Quick Hits: 9/28/09

NFL Bits of Info

  • Brett Favre is the first Vikings QB to throw for 300 yards since Daunte Culpepper did it in 2005 – that was 63 games ago.
  • Terrell Owens played a games without a catch fo the first time since is rookie season in 1996 – 185 games ago.
  • The Detroit Lions won!

Lamar Odom Married Khloe Kardashian

What?  Not sure I care enough to really want to know that details.  But here is the article from ESPN.com.

Minnesota Twins Still In The Chase

The Twins are only two games back and start a four-game series with the Detroit Tigers to determine the AL Central Championship.

While neither team has a great record, this will make for the most interesting baseball to watch in the remainder for the regular season.

For a solid preview on the series, take a look at ESPN.com’s breakdown.

CENTRAL W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA DIFF STRK L10 POFF
Detroit 83 72 .535 - 48-26 35-46 714 705 +9 Lost 1 5-5 77.0
Minnesota 81 74 .523 2 45-33 36-41 765 727 +38 Lost 1 8-2 23.0
Chicago Sox 75 81 .481 8.5 43-38 32-43 700 720 -20 Won 1 3-7 0.0
Cleveland 64 91 .413 19 34-44 30-47 752 825 -73 Won 3 3-7 0.0
Kansas City 64 92 .410 19.5 33-48 31-44 662 799 -137 Won 1 5-5 0.0

2010 Recruiting Class/Conference Rankings

ESPN.com has put it’s ranking for the college basketball recruiting classes of 2010 and the Big Ten have four of the top fifteen – Ohio State is No. 1, Illinois at No. 4, Michigan State at No. 9, and Michigan at No. 14  (Purdue is No. 20).

I made some statements last year saying that Big Ten is getting better very quickly and this is just more proof.  The Big Ten is going to be a very dangerous conference top to bottom, and this years BigTen/ACC Challenge should be very competitive – just like last year – minus the UNC and Duke games.

Jay Bilas has the Big Ten ranked as the No.1 conference in the country and here are his points.

The Big Ten always has been strong at the top, but the bottom of the league often has let the league down. For too many seasons, the Big Ten has been unfairly criticized for its style of play and the relative weakness of the lower third of the conference. Not this season. There is nary a doormat in the league, as Northwestern, Iowa and Indiana all will be much improved and much more competitive nationally. Michigan State and Purdue are the two best teams in the league, and the Spartans make a great case for being the best team in the country. Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio State will be in the national discussion all season. It should have happened long ago, but the conference should finally win the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, an annual irritant to the Big Ten’s reputation. If a team survives this league’s slate, it truly will be among the nation’s best teams.”

To see Bilas’ full blog post, click here.

US Soccer

The US National Team has a massive game against Honduras October 10th, in their attempt to close the deal and book their tickets to the World Cup this summer in South Africa.  But due to security concerns, the game may be moved to a neutral site.

Depending on which site you read, some report that FIFA officials are ok with the game, and other report that there is much more concern and the game will be moved.

Here are a couple of articles highlighting the US Team and Goalie Tim Howard.

From ESPN’s Outside the Lines: Fever Pitch by Wayne Drehs.

Article on US and Everton goalie, Tim Howard: Howard’s game growing in stature at Everton by Ken Lawrence.

The Beckham Experiment by Grant Wahl

I am about two-thirds the way through the book and here are some thoughts so far.

  1. The book is a deeper look at somethings we already knew.
  2. I like Landon Donovan even more than I did before.  He tells it like it is.  Check out his website.
  3. Alexi Lalas is smarter than we give him credit – but I still don’t like to hear him talk.
  4. Beckham seems like a down to earth guy – as down to earth as a guy who made $50 Million in 2007.
  5. The “getting-to-know-you” aspect of the other players like, Donovan, Alan Gordon and Cris Klein is maybe the most important piece that fans don’t get on a regular basis.
  6. The dealings of the Galaxy, 19 Entertainment, AEG and others can be very shady at times.
  7. I make more money than a good chunk of LA’s roster – sad.

I will review the book more when I finish the book.   Here is a link to Wahls Sports Illustrated archive.

Feel Good Stories in Sports

With all the negative between Serena Williams seriously threatening a ling judge and Michael Jordan’s ego filled Hall of Fame Speech, I thought it would be good to read some good stories in the sports world.

Young Steps-Up

Tennessee Titan’s QB Vince Young helped out the family of the late Steve McNair.  Even the smallest gestures have a greater effect than we know.

Young surprised 11-year-old Trenton and 5-year-old Tyler on Wednesday by showing up at their house and taking them to their school’s “Dear Dads Breakfast” at a local restaurant.”  From ESPN.com.

Little Girl Who Threw the Ball Back – Gets More in Return

“Less than a day after the now-famous video of 3-year-old Emily’s foul ball rejection at a Phillies game went viral, the family from Laurel Springs, N.J. appeared on Thursday’s “Today Show” to talk about the highlight that has captured the country’s heart.”  From Yahoosports.com.  Check out the post here.

Hoops for Troops

For the past week, Fran Fraschilla took part in Operation Hardwood VI: Hoops for Troops, a USO-sponsored trip that lets current and former coaches bring a slice of home — in this case, college basketball — to some of our soldiers stationed in Iraq.”  From ESPN.com.

Vitale to Pay for Slain Teenager’s Funeral

Vitale is also planning to set up a scholarship fund in the names of Thompson and Dejuan Williams, who was shot and killed on Aug. 4.”

“It really hits home when this happens in your own community,” Vitale said. “It boggles my mind how young people can get hold of guns and something like this happens. One senseless act and so many lives have been affected.”From Fanhouse.com

Coach Refuses Raise to Send Team on Over Seas Trip

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings sacrificed a $100,000 pay raise to fund his Commodores’ 10-day trip to Australia earlier this month.” From Rivals.com.

Michael Jordan’s Hall Of Fame Speech Was Uncomfortable

That might not be totally fair, but I did not like it.  To summarize the main theme of the speech – “I am really competitive, I took things personally, but you all motivated me….but I am still better than you”

michael-jodran-scottie-pippen

I did not hear David Robinson’s speech, but I am sure it was much more articulate and humble.  Not that Jordan’s speech was horrible, but it was completely filled with his ego and the fact that he felt that he was more important than the organization.  If going on to say that the players win games, not the organization.

He rambled, did not articulate his feelings well and seemed to want to remind everyone in the room how and why he is the best NBA player of all time.

Jordan was emotional from the beginning of his speech.  I am sure he was thinking about his father, he had a room filled with teammates and other familiar people.  And whenever you watch a your own career retrospective, and I sure it brings back a lot feelings.

Congrats to Micheal Jordan, John Stockton, David Robinson, Jerry Sloan and C. Vivian Stringer.  You all deserved it.

Apparently, I am not the only who dislike Jordan’s speech - here is the article from yahoo.com: “Jordan’s night to remember turns petty” by Adrian Wojnarowski.

Scottie Pippen Will Be In The HOF Soon

It was great to see Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr and even Dennis Rodman at the ceremony – I was not there, I just watched.  I will be happy when Pippen gets elected – he is eligible in 2010.   I think people are starting to forget how good he was.  How important he was to Jordan’s success and the Bulls six championships.

Pippen’s career stat line was 16.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg,  5.2 apg, and 2.0 steals a game.  He also shot 47.3% from the field and 70% from the foul line.  Pippen was a seven time All-Star, and in the 1993-94 All-Star game, he won the MVP Award.

Pippen and Jordan were they only two players for the Bulls for all six titles.  And Pippen was the perfect balance to Jordan.  While Jordan dominated the ball, Pippen was good open shooter, could finish in traffic and at the rim.  But Pippen was even more dominate as a defender.  He was able to guard point guards to power forwards.  With a combination of speed, anticipation and long arms; Pippen was a defensive threat anywhere on the court.

Career Honors

1990-91 NBA All-Defensive (2nd)
1991-92 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1991-92 NBA All-NBA (2nd)
1992-93 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1992-93 NBA All-NBA (3rd)
1993-94 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1993-94 NBA All-NBA (1st)
1994-95 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1994-95 NBA All-NBA (1st)
1995-96 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1995-96 NBA All-NBA (1st)
1996-97 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1996-97 NBA All-NBA (2nd)
1997-98 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1997-98 NBA All-NBA (3rd)
1998-99 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1999-00 NBA All-Defensive (2nd)

Stats taken from www.basketball-reference.com

2009-10 Vikings Forecast

This is the last Sunday until early February that we will have without the NFL.  With that season about to start, I think it is time to give an a forecast of what the Vikings could – and should – accomplish in the 2009-10 season.

1. After Bernard Berrian, the receivers lack much proven ability. Sydney Rice has yet to prove he is a worthy No. 2, and Bobby Wade is going to give what you think he will and not much more.  Percy Harvin should be a great asset for the receiver core and I like Darius Reynaud – the former West Virginia Mountaineer – he will get major looks on special teams.Adrian Peterson

2.  Center of Attention! There is plenty of reason to believe that the offensive line should be as good as they have been in the pasty few years, but long time starting center and Minnesota native Matt Birk, is now in Baltimore and the Vikings are looking to second year player John Sullivan, to take over for the Pro Bowler.

3.  The Vikings offense skill players maybe the best in the league. Adrian Peterson is a gimme.  But then you have RB Chester Taylor, Berrian, Harvin, and TE Visanthe Shiancoe.  There are plenty of targets for Brett Favre.

