Sports 56 WHBlog Q

March 29, 2008

Tomorrow’s the Afternoon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Peter Edmiston @ 4:55 pm

What an absolutely extraordinary first half the Tigers put together last night against hapless Michigan State.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the most embarrassing moment was…was it the fact that Memphis had not one, but two, highlight-reel dunks in which there was not a Michigan State defender in sight?  Was it the fact that Michigan State went scoreless for the last 6:18 or so of the second half?  Or was it the fact that Pierre Niles actually got in the game in the first half and scored?

Answer: Pierre Niles.  You could not have put long enough odds on Pierre Niles actually playing and scoring in the first half.  It is unheard of.  If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it either.  Incredible.

The second half was little more than a formality, only made slightly interesting by the injury to Derrick Rose.  It was a stray elbow that caught him about the eye and forced him back into the locker room early in the second half.  If you check out the video of Derrick Rose after the game last night on sports56whbq.com, you can see the cut and the fresh blood. It was a big one.  Rose, like most of the Tigers, is deathly afraid of needles.  He freaks out at the sight of them.  So when the doctors wanted to stitch him up, you can probably guess how Derrick reacted.  He refused to be stitched up.  Instead, the Memphis doctor told me, they used a substance called Dermabond to essentially glue the wound shut.  And he’s fine today – the wound looked a lot better this afternoon than it did last night, that’s for sure.  It will not be an issue tomorrow.

Also, take heart.  Joey Dorsey did not say anything controversial at all.  Repeat: Joey Dorsey kept his foot out of his mouth.  Tiger fans, breathe easier now.

There’s no question this Tiger team is more relaxed and confident than the teams of the last two years.  Part of that comes naturally with experience.  Anderson, Dorsey, Dozier, and CDR have all been there before and are utterly unconcerned about the hype around this event.  And the fifth starter, Derrick Rose, plays with a calm that belies his 18 years of age.  Rose has been awesome.  No other word can adequately describe it – his size and speed have been impossible for opposing teams to deal with, and he seems immune to pressure.  It’s rare that you expect a freshman to stabilize a team, but that’s what Rose did last night in the second half.

Texas is such a good team, though.  Really athletic and talented all over the court.  D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams are as quick and effective a guard combo as there is in college basketball.  Augustin is virtually impossible to guard – he is so quick and has developed a mid-range game to go along with his ability to get to the basket.  Abrams gets hot quickly and can reel off 4 or 5 threes before you know it.  And then there’s Damion James, who is athletically as good as any player in the country – 6′ 7”, 230, can play the 3 or the 4 and can hit outside shots.  Matching up with him will be a serious challenge for Memphis.  Texas isn’t that deep, but the 6 or 7 guys that play are very effective.

More so than any other game of the season, this game will come down to individual defense for the Tigers.  Man to man, they will have to get the better of Texas consistently.  If they take the same approach as they did against Michigan State, they will win.  If not, they could fall prey to Texas’ athleticism.  Offensively, the Tigers will need to be shooting well to make Texas pay for using the 2-3 zone.  You know it’s coming, Memphis knows it’s coming, Texas knows it’s going to be zoning up the Tigers.  It’s about how they react and how they shoot.

One more chance to take a huge step.  But it’s a chance they’ve never been more prepared to take.

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March 28, 2008

Tonight’s the Night

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Peter Edmiston @ 11:22 am

I thought I’d pop up a few pictures from the open practices yesterday at Reliant Stadium so you could get an idea of what exactly the setup is going to look like. I can tell you that it is very cool, but also potentially a bit dangerous. The court is quite literally in the middle of the stadium and is elevated precisely 27 inches off the ground on a stage. There are two issues with this system:

Issue 1: There’s only about 5 feet of room between the sideline and the edge of the stage.

Reason for concern: If a player dives for a loose ball, there is a distinct possibility that the player could fly off the stage, WWF-style, into the scorer’s table, the team benches, or just to the floor.

Issue 2: There’s about 40 yards between the goals and the black curtains put up to cut off part of the stadium.

Reason for concern: This might be the toughest gym to shoot in I’ve ever seen. No depth perception at all. It is going to take a serious adjustment period for the players to start hitting shots. The Tigers missed a ton of shots during the open practice. So did Michigan State (although not as many as the Tigers). Could be trouble.

So be aware of that as you watch tonight’s games. The setup is supposedly similar at Ford Field in Detroit, though I certainly wouldn’t know about that. I should point out also that Reliant Stadium is just enormous – it’s huge and really cool. The exterior just towers over the Astrodome, which is right next door. And the folks in Houston really are very friendly and easy to work with. I’ve enjoyed it so far.

George-style restaurant review: Ragin’ Cajun, 4302 Richmond Ave. Ate dinner here last night. It’s an inexpensive place started by Lafayette expatriots (and Louisiana-Lafayette alums, hence the name). Brilliant crawfish, so I’m told, though I went with the grilled red snapper along with the chicken and shrimp gumbo. It was excellent. Very authentic and casual. The big salads here are indeed BIG (try the buffalo shrimp salad). $, ***

For what it’s worth, I’ve picked Stanford and Memphis to win tonight, but my picks have not exactly been fantastic as of late. Here are the pictures:

Houston 1

The Tigers prepare for their practice session. Note the steps – you have to climb up to the court.

Getting loose. You can see the curtain in the back and the potential for difficult shooting.

Michigan State working out.

More Spartans.

The Tiger bigs go through a layup drill.

Not an extraordinary crowd or anything…not even for Texas. But check out how high some of those seats are. $165!

They’ve hoisted this scoreboard/video screen rigging especially for the South Regional. It’s enormous.

March 26, 2008

Peter’s in Houston

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Peter Edmiston @ 7:32 pm

I am writing from beautiful Houston, Texas.  This city is absolutely enormous and sprawling.  Apparently no one told these people down here about zoning laws…they can be useful in keeping cities from turning into giant urban nightmares.  For those who have never been here, the thing you need to know about Houston is that it was designed by a civil engineer who simply hates everyone.  There can be no other reason why everything is so far from everything else.  Just assume that if you want something in Houston, it’s probably a good 20 minutes away.  Water, food, oxygen, whatever.

After an 8 and a half hour drive, I’m here, and I’m glad to be in my room and not in a car.  The drive is actually not all that bad, but the fact that at least 3 hours of the journey come on various highways and through small towns makes it tougher than most.  Fortunately, I had several audiobooks to keep me occupied on the trip.  Don’t know how people traveled without ’em.

I also wanted to add that as soon as I turned on the TV in my room, there was an ad for some place in Houston called (and I am not making this up), “The Dump”.  Let’s play a little quiz called “What the hell can you buy at The Dump?”

  • A. Garbage cans/garbage accessories
  • B. Enemas
  • C. Secondhand junk
  • D. Actual poop
  • E. Oriental rugs

If you said, E. Oriental rugs, you are correct and are insane.  Could someone please explain to me why on Earth a rug retailer would choose a name like “The Dump” as opposed to a name like, I dunno, any other name in the world?  Wait, don’t answer that.  I don’t actually care.

So I’m here and I will be providing on-site coverage of all the things surrounding the Tigers and their matchup on Friday with Michigan State.  I’m fascinated already by what Tom Izzo has claimed – that his team will attempt to run with Memphis – and fully expect that he’s playing mind games.  No chance he and the Spartans run much at all.  I’ll give you more of my thoughts on the game tomorrow after I get some interviews and talk to coaches and confidantes.

If you want some George-style restaurant commentary, I just might be able to give you some later on.  For now, I will tell you my priority lies in finding the nearest Whataburger to my current location.  There is no fast food burger that can come close to the majesty of the Whataburger.  Anytime I’m in Texas, I head straight for it.  Also, Taco Cabana is brilliant – it’s open all night and serves fantastic Mexican food.  Way better than that garbage Taco Bell throws at you.  Plus, the pickings are a bit slim at 3 am, so when you get something halfway decent, it’s great.

