Tag Archives: Kalin Lucas

“Weekly Nickel”

The Heat have now won 12 games in a row. The "Main Event" this week involves a matchup between the Heat and the Lakers on Christmas Day.

Its Monday.  And you all know what that means…

It is the start to another stellar week in the wide world of sports.  Lets take a look at the pulse of the action.

5.  Come Thursday, there should be a heavy focus on the NHL.  It should be no surprise to you why people should tune in to NHL Hockey.  Sure two of the top teams in the NHL are going head to head.  But it is the Kobe/Lebron matchup of the NHL.  Sid “the Kid” Crosby leads his Penguins to the nation’s capital to take on Alex Ovechkin.  Who you got?  Crosby or Ovechkin?

4.  College Football Bowl Madness continues.  3 of 35 are complete.  Lets keep them coming. 

Tuesday

Beef “O” Brady’s Bowl:  Southern Miss vs Louisville-America will get to see 1st year Louisville coach, Charlie Strong, lead his team into their first bowl game in 4 years.  Contrasting styles should make for a fun one in St. Petersburg.  Louisville has lived on its defense all year while Southern Miss has lived on its O.

Wednesday

MAACO Bowl:  Utah vs Boise State-This is hands down the best game of the week.  Two teams that were both ranked in the top 5 at different points during the course of this season.  Plus, this could be the last time we get to see Kellen Moore suit up in the Bronco Blue.  If you get to watch one College Football Game this week, watch this one.  You will not want to miss Titus Young and Austin Pettis play in their last game.  Outside of a kicking breakdown, Boise has played a near perfect season.

Thursday

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl:  Navy at San Diego State-Navy can straight pound the rock.  Not the most appealing game to watch.  But if you want to see some old school, smash mouth football, Navy is the team to watch.  San Diego State will provide some pass heavy offense, led by their QB, Ryan Lindley.

Friday

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl:  Hawaii vs Tulsa-Tulsa is one of the luckier teams in the country.  They first of all got to defeat Notre Dame in South Bend.  Now they get to head to Hawaii for a bowl game?  Not to shabby.  Both of these teams can really score.  Expect both offensive units to put up 35 plus in this one.  Hawaii has the most lethal passing attack in the country for a change and Tulsa is right up there as well.  The difference is that Tulsa can run the ball effectively too.  Take note of this fact when picking a winner for this one.

3.  Not the greatest week for College Hoops.  Christmas always is a time to spotlight the NBA.  But, there are some good matchups, especially on Wednesday.  Here is a look at the two marquee games on Wednesday.

Missouri vs Illinois:  One of the top dogs in the Big 12 takes on one of the better teams in the Big Ten.  Missouri plays basketball at a gut wrenching pace for all 40 minutes.  Welcome to the fastest 40 minutes in basketball.  Outside of Washington, not many teams play at this pace for the duration of games anymore.  Outside of a heartbreaking OT loss to Georgetown, a game they should have won, this team has looked pretty strong.  They will score points, averaging just under 86 a game.  Illinois on the other hand fell to the only other Big 12 foe they played this year (Texas), and are coming off of a shocking loss to Illinois-Chicago.  This team though also has beaten some very tough teams this season such as UNC and Gonzaga.  You will not want to miss this one.

Texas at Michigan State:  I applaud both of these squads for playing brutal non conference schedules.  They are already preparing their teams for March.  So what if they each have suffered multiple losses.  You cannot undervalue big game experience in November and December.  Please note though that all 3 of the Spartan’s losses are against current top 10 teams.  Texas did suffer a loss to an unranked foe in USC, but they have beaten some top-notch opponents such as Illinois and UNC.  This should just be a great all around game.  I will be very interested to see how Cory Joseph, the Longhorn’s freshman phenom, matches up with experienced Spartan guards such as Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, and Korie Lucious.  Should be a fun one to watch.

2.  I had to give Geno and his ladies some love.  Sure I realize that most are not as in to Women’s College Basketball as Men’s.  But this is history folks.  The great John Wooden’s record could fall.  Tomorrow (Tuesday) evening, Auriemma looks to make history.  The Lady Huskies go for their 89th consecutive win!  Yes I said 89th.  Can you imagine winning 89 straight games?  Can the Seminoles somehow stop this train?  Do not count on it.

1.  This week’s NBA slate will not disappoint.  Every night features a big time matchup.  Tonight, there are two great games.  The Magic bring their new look squad to the ATL to take on the always dangerous Hawks.  And the Mavs head to Miami to take on the red-hot Miami Heat.  Can the Mavericks cool off the South Beach All Stars?

On Tuesday, the Mavericks have to recover in a hurry as they head over to take on the new look Magic.  Come Wednesday, the Garden will get a taste of Kevin Durant.  Can he put on a big time performance against the overachieving Knicks?  Then Thursday, as Orlando continues on with their “hell week,” the Spurs come to town. 

Christmas is always an awesome day in the NBA though.  Boy did the League outdo themselves with the slate of games that they put together.

Chicago at New York:  Derrick Rose and the “Noahless” first place Bulls head to the Garden.  Big time players always put together memorable performances at MSG.  Plus it is Christmas.  Expect Derrick Rose to put up a triple double as he wows the New York crowd.  Now I will state, up until the 2nd half of the game vs the Heat on Friday, the Knicks had thoroughly impressed me.  They have played way above their talent level.  Amare looks like an MVP.  Gallineri is playing like an All Star and really has developed an all around offensive repertoire.  And Felton has rejuvenated his career.  So what if the New York guys are not quite at that Miami or Boston level.  They are good enough to make the playoffs this year.  Plus they have caught the attention of Melo.  You add Carmelo to this team, they are a contender in the East.  You add CP3, the Knicks are a title contender again.  Boy would that be fun.

Boston at Orlando:  The two teams that have owned the Eastern Conference the past 3 years link up in Disney World.  This is the final game of the Magic’s “Hell Week.”  Will Orlando have anything left in the tank for this one?  They will have already played the Hawks, the Mavericks, and the Spurs already before they even get to step on the floor with the C’s.  Boston is playing outstanding basketball.  Though they are missing Rondo, do not expect a huge drop off.  I am curious to see how the new look Magic match up with the Mean Green Fighting Machine.

Heat at Lakers:  Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Gasol, and Bosh on the same floor?  No this is not the All Star Game.  This is the primetime game of the day though.  And boy is it one that every basketball fan in the country has been waiting for. The Heat have gelled, winning 12 straight games.  There could not be better timing for this game.  All of the stars will be out (not just those on the floor).  Do not take away too much from this matchup though.  There is still a lot of basketball to be played.  But outside of Lebron’s return to Cleveland, this is the year’s most anticipated game up to this point. 

Also, there are two other games on Christmas.  It will be a Merry Basketball Day.

So there you have a look at this week’s main events.  And I did not even touch on the NFL’s Week 16.  You better believe that there is a ton going on.  Let me hear your thoughts.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

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“College Basketball Preview”

Super frosh, Kyrie Irving (pictured above on the right) has a lot to live up to at Duke. Could he be the next Jay Williams (pictured above on the left) and lead this team back to the Final Four?

College Basketball is back and better than ever folks..or is it?

Many of you probably do not even realize that regular season games have already been played.  I am not sure what the deal is with the lack of publicity thus far, but you better believe that come mid January (when College Football is done), College Basketball will be the center of attention again.  For many, it will become the prime event within the next week in that their College Football team is down and out.

In my opinion, NCAA Basketball has the best and most exciting tournament of them all.  March Madness may be the most consistently well done event that we have in American sports today. It never dissapoints. And yes, I realize that they expanded the tournament field, but you better believe the excitement will still be there come mid March.  Now a few years down the road when they hit their eventual goal of 96 teams, some of the luster may be faded.  But at this point, it will still be a top notch thrilling event.

A long while back, on July 13th to be exact, I gave my “Early Preseason Top 5.”  It read as follows:

1.  Duke

2.  Ohio State

3.  Michigan State

4.  Purdue

5. Butler

And my sleeper picks to make a run at the Final Four were UK, Syracuse, WVU, and Kansas State.

Not much has changed in my eyes from my super early preseason top 5.  There are a couple of minor changes though. 

Here is my real “Preseason Top Five.”

1.  Duke-The defending National Champs return the majority of last year’s squad.  Look for Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler to play at an All American level all year.  Expect the Plumlee brothers to emerge into a formidable post combo.  And do not forget about the arrival of super frosh point guard, Kyrie Irving.  This kid can flat out play with the top guards in the country already.  Plus a little Curry (Stephon Curry’s little brother) will be mixing in with the backcourt.  Coach K has much to like with this very deep and talented squad.

2.  Ohio State-I have said it numerous times, and I will say it again.  It is Final Four or bust this year for Ohio State.  With 4 returning starters, and arguably the best and most college ready Freshman Class in the country, this team will have the talent and the experience to ride all the way to the National Championship.  Thad Matta should be smiling all day and every day with this group.  The freshman class includes the likes of arguably the best big man in the entire country, Jared Sullinger,  a small forward in Deshaun Thomas that can get up and down the floor with the best in the country, a lock down defender in Aaron Craft, and the very smooth all around talent that is shooting guard Jordan Sibert.  Not to mention the Buckeyes feature a junior, that could take home Big Ten Player of the Year in William Buford, plus returning starters, Diebler, Lauderdale, and Lighty.  This team could definitely go the distance.

3.  Michigan State-Tom Izzo has been to 6 Final Fours in the last 12 years for a reason.  The only difference this year is Tom Izzo actually has a team with Final Four talent.  I can only imagine how good this team could be.  Kalin Lucas will be running the point and poised to show why he was Big Ten Player of the year 2 seasons ago.  Durrell Summers, Delvin Roe, Draymond Green, and Korie Lucious are full of experience and ability.  Plus Izzo brought in arguably the best Freshman Power Forward/Center in the country, in the very long and versatile Adreian Payne.  This team could be flat out scary.  I cannot wait to see them match up with Duke on December 1st and Ohio State on February 15th.

4.  Pittsburgh-This Pitt team appears to be the cream of the crop in the Big East.  Though they struggled against a tough Rhode Island team the other night, that is how Jamie Dixon likes it.  His Pitt squads over the years have typified the term, “Winning Ugly.”  This team brings back some very talented mainstays off of last year’s 25 win team such as Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker, and Gilbert Brown.  I will state that this team does not wow on paper as some of these other top teams I am discussing do.  But Pittsburgh always seems to find a way to win 25 plus games in the rugged Big East and I expect no different this year.  Look for Gibbs and Wanamaker to really lead this team to the top of the Big East.

5. Kansas State-Frank Martin’s Elite 8 team of a year ago looks poised to make another deep run this year.  And we all know if they don’t, they will have to deal with the wrath that is their Coach, Frank Martin.  This team is relatively young and will deeply miss guard Denis Clemente, but they will be led by two very talented seniors in Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly.  These two will provide one of the more formidable high low combos in the entire country.  Look for this team to be similar to Pittsburgh.  Very tough and hard working.  A team that beats you with defense and exceptional effort, especially on the boards.  Would you expect anything else from a Frank Martin coached team?

My sleepers to make a Final Four run are UK (depending on Kantor’s elgibility), North Carolina, Illinois, and Butler.

Key Items to Note

Number 1: Purdue will be Hummel-less this year.  Due to this fact, Purdue will no longer be a top 5 or even top 10 team.  They will be solid and make the tournament, but they are no longer a real “contender” in my eyes.  My condolences go out to Hummel, his family, and all of Boilermaker Nation.

Number 2: The Big Ten looks to be the cream of the crop without a doubt.  Basketball has been dominated by the Big East for the past 4 or 5 years, but the torch appears to have been passed to the old school Big Ten.  ESPN and many of the experts jumped the gun last year saying that the Big Ten was the elite conference.  Well now they are.  Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Purdue all look to be sure fire tourney squads.  And without Hummel going down, I would have said that Ohio State, Michigan State, and Purdue were all National Championship contenders.  Also do not sleep on a very experienced Illinois team and a very solid Bo Ryan led Wisconsin Badger team.  All of these squads are dangerous.

Third: Can Coach K bring home his 5th National Title?   You better believe that he can.  But will he?  There is a lot of basketball to be played, but on paper, Duke is definitely the team to beat.  Keep an eye on Super Frosh, Kyrie Irving.  He will provide fireworks for the Cameron Crazies.

Fourth: Can Brad Stevens lead Butler to another magical tournament run? The talent is there once again.  Shelvin Mack, Ronald Nored, and Matt Howard all return from last year’s National Runner Up.  Will the run continue?  Will Stevens stay through his entire 12 year contract?  We will find out soon.

So there you have it.  It is the Big Ten’s year to shine.  What a season we have in store.  The unpredictably of March Madness is always one of the most fascinating things that happens in sports.

In the words of Dickie V, “Its totally awesome baby!”

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Class of 2007 Hitting Stride”

Pictured above (from left to right), Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, and Eric Gordon. These three phenoms from the high school class of 2007 are all emerging now as NBA Superstars.

Eric Gordon put on a show for Team USA yesterday, as the Americans finished off pool play at the FIBA World Championships with an undefeated 5 and 0 record.  Gordon was extremely efficient, going 7 of 10 from the floor with 21 points.  Many people are clamoring for the kid to get a starting spot.  “Air Gordon,” as many from the Indiana area like to call him, is one of many rapidly developing stars from the mythical 2007 High School Basketball Class.  The legend of this class is continuing to mount by the day.

People remember how quickly this group took over the College game (they still are running the College game as I will talk about later).  Now this group is finally starting to make some real noise in the professional game.  And want to know the scariest part?  These kids, on a traditional path, would be entering their senior year of college now.  Could John Calipari and the young blood Kentucky Wildcats have handled that?  Could the College Game have handled these phenomenal talents hanging around for the old and traditional, 4 year college experience?

Now take a moment to think about who was in this class.  Here is a rundown from the Rivals 2007 rankings:

Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, Kyle Singler, Kevin Love, Bill Walker, JJ Hickson, James Harden, Anthony Randolph, Jerryd Bayless, Austin Freeman, Patrick Patterson, Jonny Flynn, Blake Griffin, C0rey Fisher, Cole Aldrich, E’Twaun Moore, Kalin Lucas, Nolan Smith, Andrew Ogilvy, JaJuan Johnson, LaceDarius Dunn, Evan Turner, Jeff Teague

This is 25 names from that year’s Rivals top 50.  Right away you should recognize every one of those names.  First of all it goes without saying that the guys that are now currently in the League did big things at the College level.  Michael Beasley, during his freshman campaign, was the real National Player of the Year in my eyes, regardless if they gave it to Tyler Hansborough.  Derrick Rose took his team to the National Championship game.  OJ Mayo put on quite the show in Southern California. Blake Griffin took home a National Player of the Year Award his sophomore year.  Evan Turner was the National Player of the Year last season.  Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler led Duke to a National Championship last season.  And I could go on and on. 

Current NCAA Scene:

Though there are only a few guys from this list (above) that have not gone to the League yet, the remaining are the guys that will run the College game this upcoming season.  Singler and Nolan Smith lead a team that many expect to repeat as National Champions in Duke.  Corey Fisher is the best returning player in the Big East and is expected to lead Villanova deep into March.  E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson have returned for their senior years to lead Purdue to a Final Four.  Kalin Lucas will be back to lead the Spartans back to yet another Final Four.  LaceDarius Dunn is the best player in the Big 12 and ready to get Baylor over the hump.  And I could go on.

Current NBA Scene:

Eric Gordon dropped 17 points a game last year for the Clippers and is wowing people at the FIBA World Basketball Championships.  He will finally get to form the dynamic duo with Blake Griffin that Clipper’s nation has been waiting for.  Griffin is  healthy and expected by many to bring home the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award.  OJ Mayo has dropped an average of 18 points a game over his first two seasons and is occasionally mentioned in the same breath as the League’s Elite (Kobe, Melo, Wade).  The kid continues to improve and along with Rudy Gay, provides the Grizzlies with some bright prospects for the future.  Then of course there is All Star point guard, Derrick Rose.  Rose is quickly developing into the best point guard in the NBA and is globally renowned for his amazing speed and tenacity.  People refer to him as “The Human Fast Break.”  The guy saves his best performances for the playoffs and will be the leader of a very formidable Bull’s team this upcoming season.

So there you have it.  The Class of 2007, has not only taken over the College Game, they are starting to emerge with the NBA’s elite as well.  Most of these kids are at the ripe age of 21 years old.  Can you think of a better age to have fun and take over the game?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“My Early College Basketball Top 5”

Kyrie Irving gives Coach K a preview of his amazing pentrating ability while starring for Team USA. This kid will be a diaper dandy according to Dickie V.

With all the commotion today regarding the new 68 team format, I started thinking about who will be the team’s playing in Houston come next April.  Now I will admit that at this point, I am not gung-ho about the 68 team format, but it is better than what could have been (96).  Though I do think we will hit 96 teams within the next 5 years.  This was a ploy by the NCAA to ween people onto the idea of more teams into the tourney.  But that is a story for another day.

So my early top 5:

1.  Duke:

This was a no brainer pretty much.  The Dukies are the defending National Champions.  They have arguably the best coach in the country.  Not to mention they are the only 4 year program left in America.  With stars Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith returning, and the addition of super point guard Kyrie Irving (you will hear more about this kid in the very near future), this team will once again boast the toughest trio in the country.  Duke looks to be a definite team that will be playing at Reliant Stadium come next April.

2.  Ohio State

Now many of you are sitting there like, this team just lost their superstar Evan Turner.  How are they even being considered a top 10 team?  I will tell you why, All Ohio Red.  This is the top AAU team in the country and Ohio State has 3 blue chip recruits coming from this team, plus a couple of other studs.  Jared Sullinger will be an instant impact player and I fully expect him to be in the running for Big Ten player of the year.  I have talked about this in past blogs.  This team has a great chemistry with their incoming recruits.  The kids have played together for years and won together.  Not to mention Ohio State has 3 returning senior starters, plus an emerging star in William Buford (who will be junior).  This team is forreal.  And they have that rare mix of great experience, and phenomenal talent.  Thad Matta should have a lot of fun with this squad.  In today’s college game, it is very rare to have a great mix of talented seniors and freshman.

3.  Michigan State

You better believe that this team is hungry and excited to have their fearless leader, Tom Izzo back.  Izzo always seems to find a way to take his team deep into March whether he has the talent or not.  This year though, he has the talent.  With Kalin Lucas (hopefully healthy), Durrell Summers, Draymond Green, and the extremely talented Delvin Roe, this team has a fantastic core.  Plus the addition of super center, Adreian Payne, from that amazing All Ohio Red team. These guys will beat you up inside.  This is a typical Tom Izzo team, but with more talent than he has had the past few years.  These guys are very dangerous and hungry to return back to the Final Four for a 3rd consecutive year.

4.  Purdue

The Boilermakers are the real deal.  And not the real deal like Gene Keady’s hair.  This team will miss their rock Chris Kramer, but their talent and experience should make up for the loss of Kramer’s intensity level.  Kramer was the only senior on the squad who saw significant time.  They return a team that spent most of the year ranked in the top 5.  A team that everyone thought had a legitimate chance to be playing in Indy before Robby Hummel went down.  If Hummel comes back at full strength, I feel like the three-headed monster of Hummel, Moore, and Johnson will be near unstoppable.  These three seniors are hungry to finally live up to the billing.  And this should be the year.

5.  Butler

This team was no Cinderella last year regardless if that is how America labeled them.  They were top 10 in the preseason for a reason and I am giving them the love again this year.  Though the loss of Gordon Hayward will hurt, they return Shelvin Mack, Matt Howard, and Ronald Nored.  Not to mention they have a very intriguing prospect coming by the name of Khyle Marshall.  Marshall is not extremely highly touted, but has a similar style to a Gordon Hayward.  Lastly, Brad Stevens is a fantastic coach.  This man, though he had a talented team, outcoached coaching legends like Jim Boeheim and Tom Izzo.  So do not be surprised if this team goes deep into the tournament again.

Sleepers:  Kentucky, Syracuse, West Virginia, and Kansas State (all teams that I could see sneaking into the Final Four)

So there you have my top 5.  One thing of note.  The Big Ten will be the top conference this year.  I know many ESPN guys said that they would be the top conference last year.  I feel like they jumped the gun and were a year early.  They had a lot of solid teams last year, but this year, they have great teams at the top, and some depth.  With the loss of only one player (Evan Turner), these teams will be deep, talented, and experienced.

In the words of Dickie V, “It’s totally awesome baby with a capital A!”

You got to love College Basketball.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze