Tag Archives: Georgia

“The SEC Basketball Preview”

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari (pictured above), took the SEC by storm in his first year in the conference. Will he have a repeat performance in year two?

Today we are in for a special treat.  We have our debut post from our SEC expert out of Lexington, Mr. Matt Murray.

Matt is the Editor in Chief for the University of Kentucky’s student run newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel.  You can follow him on twitter @MurrNation

Six weeks into the college basketball season, teams are gearing up for conference play, and their non-conference schedule has helped provide a litmus test for just how good they are, while other teams still haven’t quite figured it out. While the SEC hasn’t been the best league from top to bottom the decade or so, it has produced the second most Final Four teams over the last five years, and ties the ACC for the most national championships over the last five years.

The SEC has surprised many critics in the early stages of this season, but it’s the lopsidedness of the conference that is glaring. The East appears to have 6 teams that could rightfully make their way into the NCAA tournament, while you’d be hard-pressed to find a single team from the west that could legitimately find themselves in the field in March.

 

SEC WEST
1. Mississippi- Ranking the teams in the SEC West is like playing pin the tail on the donkey. You are just as likely to nail it as you are to accidentally stick the pin in your great aunt Edna’s ass. The Rebels are 7-2, but they have yet to play a ranked opponent. However, the Rebels have an experienced squad and are able to put up points. Senior guard Chris Warren averages more than 19 points a game and shoots nearly 92% from the free throw line. The Rebels average almost 80 points per game, but that offense is yet to be tested by a worthy opponent. The Rebels first real test comes in their SEC opener at #19 Florida. This team will have a better feel of how good they are after they see how they play on the road in Gainesville.

2. Arkansas Razorbacks– Arkansas is currently 7-2, and each of their two losses has come in overtime. However, head coach John Pelphrey has much to prove. He has only won 14 games in each of his first two seasons at Arkansas. Arkansas’ rich basketball history will have Pelphrey on the hot seat if he can’t push his team above a .500 record this season, and there’s reason to believe he finally has the pieces to do so. Sharp-shooter Rotnei Clark has another year of experience under his belt and is currently the Razorback’s leading scorer. The good (and bad) news for the Razorbacks is that they have no real star. Clark is the leading scorer with a mere 13.8 a game, while their second leading scorer is senior Delvon Johnson with 11.1 per game. The Razorbacks have an even scoring distribution and get decent production out of their bench. The problem is that unlike many of the marquee teams in the SEC, they lack playmakers that can get them out of a bind, but if their squad continues to gain experience and play smart, they can become one of the deeper teams in the division.

3. Mississippi State- Sitting at 7-3 after finishing last season with an eye-opening deep run in the SEC tourny taking a stellar Kentucky team into overtime in the SEC Championship game last season, the Bulldogs are working on rebuilding, particularly after losing swat machine Jarvis Varnado. However, like most of their SEC West counterparts, this team has yet to face a ranked opponent, and thus has no real way of knowing exactly what they are capable of.  In fact, all they know as of now is that they’ve lost to a 4-5 East Tennessee State and ACC bottom-feeder Virginia Tech. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they kick off SEC play against three straight SEC West opponents, which might give them a chance to get their feet under them before facing a surprising Georgia team in Athens, kicking off a stretch against three straight tough SEC East opponents. However, if senior guard Ravern Johnson continues his outstanding play, which has him averaging 22 points per game, this team has reason to believe they can rise to the top of the SEC West.

4. LSU Tigers- Unlike the others in their division, the Tigers have faced a top 25 team, and held their own, losing to #19 Memphis by nine. The problem is that the 7-4 Tigers have posted three additional losses to teams that won’t be dancing in March and that they have the daunting task of playing their games against SEC East leaders Kentucky and Tennessee on their home floors. This LSU team will most likely stumble their way through SEC play, and would be lucky to finish out their season at .500.

5. Alabama Crimson Tide- The Tide has a faced a host of respectable opponents. The problem is that they are 5-6 as a result. The Tide puts up a measly 64 points a game, and has no real leadership. The young squad is led in scoring by a sophomore and junior, and find two freshman in their starting lineup. In a conference full of teams boasting rosters that are either full of experience or freshman that are far more talented than those on Alabama, the Tide are going to find themselves outmatched in the majority of their SEC match-ups this season.

6. Auburn Tigers- The Tigers are bad. In fact, they’ve been bad for quite some time, and there’s no reason to expect any change this season. They rank in the 200s in almost every major statistic and already find themselves in a 4-7 hole, despite having yet to play a ranked opponent. They barely average 60 points a game, and their latest recruiting class was lackluster at best.  The Tigers would be lucky to post 14 wins this season.

SEC EAST
1. Kentucky Wildcats- The fight for the top of the SEC East should be a slugfest. Tennessee and Florida find themselves at the bottom of the division with three losses a piece, while every other team has only two losses to their name. So far, the East has collectively knocked off opponents like Pitt, Notre Dame, Villanova, Washington and  Kansas State. The Wildcats sitting at 9 and 2, are responsible for two of those wins, and their only two losses have come to ranked opponents away from Rupp Arena. Kentucky is young, and there is no doubt this class lacks the talent of last year’s highlight reel squad. But what the Cats do have is an intelligent team that has come off as very coachable so far this season, as well as one of the top NBA prospects in freshman forward Terrance Jones. Jones is averaging a double double this season, with 19.8 points and 10 rebounds a game as a freshman. Additionally, Calipari has reloaded yet again in the point guard position, as Brandon Knight has replaced John Wall, who replaced Tyreke Evans, who replaced Derrick Rose. Knight averages 17.2 points per game, but the problem is that he only averages about four assists per game. Unlike Wall, Knight isn’t a true point guard, but also unlike wall, Knight is a much better shooter. In fact, this Kentucky team is in many ways the polar opposite of last year’s team, which was the tallest team in the NCAA. With Cousins, Patterson and Orton, the Cats could push the ball and earn points in the paint. This year’s team lacks a big man, as Josh Harrellson is its starting center. However, now the Cats are a real threat from behind the arc. The Cats are likely to finish about 12-4 in the SEC, which would likely put Calipari in position to post yet another 30-win season. Lucky for the Cats, no team in the SEC has a dominant big man, which is the only real kryptonite for this team and Calipari has the Cats playing the kind of defense he is known for, and their length has proven to be a big challenge for opponents.

2. Tennessee Volunteers- Of those marquee wins listed for the SEC, the Volunteers are responsible for some of the biggest as Tennessee has already knocked off Big East powerhouses Pitt and Nova. Had I written this preview 10 days ago, Tennessee would’ve been my hands-down favorite to finish at the top of the SEC East. However, after starting 7-0 and knocking off two top 10 teams, the Volunteers have dropped two straight to non-BCS conference teams Oakland and Charlotte, and a third straight to USC. Two-faced Tennessee is capable of beating any team in the NCAA by double digits, but they’re just as capable of losing to anyone. More than likely, these early loses will bring the naysayers back out of the woodwork, but there’s no reason to expect this Tennessee team won’t get back on track and make a serious run for the top of the conference and an equally deep run into the NCAA tournament. Their match-ups against Kentucky and Florida could likely determine who comes out on top of the conference, but then again, every SEC East matchup could be that pivotal this season.  What will be interesting to see is whether or not Bruce Pearl’s eight-game SEC suspension will really affect his team. During that stretch, Tennessee will have to face Florida and Vanderbilt, outcomes which could very well effect the SEC East standings for the season.

3. Florida Gators- Florida may be just as two-faced as Tennessee, posting wins against top 10 Kansas State, and turning around to lose to the Jacksonville Dolphins that very same week. At 8-3 Florida has no reason to panic, especially as one of their losses came from a very realistic title contender in Ohio State in the early stages of the season. Donovan has yet to recapture the talent he had in his back-to-to back title teams 3 years ago, but the addition of Kenny Boynton last year was a good first step. The sophomore averages 12.4 points per game, and in tandem with Erving Walker, Florida is finally building a team that could be a real threat in the NCAA tournament. The Gators have built up a great deal of depth, which will make them tough to beat due to their ability to give guys ample rest. The Gators should win the rest of their non-conference schedule and enter SEC play at 12-3, and pick up an SEC-opening win against Mississippi before having to travel to Knoxville to face Tennessee in one of the first big SEC clashes of the season.

4. Vanderbilt Commodores- The Commodores have found a way to put themselves in the mix for the past four years, and head coach Kevin Stallings has been the primary reason. He finds ways to put his team in position to win games, and while the ‘Dores have never been outstanding, no one plays them expecting an easy win. Playing in Nashville is always a nightmare and the team plays equally well on the road. However, there’s reason to believe that the strength of the SEC East this season could see the Commodores having a less-than-stellar season.  Fortunately for Vanderbilt, they face rival Tennessee during Pearl’s suspension, and any help is welcome. If Stallings can keep his team on their current pace of scoring, which has them at 24th in the country with 80.1 points per game, he can likely get his team into the NCAA tournament, but the graduation of center A.J. Ogilvy is going to be his biggest road block. However, like Kentucky, Vanderbilt too can benefit from existing in a league that lacks a dominant big man.

