Monthly Archives: April 2010

“Calipari’s Terrific Trio or Quintet?”

For a second year in a row, a former one and done point guard has won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.  And it is by no coincidence that these guys both played for the same coach in college.  The man with the best hair college basketball, Mr. John Calipari. And many think that he may have produced a 3rd Rookie of the Year in a row for next year with the emergence of star John Wall..

Is this great coaching by Cal?  Or is it phenomenal talent?  I would say it is a  mix of both, with a heavier focus on the phenomenal talent.  So Calipari may be under a ton of scrutiny by most NCAA fans.  Both of his former programs before Kentucky have been under big time NCAA investigations and have had Final Fours revoked.  The man with the slick hair has managed to keep his nose clean though.  Now do I think he cheated somehow and knew what was going on?  You better believe it.  But he has not been punished or found guilty by the NCAA personally yet.  We live in a society where you are innocent until proven guilty.  I mean take for example the Ray Lewis murder case..

There has never been another coach in NCAA history to have consecutive one and done point guards take home NBA Rookie of the Year honors at the next level.  And really there is a great likelihood that it could be 3 in a row with all the hype surrounding John “Jive Buggin” Wall.  Want to know what is scary?

Brandon Knight, the top point guard in the 2010 class and the top rated high school senior in various recruiting polls is heading to Kentucky.  What if this guy lives up to the hype of his predecessors?  I am talking about the phenoms like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and John Wall.  Want to know something that is even more scary?

Last week, Marquis Teague, rated the number 1 point guard in the 2011 class by various recruiting websites has already orally committed to UK.  This would be an improbable string of hypothetically the top point guards in 5 consecutive classes playing for Calipari.  That would be an amazing feat.  What if all 5 of them were one and dones who went on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year (extremely unlikely but still possible)?

The best part about all of this.  Calipari could go 0 for 5 during these years in actually bringing home a National Title.  And that is what most coaches are in the business for.  Coaches at major programs are there to win titles.  I mean it is great to bring in these amazing recruiting classes.  But if you keep bringing in one and dones, you have no experienced vets.  Plus the majority of these guys will never get to play with the following year’s blue chip recruits.  Coach Cal did an amazing job this past year in bringing in a top-notch recruiting class (whether it was done ethically or not).  Not to mention he already had a fantastic experienced post player in Patrick Patterson ready to roll.

This coming year, and probably in subsequent years, he will not have the luxury of having an experienced leader who is an All American caliber player.  The way I look at it.  If Calipari could not win a title with this year’s amazingly talented group, the odds are stacked very high against him to bring home a title in the upcoming years.  And I will admit, this would make me happy if Cal never won a title.

I personally think he is involved in many unethical recruiting tactics.  But this is just an opinion.  Whether he gets caught or not is another story.  As I said before, in our society, you are innocent until proven guilty.  I will say this though.  Say UK does make a Final Four here in the next couple of years or even brings home a National Title.  Big Blue Nation will go wild and savor it.  The party in Lexington will last a month and it will be an extended Mardi Gras like celebration in Kentucky.

Too bad it will likely be taken away within the next 5 to 10 years due to NCAA recruiting violations..

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

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“I’m Coming for that Number One Spot”

A once can’t miss prospect is being cut by his team today.  It has gone public that the Raiders are going to get rid of their former number one draft pick JaMarcus Russell.  What a hellish few years it has been.  Russell went from a guy with perhaps the brightest future coming out of the 07 class, to a player that is going to struggle to make an NFL roster.  And you know what..this is becoming a continuous trend.

Guys selected as the number one pick in the NFL Draft are struggling to live up to the expectations.  Lets go through the last five number one draft picks (minus this year’s, Sam Bradford because the verdict is still out on him).  In 2005, the number one pick was Alex Smith out of Utah.  Smith has experienced an extremely up and down NFL career (mainly down though).  During the course of his five year career with the 49ers, he has an overall record of 37 and 43 and a very unimpressive QB rating of 69.2.  Smith has only played in more than 11 games during one of his five seasons.  And the 49ers have not exactly been a quarterback heavy franchise since the retirement of Steve Young.  Will he pan out eventually?  Who knows.  But I do know that he has vastly under achieved and not lived up to the expectations.

In 2006, the number one pick was Mario Williams out of North Carolina State.  This was one of the most debated number one picks in recent memory.  Many thought that the Texans should have went with then, a can’t miss player in Reggie Bush or former Longhorn QB Vince Young (both have had issues).  The ironic thing is Williams has panned out better than most other number one picks.  He has made two Pro Bowls in his four year career and really been a game changer for the Texans.   But he has not been able to quite get his team over the hump and make the playoffs.  This is a guy who goes against my argument of number one picks struggling to deal with the lofty expectations placed on them.  It will be interesting to see if he continues to put up strong numbers.

