So I'm going no introduction. Suck it.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Gopher Basketball. The basketball gods giveth, and they taketh away but in this case in the reverse order of that. The Gophers lost a game they probably should have won when the played the Illini in Champaign and then made up for it by winning on Saturday when they should have lost, and would have if Meyers Leonard had just backed out of the way. In any case, the Gophers are now 4-5 in conference play and would probably sneak into the tournament if it started today, which means they're in good position assuming they don't screw things up, making this week a monster. They head to Iowa and then to Nebraska, two winnable road games that are more than just winnable, they're must wins. I've been hurt too many times by Gopher teams and women to be fooled again, which is why I'm not buying into this team until after this week. If they can win two road games they need to I'll go ahead and buy in. Until then consider me cautiously optimistic.
Two players who deserve extra praise following the Illinois win are Chip Armelin and Andre Hollins or Andre Westbrook as he is known when I talk. Armelin was the hero of the first half and basically the reason the Gophers went into half-time with a lead thanks to his energy, fearlessness, an accurate jumper, and a couple of great passes including a Magic-esque fake behind the back drop-off on a fastbreak. Armelin was awesome.
But Andre Hollins might have been even better in the second half and overtime. The Gophers had a pretty easy time of it in overtime and Andre Hollins was the biggest reason, and seriously how much does he remind you of Russell Westbrook? I can't be the only one who sees this. Not a great shooter but has the ability to get hot, with the strongest part of his game his ability to get to the rim, which is a strength because he's willing to take it in there against anybody. I suppose that could describe Joe Coleman as well, but Hollins kind of looks like Westbrook too. I don't know, but with Hollins and Coleman maybe this team has a future after all. Stay tuned.
2. Kevin Love. I figured he'd sign, I guessed he'd sign, but until it happens you can't ever relax, especially in a place that has seen all non-Twin beloved figures bolt and/or force their way out at some point, but now Love is ours. For at least three years, and I think that's the best part of this deal for both sides. Love is a smart dude who knows what he's doing, which is why it wasn't surprising when I read an article pre-lockout about him and how he and his agent were putting 90% of his income or something into an account not to be touched and he was just living off of 10%, which is really what everybody in pro sports should do but almost nobody does. He continued his smart behavior by going with the 3-year opt out clause in his deal, which basically says, "Yes, I want to play here and build a winner but if that's not happening and the team isn't doing what it's supposed to I want out" which, again is a smart way to go about things. Plus, now the Wolves absolutely have to work to build a team around him or he can just take off. Three more years of Love + Rubio + Williams. How good can they be? I have no clue yet, but I am damn glad we will get to find out.
3. Detroit Tigers. Well shit. Just when you think the Twins have a chance to be relevant (V-Martinez out for the year, White Sox trading everything away) the Tigers go and sign Prince Fielder. Part of me wants to point out that giving a 9-year contract to a guy who is in the kind of shape Fielder's in and who only has one real skill (hitting) who is 29 years old probably means the last couple of years of that contract, at a minimum, are going to be a burden. But I'm also smart enough to recognize that the part of me that wants to point that out is really nothing more than just a jealous asshole because this freaking sucks. Fielder and Cabrera give the Tigers two of what, the five best hitters in the game? And Avila and Peralta can hammer the ball as well. If Delmon Young's figured out or if Brennan Boesch or Austin Jackson ever do that lineup is going to be sick, as if it isn't already. And although there's plenty of questions behind Verlander, Fister-Scherzer-Porcello has a chance to be pretty solid. Detroit's not a runaway favorite in the Central or anything, but they're clearly a favorite. Just a great move that says, "F money, we're going for it" and the kind of thing the Twins would never, ever do in a million years. Is the Chili Davis signing the biggest FA move of our lifetime? Am I forgetting anything? I'm moving to Detroit.
Just kidding. I don't want to get shot. Unless I do it myself after the Gophers lose to both Iowa and Nebraska.
4. Lou Diamond Phillips. I'm guessing most people don't watch Celebrity Cook-Off but for me if it's a cooking competition I'm pretty much watching no matter what, and LDP beat out Coolio to take this one down, although both of them would have been worthy champions. Labamba was more refined, while Coolio had his own ideas and his own recipes which apparently worked well (mayo on cheesy bread?) but these two were definitely the two best cooks who took it seriously. Joey Fatone can knock out Italian food but has zero range and zero creative skill, and there wasn't another cook besides those three who seemed worthwhile (Aaron Carter was one and his big dish was a macaroni salad lolololololol). So nice work Lou for a good season where I actually learned stuff. I look forward to not hearing your name again for 10 years or so until you resurface playing an Indian Chief is some sort of fancy movie. Probably Sitting Bull or some shit. With Ashton Kutcher as Custer.
5. Iowa State Cyclones. One of the most enjoyable basketball experiences I've ever had was going down to Ames for the first time (Snacks is a graduate and I was visiting him) and going to Hilton Coliseum and watching a good but not great Cyclones team take down a Kansas team that I think was ranked #1 going into the game, including seeing Minnesota's own Jake Sullivan pull up from 35-feet on a 3-on-2 fast break and nail a 3 (no joke, that was probably the coolest thing I've ever seen on a basketball court in person). This weekend the Cyclones did it again, knocking off the Jayhawks 72-64, once again behind a native Minnesotan. This time it wasn't a under-recruited, short little whiteboy with a deadly jumper who is in range from anywhere on the court, but a tatted up, nationally recognized top recruit with some mental problems and the kind of well-rounded game where he leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and is 0.2 behind in steals. Seriously I don't know if you've seen him yet this year but Royce White is really, really, really good. Really good. Put him on this Gopher team and they're an automatic NCAA team. Put him and Mbakwe on this team and you're talk Sweet 16 team with upside.
1. Ralph Sampson. It's official, the Gophers are now actively winning games in spite of Sampson. 5 points and 5 fouls with only three rebounds and couldn't be bothered to block a shot. Not only was he crappy in measurable things, but he just got crushed by Meyers Leonard who had at least two and maybe three offensive boards on missed Illinois free throws that he got by just leaning on Ralph and moving him too far under the rim to do anything about it. And Sampson just let it happen again and again. Several times Sampson didn't even look interested, like the one time I specifically watched him and when Illinois took a jump shot he just stood there while Leonard went right around him and grabbed the o-board. The guy had six offensive rebounds for the game and I'm fairly certain all six came against Sampson. In a career full of disappointing games and poor effort, this one really took the cake. Elliason is a better option at this point. You may consider my heart-broken. Just like when Emma Stone dyed her hair blonde. Why Emma? Why?
2. San Diego State. The funny thing, and I guess it's not really funny but whatever shut up, is that I actually had SDSU teed up as WHO WAS AWESOME after they went into Wyoming and rolled an underrated Cowboy team that was starting to look sleeperiffic. I know beating Wyoming, even in Laramie, isn't usually impressive but trust me that was a really good win, not to mention SDSU was 18-2 in a year when they had lost four starters and the core of a sweet 16 team and weren't supposed to add up to much. Probably the biggest surprise (pleasant surprise) of the year. And then they roll into Fort Collins and just get smoked by the Colorado State and getting out-played in every way possible. Big deal? No, not really because the Aztecs are basically in the tournament no matter what, especially because collapse is nearly impossible since the Mountain West is meh this year, but just a hugely disappointing loss. Why I care so much, I couldn't begin to tell you.
3. Bruce Weber. I have no idea how this guy still has a job. He's one of the worst game coaches this side of Rick Barnes, and nobody does less with more than Weber. When is the last time he actually exceeded expectations? I know he did well at Southern Illinois (recruiting better than the rest of the conference, naturally, since that's the one thing he excels at) and he had a good start at Illinois with Self's players including that Final Four, but since then they've been garbage, right? I mean I know they've made the NCAA Tournament like 4 of the 6 years since then and as Gopher fans we'd kill for that level of success, but based on the recruits he's bringing in that's pathetic, especially since they've only won two tournament games in that span. I guess that's what happens when you hitch your wagon to fat non-point guard with no real point guard skills Demetri McCamey for four years and don't bother to, you know, recruit another point guard for four freaking years. See you probably thought I wouldn't ever be able to work in another dig at McCamey, but then BAM! there we are. Did you know he did 0 bench reps at the college hoops draft combine. Zero. Should have made it a donut eating contest.
4. Central Michigan Chippewas. Not that this week at 0-2 was particularly bad for Central Michigan because they plain old suck at 7-13 and have lost five straight, but it's time to call attention this because I thought they were supposed start getting more gooder. Remember two years ago when Trey Ziegler was the #28 recruit in the country and had offers from Arizona, Duke, Michigan State, Michigan, and UCLA amongst others? And then remember how he passed up all those opportunities in order to play for his dad at CMU? Yeah, apparently it didn't matter because 10 total games last year and might be worse this year. Ziegler leads the team in scoring, rebounding, and assists for the second straight year, but who cares because they're terrible. It's basically the same story from the same year as Ray McCallum who ended up going to Detroit to play for daddy, but at least they're showing some signs of improvement - this Ziegler thing is a nightmare.
5. Phil Mickelson. Lefty is a bonafide stud when it comes to Torrey Pines. He's won there three times in his career, he has 8 top-fives including a solo second here last year. He's played at Torrey Pines 22 times on the PGA Tour, grew up playing on this course, lives like 5 minutes away, and hasn't missed a cut there in 10 years. So how'd he do this weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open? Natually he shot a +5 on Thursday, the day when over 2/3rds of the field went under par, and then missed the cut. What an asshole.
Also I totally missed this which is why it's just getting mentioned here, but apparently Kyle Stanley didn't win the golf tournament today, despite having a 3-shot lead going into the last hole. I was watching the end, but after he laid up on his second shot on the par-5 eighteenth hole to about 75 yards I figured it was over and clicked off. According the words that other people typed, Stanley spun his approach shot right off the green, then on his second try put it 45 feet away and 3-putted (!!!) from there to end up going to a playoff with Brandt Snedeker who won after Stanley missed a five-foot par putt on the second playoff whole. Jesus. I'm damn glad I flipped the channel because if I had watched that I would have alternated laughing and feeling depressed to the point where I'd probably become the Joker. By the way, did you know in the comic books there's a whole subplot where Joker rapes Commissioner Gordon's daughter? Seriously, comic books are way fucked up. I'm scared of comic book fans, for realsies.
Also I really should have mentioned the Magic as a team who sucked. They're in the dumpster at this point. Zero chance Howard finishes out the year there. Howard for Beasley, Webster, Williams, and Wes Johnson works under the cap. Just sayin'.