Tag Archives: Team USA

Food for Thought 7-24-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Penn State will have to turn their back on the tarnished legacy of Joe Paterno (pictured above) moving forward.

By Josh Kramer

Think back to November 22, 1997.  On that particular day in history, Penn State defeated Wisconsin 35 to 10 at Beaver Stadium.  Mike McQueary was the starting quarterback and Jerry Sandusky was the defensive coordinator for Penn State.  Talk about the irony.  After Mark Emmert and the NCAA officially came down with the wrath of fury on the Penn State football program yesterday morning, this somewhat insignificant day of nearly 15 years ago will go down as the final victory of Joe Paterno’s career.

I know this will be hard for many of you to believe, but I am floored by the NCAA’s extremely harsh punishment on Penn State.  This punishment makes the infamous death penalty of 25 years ago at SMU look like child’s play.  I realize what went on at Penn State was arguably the most egregious act ever to occur in collegiate athletics.  I am well-aware of the magnitude.  These were despicable acts, but “criminal” acts at their core.  I feel the NCAA has completely overstepped their bounds and now are making current players and coaches, who had nothing to do with these horrific acts, pay the price.  And yes, I feel for the victims and their families who are still feeling the pain of the monster that is Jerry Sandusky.  Their pain is far deeper than that of the current players and coaches. Continue reading

“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

“USA All the Way”

Kevin Durant is looking to lead a young Team USA squad to it's first FIBA World Championship since 1994.

Team USA continues to roll and show the world that even without our cream of the crop superstars, we can still be dominant.  And many are probably saying, hold your horses.  It has only been two games.  The team has not played any of the major threats yet.  And when they did play a tough competitor, they squeeked out a win by the smallest of margins (86 to 85 exhibition win over Spain).

Now I will admit, I had my doubts about this team when I heard that Kobe, Lebron, Melo, Dwyane, nor Dwight Howard would be playing.  And frankly, I still do.  But this team little by little is starting to put my mind at ease.  They are young.  Full of speed.  Boasting with athleticism.  Long at every position. They have some great shooters.  And they are being led by Coach K, who all he knows how to do is Win, Win, Win.

I realize, this team still has three more pool play games before they even advance into the real tournament play.  Can Kevin Durant and the boys take care of business against Brazil, Iran, and Tunisia?  You better believe it.  But the real questions start to arise when this team has to take on teams like Greece, Spain, and Argentina.

Well have no fear, Kevin Durant is here.  This guy is the real deal.  He is a shooting star that is still only 21 years old.  He has quickly developed into one of the top all around players in the NBA, and possibly the best all around scorer.  The kid has length, athleticism, and a pretty stroke.  No team in this entire tournament, much less probably in the NBA, can really check this guy.  Not to mention he has players like Derrick Rose, the human fast break himself to dribble drive and free him up. 

I mean take a look at the US starting lineup.  A major strength that top teams in the NBA have as of late is great length at every position.  Durant is 6 foot 9 and long.  Iguodala is 6 foot 6 with phenomenal athleticism.  Lamar Odom is 6 foot 10 and reminiscent to a tree.  Plus our backcourt of Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups are both 6 foot 3 guys who can really get up and down the floor. 

I will admit when Coach K picked this team, I did not understand why guys like OJ Mayo or Rajon Rondo did not make the squad.  But now after seeing this team play, I am seeing the logic.  He has a great chemistry going with this squad with a group of guys who really complement each other well.  This has been a problem for US teams in the past, who have not been able to capture the FIBA World Championships since 1994.

Talent is not everything.  Sure it helps, but it will not win you a major title by itself.  Coaching, discipline, and overall team chemistry are what will take you to that Championship level.  This team appears to have it all.

Look for Team USA to go all the way and bring back the FIBA World Championship to the United States for the first time in 16 years.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“A Slow Day in Sports”

Kovalchuk inks a 17 year deal..

Jennie Finch is calling it quits..

Contador apologizes to fellow rider Schleck..

These are your main headlines for this lovely Tuesday morning.  Do you even know what sport Kovalchuk plays?  Did you know that Jennie Finch played a sport or is she just a bombshell model?  Do you have any idea who Contador and Schleck are and do you have any idea what the apology is for?

Now sure there is a bit of exaggeration there.  But in a summer jam packed with a thrilling NBA Finals, the French Open/Wimbledon, the World Cup, “The Decision,” and much more, these are some weak headlines.  And headlines that most would not look at twice.  Now me being a sports enthusiast realizes what these headlines are all pertaining to.  But for a normal fan, I would completely understand why you would immediately flip to page 2 and pray there are other things going on that are off interest.

So the first headline.  Yes you read that right.  An athlete signed a 17 year, 102 million dollar contract.  Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the best right wings in the NHL, and the New Jersey Devils just locked him up for the better part of 2 decades.  And no this guy is not a 15-year-old kid. He is 27.  The man will be taking the ice in New Jersey for the next 17 years!  Amare Stoudemire recently signed a 5 year deal with the Knicks for a little less than 100 million.  Kovalchuk is as good, if not a bigger star in his sport, yet he is only making 2 million more than Stoudemire in a contract that stems 12 years longer.  This is why I would much rather play in the NBA.  Plus the NBA is not nearly as violent.

The second main headline deals with probably the most famous softball player in the world, Jennie Finch.  Finch emerged onto the scene with Arizona  around 8 or 9 years ago with her great looks and amazing pitching abilities.  This girl put together a streak of 60 consecutive wins.  What if a pitcher in baseball accomplished that feat?  And then her stardom continued onto Team USA where she has been a mainstay ace on the staff for some time.  Her, Kat Osterman, and Lisa Fernandez have made up the best trifecta of pitchers softball has ever seen.  Team USA enjoyed a lot of success with these ladies leading the way.  Finch will be missed.

Then the last headline pertains to the Tour de France.  The former leader heading into Stage 15 was Andy Schleck.  Schleck had some bike difficulties yesterday and Contador sprinted ahead to take the lead while his opponent was down.  Many saw this as a sign of bad sportsmanship.  Contador tried to save face today by apologizing.  Contador is more well-known for his public conflict with cycling legend Lance Armstrong as a pose to his cycling prowess. Well maybe he is in the midst of forming another major conflict with famous cyclist Andy Schleck.  Contador may be better suited to star on the show “Gossip Girl” rather than being a professional cyclist.  He would probably be more well known.

The absolutely gorgeous Jennie Finch, who also modeled, is making headlines today for her expected retirement from competitive softball next month.

Should be interesting to see what happens down the stretch as the 2 compete for racing’s biggest prize.

So there you have it.  The main headlines pertain to an insane hockey contract that lasts longer than most athletes’ careers, a softball pitcher, and a cycling conflict.

Please let an NBA star or MLB star do something big today.  These headlines just aren’t cutting it from an entertainment standpoint.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze