Sports 56 WHBlog Q

December 31, 2008

The year in Sports

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg Gaston @ 10:41 pm

2008 was the ultimate year for great Sports moments. I’m talking the best ever! The year had everything..from record setting performances in the Summer Olympics to the Greatest singles match in Tennis history, to the greatest Golfer of our generation winning a Major on one leg.

We had the two most storied franchises in Pro Basketball, Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers, revive their rivalry in the NBA Finals. We had a whale of a College Hoops Final, although not the result most folks around Memphis wanted to see. How often do you get Overtime in the Title Game? And that’s exactly what we got after Mario Chalmers of Kansas hit one of the biggest shots in NCAA history.

There was a Super Bowl to remember with the Giants coming out of nowhere to beat the “unbeatable” Patriots who entered the game 18-0. Once again Mercury Morris was smiling!

In Baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays showed everyone that a small budget is not necessarily a death sentence although they did run into a red hot Phillies team in the World Series. Baeball also brought us the Cinderella Fresno State Bulldogs who won the CWS in Omaha, and don’t forget the Josh Hamilton story…..from a drug addict to a Home Run Derby one man show.

We all witnessed Jimmie Johnson’s third straight Nascar Nextel Cup Points Title. (Just the 2nd driver to turn the trick), incredible College Football Games including Texas-Texas Tech and don’t forget LSU’s Title from early in the year, and The Detroit Red Wings domination of the NHL. Plus Padraig Harrington won two Majors, Annika Sorenstam played her final competitve golf, and the U.S. racaptured the Ryder Cup.

Phelps, Bolt, Federer, Nadal, Hamels, Manning, Garnett, Johnson, Woods, Harrington just to name a few of the stars of 2008.

Here’s to a great year and perhaps an ever better year to come!

Happy New Year Everyone

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December 30, 2008

The Midnight Rambler

Filed under: Uncategorized — Eli Savoie @ 10:07 pm

Ok, so I changed the name again, live with it. I thought drop by with some thoughts on some teams that are important to me as either a fan or as a Memphis media member, so here we go.

As a fan of the Cowboys, obviously I am extremely disappointed in their season. By most accounts, they came into the season as the most talented team in the league, and yet, as has been proven by the Yankees and others, the most talent does not always equal the best team, and as a result, the Cowboys will be watching the playoffs from home. I have been asked many times what I think are the problems. Well here are what I see as the biggest issues:

1. Jerry Jones-I would really like to see him hire a GM instead of trying to play the role himself. I think he needs to get a good, solid football guy to work in the front office. Having said that, I’ve come to realize that this isn’t going to happen.

2. Coaching-It’s always easy to blame the coach when a team underachievers, but I think when you look at the problems of this team, i.e. penalties, turnovers, offensive and defensive confusion, I think a lot of that has to fall back on Wade Phillips and the coaching staff. I also think Jason Garrett has to shoulder a lot of blame for the offensive woes. In each of the last two games, Tony Romo talked about how the offensive was confused by blitzes and never really figured out how to pick them up. Also in the last two games, there were numerous times where defensive backs seemed to know the patterns of the Cowboys receivers and jumped the routes. Maybe the receivers run poor routes, but I think it’s the result of an offense that is predictable and poorly schemed.

3. Offensive line-This is an issue that has to be addressed. There are a lot of high-paid guys on the line who have been to pro bowls, but as a unit they are too often ineffective. Flozell Adams continues to lead the league in penalties every year, problems persist at the left guard position, and again, whether it’s the players or coaches, they struggle mightily against blitzing teams.

4. Lack of leadership-With a head coach who tries harder to be liked than respected, you need strong individual leaders in the locker room. This team has none. A leader like Peyton Manning for example could keep Terrell Owens under control. Most of the time, you’d expect the quarterback to be this guy, but Tony Romo isn’t that type of player. Romo is more laid-back and doesn’t seem to want conflict so he’s not going to get in someone’s face. Until the boys get a more respected head coach or a few locker-room leaders, the inmates will continue to run the asylum.

Another topic I’m often asked about is the Memphis Tigers outlook for the year. After watching the Tigers for the past couple months some things are obvious to everyone who has seen them play, they don’t have a quality point guard and they can’t shoot, it doesn’t take a genius to see those issues. I think that the current experiment with Tyreke Evans at the point guard is the best solution to the problem at the point for now. Even though he’s not really a point guard, Evans just seems to be more comfortable with the ball in his hands at all times. He has a lot of work to do in creating opportunities for others, but he does provide a threat that draws defenders and opens up teammates, and best of all, when the offense breaks down, he’s one of only a few Tigers who can just go get a shot for himself.
As for the shooting problems, that’s just something they have to accept and hope it improves somewhat as the season goes on, but while they continue to struggle they need to rely a lot less on the three ball and play the type of defense we saw against Cincinnati Monday night. When you hold teams to 26% from the field and force 20 turnovers, you can get away with poor shooting yourselves.
What you have to remember is that this team lost two All-Americans, including the #1 overall pick in the NBA draft, and their rebounder/enforcer, you can’t expect them to be as good as they were last year. Lucily, except for North Carolina, there aren’t any great teams in the country so they should still dominate CUSA and get a good seed in the NCAA Tournament. Once they’re in the tournament anything can happen. I still think the same as I did before the season, they are a Sweet 16 caliber team that with the right breaks in the tournament could make the Elite 8 or better.

Finally, I’ll move on to the Grizzlies. I have to say, they have been much better than I thought they would be this year. I think their win total will still end up near the 23 I predicted before the year, but they have been much more competitive than I thought on a nightly basis.
Some thoughts on the key components of the team.

OJ Mayo-Mayo is even better than I had imagined and I thought he’d be very good. He’s been raised his whole life to be an NBA player and it’s showing. He still makes some rookie mistakes, but his shooting and playmaking skills are the best on the team, he is willing to work on the defensive end, and he looks like a superstar in the making.

Rudy Gay-After his big step forward last year he has leveled off somewhat this year. Falls in love with the jump shot too much at times and still hasn’t really developed the ability to make those around him better. Has to get better defensively!

Marc Gasol-The other rookie is light years ahead of where I thought he’d be. I didn’t really know what to expect from Gasol, but it wasn’t much. He’s much more physical than just about any European player we’ve seen come into the league, much more so than his brother for sure, and he’s shown the ability to score in the post and with a solid shot from 15-18 feet.

The Negatives: Point guards-Mike Conley has not developed as quickly as you’d like to see, although I’m not nearly ready to give up on him like many others are, and Kyle Lowry’s inability to shoot hurts him. I still think Conley is the guy for the future and his play has improved over the last month, but he still has to be more aggressive and learn to finish better.

Marc Iavaroni-To be honest, I thought he’d probably be fired by now, but the Grizzlies competitiveness has kept him around. He still makes questionable decisions at crucial times that make you doubt him, but hopefully he is learning from his mistakes. I still can’t figure out certain things like why Greg Buckner ever plays, he’s a lot like Casey Jacobsen from last year for me. I also don’t understand what happened to the Phoenix system he was brought in to run. This team needs to run more. He doesn’t have great talent to work with by any means, so I think he’s done a decent job overall this year.

One other holiday thought, what phrase got on your nerves more through constant repitition on tv, “He went to Jared” or “Every kiss begins with Kay”? I’m thinking I’ll never by any jewelry from either place.

Anyway, just a few thoughts before 2008 wraps up. Have a very happy and safe new year.

December 22, 2008

Grizzlies-Lakers Live Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — Will Askew @ 10:31 pm

It’s always fun to see all the fair weather Laker fans show up for the Grizzlies-Lakers game. When the Grizzlies were better than the Lakers, the 40% of the crowd that are Laker fans tonight were Grizz fans. That being said…

1st Quarter:

It is close to a sell out crowd tonight. As I type this, Peter Edmiston is furious because the media lot was full…we had to pay to park tonight and he was about to hit someone in the face.

So far, the Lakers haven’t played too much defense. If they’re going to win an NBA Championship, they’re going to have to get better on the defensive end.

The in-game reception for Pau is much icier. A lot of boos for Pau’s good plays.

So…this is what it’s like to have a crowd in here. I almost forgot.

As I type, they just showed a video presentation honoring Pau. I forgot just how not photogenic Pau is. Awful expressions, every one. “The Pau Face” is something exclusive to Pau Gasol.
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Marc Gasol can’t buy a break. He can’t get a shot to go early, and even when he does, he gets called for an offensive foul.

2:23 of the 1st–mark it. Worst. Grizz dance routine. Ever. I do like the knee high Christmas socks though.

Refereeing in the NBA is horrible. Not as bad as the magicjack Bowl, but still bad. They wait for about 5 seconds every play to blow the whistle. Horrible.

45.7 seconds left in the first–our first Greg Buckner sighting. Normally you shouldn’t see him until 2:00 left in the 4th up (or down) 30.

Oh my God. For the first time in his career, Kobe has been called for palming the ball. Unbelievable.

It’s the end of the 1st…in the last two games, the Grizzlies have given up an average of 65% field goal percentage…the Lakers have shot 58% in the 1st.

Nothing ruins Christmas quite like the Kings of the Court.

Dazz’s “Brick” is underrated as an arena song. I’m just saying.

2nd Quarter:

The Lakers are incredibly deep. When you can bring Vujacic, Ariza, Odom, and Farmar off your bench, you’ve got some really good players.

Bynum just picked up his 3rd foul with 11:11 left in the 2nd. That could be a big factor later in this game…the Grizz need to push Pau around and take him out of the game.

How was Chris Mihm a top 10 pick again?

Big three by Mayo after a nice steal by…Buckner?

Rudy Gay came to play tonight…11 points in about 13 minutes of play. He must enjoy playing in front of people; he has not done that often this year.

The Grizzlies are killing themselves with missed layups in this game. They have missed about 5 or 6 bunnies so far.

It bodes well that Gay has 11 and Mayo has 10.

This just in…with the Grizzlies rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, they are are officially adorable.

The Grizzlies seem to be playing very unselfishly tonight.

DARKO!! Two offensive rebounds on one possession! Now he has justified being the #2 pick!

Ok, maybe not.

OJ Mayo. Best player on the team.

I always find it ironic that they play an anti-war protest song during the military recognition portion of the evening. Someone should probably listen to the lyrics.

Kobe is heating up…two threes in a row. He might be an effective role player for someone some day in this league.

11 assists already for the Grizzlies in the first half…that has to be a record this season for a half, right?

Halftime score–Grizzlies 57, Lakers 49. I’m ready for the inevitable 3rd quarter collapse.

Tonight’s halftime entertainment–the Rockettes?? Wow.

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I will say this. The Rockettes have really great outfits, and really great legs. They seem strangely robotic to me, though. They’re like Stepford Wives that dance around in hot Santa outfits.

3 Quarter:

Oh no. Kobe just hit a fadeaway jumper to open the quarter followed by an OJ turnover. That does not bode well.

1 minute in, and the Lakers have already cut the lead in half.

I wasn’t planning on being right about the inevitable 3rd quarter collapse. I was hoping my record on the picks would carry over to the predictions about tonight.

So…Darrell Arthur likes spaceships. Wasn’t there a story about him and Mario Chalmers…and weed? Yeah, that’s starting to make some more sense now.

We’re barely 3 minutes in, and the Lakers are up 6 in the quarter already. This team really needs to be better at the start of the game and the second half. Starting well is not really this team’s calling card.

Darko has been playing much more aggressive basketball lately. He’s a mean effing Serbian. And a crazy psycho.

Marc Gasol is having a really tough night. There’s lots of pressure…Pau is the best player this franchise has ever had…until OJ Mayo takes that title.

Kyle Lowry just hit a 3…take a picture. It may not happen again for a while, so we need to commemorate this occasion.

I know Kobe’s game has really blossomed in the last couple of years since he started getting teammates more involved, but he’s not doing it tonight. He’s been at his best when just taking over scoring.

What the hell is the Grizzlies Dance Team wearing?

Hakim Warrick shoots a hell of a lot. He’s playing really well tonight though…he has 13 points and is 5-7 from the field.

End of the third–80-77 Grizzlies. Must say that I’m actually kind of surprised.

Grizz Line? Back by popular demand? I doubt it.

4th Quarter:

Any time you can work Won’t Get Fooled Again in, it’s a great idea. Top 10 song of all time, without a doubt.

The officials suck.

The Grizzlies’ half court offense is non-existent without Mayo or Gay on the floor. Without those two, they have no scorers. When Darko has to hit a hook shot at the buzzer, then it’s not working.

Again…what are the Grizz Girls wearing? Just because you do your routine to Run DMC doesn’t mean you have to wear an outfit like Run DMC.

The Grizz have managed to hold on to a 3 point lead with Mayo and Gay out. That’s very solid.

The Grizzlies just ran a clear out for Darko on the low post. They don’t deserve to get a basket there.

I really hate Kobe fans…and bandwagon Laker fans in general. They just bother me. Where were you when the Lakers were struggling to make the playoffs two years ago? You were probably Spurs fans back then. You had to shelf the Duncan jersey for the Kobe jersey and now you act like you’ve loved the Lakers your whole life. I doubt they even know who George Mikan is. I really hope the Grizzlies win this game so those idiots can go home upset.

Nothing gets the crowd fired up like Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.” That’s what I’ve always said, at least.

Big three point play for Conley. Strong move and a nice finish over Radmanovic.

Terrible call on Darko. No surprise though…Kobe took the shot and it didn’t go in. He must have been fouled, right?

Final media timeout…Grizz up 93-92, but Odom just had a monster dunk to cut it to one.

Grizzlies are out of sync with 1:30 left. Quinton Ross just jacked a three with Gay and Mayo on the floor.

Pau Gasol just hit a clutch shot…and Mayo answers!!!

Was there any doubt that Kobe was hitting that 3? Any at all?

Let me set the scene here…there are 34.8 seconds left in a 3 point game, and the Grizzlies have the ball…and I just saw some people leaving. F%($(# those people.

Rudy Gay just jacked a terrible shot.

Grizz ball down four with 31 seconds left. Not looking good at this point. Now there are a bunch of people leaving. Is it really worth it? You know what’s worse than a fair-weather Laker fan? Someone who leaves right now. That’s worse.

Steal by the Lakers…game over. Good effort by the Grizzlies, but predictably in crunch time, Kobe hit a shot and the Grizzlies folded.

Now I’m off to the locker room…I’m going to punch the dude with the “Strippers Love My Pole” t-shirt on the way out.

December 20, 2008

Day 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Will Askew @ 10:47 pm

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We just arrived back at our hotel from the magicjack St. Petersburg Bowl, in which the Tigers lost 41-14. It wasn’t really that close, and Tommy West would probably tell you the same thing.

I have serious doubts about the ability of St. Petersburg and the schools involved to support the bowl game. It really couldn’t have worked out any better for the bowl organizers this year…South Florida brought a ton of people to the game, and of the 25,000 people that were there (and I believe there was every bit of 25,000 people there by the way), about 23,500 were South Florida fans. Next year when USF is not in the game, the magicjack people better hope that they get UCF, because there won’t be anybody there. I’d say Memphis brought about 1500. I’m not going to sit here and browbeat Tiger fans, because this was a unique situation–the economy sucks and the Tiger basketball team had their best home game not only the same day, but at the exact same time. In fact, both games went final within minutes of each other, which made for a rough 5 minutes for R.C. Johnson. He had his cell phone glued to his ear on the sideline until he knew that the Tiger basketball team lost. I’m really kind of sad that Memphis fans couldn’t come down here. This area is incredible, and the weather was flawless all weekend long. I don’t want to leave.

The Tigers were simply out-talented. South Florida’s speed killed the tigers on both sides of the ball, and I don’t think they were ready for the kind of athletes South Florida threw out there. After the game, Tommy West said the exact same thing, and said that their defense could not stop the run. The big problem for the Tigers today though was the new Big East career total yardage leader, Matt Grothe. He dominated this game from the opening kickoff. Everything he threw was dead on target, and the Tigers could not tackle him. The Tiger defense has struggled against mobile quarterbacks in the past, and today was certainly no different. I was actually shocked to hear that Grothe was the career total yardage leader–he passed Pat White in the first half. White still has a game left to play against North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, but Grothe is a junior; he will end up #1 when he plays next year. It really makes me wonder why the guy doesn’t get more credit. He was excellent today.

Tommy was clearly impressed by South Florida. The Tigers have a long way to go before they are comparable to a BCS team…I’d imagine you’ll be reading that quote or something similar from Tommy in tomorrow’s CA.

By the way, speaking of the CA, Peter and I were two of only four Memphis media members that made the trip. Phil Stukenbourg and Ron Higgins were the other two. Really kind of an embarrassing situation. I thought for sure there would be more media coverage from the Memphis side. The economy hits hard, I suppose.

The officiating crew was, without a doubt, the worst crew I have ever seen. They were awful. Especially in the first half. They stopped the game about six or seven times, once to review a call that they ended up just doing over. Yes. They called a do-over. Once when Memphis had the ball on the USF 18, USF had a pass interference call. The officials called a 15 yard penalty that moved the ball to the 3, after which the Tigers scored a touchdown on 3rd down. Everyone in the press box was under the impression that it should have been a half the distance penalty, which it should have. And oh yeah, they completely blew two obvious touchdowns and had to have replay overturn them…The first touchdown by USF, and the TD by Duke Calhoun where he very clearly, even from our vantage point above, got two feet in and had the ball over the line. The refereeing crew was horrendous.

Overall, on the field, this game shows the Tigers that they have a long way to go. Their effort was good, but they didn’t have the horses. From all accounts though, the team had a blast down here in St. Pete, as we did. The entire trip was so much fun, and the Tradewinds Resort gets a lot of the credit. They really took care of us down here. Everyone at the resort was so friendly and courteous, and I would most definitely recommend not only the area extremely highly, but also the resort. We had a great time.

And about last night? We had a great time at the Undertow and met a ridiculously hot bartender who was wearing a bikini. Her name was Katie. All things considered, we were good boys, although Peter did drink something called Sanmicklaus–a 14% alcohol beer that tasted like a dessert and was $10. Not the best decision. I stuck to Kalik, which is the beer of the Bahamas. Good decision by me. I will most certainly go back to the Undertow when I come down here next.

Oh yeah, that’ll be for the Super Bowl in a few weeks. What a shame.

December 19, 2008

I Did Not Post This Using a magicJack

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Peter Edmiston @ 12:02 pm
The locals are not real impressed with the magicJack.

The locals are not real impressed with the magicJack.

Just kind of wanted to give you a heads up on the Tampa/St. Pete reaction to the bowl game. 

Toilet Bowl? Hmmmmmm. 

That’s probably not good.  There’s no real way to make that look good.  But hey – at least the Tigers and the Bulls are excited, right?  Right? 

Whether you like it or not, tomorrow is the bowl game, and Will and I are down here to cover it like no one’s business.

And apparently it isn’t anyone’s business, judging by the interest level we’re seeing down here.  Before I go too much further, I want to thank the fine people at the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort down here on St. Pete Beach, and particularly Cathy Claessen.  The folks here could not have been more gracious to us and we feel welcomed and at home.  If you’re ever in this area – and you need to be because it is beautiful – be sure to check out the TradeWinds.  It is a fantastic property with everything you could want to have.

We’re about to head over to get our first glimpse of Tropicana Field as configured for the bowl game.  I have to mention – Tropicana Field looks like a dump from the outside, especially at night.  It literally looks like a warehouse with a small green neon “TROPICANA FIELD” sign attached.  Pathetic.  It gives the Mid-South Coliseum a run for its money in the decor department.   Although given all of that, it’s probably the perfect spot to host the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl. 

It is currently 78 degrees, there’s not a cloud in the sky, and it is an amazingly gorgeous day.  The same is expected tomorrow.  So I really want to give a big thumbs up to the geniuses who decided to have a bowl game in St. Pete indoors!  Why would anyone want to sit in mid-70’s sunny splendor? 

We’ll try to grab some sound and interviews before the Sports Bar, but no promises – availability may be limited for the walkthrough this afternoon.  In fact, we’re not even really sure that we can officially get into the walkthrough.  But you know what – for you guys, we’re busting in, regardless.  

If there’s anything you want us to talk about or write about, email me (peter (at) sports56whbq.com).  Also, if you have any food or drink recommendations (George?), please let me know too.

Have a magicJack filled day.

St. Petersburg, Day 1, Blog 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Will Askew @ 11:57 am

Welcome to Day 1 of coverage from the Tradewinds Beach Resort of the magicjack St. Petersburg Bowl. We hope to bring you some audio from the 2:00 walkthrough over at Tropicana Field later on today during the Sports Bar.

Peter and I got here last night around 9:45 or so after a 12 hour drive which, all things considered, was not all that hard. We immediately looked for a place to eat dinner after settling down in our rooms. Because I’ve been here before, I recommended The Wharf, a good seafood place about 5 minutes down the beach. Because it was about 10:45 when we finally got around to going anywhere, it was closed, but luckily the bar was still open. The guy suggested the Reef, about a 2 minute drive from our resort. Because we wanted to avoid eating McDonald’s at all costs, we decided to go there…The beer was cold and I had a fried grouper sandwich, which was epically large. Two buns could have barely covered it. I recommend the grouper at the Reef. Pretty damn good.

After the mist rolled away this morning, I was treated to this view off of my 6th floor balcony:

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Needless to say, I’m happy I’m here.

I have to say, the Tradewinds Resort is really, really nice. It is a huge facility with tons of stuff to do–fitness center, mini golf, multiple swimming pools, multiple bars and nightclubs…just a really nice place. The staff has been nothing but friendly and helpful ever since we got here, including working right now on securing us a phone line for the Sports Bar today. Even if you’re not coming down for the magicjack St. Petersburg Bowl, I very highly recommend this area and this resort. It really is extremely nice.

As I post this, Peter is posting a blog featuring a picture from this morning’s paper…check that out and I guess you’ll get some sense of the local view of the bowl game. I guess they’re not impressed.

Later today I’ll post regarding the walkthrough and what went on at practice…but I doubt I’ll post regarding whatever it is we do tonight. Some debauchery is likely to ensue. And I think we’ll be going to the Undertow as well. Let’s see:

Cold beer: Yes.
HDTVs: Yes.
Right on the beach: Yes.
Bartenders in bikinis: Yes.

I think we’ll be going.

December 18, 2008

Tigers Lack Leaders

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg Gaston @ 12:10 am

THE ABILITY TO LEAD IS NOT SOMETHING THAT IS TAUGHT, BUT RATHER SOMETHING YOU ARE BORN WITH. GREAT MEN LIKE GENERAL PATTON, JFK AND MARTIN LUTHER KING HAD THE ABILITY INSIDE THEM. THEY JUST NEEDED TO HARVEST IT. I AM CONFIDENT YOU HAVE HEARD THE EXPRESSION, “NATURAL BORN LEADERS”.

WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THE TIGERS? WELL, THE TIGERS LACK LEADERSHIP. AND I’M NOT REFERRING TO LEADERSHIP FROM THE COACHES. THIS IS ON THE PLAYERS.

NOW THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING A SOLDIER (ROLE PLAYER). THEY ARE THE WARRIORS THAT CARRY OUT THE GAME PLAN AND DO THE DIRTY WORK. HOWEVER IT IS THE CAPTAINS AND LIEUTENANTS AND GENERALS THAT DO THE COMMUNICATING AND ORGANIZATION.

SENIOR ANTONIO ANDERSON IS THE CLOSEST THING THE TIGERS HAVE TO A LEADER BUT HE’S TRULY NOT. RIGHT NOW HE’S STRUGGLING WITH HIS OWN GAME, WHICH MAKES IT HARD TO EVEN LEAD BY EXAMPLE. ANDERSON IS AT HIS BEST WHEN HE’S IN A SUPPORTING ROLE.

ROBERT DOZIER IS A CEREBRAL PLAYER, BUT NOT A LEADER. HE THINKS AND USUALLY EXECUTES WELL. THE PROBLEM IS HE’S NOT VOCAL, AND THE ONLY WAY TO LEAD IS TO BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITHOUT HESITATION.

