The Everyday Man's Sports Blog

Follow Mike Patton aka The General as he puts his thoughts in on sports.

Archive for the month “January, 2011”

Free For All

Who is the best team in college basketball? Is it Duke? Is it Pittsburgh? Is it Ohio State? Well, I think the jury is still out on that. Right now in college basketball, on any given day, any team can win.

This weekend 9 ranked teams lost to teams that were unranked. And not only did some of these ranked teams lose, they got beat down. An underrated Arkansas team came to Nashville and soundly defeated a Vanderbilt team that could quite possibly be the best team in the SEC. A veteran St. John’s team that has under-performed all season came out and blitzed the defending National Champion Duke Blue Devils and thoroughly annihilated them. Some other ranked teams lost to teams that were ranked lower than them as well including Villanova being upset by Georgetown at home.

With this type of action in college basketball, there aren’t really any clear-cut favorites to win it all this year. Each team has some shortcoming or hindrance that, if facing the wrong team, can be exploited enough to lose the game. Looking ahead, the best team may not win the National Title this year. The team that’s the hottest may win it. I’m personally looking forward to March Madness.

This year’s college basketball tournament might truly live up to its nickname, March Madness. These coaches will for sure be going crazy trying to curtail the madness their teams endure and you can never predict what these 18-22 year olds will react to certain situations. Whatever coach is best able to get through to their team and get them playing the best will ultimately win the title. Now if we could only know which team that would be.

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Sunset

If you look in the playoff standings for the Western Conference, one familiar name is missing. The Phoenix Suns have been a shell of themselves this year and all signs point to them not making the playoffs. But who didn’t see this coming when the season began?

The Suns signed PF Hakeem Warrick, SF Josh Childress, re-signed PF Channing Frye and traded PG Leandro Barbosa for SF/PF Hedo Turkoglu. All of these guys are not known for being defenders and for being tough. Amar’e Stoudamire represented the toughness and the physical pressence that the Suns had. Without him, the Suns have a bunch of soft big men that can’t do what they need to be effective: rebound. If you can’t rebound and can’t defend, then you can’t run and score.

The Suns were floating along this season and weren’t getting great production from their signings from the off-season. Turkoglu was a shell of himself, Warrick was inconsistent, Childress struggled to find his role with this team and Channing Frye became even softer than he already is. The Suns decided to shake things up in an effort to try to get better after their mistakes of the summer. The Suns traded Turkoglu, SG Jason Richardson and F Earl Clark to the Magic for SG Vince Carter, SF Mickael Pietrus and C Marcin Gortat.

This trade has made the Suns even older now on the perimeter. Their starting PG, SG and SF are all at least 35 years old. And with Pietrus, he’s very enigmatic and can’t ever be counted on. The only solid piece that was included in this trade was C Marcin Gortat. He is a physical center that can score and will bring more of a physical presence to the Suns.

The player I feel sorry for in all of this mess is PG Steve Nash. It seems like the team around him keeps getting worse and worse as the year goes on. His talents are being wasted in Phoenix. If I were him, I would ask for a trade from Phoenix. To be honest, Nash is never going to win a title in Phoenix. Those days have long been gone. Imagine what he could do for a team like the Miami Heat. I know I’m living in Fantasyland by even mentioning that, but I am serious about him trying to get out of Phoenix. I wonder if New York and Knicks Head Coach Mike D’Antoni are paying attention.

Letting Go

The bright lights, the flashy plays, the big scene. All of these things are a part of what every young man grows up thinking about when they start playing sports and start seeing it as their future. But what happens when you don’t make it to the big show (professional level) or you bottom out and fall out of the professional ranks? Many athletes have a hard time making the transition from student-athlete or professional athlete to regular everyday citizen.

The passion and love for the game are things in life that are hard to replace. Once there isn’t an outlet for them, they can either make you stronger in your next career path or break you. Many athletes have used this fuel to transition to another career. For example, former UT fullback Will Bartholomew had aspirations of playing in the NFL after college. He got drafted and was set to play, when a horrific knee injury ruined his career in the NFL before it even got started. Bartholomew could have sulked and waded in his sorrows, but he took the passion he had inside of him and created D1 Sports along with star NFL QB Peyton Manning. Now D1 is considered one of the best training facilities in America for high school, collegiate and pro athletes. His passion carried him to great success.

While there are many success stories, there are also stories of guys who just couldn’t cope with the fact that their playing days were over. Dennis Rodman was a star on the court. He could rebound and he won games, but he was very eccentric. Eventually his style wore on the NBA and he was out of the league after amassing five championship rings. Although Rodman had his share of issues in the league, he never really had legal issues. Once basketball was gone for him, it seems like the passion he had never let go. That adrenaline rush he had for the game and for life led to many arrests for intoxication or issues that he got himself into involving alcohol. He is now relegated to reality shows to even make a living and receive that attention he desires.

Desire and passion can be a beautiful thing when focused in the right arena. But if they aren’t properly channeled, they can also be dangerous. Parents, teach your children that there are more things to life than just making it professionally in a sport. There are more avenues to express your passion. If you don’t show them, they could be the ones on this slippery slope.

The Comedy All-Stars

When you think of Hawaii, you think of vacations. You think of relaxation. You think of football in late January? This Sunday, all of the nation will witness or turn off one of the worst events in sports history, the NFL’s Pro Bowl.

The current format of the Pro Bowl as we see it now started in 1971. Back then players played in this game and didn’t look for any ways out. There were no things that were off limits as well. Any and every offensive and defensive strategy was used. Fast forward to this year. The defenses cannot blitz, can only play certain coverages and the offense can only play a very plain setup. Is it just me or does that sound very boring.

The other thing that irks me about the Pro Bowl is that all these players that make it always end up asking out of the game due to an injury. So, in effect, the players the fans vote in aren’t even playing in the game. That ought to tell you right there that this game really doesn’t mean a whole lot to the players and that they would rather not be bothered. So, why should we as fans even care about it then?

The NFL should just get rid of its all-star game altogether. Its by far the worst all-star game of any of the three major sports. Players don’t tackle anyone for fear of getting hurt and basically the Pro Bowl looks like a glorified two-hand touch game where offenses go crazy on the scoreboard. The only thing that happens that I like is the endzone celebrations that the NFL doesn’t allow in the regular and post-season games. Now who wants to watch some football like that? Definitely not me. I think I would rather go to the dentist and have a couple root canals over watching the Pro Bowl. I wonder can the player’s union or the owners put getting rid of the Pro Bowl in their Collective Bargaining Agreement talks.

Starting Over

The news came down recently that the Titans and coach Jeff Fisher have decided to part ways. I personally thought that Jeff Fisher was going to be the coach this year and the decisions of the Titans brass had been made. But apparently, the Titans weren’t through shaking things up.

The future looks very bleak right now for an organization that currently has one QB on the roster ( Rusty Smith ), has no head coach and was pretty much awful on defense. I know that Vince Young is technically still on the roster, but that decision has been made and he will not be back despite Fisher leaving. As far as what the Titans need to do now, there’s a myriad of things that need to be done.
The first thing is they need to find a coach. The options are few and far between because most coaching vacancies have been filed with viable candidates and most big-time coaches aren’t interested in coming to a team that’s at best a 2 or 3 year rebuilding process. But, as far as candidates are concerned, look for the Titans to go after an offensive coordinator like Marty Mornhinweg of the Philadelphia Eagles or an old familiar face in Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Either of these guys would be a good choice because they are masters at what they do. Another option right now is Titans offensive line coach Mike Munchak. Munchak is considered to be one of owner Bud Adam’s favorites. The main thing that Bud will consider in whoever he hires is the money. Bud will not want to pay two coaches big money because Bud is still on the hook for Jeff Fisher’s salary for next year unless they have reached some kind of agreement for Fisher to be paid out now.

The next thing that needs to be worked out is how do the Titans bolster their roster. The best way to do that is through the draft and for the Titans to do that, they need more draft picks. I was firmly against the move I’m about to say awhile ago, but after looking at the holes that the Titans have, they must trade Chris Johnson. Johnson is their most valuable piece and he would net them some solid draft picks in return to build up their team and mainly their defense.

Another move that needs to be made is the Titans definitely need to draft a QB. I’m usually the guy who never believes in drafting a QB high in the draft because a good defense and a serviceable QB can get you through, but this team needs a face and that face will be a QB in the 1st round. When the Titans draft that QB, they also need to make sure and bring in a reliable veteran to mentor the youngster as he learns the ropes. QB Kerry Collins could serve in that role or the Titans could go get a veteran that may get waived ( Denver’s Kyle Orton ).

The painful truth is that the next few years will be rough for the Titans. They don’t have too much of an identity on defense, they don’t have an offense that’s explosive and they don’t have a clear-cut leader. If the Titans acquire more draft picks, draft smart and spend wisely, they will be back in the fold again sooner than later. The ball is in management’s court now.

More Than One Man

Last night G Jimmer Fredette scored 43 points while leading the numer 9 ranked BYU Cougars to a 71-58 win over previously undefeated and number 4 ranked San Diego State Aztecs. A lot of the nation is just now hearing about BYU and when they hear about BYU, they only speak of Fredette, but this team just isn’t just a one-man show.

Fredette averages 27.4 points per game and 4.2 assists per game. Sure, he gets all the headlines, but the team still has to function as just that, a team. Along with Fredette, the Cougars also have two more guys averaging double-figures in F Brandon Davies ( 11.4 points/game ) and G Jackson Emery ( 12.6 points/game ). With these two guys producing, Fredette is allowed more room to operate on the court.

Another thing that hasn’t been mentioned about the Cougars is that they have a couple inside options. Obviously the inside players aren’t going to get as many touches as Fredette does, but when given opportunities, Davies and Chris Collinsworth can produce. And when they do, this Cougar squad becomes that much tougher.

The Cougars’ win last night was pretty dominant and Fredette was amazing. With the parts this team has, more people need to pay attention because this team could be a huge factor when March Madness starts.

Is It Really Worth It?

What do the names Josh Selby, Harrison Barnes, Tobias Harris and Jared Sullinger have in common? These guys are part of what has become the norm in college basketball. These guys were all high-school all-americans and are largely considered one-and-done players. But, what really does a one-and-done player do for your university and what kind of standard do these players set?

For those that don’t know, one-and-done players are upcoming high-school seniors that are largely considered lottery picks who are making a short stay at a college or university. These players have been known to bring stardom and instant attention to plenty of universities. For example, last year, John Calipari had one of the best recruiting classes ever in basketball history. He brought in PG John Wall, PG Eric Bledsoe, C Daniel Orton and PF DeMarcus Cousins to go along with SG John Hood and junior college transfer Darnell Dodson. Minus Dodson and Hood, the rest of this class were elite talents who were all believed to use college as a one year stop before instant millions. The Wildcats went all the way to the Elite 8 last year before losing to West Virginia.

Recruiting these talents may bring stardom and more wins, but are they good for the college game? For as much stardom as these elite talents have brought to college basketball, they have rarely been the key figures on teams that have won the National Championship. The only elite talent that I can remember in recent history that won the National Championship was Carmelo Anthony. He and fellow freshman Gerry McNamara and junior forward Hakeem Warrick carried that team to the title.

In my estimation, I think the rule that players have to be at least 19 years old or a year removed from high school is dumb. Why have kids go to college if they don’t want to be there? Let them go do what they aspire to do. But, the only thing I think should be instituted when they erase this rule is that these NBA teams should hold some kind of responsibility for these young guys. Maybe they should hire someone to provide guidance to these young guys because most of these young phenoms haven’t had money before and in most cases wouldn’t know how to handle that, let alone the new-found fame and celebrity.

Next year there will be a new group of superstars entering the collegiate level. And just like this past year, coaches will be lined up to get them, but will these guys translate to instant winning and National Title aspirations or will these guys just come in and give the program a popularity boost as they float through the college season on there way to the pros?

The Everyday Mailbag- 1/25/11

America has questions, and I have answers. Here’s what America wants to know!

Q: Where is Carmelo Anthony going now?
-Johanna M., Clarksville, TN

A: It wouldn’t surprise me if he still went to New Jersey, but one option is Houston. He would be traded there for the rest of the season in exchange for expiring contracts ( Yao Ming, Shane Battier) and either 1st round picks or talent ( Jordan Hill). New York is still an option, but they know Carmelo wants to come there, so I think they would be inclined to wait until the season is over and sign him then. If they do that, they keep their pieces intact and just add to their pieces with Melo. Remember, the Knicks are the only team that has salary cap room to add a superstar next year and not have to move anyone to do it. He could also remain in Denver the rest of the year and go nowhere as well.

Q: What do you think of Dejuan Blair of San Antonio? Pretty good sleeper in the NBA?
-Kareem H., Nashville, TN

A: I think he was a great find by the San Antonio Spurs. He lack prototypical height for a big man( 6’7″), but he makes up for it with his width and with his unusually-long arms. His arms alow him to finish inside over bigger defenders. With that being said, for him to be able to continue to produce, he must get a consistent 15-20 foot jump shot so he can pull bigger defenders out on the floor and use his quickness more. With that being said, because of his lack of size and lack of a consistent jump shot, his size inside hurts him when he goes against Bynum (7’1″), Gasol (7’0″) and Odom ( 6’10”).

Q: So what are your thoughts on Jay Cutler?
-Adrienne H., Atlanta, GA

A: I think that he had an injury. The extent of the injury, I don’t know, but if I’m injured, I really don’t think I would be jumping around on the sideline. But when your injured, your injured and he would know his body better than anyone. And in regards to everyone ripping him, if you don’t have all the facts, then why are you talking? Get the facts and then talk.