2007 saw our good friend JaMarcus Russell enter the NFL.  This guy was supposed to be able to lead the Raiders back to the playoffs and get them back to being a consistent contender.  He was supposed to be the savior and bring the proud Raider Nation back to the promised land.  Boy were they wrong.  Russell has had issues from Day 1.  He had a very lofty and highly public lockout before he even signed for his rookie season.  By the time he finally signed, his rookie year was pretty much lost.  And he has really struggled ever since.  His numbers are abysmal in every respect.  He has thrown five more interceptions than touchdowns in his career and has a horrible career QB rating of 65.2.  Not to mention he has had consistent problems with his weight and the Raiders have been horrible since his arrival.  This relationship has been hell from the start.  I am not so sure Jason Campbell will be able to make the difference.  But will a team pick up Russell?  This remains to be seen.

The 2008 draft was started off with the selection of an offensive tackle by the name of Jake Long from the Big House (Michigan).  Long has lived up to the expectations in more of a quite manner than most of the high-profile draft picks.  This is in part due to being an offensive tackle and not a guy making the big play.  Long has now made 2 Pro Bowls and the Dolphins have become a contender again.  So Long has lived up to the hype.

Then finally, last year, Matthew Stafford, the QB out of Georgia was the first selection in the draft.  Stafford had a very up and down rookie season.  He showed glimmers of big time ability with his gun slinging style.  Stafford set a rookie record with 422 passing yards in a game.  But overall, his numbers were pretty awful.  He threw 13 TDs and 20 interceptions.  Not to mention he had a QB Rating of 61.0.  This is horrific.

So this may be a good thing about the NFL though.  Nobody ever knows how these draft picks are actually going to pan out.  The guys who have been selected number 1 have really been unpredictable the past few years.  Maybe this all means that McShay and Kiper’s rankings are all just a big crock.  They have no more idea how these guys are going to pan out than you or me?

Finally, I do not know if a team will pick up Russell.  Is he really worth the risk?  So what are your thoughts?  Have number 1 picks really been a big let down the past half decade?

I do know that the NFL Draft is quite different to that of the WNBA, where lottery picks become instant stars as rookies..

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Bye Bye Adalius”

The rocky relationship between Adalius Thomas and the New England Patriots is finally coming to an end.  And who honestly did not see it coming?  You got a former superstar who still thinks of himself as a superstar.  You got the most stubborn coach in the League in Bill Belichick who already has issues with the guy.  Not to mention the Patriots have a history of refusing to give out the big bucks.  So all roads have been pointing to this break up for some time now.

Put it this way.  As the famous quote goes, “You mess with the bull, you get the horns.”  Adalius had a major conflict with Patriot’s coach, Bill Belichick.  With the conflict, the former star is now getting the horns.  AKA the boot.  Rumor has it that the Jets have an immense interest in the former Patriot (and Raven).  Rex Ryan would love to reunite with one of the cornerstones of his defense during his Baltimore days.  Why not?

You have a good chance to get this guy for cheaper and hopefully get big time results.  Thomas is 32.  This is a very unpredictable age for NFL players.  Some go way down hill.  Some continue to play at a high level into their mid 30s.  The jury is still out on Adalius.

In my opinion this is good for both sides of this conflict.  Adalius will get to find a new home and the Patriots will get to focus on other things.  It is a win win situation for both parties involved.

So my question for you all today.  Does Adalius have a couple of more good years in the tank?  Or is the star we once knew soaring towards retirement?

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

Aside

Ryan Howard and family are finally yelling..chi ching.  The man signed a big pay-day.  And by big, I mean the second biggest per year salary in Major League history.  Howard, starting in 2012, will be making on average 25 million … Continue reading

“Battle of Texas”

The Spurs look to be the Spurs of old. Or at least they are playing well.  It was a matter of time for this preseason favorite to gel.  With the pickup of Richard Jefferson this offseason, many thought of the Spurs as a front runner to come out of the West.  Then this team had some struggles down the stretch and ended up being the 7th seed.  No problem.  They hold a commanding 3 to 1 lead over a very strong Mavericks team.

I admit that I picked the Mavericks to escape this series in 7 games on my “NBA Playoff Preview.”  In fact, I picked the Mavericks to advance all the way to the Western Conference Finals.  Well, I am not going to retreat from my prediction just yet.  But I will state this.  If Tim Duncan is able to score 4 points and the Spurs can win, the Mavericks are in major trouble. 

George Hill, who started over Tony Parker tonight put on an outstanding performance.  His uncanny playmaking ability and stroke from 3-point range led the Spurs to a hard-fought victory.  Who would have thought this 2nd year player out of IUPUI would be the difference maker?  In addition, Dejaun Blair continues to impress with his ability on the boards and his tenacious effort.  Many overlooked this rugged, undersized forward out of Pitt.  Well he is putting up some key minutes off the bench for the Spurs here in the playoffs.  The other key stat for the Spurs.  Manu Ginobli got to the line 9 times.  Manu provides electricity.  And on this night, his shot was really struggling as displayed by his 4 of 16 performance from the field.  But he got some key points from the line (8 of 9 on his free throws).  He also had 4 steals.  I really never thought I would see the day where Tim Duncan was held to 4 points and the Spurs could win against a team as tough as the Mavericks.  The former MVP only had one field goal!  Times have truly changed.

Some key stats for the Mavericks.  Dirk Nowitzki only got off 10 shot attempts.  This is unacceptable.  Dirk needs to be putting up 15 to 20 shots a game.  Caron Butler put up 18 shot attempts tonight.  Shawn Marion, put up 13 shot attempts.  Jason Kidd put up 10 shot attempts (equal to Dirk).  And finally, Jason Terry put up 11 shot attempts off the bench!  I mean these guys are all fine players,  but Dirk is this team’s star and leader.  The ball needs to be in his hands more.  The other key stat.  The Mavs were outscored 29 to 11 in the 3rd quarter.  When a good team goes into a half ahead 48 to 37,  you expect them to lay the hammer, or at least get the W.  Well the Mavericks were unable to do this and let the Spurs escape with a home victory.  Now they look at a very tough 3 to 1 deficit and all directions are pointing in the Spurs favor. 

What is this Maverick’s team made of?  Can they come back and take this one in 7?

Lastly, shout outs to Dwayne Wade and the King, Lebron James.  Both put on absolutely exceptional performances today.  They really demonstrated why they are 2 of the best the League has to offer.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“NFL Draft Recap”

So the NFL Draft is finally over..or at least I think it is.  The longest and most in-depth draft of them all was expanded to 3 days this year.  And boy did it show.  America really lost interest quick in this year’s edition of the NFL Draft.  By day 3, the viewing crowd had shrunk to almost non existant.

So I am not even go to spend time recapping the biggest winners and losers in this draft.  I am going to talk about the draft process in general and how it is set up.  First of all.  The 3 day setup..give me a break.  Entirely too long and overdrawn.  I understand that it cannot be done in one day.  And that is fine.  But 3 is major overkill.  Secondly, in my opinion, there are far too many rounds which leads to far too many players being drafted.  7 rounds is a ton of rounds.  I realize that NFL rosters are large.  So therefore there will be more rounds in this draft than in other sports.  And that is fine.  But by having so many rounds, the prestige is lost after a few rounds, not to mention most have not heard of the players being drafted after round 3 unless it is players from their favorite colleges being drafted.  I mean honestly, I would love to get the numbers on how many of the players drafted after the 3rd round actually make their respective team’s active rosters as rookies.  The odds are against these guys unfortunately. 

Another subplot that has really caught my eye for months now.  The growing rivalry between Todd McShay and Mel Kiper.  Kiper was king of this business for the better part of the past decade.  But now the new hot-shot Todd McShay has exploded onto the scene.  Who is the best?  Who should America listen too?  This is really up for debate and I would love to hear your thoughts.  In my opinion, I would say that McShay might have done a better job in predicting this year’s draft.  But that is very subjective and hard to say.  ESPN has created a budding rivalry though.  It will be interesting to see over the course of the next few years who takes over as “the” main NFL Draft guru. 

I will state this though.  Jon Gruden’s QB Camp that aired on Sportscenter was awesome.  This guy is extremely entertaining and knowledgable.  Really gave America a taste of how intense these NFL coaches are and how the process of evaluating prospective players works a little bit.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and hope that ESPN continues doing this in the future with even more players from all of the positions.

Lastly, the QB situation of this draft was a mess.  I mean how is Tim Tebow going to get drafted ahead of Clausen and McCoy?  Like seriously?  I will never question Tebow’s work ethic.  But heart and work ethic is not everything.  Tebow is not pro ready yet.  He is years away.  I also thought it was highly unfair how much attention ESPN gave Tebow following the first round.  The man was the 25th pick of 32.  He got more attention on the internet and on the TV shows than any other player drafted on Day 1.  It made no sense.   I am going to go out on a limb and say that I think Clausen is the most pro ready QB in this draft.  Will he get a shot during year 1 with the Panthers?  We will see.  Bradford is still a big question mark compared to Clausen in my eyes due to the injury.  I still believe that Bradford is a major talent though.  Overall, not the best crop of QBs coming out this year but who knows.  Very hard to predict a QBs success in the NFL until they actually get out there.

So the Draft is finally over.  I will provide more insight on the biggest winners and losers if you all ask for it.  Let me know what you think about the draft’s current format.  Also, McShay or Kiper?  Who is the best? 

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

Aside

So I just had my 3rd experience of the year at Great American Ballpark today  to watch my Reds take on the San Diego Padres.  And I went home with another tough taste in my mouth after yet another Red’s loss.  … Continue reading