TAGGART, KEMP MACK, HENDERSON-NILES. NO, NO. NO. NO. AGAIN NO KNOCK ON THE INABILITY TO LEAD. I WOULD HAVE ALL THESE GUYS IN MY FOX HOLE ANY DAY.

NOW WE GET TO THE FRESHMAN. WESLEY WITHERSPOON IS HARDLY WET BEHIND THE EARS. HE IS STILL LEARNING HOW TO PLAY POINT AND HE’S QUIET AS A CHURCH MOUSE.

TYREKE EVANS IS THE CLOSEST THING TO THE TIGERS “GO TO GUY” DURING CRUNCH TIME. BUT TO HAND HIM THE REIGNS OF THE TEAM IS LIKE HANDING A YOUNGSTER THE KEYS TO A BMW. HE’S TOO YOUNG TO DRIVE, AND TOO INEXPERIENCED.

DERRICK ROSE AND CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS ARE GONE. YOU CAN’T BRING THEM BACK. AND THAT MAKES THINGS EVEN MORE CHALLENGING FOR JOHN CALIPARI, WHO RELIED SO MUCH ON THAT DUO.

THE HOPE IS THAT MAYBE ONE OR MORE OF THE AFOREMENTIONED PLAYERS WILL STEP UP AND BE THE MISSING LINK. MAYBE LEADERSHIP QUALITIES ARE DEVELOPING IN ONE OF THESE GUYS AS WE SPEAK.

BUT FOR NOW, THERE’S A VOID. A VOID THAT COULD PROVE TO BE DETRIMENTAL. NO WAR HAS EVER BEEN WON WITHOUT LEADERSHIP. AND YOU CAN TAKE THAT TO THE BANK!

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS….

December 17, 2008

The Miscellany, Vol. 2

I’m starting on a topic far away from sports…because it is hard not to get disillusioned when we live in a country in which Goldman Sachs can receive well over 10 billion dollars and debt guarantees from the U.S. government and yet pay only $14 million in taxes.   How are they in the 1% tax bracket?  Why am I not in the 1% bracket?  I made WAYYYY less than $10 billion.

Here’s the next question: did Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs really think he pass Gene Chizik off as a good hire?  Really?  Did he honestly think this would be acceptable?  It is an indefensible hire by a clearly incompetent athletic department.  When people decry the “good ‘ol boy” network, this is exactly the kind of thing they’re talking about.  No one can know for sure how big a role, if any, race played in the decision to hire Gene Chizik over Turner Gill.  But I find it easy to believe that a white man just happens to be “the best fit” (in the words of Jay Jacobs) for Auburn right now.  It may be a long, long time before a black man happens to be “the best fit” at Auburn.  And that’s shameful.

Chizik has no chance to succeed at Auburn.  None.  He is ill-equipped to deal with the increased competition for wins and for recruits in the SEC West.  He is going head to head with the man who might be the best recruiter in the country at a higher-profile school that is on the way to bigger and better things.  He has lost his last 10 games as a a head coach, including losses by 14 to Texas A&M and 28 to Baylor.  He only managed to beat the likes of South Dakota State and Kent State this season.  There is no explanation that is sufficient for getting rid of Tommy Tuberville to hire Gene Chizik.  None whatsoever.  Auburn is in trouble.

You may have heard a few things about new technology that allows various events to be broadcast live in 3D and beamed to various theaters around the nation.  It sounds pretty amazing to me – a live sporting event in 3D, in high definition quality on a huge screen…that’s incredible!  Here’s more news: the BCS national championship game on January 8th is going to be broadcast in this same technology to hundreds of theaters, including 5 in Tennessee.  I checked out the list of theaters and found something fascinating…there’s a location in Knoxville, one in Johnson City, one outside of Nashville, one in Johnson City, one in Dyersburg…and none in Memphis.  DYERSBURG is showing it, but Memphis isn’t.  What the hell?  Dyersburg has better theater technology than Memphis?  Someone from Malco needs to get on this.

Now, it’s time to play a little game called Which Recent Story Is the Most Embarrassing For Me As a Soccer Fan?

A. I’LL PEEK IN BECKS’ KECKS

ONE of David Beckham’s new Italian team-mates is desperate to see his golden balls.

AC Milan striker Marco Borriello, 26, said: “I must admit I have a dressing room curiosity over Beckham.

“I want to see if he is equipped as he is in the Armani underwear adverts.”

England soccer legend Becks, 33 — on loan to AC Milan from LA Galaxy — strips to his pants and shows off his muscles in pictures on giant advertising hoardings all over Italy as part of Armani’s intimate collection campaign.”

B. ENGLISH WOMEN DO NOT WASH

With several Napoli players attracting interest from English clubs, the Serie A side risk having their season ruined by high-profile departures next month – a situation which prompted De Laurentiis’ remarkable rant.

“If they want to go to England then in the end they’re going to go” he said. “But they need to understand this: the English live badly, eat badly and their women do not wash their genitalia. To them, a bidet is a mystery.”

Despite recent improvements, the English diet remains something of a laughing stock among many Italians. Fabio Capello, England’s Italian manager, has spoken about his surprise at the amount of chips and tomato ketchup consumed by top players.

But the comments about poor hygiene among English women though are more of a surprise, particularly as English football WAGs (wives and girlfriends) are thought to spend a great deal of time and effort preparing to leave the house each day.

C. THIS ISN’T A STORY SO MUCH AS A VIDEO – BUT WHAT THE HELL???

The German Bundesliga in the 1970s was a strange and terrifying place.

By the way, the correct answer is D.  All of the above.  General shame all around.

Most people wouldn’t change their name to reflect their bizarre love of a supporting character in the movie Teen Wolf, but then again, most people aren’t Buccaneers defensive end Greg White:

WHAT’S IN A NAME: Bucs defensive end Greg White has decided to follow the lead of Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson – er, Ocho Cinco.

No, White isn’t turning into a loudmouth or looking to become a wide receiver. He is, however, planning to change his name.  By the time the year is out, White will officially be known as Stylez G. White instead of just Greg White. Why?

“You can always remember Stylez White,” White said. “Greg White, nobody knows Greg White.”

Quarterbacks know him. White made a name for himself last year when he led the Bucs with eight sacks and seven forced fumbles, White hasn’t been quite so proficient this year. He has just 3.5 sacks, and he’s yet to force a fumble. If that doesn’t change, it won’t matter what his name is; people will have a hard time remembering him.  But White isn’t changing his name with football in mind. He’s got bigger plans that may include a career in politics.

“I want people to judge me off who I am, not what I am,” he said. “And I want to do more for the community. I want to make a difference in people’s lives.”

I have not yet heard what Jerry Levine, the actor who played the now-legendary Rupert “Styles” Stilinski thinks of this.

December 14, 2008

Sunday Funday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Will Askew @ 11:55 am

So, Gene Chizik is your new head football coach at Auburn. Some people hate to say I told you so. I am not one of those people. I told you so.

You fire a guy who beat Alabama six times in a row and hire a guy who has gone 3-9 and 2-10 in his only two seasons as a head coach. You fire a guy because his recruiting was slipping and hire a guy whose last three recruiting classes have been ranked by Rivals.com at 60th, 62nd, and 76th. You fire a guy who has lived at the top of the SEC West standings for much of the last 10 years and hire a guy who didn’t win a game in the Big 12 last year and whose only wins were over South Dakota State and a 4-8 Kent State team. You fire a guy whose defense was ranked 27th and hire a defensive coach whose defense was ranked 111th this year.

Yeah, that makes sense.

The worst thing about this hire, though, is not that Auburn let one of the top 20 coaches in America go and got one of the bottom 20, but that they had a real opportunity here. An opportunity to hire a qualified black coach in one of the highest-profile jobs in the SEC. Kudos to Mississippi State for hiring Sylvester Croom a few years ago, but Mississippi State is not Auburn. They don’t have the history, and they don’t have the potential. In Turner Gill, here was a guy who completely turned around a program that was dead–DEAD–and led it to a MAC Championship this year and a win over Ball State. This is a guy who, along with Skip Holtz, was easily the most qualified candidate left on Auburn’s board. But you chose a guy who went 5-19 over the last two years.

The bottom line is, Auburn missed a great opportunity to hire a black coach who was more than qualified to lead this program and tell the rest of college football that yes, we will hire a black coach to a high profile school in Alabama. With all of the hubbub recently about the lack of black coaches in Division 1, or FBS, or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days, here was a real chance for a breakthrough hire–and Auburn blew it. I can only hope that in two or three years when Auburn is looking for a head coach again, Turner Gill is not a candidate. They don’t deserve him.

–The Memphis Tigers lost at Georgetown yesterday 79-70. In and of itself, a loss at Georgetown is not a thing to be too upset about. Georgetown has a 26 game home winning streak. It’s not easy to go in there and win.
The bottom line is, though, if this team is going to get anywhere in the tournament, Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier have got to be better. I had concerns coming into the season about the ability of Robert Dozier to be the guy on a team, and so far those concerns have not been answered. Antonio Anderson’s defense has been indispensable to this team for his entire tenure here, but he simply cannot be counted on as an offensive threat–that’s not his game–but he has to better than 0-8 from the field.
A lot of people will say that Tyreke Evans’ shot selection was one of the main reasons they lost this game, and I would tend to agree. But seemingly every offensive set at the end of the game was a clearout with Evans at the top of the key. To a guy like that, that’s a greenlight to shoot. He has to make better decisions and look for the open man in those situations, but Tyreke is not the only one to blame here. The coaching staff can’t expect this guy to be Chris Douglas-Roberts right now.
Taggart was very good yesterday though, and he will be a key for the Tigers the rest of the season. If Dozier, Evans, and Anderson come around and Taggart keeps playing well, I would not want to play the Tigers in March.