Q: Regardless of the outcome of the Super Bowl, what have you learned from this NFL season?
-Kareem H., Nashville, TN

A: I learned that anything is possible and that home-field advantage doesn’t mean anything in the playoffs anymore. One of the thoughts I always thought to be true was validated though. Defense wins championships.

Survival Of The Fittest

The clock strikes all zeroes and the Packers are now the NFC Champions. The finished product is seen, but did anyone see the overwhelming obstacles they overcame?

When the Packers began the season, did anyone recognize who OLB Erik Walden, ILB Desmond Bishop, TE Andrew Quarles or CB Sam Shields were? I know I didn’t. The regular starters like TE Jermichael Finley, RB Ryan Grant and ILB Nick Barnett suffered serious, season-ending injuries to their knee, wrist and ankle respectively this year. The Packers had lost more players to season-ending injuries this year than any other team in the NFL. The preseason pick for a lot of people for the Super Bowl was looking like a doctor’s office. But instead of Green Bay licking their wounds, they began to fight.

The Packers slowly but surely began to replace all the injured players with mostly rookies or castoffs from other teams. Many people had never even heard of James Starks, Erik Walden or Desmond Bishop before the season and now these guys are starring for this team. They slowly began to mold into the championship-caliber team that a lot of people thought they were.
The credit for all this success goes to one man, GM and President for the Packers, Ted Thompson. He who got rid of QB Brett Farve for QB Aaron Rodgers when it wasn’t the popular move. He who brought in a head coach in Mike McCarthy when he wasn’t the sexy choice for the new coach. He who brought in CB Charles Woodson when people said he was done. Without Thompson, none of this would be possible and all Packer fans should thank him for his vision. Now the Packers have an abundance of talent and guys that fit their system and look like a team that could be around for a long time.

The Everyday Mailbag-1/18/11

Another week, another round of questions America wants to know. Let’s see what is on America’s mind!!!

Q: Do you think the nfl has become scripted theater or is it the best team that wins?
-Iyisha H., Murfreesboro, TN

A: I think the NFL is just as competitive as it has ever been. The thing about this year is the so-called “great” teams have holes and some of the lesser teams were strong at the Achilles’ Heel of the “great” team. Basically there was more parity and there’s always a saying that should never be forgotten. “On any given Sunday any team can be beaten.”

Q: Is trash talking good for the NFL or does it hurt the game ?
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: Its not exactly good or bad. I think its been accepted more in the NFL, but as long as it doesn’t get out of hand, I think it doesn’t hurt the game. Now when people go above and beyond, that is when trash-talking hurts the game.

Q: What do think about Les Miles declining the Michigan head coach position? And what do you think of Brady Hoke, formerly of San Diego State, who did except the head coaching job even though he was Michigan’s third choice.
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: I think Les Miles made the best move. I don’t think Miles would have been a good fit there and the move would have been a step down for him in his coaching career. I have also said all along that Brady Hoke would be the best fit there. Some of the best hires weren’t the top choices were they are. Derek Dooley wasn’t the top choice for UT and Al Golden wasn’t the top choice for the University of Miami, but these guys are good coaches. I don’t think Hoke will hold anything against the university and I think he will do a good job at Michigan.

Q: What u think about Cam Newton leaving for NFL Draft? I don’t think he was ready for multiple reasons.
-Valency H., Antioch, TN

A: ‎​I think it was the right decision. He would have faced even more scrutiny at the college level and his value is as high as its going to get. May as well go ahead and go. Coming back to school can hurt ur stock because it gives evaluators more time to break him down before he gets paid. The biggest posterchildren for that are QB Jake Locker and QB Matt Leinhart. Leinhart slipped from the 1st pick if he would have came out his junior season to the 10th or 11th pick in the draft the next year. That move cost him a few million dollars. For Locker, he would have been the 1st overall pick last year, but now he may be a late 1st round pick or a 2nd round pick.

Q: Today’s Derrick Rose vs. Allen Iverson at his prime……Who would prevail?
-Kareem H., Nashville,TN

A: Good one. But with his explosiveness, I would take Derrick Rose. Plus, Derrick Rose is bigger and faster than Iverson. He would bully him.

Q: Do you think Blake Griffin will be voted in as a All-Star? If so do you think he will be a starter ?
-Kareem H., Nashville, TN

A: I think Blake Griffin will be voted an All-Star but I do not think he will be voted a starter. Dirk and Tim Duncan will be the starters.

If you have any questions, feel free to send them to me at dangerous_316@yahoo.com

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