5. Georgia Bulldogs- Georgia is on the upswing. Junior Trey Thompkins stormed onto the scene last season with a posterizing dunk on Kentucky’s Demarcus Cousins and he’s never slowed down since. He averages 16.2 points per game, and fellow junior, guard Travis Leslie, adds 14 a game. The duo has led the Bulldogs to a 8-2 start, their best start since 2006, and their only losses have been at the hand of now-ranked opponents. There’s no reason to believe this Georgia team won’t enter SEC play at 11-2, and contend for a spot at the top of the conference. The only thing working against them is the strength of the other teams in the East, but if they can win the games they’re supposed to win, and stack that with some surprises, this team could find itself back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since their surprise SEC tournament-winning run in 2008.

6. South Carolina Gamecocks- The loss of Devon Downey is the primary reason for the Gamecocks likely slide to the bottom of the east this season. Yet, somehow South Carolina has earned a 7-2 start, losing only to top 10 teams. This is the biggest question mark in the SEC East, as this team has no reason to finish better than 8-8 in the SEC, but their play against teams like Michigan State has shown the talent and ability that could be extracted from this team if head coach Darren Horn can pull it out of them. Despite any true big man presence, South Carolina is 9th in the NCAA in rebounding, and in a league with no truly talented big man, the Gamecocks’ ability to crash the board could earn them invaluable second chance opportunities if they can stay on that pace. Their biggest problem will be finding offensive production in a league full of a tenacious defense. If the Gamecocks play to their potential, they could get to 10 wins in the SEC, but there are only so many wins to be divided among the conference, and its more than likely a host of talented SEC East teams will be taking a fair share of them from South Carolina.

Only time will tell whether or not this fast start for the SEC East is the real deal, but so far their games against big-time opponents seem to show there’s reason to believe it could be. College basketball as a whole is down this season, and so far, the SEC seems to be capitalizing on this fact.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

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“College Football Week 2: Monster Saturday”

The last time the Hurricanes and Buckeyes matched up was in the legendary 2002 National Championship Game. Could Miami get revenge in Columbus on Saturday?

  Though the NFL is underway, College Football is already heating up with a big time Week 2.  People are calling it “Monster Saturday.”  And it is sure to be a day that fans will remember in this young season.  Each week I am going to pick 3 to 5 of the marquee matchups, give you my predicted winner, and some brief thoughts.  

So the matchups of Week 2’s “Monster Saturday” are as follows:  

Georgia at South Carolina:  This is big time SEC matchup with two of the best coaches in the country going head to head.  My gut has been saying all week that Georgia can come in and take care of business in Gamecockville.  But my mind is saying to go with the home team.  And that is what I am going to do.  Both of these teams looked great against powder puff opponents in Week 1 (typical SEC move).  But the lack of AJ Green will hurt the Bulldogs.  Steve Spurrier is going to ride freshman phenom Marcus Lattimore to a major early season conference victory.  Look for this game to go down to the wire, but expect the Gamecocks to pull it out.  

Florida State at Oklahoma:  What a non conference matchup this is.  Talk about two teams showing balls and taking a risk playing a big time non conference foe.  You got to love it.  Christian Ponder looks outstanding and extremely poised in the pocket.  I guess that is what 3 years as a starter does for you.  Also do not sleep on Greg Reid returning punts.  Special teams always have a large effect on the outcome of big time games.  Florida State is starting to trek towards resembling the Seminoles of old.  But Oklahoma is no slouch either.  Now I know they looked pitiful in their opener.  But maybe it was a good thing to play a close football game already (not really)?  But DeMarco Murray is the most explosive player on the field when healthy.  Ryan Broyles is ready to break out and be considered with the best wide receivers in the country.  And Landry Jones, well, he will get better.  Though I feel Florida State is a very solid team that could make some noise in the ACC, I got the Sooners running away with this one at home.  Look for DeMarco Murray to make his presence felt and launch himself into the Heisman discussion (if he wasn’t already)   

Miami at Ohio State:  This is the game the whole country has been waiting for.  A rematch of the 2002 hotly debated National Championship game.  An instant classic.  Jacory Harris and the U looked like they had the swagger of the old U last weekend.  Ohio State did not look to shabby themselves.  But this is a whole new ball game.  The athleticism on both sides of the ball will be amazing in this one.  Also, this game matches up two of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country (though their styles in the past have been contrasting). Jacory has tended to stay in the pocket though, while Terrelle has always been big on using his legs to gain first downs.  Pryor appears to be transforming in front of our eyes though and is utilizing his intelligence and arm, rather than his legs now.  It has been an amazing transformation.  If this game was being played in Miami, I would give the Hurricanes a chance.  But it is no easy task to come into the Horseshoe and win a ball game.  Even Lebron James will be there, “staying true to his roots” and rooting for the Buckeyes.  I got Ohio State in a very entertaining affair.  