–The Grizzlies got a very important win on Friday night. Any time a bad team begging for fans gets a win when there are 17,000 (announced) in attendance, it’s huge. A great atmosphere the other night at the Forum. The Grizz have now won three straight, and it’s nice to see them coming around and playing well–now if they can just continue to do it, that would be nice.
The signing of Darius Miles is a good one to me. A minimum contract means that you’re not hurt very much in the pocketbook, and you would think the guy would be hungry to prove that he still belongs in the NBA. Even if he doesn’t play a minute, it’s not a bad signing. There are guys on minimum contracts that are on benches everywhere.

–Yes, it truly is Christmas season. Zing!

December 10, 2008

The Miscellany, Vol. 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Peter Edmiston @ 11:42 am

Before we get started, there is no truth to the rumor that Chicago native Ron Tillery offered Javaris Crittenton to Rod Blagojojejogevich for Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat.  And while we’re on the subject, I wish such a ridiculous scandal was headlined by a guy with a more pronounceable name.  Blagojevich.  If you’ve never heard someone say it, even guessing at the pronunciation is impossible.  (Correct: blah-GOY-ya-vitch).   It’s like the political version of the Tim Donaghy thing  (“Don-a-hee?” “Don-a-ghee?” “Den-a-hew?”).  From now on, let’s all agree on a pronunciation and roll with it.  We can do this.

While I’m thrilled for the University of Memphis football team and plan to be in attendance at Tropicana Field for their bowl game, I still cannot believe that the St. Petersburg Bowl is actually, truly sponsored by Magicjack.  Wait, sorry, it’s actually supposed to be spelled magicJack.  My bad.  I can’t believe we’ve reached the point where infomercial products can now be bowl sponsors.  The collision of economic troubles and a billion bowls creates this kind of thing.  I eagerly await next year’s Jack Lalanne Power Juicer St. Petersburg Bowl  – or maybe the Nads Hair Removal St. Petersburg Bowl.  I’m on board with this trend.

It is better than the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl, though.  I am told Roady’s is a truck stop.  Awesome.  The only one more ridiculous is the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.  That seems like overkill.  Why do I care about San Diego-area banking choices?  There has to be a more efficient way to get people to bank with the SDCCU than to sponsor a bowl game.  Where’s the Memphis Area Teachers’ Credit Union Bowl?

Last night marked the 20th anniversary of Jerry Sloan’s hiring as Utah Jazz head coach.  Think about that for a second.  The man has spent 20 years in the same coaching profession and has done a brilliant job.  He doesn’t have a big ego, he doesn’t put himself all over TV all the time – he just wins with all sorts of different players and makes Utah a destination for players who want to win.  The fact that the man doesn’t have a Coach of the Year honor is an indictment on the award itself.  Clearly the voters don’t get it.  Consistent, solid performance tends to get overlooked, and Sloan has been as consistent as they come.  And he made Andrei Kirilenko cry…that’s a tough dude right there.

Since I’m writing about the NBA, let me throw a few other thoughts out there…Lebron James is the most absurdly gifted player in NBA history; doesn’t mean he’s the best, but there’s been no one else with the combination of physicality, speed, and skill he has…the Pistons are now 7-9 since adding Allen Iverson and the Nuggets are flying since adding Chauncey Billups – those are not unrelated things…how is Mike Dunleavy still employed as an NBA head coach?…for that matter, how does Kevin Mchale still draw a paycheck in any capacity with the Wolves?…the Spurs are lurking…everyone else in the East besides Cleveland and Boston can shut it down now – those two will be in the Eastern Conference Finals come May.

Now, to the Grizzlies – just a few things.  First of all, the proposed deal Ron reported yesterday on The Memphis Edge involving Javaris Crittenton to the Wizards for the Grizzlies’ conditional 1st round pick that originally landed Juan Carlos Navarro needs to happen.  Crittenton is growing more and more frustrated with his lot in life, rightfully so, and the Grizzlies need to get something back for him before it’s too late.  Disgruntled players who aren’t actually all that good are really bad to have on your bench.  This is a no-brainer.  However, I’m not sure how Washington would clear roster space and deal with the cap implications of the move since they’re over the cap.   (LATE EDIT: Apparently the deal is done, and it involves a third team – the Hornets – to make the deal work for the Wizards.  Good.)  Secondly, it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that O.J. Mayo is the most valuable player on the Grizzlies roster now and certainly has a chance to be light years better than a lot of people expected.  It’s not just his jump shot or tenacious defense, it’s the fact that he has a voracious work ethic that’s contagious.   He is making Rudy Gay better, he is making Mike Conley better, he is making Marc Gasol better.   Talent is nice, but talent and hard work is so much better.  Mayo is more important to this franchise than Rudy Gay.

Sam Bradford should win the Heisman.  Tim Tebow is a leader, is an excellent quarterback, and is very loud – this year, that’s simply not enough to outdo Bradford’s insane numbers and Oklahoma’s brutally efficient offense.  Hell, decide it on the field – whoever wins the national title can give their QB the Heisman.  Done and done.

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