The Brawl at The Palace

YahooSports.com has an article that looks into the Indiana Pacers and what has happened since the brawl in Detroit in 2004 with the Pistons and their fans.  Click Here for the article by Peter May.

I remember watching this game live.  I turned to it very late.  Literally as Ron Artest committed a stupid foul on Ben Wallace.  Needlessly hitting him in the afro-covered-head.  I actually remember saying “that was stupid, you’re up by fifteen (points)” to no-one in the room.

When Wallace went at Artest, I was not surprised by his reaction or did I feel that he was completely out of line.  I would have been pissed.  Look at it from Wallace’s position.  You’re down fifteen, there are 45 seconds left in the game, you have been embarrassed by the Pacers, and now you have to shoot two meaningless free throws which is not your strong suit and you’ll probably miss.  I may not have pushed Artest – he is much bigger than I am – but I would have said something.  “What the @#%& is your problem” comes to mind.

I will not go any further into it, we all know what happened.  The whole thing was ugly and disgraceful, but I remember it.  I remember thinking that I could not believe it was happening and that I actually got to see it, I was stunned.

Quick Hits: 11/20/09

New Look Twins

The Minnesota Twins are heading to a new Stadium in the 2010 season.  And what do you do when you make a  majorchange?  You make another change, but not-so major.

The Twins showcased their new uniforms for the first season in the new pad.  Here is a gallery of photos from the Star Tribune.

At first look, I didn’t really see any major differences to the home jerseys, but I like the road jerseys.  Both are semi-retro jerseys that are a tribute to the 1961 uniforms.

That is outfielder Denard Span in the home white and pitcher Scott Baker in the road uniform.

I love the colors of the Twins.  Dark blue and red with white or gray.  My favorite colors of any Minnesota team.

College Basketball

I am watching an ESPN Classic game from Nov. 9th, 2000.  Kansas vs. UCLA played at MSG with lineups filled with future NBA players.

  • For Kansas: Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison,  and Drew Gooden,
  • For UCLA:  Earl Watson, Jason Kapoano, Matt Barnes, and Dan Gadzuric.

Watching just a part of that game got me thinking about the depth of the those teams and of the top teams of this season.  Look at the top eight teams in this seasons ESPN/USA Today poll.  What do you see?  Teams that can easily go eight or nine deep.

  1. Kansas – We all know about Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry.  But in the Morris twins, Brady Morningstar and Tyshawn Taylor ( and others), this team has a lot of players who played meaning minutes.
  2. Michigan State - This years Spartans exemplify the saying: “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”   But they still have a go-to guy in Kalin Lucas – the Big Ten player of the year.
  3. Texas - The Longhorns not only have depth, but they have senior leadership.  In Justin Mason, Damion James, and Dexter Pittman – who is set for a breakout season.  Plus they have a killer freshmen class highlighted by Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton.
  4. UNC - The Champs have six players 6’8″ or taller and all of them should see playing time.  Plus they have Will Graves, Larry Drew, and Marcus Ginyard.
  5. Kentucky – Some guy named John Wall.
  6. Villanova – They are guard heavy led by Scottie Reynolds, and the Corey’s – stoke and Fischer.  Plus Duke transfer Taylor King adds fire power.
  7. Purdue - Do not forget about the Boilermakers.  Robbie Hummel, E’Twuan Moore , Chris Kramer, JuJuan Jackson, Keaton Grant, Lewis Jackson, plus a talented freshmen class.  PS – Out of all the players on the Purdue roster, only 3 are not from Indiana.
  8. Duke – Lead by Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer, and Nolan Smith.  This years Blue Devils has more height in the Plumlee brothers, both are 6’10″, Brian Zoubek at 7’1″, and Ryan Kelly at 6’10″ and they have freshmen Andre Dawkins.

Most every team would survive an injury to a major player (minus the backcourts of UNC and Duke and the frontcourt with Villanova), and that is what has separated the good teams from the great teams.

My early season Final Four: Texas, MSU, Kansas and Purdue.

Quick Hits: 11/16/09

I have not posted lately, and there are a couple of reasons for that.  The main reason is that my wife and I are expecting a baby any day.  Not that I have blocked sports out completely – I am reading Bill Simmons The Book of Basketball - and have of course watched The Vikings and as much soccer and basketball as allowed.

Here are some quick and thoughts.

1.  The Vikings look like a legit team.  I know what most of are thinking, of course they do, they are 8-1.  But some of the Vikings faithful will remember that the purple also had a 6-0 start in 2003 and pooped all over themselves and did not make playoffs.  So yeah, I held out judgment until now.

2.  I watched the Texas Longhorns Men’s Basketball team play the other night.  I am having an internal struggle as to which team is deeper, Texas or Michigan State.  Both have experienced leaders, but Texas has a killer freshmen class.  Good thing they play each other in Texas on Dec. 22nd.

Warriors Bucks Basketball

3.  Who has Brandon Jennings on his fantasy basketball team?  That would be me.  I have also received a ton of hits on this site because of this post, when I said the following about Jennings prior to the draft:

“I have not seen much of him after the high school all-star games, but I do not like what I have heard.  The word is that he reminds people of Iverson, and I am not a fan of Iverson.  Jennings is quick, picks the flashy over fundamental, and looks to prompt himself.  Sounds like Sebsastian Telfair all over again.  But he could do very well playing for Golden State.”

We do not get a lot of Bucks games, but what I have seen you can sense a level of maturity that and respect for the game that was not there before.  Teammates respect him, he carries himself very well in interviews, and he plays within the offense.  None of which were said about him before he went to Italy.

4.  The other night I had trouble sleeping because I did not get to see the end of the LA Galaxy - Houston Dynamo match-up.  I am old and need sleepy-time.  Now, I am not a David Beckham rub – I prefer Mr. Donovan – but I was thinking about what it would mean to soccer in the US if the Galaxy win the MLS Cup with Beckham.  Everyone would forget Grant Wahl’s book – Yes, that is the second sports book reference at Barnes and Noble. I have a membership.  Everyone would forgive the trip to Italy, and all the other Beckham mess.  Everyone would ignore the response he got from his own fans when he came back.  All because he made it about the team, and they won.

Side – note:  I am not sure which is worse,  three different links to www.bn.com or the fact that I struggled sleeping thinking about the outcome of the game.

Stephen Jackson

Breaking News: The Golden State Warriors sent Stephen Jackson to the Charlotte Bobcats. “In a deal that NBA front-office sources said came together quickly Sunday night and received the needed league approval Monday morning, Golden State sent Jackson and guard Acie Law to the Bobcats in exchange for veteran swingmen Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic.”  from ESPN.com.

This may not seem like a big deal, but Jackson will fit in well with the Bobcats, while Charlotte did not give much up to get him.  Larry Brown got a player with offensive fire power, who still works on defense.  Now he has a starting line-up of Raymond Felton, Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler with D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson, Derrick Brown coming off the bench.  Can you say “Up-Grade”.

And Jackson will be on his best behavior with Brown on the bench and the Greatest of All-Time - Michael Jordan in case you were wondering – not too far away.

Side – Note:  I bet that is the first ever blog post that has been interrupted by breaking news.  Well, at least on this blog.

5.  I watched all of ten minutes of the Kentucky Blue-White game, and I already love John Wall. In that ten minutes he had two dunks, at least four assist – two lobs – and was all over the place.  Kentucky coach John Calipari has done it again with another one-hit-wonder.  See: Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans.  I have heard rumors that Wall is even quicker than Rose.  That is unfair.

North Dakota State Basketball In Running for Top 100 Player

I saw this on ESPN.com the other night and I heard he was visiting this week.  Jay Harris is ranked as the No. 15 point guard in the nation and No. 64 overall.

The 6’0″ guard from Oswego, IL, is looking at NDSU as well as the University of Northern Iowa and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

recruit_e_harris01_200

Harris has a great feel for the game with his ball handing, passing, the ability to finish in transition and making plays one on one. Harris can also score in a variety of ways in addition to his ability to get his own shot. He can spot up behind the arc on the side of dribble penetration, come off screens and attack the basket in transition. Harris is terrific at scoring over or around taller defenders although his must get stronger in order to be as successful on the next level. Playing with Boatright really allowed Harris to be very productive at the shooting guard position although he is a true point. Harris also displayed the ability to defend both guard positions and he came up with a couple on ball and cover down post steals with his quick hands. Harris has the talent and basketball IQ to be a terrific college lead guard but he must make the weight room a priority”  From ESPN.com.

If Harris signs, he would be the first Top 100 player to commit to the play in Fargo starting in the 2010 season, and the single biggest signing in NDSU basketball history.

Trayvonn Wirght, the 6’7″ 175 pound power forward from Waterloo, IA, has already signed to play for coach Saul Phillips and is rated as the 77th best power forward in the country.

“Wright excels in open court situations where he can use his athleticism to his benefit. He has the ability to score the ball in the paint with different finishes and uses the rim wisely to protect himself. Trayvonn was able to rebound the ball outside of his area and grab the ball at its highest point. However, he was uncomfortable with physical play and needs to learn how to take advantage of his quickness to combat opponent’s strength. Wright has limitations with his ball handling skills; he has no lateral movement in his dribble and cannot easily shift positions; when cut off on drives, he will spin. He has made tremendous strides since the end of the high school season and has a lot of upside.”  From ESPN.com.

Landing those two players would be another substantial building block to the foundation that was laid with the plan to; sit the four seniors, Ben Woodside, Brent Winkelmen, Mike Nelson, Lucas Moormann, win the conference, and play in the NCAA tourney the first year eligible.  We could not imgaine the extra hype of Woodside dropping 60 and getting Sportcenter shout-outs.  But it helped.

The 2009-10 season may not be as successful in terms of wins, trophies and accolades, but it is necessary in building this program to the next level.

College Basketball Rankings

Were are getting closer to the college basketball season kicking off and Kansas is the No.1 team in the country.  It is going to be a more competitive season than last season.

Anyway, previews are coming, but here are the preseason rankings for 2009-10 Men’s College Basketball.

AP Top 25
1. Kansas (55) 0-0 1,612
2. Michigan State (5) 0-0 1,515
3. Texas (1) 0-0 1,397
4. Kentucky (3) 0-0 1,372
5. Villanova 0-0 1,347
6. North Carolina (1) 0-0 1,320
7. Purdue 0-0 1,284
8. West Virginia 0-0 1,115
9. Duke 0-0 1,064
10. Tennessee 0-0 897
11. Butler 0-0 864
12. Connecticut 0-0 844
13. California 0-0 800
14. Washington 0-0 776
15. Michigan 0-0 578
16. Ohio State 0-0 465
17. Oklahoma 0-0 410
18. Mississippi State 0-0 393
19. Louisville 0-0 335
20. Georgetown 0-0 326
21. Dayton 0-0 318
22. Georgia Tech 0-0 301
23. Illinois 0-0 282
24. Clemson 0-0 217
25. Minnesota 0-0 172
Others Receiving Votes

Maryland 171, Siena 112, Notre Dame 107, Florida State 92, Vanderbilt 90, Syracuse 83, Oklahoma State 65, UCLA 63, Florida 53, Wake Forest 50, Xavier 42, Gonzaga 37, South Carolina 28, Kansas State 24, Brigham Young 21, Northern Iowa 16, Tulsa 16, Mississippi 15, Texas A&M 10, Missouri 8, Boston College 6, Pittsburgh 4, Western Kentucky 2, Utah State 2, Virginia Commonwealth 2, Old Dominion 1, Holy Cross 1.

Complete Rankings
ESPN/USA Today Poll
1. Kansas (27) 0-0 770
2. Michigan State (3) 0-0 732
3. Texas 0-0 676
4. North Carolina (1) 0-0 653
5. Kentucky 0-0 635
6. Villanova 0-0 620
7. Purdue 0-0 586
8. Duke 0-0 528
9. West Virginia 0-0 501
10. Butler 0-0 408
11. Tennessee 0-0 406
12. California 0-0 370
13. Washington 0-0 364
14. Connecticut 0-0 361
15. Michigan 0-0 279
16. Oklahoma 0-0 244
17. Ohio State 0-0 241
18. Minnesota 0-0 151
19. Mississippi State 0-0 149
20. Georgia Tech 0-0 136
21. Georgetown 0-0 134
22. Dayton 0-0 130
23. Louisville 0-0 123
24. Clemson 0-0 114
25. Syracuse 0-0 111
Others Receiving Votes

Maryland 100, Illinois 83, Siena 72, UCLA 59, Vanderbilt 38, Oklahoma State 29, Missouri 28, Xavier 25, Gonzaga 24, Notre Dame 22, USC 22, Pittsburgh 19, Tulsa 17, Kansas State 16, Brigham Young 16, Florida State 15, Florida 13, Wake Forest 13, San Diego State 8, Creighton 7, Boston College 4, Texas A&M 4, Southern Illinois 3, Utah State 3, Cornell 3, Memphis 3, Mississippi 3, UNLV 2, South Carolina 1, Northern Iowa 1.

Complete Rankings