All posts by Daniel Damico

This is a place of sports. I write about a couple sports, mostly college basketball and soccer. I will eventually get into the NBA, but there are enough people that get paid to do that. I also write on a great sports writing community called Bleacher Report and have had a couple articles featured on CBS Sportsline and am writing a weekly article for Fox Sports all season long recapping Tuesday college basketball. I’ve had another blog for awhile that I did everything on, but now it is for things not sports related. Mostly music, politics, religion. All topics of a “lighter” nature. It is called: My Ramblings. As for me, I live in a land called Fargo with my beautiful family. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Blog Update

Happy Monday.

Wanted to drop a note and give you fun bit-o-news.  I have signed on to be the lead blogger at Dunking with Wolves, a Minnesota Timberwolves blog.  This blog is part of a great team blog network at FanSided.com which covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and more.

I have enjoyed have a solo-blog and trying to create interest myself, but I am excited to be a part of a team and really refine my craft by focusing on a team that I love and followed for many years.

Please stop and drop a line.

Thanks

Daniel Damico

Quick Hits: Twitter Style

Looks like it is time for my monthly post. :)  Sorry, I have been away and not blogging, but then I again, I have no idea if anyone reads this.  So there.

I added Twitter to the right column.  Though it might be a nice way to give a thought in 140 characters or less and not blog on it.  In that way of thinking, I am doing to does this blog a variety of topics, with 140 characters or less in each response.  If you think I am lying, enter it into your twitter account.

NBA Playoffs -

Cavs Vs. Bulls: I hope Chicago enjoyed their only win of the series. Expect the Cavs to win next game by 20 pts or more. Bulls=younger Cavs w/out LeBron.

Magic Vs. Bobcats: If the refs can loosen up a bit, the Magic should run away with it. Actually, they will anyways, even w/Howard only playing 25 mins a game.

Hawks Vs. Bucks: Bucks will got 1 in Milwaukee, but that’s it. This series is over in 5. Jennings can’t do it alone, so who is going to help him? Salmons?

Celtics Vs. Heat: Unless the Heat sign a max player tonight – this series will be over in no more than two games. I feel bad for Wade. He looked tired.

Lakers Vs. Thunder: Is Kobe injured? Is the the Thunder just that good? This seems to be the best series of Round one -expect Thunder to be around for awhile.

Mavs Vs. Spurs: These teams always play tough games. I expect the next to be the same, but I don’t see how the Mavs come back to take this series.

Suns and Blazers: Is Brandon Roy the 6 Million $ Man? The Blazers are totally different when he is healthy. This series goes seven – Suns win.

Nuggets Vs. Jazz: George Karl is missed. Nugs are lost without him, Jazz playing  more physical ball. DWill is nice – Melo needs help. Mr. Big Shot?

All in all the playoffs have been very good – even the Magic and Bobcats series. Here are the key factors to this playoffs so far:

  1. Match-Ups – how the individual is able to exploit an advantage.
  2. Team Is Greater – we are saw this in March Madness and we are see all over the NBA.
  3. Coaches Do Matter - If George Karl is on the bench, that series is very different.   Look at Scott Brooks with the Thunder *Same can not be said for the Bulls – they would get beat with Phil Jackson.
  4. Physical Play - How teams can adjust or adapt to refs letting more physical play go.
  5. Deeper Teams Can Handle the Load - When Jason Terry went down holding his ankle – the Mavs season was done – it will be done very quickly anyways – but they still believe there is a chance.

NFL Draft: Vikings were disappointing to me. Lions drafted well on paper. ESPN sucked every moment they possible could out of the draft, and Mel Kiper.

MLB: The Twins are World Champs. Maybe not – yet. Love the line-up, new stadium & uniforms. Would love another legit starting pitcher. Anyone?

An NBA draft piece will get that out once the lottery balls fall in place .  And while the TWolves have a very good chance at the No. 1 pick, I am not sure they want it.  WHAT?  No John Wall?  There will be more to come and I sure David Kahn will say things that only kinda-sorta make sense.  But I have hope!

Quick Hits: 3/26/10

I love this time of year.  It is starting to get very nice outside, golf courses are opening, and my life has been crazy busy.  I will not bore with that, because I am sure we ll can say the same thing – but it has been worse than usual.

I stayed up way to late watch the double-overtime game between Xavier and Kansas State.  What a crazy game.  It was maybe one of the best games I have seen all year.  Just as it should be!

Thoughts of Madness

I have been so busy that I did not even get invitations out for my bracket from CBSSports.com out to all the people involved, and I have had it for 3 years.  Oh well.  On my work brackets, I am boarder-line screwed.  I picked Kansas to win and well….DAMN IT!

Here is my quick run down of how things are going at this moment.

No. 1 Seeds – DAMN IT!  We have lost the two teams most thought would make it to the Final Four.  I wonder how long it will take for Kentucky’s Final Four appearance to be erased due to violations of something?!

Ohio State looks tough.  They are not deep, but they may have the best starting five left in the tourney and the match-up with Tennessee will be showcase some very good match-ups.  UT’s Wayne Chism vs. OSU’s Dallas Lauderdale.  UT’s Scottie Hopson vs. OSU’s Evan Turner.

General Theme of Tourney: Playing as a Team > Team of Talent.

Northern Iowa did want NDSU was not able to do last year.  I think they can run to the Final Four – we will find out tonight.  This is not the Michigan State from last season – even with Kalin Lucas.   I remember Ben Jacobson when he was playing at UND – I liked him then.

West Virginia is looking legit and I still not sure why and a Match-up with Kentucky will be physical!

St. Mary’s has legit size and skill, I could see them getting past Baylor and Duke.  First things first.  Baylor and St. Mary match-up very well.  but remember the “General Theme of the Tourney”.

Duke has beat Purdue the last two times they met, and that was with Robbie Hummel.  Duke is too tough in the front-court – don’t think that has been said in the last 5 years.

Final Four Predictions – West Virginia, Ohio State, Kansas State and the toughest call…Baylor.  Not very legit when I do it so far into the game, but I don’t care.  I will probably end up one-for-four.

I have enjoyed watching this tournament more than many in the past.  There have been great games all over the place regardless of seeding.  My brother and I were talking about a month a go and we said that any one team in the Top 25 could either win, or loose in the two rounds.

I am not sure we have seen the playing field so level as it has been this year.

DTP: NBA Trade Reactions

The NBA deadline has come and past with a few major moves and plenty that don’t really matter other than money.  So while everyone and their dog are ranking/grading the trades, I thought I better do the same – or something close to that.

Instead of giving an A or something I will try to determine why the move made sense or not.  And if you disagree, please feel free to tell me why.

The Big Deals

1.  Antawn Jamison to the Cleveland

There are more players involved, but this is the only one that matters.  With Zydrunas Ilgauskas more than likely getting bought out and returning to Cleveland, the trade ends up like this.

  • Cleveland receives: Jamison.  From the Clippers – Sebastian Telfair - don’t forget the Clippers are involved here.
  • Washington receives: From the Cavs -  2010 first-round pick and the rights to Emir Preldzic.  From the Clippers – Al Thornton from the Clippers.
  • Los Angles receives:  Drew Gooden from the Wizards.

Why does this make sense for the Cavs?  They get Jamison for a first-round pick that would likely be no higher than 30, and some guy named Emir Preldzic who was the Cavs second round pick last year.  The Cavs make this trade for one reason that leads into more reasons.  The main reason – To keep LeBron James, and hopefully win a few rings.  This trade also makes way more sense then the Amar’e trade – Jamison just seems like the right type of player, but also the right personality to fit in with this group.

Why does this make sense for the Wizards?  If you are going to blow things up – do it big and fast.  This team was going no where and while this is horrible for the 15 fans in Washington, it makes financial sense for front-office.

Side Note – I watch the Wolves vs. Wizards game the other night.  There we more people on the floor and benches then there were in the stands – sad.

I also wonder if this a little jab at Gilbert Arenas and forcing him to seek a trade – look out New York.  I mean, the guy cripples you with his contract AND his behavior.  Destroys the team and I doubt he will want to come back , and I can not blame him.

Why does this make sense for the Clippers? It does not for this season.  But what about next season?  The only way this works is if the Clippers really think they can get a max-level player in this summer.  And it is an appealing option for a talented free agent.  Baron Davis, Blake Griffin, Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Travis Oulaw, Steve Blake, and  Drew Gooden provide a pretty solid team to lead.  I am not saying LeBron is coming, but maybe Joe Johnson.

2. Tracy McGrady to Sacramento New York

We knew McGrady had no future in Houston. What we did not know was where he would land and what Houston would get in return.  And by most accounts, Houston walked away with more than the brought to the party.

  • Houston receives: From New York – Jared Jefferies, Jordan Hill, and a protected 2012 first-round pick and the right to exchange first-round picks in 2011.  From Sacramento – Kevin martin and Hilton Armstrong.
  • Sacramento receives:  From Houston – Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey.  From New York – Larry Hughes.
  • New York receives: From Houston – Tracy McGrady.  From Sacramento – Sergio Rodriquez.

Why does this make sense for the Rockets? Really?  There can’t be much question as to why this works.  You trade a player who wasn’t playing and has the largest salary this season.  You get a lottery pick in Hill, and good player in Jefferies, two picks from NY – which could be high picks AND Kevin Martin.  Upgrade!

Why does this make sense for the Kings? The Kings leadership must have seen enough of Tyreke Evans to make him the franchise and unload their best player in Martin for Landry, Dorsey, and Hughes expiring contract.  But this moves clears a lot of cap space to allow for signing a top tier player to a max deal, or couple of really good pieces.  I guess this years team will have time to gel, and play into a top-five pick.

Why does this make sense for the Knicks?  Next season, the Knicks only have $18.6M in salaries.  Meaning more space to make offers to LeBron and another max player – i.e. Chris Bosh.  But they also need to fill a roster that would not include David Lee, Eddie House, Al Harrington or McGrady or any first round picks for three years.  No matter what, the Knicks needed to cut salary for a team that had a $80M+ payroll.

3.  Caron Butler to Dallas

This was the first big move and was the first example of how the Wizards are very giving and want to help solidify other teams as prime playoff contenders.

  • Dallas receives: Caron Butler, Brendon Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson and cash.
  • Washington receives: Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross.

Why does this make sense for the Mavs?  Dallas has never been mistaking for a team with an attitude or chip on their shoulder.  And a lot of times, teams with an attitude, win championships.  As the Mavs roll into the last few years of the Dirk era, owner Mark Cuben knows that time is running out on this team.

Howard was not the player he once was, and didn’t seem to care, and the Mavs really had no need for Gooden.  With this trade, the Mavs get some grit and a much more capable team.  Plus with Erik Dampier’s outrageous contract coming to a team options for $13M, the team can let him go and resign Haywood for much less money.

Why does this make sense for the Wizards?  Just like the deal with the Cavs, this trade has nothing to do with the players involved, only their contracts.  And this has even less to do with this season.  I am not sure what the Wizards leadership is going to do, but supposedly they want to KEEP Arenas.   I understand that he is not what you would call a hot name, but but he will be if the Wizards are able to void his contract.

Other Deals

1.  The only other deal that matter at was the Knicks sending Nate Robinson to the Celtics for Eddie House.   Here is the deal:  Traded G Nate Robinson and F Marcus Landry to Boston for G Eddie House, G J.R. Giddens, G-F Bill Walker and a future conditional second-round pick. ?  It will be interesting.

2.  Homer side-Note:  The Wolves were active again, sending Brain Cardinal’s expiring contract to New York for Darko Milicic’s expiring contract and cash.  Stupid – but no harm, no foul.

3.  The last deal that is one worth mentioning is Chicago trading Tyrus Thomas for a future first-round draft pick, G Flip Murray and G Acie Law from Charlotte.  Again, this move is not about players, but Chicago’s ability to offer Dwayne Wade and another max level player – i.e. Chris Bosh – a contract.  But I like Thomas and Larry Brown should break him down and maybe make an actual NBA player out of him.

Joe Mauer To Sign 10-year Deal

Minneapolis media outlet WCCO, is reporting that The Minnesota Twins and AL MVP Joe Mauer are close to signing a contract that would keep the face of the franchise.  Infamous local insider Mark Rosen, is the man behind the report.  

“A source tells WCCO-TV’s Mark Rosen that American League MVP Joe Mauer has come to a preliminary agreement with the Minnesota Twins for a 10-year contract extension.”

“WCCO’s Rosen Monday afternoon reaffirmed that the framework of a 10-year agreement had been reached. He also noted that deals like this can fall apart late in the process and that the two sides were still working out final details on incentives.”

It seems that there is nothing set in stone, but both sides are moving forward. And this would point to the Twins deciding to do the right thing and secure one of the top three players in the game.  And, I am not sure I care about the price tag! 

FINISH THE DEAL!

Click here for the Wcco.com article.

Quick Hits: 1/30/10

I think I am finally sober enough after drinking myself into unconsciousness after the Vikings again, crapped all over themselves – and all of us who cheer for the Purple.

To tell the truth, I actually thought that there was a chance to win it.  After all the fumbling and self-inflected wounds, I still thought the Vikings had a chance to kick a field goal as time expired.  Oh, tortured souls are we.

Since I don’t want spent too much time rehashing the game, here are my Mini-Hits versions for my points of interest.

  • Based on how the game ended, and ignoring the fact that he signed an extension, I am not sure Brad Childress should keep his job.  To all those you think I am just now piling on – please read some other posts.  I have never held Childress in the highest esteem.
  • The evening was very exciting on Facebook, as 90% of my friends grew-up in Minnesota and North Dakota.  The status updates were amazing.
  • So the NFL came out and said that the hit in the picture on Brett Favre should have been a 15-yard plenty.  Awesome.  So why was it not called?  The ref was right there.
  • The purple started running with some authority in the fourth quarter and then they would call a stupid pass play.  Just run the ball.
  • I thought that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman talked about the Saints defense and their coordinator way too much.  Even though Vikings out gained the Saints.
  • I have watched the Saints several times this year, and I thought they looked very average.
  • Even though the Vikings lost, I think it is safe to say we were the better team.

Vikings Side-Note:  Offensive Linemen Bryant McKinnie was kicked out the NFC All-Pro team.  What the hell?

Super Bowl Prediction

The Saints showed a ton of holes and the Colts defense is better than people think.  add that with Peyton Manning pretty much in the zone, and I see the Colts winning 34 – 17.

The Saints are not going to get away with the boarder-line hits on Manning.  There is no way.

US Soccer Bits

Timberwolves Talk

I follow the NBA and enjoy watching most teams, but they only team that I really have any connection with is the Minnesota T’Wolves.  For the casual fan, this season has probably been very difficult to watch.  And while I have yelled at the TV plenty of times, I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“A light at the end of the tunnel”?  Really?

Yeah.  I will do a full post on the state of the Timberwolves down the road, but this team as plenty of draft picks, will have cap room and have pieces for a competitive team.  Plus the rights to Ricky Rubio.

So I decided to play GM with ESPN’s Trade Machine and came up with this trade that would reshape the T’Wolves.

If you can’t read this picture, the Wolves give up Al Jefferson, Brian Cardinal and Mark Blount’s expiring contracts, and Ramon Sessions to the Phoenix Suns, the Wolves would get Amare Stoudemire, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye from Phoenix and Joe Johnson from Atlanta.  Atlanta would get Leandro Barbosa.  At best, there is a 0.005692% chance of this actually happening.   But let’s play pretend.  After this trade, the Wolves starting line-up would be

  • PG – Flynn
  • SG – Johnson
  • SF – Corey Brewer
  • PF – Amare
  • C – Frye

You would still have Kevin Love, Jared Dudley and others off the bench.  You would give your best player in Jefferson and back-up PG in Ramon Sessions – but Sessions is not your future – and Cardinal and Blount don’t play.  This is a just a dream, but I would love to think that anything can happen with David Kahn.  Like I said, this probably will not happen.  But my point is, THERE ARE OPTIONS!!

I will do a more in-depth look at the Wolves and the possibilities that are available this off-season, suitable free agents and draft picks.

Until then, I will relish the Wolves win over the Clippers!!

Wolves Side-Note:  Has Corey Brewer finally figure it out?  Looks like it.

College Basketball Hits

  • Jay Bilas’ Midseason Awards.
  • The Minnesota Gophers were dominating the MSU Spartans, but then end up losing 65-64.  I still can not figure this team out.  They really have no “go-to player”.  Then again, neither does Purdue.
  • Ohio State took a hit with Evan Turner out after breaking two vertebrae is his lower back.  But since he has returned he is leading the No. 24 Buckeyes in points per game (18.4), rebounds per game (9.9), and assist per game (5.5).  It may take while, but this Buckeye team is not cupcake.
  • UNC has fallen out of the Top-25 for the first time January 2006. Currently the Tarheels record is 13-7 and are 2-3 in the ACC – but there is still time.

Doug Gottlieb: “Looks like hoops was sacrificed for football at SC”

Part of being popular in sports media is writing shocking and negative articles – take a look at Jason Whitlock.   But Doug Gottlieb’s latest blog post on ESPN.com is not shocking, it just highlights the elephant in the room.  While some may find it shocking, Gottlieb points some very “interesting” penalties and asks “Why do they always feel the same?”.

Here is the theme of Gottlieb’s blog post:  When large college basketball programs get in trouble, it is to cover the ass of the football team.

After watching USC take down eight consecutive opponents, including winning the Diamond Head Classic and starting off 2-0 in conference play, it seemed the tales of the demise of SC hoops had been greatly exaggerated. Then just like that — in a move swift, decisive and thorough — athletic director Mike Garrett announced there would be no postseason basketball for this rag-tag group of second-chance Trojans.

Garrett’s move is an attempt to precede the NCAA in their ultimate findings, but it also reeks of both hypocrisy and a soullessness that leaves most in college basketball thinking the same thing: USC does not care about its current basketball players or its basketball program. Instead, USC simply believes — at least in my mind and that of many others in the sport — that by giving up its hoop dreams, the NCAA will go light on the school’s football program.

Gottlieb also points to other schools and their own issues.  But when it came to the punishment, it was not the football teams who had scholarships taken away or postseasons taken away, but the sport that does not bring in as much money.

Think about it realistically for a second. Look at the scandals in college sports over the past 20 years. Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio State and Indiana have all been on basketball probation in the Big Ten alone (and Northwestern had a point-shaving scandal), yet no one in the league has broken a rule so severe that there has been a major scandal on the football side? Come on.

I do not have any inside information, but it is tough to believe that, with all the suspensions and teams that have been on probation, that the rules were only broken by players and coaches who were sneakers and shorts and not cleats and helmets.

But again, how do you punish the current team for the past team’s NCAA violations? I just don’t get it. There must be consequences, but where is the accountability of the athletic department? It seems as though the coaches and players on the current team are the only ones truly accepting the blame for past transgressions.”

What A Sports Weekend!

Busy Basketball Weekend

The college basketball teams ranked No. 3-6 and 8, 10-14, 16-18, 19-21 and 23 are all playing on Saturday.  Then on Sunday the No. 1, 7, 9, 15, 19, 22, 24, and 25 teams have games.   And there are match-ups on ranked teams all over the place - some on television.

Saturday

  • Colorado at No. 2 Texas
  • Georgia at No. 3 Kentucky
  • No. 4 Purdue at No. 20 Wisconsin
  • No. 5 Duke at No. 17 Georgia Tech on ESPN
  • Marquette at No. 6 Villanova
  • No. 8 West Virginia at Notre Dame
  • No. 10 Kansas State at Missouri
  • No. 11 Michigan State at Iowa
  • No. 13 Connecticut at No. 12 Georgetown on ESPN
  • UNLV at No. 14 New Mexico
  • Miss. St at No. 16 Mississippi
  • No. 18 Gonzaga at Portland
  • Boston College at No. 21 Clemson
  • No. 23 BYU at UTEP

Sunday

  • No. 1 Kansas at No. 15 Tenn on CBS
  • South Florida at No. 7 Syracuse
  • Virginia Tech at No. 9 UNC
  • No. 19 Florida State at Maryland
  • No. 22 Washington at Arizona
  • No. 24 Butler at Detroit
  • No. 25 Temple at Rhode Island

That is every-single-team ranked in the USA Today Top 25 playing this weekend.  That is nuts.  But here are my picks of the bunch.

Duke at GT – GT had one of the best recruiting classes this year, headlined by the want to see GT’s super-freshmen Derrick Favors play.  Favors was the No. 2 recruit in the nation last year and while he is not getting the headlines like other freshmen (John Wall and Xavier Henry), Favors is averaging 12.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 2.2 blocks per game.

Kansas at Tennessee – Does anyone know what is happening or going to happen to the players arrested?  I think they are suspend indefinitely, so this match-up may not be as close as it would be with Tyler Smith in the line-up.  Still these are both talented teams, but Kansas is just bigger than Tennessee.  Update – Smith has been dismissed from the team.

Purdue at Wisconsin – I know that Big Ten basketball can be very painful to watch, but this is the Boilmakers first real road test at the toughest place to play in the Big Ten - i.e. Duke in ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

UNLV at New Mexico – I know nothing about either of these teams, but there is buzz surrounding both teams.  Should be a tough conference game.

NFL Playoffs Getting Started

The first round of the playoffs are also happening this weekend.  And there are two rematch from last week with Philly and Dallas and Green Bay at Arizona.  A lot people are picking upsets and home teams losing.  Here are match-ups:

Saturday

  • NY Jets at Cincinnati
  • Philadelphia at Dallas

Sunday

  • Baltimore at New England
  • Green Bay at Arizona

Every match-up really could go either way, but here are my quick thoughts.

  • New York beats Cincinnati, I have no real thoughts about this game.
  • But the Philly/Dallas game is very interesting.  Was what we saw last week real with Philly?  I am not sure.  But I think The Eagles go back to Dallas and upset the Cowboys.
  • New England could struggle without Wes Welker, but I am not confident in the Ravens offense.  So, I am picking New England.
  • Green Bay rolled over Arizona – or did the Cardinals roll-over when they knew there was nothing to play for?  I think Green Bay wins again.

The Vikings will play either Dallas, Arizona or Green Bay next Sunday.  I fear only the Cowboys – but the Cardinals beat the crap of the Vikings and it is very hard to beat a team three times in a season.  But the Purple are playing at home.

Minnesota Timberwolve GM David Kahn Podcast

I listen to a lot of podcasts – ESPN has a ton – and one that I listen to is the NBA Today with Ryan Rusillo.  He however is not the reason that I listen.  Rusillo just thinks to much of himself and kind of drives me nuts, but he gets a lot of good guests on the podcast.

he latest podcast features an interview with T’Wolve GM David Kahn and they discussed the team and his thoughts on the future of the team.  Click here to get to the NBA Today podcast page.

Quick Hits: 1/06/10

Happy New Year.

Hope you all have enjoyed the holidays and all of the sporting events.

What a great time of the year.  The NFL is gearing up for the playoffs, college bowl season is fantastic, out-door hockey, and college basketball has started conference play.  Plus international soccer leagues are about to open transfer season and the NBA has been strong since the season started.

But let’s start with my favorite NFL Team – The Minnesota Vikings. Who are now taking the week off to rest before their match-up next weekend.

The Vikings beat-up a tired, ready-to-be-done New York Giants, 44-7.  Yes - we are back on track! I would be very careful about getting to comfortable with a win against a team that had a 0% chance of making the playoffs.

Let’s recap:

After the Vikings started 10-1 and gave a win away to the Steelers, they lost 3 of their last 5 games and really showed flaws – but we will not getting to that now.

Let’s look at their schedule.

  1. Of the thirteen different teams the Purple played in the year, only five had winning records. The Packers (11-5), Steelers and Ravens (9-7), Cardinals (10-6), and Bengals(10-6).
  2. Twelve wins were against teams with a combined record of 66-94, highlighted by wins against Green Bay (2 wins), Baltimore, Cincinnati, and two 8-8 teams in the 49ers and the Giants.
  3. Four losses to Arizona, Chicago (7-9), Carolina (8-8) and Pittsburgh with a combined record of 34-30.
  4. Total combined record of all opponents = 93-115*.

*Some of the numbers may look off – but I only used the records of conference opponents once.

I know you can only play the teams on your schedule, but there has to be more concern about a team that has played so inconsistently against poorer teams.  The Vikings have weapons all over the field – yet there now is an uncertainty that was not there in the first half of the year.

Losing E.J. Henderson was huge, Antoine Winfield missed a good deal fo the season, and Bernard Berrian is finally healthy.  Bryannt McKinnie is playing better of late, but was awful for a while.  The offensive line as a whole needs to give Brett Favre time.  Jared Allen looks like every other defensive end in the league, not like Allen who was an MVP candidate.  That falls on the defensive cordinator for not scheming enough to get Allen away from double and triple teams, because you know Allen’s motor is not problem.

We still have Favre, AP, Percy and Rice – the Sydney Edition – and very good defense.  Yet, I have this feeling that the Cowboys or Eagles are going to come to the Dome and blow it up.

The thought of the Vikings woes have not kept me up at night – I have a six-week-old baby girl to do that for me – but there has to be concern running through this organization.  Head Coach Brad Childress has never been in this situation – a first round bye.  A lot will be said about what kind of coach he really is with this much time to prepare.  Childress – prove you are worthy of the contract extension.  Because I don’t think you deserved it.

Best College Basketball Program Of The 2000′s

I started this around Christmas, and totally forgot about it.  But this decade has been quite the decade for College Basketball  powerhouses to reestablish themselves and new ones to appear.

So here the suspects: Michigan State (Champs in ’00), Duke(’01) UConn (’04), UNC (’05 and ’09), Florida (’06 and ’07), and Kansas(’08).  I did not include the ’02 Maryland and ’03 Syracuse – no real reason to explain.

And here are the Top Five.

Honorable Mention: UConn - The Huskies have been monsters in the Big East and had a great team in ’04.  But they were a George Mason run away from their second title of the decade in ’06.  Can you imagine that game Florida Vs. UConn?  Just to get to the Championship game.  So much NBA talent – head – going –  to – explode.

5.  Duke – Winning in 2001 with arguable the best team of the decade - Jason Williams, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Nate James and Chris Duhon.  Had more wins in the 2000′s than any other program with 291, won 7 ACC Tourney Championships and four regular season Championships.  But played in only two Final Fours and came up very short later in the decade – by Duke standards.

4.  Florida - I know what you are thinking how can the only back-to-backers in the decade be 4th.  A couple of reasons.  The “What have you done for me lately” mentality kicks in hard since the last title.  Only won three SEC tourney championships, but only one outright SEC regular season championship and two co-championships.

3.  Kansas - Consistency kills.  From Roy Williams to Bill Self, the Jayhawks never slipped.  Never fell into the funk that Florida did.  One very good team with Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison that played in two Final Fours and then one great team in the 2008 Jayhawks, led by Bradon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins, Darrel Arthur, and Darnell Jackson.  They also dominated the Big 12, like no other powerhouse dominated their conference with seven total regular season Championships.

2. Michigan State - One National Championship, four Final Four’s (with the ’99 Final Four, they made three appearances in a row.  Only other team to do that is UCLA in the last ten years).  Fall victim to the fact that they never dominated a conference that was very weak for most of the decade, winning only three regular season Championships and only one tourney crown in 2000.  The 2005 team is one of my favorite teams of the decade with Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, and Drew Neitzel which beat Adam Morrison’s 43 points and Gonzaga in triple-overtime in the Maui Invitational.

1.  North Carolina - Two National Championships, four Final Fours, and probably has built the biggest and best recruiting/NBA pipeline ever.  UNC does not rebuild – they “reload”.  But then you have the Matt Doherty fail.  Doherty took the team from No. 1 in the country in his first season to 8-20 in his second to 17-15 in his third.  He had players, the same players the Williams won with in 2005.  We can not forget Tyler Hansbrough.  Without him, 2006 would have been difficult.  This program has returned to dominance and there is not end in sight.

Coach of the Decade Award - Tom Izzo.  Roy Williams would be a very close second, but Izzo just wins.  And like many of the top coaches, his passion is obvious.  Izzo has also become such a part of the community like that make the fans love him even more.

College Basketball Mini Hits

  • Evan Turner is expect to be back tonight against Indiana, earlier than first thought.  And all is right in the Buckeye nation.
  • No. 4 Purdue beat the Gophers pretty handily, 79-60.  The first half was close only because the Boilermakers could not shot the ball.  That changed in the second half.
  • No. 2 Texas was pushed by Arkansas 96-85.  Even with foul trouble, Damion James won the game with a couple big jump shots to seal the game. 
  • UNC lost to Charleston 79-82.  While it is big for Charleston, it is still early January.  Everything will be OK.  UNC will be just fine, they just need to get healthy.

