Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Your Late Christmas Gift: A Giant Shark (Live Movie Blog)

In honor of the Christmas holiday I'm going to be bringing you the latest installment of the award-winning series of DWG Live Movie Blogs (but make sure you check out the latest Reggie Holmes update in the post below this one too).  Today I'll be watching "Shark Hunter", a movie from 2001 starring Antonio Sabato, Jr. about "A man and his team of divers searching for a giant shark that destroyed a research station."  Oh boy.  You know that all realism goes right out the window when directors/writers/whatever start talking about a "giant" shark.  Generally they turn into a bunch of 3-year olds on Christmas morning.  I think my goal for this movie is just to have all shark footage be of the same species.  Well, that and to see Antonio Sabato, Jr. with his shirt off.

-  We're starting with some really weird home movie type/documentary type footage of some lady dancing around like a weirdo while she loads up her car with plants.  And now some dumbass kid, too.  I'm going to guess this is a home movie of Sabato's family who end up getting eaten by a shark or something and now he hunts sharks in order to extract his revenge.  Sounds dumb enough, right?

-  I just realized also that I have no idea who Antonio Sabato, Jr. is.  I've heard the name and I feel like I should know, but I don't.

-  Ok so to remedy that I looked him up and now I have no idea why I've heard his name.  His list of movie roles is terrible.  The only thing I've ever even heard of that he's done is The Bold and the Beautiful, which I promise you I've never watched.  This guy might kind of be a loser.  Also we're now five minutes into a 90-minute movie and still watching the credits.

-  Here we go, that lady and her husband (I'm now guessing Sabato is the kid) are now on a boat.  Want to bet they get eaten, the kid survives, and then grows up to be the Shark Hunter and takes his revenge on all sharks?  Which was the exact plot and beginning of one of those squid movies I blogged about earlier.  It's amazing how simple a formula could be to make good shark/squid/crocodile/alligator movies, and yet almost every single one of these follows the same formula - the wrong formula.

-  Yep, giant shark just bit the boat.  And didn't just bite it, but basically inhaled it (this is truly a massive fake shark).  Now the boat is gone, but somehow the kid is still alive and floating by hanging on to a life preserver.  So predictable.  It's just like how the Twins are going to sign a washed-up veteran for cheap who sucks to play third or how at some point this year you are going to become convinced Al Nolen couldn't play in division III.

-  Also predictable - Sabato is a college professor and deep sea explorer.  About the only thing positive about this is that this movie came out in 2001, which means it was before most of that other crap - so this is the original crap, if you will.

-  Wow, yet another movie where a giant shark is lured to the surface due to deep sea exploration and electrical currents.  Seriously, nobody has thought of an alternative reason why Megalodon could still be around and then reappear?  It's the same in every giant shark movie, and it's all stolen from the book "Meg" which is the worst book of all-time.  I've mentioned this here before, but I'm going to do it again and spoil it for you - the hero at the end of "Meg" ends up walking around inside the shark.  INSIDE the shark.  He's walking around inside the shark.  No joke.  I threw the book across the room after I finished it.  Awful.  

-   You know what would work?  How about, "The ocean is so deep and so vast that we are still discovering new species nearly every single day and something as large as a giant squid wasn't though to actually exist until the 60s and wasn't filmed until 2006 so it wouldn't be a stretch to say there are 50-foot sharks in the depths of the ocean."  See, that's pretty easy.  Not everything needs a massive over explanation.

-  Damn dude, this shark just ate two divers and an underwater research station for no reason at all.  It also attacked that boat in the opening scene for no reason either.  This is one crabby shark, apparently.  He's kind of like the retard of sharks, just eating inanimate objects unprovoked all over the place. 

-  Sabato was just hired to take his mini-sub down to investigate what happened to that research center, and for some reasons his response to this is to to look at a bunch of slides of sharks and shark attack victims, even though realistically there is zero reason to suspect a shark destroyed the stations, mainly because that's not something sharks actually do.  And even if you did suspect a shark, why would looking at stock photos of them help in any way?  I'm confused.  Also he was using a slide projector machine, like you might remember from 4th grade.  Didn't they have the internet in 2001?  Pretty sure they did.  Poor dude can't even afford a computer.

-  He's now acting all sciency and trying to explain to the guy who built this mini-sub and the mini-sub pilot about how much pressure there is at the bottom of the ocean and how they could all be crushed.  Uh, yeah.  Pretty sure these guys are aware.  The one dude built it and they other dude already piloted it deep.  This guy is a super annoying main character.  I'm rooting for the shark, retarded though it may be.

-  Wait, why are they talking about a mini-sub and extremem pressure?  The guys are now examining the ruins of the station, but they're doing it outside of any mini-sub, so it can't be all that deep.  And they just found a shark tooth embedded in the ruins, which they take to mean it's a guarantee that a megalodon attacked and wrecked the station and have now stopped investigating what happened. They're right in this stupid movie's case, but still, that's pretty filmsy evidence.  And also Sabato said, "I think we've bitten off more than we can chew" when he found the tooth.  I told you he was super unlikeable.

-  Do you want to know how we are supposed to know Megalodon's are supposed to be extinct?  Because when they searched for it on the internet (they have a computer now) a picture of it popped up with the word EXTINCT written in giant red letters over it and the computer started beeping in an alarm-type way.  How efficient.  And super high-tech.

-  Whoa, this whole movie was done by Russian communists.  After the first five or so actors, every other actor listed on IMDB is russian.  All the assistant directors are russian.  All the art people are russian, and so on.  Suddenly I feel like this movie is maybe a little evil.  I'll be on the lookout for anti-American propaganda from here on out.

-   As usual, we get a coelacanth comparison here.  Yawn.  Except Sabato is using the argument that "the Megalodon is from the same evolutionary period" as his argument, which is completely irrelevant in every way.  Even worse (and a quick fact check confirms this) the Coelecanth showed up about 400 million years ago.  The Megalodon showed up about 25 million years ago.  That's not only not the same evolutionary period, it's not even the same super-eon.  So, as predicted, for the 800 billionth movie in a row, facts, logic, and reason go right out the window.  We haven't even seen the shark yet, so I can't tell you how awful that was yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

-  Sub pilot guy just took Sabato to task for being crazy and dangerous (for believing megs still exist).  He pretty much said, "You're everyone's problem. That's because every time you go up in the air, you're unsafe. I don't like you because you're dangerous." 

-  As if we needed it confirmed, they spell out that those parents who were killed by the shark in the opening were Sabato's.  Pretty sure we got that.

-  You know what's awesome about HD?  Seeing how people really look.  Like, we were watching Waiting the other night and Dane Cook is in it and he looks absolutely brutal in HD.  He looks about 10 years older and he could use a little bit of Proactiv, if you know what I'm sayin'.  On the other hand, we watched Extract, and Mila Kunis looks even hotter, if that's possible.  I actually don't think it is.  She is amazing.  If Tiffani-Amber Thiessen never existed she would be my #1 easily.  She's even hotter than Audrina (I can't believe I said that)

Sorry Audrina.  I never thought I'd choose anyone over you, but here we are.  You can still be my fallback option though.

-  Suddenly, because something killed a couple of killer whales, everybody suddenly agrees with crazy McSabato that there is a Megalodon out there.  Seems like pretty flimsy evidence, especially since they were basically doing everything short of filling out the commitment papers on this revenge-bent psychopath.  This movie is completely retarded.  Plus, Jaws II already used the dead orca bit, and that turned out to just be a large great white.  Why does everything have to be about Megalodon's these days?  Freakin' dorks.

-  This is bullshit, by the way.  There's no shark hunter in this.  There's a bunch of really stupid marine biologists and such running around like idiots.  I thought Sabato was going to be more like Quint from Jaws, but more high-tech and revenge-y.  I guess they're going to use some big ass harpoons to kill the thing, which makes no logical sense whatsoever because as scientists they should be trying to study it, not kill it, especially seeing as all it's done is attack one undersea station, not become some sort of constant threat to Amity Beach or something.

-  And there's the shark.  Actually pretty well done, just your basic Great White on about 3-4x scale, good job so far movie.  If you don't screw this up, you'll have at least one redeeming feature.  Also not having the shark roar would be a good start.  Sub-pilot guy "We're gonna need a bigger sub."  Felt like more of an homage than a ripoff.  I choose to approve.

-  Since we switched from a non-HD normal human box to an HD box I lost all my older movies which means I have no more Tivo'd shark movies.  I do have some kind of retarded snake movie I grabbed off of Showtime in case I get desperate, but I can't imagine that being good.

-  Their was some opening where the sub was supposed to surface in their base, but the shark jumped up instead and grabbed some dumb bastard - basically a complete ripoff of Deep Blue Sea where Samuel Jackson gets eaten, a very underrated death by the way, even if that movie sucked balls.

-  I've officially lost track of all the characters in this movie.  It's either the beer or the shotty writing/direction/cinematography.

-  I just realized this black submarine pilot guy (who was playing the iceman role earlier) looks exactly like Danny Glover when he was 30.

-  Some foreign sounding guy is all mad now because the shark knocked out their reserve oxygen on their main base/super sub thing and now "We only have 40 hours of oxygen left, damn you!"  Am I crazy or does that seem like a lot of hours?  Especially because they are currently in a giant submarine that is still mobile.  Are they in the earth's core?  How slow does this thing move?  How couldn't they get back to the surface in 40 hours?  Is the water slowly turning to molasses?  Why is Sabato shooting a torpedo at the black guy's submarine?  Is it true that all Mexicans hate the blacks?  Why are the four main characters in this a frenchie, a black guy, a mexican, and a white chick?  Why would a USC linebacker transfer to BYU?

-  They just showed a closeup of the shark, and it looks like the bath toy WonderbabyTM likes to drink her own bathwater out of.  First of all, don't ask.  I can't begin to explain 1.5 year olds, and no, I don't think she's technically retarded just kind of a weirdo.  Secondly, that means these effects now suck and nullify everything I said earlier about decent shark effects.

-  Text just received from Mrs. W in the bedroom:  "Please come kill this spider."  Mission accomplished.  I am such a pimp.  That spider was all like the Alien and I was the Predator.  Also this beef jerky I'm eating is really damn good.  Thank you Simek's and Old Man W.  Actually, Simek's people, if you want to have some advertising on this blog that reaches tens of people just supply me with a lifetime supply of your jerky and I'll rename this thing "Shop at Simek's not other places unless you are stupid."

-  Now they're arguing about tranquilizing the shark or killing it, which means I probably wasn't paying attention earlier when I claimed they all wanted to kill it, but I don't care about that.  What I do care about is why, if they are all hyper about having "only" forty hours of oxygen, why they don't just surface and fix their sub.  Especially because, once again, this shark isn't terrorizing a beach or swallowing carnival cruise line ships whole.  It's just chilling at the bottom of the ocean except for when people got all up in it's face with their gay little underwater study group (NOTE:  I once had three black people in my house at the same time because of a study group.  I'm wordly).

-  Now that I've had time to rethink things, I'm going with:
  1. Tiffani Thiessen
  2. Audrina Patridge
  3. Mila Kunis
  4. Eliza Dushku
  5. Anna Faris 
-  Nope, swap Kunis and Patridge.  Also swap Faris with Natalie Portman.  No, don't.  And Ali Larter has to be in there somewhere.  So does Anna Paquin.  God this is hard.  No wonder everybody who writes for Maxim/Stuff/FHM/Whatever is so stupid.

-  The shark just rammed the big sub and I swear they lifted those effects from Jaws 3 when the big shark rams the Sea World tunnel.  Also the shark suddenly has no facial features - it's basically looking now like a dildo with fins.

-  Dude just shot a torpedo or dart or something into the shark's eyeball and everybody acts like it's such a big deal.  Whatever.  I used to bullseye Womp Rats in my T-16 back home, they weren't much bigger than two meters.

-  Nothing in this movie makes a god damn lick of sense.  Except for the submarine having a cockpit almost identical to the Millenium Falcon.  Or maybe that's just because my brain is stuck on Star Wars.  I can't wait to watch those with Wonderbaby.  Maybe we'll start tomorrow.

-   We are at 1:26 of a 1:35 movie, and the shark just roared for the first time - and the second and the third and the fourth.  Almost made it.

-  I still think the "extinct" goblin sharks who are of the same "species" as the "great" "white" are my favorite thing ever.  If you want to see what I'm talking about it's from the live movie blog I did on Malibu Shark Attack.  I'd look it up for you but I think I'm a little tipsy and I don't trust myself to go poking around the computer too much.  Last time I did that drunk I ended up ordering seven Snuggies and a bride from Japan.  That was awkward.

-  OH HELL NO.  Sabato just flew his mini-sub thing into the shark's mouth intentionally and then hit some kind of self-destruct to blow its head off and get revenge.  And then we immediately (and I mean immediately) go to end credits.

-  Wow dude, there was a lot to hate about this movie, starting with the name "shark hunter" when there was no shark hunter at all, and almost nothing to like.  I hated this.  I mean, I hate nearly all of the movies I live blog but at least the majority of them having some redeeming feature, even if it's comedy or making me get all sciencey, I can at least enjoy that.  This one sucked.  Was it worse than Sharks in Venice?  Tough to say, mainly because I don't think anything could ever be that bad, but damn.


A Paragon of Unselfishness

HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS! Guess what? Morgan State played Long Island tonight, and Reggie Holmes scored 23 on 8-17 shooting, but that's not the holy crappish part. The amazingness is that Holmes registered not one, but TWO assists in the game. Amazing!

This single game represents 4% of his 4-year career assist total and is just one shy of his career high (3) which he accomplished in his second career game.

Excellent work Mr. Holmes. We salute you. If there was a where you could sponsor player pages, I'd have snapped you up along ago to go in the trophy case along with the Mo Sanford baseball reference page (formerly scott stahoviak).

A Win is a Win, or so they tell me

 As Shakespeare would say, "Would a win by any other name smell as sweet?"  I don't know what that means, but an ugly win is far better than a well-played loss, and the Gophers certainly managed to squeak out an ugly win, no doubt about that. 

Although if it wasn't for Lawrence Westbrook, they probably wouldn't have.  Simply put, L-Dub was out of his god damn mind last night.  If he didn't make every shot he took in the first half it was damn close, and he finished out 11-16 despite a Kingsbury-esque 40-footer he put up and missed towards the end of the second half.  And you know what?  Dude was so hot that I don't think anybody, Tubby included, had a problem with him putting that one up.  A heat check should always be allowed, and he deserved one.  Plus, if that goes in the roof on the barn probably gets blown right off. 

Other than Westbrook the only other notables last night were Hoffarber and Nolen.  Blake continues to shoot it well (3-7 on threes, 11 total poins) and show that he needs just an inch of room to get his shot off, and still plays a better all-around game than I like to give him credit for.  Nolen continues to show he's essentially unguardable getting to the lane (6 assists/1 turnover).  If only he had either a jump shot or the ability to finish in the lane he would be a top guard in the country.  Yeah, you heard me.  But he doesn't, so we'll instead have to be happy with an unguardable penetrating guard who will have some excellent games like last night and others where we want to strangle him.  Hopefully more of the former.

That's really pretty much it.  Nobody else did much of anything.  Devoe only played 12 minutes for some reason.  Talor Battle played well but didn't go crazy.  The Gophers played ok and won.  What more do you want?  Five more things?  Ok, fine, here you go:

1)  If you haven't been to Mac's Industrial Sports Bar on the corner of University and Central you should really check it out.  The Wings are awesome and happy hour runs until 7.  And 25 cent wings on Tuesdays after seven.

2)  Nice parking situation University of Minnesota.  We have a parking pass, which means we have a reserved spot in a particularl lot.  We roll in right at eight last night and there's a sign blocking our lot saying "Lot Full."  They oversold the lot (+shitty parking with snow on the ground, but what do you expect from a state so obsessed with snowmobiles?).  So Snacks and I jump out of the car and go talk to some poor student who was clearly far too timid.  Snacks used a bunch of lawyer talk about how we pre-paid for a space and I just kept pointing to what was clearly an open parking spot and saying "There's a spot right there."  I think at the end Snacks broke out the "reservations" bit from Seinfeld and I said something about liberty being a soul's right to breathe and then we moved the sign, parked, and moved on.  As we were walking away another car pulled in behind the sign, and I'm pretty sure the poor attendant girl started crying.

3)  I have never been prouder of Gopher fans than I was when Clem was given a standing ovation last night.  I recognize that a lot of people were doing it more for the team than for Clem, but I didn't hear any boos at all.  I expected to because, let's be honest, there are a holy lot of holier-than-thou morons out there, but there weren't any that I could hear.  Well done, folks.  He, and the entire team, deserved to be honored and respected, and it was done in an excellent way and I enjoyed it immensely.  And speaking of immense, I think Melvin Newbern ate Shawn Kemp (I still love you Melvin).

4)  I feel really weird and wrong doing this, but I think it's time we start to question Tubby a wee bit.  I have two big issues with last night:
  • First, these substitution patterns are driving me crazy.  The wholesale line changes have got to stop.  The team doesn't have two equal units.  The second unit is a large step down from the first, and the team invariably loses momentum when he goes with a 5-for-5.  If something is pissing you off about the first team, figure out which player(s) are the problem and replace them.  Please stop with the line change.  Then last night that second unit is playing crappy and loses the lead so Tubby takes a timeout.  You'd assume he'd bring back the good players, but he kept that whole group out there again.  I don't get it.  Here's how you do it:
    • PG:  Nolen 30 minutes, Joseph 10 minutes
    • SG:  Westbrook 30 minutes, Joseph 10 minutes
    • SF:  Hoffarber 30 minutes, Carter 10 minutes (more for Carter against more athletic teams)
    • PF:  Johnson 30 minutes, Carter 5, Iverson 5
    • C:  Sampson 25, Iverson 15
    • Slipping in a a few minutes here and there for Cobbs and Rodney (and Bostick).  That's a good starting place.  Having a deep team doesn't mean you have to play everybody a bunch of minutes, especially when it means you lose track of one of your best players and somehow only give Devoe 12 minutes last night.  Yes, that's right.  Devoe only played 12 minutes.
  •  The strategy Tubby chose to employ against Battle was baffling, and the team is lucky it didn't backfire any worse than it did.  Having the guards switch on every screen instead of just choosing either Westbrook or Nolen and having him attach himself to Battle wherever he went just seemed like it was a huge mistake, and it did in fact lead to two open three-pointers (one of which was a 30-footer) for Battle where nobody was guarding him due to confusion.  The switching even resulted in Blake on Battle quite a few times.  Luckily neither Battle nor DeChellis picked up on this.  If I had been coaching Penn State I would have just run Battle through picks until Hoffarber was on him, then have him reset the offense and go with a 1-4 isolation play - unstoppable.  I also think that against a scorer like Battle it's easier for a defender to contain him when they are on him all game and can get into a rhythm.  
Obviously neither of these things killed them last night since they still managed to snag the win, but I still have my concerns.  Make no mistake though, I still love Tubby and would never say anything against him.  Except for that thing that I just wrote above.

5)  Finally, I realized I haven't given you an update on Reggie Holmes (Morgan State chucker guy) lately.  Since my last Holmes update, Morgan State has played two games; against Towson (W) and against Eastern Kentucky (L).  In the game against Towson, Holmes scored just 20 points due to his 6-20 shooting which including a mind-numbing 0-9 from three-point range, all while notching zero assists.  In the team's loss to Eastern Kentucky, he hit on his season average almost exactly, scoring 25 on 8-25 shooting, which once again includes a mind-boggling 6-19 from three point range.  And once again he managed to tally not a single assist, leaving his season total still at 4 (that's 0.3 assists per game).  He has a lot of work to do if he's going to match that career high of 19.  And his 222 shots so far this year are now third in all of NCAA Basketball (despite just 41% shooting), which is equal to the amount Westbrook and Joseph, the top two attempters on the Gophers, have taken combined and more than all but two Gophers (Westy and DJ) took all last season.


No wonder he always looks so tired and disinterested.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Penn State Preview + Gopher Conference Prediction

I basically wrote the preview in this morning's post.  In case you missed it, I just typed TALOR BATTLE somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty times.  Ok that's a lie, I typed it once and then copied and pasted it a bunch of times - it's still effort.  It's not that far off of an accurate preview - he really is the whole team.

Battle leads the team in minutes (35.1 per game), points (18.8), rebounds (5.8), assists (3.5) and has more than double the number of field goal attempts (173) of the second-leading chucker on the Nittany Lions (Jeff Brooks - 82) and 12 more than anybody else in the Big Ten (despite shooting just 43%).  I'm sure you remember him, particularly from his 29 point outburst to lead PSU to a win in East Lansing over Michigan State last year, but more likely for his single-handed upset of the Gophers in State College last year (if you don't recall, Battle scored 7 points in the final minutes turning a Gopher lead into a Gopher loss).

He is no doubt a tough player and is difficult to handle because he can hit the three but isn't reliant on it, and is also able to get his points either by getting to the rim, hitting a pull up, or getting out in transition.   But without much help (and there isn't much), Battle can force things (he also leads the team in turnovers) and has tossed up some clunkers:  3-15 shooting against Temple, 8-23 agains Wilmington, and 3-13 against Tulane, to name a few.  Of course, he can also put up 32 with 9 boards like he did against Virginia Tech or a 27-8 like he did against Penn or even play the distributor role like he did in in their last game against American with 16 points and 7 assists.  No doubt Al Nolen is going to have his hands full.

Luckily nobody else will.  Penn State has a bunch of spazzes who average between six and eight points per game, but nobody to really make you shake in your boots.  6-7 David Jackson had an outburst for 26 against Sacred Heart, but I'm pretty sure their whole team is 6-4 white guys so I'm not all that impressed.  Chris Babb chucks three-pointers like that guy who drives you crazy at the Y, but he shoots just 33% so chuck away, chuck-boy.  Someone named Bill Edwards has hit double-figures in scoring the last two games, but he also shot 1-8 against Maryland-Baltimore County.  6-10 Andrew Jones was one of the guys who was supposed to be a big contributor this year, but he can't even be bothered to break double-figures more than once a month.  Even second-leading scorer Jeff Brooks is averaging 3 per game in the teams last three outings and just shot 1-7 against American.

No, there isn't much here to scare you outside of Battle.  Even their kenpom numbers aren't thrilling - they are decidely average every where.  The only real standout stats are they don't allow offensive rebounds (8th best in the nation), they don't turn it over (22nd), and they are terrible at turning other teams over (287th) and never block shots (314th) or get steals (294th).

Don't forget, this is the same team who has already lost to Wilmington and Tulane, and doesn't have a good win yet this year.  The Gophers have shown they don't have much trouble with bad teams, and Penn State is a bad team.  Even if Battle goes off, they should win, and if he doesn't, they should roll.

Minnesota 80, Penn State 64.

FUN FACT:  Since 1990, Penn State has finished in the top three of the NIT five times, but have just three NCAA bids.  Also, remember Jan Jagla?

As far as a quick prediction on how the conference season will go:

Dec 29 vs. Penn State:  WIN - no problem
Jan 2 @ Iowa: WIN - this game terrifies me, but holy crap is Iowa bad.
Jan 5 @ Purdue:  LOSS - only the Dawger would call this a Gopher win
Jan 9 vs. Ohio State: WIN - might be different with Evan Turner, but should be a win without him
Jan 13 @ Michigan State: LOSS - No way.
Jan 17 @ Indiana:  WIN - road games and Gophers are still scary, but if they lose to Indiana it's time to just quit the season
Jan 23 vs. Michigan State:  LOSS - I think the Gophers have a big win in them this year, but the Spartans match up too well.
Jan 26 vs. Northwestern:  WIN - Scary team this year, but should be handled at home.
Jan 31 @ Ohio State:  LOSS - considered a win here, but does going into Columbus and winning really sound like something this team would do?
Feb 6 @ Penn State:  WIN - they did it two years ago and almost did last year, and this year's Gophers are the best of the three and this year's Lions are the worst of the three.
Feb 11 vs. Michigan:  WIN - Earlier this year I thought this would end up being a hell of a game.  Not so much.
Feb 14 @ Northwestern:  LOSS - NW is good this year, and they always sown the Gophers in Evanston.
Feb 18 vs. Wisconsin:  WIN - Tubby owns Bo.
Feb 20 vs. Indiana:  WIN - Still suck.
Feb 24 vs. Purdue:  WIN - This seems like a place for the team's big win.  JaJuan Johnson vs. Ralph Sampson is the matchup of the century.
Feb 27 @ Illinois:  LOSS - winning in Champaign is not allowed as far as the Gophers are concerned.
March 3 @ Michigan:  LOSS - flipped flopped on this one a bunch, but don't you see the Wolverines getting better as the year goes on and doesn't it feel like the kind of game the Gophers always lose down the stretch?
March 7 vs. Iowa:  WIN - Nice easy win to wrap up.

That puts them at 11-7 in conference play and 20-10 overall.  With the win over Butler on a neutral court and an ok non-conference schedule, they should be in the NCAA Tournament without issue.  Probably to lose in the first round.

[EDIT:  I meant to point out this link from the Daily Gopher (for the three people who read this crappy blog and don't read that awesome one) where Gopher Nation breaks down all kinds of nerd stats on your favorite team.  It's a good read, check it out.]

Week in Review - 12/28/2009

WonderbabyTM seemingly brought home what I can only assume to be the black plague from her day care, infecting everyone who got within a mile of her with a horrible stomach bug that attacked at both ends.  And yes, now it's my turn to have it - joy.  Yet I struggle through to still bring you, constant reader, your daily entertainment.  Some of these entries I wrote earlier in the week, and some I just typed up now while running to the bathroom every five minutes.  See if you can guess which are which.


1.  Mountain West Football.  Can someone tell me why the hell the MWC isn't included in this BCS garbage?  The Mountain West, after Utah killed Cal and BYU thrashed Oregon State this week, is now 3-0 in bowl games, and has just been destroying anybody foolish enough to accept a bid to play against them.  It started with the New Mexico Bowl, a game where Fresno was a 10-point favorite against Wyoming, but the Cowboys represented the conference well with an upset win in overtime.  Then it got really fun, with the BYU destroying an almost-in-the-Rose-Bowl Oregon State 44-20 in the Las Vegas Bowl (and it wasn't nearly that close) and then Utah winning their ninth straight bowl game in impressive fashion, stomping on Cal 37-27 in the Poinsettia Bowl.  Really folks, the Mountain West's continual success against other conferences, not to mention TCU's monster year, should be all the argument you need that these guys are every bit as good as any of the other conferences out there.  Time to expand the BCS agreement. 

2.  Elliot Williams.  You familiar with this kid at all?  He's the former Dukie who transferred to Memphis last season to be closer to his ailing mother who is now single-handedly making sure the Tigers are still the tops in Conference USA.  He was a top 20 recruit who didn't play much for Duke last season (although he did hit double-figures in four of their last 8 games), but his transferring to Memphis has made a world of difference.  After a monster game against SE Missouri State on Tuesday (20 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists) he's now averaging 20-5-4 on the season and has the Tigers at 8-2, and although I sort of think Memphis is a paper tiger this year (their best win is over Montana State), there is no doubting Williams is the real banana (perhaps even the famous "Kirk Cameron Banana").

3.  Old Dominion.  As badly as I wanted to include ODU last week after they knocked off Georgetown, I just couldn't find room for them.  Now, after they made a pretty good Charlotte team essentially clean their room and then give them a BJ, I can't possibly keep the Monarchs and their single-handed effort to make the Colonial relevant again out any longer.  These guys might be just 8-4, but they have played a bitch of a schedule and all four losses area to good teams - Dayton, Missouri, Mississippi State, and Richmond - and they had a huge week with wins over both Georgetown and Charlotte.  With VCU looking very good once again (wins over Oklahoma, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Richmond) and William & Mary looking relevant for the first time ever (wins over Wake Forest, Richmond, and VCU), the Colonial might be looking at another multi-bid year, and ODU will be right there all season long.  Ken Pomeroy agrees, his numbers have them ranked 8th in the country right now.  Obviously they aren't the 8th best team, but they are certainly looking like an NCAA caliber team, and would probably beat the Gophers by ten or so.

4.  USC.  Can one program redeem an entire conference in one week?  Of course not, that's ridiculous, but it was a great week for the Trojans who won the Diamond Head Classic and brought a little ray of hope and competitiveness to a so far pretty lackluster Pac 10.  USC beat Western Michigan (yawn), St. Mary's (pretty good), and UNLV (good win) to take the championship, and in a wide open (code for sucky) Pac 10 they've suddenly become the third best team in the conference. 

5.  Greg Monroe.  Put up an impressive 16 point, 16 rebound, 4 steal, 5 block performance in the Hoyas one-game this week, a 86-70 win over Harvard.  You know how people always draft guys like Roy Hibbert, Spencer Hawes, and Hasheem Thabeet early in the lottery and then act all shocked when they turn into either stiffs or nothing more than defensive players.  Watch Monroe - this is the guy you should be salivating over.  6-11, super athletic, and a good ball-handler, whoever drafts him is getting a super star.  He seriously reminds me a lot of David Robinson.  I would love to see the Wolves get him, even with Love and Jefferson; he could end up being a franchise changer for somebody.


1.  Oklahoma.  Wow.  Capel is letting things fall apart all over the place in Soonertown.  They only had one game this week, one in which they got whooped by UTEP, and it did end a six-game win streak, but there are some unfortunate rumblings (and that loss to UTEP gives them four, three of which are to likely non-tournament teams which isn't good).  First, Capel came out and said he was "tired of trying to figure out" star guard Willie Warren.  Then, just two days later, he said he said, "It's amazing you have to tell him to be a good player" in reference to star freshman Tiny Gallon.  Third, that same day, Warren came out and asked "Does he not trust me with the ball?", despite the fact that Warren ranks 21st in the country in terms of % of his team's possessions he is involved in.  Like I said, the loss to UTEP isn't a killer, and even though the other three losses are not great none of them are killers, but there is some serious dissension in Oklahoma City.  I have a feeling they either get their shit together and go on a run and make the tournament (the talent level here is good enough to finish as high as third in the Big 12), or this thing is going to implode in a huge, huge way.  Stay tuned (note:  my money is on the imploding.).

2.  Tulsa.   Coming into this season the Golden Hurricane was thought to be a challenger to Memphis's throne in C-USA, but has gone from contender to "has no shot at an at-large at all" in a hurry.  They were in the Las Vegas Classic field this week, and essentially it should have been nothing more than an easy win over Nebraska to set up what would have been a very entertaining final against BYU..  Well, Tulsa clearly had no interest in that, instead choosing to drop that game to the Huskers and then by losing to Nevada by 30.  Yes, 30.  I mean it's not that the loss to Nebraska or Nevada is crippling (or their earlier loss to Missouri State), but they didn't exactly schedule themselves a whole lot of chances to get quality wins, so whiffing on these hurts.  Colorado is the only decent opponent left before the C-USA season starts (and there is an unwinnable game against Duke in late February), but as it stands right now they have a nice win over Oklahoma State and that's pretty much it.  Conference USA overall is better this year than it has been in the past, but Tulsa will have to have a very nice run to have a chance at an at-large.

3.  New Mexico.  Nothing quite like taking your school's highest ranking in ten years and just flushing it right down the toilet, eh?  The Lobos had ascended all the way to #12 in the polls on the strength of a 12-0 start to the season that included wins over Cal and Texas A&M, and with a very balanced (4 double-figure scorers) and efficient (#16 offensive efficiency) team they were looking likely the favorite in the Mountain West and maybe even a sleeper to do some damange in March, but last week's game against Oral Roberts was officially a suck.  The Lobos lost 75-66, thanks mainly to their two leading scorers (Roman Martinez and Darrington Hobson) combining to shoot 6-23. ORU is not a good team at just 7-6 with a couple of ugly losses mixed in their, but I'm not quite ready to dismiss the Lobos as frauds just yet.  We should find out pretty quickly - UNM plays Texas Tech and Dayton next week.  Stay tuned.

4.  New York Giants.  If you need to win out to make the playoffs, and all you have a home game against a crappy Carolina team, you probably should make more of an effort than getting steam rolled 41-9 - and once again, this was at home.  The Giants turned it over 4 times and allowed Jonathan Stewart to rush for a club record 206 yards.  They don't belong anywhere near the playoffs.

5.  Indiana, DePaul, Florida, Illinois, and Utah.  The Hoosiers lost at home to Loyola (Maryland), the Blue Demons lost to Florida-Gulf Coast, the Gators lost to South Alabama at home, the Illini got rolled by Missouri (following up a loss to Georgia), and Utah lost to Pepperdine (following up a loss to Illinois State) - take your pick for this last spot, too close to call (I'd go DePaul if I had to make a choice).


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Christmas Wish

I'm not going to preview the South Dakota State game (Go Jackrabbits!).  I'm just not.  You can't make me.  They are the last in a string of terrible non-conference opponents, they're terrible, and they have nobody worth watching.  Instead, I'm going to do a cliched cheesy christmas wish list.  Hopefully it's not terrible, but if it is, you get what you pay for.

Dear Santa,

Please bring:

Al Nolen the ability to finish at the rim.  I could have gone with jumpshot here as well, but if he can only have one I think adding the threat of being able to score when he consistently blows by his defender is more valuable than an outside shot.  Once the big ten season starts, players aren't going to leave their men for easy dishes - they know things.

Damian Johnson a consistent outside shot.  Remember Travarus Bennett?  Similar player, but he developed into a good perimeter shooter his senior year (as did Eric Harris).  Johnson is improved, but he's not there yet.

Ralph Sampson a mean streak.  He's nearly perfect physically (*swoon*), but it would be nice to see him a little more fired up, maybe knocking around a few people's heads and toss in a technical here or there.  Get pissed Ralphie, you're being disrespected.

Colt Iverson the dream shake.  Although improved, his footwork on the low block can be cringe-worthy at times.  If he adds some moves and be smoother and more fluid, I am starting to think he could be a serious offensive weapon down the line.

Joe Mauer the one team loyalty of Kirby Puckett and Cal Ripken. Come on Joe, you know you want to.  What can money buy you any way outside of happiness, love, and everything you could ever want?

Bill Smith some aggressiveness.  The J.J. Hardy trade is a good start, but there is a lot more work to do here, especially if you want to prove to Jo-Jo that you're serious about winning.  Take a page out of Seattle's book - they have a higher payroll but they maximize it.

Carlos Gomez the drive to excel when he's been disrespected (think Steve Smith).  I'd rather have him do it with the Twins, but he's gone now.  I'd love to see him channel their giving up on him into becoming a great player.

Brad Childress all the mental faculties a head coach needs.  Any of them would do, I'm not sure he has a single one.

Adrian Peterson twenty carries a game.  How is this something we even have to ask for?

Brett Favre the fountain of youth.  Don't you go falling apart on me old man.

Michael Cuddyer the hope that someone takes away Greg Gagne's inability to resist the down and away Slider in the dirt - this would be the White Elephant/Yankee Swap portion of the evening.

Devoe Joseph a brother to play with.

Lawrence Westbrook some focus.  You may be the "#1 option", but this whole team is essentially 1B to  your 1A, and drifting in-and-out of attentiveness on both ends of the court is not an endearing trait.

Delmon Young some plate patience.  I'm not sure what his ceiling is, but I'm confidant we aren't going to see it unless he stops swinging at every pitch he sees.

Devron Bostick a time machine.  If he had chosen St. Louis or Northern Illinois (two others who offered) he would be averaging 15-20 per game.

Blake Hoffarber nothing.  He's perfect.

Baseball some kind of reform.  Watching the Yankees and Red Sox continue to stock pile anything they want is actually starting to leave a bad taste in my mouth, and I know I'm late to the party and have defending the sport over and over again.  The Yankees just picked up Javier Vazquez, who is owed $11.5 million next year, to be their fourth starter.  $11.5 million for a fourth starter!  If he doesn't work out, they just shrug their shoulders and move on, meanwhile that money would be a huge investment for 90% of the other teams.  Frustrating.

Francisco Liriano some kind of miracle cure.  I can't be the only whose heart breaks every time he's on the hill, and not just for me as a fan, but for him as well.  It has to be incredibly frustrating.

Joe Crede the guy who worked on Larry Bird's back towards the end of his career.  Bird couldn't move on non-game days, but when he had to play the dude worked his Miyagi/Kilmer magic and Bird would go mess around and get a triple-double, yet Crede has missed like, 75% of his teams games.

I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting, but unfortunately that's all the time I have.  For now, let me say Merry Christmas (and all other Holidays) from Down with Goldy and WonderbabyTM, who really is not a big fan of Santa Claus:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Week in Review - 12/21/09

I'm not going to bother with the Vikings or the fact that AP only got 12 carries last night (3 in the second half) against a terrible run defense when it was clearing that dropping back to pass only resulted in Julius Peppers destroying the pocket .2 seconds after the snap.  Instead I'll just say it's pretty weird that Brittany Murphy died.  $50 says Tiger Woods was involved somehow.


1.  The Atlantic 10.  I've enjoyed ripping the A-10 here before, mostly because Dayton fans are such spazzes, but it's time to recognize that the A-10 is clearly better than the Pac, and might be better than the SEC at this point as well, and this weekend just put more evidence on the pile.  On Saturday Richmond beat #13 Florida, Temple beat an undefeated Seton Hall, Umass beat Memphis, and Xavier lost controversially at the wire to Butler - the same Xavier team that already beat Cincinnati earlier this year.  This saturday wasn't a fluke, either.  Richmond has wins over Missouri and ODU (who beat Georgetown this weekend) to go with that win against the Gators.  Temple beat Villanova earlier this week to pair with that win over Seton Hall and also beat Siena and Va Tech.  Charlotte is 9-1 and has a win over Louisville.  Dayton has wins over ODU and Georgia Tech, Rhode Island is 8-1 with wins over Boston College and Providence, Duquesne beat Iowa, St. Bonnie's beat Cleveland State, and while George Washington and LaSalle don't have signature wins, they do have good records.  With the Pac sucking so hard and the SEC doing nothing of consequence outside of Kentucky, the A-10 might managed to snag 4-5 bids.  Seriously.     

2.  Florida State.  I'm starting to think you have to look at these guys as a nice sleeper, particularly after they went to Georgia Tech and walked out with a 66-59 victory (side note:  Paul Hewitt might be the worst coach ever).  That runs the Seminoles record to 10-2 with their only losses being on the road to good teams (Florida and Ohio State).  And this is with star freshman Michael Snaer still trying to hit his stride (that 1-to-3 assist-to-turnover ratio is pretty horrendous).  They turn the ball over way too much (18 per game), but play excellent defense (#6 in def. efficiency) and have great size (all major contributors over 6-4) to go along with great depth (9 guys play 14 minutes or more) and balanced scoring (five guys score 7 or more a game).  The guard play is a little troublesome and somebody needs to step up to be the point guard here, but FSU is a team worth keeping an eye on. 

3.  Jon Scheyer.  I truly hate praising any Dukie not named Ricky Price (Coach K Basketball on the Sega, check it out), but Scheyer has really done an incredible job this year.  Not really a point guard but forced into it by Duke's lack of an actual ball-handler, he's been playing out of his mind this year and this past week is just representative of that.  In Duke's wins this week over Gardner-Webb and Gonzaga (by a combined 189-109 score) he averaged 28 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game while shooting 64% from the field, 69% from three, and 94% from the free-throw line.  And what's amazing is these numbers aren't that big of a jump from this season averages of 18-4-6 with just one TO per game.  Yeah, I'd say he's having a pretty good season - he's 10th in the country in Ken Pomeroy's Offensive Efficiency Rating (Blakey is the top Gopher ranking 122nd).  Will Duke be hurt, however, by not having a true point guard once we get to the tournament and thus get knocked out earlier than their seed would predict once again?  Yes.  

4.  Hassan Whiteside.   Ok, so a week when Marshall beats Brescia and High Point is maybe not the ideal team to write up their stud center, but I've been waiting on him every since I saw a top 50 recruit had inexplicably signed with the Thundering Herd and a week where he posted a triple-double seems like it's good enough.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Whiteside put up a 17 point, 14 rebound, 11 block game against Brecia (which, to be fair, was a 50 point win for Marshall, but still), and then followed that up against the hated High Point Panthers with a 13-10-6 performance (while the Herd won 109-76).  His season averages of 12-9-5 are pretty incredible, although it's a bit troubling that in his only game against a decent opponent (ODU, Marshall's only loss) he put up a 4-5-1.  It will be interesting to see how he and the team fare once C-USA play gets started, but we may get a bit of an idea Tuesday when Marshall plays North Carolina.  For now, he's getting the coveted "underrated awesome player" alert status.  I reserve the right to revoke this if he looks like garbage against the Heels.

5.  Darrelle Revis.  There's something fascinating going on here, and it's that Revis (of the NY Jets) has become the premier NFL coverage cornerback (sorry Champ), but I'm not sure how many people are aware of it.  It's pretty unbelieveable, but if you look at it he covers the #1 receiver on the opposing team (different from how Bailey or Asomugha take one side of the field, he follows the other team's #1 where he goes) and shuts him down.  Here are the Jets' opponents, the #1 receiver, and his stats that week going up against Revis:

1 - Houston - Andre Johnson - 4-35-0
2 - New England - Randy Moss - 4-24-0 (+1 pick)
3 - Tennessee - Justin Gage - 4-37-0
4 - New Orleans - Marques Colston - 2-33-0
5 - Miami - Davonne Bess - 3-18-0
6 - Buffalo - Terrell Owens - 3-13-0
7 - Oakland - Louis Murphy - 4-58-0 (+1 pick)
8 - Miami - Bess - 4-18-0
9 - Jacksonville - Mike Sims-Walker -3-49-1
10 - New England - Moss - 5-34-1
11 - Carolina - Steve Smith - 1-5-0 (+2 picks)
12 - Buffalo - Owens - 3-31-0 (+1 pick)
13 - Tampa - Antonio Bryant - 2-22-0 (+1 pick)
14 - Atlanta - Roddy White - 4-33-0

That's amazing.  I didn't pay this close of attention to any of the other shutdown guys of the past (and like I said, Bailey and Asomugha covered sides not specific players), but I don't remember ever seeing something like this (was Deion this good?).  I'm not going to go into all the play-by-plays or whatever and figure out exactly how many plays he was covering who and if all these catches were against or figuring out if any catches against him were made by other players, so let's just assume this is completely accurate.  That would mean nobody this season caught more than five balls in a game against him, nobody gained more than 58 yards, and he only gave up two touchdowns all year while picking off six balls and taking one of them back for his own score, and he's also fifth on the team in solo tackles.

So I'm warning those of you who made your fantasy championship next week - don't start Reggie Wayne.  Trust me.


1.  Tennessee.  How the hell does this happen?  And by this, I mean the Volunteers going to USC and getting absolutely destroyed by a terrible Trojan team who already sports losses to Nebraska and Loyola-Marymount on the season and barely beat Idaho State at home.  Yet they were able to beat Tennessee by 22.  I don't get it.  USC is one of the worst shooting teams in major college basketball this year (42.8% this season, worst in the Pac 10) and Tennessee is a top 30 defensive based on total defensive efficiency, but the Trojans scored 77 while shooting 55% - makes zero sense.  To make it worse, the Vols managed just five assists for the game and shot 2-22 from three despite USC having allowed opponents to shoot 39.6% from behind the line this year, 311th in the NCAA.  I just don't get it sometimes.  Trying to figure out college basketball is like trying to figure out a woman - it ain't gonna happen and you're just going to get frustrated, and trying to apply logic or reason just makes things worse.  

2.  Deonta Vaughn.  Ok, you know I'm a huge Cincy fan, and despite their embarrassing loss to UAB earlier this week I still think they're a legit final four contender, but they sure as hell can't do it without Vaughn and it's time to stop ignoring what's going on here - especially because he's on my fantasy team.  I know the team is deeper this year, and suddenly they have other guys who can be "the man" like Yancy Gates and Lance Stephenson, but Vaughn was the cold-blooded shooter last year who knocked down every big shot possible.  But he's invisible now.  His scoring is down from 15.3 per game last year to 10.2 this year, his assists are down, and he's shooting under 30% from three.  This week was a perfect example, with Vaughn shooting 2-9 (1-7 from three) and scoring just 7 points and turning over five times, and then even against Lipscomb on Saturday he was only able to muster up just five points on, once again, 2-9 shooting (1-8 from three).  Perhaps the worst part of this is he's turning into a Voshon Lenard - abandoning his all-around game to become nothing but a three-point jump shooter.  Last year,  60% of his attempts were from three, and this year that number has risen to 66% - not much of a change, but the in the last two games 83% of his attempts are from behind the line, a disturbing trend, and something that needs to get straightened out if the Bearcats are going to cash my 200-1 bet.

3.  Seton Hall.  So much for all that Hall Hype, eh?  I guess when you're 8-0 and scored 134 points in your last game people get a bit excited, even if that 134 came against VMI - a school morally opposed to playing defense - and your 8-0 includes exactly one decent win (over Cornell) and a bunch of wins over retarded schools.  Well, the house of cards came crashing down on Saturday when the Hall lost at home to Temple, their first decent opponent of the year and they aren't even very good.  Jeremy Hazell shot 4-17 and 1-11 from three, and Robert Mitchell was 1-8.  This is the poster team for beating up on crappy cupcake teams.  They are going to get destroyed in the Big East.  I can't wait to bet against them.

4.  Oregon State.  Holy crap, how could this team have been picked in the fourth through sixth range by almost anybody who picks this kind of stuff?  They dropped a game on Wednesday to the horrible UIC Flames, giving them a stellar 4-5 record (which is now 5-5 after they actually beat Miss Valley State on Saturday) which includes losses not only to the Flames (ranked #252 at, but also Sacramento State (#290) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (#116).  Just an unrecoverable string of events.  They have gone from cute little sleeper to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in like a billion years to a bottom of the barrel team in a bottom of the barrel conference.  Hey, here's a hint:  if you're going to run the Princeton offense and minimize your possessions (tempo rank = 336th in the nation), you need to be efficient with them, you really can't turn the ball over 26.4% of the times you have it (340th in the country).  That combination is so laughable, I almost wish I had made it up. 

5.  Anthony Tucker.  Interesting and pretty not surprising news this weekend coming out of Iowa.  In case you didn't hear, Anthony Tucker of Iowa (and formerly of a high school in Minnesota that I don't quite recall and don't feel like looking up) was arrested for public intoxication.  No, you're not reliving groundhog day, this is a new story.  Yes, he was arrested just 13 months ago on the same charge.  If you recall, after returning to the team from that suspension he was hit with mono (allegedly) and missed a bunch of games, came back, and then got suspended for the rest of the year due to academics.  Now he's suspended indefinitely, and according to the article I read his facebook status currently reads "I'm outta here."

Looks like another example of million-dollar talent with a five-cent head (actually, in Tucker's case it's probably more like $50,000 talent), and is yet another blow to an Iowa program that can't really afford another hit.  Talk about a fall.  Not that Iowa was ever considered an "elite" program, but they were very Gopher-like in that they seemed to fluctuate and made a decent run every 3-4 years or so (I mean Gopher-like pre-Monson, of course), but I'm not sure how they're getting out of this current sinkhole.  It's been a mass exodus of players leaving Iowa City the last three years, from Tyler Smith and Tony Freeman to Jake Kelly and Jeff Peterson, and Lickliter seems to be restocking with quantity, not quality (between 2009 and 2010 classes he's bringing in seven 3-star and 1 2-star players).  Actually, Iowa hasn't signed a four-star recruit since Smith in 2006.  This is starting to feel a lot like a Monson situation down in Iowa City.  I guess if I was in that mess I'd get drunk all the time too.

Oh who am I kidding, I do that anyway. 

This picture is almost an almost perfect one of him, if only there was more beer:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Skoal Vikings and What Not

I haven't lived blogged a Vikings game on here other than the pre-season debut of Favre in purple.  Let's remedy this situation.  Follow along with me, won't you?

7:24 - Wow, how overproduced is this?  Why is Faith Hill singing an ode to football on NBC?  Why are we 9 minutes past official kick-off time and still waiting?  Is Sunday Night Football always like this?  Thank god I haven't watched very often.  This whole production makes Dick Vitale look tame.

7:25 - Plus, they've been on the air for 25 minutes now and not a single mention of the passing of Brittany Murphy?  What happened to a little common decency and a little bit of respect?  One of the greatest actresses of our generation, and these meatheads can't stop talking about Brett Favre's fanny long enough to recognize a tragic day.  I'm expecting the Vikings to be wearing a patch today.  Either "BM" or some sort of tribute to her role in 8 Mile will do.  Gotta be something, right?

7:30 - Game still hasn't started.  Now they're interviewing Childress, who, as usual, is really personable and friendy and just a funny, engaging guy.  He's really like the Dane Cook of football coaches.  Also, did you know Brittany Murphy guest starred in four episodes of Blossom?  Can you imagine a Blossom, Brittany, Six sandwich?  Like, whoa.

7:31 - Kickoff.  Carolina ball.  I'm pretty bummed we aren't getting Delhomme here.  I can't even wrap my head around how many interceptions he'd throw against the Vikes defense. 

7:33 - In my keeper league which I didn't even make the playoffs in, Snake and Bogart are playing in the conference finals and are going down to the wire.  The Adrian Peterson vs. Deangelo Williams matchup in this game is huge for them.  Carolina goes 3-and-out, Deangelo got about four yards.  That's worth zero points.

7:35 - A catch by Kleinsasser?  Carolina might as well pack it in, this one is pretty much over.

7:37 - Favre gets sacked on third down, and now the Vikes will have to punt.  This game is boring as hell.  There's a reason I try to go to the bar to watch football games. 

7:39 - So I was poking around and looking at the stats (From the Barn did this last week as well a bit), and I came across the fact that Al Nolen is 8th in the country in steal percentage, stealing the ball on 6.11% of the opponents possessions when he is in the game, which is insane and the second best number of any major conference player behind Andy Rautins at 6.77%.  And guess who is second in the Big Ten at 5.23%?  Damian Johnson.  Last year those two finished second and third behind Chris Kramer, and two years ago they finished 1st and 3rd.  There's a reason the Gopher defense has been so good these last three years.  I'm suddenly starting to worry that we're spoiled.  Also while I was typing all of that the Panthers went 3-and-out again and then Favre took a sack instead of throwing the ball away.  I am not a purist.  I hate low-scoring games.

7:47 - Vikings punt after both Favre and AP fall down.  What kind of grass we working with here, ice?

7:50 - Viking sack on that QB whose name I forget by Jared Allen which causes a fumble which the Vikings refuse to recover once again.  I've never seen a team so terrible and picking up a fumble.  Mark my words, this is going to cost them big at some point, probalby in the playoffs.  Carolina punts once again, and this time Reynaud (Snacks' guy) takes it all the way back to the Carolina 30 so maybe we'll finally get some scoring.  This game is starting to resemble marriage.

7:55 - Nevermind.  They do nothing at all with it and then Longwell misses a 39-yarder.  Ugh.  Oof.  I need a beer or a shot.  Maybe both.  I kind of feel like Anthony Tucker.

7:59 - Carolina finally manages a first down.  Be still my heart.  Check that, there's another one.  Now we're rolling Matty Moore, now we're rolling.

8:01 - Wow, Muhsin Muhammed still plays.  I wasn't aware of that.  And it's another first down.  Suddenly the Panther offensive line is opening up gaping holes and all their receivers have become uncoverable.  It's like that missed field goal has destroyed the defense.  Must be some kind of built-in momentum meter or something.  It explains a lot about 1998.

8:05 - They just showed a graphic that Steve Smith only has a single one hundred yard receiving game this year after leading the NFL the last three years.  Man, how awesome would it be if you were in a keeper league and traded him at the start of this season?  Genius move.

8:08 - Touchdown Carolina on a pass to a wide open Brad Hoover in the flat, because Hoover is the kind of guy who always seems to be open in the flat.  It's like when the Patriots would bring in Mike Vrabel to block on the goal line, you knew damn well he was going out for a pass, and yet he was open every time.  Ridiculous.  Also ridiculous is that they blocked the extra point.  That's weird.

8:11 - I don't know if you saw this a few weeks ago, but Wofford came to East Lansing to play Michigan State.  The reason that is a big deal is that Noah Dahlman (formerly of Braham High School here in the great state of Minnesota) attends Wofford, while his brother Isaiah (also of Braham) spurned the Gophers to play for Sparty.  Isaiah, you might remember, was ranked the 112th best player in the class of 2005 and was kind of a big deal, but he never gave the Gophers serious consideration.  Noah was a year younger, wasn't ranked or thought of as a national prospect at all, received no interest from the Gophers and ended up at Wofford.  Well, in their big head-to-head battle, Noah scored 19 points and grabbed four rebounds, while Isaiah, usually a bench warmer but given the start by Izzo for the whole brothers thing, scored a whole two points in twelve minutes.  The Spartans won, but I think we know which brother really won this thing.

8:16 - Vikes respond to the challenge in Gopher-like fashion by going three and out.

8:19 - Vikings nearly get a safety, but due to a display of tackling that can only be described as "not tackling" J. Stewart picks up about 8 yards instead.  No matter.  They still have to punt.  There have been a lot of punts this game.  It's like the opposite of playing Madden.

8:20 - Deangelo out with an ankle injury, his return is questionable.  Ouch Snake.  I'd feel bad for you, but last year his five TD performance stole the championship from me, so you can go F yourself. 

8:21 - There's some Bud Light commerical what that I just saw where some dude is all tuxedoed out for a wedding and to put the boutaineer on the chick uses a nail gun.  It's not really that funny or anything, but while she's doing that there is a little message at the bottom of the screen that says "Do Not Attempt."  Now that's funny.

8:27 - AP scores from about the 3 despite being stood up and almost completely stoped by two different Panthers.  This guy is just unreal.  Vikings take a 7-6 lead with the extra point.  Seriously, Peterson is like playing Tecmo Bowl with Christian Okoye when he's in excellent condition - he's just looking for guys to run into and bounce at this point.

8:30 - If I had to pick my final four right now, I'd say Kansas, Texas, Kentucky, and West Virginia, but I am pretty sure that will change.  I still like Cincy, Duke, Michigan State, Villanova, Purdue, Mississippi State, UCONN, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and Ohio State (when Turner gets back if he's the same player) to all have a chance as well.  I am also really liking this New Mexico team, but they haven't and won't play any elite level talent, so it's tough to get a true read.  Wins over Cal and Texas A&M are nice, and they still play Texas Tech and Dayton, but it's tough to predict how good they actually are.

8:38 - Oh crap.  One of the Vikings' d-backs just tossed Steve Smith to the ground a little after the whistle.  No penalty or anything, but Smith got up talking at the guy, who made the world's biggest mistake and talked back.  I am now expecting Smith to have a monster second half.  Also can anybody explain to me why Childress wouldn't use a timeout with 45 seconds left or so on Carolina's fourth down so the Vikings would get the ball back with a little time remaining?  I'm pretty sure football's Pete Rose can drive them down into field goal range with that kind of time.  Especially now that Carolina picked up a penalty to take them out of field goal range and are now going to run a hail mary rather than punt?  And what if they missed?  Vikings would have gotten the ball at their own 40 with 40 seconds to get twenty-five yards.  It turned out not to matter (the hail mary failed) but once agian Childress fails to understand simple strategy.  Between him and Brewster the football coaching IQ in this town is like seventy-four.

8:58 - Sorry I'm a bit late getting back, Mrs. W was watching some christmas crap movie about some broad who was going to lose her house because she was behind on the payments or something because she was probably either dumb or lazy, and then the whole town bands together to buy her house for her or whatever - essentially a ripoff of that one Christmas movie everybody loves but I've never actually seen.  The one about Clarence the angel or something.  I don't really know, like I said, I haven't seen it.  It has the guy from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in it.  That one.  I am back in time to see I missed another Viking three-and-out.  Doesn't this team score 30 points every game?  Lame.

9:05 - You're never going to believe this, but Carolina is punting.  God, the one boring game the Vikings have played this year, the only game where playing offense is merely a rumor, and it's the one I pick to live blog.  And it's not like I can just quit.  I also can't just say forget it and not publish this post because I've already put too much work into it.  Damn Vikings.

9:10 - They just flashed up a graphic telling us that Sid Rice is now the first Viking receiver since 2003 to have at least 70 catches in a season.  70 catches?  Since 2003?  That is just sad.  That's just over 4 catches per game, and the Vikings haven't had anybody who could manage it?  That's embarrassing.  Although I suppose the level of QB play might have a little something to do with it, speaking of embarrassing.  Also embarrassing - yet another Viking punt.

9:15 - So is this Avatar thing any good then or what?  I'm kind of a dork, but not dorky enough to give a bad movie a pass just because it's Sci-Fi/Fantasy (other than Phantom Menace) and I really don't want to waste like three hours of my time if it's going to suck.  Better or worse than watching Jumper twice?  Speaking of things that are less entertaining than Jumper, Carolina is punting again.

9:20 - I might be in a death pool this year.  That's where you pick 13 people who you think might die in 2010, then if they do die you get points equal to (100-their age), so like if I had picked Brittany Murphy in 2009 (*makes sign of cross*, rest in peace) she would have been worth 78 points.  Anybody have any good ideas?  Speaking of death, the Vikings finally start moving the ball and then Sid Rice fumbles and Carolina recovers.  Oof.

9:25 -  Dear god, another punt.  I'm starting to wish that homo-riffic christmas movie was back on.

9:26 - Vikings average yardage per game this season = 379.  So far tonight = 137.  This is like if you went to a Globetrotters game and showed up at the one time the Generals decided to say "screw it" and tried to win.  Do you remember when the Trotters played the Gophers several years ago and a 400-pound Oliver Miller destroyed them?  That was interesting.  Not interesting:  another Vikings punt, which just happened.  No, I'm not kidding.

9:32 - Touchdown Steve Smith.  Told you.  Oh nevermind, coming back because of a holding penalty.  That one actually had a direct affect on the play (dude grabbed Kevin Williams, buying the QB just enough time to get the throw off).  Probably just means Smith will score from further out.

9:37 - Al Michaels doesn't believe that was holding.  In related news, Al Michaels is an idiot.  And Steve Smith just caught the TD from about fifty yards on a play that could possibly have been offensive interference, but the ref was probably afraid that if he called it Smith would pop him.  See people, I told you.  You just can't talk trash at him.  He feeds off of it the way Freddy Krueger feeds off of fear.  Just be polite, leave him alone, and be meek and mild and he'll just fade away.

9:41 - They just cut to a shot of Smith before the second half started and he's yelling and ranting and carrying on like a crazy person and just generally acting like the guy you see walking down the street downtown who makes you cross over to the other side because you're terrified to get within ten feet of him.  I love that crazy son of a bitch. 

9:43 - Collinsworth, "Favre doesn't just throw it in the first hole, he waits and throws it in the second hole."  I'm giggling.

9:48 - The DirectTV box was just kind enough to tell me that although our TV is a 1080p level of HD, we had our box set only to 480p and we should switch it - so we did.  Whoa.  That explains why I was kind of thinking that HD was overrated.  I no longer have those feelings.  Thank you DirectTV box, I don't even want to imagine how long it would have taken me to figure that out on my own.  By the way, the Vikings just punted.

9:51 - Steve Smith with about a forty yard gain down inside the five after catching a shorty and deaking Winfield out of his shorts.  He's fired up.  J-Stewart folows that up with a TD run where he broke fifteen tackles and gained just three yards.  Nice job, overrated defense.  Vikes now down 19-7 and continue to refuse to gain any yardage.  On an unrelated note, The Devil Wears Prada was a decent movie.

9:59 -  The Vikings come up huge, answering the Panthers' back-to-back scores with a punt. 

10:00 - By the way, the Mariners are just killing it this offseason.  Did you see they just picked up Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva?  Getting anything for Silva has got to be considered a steal, and Bradley is usually a hell of a player when he keeps his head on straight and doesn't go all Carl Everett-y.  So they've picked up Bradley, Cliff Lee, and Chone Figgins without giving up anything.  Wow.

10:07 - Smith with another big catch, this one is being reviewed to see if his feet were in.  They were.  That gives him 157 yards for the game, mostly in the second half.  Thanks a lot, guy who talked back at him.  I wish I had paid attention to who it was.

10:10 - Winfield misses a tackle on some dumb white receiver who ends up rambling all the way down to the five.  This is not a good night to be Antoine Winfield.  Or any member of the offense.  Or a blogger who picked tonight's game to live blog. 

10:12 - Jonathan Stewart with the receiving touchdown this time.  Too bad it's not Deangelo, huh Snake?  You still suck.

10:13 - Crap, I just read Garrett Atkins got picked up by the Orioles for $4 million for one year (plus incentives) with an option for a second year (and a $500K buyout).  Why the hell wouldn't the Twins do that?  That would have been a perfect deal for him and for them.  One move for J.J. Hardy is not enough.  You have to do more.

10:17 - Favre picked off.  That mercifully ends any reason for me to continue watching this.  Week in Review will be slightly delayed since I did this stupid crap, but I'll have it up today at some point.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Royce White Thing

Hey folks.  I promised a few sentences on this Royce White thing, so I suppose I shouldn't lie about things as if I was your mother when she said she loved you and actually get to it.  The real problem here is, though, I don't much care at this point.

Look, I definitely wanted White to be here.  There's no doubting his talent, and there's even less doubting that this team could really use a big-time banger type of power forward since all the other big guys (without Mbakwe) are perhaps a bit soft, except for Ralph (some people might say he's soft, I say he's playing coy).  But at this point in this season was anybody really still pining for him?  What were the odds he was even going to play this year?  10%?  5%?  It was made pretty clear that his legal troubles, valid or not, were piling up and anybody who thought he was going to play this year was holding on to a thin shred of hope like they were Chris Brander.  Sometimes it works out, but most of the time you're left standing there wearing your mall iron-on cat T-shirt while some jock reads your most heartfelt thoughts you wrote in Jamie's yearbook to the entire graduating class.

As far as Royce goes, all I can say is "Really?"  I mean really?  You've already skated through 18 years of life with little to no regard for the rules that most humans follow, and you've gotten away with it time and time again because the good lord blessed you with 6-7 size and super human athleticism.  Unfortunately, he also cursed you with that ten-cent head and you just couldn't get out of your own way. 

It's disappointing in a lot of ways.  Hell, I even defended him when he first got kicked out of De La Salle and ripped the crap out of Reusse for going after Tubby for keeping this guy on the team.  Now I feel like the idiot.  And it has nothing to do with the Mall of America pants incident or even this laptop framejob worthy of those dudes that framed Nixon.  It is because he quit.  He quit.

It might be different if I believed for a second that he quit because of "what the investigation was doing to his family."  But I don't.  Maybe I'm the asshole here, but it sounds to me like the whining of a privileged child who had his favorite toy taken away for being a bad boy, but instead of learning his lesson or owning up to his mistakes he blames the teacher and refuses to play red-rover anymore.  He had an incredible opportunity, and has now pissed it all away.

It wouldn't even have been that difficult.  Just play one season of college ball and enter the draft.  I could see him going anywhere from the mid-first to the late second with even a mediocre season based on his perceived potential.  But he couldn't even handle that and when a little adversity was thrown his way he quit.  A career in Europe may still be in the cards, but for my money I'd bet he still ends up playing at a JuCo or something on that level.  But the fact is I just don't care anymore.  I used too many words, too much breath, and far too many minutes of my life defending Royce, only to have him quit on everybody who defended and believed in him.

This is the last post you will see about Royce White on this site. (that probably isn't true but it sounds defiant - I'm like Elin Woods to Royce's Tiger over here.)  

Royce White Gone?

I haven't watched this and don't have time right now, but apparently Royce White announces in this youtube video that he is quitting college basketball.  Not transferring, but quitting.  We'll see.  I'll be back with some comments either tonight or tomorrow.

I can't figure out how to embed this stupid thing

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yawn along with Me

Game thoughts from the about to be thrilling-no-doubt Gopher/Northern Illinois game.  It will be a miracle if I get to half time.

20:00 - This Silas guy they are getting back from injury is the guy I mentioned in my preview who had 18 in their opener.  Could be the difference here. 

19:59 - I'm kidding of course.

19:32 - Turnover Westbrook, who From the Barn pointed out today is the worst player ever, leading to a layup by Silas.  Maybe he really is the difference.

18:52 - Damian rebound.  That's a fantasy point.

18:01 - Excellent defense by the Gophers leads to a shot clock violation.  This is more like it.  Except for how they are still losing 2-0. 

17:40 - Ralphie knocks down the 18-footer.  God it just kills me that I dropped him in fantasy.  I'm souless., I really am.  Like Derek Jeter but with even fewer human emotions.

16:14 - Hoff with the board, then coast-to-coast for a pull up three-pointer when the Huskies inexplicably don't pick him up in transition.  Then he gives it back on the other end by being unable to guard anybody.  I really am not sure what to make of him this year.  He can clearly shoot the lights out and dominate piss-poor teams, including dominating the boards, but he's not a good defender by any stretch and I'm just not sure what his role will be once conference play starts.  He's not nearly the liability Shamala was, and his basketball IQ is extremely high, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

15:30 - Hoff from about 28.  That one was deep. 

14:52 - Hoff from about 26.  Jesus this is like watching Jake Sullivan at the Hilton.

14:14 - Hoff from 24.  You want me to say it?  Fine, I'll say it.  This is like watching Larry Bird.  Apparently his role in the Big Ten games will be "white jesus."

14:12 - No Ill timeout down 16-8.  Tubby goes an all new five coming out of the timeout (the first of the game).  Makes sense since eveyone is probably a bit tuckered, but I hate taking the Hoff out right here.  He hasn't even gotten to take his heat check, and you're already cooling him down.  Freakin' Tubby.  He's like the Cooler in that movie "The Cooler."

13:40 - Nice job by Bostick getting a dunk (which he kind of Randy Cartered).  After he missed a three the Gophers got the offensive rebound, and instead of standing around Bostick got himself open right under the hoop for a wide-open super polite "dunk."  He's still got good offensive instincts, and I'd almost bet he ends up with a 20-point game at some point this season, but there are a lot of reasons to only give him a few minutes here and there.  He should have gone to a smaller school in like the MVC or OVC or even the Mountain West.  I bet he'd be averaging 15 a game at a smaller school.

11:40 - Gophers go to some full court pressure and immediately get the steal.  This game feels like the Gophers are up more than 18-10.  They certainly should be up more than 8.  The pace of this game is brutal.  It's like watching pre-shot clock ball.  I keep waiting for them to get the ladder out to get the ball out of the peach basket.

10:30 - By the way, I'm going to go ahead and strongly recommend the Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons.  Yes, it's kind of homerific and yes, it's arrogant in a lot of places and yes, it is peppered with constant pop culture references, but it's also very entertaining and far more informative than I expected.  You can really tell he did his homework and I learned a lot in an entertaining way.  Highly recommend.

9:45 - Hoff for 3.  That's 5-6 by my count.  I am really, really wanting to see either a pull-up three on a breakaway with no defender in front of him or a 40-footer.  Come on Hoff, do it for the fans.  Let's see a little Kingsbury here.

8:43 - Great touch pass by Westbrook to find Sampson for a dunk.  Nice press Northern Illinois.  You guys are worthless.  If it wasn't for Michael Turner they might as well just shut the whole place down.

7:35 - Right now with 1 rebound and 1 turnover Damian Johnson is sitting at a total of -1 fantasy point.  Oy.  I feel like I started T-Jax.

7:20 - A three for that Silas guy who is actually decent.  Westbrook answers.  30-17 gophers.

6:13 - A steal and an assist by DJ, which is a quick five points. 

6:10 - Text from Snacks "Mbakwe not on the bench tonight."  I actually don't have a clue if he usually is, so I don't know if this is interesting information or not.

6:07 - Text from Dawger "How big does the Hoff's crank look tonight."  Kids got issues, man.  But I'd say large.  Think Dirk Diggler. 

4:48 - I'm getting HDTV on Friday.  I'm giddy.

2:45 - Devoe for three.  Gophers now up 19.  Only real drama here is a 26 point spread.  I think Brown would beat this guys by double-digits.

1:56 - New Twins guy to hope they sign:  Kelly Johnson, 2b, formerly of the Braves.  Atlanta didn't offer him a contract for whatever reason, so he's out there for the signing.  Although he struggled last year, hitting .224/.303/.389 with just 8 homers, the previous two seasons were excellent with OPS+ numbers of 116 and 109, or the equivalent of last year's Denard Span, and that's from the second base position.  IF his poor numbers were just due to his injury (only played in 106 games due to an injured wrist) and IF he is affordable he is very high on my wishlist for the Twins for next season.  

0:00 - Half ends with the Gophers leading 44-23.  I might be done here.

18:54 - Hoff hurt his ankle!  He's limping, shit.  This is just like when Larry Bird racked his face on the floor and ruined the Celtics seasons.  Oh the humanity!

18:27 - Nolen with a beautiful dish for a Sampson dunk.  He (Nolen) is such an enigma.  He basically can't be guarded, and when he can get to the lane and find open players he is so so so good.  Then he has games where he is completely lost out there and can nearly single-handedly lose a game for the team. 

17:08 - And then he does things like get a steal which leads to an alley-oop from Devoe to DJ.  Every time I think I'm out, he pulls me back in.  Damn you Nolen.  He's the Sam to my Diane.

16:40 - Text from Snake "Is Rodney in jail?"  That's a good question.  Haven't seen him tonight.

15:01 - 52-32 Gophers.  I'm pretty bored, and Mrs. W is even worse.  I think we are going to watch last night's Big Bang Theory.  I might be back later. 

11:00 - tells me the Gophers are up 65-34 and that Hoffarber is back in and made another three.  Good.

10:31 - Just flipped the game back on in time to see Blakey's seventh three pointer.  I so want to see a heat check.

8:18 - Hoffarber is out and so am I with the Gophers up 32.  Let's get on to the conference games already. 

Monday, December 14, 2009


So Northern Illinois comes to the Barn tomorrow night to take on the Gophers and yawn I'm falling asleep here.  These guys are terrible.   They're 1-5 and lost to Northwestern by 22, Illinois by 19, Bradley by 14, and lost to the 296th best team according to in Southeast Missouri State.  Their only win was over Tennesse State, a team that is 2-8 and ranked 280th (NIU comes in at #246).  They're bad.  Worse than the last 3 teams who rolled in here and all got stomped.  So bad, in fact, that I can't even manufacture any interest or excitement like I did for St. Joe's and Morgan State.  Even better, they haven't played since December 2nd, so they're going to rusty.  Beautiful.  This is just going to be a blood bath Elizabeth Bathory would be proud of.

Seriously, these guys are bad at everything.  Their overall offensive efficiency ranks 311th in the nation.  Mainly due to horrible shooting (24% from three, 343rd in the country and 53% from the line, 345th) and a propensity to turn the ball over like Troy Hudson on his worst day (they turn it over on 25% of their possessions, ranking 314th in the country).  They are actually an ok defensive team, but their offense is so bad it won't even come close to mattering.

As far as individual players go I'm going to pretend to be interested in two guys:  guard Darion Anderson and center Sean Kowal.

Anderson is the "do-it-all" type of player, as shown by his averaging 8.7 rebounds per game despite being just 6-2 while leading the team in assists as well with a whopping 3.0 per game.  He's also the team's leading scorer at 12.8 per game, not counting a guy who played in their first game and scored 18 but hasn't played since (I'm way too lazy and disinterested to look up any further information).  Anderson is wildly inconsistent, having scored in double figures just three times and putting up outings of 1-10 and 2-10 shooting so far this year, and can also get up there in turnovers in a hurry.

The other guy sort of worth talking about is Kowal, mostly because he's very large at 6-11, 248, and averages 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.  He's really only had two good games this year and basically been invisible in the others.  I don't know.  It's so hard to care about this endless string of cupcakes.

Really that's what this is, just another walk-over, and maybe the worst of the bunch.  Yeah, I'm mailing it in, but that's all the Gophers have to do, so why not me as well?

Gophers 123, Northern Illinois 18.

FUN FACT:   Northern Illinois has had only 7 winning seasons since 1982, two of which came when Jim Molinari was at the helm.

Week in Review - 12/14/09

 I really wish they hadn't got rid of Boof.  Why Keppel?  Why?