Michigan at Notre Dame:  Talk about history right?  These are your number 1 and 2 ranked programs all time in winning percentage.  Plus they are number 1 and 3 in all time wins.  This rivalry began in 1887 with some Wolverine dominance.  Eventually Notre Dame caught on to the game that people call football.  There have been two major hiatus in this rivalry, but this will be match up number 38.  Anyways, this game finally has some meaning for the first time since probably 2006.  Both teams looked very impressive in their first games and look to be on track towards having solid seasons.  There is one major newcomer to this rivalry though.  And that is Brian Kelly.  This coach has brought with him a whole plethora of tricks and winning knowledge.  Not to mention an excitement that South Bend has been lacking for the past few years.  Look for Notre Dame to have too much offense in this one, and win a tough game against the rival Wolverines.  South Bend will already be praising BK’s name at the end of this one.  I will state though, a victory for Rich Rodriguez in this clash would go a long way towards taking him off the hot seat in Ann Arbor. 

Penn State at Alabama:  Big Ten vs SEC.  Same old story right?  Sadly, in this case yes.  Even if Mark Ingram does not play, Alabama will prove to be too much for an overrated Penn State team.  I guess having Richardson is a plus for Coach Nick Saban.  Outside of Evan Royster and the emerging senior Brett Brackett at receiver, this Penn State team will be vastly overmatched.  Going into Bama with a Freshman quarterback?  Can you say “Roll Tide Roll?”  I do not care if Alabama has some question marks on defense, they are still mighty fast.  Sadly, I see this game being a blowout, but maybe Penn State will hang around for a while.  

So there you have “Monster Saturday.”  You got to love the Fall.  

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.  

-TheSportsKraze  

“You Can’t Be Serious”

In the words of the famous John McEnroe, “You can’t be serious.”  In a developing story that is finally hitting the internet, Georgia Athletic Director, Damon Evans, was arrested for drinking under the influence.  This story is absolutely ridiculous.  Evan’s actions on this evening should be a manual for what all UGA athletes should not do in life.  The AD is supposed to be the face of an athletic department.  A role model of sorts.

I will state that I am praying that none of this is actually true and this is just a story that really was depicted incorrectly to the public.  But if it is true, and it probably is..

This guy is an absolute joke.  Even if he gets off the hook and UGA does not fire him, I have no respect for the man. 

– First of all, Evans was driving like a maniac forcing an officer to pull him over.  So number one, he was putting others on the road in danger.  Not to mention himself, and his “passenger.” 

– That brings me to point number two.  His passenger.  Some 28-year-old Courtney Fuhrmann.  So what is the problem with this?  Oh yeah, Evans is a married man with two children.  And to top this point off, he had a pair of red panties in between his legs. 

– Point number three, he tried to use his power and the tactic of bribery to get off the hook.  Apparently Evans repeatedly said to the police officer, “I am not trying to bribe you, but I am the athletic director of the University of Georgia. 

– Point number four, if you have a hoe, get her in check my man.  Evan’s accomplice, Ms. Fuhrmann, would not stay in the car.  She disobeyed orders from the police officer and used the same tactic as Evans toward the officer.  Fuhrmann said to the officer, “Just to let you know, it will be erased because he is the athletic director of UGA and he has that power.” 

– Point number five, do not lie even more or you will develop a Pinocchio nose.  He claims that he was just taking the girl home and was just holding her panties because she took them off.  Fuhrmann told the officer that “they had only been seeing each other for a week or so.”  Not sure what story to believe?

I know people make mistakes and this sounds horrible.  But if this guy keeps his job, I will be in awe.  People constantly are making examples and pinpointing athletes as feeling that they are above the law.  This includes both college and professional athletes.  Evans apparently felt like he was above the law on this night.

Current University of Georgia Athletic Director, Damon Evans.

Thanks for playing right into that stereotype.  I will also state I feel bad for the conversations Evans will be having with his wife and family over the next couple of days.

It will be interesting. I still feel the way that I did when I first saw this story.  I am in absolute awe and do not think that this can be for serious.

I pray that this story has been misconstrued and portrayed incorrectly.  I do not want to believe that it is true.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze