Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ode to Gillispie

Billy G is officially gone. I don’t feel the relief or happiness that a lot of fans feel, but I’m not bummed out about it. UK’s mistake was rushing into hiring G. There as only a two week span between Tubby Smith leaving and Gillispie’s hiring. That’s not enough time to let the tension around the situation dissolve and evaluate a few choices for the job. What makes things worse is that UK got permission to speak with Gillispie on April 5, 2007 and Gillispie accepted the job on April 6. I was a bit glad to hear that Florida coach Billy Donovan turned down the job because UK would have been making the same mistake. I heard many people talking about how Donovan flew into Lexington Thursday night and would be announced as coach on Friday morning. One day we’ll learn that hiring the right coach takes longer than 24 hours.

I’ve criticized G’s technique and strategy ad nauseum, but I do think that if you hire a guy that you have to give him at least 3 years to showcase himself. The first year is a season of trial and error. Last year Gillispie won 18 games lost their first game in the SEC Tournament as well as the NCAA Tournament. The second season is getting a sense of “your guys” and really getting into the atmosphere. This year he won 22 games, won a game in the SEC tourney and won 2 games in the NIT. By the third year it’s go time. You’ve had your guys for two years and had a chance to work with the predecessors guys. Billy G never got that and in a sense it’s unfair. Not to mention that whether many fans want to admit it or not, he was stepping into some pretty big shoes. Tubby had a championship to his name, never won less than 22 games in a season at UK and was a model citizen to boot. Gillispie’s short answers to the press, love for the booze and alleged affection for the co-eds didn’t play well in Lexington. According to all reports, that’s the same guy he was at UTEP and Texas A&M so why would he be any different here? Again, that’s our fault for hiring a coach without really finding out what he’s about off the basketball court.

So what now? I don’t know to be honest with you. Donovan officially turned the job down today. I’ve heard Rick Barnes (Texas), Mark Few (Gonzaga) and Tom Izzo’s(Michigan State) names as well but I have a hard time believing any of those guys would leave for the excessively bright limelight that comes with the Kentucky job. Do you take Calipari fresh off an upset and “just” a Sweet Sixteen appearance? Calipari gets guys with less than pristine track records and I don’t know how that would fly here. I remember a few years ago, people wanted Gerald Fitch off of the team for using a fake ID to get into a bar. Calipari’s star freshman Tyreke Evans was involved in driving the getaway car during a drive-by shooting where a guy got killed, and Calipari welcomed him with open arms. I don’t know who the ideal guy is, but after being scorned I think it has to be a high character guy. Make no mistakes about it, if G won 30 games this year and the Cats were still playing ball, he could have went Fatal Attraction on Flo Rida’s rabbit and no one would have cared. That’s why I’m not buying the “irreconcilable differences” excuse as the reason why Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart. Winning makes anything reconcilable.

I think Coach Gillispie will land on his feet somewhere. I hear that the Texas Tech job may become open and that’d be ideal for him. He could back to his home state of Texas, and be able to do as he pleases out of the public light. I didn’t always agree with his decisions, but I don’t think he got a far shake and I wish well at his next venture. I do have to wonder what becomes of Daniel Orton and Jon Hood. Orton, the #3 center in the country, is supposed to be the big man UK has lacked since the heyday of Jamaal Magloire. Jon Hood, the #7 shooting guard in the country, is a Kentucky native who was expected to bring a big spark off of the bench. Now, who knows if either of those guys comes. The good news is that Meeks and Patterson are reportedly on board to return next season after the firing of Gillispie, but somehow I don’t see that as enough to guarantee us a spot in the Final Four as many other (read: delusional) fans are predicting. I’m interested to see how this will play out and I wonder if we will learn our lesson in hiring a coach, or blindly stumble into another situation destined to struggle from the get go.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How much does it suck...

...to be Taylor Griffin?

You may know him as the younger brother of Blake Griffin. Blake is younger, better and has a full head of hair. Taylor Griffin has to watch his brother get all the praise and then go home to apply his Rogaine in the dorms bathroom. Gone are the days when the big brother had something to hang his hat on. I don't like this era one bit. Give me the days of the McGwire brothers or the Vick brothers where the older brother was the model of excellence and the younger brother was the failure. I don't like this era. I don't like it one bit.

I remember you said you weren't a big fan of Jimmy Kimmel, but I can't remember how you felt about Adam Carolla. Either way, he's got his own podcast and I'm becoming a fast fan. If you haven't heard it, I'd definitely recommend it. It's funny you brought up Where the Wild Things Are, because Carolla just finished a podcast with Kimmel talking about how he went back and read the book to his daughter and realized how poorly written it was. Funny stuff.

I stumbled on to Winehouse around a year ago by accident and loved Back to Black. To this day, it's one of the few albums where I can hear one song of it, and instantly want to go listen to the rest of the album. I asked because I recently listened to Frank, her first album. It was OK, but nowhere near as good as Back to Black. I really wish she'd kick the habit, or at least learn to work through/around it, because I'd like another album from here. I also like to see her do an entire album with someone like Kanye. I think her voice is soulful enough to work well with him for 12 or 13 tracks...minus the AutoTune.

Maybe we were all wrong about Kiffin. Maybe he was a creep and told nothing but lies to Al Davis over the course of years, months, days...and time. Maybe old Al isn't as senile as we think he is. I understand Kiffin wanting to get Tennessee's name back out there. Nothing wrong with that but I'm going to go ahead and guess that it's a bad idea to badmouth three of the better teams in the East division of the SEC. Kiffin should have thrown some jabs at Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Arkansas first. Now, he's upset Mark Richt, Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier. Three guys who are not shy about running the score up on anyone. Now they get to play against Kiffin and a rebuilding team? Is there any chance Florida doesn't beat UT by at least 40 points this season? Bad move by you Lane.

Here's my thing with T.I., and I know you've been through this before. T.I. is an artist that I've followed his whole career. He came out in Georgia in around 2000 or 2001 and I've been a fan since his first album. For the longest time I felt he was criminally underrated in the rap game. Now that he has blown up, I think he's dangerously close to being overrated. If you're looking for T.I. at his best, I recommend Trap Muzik and Urban Legend, his second and third albums. Now that he has become more popular, he has to make more music for the people, hence songs with Rihanna and Justin Timberlake. Nothing against JT or Rihanna, but that's not the T.I. that I became a fan of. The T.I. I became a fan of made classics like "Doin My Job", "Bezzle" and "King of Da South", not features with whoever the biggest name in the game is at the time. "Touchdown" off of King, featuring Eminem might be the worst song I have ever heard and "Live Your Life" got no play from me either. I am glad T.I. is having success, but I do miss the hunger that got him to where he is instead of just bragging about it now that he's there.

I have actually never heard any of MF Doom's work. I have heard people talk about him, but never gave him a listen. I'll see what I can find on him, and I'll try not to take nearly as long as I did with the Cool Kids.

The Cats lost last night which surprised no one who was watched the team this year. I've watched Notre Dame a couple of times and every time I see them, Harangody is dominant. I don't think he could outrun me or jump over the Sunday newspaper, but he can play ball. Watching the game last night, I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I could fuse Harangody's game into Patrick Patterson's body. ND defended Meeks to perfection and forced anyone else to beat them, and no one could. Josh Harrellson came in hit a nice hook shot over Harangody, who gave up 3-4 inches too him. Harrellson took no more shots after that and only played 5 minutes in the game. AJ Stewart came in and took 3 shots in 3 minutes and was yanked. Granted he only hit one of them, but he was trying. You're not going to find a third scorer if all you do is run plays for two guys. I just don't understand what Billy G is trying to do here. It's one thing if the guys aren't out there executing set plays, or don't have the talent to finish them, but I honestly have no idea what his strategy is game in and game out. There's a lot of talk about G being back next year, and honestly I think he's coaching this team next year, for better or worse. I think if you hire a guy at any level, you have to give him at least 3 years before giving up on him.

But since you asked, if I had to have one guy it'd be Calipari easily. I know a lot of fans would love to see an alum like Travis Ford or Doug Pelphrey come back, but they're not ready yet. Calipari is. He's a relatively young guy at 50 years old, and has had success at every where he has went. He got UMass on the map and has won at least 33 games in his last 4 seasons at Memphis. I think his one coaching "failure" is overrated. He coached the New Jersey Nets for 2 and a half seasons. His first season, he won 26 games with Kendall Gill as his leading scorer. Yea, that Kendall Gill. His second year he took a team lead by Keith Van Horn, Kerry Kittles and Jayson Williams to the playoffs. When Keith Van Horn is your leading scorer, and you make it to the playoffs, that is one hell of a coaching job. The following year in the lockout shortened season, he got off to a terrible start and was fired. Not coincidentally, that was Stephon Marbury's first season as a Net. After that he jumped back to college and never looked back. He's dominated mediocre conferences and held his own in the NBA, but he's never coached in a basketball state. He can obviously coach, and he constantly brings in good recruits. If he really wants to push himself into the Pitino-Williams-Coach K echelon of coaches, he has to take on a bigger school. If he wants his name amongst the greats, he comes to UK. If he's content winning 30 games a year in a terrible conference, he stays put. For a guy that made the leap to the NBA, I have to believe he wants to be seen as an elite coach which is why I predict him to be UK's coach...in the 2010-11 season.

Orlando won a big game against Boston last night to give us the #2 seed in the East for the time being. I won't get too worked up because we were at home, Leon Powe didn't play and KG only played 17 minutes. Just a few notes on the game.

-Paul Pierce is severely underrated. Ive always liked his game but it’s easy to forget how good he is because of Rondo, Allen and KG. He kept them in this game with shot after shot. He can get his shot off at any time, his midrange game is second to none and with that BS pump fake that keeps getting called, he can get to the line whenever he wants.. Why Hedo Turkoglu, our worst defender, guarded him down the stretch was beyond me.

- We let go of a 16 point lead because we went away from Dwight even though he was dominating. Its really amazing to watch his game evolve. Watching all the highlights, all you see are the amazing dunks…and there are still plenty of those. But what they don’t show is how he can take over a game in so many ways. There was a 3-4 minute stretch where after a missed shot, every Celtic immediately headed back down the floor because there was no doubt Dwight was getting the rebound. His defense is also much improved. He had a game-saving block against Pierce with 3.8 seconds left. I can’t give enough credit to Patrick Ewing for working with Dwight. Seeing a guy that can do nothing but dunk evolve into a guy who can go left or right off the dribble and is adding a hook shot to his game is really something. I understand that we go away from him in the 4th quarter because teams may put him on the free throw line, but after watching us botch possession after possession and watching the Celtics gain momentum, is that the worst thing in the world? There's a good chance he hits at least one FT, and at the very least it slows down Boston's momentum.

-That's the second time we've let Boston close a big lead on us late in the game. The reason is that we don't have a late game closer. Last year, you could count on Turk to hit a big shot or two to quiet a run, but he's not the same this year. Earlier in the year, Nelson would take the big shots, but now he's out. I'm intrigued as to why Rashard Lewis hasn't stepped up because this will come back to bite us in the playoffs.

-We can't get away from those damn Pistons. When we were third, they were sixth which sets us up for a first round matchup. Then we go on a run and make it the #2 seed, and Detroit falls to #7. My only hope is that AI comes back, kills their chemistry and they fall out of the playoffs all together. I'd rather play Boston than Detroit in a 7 game series.

Is it just me or does Twitter seem incredibly pointless?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I Will Step on Lane Kiffin's Face


Seriously.
He went from a being a sympathetic figure to being a terribly obnoxious twerp in no time at all.
A matter of months ago, I felt bad for the guy. "Al Davis is crazy. Kiffin was fired before he was really given a chance." And so on, and so forth.
Now I can barely stand to look at him. All of his accusations and ridiculous attempts at recruiting are just getting so tired. I just want him to stop talking. I want him to disappear into the ether, with nary a trace that he was ever on God's green earth.

Kentucky lost in the NIT.
Nice.
Meeks started out slow, but really turned it on in the second half. It was too little, too late though. Harangody absolutely killed the Cats. He was hitting from everywhere.
So what becomes of Gillespie? I would figure that he will be back next year, even with this failure of a season. There will be people calling for his head, and that's completely understandable. They had two incredibly talented players (Patterson & Meeks), yet he could not develop another scorer. Their offense had no flow whatsoever, and he seemed incapable of making in-game adjustments. Shouldn't a good coach be able to do those things?
If you could take one coach to replace Gillespie with, who would it be?

Are you a fan of MF Doom? His new album (Born Like This) dropped yesterday, and I really liked it. He sounds the same as he always has, but that's not a bad thing. Great production, too.

I listened to a couple T.I. albums the past couple of days, and here's my short thoughts: I enjoyed the majority of King. I plan on listening to it again in the not-too-distant future just to make sure. There were a couple of tracks I wasn't too fond of (though I can't remember their names right now), but, overall I liked it.
Paper Trails, however, is another story entirely. I liked the song he did with Rihanna ("Live Your Life"), but I didn't even like the whole song. The rest of the album seemed pretty terrible. The lyrics were lazy (at best), the majority of them talking about either his guns, his impending prison sentence, and how great of a rapper he is. No thanks.

And just throwing this out there. A trailer for Where the Wild Things Are showed up today, complete with music from Arcade Fire. This is one of my all-time favorite kid's books, and I've been looking forward to this movie for quite some time. After seeing the preview, all of my expectations have been shattered. From the looks of it, they nailed the brilliant imagery of the book. I'm extremely excited about this movie. Check out the trailer, if you haven't already.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bracket Bustin' and Cutler Hatin'

Well, my bracket is already pretty screwed (surprise surprise), but here's what I have.

I have Louisville coming out of the Midwest (beating Kansas to get to the Final Four). Not a big surprise, but I have them beating Wake Forest to get to the Elite Eight. Oops. I had Siena over Ohio State and Arizona over Utah, so I feel kind of good about that.

I have Memphis coming out of the West (beating UConn to get to the Final Four). This portion of the bracket is pretty well in tact, except for Mississippi State. I figured they would carry over some momentum from the SEC Tournament. I was wrong. I actually have them losing to UConn in the Sweet Sixteen.

I have UCLA coming out of the East (beating Pitt to get to the Final Four). On my second bracket, I had chosen VCU to win that game, and I was cheering for them. They really should've won. What kind of last play was that, anyway? I had Minnesota beating Texas, then beating Duke in the second round. That didn't turn out so well. I also had Florida State over Wisconsin, then Florida State over Xavier in the second round.

I have Gonzaga coming out of the South (beating Oklahoma to get to the Final Four). I had WKU winning, but I also had Temple beating Arizona State, then beating Syracuse in the second round.

In the Final Four I have Gonzaga over UCLA and Memphis over Louisville. Memphis once again falls short, as Gonzaga emerges victorious.

I still have all my Elite Eight teams alive, which is pretty impressive. I normally lose at least one of those on opening weekend. After seeing some of the performances, I'm not confident that they'll all make it out of the second round, but it's not looking too bad right now. The UCLA/Nova game is on right now. I love this time of year.

Cutler:
This story is getting stranger every day. I don't know what to believe. Cutler is talking about how poorly he is being treated, then McDaniels talks about how none of that stuff happened, and Cutler seemed perfectly fine at the meeting. I know there's two sides to every story, but this is ridiculous. Someone is lying like crazy, and I don't know who it is. Since Cutler is coming off as a petulant child, I'm inclined to believe McDaniels, but not fully.
Personally, I would see what I could get for Cutler. The system McDaniels will be installing in Denver is different than what they ran last year. He doesn't necessarily need a guy with a strong arm. He needs a smart quarterback who is capable of minimal mistakes. I don't think that describes Cutler.
However, I don't think that describes Stafford, either. In fact, if I was McDaniels, I wouldn't want Stafford anywhere near Denver.
It should be interesting to see how this plays out.

I finally watched Jimmy Fallon's show. I expected it to be terrible, and it was (somehow) even worse than I could've imagined. He's not funny. Not even a little bit. In fact, judging from the laughter, not even the audience thought he was funny. His monologue was terrible. He had a stupid skit about his tie that went on for way too long. And, on top of that, he has incorporated The Roots into his hellish show. I don't know why they agreed to do it, and I bet they're wondering that themselves at this moment. It's a terrible show, and a massive waste of a talented band. I think I'll go cry now.

I just watched a new show called East Bound and Down. It's on HBO. It's about a MLB closer who lost his fastball and is now teaching PE at his old high school. You have to watch it. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.
This isn't the best clip of the show, but it should give you a good idea of how it looks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NIT fever! Catch it!

Wow. You really weren't kidding when you told me about a Nic Cage movie where he dresses up like a bear and beats up women and children. I apologize for ever doubting you. If anyone knows a thing or two about awful moves, its you my friend.

For Spring Break, I plan on watching as much College Basketball as I can without worrying about which class to skip so I can catch the 1:00 game. I think UK planned Spring Break around the first week of March Madness on purpose. There could have been riots for those NIT tickets!

Before my NCAA picks, I'll touch on Cutler for a second. Wait that didn't sound right. I'll talk about Cutler for a second. Much better. Do I think he's overreacting? Yes, but I do think he has a right to be a little mad. He's the only reason the Broncos had any type of success last season, and he was one game away from winning his division with a terrible run game and a worse defense, yet they shop him around? The real creep here is McDaniels who tried to go around Belichick to bring in Cassel. Of course, Belichick finds out and deals Cassel to the Broncos division rival, Kansas City. New England had to get better offers for Cassel than a second round pick. You know Belichick sent him to KC, just to spite McDaniels. Check and Mate. Now if I'm the Lions, I'm calling Denver daily to inquire about Cutler. Detroit has the #1 and #20 pick in this years draft. The #20 pick should do it, seeing as Cassel just went for a second rounder, but if Denver wants the #1, then trade that. The #20 pick will still be high enough for them to land a good player. If McDaniels wants to mold a QB so badly, he can start with a clean slate in Stafford. I also can't see why Minnesota hasn't offered their first round pick for Cutler. It's obvious Cutler needs to be catered to. If I'm Minnesota I offer my first rounder for Cutler and throw a parade for him once he gets here. The number of teams that could use a QB like Cutler is high and its surprising that so many seem to be dragging their feet.

I made a bracket and attempted to post it, but it was barely readable so I'll just hit a couple highlights from each region.

Midwest aka Louisville Bracket
-I have #12 seed Arizona and #10 USC making it to the Sweet Sixteen.
-I have #11 Dayton pulling the upset over #6 WVU. I know nothing about either of these teams, but there seems to be at least one 11 over 6 each year.
-Louisville wins this region and advances to the Final Four. I hate to pick Louisville here. Not because they are a rival, but because everyone is picking them. I'd love to pick against them, but they really have no competition in this bracket.

West- UConn bracket
-UConn is good, but they don't impress me. I'm sticking with my original sleeper pick of #13 Mississippi State. I have them beating UConn to advance to the Elite Eight.
- #11 Utah State advances to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to #2 Memphis.
-Memphis beats Mississippi State to advance to the Final Four.

East- Pittsburgh bracket
-#12 Wisconsin and #6 UCLA make it to the Sweet Sixteen. UCLA has been flying under the radar. They've made three straight Final Fours and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if they made another great run. They definitely have the talent and are well coached.
-I have #10 Minnesota beating #7 Texas before losing to Duke.
-I wrote a little about Duke earlier, and I'm sticking with them. I think they beat Pittsburgh to get to the Final Four.

South- UNC bracket
-I see UNC going one of two ways. Either they pull it together and defeat everyone soundly on their way to a title or they go out early. I went with option B. I have #8 LSU beating them to get to the Sweet Sixteen. I can already see Tyler Hansborough tearing up during the postgame interview. Grown Men Crying: Where March Madness Happens.
-Syracuse and Oklahoma meet up in the Sweet Sixteen for an epic battle that Oklahoma comes out on top of.
-Oklahoma beats Gonzaga to get to the Final Four. I'm not that sold on Oklahoma but they have the best player in the tournament in what is likely his last year. I could see him throwing up a couple 20-20's.

Final Four
Louisville has a great team and they are obviously well coached, but I'm not sold on them. This is the same team that:
-Lost to WKU by 14 points
-Lost to the same UNLV team that UK just beat in the NIT.
-Beat UK on a last second 30 foot shot.
-Lost to Notre Dame by 33 points just last month.
I know Memphis has played inferior competition, but they've won 25 games in a row and despite who you're playing, that's impressive. They're last loss came to #3 seed Syracuse. Memphis wins this one to go to the Championship.

On the other side Duke faces Oklahoma. The same thing that got Duke here, a guard dominant offense, will be their downfall against Oklahoma. They don't have anyone to guard Griffin and guard Willie Warren should have his way with Paulus/Smith/whoever guards him. Oklahoma makes it to the title game.

Championship
John Calipari has been to the Finals twice and come up empty handed both times. This time he succeeds. The year after Derrick Rose, Calipari gets his first title and cuts down the nets over Oklahoma.

This next prediction is on the house: After Calipari wins the championship, he becomes the short list for UK's next coach. Regardless of what Gillispie does this off season and next season, fans will openly beg for Calipari.


I have a video for you. There are no masks or bear suits, but there is Phil Collins, and what more do you really need? Oh yeah, Phillip Bailey.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Catching up

Sorry for my absence. School n' stuff. Midterms tried to kill me, but I emerged (semi) victorious. I will now enjoy a week of relaxing, sleeping, and whatever else it is I decide to do. You doing anything for Spring Break?

I'm glad you dug the Cool Kids. I have the same feeling about them. I really like that album every time I listen to it, but when pressed for my favorite song, I respond, "What Up Man". I'm not sure if it's my favorite song or not, but it's the first track on the album, so it's the only one I really recognize right off the bat (well, I know "Mikey Rocks" as well, but I'm not quite as fond of that one). It's a nice little album, and I'm excited to see what they'll do next. I'll take the Cool Kids over Soulja Boy any day.

I'm not sure how I feel about Lil Wayne's trip into the realm of rock. I heard one song and was less than thrilled. I'm coming around to him as a rapper, but I'm still not sold yet. The history of rappers making the transition to rock music is not great. Mos Def tried to do it with Black Jack (even integrating some of that sound into The New Danger), and it failed miserably (this coming from a pretty big Mos Def fan). Kanye's recent trip into the R&B/pop/autotune realm produced less than terrific results. It seems like these things work best when they don't try to change their delivery. Swap out programmed beats and keyboards for thrashing drums and crunchy guitars, but keep the rapping. Please, PLEASE don't try to sing. This worked out to perfection with Run DMC. The Roots live show is full of stuff like that. It can work, but it has to be done well. I don't see Lil Wayne doing it well.

My thoughts on Amy Winehouse? Hated her first album (Frank), but I found myself enjoying Back to Black pretty well. There aren't a whole lot of artists who can pull off that sound as convincingly as she was able to. It sounded like a recently unearthed treasure from the Motown era. It's hard for me to listen to now, as I can only think of how crazy she has become, but it still holds up, in spite of that. The music is perfect, and her voice is amazing. I hope she is able to overcome her myriad of personal troubles, because I really want to hear what she'll do next.

Glad to see you giving hockey a shot. Don't give up on it, and listen to whatever Ben tells you about it. It's a game that gets better the more you understand it.

I believe you already know my feeling on Shaq. I've never liked the guy. Sure, he was a force, but it's not until recently that people are starting to say, "Hey...maybe this guy isn't the best teammate. Maybe he's not as funny as we all thought he was. Maybe he's a massive jerk." I've been saying that stuff for years. It does seem, however, that his comments are getting more and more ridiculous. His opinion of himself has somehow gotten better while his play has been in steady decline. "Glory days...well they'll pass you by..."

Still haven't caught Jimmy Fallon's show. Something about The Roots being his backing band makes me sad. The most talented hip-hop group in recent memory is playing Paul Schaffer to a giggling jackass? No thank you. I have heard, however, that his show is better than expected. That's kind of like saying that Barry Bonds' head isn't nearly as big as you thought it would be. It's still big...just not the size of a planet. I'll try to watch Fallon's show at some point...I'm just not ready yet.

I'm all for the Bengals keeping Benson. He played well for them last year...MUCH better than everyone thought. I don't know if he'll do it again this year (or if he'll be able to stay off the police radar), but it's worth the risk.

No March Madness for the Cats. Sure, it's kind of depressing, but they should do decent in the NIT. What would you rather have; a first round exit in the NCAA Tournament, or a deep run in the NIT? (I'd pick the NCAA Tournament, as I'm sure you will, but it's better than nothing.)
Despite the Cats not making it, I'm still hyped for this. I love the tournment. I watch a whole lot of college basketball (though I have watched more this year than I have in previous years), but I always make sure to tune in for this. Love it. I'll be filling out a bracket later today, and I'll share the results. I don't predict I will do well, but it's all good.

Cutler: massive baby?

I'll leave you with this video. It's one of my favorites.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Leave Benson alone!

First a little Bengals banter, and then on to the most wonderful time of the year.

There's been a lot of criticism about the Bengals letting TJ Houshmandzadeh go and re-signing Cedric Benson. Personally, I love those moves and applaud the front office for showing signs of competency. Under no conditions would I want to pay a 32 year old moody possession receiver 40 million dollars. TJ is a #2 receiver and he will prove it in Seattle. He will get his numbers because of the West Coast offense but he won't draw attention away from other receivers, and that's the mark of a true #1 receiver. TJ showed his true colors by trying to play the Eagles by saying he was going to give them a discount, but actually telling them higher offers than he told other teams, and by signing with a team that won 4 games last season. People often criticized what a bad teammate Chad Johnson is, but I honestly think it was TJ. Chad didn't become the Chad that most people know today until TJ had some success. Then he had someone to skip workouts, bitch about the playcalling and live the primadonna lifestyle with. I've told you many that Chad gets the bad rep, but TJ is the ones leaning on the refs after every play and brooding on the sideline. I have to believe this is addition by subtraction. I thank TJ for all he has done, and wish him well, but am somewhat glad he is gone.

We also brought back Chris Crocker. No, not that Chris Crocker. This one. We picked him up in the middle of the season and he was one of our better players this season and I'm glad to have him back.

I've been singing Benson's praises all year, so I won't go back into that. I will credit the Bengals for getting him at only 2 years and 7 million dollars. The Chiefs just gave a long snapper 5 million dollars, so 7 million for a starting RB is steal. This year he will know the system better and hopefully have a better offensive line and a healthy Carson Palmer behind him. His days of seeing 8 or 9 men in the box are over with Palmer at the helm. Not to mention we bring back the 12th ranked defense in the league and have a much easier schedule. That's right. We haven't hit St. Pattys day yet and I'm already drinking the Bengals kool-aid...and it is delicious.

Now for March Madness...aka the most wonderful time of the year. The Cats are most likely out of the tournament completely, which in a way is a good thing. If we make it, we're not going very far and watching the tournament when we're a #1 or 2 seed is so stressful. I have to focus on our game, and pray Team X wins, so we don't have to play Team Y. Now, I can just sit back and enjoy every game. Part of me wants the ACC-Big East to make up a tournament by themselves. The Big East has seven teams with at least 23 wins. There are six teams with at least 22 wins in the ACC. Three teams from the Big East are ranked in the Top 10. Three teams from the ACC are ranked from the Top 10. I almost think I'd rather see a ACC-Big East tournament and a tournament with the rest of the teams. The winner from each tournament faces off in the Finals. I'd watch that. You'd watch that. Everyone would watch that.

Either way, the tournament should be great. There is no dominant team, but several great teams. UNC has been near the top of the polls all season, but are strangely flying under the radar. Pittsburgh is the trendy pick, but as DeJuan Blair goes, so do they. UConn is a good pick because they have a solid team and Thabeet in the middle. I think Louisville could win some games in the tourney. I really like Duke's chances though. Two years ago when Duke lost in the first round to VCU, Coach K realized you only go as far as your guards take you. Since then, he rid his lineup of a traditional lineup and went more with a team that can run. This year, Duke plays Kyle Singler, a 6'8 guy who can hit the three, with a combo of four shooters/slashers. I think they can do some damage this year. Of course, matchups are everything and I'll have to wait until the brackets come out to make some picks, but my ultra-sleeper pick is Mississippi State. 21 wins in the SEC, which is decent, but not very impressive. But the team was made for tournament ball. They have Jarvis Varnado and his 4.6 blocks per game in the center, and they surround him with shooters. 4 guys who shoot at least 35 percent from long distance and have hit at least 40 threes this season. Those four guys combined to shoot 13-27 from the three point line against Kentucky. Varnado starts a lot of fast breaks with his defense, and the Bulldogs love to run. If they get hot, watch out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cool Kids playing hockey?

I finally got around to the Cool Kids and watching a bit of hockey. First, the Cool Kids.

I listened to "The Bake Sale" and a few other songs on YouTube and I liked what I heard. It's different from anything on the radio now and I wish I had listened to it much earlier. I can't say there was one song I liked more than the others, but there weren't any songs I disliked. I like the old school feel of it, the simplicity of the beat and the lyrics...but nearly all the songs sound the same. It has a mixtape feel to it, which can be good or bad, but I just felt like I listened to one song for 50 minutes or so. I'd definitely listen to more work by them but I can't see them ever doing well mainstream wise. That's a good thing because they seem to genuinely love old school hip hop and have no desire to go mainstream. It's a bad thing because they have more talent that 75 percent of mainstream artists, and they will probably never be recognized and respected as such.

Our old pal Lil' Wayne is dabbling into the rock world. You feeling it?

Also, your thoughts on Amy Winehouse? Her music, not her "extracurricular activities".

Now for hockey.

I still never caught a game from start to finish, but have caught periods here or there. I caught most of the Red Wings- Blue Jackets, Penguins-Capitals and a couple other Blue Jackets games.

Pros
-Extremely active sport. The anti-golf.
-After trying to ice skate once, to disastrous results, I have a new respect for hockey players.
-There seems to be some genuine bad blood between players like Ovechkin and Crosby. I like that. Kobe and LeBron go out of their way to compliment each other. You won't get that here.
-I like Ovechkin. He's feisty.

Cons
- For such an active game, there is little scoring.
-Maybe its just an average fans view, but there seems to be no strategy. Everything that happens is based on reaction, so what does the coach do? There are so many change of possessions that how could you call an organized play? Maybe that's my basketball roots coming out.
-I don't get the power play. I can't fathom Rasheed Wallace getting T'ed up so the Pistons have to go 4 on 5 for the next couple of minutes. Or a tackle getting called for holding, so the offensive line has to go 4 on 5 for the couple of snaps.

I tried to forget all I knew about other sports, but I couldn't do it. For everything that happened, I thought of a NBA-NFL comparison and in some cases it enhanced the game for me, and for some it just make things worse. I'm not giving up on hockey and will still try to catch a full game soon, but for now, roundball reigns supreme.

Speaking of roundball, I have to touch on Shaq vs. Dwight/Van Gundy. Shaq is getting on my bad side. That's right. Mind you Shaq is the reason I like the Orlando Magic in the first place, and is probably my favorite player of all time, but he is getting on my bad side. It's one thing to bad mouth Vlade Divac and Eric Dampier. It's another thing to do it to Dwight Howard, a guy dangerously close to erasing Shaq in Orlando. Shaq's records will ultimately be Dwight's and Howard has proved to hold his own in the personality department. Dwight is more beloved now than Shaq probably ever was. First, because Dwight knows his role and won't call out his teammates or coach. Two, Dwight is an athletic specimen, and you won't have to worry about him showing up to training camp out of shape. Third, Dwight is going nowhere. He's already signed an extension which quells the fear of him bolting Orlando in is prime like Shaq did. Shaq's always been a jokester, but acting/mostly rapping/championship winning Shaq didn't happen until he left for LA so he holds no weight in Orlando. Inevitable comparsions between the two arose, and Shaq responded by saying that everything Dwight is doing in Orlando, Shaq did first, which is true. Do you know why its true? Because Orlando was an expansion franchise that had been operating all of 3 seasons before Shaq came along! You don't heard Fred McGriff barking that he has done everything that Carlos Pena is doing now! Nonetheless Dwight held his composure during the game and played Shaq to nearly a match before a beautiful spin move and dunk that showed Shaq obviously flopped. Shaq lost his cool and ultimately the game. He got T'ed up for arguing the call, and Dwight hit both free throws on the original foul to spark Orlando to victory. Of course, after the game Shaq had to say, "I'm really too old to be trying to outscore 18 year olds." True, but how about trying to win the game Shaq? Dwight has beat Shaq 4 out of 7 times in his career.

Sidebar: I kind of don't want to mention it, the way you keep silent about a no-hitter as it's going on, but Dwight has been hitting nearly 70 percent of his free throws over his last 11 games, including hitting 18 of his last 20. Color me ecstatic.

Then after the game, Stan Van Gundy called Shaq out on his obvious flop. SVG merely said that he was surprised Shaq flopped because Shaq has complained about floppers his entire career. Shaq responded by saying, among other things, that Van Gundy is a "frontrunner", a "nobody" and that none of his players like him. I love SVG, as does the rest of Orlando. How quickly does Shaq forget that SVG had that Miami team one game away from the Finals. Had Dwyane Wade not injured his ribs in Game 5, missed Game 6 and played poorly in Game 7, Miami wins that series and faces the Spurs in the Finals. Now SVG, has taken Orlando from 40 wins in the season before he came, to 52 last season and 46 this season already. Shaq is no stranger to sending shots at former coaches as he griped about Phil Jackson and Pat Riley. Shaq is so quick to disparage his "ex's", that I'm honestly waiting for the day when Dwyane Wade says something about Shaq that O'Neal takes offense to. Shaq will then proceed to call Jason Richardson the best SG he's ever played with and will say Dwyane Wade is stupid and his name is spelled funny.

Jimmy Fallon has how own show. Read that again. Is he going to kill interviews with unnecessary laughter at inappropriate times, the way he murdered many an SNL skit? Time will tell my friend but I do think Vegas is taking odds at 1:1.