Tomorrow’s Games:

UNC 80 Washington State 65 –  As much as I really like what Tony Bennett has done on the bench (and on the mic with his silky-smooth velvet tones), this is where it ends.  UNC will be able to force the tempo on the more deliberate Washington State squad, although not to the degree they did against MSM or Arkansas.  Tywon Lawson is back and he, Wayne Ellington (when he’s on), and Tyler Hansbrough are unstoppable.

Tennessee 83 Louisville 78 – I know.  Homer pick, right?  Not really.  While Louisville has been playing so very well lately, consider their performances in the tourney have come against Boise State and a horribly overseeded Oklahoma.  I don’t think they’re quite as good as those performances suggest.  And Tennessee acquitted itself quite well, all things considered, against Butler, as they broke in a new point guard who is not accustomed to the spotlight or the position, and got a resurgent performance from Ramar Smith in OT to(in my mind) make him the likely starting PG tomorrow night.  Tennessee gets hot and they move on.

UCLA 55 Western Kentucky 50 – More ugly basketball from the Bruins, but it will be enough to get the win against a scrappy but talented WKU team.  With the status of Josh Shipp and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (please someone call in and ask Weinberger to pronounce that name) a bit uncertain, and with UCLA’s ability to go ice cold from the field for hours at a time, this is going to be a low-scoring, ugly game.  But UCLA will win, as UCLA always seems to do.

West Virginia 73 Xavier 64 – West Virginia is simply playing too well right now to overlook.  Xavier’s got great guard play and is a really tough-minded team, but I love the way West Virginia is playing right now.  Throw in Bob Huggins’ history in Cincinnati playing against Xavier, and this is a really interesting game.  Joe Alexander is the real deal and Xavier will struggle to hold him down.  Though it’s not the same without beastman Kevin Pittsnogle, West Virginia moves on.

Tournament Picks and One-Legged Women

Filed under: ncaa tourney — Tags: , , , — Will Askew @ 10:59 am

Reading Eli Savoie’s post has given me a sudden burst of creativity and ambition to write a post (or maybe it was just guilt over having not posted yet). At any rate, the Sweet Sixteen is here, and I need to break down the games.

East Region:

In my mind, this is the toughest region left, simply because all of the chalk has advanced. The fact that UNC, Tennessee, and Louisville are all in this region is kind of ridiculous, because I think these are three Final Four-caliber teams. Washington State is pretty darn good also.

UNC vs. Washington State:
Washington State is a heck of a defensive team, and has really good guard play in Kyle Weaver and Derrick Low (not that one). However, they’ve struggled against teams with NBA talent so far this year, losing to UCLA twice, Arizona twice, and Stanford three times. That doesn’t bode well for Washington State in this game, because Carolina has as much talent as anyone in the country. In order to win, Kyle Weaver needs to lock down Wayne Ellington, and Derrick Low needs to have a huge game offensively. Tyler Hansbrough will get his, Ty Lawson will penetrate, and Carolina just has too many weapons.

Final: UNC 72, Washington St. 63

Louisville vs. Tennessee:
This is a real shame, because these two teams are Final Four caliber. Louisville is easily the best 3 seed in the tournament, and talent-wise, are a top 5 team. If not for injuries, they’re a 2 seed at worst. Tennessee hasn’t been as intense defensively lately, but I think they’ve been getting a bad rap-Butler is a heck of a basketball team. Louisville has crushed two opponents, but Oklahoma was much closer to a 10 seed in my mind than they were to a 6. Don’t know what the committee was thinking on that one. Everyone seems to think Louisville will win this game, but Tennessee has played with a lot of poise this year and has gone through the toughest schedule in the country with only 4 losses. Louisville will force Tennessee to shoot from the outside, and the key to the game is whether or not they hit those shots. This is going to be a sloppy game with tons of turnovers, as both teams like to press.

Final: Tennessee 85, Louisville 82

Midwest Region:

This really couldn’t have worked out any better for Kansas. In my mind, Kansas is the most talented team in the country, with good players at every position starting and really good players in Sasha Kaun (Sa-Sasha Kaun) and Sherron Collins coming off the bench. I love Davidson and Stephen Curry, but let’s be honest here…who in this region matches up with Kansas?

Kansas vs. Villanova:
Villanova showed a lot of heart in their first round win over Clemson, down by double-digits early and fighting back to win. Villanova typically has good guard play, and this year is no different, with Scottie Reynolds, Dante Cunningham, and Corey Fischer…but really, how can you pick against Kansas here? Just too much talent.

Final: Kansas 78, Villanova 62

Davidson vs. Wisconsin:

I love Stephen Curry. Love his ability to shoot, love his ability to create, love the fact that he scores at crucial times, love that he hits almost 90% of his free throws, love his mom. She is hot. But I digress. And Davidson isn’t just Stephen Curry either. Their other guard, Jason Richards, is a pretty darn good player too. But the problem for Davidson here is that they are playing a team that I think is better defensively than Georgetown, and won’t take their foot off Davidson’s throat like Georgetown did. Wisconsin is a heck of a defensive team, and Davidson’s run ends here.

Final: Wisconsin 65, Davidson 58

South Region:

This is the second toughest region, next to the East. Memphis certainly has their work cut out for them, and the fact that it’s basically a home region for Texas isn’t working for them either. That being said…

Memphis vs. Michigan State:
Everyone seems to think Memphis will just waltz through this game into their third straight Elite 8. I don’t see it that way. Memphis is clearly the more athletic team, but Michigan State is a very, very good basketball team. They went through a bad stretch during February during which they struggled on the road, but if you take that out, they’re a top 10 team. But you can’t take that out. Antonio Anderson needs to lock down Drew Neitzel, and the Tigers (Dorsey, Dozier, and Taggart especially) need to figure out some way to hit their free throws, because Michigan State is very physical. However, I think that Raymar Morgan presents a bit of a matchup problem. All that being said, I think the Tigers are the better team.

Final: Memphis 73, Michigan State 68

Texas vs. Stanford:

This is a very interesting game, as Texas has terrific guards and Stanford has great big men. Stanford should win the rebounding battle, but if you actually look at the numbers, Texas is a pretty darn good rebounding team too. Damion James is a freak, DJ Augustin is awesome, AJ Abrams may be the best pure shooter in the country, and Connor Atchley is underrated. Brook and Robin Lopez have great games, but in the NCAA tournament, it’s all about guard play.

Final: Texas 74, Stanford 67

West Region:

I know UCLA has struggled in this region, but really. Give me one reason they won’t win. There’s not a team close to them left.

UCLA vs. Western Kentucky:

UCLA lost one game out of conference, and it was to Texas by 2 points. Western Kentucky has looked pretty good in the first two rounds, but UCLA makes you look bad. UCLA is just a better team…if anything stops them, it will be their health. Josh Shipp has strep throat, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has a sprained ankle.

Final: UCLA 76, WKU 60

Xavier vs. West Virginia

Xavier’s a nice team. I like Josh Duncan, and I like Drew Lavender. But it’s not like they’ve played the roughest schedule in the tourney up to this point…Georgia is a four-win SEC team, and Purdue is one of the worst 6 seeds I’ve ever seen. West Virginia has a legit NBA prospect in Joe Alexander, and even though he struggled to hit shots against Duke, they still won, getting a great effort from Joe Mazzula, who’s really not that good. West Virginia was very hot going into the tourney, and I don’t think that Xavier has anyone to matchup with Alexander.

Final: West Virginia 70, Xavier 67

So there you go. I’ll make my Elite Eight picks Saturday. One other thing I had to get off my chest. Some of you may have noticed that Heather Mills, Paul McCartney’s former wife, won $48.5 million in a divorce settlement last week. Since then, she claims to have incriminating tapes of McCartney saying God knows what, and is now seeking to prove that McCartney is worth double what he said he was in the divorce proceedings, and that she can’t raise their four year old daughter Beatrice on the meager $70,000 dollars she receives a year from the divorce. Maybe I’m just biased because I love the Beatles, but hey Heather…go the f%^$@ away. You may have won $48.5 mil, but that can’t buy you another leg. Sucks for you. Until 3:00, my friends.

March 24, 2008

Tournament thoughts

Filed under: ncaa tourney — Eli Savoie @ 8:19 pm

Hey everyone, welcome to the new Sports 56 WHBQ blog. I’ll be checking in regularly here with my thoughts on various things as will the other Sports 56 hosts, producers, and anyone else at the station who can get on a computer. We hope you enjoy it. Of course, you can also check out more of my work at www.elisavoie.com

Now, some thoughts from the first two rounds of NCAA Tournament action.

Best Team: North Carolina and Louisville have both looked spectacular. Both have completely dominated their opponents from tip-off to final buzzer. In yesterday’s second round games, they each dismantled a pretty decent opponent. The thing is, though, only one can make the Final Four since both are in the East, and for that matter, both have very tough games coming up in the Sweet 16. Others receiving votes: Washington State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Villanova

Most disappointing team: Vanderbilt getting beat by 20 by Siena is just inexcusable. I understand that upsets happen and once in a while a 13 beats a 4, but it should never be a blowout like that game was. A terrible showing by the Commodores. Others receiving votes: Indiana, USC, Clemson, Duke

Best player: No contest here, Stephen Curry of Davidson. This is a guy that the big schools definitely just missed on. 40 points in round one including a 30 point second half and then 30 points in round 2 with 25 in the second half to beat Georgetown. Are you kidding me? This kid can flat out play. The win over Georgetown helped to ruin my already bad bracket, but I’m glad Davidson won just so we can see Curry some more. Others receiving votes: Chris Douglas-Roberts of Memphis, Scottie Reynolds of Villanova, Kevin Love of UCLA.

Best Game: Western Kentucky’s 101-99 OT win over Drake. This game had more big shots hit then you could possibly imagine including a long three-pointer at the buzzer to win it. Without a doubt the best game among a strong field. Others receiving votes: Stanford vs Marquette, Memphis vs Miss St., Tennessee vs Butler, UCLA vs Texas A&M, Duke vs Belmont, San Diego vs Connecticut

– My favorite announcer line from the tournament goes to Mike Gminski during the Villanova-Siena game. With about eight minutes to go in the game, Scottie Reynolds of Villanova had 20 points. Gminski was not just impressed by that though, as he added that Reynolds was only six assists and two rebounds shy of a triple double. Really?

March 19, 2008

THE Official Sports 56 Blog is Here, Baby!

Filed under: blog, ncaa tourney, sports 56 — Peter Edmiston @ 10:43 pm

A big welcome to all of you who are checking this out for the very first time – it’s something new and big we’re going to be implementing over the next few weeks. In one form or another, almost all of us on the station have had our own blogs. Some of them are currently collecting dust (or whatever it is that unused things collect on the Internet), and some of them are still going strong…but we’ve never had one unified place where everyone associated with Sports 56 can post thoughts, ideas, pictures, videos – whatever they want, whenever they want.

And with the NCAA Tournament coming up, you can expect some of my thoughts and impressions from the tourney sites around the country. Wherever the Tigers go, I will go…camera in hand. I don’t know what to tell you to expect, because I really don’t know myself. But it will be awesome, count on that.

Eventually you’ll see Will Askew, Eli Savoie (when he can separate himself from the moneymaking machine that is elisavoie.com, Tyler McLellan, and more posting here not just about the tourney, but any and everything they want.

Bookmark it.

Between this and the new sports56whbq.com, we’re taking the Internet by storm.

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