Monday, November 30, 2009

Week in Review - 11/30/2009

Guess what I can't bring myself to talk about right now?  Yep, Gopher basketball.  I know this is supposedly a gopher basketball blog (and Twins), but I just can't do it.  I am livid.  Liv.  Id.  But it's really my own fault.  Here I somehow started to believe this was a "special" team, meaning a sweet 16ish type.  Now I'm coming to realize that it's not even close.  It's just like last year - and why wouldn't it be?  It's pretty much the same team.  All the same warts.  So we can expect to be in a fight for a bid, probably make it, and be happy with that as the upside.  Great.  Better than the Monson years no doubt, but I feel like a kid who just found out Santa isn't real.  I can't even come close to rationally discussing this right now.  And, as they say, if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all.  So I won't.

1.  Cincinnati.  If not for some Tim Donaghy-level reffing (huge foul disparity, blown call on game-winning layup attempt) and an unfortunately timed foul shooting meltdown (2-7 in overtime, with two misses by Deonta Vaughn (career 80+ shooter), the Bearcats would be returning from Maui as the champions of the Maui Classic - as it is, they return instead as a legitimate contender for the Big East title after beating two top-25 teams (Vanderbilt and Maryland) and losing in overtime to Gonzaga.  I told you people this team was going to be good, and there are some very good things.  Freshman Lance Stephenson has Carmelo Anthony-type potential.  They have other potential stars both outside (Vaughn) and inside (Yancy Gates), are very deep, and are an excellent defensive team.  I still think they have final four potential.  Sure, there are some things they need to work on - they settle for too many jumpers and struggle against athletic big men, and I'm not sure about Cashmere Wright at the point just yet, but they could make some noise in March.  And don't forget, Ibrahima Thomas won't be eligible until December. 

2.  Purdue.  Even with all the cross-pollenating tournaments and all that jazz, it's still rare to get a matchup of two teams ranked in the top-11, so when that happens this early, the winner should feel pretty good about themselves.  In this case and using this tortured multi-part sentence, I'm talking about Purdue and their very good 73-72 win over Tennessee in the Virgin Islands on Monday.  It was the three usual suspects bringing the Boilers to victory - Robbie Hummel (20 pts, 7 rebs), the "College KG" JaJuan Johnson (11 pts), and E'Twaun Moore (22 pts) - and those three will be the key to how far the Boilers go this year, but a lot of credit needs to go to Keaton Grant, who's being forced to fill in at the point with the injury to Lewis Jackson and doing a nice job.  I'm not sure when Lew-Jack is supposed to be back, but Purdue hasn't missed a beat without him.

3.  John Shurna.  Wasn't Northwestern supposed to be dead in the water after Coble got hurt?  It certainly isn't looking that way, especially after they won the Chicago Invitational by beating Notre Dame and Iowa State, two teams with NCAA Tournament aspirations, and completely on the back of Shurna, the 6-8 sophomore who won the tournament MVP award - quite an accompishment consider Luke Harangody and Craig Brackins were both involved.  And where did this come from?  Shurna was a lightly recruited, 3-star player out of high school who ended up at Northwestern because they were his best offer and has suddenly turned into a Coble clone.  He's the same guy, although I think Coble would beat him at horse, but he's got the same inside/outside, unathletically effective game, and he defintiely came to play this weekend.  He put up 25-8-4 against Notre Dame (Harangody:  21-9-0) and 23-7-4 against Iowa State (Brackins:  18-9-3) to lead the Wildcats to what must surely be their first place trophy in anything basketball related.  I hate to say it, but with Shurna and Thompson both back next year with more experience, the Coble injury might have been the best thing that could have happened to them.  If they don't get their first ever NCAA bid this year, next year should be it.   

4.  Richmond.  After losing earlier this season to William & Mary, a Spiders team that was supposed to challenge for the A-10 crown was looking like more of a CBI caliber team.  They made up for that loss, however, by winning the South Padre Invitational with wins over Mississippi State and Missouri, wins that aren't what you would called marquee, but very nice quality wins that should end up looking good on selection sunday.  They also got a boost with William & Mary's win at Wake Forest this weekend, which shows W&M is a legit team and softens the sting of that early season loss.

5.  Florida.  The Gators won the Legends Classic in Atlantic City by beating Rutgers and Michigan State (yet another Big Team who bombed this week), and started the week by crushing Florida State.  I wasn't sure exactly what to make of the Gators coming in to this year, but the newcomers have been great (Kenny Boynton leads the team in scoring and Vernon Macklin is in double-figures as well), and Erving Walker is settling in as a pretty good point guard.  Looks like they'll be back in tournament, and not the NIT this time.


1. Oklahoma.  Losing Blake Griffin will obviously make things a little rough, but the Sooners had Willie Warren and Tony Crocker back as well as a really nice recruiting class with two projected starters in it, so the thought was that they would be ok.  Well, the Great Alaska Shootout showed that perhaps that isn't exactly the case since the Sooners came home with a prestigious 7th place trophy after going 1-2 in the frozen north.  They lost to both San Diego and Houston prior before drawing the now 0-8 Nicholls State Colonels, who actually led 47-41 at one point in the second half before falling 81-60.  This was basically an unequivacable disaster for Oklahoma, who were ranked 25th before this tournament.  Neither Houston nor San Diego is awful, and both will probably be on the fringes of the bubble come tournament time, but you just can't do this if you're a major conference school who has hopes of competing for your league's championship.  They shot 33% and were out rebounded 39-30 against San Diego in game 1 and then turned it over 18 times while allowing Houston to shoot 46% from three in game two.  You can probably just go ahead and cross Oklahoma off your NCAA bid list right now.  I'll bet anything it's because of Tony Crocker and his retarded long sleeve t-shirts.  Either that or they miss the power of Austin Johnson's mohawk (and his Miles Tarver-look-like-ness).

2.  Greivis Vasquez.  Maryland had a rough go this week at the Maui Invitational, losing two out of three games - to Cincinnati by 12 and Wisconsin by 9, and picking up their only win by beating tournament host and noted high school program Chaminade in the opening round.  The main issue here, is that their main man and 8th year senior Greivis Vasquez suddenly can't shoot.  In the three games, he shot 2-7, 5-17, and 6-13, which is a combined 35% and actually a nice improvement on his season-total of 30% field goal shooting.  Now, his other numbers are good, he's averaging a career high 6.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game, his 2.1-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is his best as well and his rebounding is right in line with his career numbers, but his scoring is at just 9.8 per game, exactly half of last year's average, and his shooting, as mentioned, as Nolen-Level atrocious.  The Terps can't win without Vasquez scoring, as shown last week, so he needs to get it together if they're going to make the tournament.

3.  Illinois.  You know who hates Las Vegas?  And no, I'm not talking about Dr. Acula, I'm talking about the not so Fighting Illini, who had an awful Las Vegas Invitational.  It should have been a nice resume building weekend.  Beat a crappy Utah team on Friday night and then take on Oklahoma State on Saturday - win or lose, it's overall going to help your resume.  Well, things didn't quite work out, because Illinois managed to screw it up and lose to Utah on Friday, despite having a 32-16 lead at halftime, the same Utah team who lost to Seattle earlier in the week.  Then, instead of at least salvaging the weekend by winning the consolation bracket with a win over Bradley, the go out and get beat by four instead.  Obviously this doesn't exactly look good for the Big Ten, but hey, maybe the Illini are actually terrible and it will be a couple of easy wins for the Gophers.  Special props out to "star" freshmen Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, who combined to shoot 6-27 in the tournament.  If I'm an Illini fan, I'm very worried right now.

4.  UCLA.  Well you knew this was coming, but there's just now way to avoid pointing out the colossal flop the Bruins pulled this weekend.  Even in a down year, would you ever expect the Bruins to finish 8th in an 8-team tournament?  The loss to Portland is obviously not that bad, and the loss to Butler isn't a killer, but to then drop a game to Long Beach?  Especially after having already gone 0-2 they knew they needed this one to salvage, well, anything, out of this, and instead got destroyed by a Dan Monson coached team.  Ouch.  And what the F ever happened to Drew Gordon?  He was supposed to be the stud daddy, but had an awful rough weekend to go along with a subpar career so far.  He failed to break 10 points or 4 rebounds in any game of the tournament, bottoming out in him just playing 12 minutes against Long Beach.  I don't exactly know what's going on down in Westwood, but this is the worst I can remember the program being since I started watching basketball.    

5.  Arkansas.  Most of the teams in either category are pretty obvious this week due to the tournaments and such.  Insert winners into "awesome" and insert 8th place teams into "suck."  Pretty straight forward.  Arkansas (an NCAA hopeful, mind you), on the other hand, had three cupcake games this week - all home games - versus Morgan State, East Tennessee State, and South Alabama.  Well guess what?  They lost all three.  ALL.  THREE.  This is, perhaps, the worst week an NCAA hopeful has ever had this early in the season against this level of opposition.  Now, I know the Razorbacks are a bit hamstrung right now with Courntey Fortson still out due to some sort of disciplinary issue, but these are not losses you see from an NCAA team no matter who they're missing.  In any other week, this would be by far the thing that sucked the most.  But not this week.

The thing that sucked most this week was Dayton coming back and beating Towson after being down by 18 with just nine minutes to play.  That would have given them an 0-2 week capped off with a loss to one of the worst programs in history, and given me an excuse use the Towson picture I have.  Craptacular.