1.  Herb Pope.  You probably don't know who this is, but you should.  Pope was an absolute stud in high school, ranked as the #17 prospect in 2007 and Rivals had him as #23, but due to some slight "concerns" he ended up at New Mexico State.  Of course, those concerns were that he punched out his coach, got arrested for DUI, and was shot five times at a party.  After a good season at NMSU, coach Reggie Theus left to coach in the NBA, and Pope left as well, transferring to Seton Hall to be closer to his new daughter.  And what an addition to the Pirates he has been, averaging 15 and 13 without even a hint of trouble.  This week was particularly saucy, with Pope putting up 22 points and 15 rebounds in the Hall's win over UMass, and following it up with a 15 and 20 in their 134-107 whooping of VMI, who continues to never, ever play defense.  The Pirates are now 8-0, but don't have a signature win and don't really play anyone the rest of the way until we hit the Big East schedule.  They'll have to have a good run if they want to be playing in March.

2.  Craig Brackins.  Well it was pretty much inevitable that he would show up here at some point, so why not now after throwing up a 28 and 8 against Iowa with 3 assists, 4 blocks, and a steal with no turnovers and only one personal foul.  Also he shot 9-13 from the field.  Usually when a possible lottery pick goes back to school for another year he ends up hurting his draft stock (Hi Sam Bradford), but in this case Brackins has probably boosted it by proving he can play the small forward.  His scoring and rebounding are down a bit this year (from 20.2 and 9.5 to 18.2 and 7.6), but his turnovers are way down (from 2.3 to 1.0), his assists are way up (from 1.3 to 2.4) and - consider yourself terrified - he's added a three point shot.  Yep, that's right.  He's shooting 63% from three this year after a 4-5 performance in that Iowa game.  Mark my words, this guy is just biding his time in the pre-conference games and is just waiting to unleash hell all over people's heads. currently has him projected as the 18th overall pick next year.  That my friends is both a crime and a steal of Danny Granger proportions.  Remember when the Wolves took Rashad McCants over Danny Granger?  I was literally screaming at the TV.  Guess what's awesome?  I went to McCants's wikipedia page, and he's listed as "an american basketball player who is currently a free-agent" meaning he hasn't hooked on here or Europe or South America or New Zealand or anywhere.  Awesome.

3.  New Mexico.  It's time to start paying attention to the Lobos, who beat Texas A&M in Houston on Saturday to follow-up their win against San Diego earlier this season, pushing their record to 10-0.  The A&M win wasn't their only big win this season either.  They also beat Cal and won at the Pit at New Mexico State - never an easy rivalry game.  I haven't seen the Lobos play, but they have a couple of swingman-types who can light it up - Roman Martinez (averaging 17-6-2) and Darington Hobson (17-8-4) and senior point guard and former Iowa Stater Dairese Gary is having a nice season as well and the whole team lights it up from three (41% as a team).  Alford looks to have turned this program around and they have a nice path to an NCAA Tournament bid this year, which would be just their second since 1999.  Also this gives me a chance to use the "Nathen Garth" tag again, since Tubby's first ever signee who was then not signed ended up at New Mex and is averaging 6 points and 2 assists in 15 minutes per game for the Lobos.  Thrilling.

4.  Cincinnati/Xavier.  What a game.  This one had a little bit of everything, and if you missed the Musketeers' 83-79 double-OT victory over the Bearcats you missed a great one.  The benches cleared twice after flagrants, we had a double technical, Lance Stephenson of Cincy and Terrell Holloway of Xavier were both brilliant and both hit career-highs in points in their respective coming out parties.  Deonta Vaughn rebounded from a horrible shooting first half to hit a lot of clutch shots down the stretch, Jason Love battled his way to 19 rebounds against a very strong Cincy front-line, Ibrahima Thomas made his Bearcat debut and almost got tossed for trash-talking, and Cincy pissed away the game thanks to 10-22 free-throw shooting and a missed layup by Vaughn.  Great game, and even better for being within such an incredible rivalry.  Trust me boys, I told you this before and I'm telling you again, Cincinnati is absolutely a national title contender - both their losses are in overtime games and were very winnable.  A little more seasoning and this team is going to be a monster.  I got them at 200-1 two win the whole thing, and last I saw they were 75-1.  Jump on that number now, it's going to be 20-1 or worse by the time the tournament rolls around.  

5.  Chris Gaston.  You probably don't know anything about Fordham basketball and let's ok because hardly anybody does, but I do and pay attention because I'm about to drop some knowledge.  The Rams were just 3-25 last season, and 1-15 in conference play, and were every bit as terrible as that sounds.  They did, however, have one bright spot in freshman guard Jio Fontan, who averaged 15 points and 5 assists per game last season and made the conference's All-Freshman team.  After the season, however, Fontan decided that Fordham wasn't the place for him and he asked for his release - but, in a move I've never of before, Fordham declined to give it, meaning if Fontan transferred he would be ineligible to recieve a scholarship - so he was stuck.  So he came back and played in the team's first five games this season, averaging 15 points and 4 assists, but after the 1-4 start the coach was fired and Fontan once again put in his transfer papers - only this time the request was granted and he's on his way out.  I tell you this only to let you know just how much of a mess it is at Fordham right now, and so I can point out the ray of hope for the Rams - Chris Gaston.

He's a freshman who was actually a former high-school teammate of Fontan, and he started out this season well, averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds per game.  When Fontan left, instead of pouting about how the guy who basically convinced him to come to Fordham had quit on him, he put the team on his shoulders and has really stepped up his game, averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds per game, including a 32-15 on Saturday in a loss to St. Johns and 25-11 (and 5 assists) in a win over Stony Brook earlier this week.  That's right, a win.  I'm not really sure who the bad guy is here - Fontan for quitting twice or Fordham for not letting him go the first time, but I know Gaston is the good guy.  They won't be in any kind of postseason tournaments, not even the CBI, but maybe Fordham will somehow manage to be relevant in a year or two.


1.  Pittsburgh Steelers.  Yikes.  The Steelers won the Super Bowl last year right?  Hold on, I have to look this up.  Yes, they did (also this year's Super Bowl is at Land Shark Stadium which is just awesome).  Not awesome would be the Steelers' performance this season and, even more specifically and relevant to the point of this entire post, on Thursday when they lost to the lowly Browns 13-6.  Not only did they lose embarrassingly, but they managed just six points against that crappy team despite not turning the ball over.  They just couldn't do anything.  A total of 216 yards for the game (that's total, passing + rushing).  This puts Pittsburgh on a five-game losing streak, and not just your typical five game losing streak - within it are losses to Kansas City and Oakland along with the Browns.  So basically the Steelers rolled into the easiest part of their schedule at 6-2, and are coming out 6-7 with little to no playoff hopes despite having basically the same team they had last year when they won the whole thing.  It's gotta suck to be a Steeler fan right now.  Ouch.

2.  Louisville.  Good god, what is going on over there?  Three weeks ago they lost to UNLV, and you were all like, "whoa that's weird" but no big whoop because they always seem to stumble and lose to an inferior team (like the Gophers last year).  Then two weeks ago they lost to Charlotte, and you were all like, "Wow, maybe Charlotte is way better than we thought and Louisville is worse."  Now, on Saturday they lost to Western Carolina and you are all like "these guys suck and stuff."  Let me repeat:  they lost to Western Carolina.  At Home.  By 8.  In a game that wasn't even that close.  Just as scary as the loss is the way they lost - a team and program known for playing stifling defense and having strong guard play let WCU shoot 51% and turned the ball over 20 times - 7 of them by Edgar Sosa, the biggest disappointment in terms of living up to his potential since Felipe Lopez.  This rebuilding at Louisville is looking like it's going to take longer than I thought.       

3.  Arizona.  I feel like I'm constantly highlighting these guys as being bad, but they constantly deserve it so I guess that's just how it goes.  They managed to go 1-2 this week, squeaking a win out against Louisiana Tech in between two embarrassing losses to Oklahoma and San Diego State, both games the Wildcats got blown out in.  Do you realize Arizona is now 4-5.  Arizona has a losing record this early in the season.  Crazy.  They have at least played a pretty good schedule, but there's no real point to scheduling tough if you're just going to lose every game.  They still have games left against BYU and NC State before they hit the Pac-10 season, and if they want a chance at making the dance for something like the 20th year in a row, they need to win both.  They also need their perimeter guys (Wise, Fogg, & Horne) to stop shooting like crap (42%, 39%, 43%).  Good news though - they have the entire week off so they can't end up on this list again unless the whole team quits or something.  Don't rule that out. 

4.  Boston College.  It's not common that a team from a BCS Conference goes 0-2 in a week when they aren't in some kind of tournament, but the Eagles managed to pull it off this week.  And it's not like they had a couple of road games tough opponents, they lost to Harvard and Rhode Island, both at home.  Oof.  I guess it shouldn't be that surprising considering this team lost to St. Joe's, but still - wow.  And they weren't even close games, either.  Harvard won by 7 after leading pretty much the entire game, and Rhode Island totally blew the doors off B.C. and ended up winning by eleven.  Suddenly Michigan's win over them isn't looking nearly as impressive.  Special thumbs up to Joe Trapani for shooting 1-7 from three in the game against Rhody.   

5.  UNLV.  I knew these guys were frauds, and that's why a line of Kansas State +2 was such an easy bet on Saturday.  Obviously it paid off or I wouldn't be cocking off here like I was Jimmy the Greek and you were some black dude, but the whole point is that UNLV is terrible.  That's probably too strong.  Let's say overrated.  Seriously, how the hell was UNLV ranked #17?  Because they were 7-0?  A couple of wins look like "name" wins, but these "name" schools aare awful this year - they beat Louisville and Arizona - who both sound impressive but are awful this season.  Their best win was actually over Nevada, who is ranked 74th by Pomeroy, and they don't have another top 100 win in the bunch.  Kansas State this weekend (#16) was by far their best opponent, and the Wildcats blew them rigth out of the water 95-80 in Vegas.  If, and it's a big if, UNLV does make the tournament thanks to a watered down Mountain West, I'll guarantee their first round exit.      

You know what else sucks?  Fucking welshers.  Let me tell you what I'm talking about.  Let's say I'm in a keeper league for fantasy football, and I make a trade offer to a guy in my league.  He counters with a slightly different offer.  I accept.  He backs out and says he's not trading.  What the hell is that crap?  He should have to spend a weekend in jail for something like that.  Insead he's just free to tromp around breaking people's hearts like he was Jennifer Love Hewitt in Heartbreakers.  Ain't right.