Landon Donovan Has Arrived In England

The US Soccer golden boy is set to begin his 10-week loan with Everton which is a soccer club in the English Premier League.

“I am ready to enjoy it and I want to personally get myself sharp while I am here,” Donovan said Tuesday. “Tim Howard has had nothing but great things to say about this team so I am excited. Going into a World Cup year this experience will keep me sharp.”

The loan is great for Donovan as he has come into his own as a player.  With his showing with the US in the Confederations Cup and with the LA Galaxy, Donovan is looking to replace the issues he has had in Europe with a good spell with Everton.

This loan also increase the amount of attention surrounding the US National Team’s opening group stage match against England in South Africa this summer.  SideNote:  ESPN will be showing World Cup games in 3-D.  WHAT?

Donovan will need sometime to get back into shape, but this is a great situation for him.  Donovan is a very sensitive person, and his play fluctuates with his emotions.  So having Howard there is key.  A fellow American who has seen Donovan play to the best of his ability and can be there to give guidance if needed.

Click here for the entire article.

Happy Holidays

I am sure everyone is busy trying to get loose ends taken care of before the end of the year.  I have all my shopping done – which means my wife completed out shopping – I did buy her gift, all by myself!  And I did a fine job, thank you very much.

I hope you have a good holiday and safe travel as we take time to forget about work and focus on family and friends.  With this “time-off”, there will be plenty of sporting events to watch.  The other day we had  No. 2 Texas beat No. 9 Michigan State and No. 1 Kansas beat a tough California team.

So here are some very Quick Hits before I go into a Christmas Cookie Comma.

Final Four = Two Conferences?

There is a very good chance that in the Final Four, we will have two teams from the Big 12 (Kansas and Texas) and two from the Big Ten (MSU and Purdue).  What is missing?  A team from either coasts, the SEC, Big East or the ACC.

Look at the rankings and tell me other than Kentucky, who looks like a legit team?

  • No. 3 Kentucky – Even though I think they are legit – at this point - the Calapari Crew is a John Wall injury away from getting knocked out in the second round of the NCCAs.

Kentucky Side-Note:  Patrick Patterson needs to buy John Wall a very nice Christmas present for getting him easy buckets, and raising his draft stock.  Patterson is ranked No. 9 on Chard Fords Big Board.

  • No.5 Syracuse and No. 6 West Virginia – I have more faith in the Orangemen than the Mountaineers.  But to be fair, I have not seen much of either team.
  • No. 7 Duke – While Kyle Singler is the pre-season All-American, Jon Scheyer is the most important player in Durham.  And if Scheyer goes down, they only have two guards who can really play in Nolan Smith and freshmen, Andre Dawkins.
  • No. 8 Villanova – Could struggle mightily against teams with height and they also do not have the depth like the other teams.  ‘Nova has only two players over 6’8″ in freshmen Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton.  Both play around 17 minutes a game, but thats against the cupcakes.
  • No. 10 UNC – While this team is loaded with NBA draft picks,  I am not sure which is the “go-to-guy”.  But I am sure that Roy Williams doesn’t know either.  My suggestion – Will Graves needs more touches.

Note To Media – Everything Will Be Fine With The Vikings!

I am so sick of hearing about a schism - or a feud involving Head Coach Brad Childress and Brett Favre.  Did you notice that I did not have to tell you what Favre’s role is, we know it.  Childress…um…not so much.

This happens to every team, but when it is Brett Favre, it becomes front page news.  Granted, when it is Randy Moss or Terrell Owens, it’s pretty much the same.  Isn’t “ego” great.

If there really is an issue, and Childress is talking about Favre and not to Favre, there is an issue and ultimately Childress is biting the hand that has fed him a nice-new contract extension.  But this happens, you hug-it-out and then you move on.  The have won the division and already locked up their playoff spot, and are playing only because the games are on the schedule.

It will be OK, everyone breath.  Have some egg nog and just one more cookie with the Hersey Kiss in the middle.

*If you go to the serach engine on ESPN.com and type in “Brad Childress” – you get 1948 articles/stories/podcast where Childress is mentioned.  Roughly 92.3% is from the last three days.  Seriously ESPN, way to be your own bull @#$! hype machine.

Mini-Hits

Happy Holidays everyone.