Actually, when am I ever going to have a chance another chance to use a Towson picture?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Time to Move On: Bring on the Aggies

Ok, I've calmed a bit from my post game anger, and although the seething disappointment still burns away at my stomach lining, I realize that it was just a loss to an NCAA Tournament team - it won't hurt much, if at all, when it comes to selection sunday.  Fine.  It doesn't matter that the Gophers were far superior but just let themselves get outplayed, outworked, outhustled, outsmarted, and outrebounded.  Whatever.  I'm moving on.  Time to get to Texas A&M and beat them to finish out the tournament with two quality wins.  After this the game at Miami is the only other chance to get a quality win out of conference (unless St. Joe's shocks everybody and has a good season), so this is key.

A&M has had a similar season to Minnesota thus far, with three wins over cupcakes, an upset win over a higher ranked team (Clemson), and then a loss in the semi-final of this tournament, although A&M's loss to West Virginia is more understandable than the Gophers loss to a team they were much more talented than.  The Aggies are a tough team to get a read on.  They don't do anything particularly well, but they don't have any major weaknesses either (other than foul shooting).  Perhaps the worst news of all - they don't shoot many three-pointers, the only thing the Gophers could defend against Portland.

They are, however, perimeter based, with a trio of guards who thrive both off the dribble and in the mid-range game, all of whom can, yes, step back and hit the three if left open.

The main ballhandler and leading scorer is Derrick Sloan, a 6-3 senior who is averaging over 17 points per game and shooting better than 50% this year.  If I'm remembering the right guy, he's not super quick, so Al Nolen should be able to handle him or at the very least make life difficult.

Their second-leading scorer at 11.8 per game is Sloan's backcourt mate Derrick Roland, who has doubled his scoring average since last season.  I'm not sure what to make of Roland's game, because he seemingly beat up on the cupcakes but has really struggled in the 76 classic so far, shooting just 30% in the two games with point totals of 4 and 8 after scoring 14+ and shooting better than 50%  in all three cupcake games.  This information, combined with his 39% shooting last season, leads me to believe that his offense so far has been a fluke, and he's not someone the Gophers need to concern themselves with on that end of the floor.  Of course, he was on the All-Big 12 Defensive Team last season, so they will have to worry about him in that respect.

The third guard (and third leading scorer) is the perfectly named for a pornstar B.J. Holmes, a junior who is of the Vinnine Johnson instant offense off the bench mold, and he's not remotely afraid to shoot.  He is sixth on the Aggies in minutes played, but is third in scoring and first in three point attempts, but has a 1/2 assist to turnover ratio.  Unlike Roland, he struggled vs the cupcakes but has really turned it on in Anaheim, averaging 19 points per game in the tournament.  He sounds an awful lot like that midget J.T. Campbell, right down to having initials for his first name.  This guy makes me nervous.

The other guy who makes me nervous is Byran Davis, who, along with David Loubeau, make up the Aggies front court.  Davis, now a senior, was a top 60 recruit when he signed on to play at College Station, and his career had followed a pretty good path - more minutes each year, better stats, and a better all-around game.  He seemed prime for a nice breakout season - and it hasn't happened.  His stats have actually taken a step back this year in almost every respect.  Could be that the defection of last year's front court mate to the NBA NBDL somewhere in Europe has hurt him, but he should have been ready for that spotlight.  He's a banger and not particularly athletic, but he has excellent footwork and both Sampson and Iverson showed they are vulnerable defensively against Portland.  Let's hope this isn't his breakout game.

I've written a lot here about the Aggies, but the real key is how the Gophers play.  This will be the third game in a row (well, six really) where they are the more talented team, but as we saw last night that doesn't always equate to wins.  It's simply a matter of hitting your shots, making the most out of your chances, playing smart, and playing with intensity on both ends.  This "pass the ball around the perimeter for 35 seconds and then rush a shot offense" can't make a comeback, or you can engrave that NCAA First Round Loss trophy already.  I really don't like what I saw last night, and I see no reason to expect anything better against another good team.

Texas A&M 71, Minnesota 64.

FUN FACT:  Acie Law's #1 hangs in the rafters at Reed Arena - the only number retired by Texas A&M in any sport.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gophers vs. Pilots Live Blog

If I'm online while watching a game, I usually try to hang out either at From the Barn's Live Blog or the Daily Gopher's game thread, but since FTB's liveblog machine isn't working and nobody is around in the game thread at TDG, I'll just stick some thoughts here while I think them, because I have to share with somebody and god knows Mrs. W won't listen to me.  We are at 7:00 left in the first half right now and the Gophers are down 18-14.

7:08 - Away from the ball foul called on Ralph.  These refs are racist.

6:03 - Carter to the line after drawing the foul on the obviously fake named Kramer Knudson.  Gophers overall are looking awfully lethargic on offense right now.  The shooting has been awful, nobody is getting into the lane, and then when a shot does go up there is nobody around to even attempt to think about trying for an offensive rebound.  And, naturally, Carter misses both free throws.

5:40 - How many times can Portland beat the Gophers off the dribble?  I hate to say it, but it feels like the Gophers are lucky to only be down 8 right now.

4:40 - Air balled three by Portland, but they grab the offensive board for a lay up and the Gophers are down 10.  This is an awful effort so far.  On the other end, Nolen beats his man and gets to the rim for the bucket and the foul.  That's the second or third time he's done that.  The Pilots have been playing a man-to-man for the most part despite me having heard on the radio that they play a mean 2-3 zone.  Interesting.

4:01 - Gophers go to a half court trap and force a turnover.  Let's ratchet up the intensity here boys.  Look to fiery Ralph Sampson for leadership.  See his emotion and how he wears his feelings on his sleeve?

3:30 - Huge three by Devoe to cut the lead to six.  He is looking more and more like he could be a huge offensive force, especially when Cobbs/Hoffarber can play the point when Nolen is out.  Loving Devoe.  Not Deebo though.  That son of a bitch has Mbakwe all messed up in this bike crime business.   You kids are nothin' but punks.  Sissified. So quick to pick up a gun. Too scared to take an ass-whipping. [Raises his fists] This is what makes you a man. When I was growing up, this was all the protection we needed. You win some, you lose some. But you live, you live to fight another day!

2:19 - Nolen cannot be stopped getting the hole.  Of course, when the foul him he just misses his free throws, so getting to the rim is pretty much irrelevant.

1:30 - Carter scores inside again, and it's clear the Gophers are much better athletes and much quicker and faster.  they should be able to handle this team.  Of course, T.J. Campbell just hit another three.  This guy is unreal.  Best shooter in NCAA history.  Oh, and Nolen once again got into the lane, and this time they didn't foul him but he did miss the layup.  I'm starting to think they have no chance in this one.

0:03 - Gophers turn it over on their last two possessions, and they are just playing like garbage.  The only savior is some good defense that has held the Pilots to 4-15 shooting on threes.  We go to the break with the Gophers trailing 33-27.  It's clear the Gophers are the better team, they're just making some really dumb mistakes, not attacking the defense nearly enough (other than Nolen who can't finish), and are just missing shots.  I'm not panicking.  In fact, I'm quite calm.  I have a good feeling about the second half.  Sorry hippies.

20:00 - And we're back.  Took half time there to watch a little bit of The Soup.  Good show.

19:45 - DJ with a nice move to get into the lane but can't finish.  You know, Portland's defense is pretty good once the Gophers get into the lane.  They're giving them jumpers and they can't hit.  A few shots are going to have to drop if they want to pull this out.

18:30 - Nice jumper by Devoe.  I'm feeling a big half out of him.

18:10 - Gorgeous move by Joseph but can't finish - that's pretty much the story of the game.

17:40 - Westbrook jumper and we're tied.  All the momentum on the Gophers side right now. If they can keep up this energy level and this intensity, we're in good shape.  Of course, that little midget Campbell will probably hit a three.

16:40 - Not Campbell, but Stohl hits one instead and Portland is back up five.  Westbrook with another nice move to get into the lane but can't finish.  It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.  Portland can't stop them from getting shots - and good shots - but they absolutely can't finish.  Kind of like you with your girl last night.  She told me.

15:55 - So this Tiger Woods thing is pretty weird.  Gets into a one-car accident in front of his own house at 2:30am, his wife has to break him out of the car afterwards and he's "drifting in and out of consciousness" despite his only injuries being cuts to his face, and there isn't alcohol involved?  So weird.  I'm afraid it might end up being some kind of pain pill thing, although I really hope not.  He seems like he is too careful and takes too good of care of his body to be into recreational drugs, and with the surgery last year it wouldn't be a huge shock if this is pain pill related.  Hopefully it turns out there is some legit story that doens't involve these kind of things, but based on the few details that have come out I don't know, seems so weird.

15:40 - Angry Westbrook?  I hope so.


14:11 -  Another nice move to get into the lane and missed shot.  la;khjoapgwqhvoisahd

13:43 - The Gophers are being outrebounded 29-19 by a bunch of medium sized, unathletic white kids.  I have no idea how, but they are only down 44-39 despite playing like a mid-tier high school team so far tonight.  And another god damn turnover.  Jesus christ this is horrible.  They should have these guys beaten by 15 by now.  Is this just a case of relaxing after beating Butler?  Were they looking forward to UCLA and just can't bring themselves to care about Portland?  Underrating Portland?  I have no idea, but my opinion of this team is dropping faster than your girl after two glasses of merlot.

11:54 -  Another turnover.  You probably think I'm kidding but I'm not.  Portland refuses to score, and that midget even missed a shot - I assume the first of his career - but the Gophers just refuse to take advantage.  Just when I start to think maybe we have some kind of special team, it turns out they're just the same old stupid team we have watched for years.  This is just like Donnie Darko.

10:55 -  The new offense seems to be "let's all stand around and not do a god damn thing and let the shot clock run down and chuck a bad shot."  Sound familiar?  I think Monson introduced this one and then Tubby has just added a few wrinkles.  It's like they've never seen a zone before (they're in that 2-3 now).

8:58 - You're never going to believe this.   Carter made a nice move to get into the lane for a lay up - and he missed it!  I know, I couldn't believe it either.

8:25 - They are damn lucky to even be within 10 right now (it's 50-41).  This is awful.  I'd rather watch hockey.

7:16 - This is because I picked the Gophers to win, isn't it?  NEVER AGAIN.  Actually, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't pick them to beat Tennessee Tech right now.  That must have been a fluke.

7:12 - You know what?  The more details that come out and the more I think about it, the more I am starting to think this was Tiger having an affair and the Mrs. found out about it and some really weird things happened.  That's the new #1, with pain pill addiction at #2.  #9372 is that the story they're telling is true.

7:11 - I just winced when the game came back on because it was much more fun watching the commercials.  That should tell you all you need to know.

6:25 - Gophers now down double digits.  Not to take anything away from Portland, because they are a good team and should challenge Gonzaga for the WCC title, but the Gophers have been awful tonight.  Completely and totally awful.  Not even close to the same team as last night.

4:20 - Gophers cut the lead to six, could have been five but Joseph missed what must have been the tenth consecutive free throw by the team.  Do I feel excited or hopeful?  No.  Not even a tiny bit.

3:53- Nolen hits two free throws to cut it to four, bringing the Gophers to a stellar 9-16 from the stripe.

3:03 - Luckily, on eof their various dead-eye shooters misses a wide open (and I mean WIDE open) three, then Nolen takes one to the rim and scores to cut it to two - now four after some random whitey hits for Portland.

1:30 - Rodney Williams with a horrible, horrible decision to chuck up a pro distance three (it looked like your typical Al Nolen three-ball).  Gophers still down four with 1:11 left, but it's Portland's ball.  Dear lord was that a stupid play.

0:30 - Three or four chances to score on that possession thanks to offensive rebounds and they come away with nothing.  This is one of the most frustrating Gopher games I can remember watching.  Better team, just completely outplayed.

0:15 - Ok, interesting.  Gophers down 3 and they force a turnover.  Let's get somebody going to the basket and get a quick two unless there's an obvious kick out for three.  Nothing stupid.  I'm looking at you Westbrook.

0:03 - Hoff misses a semi open three, and misses horribly, rebound goes through Nolen's arms to a Pilot and that's your ball game.  Pretty good microcosm of the game right there in that one play.

Ugh.  After you beat the #10 team in the country (overrated or not) to follow it up with that crap?  Just a piss poor effort all the way around, other than the last three minutes or so of the game.   Far too little and far far far too late.  Portland is no doubt a good team, and will likely not only be in the running for the WCC but also for an at-large bid, and I highly doubt this will ever show up as a "bad loss" on the Gophers resume, but it's awfully frustrating right now.  They were just so clearly a better team, but were absolutely outplayed and couldn't get it done.  Ugh.  Not even Christina Applegate could cheer me up right now. 

What's next?  Texas A&M or some crap?  Better win that one, or your win over Butler has been completely erased.  God this sucks.


Portland is a Dirty Hippy Town

Yes, Portland is a dirty hippy town, and I know because I've been there.  I assume you don't want to read that whole post, so I'll just remind you instead how you can't tell the hippies from the homeless, and how I saw what I thought was a homeless guy sitting on the sidewalk with a cup in front of him for money, but it turned out he was listening to an ipod and drinking coffee, just looked homeless because he was such a damn hippy.  That being said, it looks like they have a pretty decent little basketball team out there in the Portland Pilots, the Gophers oppnonent later today.

They absolutely crushed UCLA last night, 74-47, and while the Bruins are definitely down and kind of rebuilding, don't take this win for Portland lightly - this is a very good team who is gunning for a WCC crown over Gonzaga and an NCAA bid.  After going 9-5 in conference last year, and 18-11 overall, with wins over St. Mary's, Nevada, and Washington, they were bounced in the second round of the WCC tournament and then dropped their first round CIT game to Pacific - a disappointing end to a good year.  All five starters are back, and based on the season's results this is going to be far from a cakewalk for the Gophers.

The Pilots are 4-0 with wins over Oregon, Seattle, and Eastern Washington as well as UCLA, and are killing teams with the three-ball.  Portland is shooting 54% from behind the line so far, and it's no fluke - they shot 42% last year to finish second in the nation.

Leading the way are a pair of guards, Nik Raivio (brother of former Zag Derek) and T.J. Campbell, both of whom were All-WCC last year.  Raivio is the team leader and does it all (he's more of an all-around player than Derek was), averaging 17.5 pts, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists so far this season while shooting 54% from three and 50% from the field.  He's one of those do-everything, win at all costs, annoying pesky types.  You'll hate him by the end of the game.  Westbrook needs to bring his full on, all night effort.

Campbell is Raivio's partner in the backcourt and he runs the point.  He's just 5-9, but you better believe he's lightning quick and can shoot the lights out.  Last season he hit 53% of his three-point attempts, and he's even better this year hitting at a 60% clip, and is averaging 16.8 points and 5.5 assists this season.  This is actually a good matchup for the Gophers, assuming Al Nolen can keep himself out of foul trouble.  He should be quick enough to shadow Campbell, and with his extra height and strength he might be able to keep him out of a rhythm and disrupt the Pilots' offense.  I hate to say it, but this might be the key to the game.  Yes, we are counting on Al Nolen.

The other perimeter guy to worry about is their third guard and sixth man Jared Stohl, who comes off the bench to average 10.5 points a game while shooting 68% from three, and lit up UCLA hitting 5-5 from behind the arc.  That was his third straight game with at least three 3-pointers while shooting better than 50%.

Sense a theme?  These guys shoot the three extremely well, but they aren't reliant on it.  As a team they have shot 7-13, 7-16, 11-19, and 11-19 in their four games, which isn't an excessive amount of three point attempts.  In fact, they rank 229th in the country in 3-attempts as a percentage of total FG attempts.  Campbell and Stohl shoot mostly threes, but Raivio can score from anywhere, and the Pilots have a couple half-decent forwards who can score.

With all this, you may be feeling a bit nervous and scared for tonight's game.  You may wonder if the Gophers have a chance.  Well, this Pilots team is a lot like that hippy who I thought was a homeless guy - it's all a mirage.

Portland is awful defensively.  Awful.  They rank 298th in overall defensive efficiency. They don't turn teams over at all (thank god), block shots (zero defensive presence in the paint) and don't get steals, and are completely average when it comes to field goal defense.  Even though UCLA hit just 33% of their shots last night (22% from three),

The Gophers on the other hand are the #1 defensive team in the nation (although the competition hasn't been exactly stout up until last night), including #1 at forcing turnovers and in blocking shots, #3 in steals, and #5 in defending the two-point shot.  They aren't great at defending the three (#158), which is a concern against Portland, but I expect their defense to overwhelm the Pilots so that shouldn't matter.  None of Portland's previous four opponents were very good defensively, all were awful at defending on the perimeter, and none of them had the size and athleticism the Gophers bring.

Minnesota should be able to handle this one.  If they can get out to a quick lead it could be a laugher, but I expect more of a tough game early with the Gophers pulling away in the early second half thanks to a big ole burst from Ralph, who should have his way in the paint tonight.

If the Gophers lose, it's a win for hippies everywhere.  That can't happen.

Minnesota 88, Portland 70. 

FUN FACT:  Raivio's father, Rick, also attended Portland and led the team in scoring in both 78-79 and 79-80, setting the schools all-time single season scoring and rebounding totals in 78-79 (records which still stand) and is also the school's all-time leading career rebounder.

And once again, I couldn't find a picture of a Portland Pilot coed, but here's a stewardess from Hooters Air:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Suck it, Mid Major (and refs)

Now that, my friends, is a nice, nice victory.  Quite frustrating, especially with the refs seeming to call every little ticky-tack thing on the Gophers all night long, but a very nice win over a 10th ranked team, however dubious that ranking might seem after watching them play.

Make no mistake, the Gophers were clearly the better team, and were probably twenty points or so better than the Bulldogs.  It was the sheer volume of Butler free throws (36-45) that kept this game close.  It shouldn't have been a surprise, since Butler was 20th in the country in getting to the line coming into the game, but it was frustrating nonetheless.

In the first half, it was the Colton Iverson show (alternate headline:  There's a new Iverson in town - get it, Allen might be retiring).  The sophomore was absolutely everywhere, notching a double-double in the first half - his first career double-double - and playing as well as I've ever seen him.  Defensively, there isn't really much doubt that he can be a contributor (2 blocks), and his rebounding will always be a welcome addition (11 boards), but his offensive output tonight was a welcome surprise (13 points).  It wasn't always (or ever) smooth and it's not exactly like watching Hakeem the Dream out there, but his play was the biggest reason why the Gophers were up four at half.  Due to his effort tonight, I will not say a bad word about him, no matter what, until 2010 at the earliest. 

There wasn't much Colton in the second half - except for when he tossed fat ass free throw shooter with no other discernable skills unless making refs think you got fouled is considered a skill jerkass Matt Howard to the ground - but he wasn't needed.  Devoe showed why he was such a highly regarded recruit, having to take over at the point with Nolen out most of the half with four fouls thanks to a nice pele routine that earned him a tech.  He handled himself well taking care of the ball, and showed a nice ability to score inside, outside, and in transition.  Damian was the other star, showing off his newly developed well-rounded offensive game.  It's not pretty much of the time, but he looks so much smoother than he used to, and has actually developed some nice moves, including a little hook, a three-point shot, and the ability to get to the rim by putting the ball on the floor.  The more I watch him, the more I can't believe he was a Monson recruit (NOTE:  Nolen, I believe).

Speaking of Monson recruits, I should also mention Westbrook and the Hoff here.  Westbrook started the night in a fog, as he did far too often last year, but didn't stay there, really asserting himself for a short stretch late in the second half.  He not only had a huge three point dagger, but also pulled off an incredible move for a layup that was probably a travel, but since it wasn't called thanks to the refs being clueless all night, it counts as a great move.  And Hoff started the night with an airball, but then went on to make three of his other four attempts from beyond the arc, played well at the point when called upon to fill in, and played good defense in a grueling 35 minute night.  Great game for him. 

And great game for the team overall.  They dominated this game.  The score might not show it due to 8 billion free throws made by Butler, but the Gophers outclassed them in every way.  Great win, and as long as they don't lose the next two out in Anaheim we can consider this tournament a huge, huge, success. 

NEXT UP:  vs. winner of UCLA/Portland , 8:30pm, ESPNU.  I will try to put up a quick preview if I get a chance tomorrow.  Hopefully it's UCLA, and hopefully the Gophers can control the game like they did tonight, although will far, far fewer fouls and sloppy turnovers.

And hopefully we get more Rodney.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, Let's Kick some Ass

For my money, beating Utah Valley, Stephen F. Austin, and Tennessee Tech doesn't really give me enough information to properly evaluate this year's Gopher squad.  I mean, I can tell they aren't going to be bad, but are they going to good?  Or a mediocre bubble team?  Or a sweet 16 type?  Maybe more?  And that's where Butler comes in.  Tomorrow's game against the #10 Bulldogs is about as good of a barometer as you could ask for.

The Bulldogs have taken the mantle of "the little program that could" away from Gonzaga, making the NCAA Tournament the last three years, including a sweet 16 appearance two years ago.  This season the Bulldogs are at 3-0, and although they haven't had a serious tester, they haven't exactly cupcaked it up either, beating Davidson at home and Northwestern and Evansville on the road.  They struggled a bit in all three games, but I think this is more of a team still trying to find its stride rather than an actually struggling team, but we'll find out in a hurry.  This isn't just the biggest test of the year so far for the Gophers, it is for the Bulldogs as well.

They ended last season on a bit of a downer, losing in the Horizon Conference Championship and then getting bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  But the whole team is back - seriously, they have their top 10 scorers back from last year - including the three-man soul of the team:  forwards Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward, and guard Shelvin Mack.

First up is the 6-8 Howard, the leader of the team.  He's kind of like that annoying hustly guy, like a Brian Cardinal or Travis Busch, but with actual talent.  He led the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding last year at 14.8 and 6.8 per game, but has really struggled this season.  His points, assists, field goal percentage, and turnovers are at a career worst level, and although he's rebounding better than ever there is something off here, especially after a 1-9 shooting performance against Evansville.  Now, in that game he still managed to put up a double/double thanks to some tough rebounding and getting to the line 10 times, so it's imperative that Ralph and company keep him in check.  He's the kind of player who can hurt you even if he's struggling, so I suggest the Gophers not be the team that finally gets him back on track. 

Joining him at forward is the 6-8 Hayward, this season's leading scorer and rebounder, who adds a very different dimension with his inside/outside abilities than what Howard brings to the table.  He is, however, like Howard in that he's very tough, very strong, a tenacious rebounder, and can get to the line.  With the Gophers strength lying mostly outside of the paint, it's going to be very interesting to see how they handle these two.  Since Hayward is more lanky and athletic, I expect DJ to man up on him.  This will be a true test of his defensive abilities.  I am really looking forward to it.  If he can shut Hayward down, expect more national recognition.  You could consider this his "Papa Doc" moment.

Finally is the 6-3 Shelvin Mack, who may be the key to this team.  He isn't technically their point guard, but he does a lot of the ball-handling and led the team in assists last season, and posted a very nice 1.7-1.0 Assist-to-Turnover ratio, which he's upped to 3.8-1 so far this season, all while adding 13 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds per game.  He's a very solid player - fundamentally sound and athletic - and just gets things done.  He actually reminds me a bit of a shorter Damian Johnson, and you can rest assured that is a big-time compliment.  Westbrook is going to have his hands full.  If we get the fully engaged, totally into the game Westbrook, this will be fun.  If we get the half-stoned version, Mack is going to destroy him (and there's no chance Joseph can guard him).  Of course, if we get F-You Westbrook, well, I'll take that version any time.  There's also a possibility Nolen gets Mack, but I'm betting not.

There is plenty of other returning talent as well, including defensive stopper Willie Veasley (it will be interesting to see how Rodney fares), PG Ronald Nored (Nolen should (SHOULD) be able to make his day hell), and three-point bomber Zach Hahn (no relation to Andy), who I am very worried about .  Make no mistake, this team is loaded.

They are, and always will be, a team that relies on their efficiency and solid play rather than athleticism, and that will always scare me.  I've actually seen a couple of places where this team is picked for the Final Four.  I don't quite see that, but I also don't quite see a Gopher victory.  They are in the same class, however, and this is going to be a good one:

Butler 65, Minnesota 63.

If the Gophers can hang tight with Butler and then win the next two of the tournament, that will be a huge success, and a big step in becoming more than a bubble team.

FUN FACT:  Bobby Plump, the player Jimmy Chitwood was based on in the movie Hoosiers, attended Butler after graduating from Milan High, and led the Bulldogs in scoring in 1958.

Also I couldn't find any pictures of any female Butler fans, so instead here's a picture of the always awesome Eliza Dusku dressed like a french maid.  Close enough?  Close enough.

For more info on the 76 classic, From the Barn has a very nice three-part preview up on his site. Check it out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Mumblings

Of course the big news today is Joe Mauer winning the MVP, and it nearly being unanimous.  I'm just curious about the guy who voted for Miguel Cabrera instead.  It seemed the consensus #2 candidate was Mark Texeira, not Miguel Cabrera.  But let's look:

Cabrera:  .324/.396/.547, 34 HRs, 104 RBI
Texeira:  ..292/.383/.565, 39 HRs, 122 RBI

Pretty close, right?  But by voting for Cabrera, this dude is saying he values things like average and on-base percentage over home runs and rbis, which is actually pretty refreshing.  But at the same time it's completely bizarre, because Mauer beat everybody in those stats.

If some ass clown had voted for Tex based on home runs and RBI, it wouldn't have surprised me one bit, as wrong as it would have been.  I was actually expecting Jeter to end up with a 1st place vote as well, since people are morons who want to make out with him all the time, but Cabrera?  You can't even use the "playoffs" argument since the Twins did that miracle comeback thing to steal the playoff spot.  I can't come up with any conceivable argument, and I've looked at this in every stupid way possible, to vote for Cabrera.  Boggled.

Lastly on MVP, I haven't been able to find the the actual full breakdown of the votes/points, but according to ESPN's "Others receiving votes" section, both Mike Cuddyer and Jason Kubel received votes.  There's not way that a hot 1-month stretch out of Cuddy would vault him ahead of the season-long excellence Kubel showed, right?  RIGHT?  Someone tell me when you find the voting breakdown.

-  Sticking with the Twins for a minute, Shooter had this little ditty in his "column" today:
It wouldn't be surprising if the Twins tried to make a deal with the San Diego Padres for third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, 28, who in 141 games last season batted .255 but hit 18 homers with 88 runs batted in. Starter Glen Perkins would seem to be the bait.

 Now, it's Charley Walters here, so I'm guessing this is more him taking a name that was bandied about last year and tossing a rumor at it, but it's worth a short look at because Kouzmanoff's name seems to keep coming up.

Walters, of course, hits on average, home runs, and rbi, the relevant stats if this was 1988, but since we are no longer in the dark ages, let's look further. 

The Kouz hit .255/.302/.420 this year, and was about an average fielder range wise, although is .990 fielding percentage was obviously outstanding, and a major league record.  Those aren't great numbers, but I don't much care for Glen Perkins anymore, so I'd be willing to do that deal depending on Kouzmanoff's contract.

Which brings me to the real problem - I can't for the life of me find any details of his contract, and one site actually says he's a free agent.  Now, would it shock me if he was actually a free agent and Walters had no idea?  No, it would surprise me one bit. But I won't assume that, as much as I want to, and for now I will just say that pending his contract, I would be interested in a Perkins for Kouz swap.  If he's going to cost $5 million or less, I want him.  And if he's on the open market, and I don't think the Pads would resign him since they have prospect Chase Headley coming up to play 3b, I be willing to pay more like $6-$7, as long as it's just for two years or so - enough time for Valencia to properly marinate.

Thanks to intrepid reader Kate J. for the tip.

-  Hey, you guys remember how I told you Cincinnati would be all awesome this year, and how you should have watched them today in the Maui Classic?  Well, they rolled a pretty good Vandy team (ranked #24 with a win already over St. Mary's) 67-58, and believe me the game wasn't nearly that close.  I really hope you got in on the Bearcats when they were 200-1 to win the National Title, because that number is going to go way, way, way down.  Might as well jump on it now before it gets to like, 10-1 before the tournament starts.

-  Since we're talking about things I watched tonight, I also want to mention that although I hate Pitt, and I loathe them, and specifically Pitt point guards - from Brandin Knight to Carl Krauser to LeVance Fields, hate them all - but I think I might really like this kid Travon Woodall, and I'm kind of wishing I had picked him in my fantasy league (last four picks:  Ralph Sampson, Courtney Fortson, Mikhail Torrance, Jon Leuer - I feel dirty).  He's a sophomore, and although he wasn't a highly ranked recruit when he came out, and didn't make much of an impact last year, he's killing it this year.  Coming into tonight, he was averaging just 7.7 points per game, but added in 7.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds, and then tonight against Wichita put up 19 points, 6 boards, 5 assists, and 4 steals and just seems to be moving at a whole different speed than everybody else out there - almost Rico Tucker like.  Well, I like him.  And I'm actually giving him his own tag.  Yeah, that's right.  With luck I can grab him next round (only 3 left!)

-  This Lewis Jackson injury is going to be a big deal, mark my words.  It makes me a bit nervous that Boiled Sports seems to disagree with me, since they cover Purdue hoops and my opinions are basically of the "JaJuan gives me a boner" type, but they seem to be pretty split on this one over there.  Of course, as seen by the post above and my continued Rico Tucker love, I seem to have a real affinity towards lightning quick, slightly out-of-control point guards.  I know I'll miss him at least.

-  The television program "The Big Bang Theory" is simultaneously the most underrated and overrated show on TV. 

-  Finally, since I'm keeping this short tonight, I'll close with an email from studly reader Stan N.:
Minnesota Golden Gophers--what a ridiculous mascot. Maybe Minnesota Golden Mosquitos would be more appropriate. There's plenty of them in Minnesota too, and a mosquito is more intimidating than a gopher--at least they get more attention. When you're facing Wolverines, Badgers, Wildcats, Hawk(eye)s, etc. what can a Gopher do? I guess their record speaks for itself. Although I'm a Minnesota alumni and support its sports teams, I can't support Goldy the Gopher. I wish we could impeach Goldy and substitute a Timberwolf(I guess that's already taken), a Lumberjack or anything else that would command respect.
I'm not entirely certain about a Lumberjack, since that seems pretty gay, but I'm pretty on board with this.  Any chance we can get rid of Goldy altogether?  Snacks and Bogart, you are both lawyers, can we file a class-action or something?

Week In Review - 11/23/09

If you've been watching basketball on ESPN this week, you would have noticed them pimping the hell out of their NCAA Basketball Encyclopedia, and probably become a bit annoyed by it.  I got annoyed by it, but I have to tell you that I have this book and it is totally awesome.  There is more information in there than any person could possibly need, and I mean that in a good way.  Like, did you know Delino DeShields was a top basketball prospect coming out of high school?  It's full of all that kind of stuff and more.  It's not like a baseball encyclopedia, like where you could say "I wonder what Kenny Lofton's stats were when he played for Arizona" and then look him up, but it's got tons of other info.  It lists every D-I team, their best players, best teams, best coaches, some cool little fun facts and other information, as well as their record every single year and their leading scorer, rebounder, and assister for each season.  Plus a bunch more cool stuff.  I highly, highly recommend it. 


1.  Zack Greinke.  This was refreshing.  The BBWAA actually didn't screw this up and voted Greinke the American League Cy Young award, which is at it should have been.  In case you forgot, Greinke went 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP this year, leading the league in both of those last two metrics, and if you watched him at all he seemed even better than that.  I figured the voters would screw this one up, since they love giving awards to players on good teams (The royals were awful), they love evaluating players based on wins (six pitchers had more wins than Greinke), and they love Yankees (Sabathia looked like a perfect candidate for the idiot voters).  But, for once, they made the right call.  Also a congrats to Tim Lincecum for winning the NL award for the second year in a row.  Who would have known Mitch Kramer would have grown up to be such a success.  

2.  Syracuse.  It seems my prediction of "Syracuse will suck this year" might be way, way off, while the cretins who vote in the polls and had them 24th were closer to the truth (also still underrating them).  After the two gimme wins last week, they headed to Madison Square Garden for the final four of the Coaches vs. Cancer classic, and walked out with the title.  They did it in impressive fashion, as well, beating #12 Cal in the semis 95-73 and #4 North Carolina 87-71 in the championship.  Their defense is still top notch, Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche have filled in for Jonny Flynn nicely, Andy Rautins is actually making shots, Wes Johnson is as good as advertised, and Arinze Onuaku has stepped his game up.  Very nice week for the Orange.  I still kind of think this might be a house of cards a bit, and also that Cal and UNC were majorly overrated, but Syracuse has already proved me wrong, and it wouldn't shock if they continue to do so.

3.  John Wall.  Well, I think we can go ahead and say "believe the hype."  Wall was the top recruit this season, was picked by someone I read as the National Player of the Year, and so far neither of those seem too ridiculous.  In his three games this year, Wall has averaged 20.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 2.7 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game, all while shooting 56% from the floor.  His turnovers are about the only thing remotely concerning (averaging four per game), but he only had two in Saturday's win (to 11 assists) and for a freshman this early in the season it's not a surprise they are a little high.  Kentucky still hasn't really played anybody, and won't until December, but for now Wall looks very good, and Calipari is certainly squeezing as much out of him as he can in what his likely his only college season - he's played 38, 37, and 35 minutes in the three games.   

4.  Minnesota Vikings.  Are you like me and life as a Minnesota fan, and specifically a Viking fan, has conditioned you to expect the worst at all times?  I mean the Vikes are absolutely rolling, now at 9-1 and just destroying teams, such as the poor, hapless Seahawks who they rolled to such a degree that T-Jax actually played almost an entire half.  Everything is perfect.  Brett Favre has played nearly flawlessly this season.  Adrian Peterson has gone from "possibly the best back in football" to "the best back in football."  Percy Harvin is heading towards a possible rookie-of-the-year award.  Sidney Rice has realized his untapped potential and vaulted into maybe a top 10 receiver in the NFL (Don't believe me?  He's 17th in catches and 3rd in receiving yards in the NFL).  And the defense, although showing a few weaknesses at times, is still an elite unit with a front four that is basically destroying everybody - And all this without Antoine Winfield.  And yet, instead of relaxing, I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop and someting to go horribly, horribly wrong.  Will it be a Favre injury?  An injury to some one else?  Or will it be smooth sailing until an epic choke job in the playoffs?  I don't know, but you know damn well it's going to be something. 

5.  Rodney Williams.  I think it's finally time to recognize that this kid might not just beat beating up on poor teams, he might legitimately be a Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidate.  It seemed the consensus on the Gopher freshmen coming into the season was Royce = FOY candidate, Cobbs = immediate backup, might steal the starting spot, and Rodney = project, possible redshirt.  Well, after putting up games of 14, 14, and 17 points, all on better than 58% shooting, and adding an average of three boards and two steals per, he's suddenly looking far beyond a redshirt.  Besides his stellar defense and insane athleticism, which were given, he's answered questions about his offense by showing a nice outside touch (3-8 from three) and a good offensive IQ.  I'm starting to wish I took him in my fantasy college hoops league.  Although I did get Damian Johnson, who is just ridiculous in every way.

To give you some example, in the scoring system our league uses (pts, rebs = +1, asts = +2, stl, blks = +3, TO = -2), he has put up 46, 40, and 42 points.  Last year's returning leader was Luke Harangody (also on my team), and he averaged 42 per game.  I realize DJ probably won't be able to continue to put up those kind of numbers, especially the blocks and steals, once competition improves, but in any case, he is just so, so valuable, and I'm talking real life - not fantasy.  I don't care who ends up leading the Gophers in which statistical categories, Johnson is hands down this team's MVP.  Except maybe Ralph. 


1.  Penn State.  Ouch.  It looks like Iowa and Indiana won't be battling for 11th place by themselves, the post-Geary Claxton era is looking ugly.  The Nittany Lions were basically Talor Battle and that's it, and needed somebody to step up and help out this year.  That hasn't happened, and Penn State basically embarrassed themselves at the Charleston Classic this weekend, finishing in 7th place (out of 8).  It was a pretty low-level tournament, and was set up for a South Carolina/Miami final, with Penn State and South Florida as potential sleepers and then four cupcakey-type teams.  Well, the final happened, but Penn State never got their sleeper campaign going, dropping their opener to UNC-Wilmington.  Ok, fine.  At least they should be able to rip through the consolation bracket and salvage some pride, right?  Wrong again.  They lost their first consolation game to Tulane, setting up an epic seventh place game against Davidson, which they mercifully won.  Gopher fans have been there - remember the Old Spice Classic? - so we feel your pain, Penn State.

2.  Pac 10 Hoops.  The Pac was already said to be down this year, but things might be worse than originally thought, especially after watching one of their two "top flight" teams get swept by Ohio State and Syracuse in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, and do so without much of a fight (although to be completely fair, the Bears were missing a couple of players).  There are a ton of other black marks as well; Arizona State needed a miracle finish to beat a terrible TCU team, Stanford lost to Oral Roberts, UCLA lost to Bryce Webster and CS - Fullerton, USC was knocked off by a god awful Loyola Marymount team, Oregon lost to Portland, and Oregon State (the conference's big sleeper) lost to Texas Tech to drop to 1-2 and then lost on Saturday to Sacramento State - one of the worst teams in the country - and that all happened just this week.  I honestly can't remember ever seeing a major conference struggle this mightily this early.  At least the Washington schools are still undefeated, although neither has really played anyone yet.  The real winner in this is Arizona, who was heading for a down year and whose 24 straight years with an NCAA Tournament bid record was in jeopardy.  With a decent team, in what suddenly looks like a super weak conference, we could be looking at 25.

3.  Pittsburgh Steelers.  Funny thing about the NFL this year, there are a handful of teams that are so gad awful they never win and never even threaten to win:  Oakland, St. Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, and Kansas City.  Except - whoops - Kansas City beat the Steelers on Sunday, 27-24 in overtime - and did so without Dwayne Bowe, who is suspending for cheating.  I have no idea how it happened.  Roethlisberger threw for 398 yards, but threw two picks and the Steelers turned the ball over three times, and then allowed Matt Cassell to have a nearly perfect second half and overtime, leading to four scoring drives including the game-winning field goal.  I don't even know what else to say.  This is like when Forrest Gump won the Oscar over Pulp Fiction.  Oakland also beat Cincinnati, and in even more embarrassing fashion, but I still feel like the Pitt loss was more stunning even though the Bengals have a better record than the Steelers.  I guess I've learned that you can never trust the Bengals completely.  Kind of like a wife or girlfriend.  Or any female, really. 

4.  Gopher football.  Did you ever think you'd pine for the days of Glen Mason?  I certainly didn't, and yet, that's what I found myself thinking on Sunday watching Maroney run for the Patriots.  I found myself harkening back to the days of Barbaroney (and G-Russ) and thinking, at least when Mason was here the Gophers had some talented players.  At least they were exciting and fun to watch.  And then I stopped myself, and realized what I was saying.  I wish Glen Mason was still here.  I WISH.  GLEN MASON.  WAS STILL HERE.  And I have a feeling if you're reading this and haven't thought that, you're thinking it right now.  Isn't that the most damning evidence that the Brewster era has been a failure? 

5.  NCAA Fascists.  FREE RENARDO SIDNEY!!  FREE RENARDO SIDNEY!!!  FREE RENARDO SIDNEY!!  Who's with me?  FREE RENARDO SIDNEY!!  FREE RENARDO SIDNEY!! FREE RENARDO SIDNEY!!  FREE RENARDO... (also now featured on the front page of the espn college basketball section).

I am crazy fired up for college basketball this year, and this is one of the best times of the season with all the holiday tournaments going on.  We already had the Coaches vs. Classic and Puerto Rico Tip-Off winners, but there's plenty more going on, and I'm most interested in the Maui Classic (other than the 76 Classic, of course).  I've been pimping Cincinnati as a final four sleeper this year, and this will be their first chance to show if I'm at least near the right track or not.  They start off with a good Vanderbilt team today on ESPN2 at 4:30 - check them out.

One other quick note from the weekend - the Gophers opponent in the Big10/ACC Challenge, Miami, won the Charleston Classic this weekend by beating Tulane, UNC-Wilmington, and South Carolina.  That's not really all that impressive, since the first two are weak teams (although Wilmington beat Penn State) and South Carolina's second best player went down with a knee injury seven minutes into the game and never returned, but still, it boosts Miami's profile and therefore the Gophers' if they manage a win on the 2nd - which I certainly think they can.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I haven't been to New Jersey in a while. I haven't missed it.

Sorry I haven't posting while out here in Jersey so far this week, folks, but each night when I got back to my hotel room I was just plain tuckered.  The first night the plane didn't land until 7:30, and after the hour drive to the hotel we had dinner (cajun chicken sandwich, fries) and then I finally got to my room about 10.  I didn't want to start drinking since I had a long day the next day, and god knows the only way I can get up the effort to type on this stupid blog is if I'm into a little bit of Grandpa's cough medicine.

And boy was I right about a long day.  A scheduled eight-hour meeting just kept going and turned into a ten hour meeting, which meant there was no break before dinner.  And wow.  This was a 3.5 hour dinner, no joke.  Everybody there had to order every course.  First, we had to get appetizers for the entire table (calamari, prosciutto, grilled shrimp, eggplant, brie bruschetta, mozzarella), then salad (I had a ceasar), main course (cajun rib-eye, roasted squash, whipped potatoes - and that rib-eye was not cajun in the least), and then everyone just had to get desert (I almost got a port, but since I had to drive went with the creme brule).  Then when I got to the hotel, I had emails waiting for me with questions that needed answering that night, so needless to say blogging was out of the question.

Tonight, however, I am on my own and the only thing I have to accomplish is getting on a shuttle to the airport at 9am tomorrow, so I can have a little time for just me and you, my old friend, just me and you.  I had a nice simple dinner (bacon cheeseburger, onion rings) with a couple beers and a couple cocktails (vodka & tonic), and picked up a six-pack of Coors Light Silos on my way to the hotel.  So let's see what we see, shan't we?

-  For some reason the internet is telling me the Gophers are up just 32-24 at half against Utah Valley, which is less than encouraging.  I almost tried to write a quick preview of the game last night, but when I was researching Utah Valley I realized it wasn't worth it because they are god awful.  But now the Gophers are just up 8 at half.  I know, thanks to texts from Snacks and Grandslam, that Westbrook is out because of food poisoning, and I know I said I thought he was heading for a "special" senior season, but come on.  It's Utah Valley.  I'm almost certain a roster of Terrance Simmons, Steve Esselink, David Grim, Travis Busch, and Kevin Loge could take these guys.  I'm going to assume the second half is going to go much better. 

- In more impressive news, I watched Syracuse kick the crap out of Cal tonight in the bar.  I may have underrated the Cuse.  From my vantage point it was tough to tell who was doing what (Wes J might have had 5 or 25 for all I know) but one thing I could tell is the Orange point guard situation is in much better shape than I anticipated.  Scoop Jardine looked great (how could I doubt a guy named Scoop?), and this kid Brandon Triche looked really good as well.  He's going to be a star in two years.

-  Gophers now up 41-26.  Much better.  I feel now like I can relax, and just get ready to watch Ohio State beat the piss out of the Gay Heels.  Seriously.  You watch.

-  Speaking of basketball, I'm sure you're dying for an update on my college basketball fantasy league.  I won't post the whole draft list, you can find the earlier picks in some other posts, but here is an update since I last posted:

8.12 DWG - Damian Johnson, F, Minnesota

9.1 DWG - Edwin Ubiles, G/F, Siena

9.2 TLEF - TaJuan Porter, G, Oregon
9.3 NotoriousTREJetBrit - Rotnei Clarke, G, Arkansas
9.4 Saintfool - Theo Robertson, G/F, Cal
9.5 Aerial Assault - Matt Bouldin, G, Gonzaga
9.6 WuBanger - Jason Love, C, Xavier
9.7 Truck - Herb Pope, F, Seton Hall
9.8 Jeter23 - Austin Freeman, G, Georgetown
9.9 Tar Heel Boy - Mike Tisdale, C, Illinois
9.10 BasketballCoach - Avery Bradley, G, Texas
9.11 Tobias Funke - Armon Johnson, G, Nevada
9.12 Balco - Vernon Macklin, F/C, Florida

10.1 Balco - Elias Harris, F, Gonzaga
10.2 Tobias Funke - Michael Dunigan, C, Oregon
10.3 Basketball Coach - Klay Thompson, G, Washington St.
10.4 Tar Heel Boy - William Buford, G, Ohio St.
10.5 Jeter23 - Scotty Hopson, G, Tennessee
10.6 Truck - Malcolm Lee, G, UCLA
10.7 WuBanger - Durrell Summers, G, Michigan St.
10.8 Aerial Assault - Ekpe Udoh, F/C Baylor
10.9 Saintfool - Raymar Morgan, F, Michigan St.
10.10 NotoriousTREJetBrit - Bo Spencer, G, LSU
10.11 TLEF - Nolan Smith, G, Duke
10.12 DWG - Jordan Crawford, G, Xavier

11.1 DWG - Brandon Paul, G, Illinois

11.2 TLEF - Joe Trapani, F, Boston College
11.3 NotoriousTREJetBrit - Eric Boateng, C, Arizona State
11.4 Saintfool - Landon Milbourne, F, Maryland
11.5 Aerial Assault - Ryan Rossiter, F, Siena
11.6 WuBanger - Tyler Roche, F, Boston College
11.7 Truck - Jimmy Butler, G/F, Marquette
11.8 Jeter23 - Storm Warren, F, LSU
11.9 Tar Heel Boy - Mike Singletary, F, Texas Tech
11.10 BasketballCoach - DeWayne Reed, G, Auburn
11.11 Tobias Funke - Dee Bost, G, Mississippi St.
11.12 Balco - John Jenkins, F, Vanderbilt

12.1 Balco - Chandler Parsons, F, Florida
12.2 Tobias Funke - Derwin Kitchen, G, Florida State
12.3 Basketball Coach - Mike Davis, F, Illinois
12.4 Tar Heel Boy - Marcus Ginyard, G, North Carolina
12.5 Jeter23 - Marshall Moses, F, Oklahoma St.
12.6 Truck - John Roberson, G, Texas Tech.
12.7 WuBanger -
12.8 Aerial Assault -
12.9 Saintfool -
12.10 NotoriousTREJetBrit -
12.11 TLEF -
12.12 DWG -

That gives me a team of:

G:  Chris Warren - Ole Miss, Nic Wise - Arizona, Deonta Vaughn - Cincy, Jordan Crawford - Xavier, Brandon Paul - Illinois
F:  Luke Harangody - Notre Dame, Tyler Smith - Tennessee, Damian Johnson - Minnesota, Edwin Ubiles - Siena
C:  JaJuan Johnson - Purdue, Derrick Favors - Georgia Tech

I like it.  Coming up, I'm hoping to get Ralph Sampson and Courtney Fortson.  Sampson is even more valuable since centers are such a commodity, I probably should have taken him last round.  I'm nervous because not only because of the rare good centers thing, but because I know team NotoriousTREJetBrit is from Minnesota, and was not happy when I picked DJ.  Hopefully Ralphie slips by them, I'm going to be heartbroken if I miss out on Ralph.

Fortson is a risk because he's suspended right now, and actually I haven't looked into exactly why and that's probably something I should investigate before I pick him.  But on stats alone, he would have gone at least two rounds earlier and probably more like four.  If he cuts down on turnovers he'd be a fantasy, and real life, star.  I'm willing to risk it, since I'm very solid at guard.

-  Just heard on ESPN2 "The Big Ten is the deepest conference in America" right as they go into Penn State highlights.  Oops (although I do happen to agree with that sentiment, except maybe the Big 12).  I have no doubt I will write about this further on Monday.  That's right Penn State, you officially suck.  To give you a quick preview, Penn State was a 12 point (or so, I don't remember exactly) favorite, and my instinct said to bet Wilmington.  Then I researched Wilmington, and switched to Penn State because UNCW sounded THAT bad. 

-  Now with 9 minutes to go, it's just 51-43 Gophers.  I think they were like a 26 point favorite.  This is disappointing.  And so is this Ohio State game.  Kyle Madsen over Dallas Lauderdale?  Why would you make that call, especially against UNC and Ed Davis and Deon Thompson?  No Lauderdale is in at least, but if they can avoid playing Madsen the rest of the game, it would be a good move.

-  Now 17-11 UNC.  P.J. Hill just scored.  Barf.

-  I just went to get ice and now suddenly it's 26-11 North Carolina.  My prediction of Ohio State as a final four sleeper is suddenly looking like my "JP Losman will have a breakout year" call.

-  Wow, the Gophers somehow managed to win 76-51, and snacks reminds me that it was a -24.5 spread.  WE WIN! 

-  Wonderbaby is freaking awesome, by the way, thanks for asking.  She can now count to four, and she was advanced enough in her gymnastics thing to skip a whole class, and is now tumbling with three year olds.  She's 19 months. Suck it, every other baby.  And she even likes yard work.

I'm totally winning.

-  You want to know something completely bizarre?  Do you remember Shane Mack's season in 1994?  Absolutely, undoubtedly, an unreal year.  He hit .333/.402/.564 with 15 dingers and outstanding defense.  He was 7th in both average and slugging that year, just off the top 10 in OBP, and was 8th in OPS.

-  With Allen Iverson released by Memphis there seems to be some kind of movement to villify his career.  Hogwash, I say.  Iverson is without a doubt one of the best players in NBA history.  Do you realize the best teammates he ever had were a mostly-washed up Dikembe Mutombo, Aaron McKie, and Eric Snow?  He basically took that Sixers team that made the finals there single-handedly.  I will grant you that at this stage of his career I can't see a good fit for him.  He's clearly not happy taking a backseat to youth (as seen by making his way out of Memphis), and what good, contending team would he fit with (Chicago, maybe?), but make no mistake, this guy was one of the greats.  If anybody ever goes on some "selfish" or "not a winner" rant, kindly bunch said person in the neck.  If charges are pressed, I'll take the rap.

-   Ohio State is depressing me.  I'm about two seconds away from switching the NBA (*gasp*).

-  Ok, nice try to keep me interested by Larry Drew.  He gave a forearm shiver to noted douchebag P.J. Hill and absoultely flattened him on his dumb ass.  I'll stick around for a while to see if anything comes of it.  I feel like a hockey fan all of a sudden, but far less dumb.

-  Far, far, far, far, far, far, far less.

-  They just said Justin Watts hit a three.  Since I've never heard of him, I'm switching to the NBA.  Lakers/Bulls.  Bulls ++9.5, OVER 195, and first quarter over 49.5.  My Ohio State = Memphis call is just dumb now.  Ohio State = Rice is more like it.

-  Dear god these NBA guys are terrible, especially Derrick Rose.  He can't shoot a jumper for shit, like, T.J. Ford style, and it's like he's too lazy or disinterested to get into the lane.  He's on my fantasy team, and I was all like "Dude I have Rose" and "Derrick Rose is on my team, brah" and stuff, but now I'm just ashamed.  I almost want to just break the TV so I don't watch any of these games.

-  Ugh, these games are depressing.  You know what's not depressing though (besides Audrina)?  The NBDL draft, which I promised I would get to.  So let's look.

-  Nevermind for a minute, just got a text from snacks that OSU cut it to 2 with 11 seconds left.  That is confirmed.  Unreal.  How does that happen?  Kind of wish I had kept watching now.

-  Well that was anti-climactic, and didn't cover the +2 either.  Kind of wish I hadn't switched back over.

-  Back to the NBDL - first overall pick, Carlos Powell.  Second - Donell Taylor.  Third - Deron Washington.  Huh.  this is a lot less fun than expected.  I know Powell was either at Texas Tech or South Carolina, and I think Washington played for Arkansas or Mississippi or someone like that, but this is just lame.  Let's just pick and choose a few highlights (or lowlights) instead, and go with my favorite pick of each round (they do 8 rounds of this garbage):

1st:  Latavious Williams, high school.  High school.  How do you think that's working out?  This is even more inexplicable since the NBA has that one-year in college rule.  So did this guy think the NBDL was the path to fame and fortune?  Did he sign somewhere but couldn't qualify for whatever reason and decided this was a better back up plan than JuCo?  Honestly, I'd look it up but I'm pretty drunk.  If you're bored at work - and you know damn well you are right now - you could go ahead and post any relevant info in the comments section below this post.  RUNNER UP:  JamesOn Curry.  I'm 99% sure this guy has NBA experience already with the Bulls.  Do they even have rules in this thing?

2nd:  Mustafa Shakur, Arizona.  Yep, pretty clear there are no rules.  This guy was a second rate PG back in what I swear must have been the 90s for Arizona.  Actually I just looked it up and he graduated in 2007, so who am I thinking of?  Arizona has basically run a bevy of mediocre point guards through that program who get hyped because it's Arizona.  They're pretty interchangeable.  RUNNER UP:  John Bryant, Santa Clara.  If I had known Shakur wasn't whoever it is that I thought it is, this guy would be my choice.  Being large and uncoordinated gets you riches these days?  Actually, I guess Greg Ostertag perfected it.  Did you know Mrs. W will see a large, uncoordinated white guy playing on a basketball team and say, "Is that their Ostertag?"  True story.

3rd:  Chris Lowe, UMASS.  Not because it's a bad pick or anything, because Lowe was actually a pretty damn good point guard for the minutemen last year, and him being gone is a big reason why they're a big ball of suck now.  The funny part is on the NBDL website they have no link to him.  Yet they have links for Kevin Goffney, Sean Barnette, James Cripe, and Cecil Brown - guys I haven't even come close to knowing who they are.  I'm not some expert (NOTE:  I am), but four dudes I've never heard of get a link and no Chris Lowe?  That ain't right.  RUNNER UP:  All those weirdos.

4th:  Jason Richards, Davidson.  Just stop.  You know what I saw while watching basketball tonight?  Gerry McNamara as a grad assistant on Jim Boeheim's bench.  And that's awesome.  Guess what white point guard guy?  You aren't making the NBA.  Take a page for G-Mac, and try to become a coach.  Go the Jeff Capel route.  It works.  RUNNER UP:  Leemire Goldwire.  This is beyond weird

5th:  Shagari Alleyne, Kentucky.  Remember when Kentucky, and I think it was Tubby, actually, recruited Alleyne and someone named like Lukasz Orbzut and they were both 7-2 and were going to be all twin tower and such?  Nice plan.  And this guy is still getting chances based on his height.  Not fair, Jeff Hagen, not fair.  RUNNER UP:  Scooter McFagdon, whose name is funny, whose potential was unlimited, and whose disappointingness is complete.  Also want to give a shout out to Joe Darger of UNLV here, whose name is nearly identical to a kid I knew in high school and never fails to make me giggle.

I just want to mention here that I went to go get a couple beers (NOTE:  Silos running low) before the bar closed and on the elevator back up some cougar lady asked me "So what are you doing, want to go back down and get a drink?"  I demurred.  But I want to mention it here anyway.

6th:  CJ Anderson, Xavier (via Manhattan).  This guy WILL be in the NBA at some point.  Maybe it's not for long, maybe it's a cup of coffee, but he will get a shot.  You watch, I'm predicting he leads the NBDL in scoring, which I just realized I'm using as a high end compliment.  Whatever.  This dude is awesome.  RUNNER UP:  J'Nathan Bullock, somewhere.  I know I've heard this name before, because it never fails to make me laugh, but I can't remember why right now.  Seriously, why my parents didn't just name me J'Nathan will haunt me to my dying day.

Just realized my flight tomorrow is at 11:20, not 11:00.  That's 20 extra minutes of sleep.  Time to get more drunker.

7th:  Garrison Carr, American.  This guy was awesome for them.  But was his career more, or less, successful than Tasheed Carr?  That's one to think on.  RUNNER UP:  Rodney Alexander, no clue.  I don't know who this is, but that's a hell of an NBA name.

8th:  Lawrence McKenzie, Minnesota.  You probably know who this is.  Hey, whatever works.  No doubt he'll grind out a career in Europe making more than I could possibly dream of by playing basketball.  I do have a hint for him:  look to New Zealand, it seems any mediocre former Gopher can make a nice living over there.  Plus, outside the Aborigines, he'd probably be the only black dude over there, and that's got to be an advantage.  RUNNER UP:  A.J. Ratliff, Indiana.  Senior Year = 1.7 pts, 1.3 rebs, 0.6 assists per game.  This folks, is the NBDL.

-  Lastly I want to close with something snacks sent me since apparently he doesn't do any work.  This here from Peter Gammons, the jesus of baseball analysts (sorry Aaron).  He mentions that Joe Mauer hit just one infield popup the entire season.  Sound ridiculouly hyperbolic?  Well, he is wrong.  Mauer actually hit two.  That means he popped up 1.5% of the time, fourth best in major league baseball (behind ryan howard, derek jeter - puke, and joey votto - stud).  I find the fact that we are privy to this info fascinating.  Common DWG whipping boy/stud, depending on who you ask, was 9th at 2.1%, pretty good.  But I know what you're waiting for, you want to know Twins, don't you you provincial son of a bitch?

Well, I know one guy who is going to enjoy this, but guess who was fifth worst in the majors in popping up?

It was Mike Cuddyer.  He popped up 15.5% of the time.  That is awful.  But let's look at something a little more for just a minute.  Let's assume that all fly balls and ground balls at least have a chance at getting the team closer to scoring a run, where popups and strikeouts don't.  Cuddy also strikes out 20% of the time.  That means that 36% of the time he is at the plate, his results have no chance of doing anything good.  That seems high.  this feels like the kind of thing I should research further, so somebody remind me because I'm going to bed.

I really hate New jersey. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanks BTN!

Awesome.  I pay $2.99, and I get nothing but freezed pictures, skip aheads, and, rarely, as many as four consecutive seconds of uninterrupted picture.  And that's the second half of the game.  The entire first half was nothing more than 1-2 seconds of play, a frozen picture, hit refresh, and do it all again.  So here's what I saw from the game:

-  Justin Cobbs take some fool on the dribble for a layup

-  A super-sexy sweeping lefty sky hook from Ralph.

-  Justin Cobbs hitting a three.

-  Rodney Williams hitting a three

-  DJ forcing some overmatched donkis to turn it over

-  What looked like an awesome 2-1 break with Ralph and DJ, but I have no idea how it ended

-  Paul Carter getting matched up on the wing with some slow white dude and blowing by him like Brandon Jennings v. Brian Cardinal.

That's it.  Now, don't take this as a condemnation of the BTN streaming video, I had no problems with either the Moorhead or Tennessee Tech games, but tonight was just brutal.  I will have no problem using it again in the future - assuming they respect my email and refund my money for tonight - but it really, really sucked to not be able to watch the game, so I'm going to have to piece this together from the boxscore/make stuff up.

-  I know the first half wasn't pretty, even leading to a text from Snacks that read "this team isn't any better than last year", and resulting in a SFA lead deep in the first half, before a mini-run to close out gave the Gophers a 26-19 lead at the break.  In the second half that run continued - and how - with the mighty Gophers outscoring the non-mighty Lumberjacks 56-23, to end up with a 82-42 victory that would have been another 2x if not for a late cheapie layup by some dork from SFA.

-  I was going to do a whole thing here where I made stuff up like "Rodney Williams had a 360 dunk on his way to 14 points" and "Devoe Joseph was 3-3 on three pointers tonight, including two from 25+ feet" but I am suddenly simultaneously annoyed and tired, and it would take far more devotion to a bit to pull that off than I can muster up right now.  Instead, here's a fun fact regarding Stephen F. Austin U that I forgot to include earlier:  "In 1970, five players from SFA were drafted into the NBA.  Only eight other schools can match that in a single draft."  Information = power, kids.  Don't ever forget that.

Since I have no other way to talk about the game, and I don't want to speculate based on box scores, here is an update on the fantasy college basketball draft, and I know damn well you care because you've never played fantasy college basketball and you're very curious:

1.1 DWG - Luke Harangody, F, Notre Dame
1.2 TLEF - Craig Brackins, F/C, Iowa State
1.3 NotoriousTREJetBrit - Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
1.4 Saintfool - Grievis Vasquez, G, Maryland
1.5 Aerial Assault - Kyle Singler, F, Duke
1.6 WuBanger - John Wall, G, Kentucky
1.7 Truck - Jarvis Varnado, F/C, Mississippi St.
1.8 Jeter23 - Patrick Patterson, F, Kentucky
1.9 Tar Heel Boy - Damion James, G/F, Texas
1.10 BasketballCoach - Michael Washington, F/C, Arkansas
1.11 Tobias Funke - Evan Turner, G/F, Ohio State
1.12 Balco - Greg Monroe, F/C, Georgetown

2.1 Balco - Lazar Hayward, F, Marquette
2.2 Tobias Funke - James Anderson, G, Oklahoma St.
2.3 Basketball Coach - Tasmin Mitchell, F, LSU
2.4 Tar Heel Boy - Trevor Booker. F. Clemson
2.5 Jeter23 - Devan Downey, G, South Carolina
2.6 Truck - Dominique Jones, G, South Florida
2.7 WuBanger - Jeremy Hazell, G, Seton Hall
2.8 Aerial Assault - Kalin Lucas, G, Michigan St.
2.9 Saintfool - Manny Harris, G, Michigan
2.10 NotoriousTREJetBrit - Devin Ebanks, F, West Virginia
2.11 TLEF - Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma
2.12 DWG - JaJuan Johnson, F/C, Purdue

3.1 DWG -
Derrick Favors, F/C, Georgia Tech

3.2 TLEF - Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa
3.3 NotoriousTREJetBrit - Andrew Ogilvy, C, Vanderbilt
3.4 Saintfool - Deon Thompson, F, North Carolina
3.5 Aerial Assault - Jerome Randle, G, California
3.6 WuBanger - Ed Davis, F, UNC
3.7 Truck - Wayne Chism, F/C, Tennessee
3.8 Jeter23 - Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State
3.9 Tar Heel Boy - Sherron Collins, G, Kansas
3.10 BasketballCoach - Al-Farouq Aminu, F, Wake Forest
3.11 Tobias Funke - Mac Koshwal, C, DePaul
3.12 Balco - Stanley Robinson, F, Connecticut

4.1 Balco - Jerome Dyson, G, Connecticut
4.2 Tobias Funke - Corey Higgins, G, Colorado
4.3 Basketball Coach - Talor Battle, G, Penn State
4.4 Tar Heel Boy - Scottie Reynolds, G, Villanova
4.5 Jeter23 - JaMychal Green, F, Alabama
4.6 Truck - Jeff Allen, F, Virginia Tech
4.7 WuBanger - Lance Stephenson, G, Cincinnati
4.8 Aerial Assault - Roland Schaftenaar, C, Oregon State
4.9 Saintfool - DeMarcus Cousins, F/C, Kentucky
4.10 NotoriousTREJetBrit - Malcom Delaney, G, Virginia Tech
4.11 TLEF - Sylvan Landesberg, g, Virginia
4.12 DWG - Tyler Smith, G/F, Tennessee

5.1 DWG -
Chris Warren, G, Mississippi

5.2 TLEF - Gordon Hayward, F, Butler
5.3 NotoriousTREJetBrit - Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech
5.4 Saintfool - Sean Evans, F/C, St. John's
5.5 Aerial Assault - Alex Franklin, F, Siena
5.6 WuBanger - Luke Babbitt, F, Nevada
5.7 Truck - Jonathan Tavernari, G/F, BYU
5.8 Jeter23 - Xavier Henry, G/F, Kansas
5.9 Tar Heel Boy - Mike Holmes, F/C, South Carolina
5.10 BasketballCoach - Isaiah Thomas, G, Washington
5.11 Tobias Funke - Arinze Onuaku, C, Syracuse
5.12 Balco - Chris Wright, F, Dayton

6.1 Balco - Samardo Samuels, F/C, Louisville
6.2 Tobias Funke - DeSean Butler, F, West Virginia
6.3 Basketball Coach - Robbie Hummel, F, Purdue
6.4 Tar Heel Boy - DeShawn Sims, F, Michigan
6.5 Jeter23 - Jon Scheyer, G, Duke
6.6 Truck - Greg Echenique, F, Rutgers
6.7 WuBanger - Keith Gallon, C, Oklahoma
6.8 Aerial Assault - Kevin Coble, F, Northwestern
6.9 Saintfool - Dexter Pittman, C, Texas
6.10 NotoriousTREJetBrit - Trey Thompkins, F, Georgia
6.11 TLEF - Kemba Walker, G, Connecticut
6.12 DWG - Nic Wise, G, Arizona

7.1 DWG - Deonta Vaughn, G, Cincinnati
7.2 TLEF - Robert Mitchell, F, Seton Hall
7.3 NotoriousTREJetBrit - Wesley Johnson, F, Syracuse
7.4 Saintfool - Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU
7.5 Aerial Assault - Landry Fields, G/F, Stanford
7.6 WuBanger - Quincy Poindexter, F, Washington
7.7 Truck - Ben Uzoh, G, Tulsa
7.8 Jeter23 - Alex Tyus, F, Florida
7.9 Tar Heel Boy - LaceDarius Dunn, G, Baylor
7.10 BasketballCoach - DJ Kennedy, G/F, St. John's
7.11 Tobias Funke - Jeffery Taylor, F, Vanderbilt
7.12 Balco - Iman Shumpert, G, Georgia Tech

8.1 Balco - Elliott Williams, G, Memphis
8.2 Tobias Funke - Matt Howard, F, Butler
8.3 Basketball Coach - Augustus Gilchrist, F/C, South Florida
8.4 Tar Heel Boy - Patrick Christopher, G, Cal
8.5 Jeter23 - Chas McFarland, C, Wake Forest
8.6 Truck - Alex Oriakhi, F/C, Connecticut
8.7 WuBanger - Corey Stokes, F, Villanova
8.8 Aerial Assault -
8.9 Saintfool -
8.10 NotoriousTREJetBrit -
8.11 TLEF -
8.12 DWG -

Which gives me: 

G - Chris Warren, Ole Miss
G - Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati
G - Nic Wise, Arizona
G -
F - Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
F - Tyler Smith, Tennessee (also G eligible)
F -
F -
C - JaJuan Johnson, Purdue (also F eligible)
C - Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech (also F eligible)

Which I think is a pretty good team.  I am currently five spots away from two picks, and I think I might go the double homer pick - Damian and Ralph.  The only other consideration right now is Ekpe Udoh from Baylor, and I'm really not sure if he's a fluke or legit.  I don't know if Damian and Ralph are the two best picks at this point, but they are definitely the two most fun; besides, if I lost out on Ralph I'd have to kill myself.  I'm actually almost positive I'm going to take Rico Tucker with my last pick.