4.  Brett Favre must stay withing the system. If, and it is a major IF, Favre can stay within the system, the Vikings should be even more lethal then they were last year.

5.  The linebackers were good last year, and they were without EJ Henderson. For many years the linebackers were the weakness of the Vikings defense.  Look how quickly things turn around.  The squads leading tacker, Chad Greenway, Ben Leiber, along with Henderson make the most complete trio of linebackers in the NFC North.

6.  The pass defense is like the pass offense – needs to prove they are good enough! With two new safeties – Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams, the Vikings would have been stupid not to resign Pro Bowl CB Antoine Winfield.  Cedric Griffin‘s time is now.  He needs to show that he can balance the field and tackle like his counter-part, Winfield.

7.  If the Vikings don’t reach at least the NFC Championship game, Brad Childress should be gone. He has too many tools in the tool box that if can’t fix the problem, it’s not the tools’ fault.

8.  The defensive line is the deepest in the league. Seriously – take a look.

9.  The back-up QB’s will see very little game time this season. Favre is the most durable QB of all-time.  with the added incentive of coming back to the league, unless Favre is nearly dead, he will be under center.

10.  Know who you are. Like Shaq going to Cleavland, or some other major player going to a VERY good team, you have to remember what makes you a VERY good team.  And in Minnesotas case, it is Peterson and the defense.  While this team as many weapons, the team’s bread and butter is the typical smash mouth football.  That being said, MN did a nice job last year switch gears with Berrian and Taylor, and I would imagine that Harvin will add another layer into the much deeper playbook that Childress will use with Favre.

PREDICTION - 12-4  and play in the NFC Championship game.  I am not saying if the Vikings will win or lose, but they will make it there.

Ricky Rubio

Ricky RubioI have stayed away from really discussing Ricky Rubio.  I don’t know why, but I have.  Maybe for me it was a one of those situations that,  if you don’t talk about it, it will take care of itself.  And as of this week, it did not take care of itself….or did it?

Rubio is just eighteen years old.  While he has been playing in Spanish professional league’s, he is still only eighteen and has a lot that he can learn before coming over to the NBA.  If that is what he really wants to do.

With his former team, DKV Joventut, Rubio was making around $70K a year.  Not that much for a board line international phenomenon who showed just what kind of player he can be by holding his own against the US Men’s Team which feature Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Understatement of the day: The Minnesota Timberwolves picked a lot of point guards in June’s draft.

Four in all.

Jonny FlynnAfter making a Rubio the fifth selection, the T’Wolves picked Jonny Flynn at No. 6, Ty Lawson at No. 18 – Lawson was later traded to the Denver Nuggets.  Then finally with No. 45, MN choose Nick Calathes and traded his rights to the Dallas Mavericks.  Since then Calathes signed a contract to play in Greece with Panathinaikos.

The only non-point guard the Timberwolves picked was UNC Star Shooting Guard Wayne Ellington at No. 28.

So, the main question everyone would like to pose to new GM David Kahn is this: Why choose Rubio and Flynn is you actually thought Rubio was going to come to the NBA?  And a completely legit follow-up would be:  If Flynn was the player you wanted, why not pick Flynn and Steph Curry or DeMar DeRozan?

Kahn has responded to like question saying that he fully believed that Flynn and Rubio could play int he same back court.  But everyone who knows anything about those two players knows they are almost the same player.  Rubio and Flynn are both pass-first point guards.  Neither one is dominant scorer and is at their best when others players get easy buckets.

That being said, Flynn did average 17.8 point a game in during the 2008-09 season – his last at Syracuse.  Flynn also average 6.7 assist per game while shooting 45 percent from the field.  While last season Rubio averaged 9.8 points per game and 5.8 assists and he has never had a season where he has been a double figure scorer.

One major difference is that Flynn has been the leader of his team the past couple years, while Rubio has not.  But the confidence to lead and the ability to be a leader can come with age and experince.

So after all that, what do you do?  Put yourself in Kahn’s shoes.  The answer is easy.

Start Flynn, Ellington, Love, Jefferson and Corey Brewer and let them grow.  Let them struggle to win.  Let them make their mistakes and let them lose.  And through that they will acquire more lottery picks and then when the time comes to reevaluate “if” the Timberwolves want Rubio, they will.

In two or three years, Rubio will only be 20-21.  And by that time the Timberwolves, if they can keep the pieces of the puzzle together, you have the potential to add an exciting-young player or you could also trade his rights and get a couple other pieces.  Either would be a solid move to cement a team that should have come together and be a playoff contender.

To summarize. I would not have picked Rubio if Flynn is “your guy”.  I would have gone with Flynn and DeRozan or Curry.  But after the fact, Rubio staying in Spain is th ebest option.  It is like a piece of relaestate that will only go up in value. – or something like that.