Monday, December 22, 2008
The Gopher basketball team was far, far too awesome this weekend to even be included in this review. My thoughts on the game can be found here, but it was truly an awesome, awesome victory for the soon to be nationally ranked Gophers. I expect they'll end up at about 17th, moving up to 15th or so after a couple more cupcake wins going into the big new year's eve day tilt against the Spartans, at the genius time of 11:00am. Speaking of Spartans.....
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Michigan State Hoops. The overall profile of the Big Ten got yet another boost Saturday, as the Spartans waltzed into Houston’s Toyota Center to take on the #5 Texas Longhorns and walked out with a 67-63 victory; it’s even more impressive that although technically a neutral court, it was essentially a home game for the Longhorns, who actually led most of the way. The Spartans pulled it out on a Durrell Summers three-pointer from the corner with just 13 seconds left, despite being outrebounded 37-29. They were able to overcome that with some hot shooting, as they hit 51% from the floor compared to just 39% for Texas. Interestingly, even though this game was loaded by incredible athletes on both sides, it was a tall, gawky, doofy, foreign, white, big man who led the Spartans to victory, as Goran Suton dominated with 18 points on 7-8 shooting – and chipped in with all of two rebounds. The Spartans definitely needed a boost here after blowing their only other chance to impress by getting blown out by UNC (not to mention the loss to Maryland at home); great win for them and for the conference’s profile.
2. Peyton Manning. Don’t look now, but suddenly the Colts are looking like a legit contender for the Super Bowl again after starting the season looking like utter horsecrap, and it’s mainly due to Manning’s incredible play once again. He threw for 364 yards and 3 TDs against Jacksonville on Thursday in bring the Colts back from down 14 to a 31-24 victory. That makes the third straight game he hasn’t thrown a pick, throwing for at least 275 yards in each. He’s been way overshadowed by the amazing seasons of Drew Brees and Kurt Warner this year, both with a shot to topple Marino’s total passing yards in a season record, but he’s currently third in the NFL in both yards and touchdowns. They have already locked up a playoff spot, and are looking to be one of the hottest teams going into the post season. If I had to make a pick to win the Super Bowl right now, I’d go with the Colts with the Steelers the only other team I’d even consider.
3. Brandon Roy. I don’t generally write much about the NBA because it sucks, but when a guy is doing what Brandon Roy is doing and he should be a T-Wolf, and isn’t, I can’t help it. Roy put up 52 points against the Suns this past Thursday, and is averaging 34.5 points per game in his last five to go with 5.6 rebounds and 5 assists and is having like this written about him, calling him the player who will lead the Blazers into the next great NBA Dynasty. Great. At least the Wolves have Randy Foye and that extra million in cash, apparently used to sign superstar point guard Kevin Ollie.
4. Jodie Meeks. Kentucky’s resident gunner and leading scorer, Meeks exploded all over Appalachian State’s face on Saturday, going for a career high 46 points as the Wildcats beat the Mountaineers 93-69. Meeks, who has also scored 39 against VMI and 37 against Kansas State this season, shot 14-21 from the floor, including 9-14 from three, and 9-10 on free throws. Hmm…..46 points on just 21 shots? Are you paying attention Steve Curry? Meeks not only leads the Wildcats in scoring, but also came into the game as the SEC’s leading scorer at 21.9 ppg (on less than 16 shots per game). He had kind of a disappointing career to this point after coming to UK as the 39th best player in the country according to Rivals. He had a decent freshman year, but stagnated as a sophomore. He seems now to have put it all together, and has Kentucky looking in pretty good shape at 8-3 after a pretty rough start to the season.
5. UCONN Hoops. I was all set to write up this spot about Gonzaga, who I love this year. They are ranked 7th and were playing the 2nd ranked UCONN Huskies and seemed to be in control of the game, leading by double-digits with about 10 minutes left in the game. The UCONN did the improbable, rallying back to tie the game on a ridiculous, ill-advised three pointer by AJ Price with less than 8 seconds left. The game went to OT after Gonzaga couldn’t get a shot, where the Huskies ridiculous guard tandem of Price and Jerome Dyson took over with Thabeet fouled out and got the win for UCONN, 88-83. To go into Seattle, Gonzaga’s second home, and come out with a win is as impressive a win as there is in college basketball. Everything about this team, and particularly their guards, screams final four and national title contender. Keep your eye on these guys.
1. Stephen Curry. Can we all chill out about Curry now? Davidson got absolutely killed this weekend by Purdue, in yet another Big Ten win over a ranked team, 76-58 in a game that saw the Boilers jump out to a 25-2 lead and coast to victory from there. Precious basketball Jehovah Stephen Curry managed to score 16 points, grab 8 boards, and dish out 6 assists, and that’s all you’ll hear about. Nobody will bother to mention his 5-26 shooting, which was 3-17 in the first half before he got “hot” and finished up 2-9. Can we please, please, relax with all the best player in the country talk. He’s good, no doubt, but, and I can’t stress this enough, HE SCORES SO MANY POINTS BECAUSE HE SHOOTS THE BALL SO GOD DAMNED MUCH. Christ, Lawrence Westbrook would score 40 a game if he shot the ball as much as Curry. Do you know Curry takes 36% of all Davidson shots? Even more shocking is that’s only 11th in the country in that stat. Who knew there were 10 worse ball hogs than him? (His brother is 39th, at 33% of Liberty’s shot attempts). He’s also first in the country in shot attempts per game, which includes that one weird game where he only took 3. Think about that. And yet the “experts” continue to praise him, like this guy from rivals who calls him, “The Most Surprising” player this year, and means it in a good way. Arg.
2. Oregon Hoops. As I said before the season started, this team is garbage. Even though they managed a win against an even more pathetic Portland team on Saturday, they needed overtime to do it against a team that had already lost to both Northern Colorado and Eastern Washington this year.. Before that win, they had dropped back-to-back home games against St. Mary’s and San Diego, and had a record of 4-6, an embarrassment for a BCS conference team. The main issue here is little man Tajuan Porter, who is like a more out of control Terrance Simmons – you read that correctly. He’s leading the team in shot attempts, despite shooting just 38% from the floor and from three. Even better, despite allegedly being a point guard he’s putting up just 1.6 assists against 2.2 turnovers. If you’re wondering about former Gopher target Josh Crittle, he’s averaging 1.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 14 minutes per game. If you’re a betting man, go against this team every game. IT’S A LOCK.
3. Xavier hoops. There is nothing particularly wrong with losing to Duke, especially when they are ranked sixth in the country. There is, however, an issue with getting blown out when you are the seventh ranked team, the game is at a neutral site, and this is pretty much your last real chance to make an impression against a top team. The Musketeers laid an egg, getting run by the Dukies 86-68 in a game that wasn’t really that close, and now play a couple of non-conference patsies before going on to run through the A-10 schedule. I’ve mentioned the A-10 is improved this year, but Xavier still shouldn’t have a problem. They still have the win against Memphis in their pocket, which is looking less and less impressive, and the win at Cincy will hold up well, but remember this Duke loss come tourney time. OUT in the second round. Book it.
4. Memphis Hoops. The Tigers have dropped out of the top 25 after losing at home to Syracuse on Saturday, and have essentially blown every opportunity to get a big win. The lost at Xavier 63-58, and at Georgetown 79-70 before today’s home loss. Not that you can count the Tigers out completely, as they will almost certainly roll through Conference USA once again, although this year I expect a loss or two rather than another undefeated conference season. This year’s edition of the Tigers looks a little punchless, as shown by this week’s 59-51 squeaker win against Arkansas – Little Rock of all teams. They still have a couple of opportunities to reassert themselves, with non-conference games against Gonzaga and Tennessee coming up in the new year, but I haven’t seen much from them this year to make me think they have any chance of being a factor.
5. Dock Ellis. Not so much him, but the fact that this crazy son of a bitch died really sucks. That's him pictured above, and if you aren't familiar with him, he pitched from 1968 to 1979, winning 138 games mainly for the Pirates, but is more well known for some seriously crazy stories. You can read more here and especially here but he is probably most well-known for pitching a no hitter on acid, where he could only tell if the batter was left or right handed, and couldn't really see who was up after getting blitzed the night before because he thought he had the next day off. My personal favorite Ellis story is that in 1974 the Pirates were in a big-time rivalry with the Reds. Thinking his teammates were soft, he decided to make a point by hitting every batter in the Reds' lineup. After beaning Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Driessen to load the bases to start the game, Tony Perez managed to avoid four straight pitches aimed at him to walk in a run. After throwing his next two pitches at Johnny Bench's head, his manager finally took him out of the game. He can basically be summed up by this quote, "Barry Bonds? I'd hit him at least once a game. 'Cause he's got all that shit on. Yeah, let's see that shit stop the ball from hurting him if I hit him on the motherfucking elbow or something. I'd hit him just to see, does it work?" Awesome.
Honorable mention to fantasy football. I effing quit and I hope DeAngelo Williams dies. And Matt Schaub too. Way to throw it to the best receiver in football only three times. How did continually dumping it off to backs and white receivers work out for ya, captain dipshit.