #3 Florida v. #2 Georgetown
Elite Eight: #4 Michigan v. #2 Georgetown
Final Four: #2 Georgetown
Power Conference Player to Watch: Cody Zeller, Sophomore, Center, #1 Indiana
This seven footer dominates the game. The Hoosiers power post player is almost unstoppable when he gets position against his opposition. As he goes so does Indiana. He not only scores but rebounds and runs the floor like a gazelle. He leans on his teammates to feed the beast and this guy is starving for a championship. Zeller has shown an ability to carry his team on his back and clutch victory from the heart of his opponent when his team most needs him. This was never more evident against Michigan the last game of the regular season when Indiana won the Big Ten outright on the road in dramatic fashion. Could be Hoosier Daddy come April.
Mid Major Player to Watch: Rotnei Clark, Senior, Guard, #6 Butler Bulldogs
The Arkansas transfer has not disappointed in his one and only season with the Bulldogs. He is picking up where he left off with range that begins when he enters the gym. He can hit threes from all over the court and has a clutch ability in his being that allows him to send daggers through the heart of those who doubt him. He sent Marquette packing in Maui with a wild three and has not stopped since. Could be another key contributor to Coach Brad Stevens's already stellar tourney resume.
Player with the best name in the Bracket: Bak Bak, Senior, Center, #12 California
The Johnny Two Times of the tournament who's name is so nice you have to say it twice. He has almost as many fouls (18) as rebounds (20) this season. Will probably be a very short stay for the Golden Bears cause UNLV will make them go the papers, get the papers. Their walking papers.
Best Who's Your Daddy: Shane Larkin, Senior, Guard, #2 Miami, Fla
The son of Hall of Fame shortstop, Barry Larkin, he has lead the Hurricanes to an ACC regular season championship and ACC tournament championship. He is as steady as they come for Miami's veteran squad. He directs this team like Marty Scorsese and puts them in position to win. He made the right choice in basketball and the only triple play he hopes to create is lasting into the third weekend of this tournament.
Sleeper Pick: #6 Butler Bulldogs
Not much more you can say about one of the best tournament ready teams in recent memory. They play hard, tough, and smart. All direct reflections upon their future Hall of Fame coach Brad Stevens. He has carved out a nice niche in Indianapolis and knows who he is and where he comes from. Refreshing to see and highly respectable. Always a tough out in the NCAA's. This season will be no different.
Potential Upset Special: #14 Davidson over #3 Marquette
Coach McKillop's Wildcats are annually one of the little known teams nationally but within the ranks of college basketball they are well known. They are always playing tough high caliber talent in the nonconference like Duke, Gonzaga, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Vanderbilt. They will not be scared to face Marquette so Buzz better have his guys ready for a fight.
Sweet Sixteen: #1 Indiana v. #4 Syracuse, #6 Butler v. # 2 Miami, Fla
Elite Eight: #1 Indiana v. #2 Miami, Fla
Final Four: #1 Indiana
FINAL FOUR - Atlanta
#2 Duke v. #1 Ohio State
#2 Georgetown v. #1 Indiana
National Championship Game: #2 Duke v. #1 Indiana
National Champion: #1 Indiana
Most Outstanding Player: Cody Zeller
Mr. Zeller came back to school for two things. One, he wanted to bring Indiana basketball back onto the national scene. And two, he wanted to win a national championship. The Hoosier guards need to remember who got them there and get him touch after touch after touch down low. He is more skilled offensively than Duke's Plumlee and IU's Victor Oliodipo will shut down Seth Curry and make his shot erratic. Best conference. Best Team. National Champ.
Let the games begin!
Posted by WGCY Newsroom at 8:33 AM
Monday, March 4, 2013
picture courtesy of drafthouse.com
Think for a minute about the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark and when Indiana Jones is running fearfully away from that immense boulder just barrelling down on him like a runaway freight train. He is feverishly scrambling every which way in order to get himself out of harms way. Danger lurking at every angle he finally reaches the outside and safety.
It was exciting to see, exiting to experience, and dangerously fun for all. It was definitely well worth the price of admission!
Not unlike a potential storming of home court after a dramatic last second win or huge program altering upset.
Court storming needs to stay in college basketball. This is as much a part of college basketball these days as the three point shot or the one and done rule.
The students who make up every teams fan base makes college basketball the special sport it is. The raw emotion of wanting your school to prevail against a top ranked team or heated rival is unquestionably why storming the court is so awesome.
If you have ever been a part of this process it has to be awe inspiring. To be one of the mad dashers has to be exhilarating. I have never been in the scrum but have been in the building when one is taking place.
|Andy Kaufman and a buzzer beater...yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!|
It is such a rush that your emotions just take over your body, even watching it from afar. It is hard to hold back when your adrenaline is pumping full force and you just have to hug everyone you see and "be in the moment".
This only happens in college basketball and to a certain extent the high school level. When you are playing for the name on the front of the jersey as opposed to the name on the back of the jersey it makes all those involved part of a family.
Why not let loose and experience the moment as long as it is genuine. Illinois knocking off #1 Indiana and storming the court is legit.
Hypothetically, Northwestern beating Penn State not so much.
You don't want storming the court to be come cliche but it can easily get to that point if fans just want to be "part" of the game.
There is a great deal of this going on these days and it has lost some of its luster as it seems teams and their fans are just waiting to storm the court when it really isn't warranted. It is beginning to become a lost art.
We need to get back to why this act was so special and not make it cheap and petty.
I understand the act-like-you-have-been-there-before argument, as well as, the safety aspect that Coach K was upset with last week. Both are valid arguments but sometimes you just have to explode and celebrate.
I was listening this past week to Mike and Mike in the Morning, on ESPN, and they had former coach Dan Dakich on and he was asked his opinion on this issue. His response was shocking to them. He mentioned during his days at Bowling Green he had a player who was, in his mind, an NBA talent injured during a storming and it otherwise ended his career and Dakich's too as a coach.
Yet, he would still encourage the fans and students to storm the court because it is what college basketball is all about. I found this very interesting. He and this player basically had their careers ended when an occurrence happened during a court storming and he still loves it so much he would encourage it.
It shows his love of the game of basketball and how much he understands the fans love of the game and their team.
The next time you are attending a basketball game and it looks like an upset or buzzer beater may just happen remember that the hoards and hoards of fans out there storming the court for the love of the game is good for college basketball.
We have enough art forms in our world taken away from us and storming the court is an art that we definitely don't want to be lost and stored away in some massive warehouse.
Posted by WGCY Newsroom at 8:47 PM
Monday, February 25, 2013
I think the Fresh Prince said it best, "So to you all the kids all across the land. Take it from me, Pollsters just don't understand!
Ok, I know he said parents don't understand but for this case I am creating it definitely works.
The college basketball regular season is winding down and the all mighty March Madness is creeping closer and closer. The season has produced a great deal of really good teams and some pretty good teams but no real dominate team.
This should make for a very interesting NCAA Tournament.
This afternoon the AP Top 25 was released to some expected results and some very unexpected results.
The number one team in the country is again the Indiana Hoosiers. Which by all accounts has proven itself to be worthy of this lofty spot in the college basketball world. The certainly pass the eye test. Those in charge of putting the mighty Hoosiers atop the rankings certainly understand the talent in Bloomington, IN.
After the Hoosiers it gets very fuzzy instantly for me as the Gonzaga Bulldogs are ranked #2. I get it they are currently sitting with a gaudy 27-2 record and have been easily handling teams in their conference. But I also remember what happened to them at the Kennel in December against a certain team that starts with a C and ends with hampaign.
|The Zags #1? Not so fast my friend.|
They have beaten teams this year from power conferences who just happen to be in down years. West Virginia is horrible. Clemson is horrible. They beat Kansas State and Oklahoma out of a very weak Big 12. They also lost to a good Butler team, on a tremendous steal and shot sequence, but Butler was without their best shooter/scorer in Rontei Clark.
I think everyone year in and year out gets so enamored with Gonzaga and the is-this-the-year they finally break through and reach the Final Four. They are like the Chicago Cubs of college basketball. Wait till next year.
They were much better that first run with Dan Monson in and under the radar that they were using the chip on their shoulder and taking out Goliaths. Now they are expected to produce and it never happens.
I really hope they end up a number one seed in the NCAA tournament and with their track record we might finally see a number one go down to 16 seed. How awesome would that be?
In a power conference I see Gonzaga as a bubble team looking for quality wins against their conference. Put them in the Big Ten and I see them fighting Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc...for seeding, in the Big Ten tournament.
These polls are such a joke and those voting on teams are not taking the job seriously.
Gonzaga is just one example in this mess of a system. The other is at the end of the poll.
When I read the top 25 I thought man Louisiana State is in the top 25???
Then I realized it was Louisiana Tech!
LA Tech!?! Seriously?
The conclusion: Voters are idiots!
The ranking process is so stupid and ridiculous and it really is just for the fans. It really has no bearing on NCAA tournament inclusion nor should it.
Take Illinois for instance, they are truly a pretty good team and have shown an ability to beat quality competition and they, in the early year, were ranked. Now they are just getting votes and they are basically the same team.
If the rankings and those putting their Top 25 ballots out there would do some research, watch the teams play, and actually rank teams for how good they are now and not for what their record is currently, it would be a much better measurable tool.
Rather than just move a team into the rankings because they haven't lost in their conference to inferior competition. How about looking at teams as a whole and compare and contrast. Use the eye test.
Do they look like a Top 25 team? Also another pet peeve of mine is this scenario.
Hypothetically, if #1 Indiana beats #17 Wisconsin then why in the next poll does Wisconsin fall even further down the poll when they lost to what the pollsters feel is a better team and the number one team at that?
It makes sense to me. Again it doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of college basketball.
What it does mean, though, is that you are now on ESPN Sportscenter and your highlights are being shown nightly. It is something that can help in recruiting by selling your product as a Top 25 team.
Coaches use what ever form of marketing they can for their program. It just seems to me we owe everyone out there a much better representation of what the "top" of the college basketball world is. We are intelligent people and the pollsters need to show their intelligence more too.
Until something is done to correct this issue...
There's no need to argue, pollsters just don't understand.
Posted by WGCY Newsroom at 10:14 PM
Monday, February 11, 2013
courtesy Getty Images
For those of you out there who remember old commercial jingles I give you this one that fits the Illini basketball team currently.
"Confidence! Confidence! Dry and secure! Raise your hand, Raise your hand if your Sure!"
And the Illini are pretty darn sure of themselves right now.
This past week has potentially changed and saved the season the John Groce's first team at Illinois. They have knocked off the #1 team in the country Indiana and now went on the road and beat #18 Minnesota in The Barn. What a difference a week can make.
The Illini were sitting at 2-7 in the B1G Ten and were on the verge of looking NIT and not the NCAA's. They were very eratic in their play and not hitting shots. They were coming off yet another disappointing loss and showing against a very disciplined Wisconsin Bagders club in Champaign.
Then the hated Hoosiers came to town. It looked like the downward spiral the Illini had been experiencing would continue until the shots started falling.
It seems simple to say but when the Illini make shots they have shown the tendency to play with and beat good competition. Their mental makeup has been put into question and their ability to handle adversity.
The confidence to keep taking shots and believe you are going to make them even when you are in a horrible 0-22 slump from three-point-land like Tyler Griffey, pictured above on his teammates shoulders. He had been nonexistent in the previous handful of games and when in the game had been hesitant to take shots.
Early in the year he was just catching and shooting. Split second reaction. Instinctive.
Then the misses piled up and so his confidence faded. But all it took was for one shot to fall against Indiana and maybe, just maybe, it is contagious.
|Hey, Mr. D.J. Raise your hands!|
This oozing of confidence can be seen on their faces. They are playing like they did early in the year. I have been critical of the talent on the roster due to the recruiting efforts before Groce landed on campus. I still feel this way. However, if your confidence is high then it makes your talents that much better. Keep the mind out of the gutter, so to speak, and just play hoops.
The effort against Minnesota looked bleak early but they stayed the course. Illinois couldn't buy a basket and they weathered that storm. Groce has a tremendously positive attitude and shows love for the kids he coaches. They are playing for each other and if you stay together the better off you will be when times are hard.
They had the confidence in their ability to stay within the system and fight through poor shooting to take a lead before halftime due to great defense and D.J. hitting a three point shot in the heart of Gopher fans.
No contest in Champaign should be as tough as the one they thwarted in dramatic fashion against Indiana. If the Illini can continue upward on this roller coaster of a season they just might find themselves dancing in March.
The depth of the B1G Ten this season should allow the Illini with the quality of their nonconference wins (at Gonzaga, Butler in Maui) and the quality wins they have accumulated in conference play (Indiana, Ohio State, at Minnesota) and it will probably take no less than 8 conference wins to secure a spot in the Big Dance.
They have "winnable" games upcoming, if they stay confident and make shots, with the likes of Purdue, at Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, and potentially at Iowa. That would put Illinois with the "losses" left on their schedule at Michigan, and at Ohio State.
Illinois could finish at the good end 9-9 and at the bad end of 8-10. The power this conference has produced, like I mentioned before, gives a league team under .500 a good shot at securing a berth.
The bottom line is the confidence picked up after winning games against Indiana and Minnesota can either gain momentum like a boulder rolling down a hill or can sink like the Titanic if they let it.
It depends on how Coach Groce keeps this teams head held high and motivates them to stay humble and hungry.
Raise your hand, Raise your hand if your Sure...
Right now the whole Illini team has raised their hand!
Posted by WGCY Newsroom at 8:20 PM
Friday, February 1, 2013
courtesy of q13fox.com
For those of you who have ever watched the Food Network program Chopped you will know the contestants must use strange and unorthodox ingredients to prepare restaurant quality dishes.
They have high pressure timed rounds and they go through three levels of courses.
Appetizer. Entree. Dessert.
This is not unlike the different levels of the NFL Playoffs and the course of the game the teams must go through to reach their ultimate goal.
Each one of the teams representing their respective leagues, Baltimore and San Fran, have used some strange and unorthodox methods to go through their levels of play. Like Baltimore amazingly scoring the game tying touchdown with 31 seconds left in regulation against Denver or San Francisco benching their starting quarterback after injury in favor of an inexperienced athlete named Colin Kaepernick to run the show.
No matter what road you traverse anyone who reaches the Super Bowl belongs to be there.
It was way back on August 23rd when I gave my predictions on how this year would go in the NFL. I made a few bold predictions, some went wrong, and if you haven't noticed I was pretty accurate on one tiny tidbit.
Baltimore versus San Francisco in the the Super Bowl.
Please, please, enough with the applause. It is just what I do.
I have to believe this Super Bowl will be one for the ages due in part by the off-into-the-sunset story of Ray Lewis and the historical value of brothers John and Jim Harbaugh coaching against one another. It sets up to be a classic.
I chose the Ravens to be this years champion and I am not changing my pick at this time either. I felt in the beginning of the year, after last years all-to-close AFC loss, they had their eye on the prize and that Joe Flacco would silence his critics.
|Flacco has the Ravens flying high this postseason.|
Flacco (5) has increased his quarterback rating (QBR) from 87.7 in the regular season to a playoff best 114.7. He has out dueled Manning and Brady this playoffs and should feel very good about how he has gone about doing it. He has thrown 8 tds and thrown no picks. Turnovers are the name of the game in this business.
And he has been as secure as Fort Knox in that department.
He and his main man RB Ray Rice are doing a good job keeping the ball in their hands and not in the opponents hands. Rice leads all running backs in rushing yards during the playoffs (247) and this is key when winning games in the postseason. You need to be able to run the ball and eat clock.
|Ray Lewis is pure emotion on and off the field.|
He just makes a difference not only on the field, with fellow future Hall of Famer Ed Reed, but off the field as well. I just don't see him being denied that storybook ending to his career by a kid who has started only 9 games in his NFL life.
This kid I speak of is obviously QB Colin Keapernick, as mentioned before. The young juggernaut who has captured this sport by storm. He runs like a gazelle, as evidenced by the 180 yards he ran on Green Bay, and he throws like a pitcher, which makes sense due to the Chicago Cubs drafting him a few years ago.
He doesn't seem rattled by what goes on around him. He has a very calming way about him and almost seems like he is just sitting on his couch playing Madden rather than running away from guys like Ray Lewis.
His coach should take a great deal of credit for his confidence. Jim Harbaugh saw something in this kid and benched their former #1 draft choice, Alex Smith, for what everyone felt was a crazy decision. It takes huge guts to make a decision like that, especially when you are in a position to potential win a Super Bowl.
|Coach Harbaugh & QB Kaepernick|
I do feel that magic has to end sometime. As good as Kaepernick has been the magnitude of the moment has to get to him sooner or later. This Baltimore team just feels like a team of destiny. Things happen for a reason and you don't escape Denver with a win like that without a little divine intervention. I just feel like the pressure of the Ravens defense will rattle Kaepernick early and when he runs, which can be tough to handle, he will get hit over and over. How he responds to these repeated hits on the worlds greatest stage will determine how this game ends.
I realize the 49ers defense, led by super stud Patrick Willis, has been tremendous. They have a solid unit and have been good all year but I just feel it just isn't their time yet. Their defensive front is great but their secondary is their weakest point.
Flacco has one of the strongest arms and prettiest deep balls in the game. He should be able to stretch the defense and force San Fran to open up and this will allow Ray Rice to gain valuable yardage and move chains.
The Harbaugh family will be celebrating a Super Bowl championship this Sunday after one of their sons will be chopped.
The Ravens have the ingredients for the appetizer of throwing the ball deep to clear space.
The Ravens have the ingredients for the entree of running the ball to milk the clock.
And finally the Ravens have the ingredients for the sweet dessert of claiming the Super Bowl Trophy.
Ravens 29 - 49ers- 26
MVP - Ray Lewis - 15 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception
Posted by WGCY Newsroom at 3:58 PM
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Since the college basketball season is now a few weeks into the conference schedule we are beginning to know who are contenders and who are pretenders. The success some teams have had early are not necessarily paying off during conference play.
One of those teams, unfortunately, is Illinois.
It looked like this team was starting to put the fight back in Fighting Illini.
They had started the season with a Maui Invitational championship by beating a Butler Bulldogs team that has taken out Marquette, Indiana, and now Gonzaga after last nights miracle in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
This current Illini team also beat Gonzaga in a place where they haven't surrendered many wins in coach Mark Few's tenure.
Coach John Groce seemed to be pushing all the right buttons in what was a 12-0 start and national ranking for his first team at Illinois. The praise was being delivered not only from fans but from national media from across the country.
The future looked bright and all seemed well.
The problem was a false sense of hope and not truly analyzing the current roster of players for the long haul. Teams need toughness and togetherness to accomplish their goals. Coach Groce was correct after winning the Maui that they weren't done improving and had better not be complacent with their early success.
So it gets doubly tough to be successful in conference and you need to be that more mentally tough to persevere. This current group of Illini are totally lacking in this aspect.
This mental deficit is what has eventually killed last season's squad and is currently killing this seasons team.
When the going gets tough the tough get going to quote Billie Ocean. This team, though, when the going gets tough they just collapse.
This isn't an indictment on John Groce's coaching ability it is more an indictment on Bruce Weber's recruiting ability and the players he had brought into this university.
The current group of Illini have shown now for two seasons to be incapable of handling adversity in the toughest of situations in Big Ten play. They came into league play and laid a stinker of a egg with an opening loss at (6-6) Purdue.
In the past three coaching changes the cupboards have not been as bare as they are for John Groce's first go around. Lon Kruger was hired and had done such a great job building the program back up from when Lou Henson left it that he was hired by the NBA's Atlanta Hawks. He in turn left a team with great talent that Bill Self was able to build on and bring in the crop of talent that Mr. Weber was lucky enough to have fall in his lap. Similar to Weber's current situation at Kansas State. Frank Martin, a fearless recruiter, left him well stocked with veteran talent from last years team. That is how it works at times.
Bruce Weber coached those players but not one single player that he recruited will hang their jersey in the Assembly Hall. Hell, his 2010 highly regarded class that included Jereme Richmond, Myers Leonard, and Crandell Head has not one, not one of those players still on campus.
So lets not be so quick to chastise John Groce for his current team. He is currently making C.O.C. basketball. Clean Out the Cupboard Basketball.
He is in the process of bringing in his own talent that fits his system. Bill Parcells used to say, ""If I'm going to be asked to cook the meal, I'd like to be able to pick the groceries."
Different sport but same concept.
I have mentioned before that in the short amount of time Groce has been on campus he made serious gains in recruiting. You have to have a foundation recruiting class in any coaches start to a program. He did that at Ohio University by grabbing D.J. Cooper out of Chicago to start his career there.
That adjustment just might be playing the younger kids on the team and showing them the future is now. These kids have been given scholarships to play basketball at the University of Illinois. These scholarships are renewable after each year. This is what a new coach will look at after the seasons end.
If there are players in the upcoming recruiting classes they feel better fit their system and a current player who they had not brought in doesn't fit then he could have his scholarship not renewed. Players transfer every year. This is were the current roster of players on this Illini team need to look in the mirror and decide if they are going to be here in the future.
Because when you go to the cupboard to get your dogs a bone you want to know you have it well stocked.
And well stocked with the type of bones you crave.
Posted by WGCY Newsroom at 5:00 PM
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Coo loo coo coo, coo coo coo coo!
I can hear Bob and Doug McKenzie, of Strange Brew/SCTV fame, chanting that right now as one of their adopted sons in the Great White North has just accepted the coaching position with the Chicago Bears.
You have made a run for the border once again, Marc Trestman. Say goodbye to the extra large field of Canadian Football League and hello to the National Football League.
The Bears took the long road to finding a replacement to the fired Lovie Smith. They seemed to be taking the American Idol approach and just having everyone come in for an audition and then decide if they were worthy of going through to the next round.
I have to give Phil Emery credit. He was obviously thorough in his search. I have to admit my confidence in him was waining when the list crept over to 13 and it didn't look like he had a clue what he was doing.
Marc Trestman fits the bill. He has worked with a long list of quarterbacks ranging from Steve Young, Rich Gannon (MVP with him in 2001), to Jay Cutler coming out of college.
Trestman is known as a "Quarterback Guru", pictured below.
This is what this team needs. I have written before that Jay Cutler is the best qb the Bears have had in ages. I realize he has his faults but with the amount of chaos he has endured over the past three seasons he needs someone on his side and with knowledge of the position that has been lacking in Halas Hall.
Cutler was asked about his feelings on the hire and his experience when working with him before his draft year and he was quoted as saying, "you could just tell how knowledgeable he was about the quarterback position and offense in general...It's a great hire. I couldn't be more excited. He's been successful wherever he's been..."
There aren't to many more exciting offenses in the NFL than what the Saints have been able to produce with their pass happy scheme.
Brandon Marshall should be salivating at the chance of catching more passes this next season. However, I actually hope he has less catches and yards only because it means someone else has emerged as a viable target for Cutler. Maybe Alshon Jeffrey? Just as long as he learns to no push off on defensive backs to create space.
The Bears upper management have clearly sent a message to the entire team they wanted change in the Windy City.
If Trestman can convince Rod Marinelli to stay as defensive coordinator and have some continuity with the current defensive roster then it could bode well for them going forward.
You put your focus on bringing in an offensive mind and you don't want to lose sight of the defensive side of the ball. You don't want to patch a hole and then create another one in the process.
He will want to build up the offense into what all Bears fans envision it to be. He will also want to build upon the current veteran defensive players who have been carrying this team for years.
What you want is a balance on your team and not have one aspect that overshadows the other. This is why Lovie lost his job and Marc now has his first NFL head coaching gig.
Trestman has made his living in the CFL since 2008 and has guided the Montreal Allouettes to three Grey Cups with wins in 2009 and 2010. He was awarded CFL coach of the year in 2009.
He obviously has shown an ability to be successful in his endeavors. There have been some former players (wide receivers) who have been vocal in their negative experiences with him as a coach. Former player Tim Brown, while with the Oakland Raiders, was vocal in that he didn't feel Trestman was head coach material in so many words.
I don't put much stock in his ramblings, as he was still productive, played along side Jerry Rice added to their offense that year, and they made it to the Super Bowl as one of the best offenses that year with QB Rich Gannon, under Trestmans tutelage, won MVP honors. Wideouts have egos larger than anyone and when they don't get the ball ALL THE TIME they complain and whine.
See Terrell Owens, Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, and especially former player and author of Just Give me the damn ball, Keyshawn Johnson, pictured at left.
Trestman has worked with NFL teams in the past and has a well documented career of success.
I think the meticulous nature of Phil Emery's interview process should pay dividends in the Bears not to distant future.
So as Bob and Doug McKenzie would say to any of his doubters out there...
"Take off, you hoser!"
And to the Chicago Bears nation of followers...
Posted by WGCY Newsroom at 12:05 AM