Friday, April 06, 2007

Big Weekend

Well, it is Friday. Good Friday. And with so many sports topics to discuss, we should not waste a second…

Finally, we can stop talking about Billy Gillispie’s coaching future – he is in Kentucky …Good luck…I can’t say I blame him, and he technically had to wait until Kentucky had word from Donovan, but I think his legacy in College Station has taken a hit or two.

Kentucky will introduce Billy Gillispie as its new basketball coach Friday, a person familiar with the search process told The Associated Press.

Gillispie, who led Texas A&M to the NCAA tournament's round of 16 this year for the first time since 1980, will be introduced at a 12:15 p.m. CDT pep rally at Memorial Coliseum, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement.

The Wildcats turned to Gillispie after another Billy – Florida's Billy Donovan – decided Thursday to stay with the Gators.

Opening Day in Arlington, Can we avoid 0-4?

Hicks, no doubt, would prefer not to match the Mavericks' 0-4 mark, particularly since Game 4 of the 2007 season is the home opener for Texas. The Rangers and Boston Red Sox meet at 1:05 p.m. today, and Hicks is hoping the game results can match the revelry that comes with the opener.

The Rangers' marketing and entertainment staff has spent more than three months planning to host a sellout crowd and put on a spectacle that will feature former Rangers, former Cowboys star Michael Irvin and a B-1 bomber flyover.

While the capacity crowd of 50,000 will undoubtedly be equal parts impressed and entertained, it is the main event that will determine the success of the day. When the Rangers opened the season with three games on the road against the Los Angeles Angels, the worst-case scenario was that they would return 0-3 -- and that's exactly what happened.

A victory at home, however, can alleviate some of their anguish.

"It's the most important day of the season," Hicks said. "It's a celebration of baseball at the beginning of the season, and I think it is fans' favorite day of the year. It's our chance to put on a good show and make sure that our fans feel good about baseball and come back for more games. We've got 81 at home. We've got to try and get people to come out, and the first one is important because it can help us do that."

The Rangers placed great emphasis on pitching in the off-season, and despite the losses of Gary Matthews Jr. and Mark DeRosa -- each of whom batted .296 or better and hit 40 or more doubles -- they were confident that their offense would be productive.

After their first three games of the season, however, the Rangers have a team average of .161, the worst in the major leagues entering Thursday. Michael Young, Mark Teixeira, Sammy Sosa, Brad Wilkerson, Kenny Lofton, Gerald Laird, Nelson Cruz and Frank Catalanotto are all hitting .200 or worse.

"We've got too many good people to leave people on base the way we have," Hicks said. "That will take care of itself."

In manager Ron Washington, Hicks has the perfect ambassador for his team. Washington's glass is never half-full -- it's always overflowing. Washington could break an ankle and still find a way to be positive about it. At this point of the season, Washington is undoubtedly thinking the Rangers still have a chance to finish 159-3.

"We've got a great relationship between our players and our manager, and, hopefully, we can come together, play hard and win," Hicks said. "We've got great leadership and too many good people not to win."

In Red Sox news, Dice-K whiffs 10 in his debut

Dice-K was Ice K. He was also 10 K. And Special K.

Maybe even a Japanese Pedro. Or a Pocket Rocket.

Given the hype and hysteria that have accompanied his every move and word since the Red Sox spent $103.1 million to acquire him, we figured it would be almost impossible for rookie righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka to live up to expectations in his first regular-season appearance before major league hitters.

But he did. On a day better suited for the Winter Olympics (36 degrees), Dice-K struck out 10 Kansas City Royals and allowed only one run on six hits over seven innings of a 4-1 victory at Kauffman Stadium yesterday. The game was witnessed by 23,170 real-life spectators (including Mrs. Dice-K, who was seated behind home plate), plus NESN-watching citizens of Red Sox Nation, and millions of proud Japanese fans, who got up at 3 a.m. to watch on television.

"It's great that I was able to record a victory in my first start," the moonfaced pitcher said through his translator. "Up until now, given all the expectations -- they were a little bit extreme -- but I'm happy."

He's not the only one happy. Red Sox owner John W. Henry, the man who approved the whopping $51.1 million posting fee to acquire Matsuzaka from the Seibu Lions, was also happy. Same for general manager Theo Epstein, who negotiated Dice-K's $52 million, six-year pact.

Stars screw themselves, lose again to bad team; Hitch

The Dallas Stars' woes against the non-playoff teams from the Central Division continued Thursday in Columbus and it moved the Stars closer to elimination in the race for the Pacific Division title. Rick Nash scored 1:04 into overtime as the Columbus Blue Jackets rallied for a 2-1 win over the Stars at Nationwide Arena.

The Stars, who lost to St. Louis on Monday, ended the season 1-1-2 against the Blue Jackets and are now 3-6-2 combined against Columbus, St. Louis and Chicago this season.

For a full view of the NHL Playoff Picture, Check James Mirtle’s blog

Matt Benson is hard at work at Mavs Central, Today with a feature on Devin Harris

If you are not one of the top players on a team, you need to find your niche to be successful in this league and get some hard earned playing time. Harris has found this niche by playing tough defense.

Fewest PPG By Opposing Starting Point Guard – 2006-07
(Minimum 35 Starts At Point Guard)

Player Opponent PPG
Chris Paul, NOK 12.7
Tony Parker, SA 12.8
Rafer Alston, Hou 12.9
Jamaal Tinsley, Ind 13.0
Jarrett Jack, Por 13.1
Devin Harris, Dal 13.3

One of Harris’ best assets is his speed which helps his defense and his offense. It allows him to get into position to pick up offensive fouls, whether they are charges or other fouls.

Most Offensive Fouls Drawn – 2006-07

Player Off Fouls Drawn
Anderson Varejao, Cle 97
Andrew Bogut, Mil 77
Devin Harris, Dal 72
Raja Bell, Pho 65
Monta Ellis, GS 59

With Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Jason Terry on offense along with Jerry Stackhouse, it is sometimes hard for Devin Harris to touch the ball. But when Harris has been worked into the offense and gets into the flow of the offense, the Mavericks have been quite successful.

Best Team Record When Player Record 5+ Assists – Since 2005-06
(Minimum 30 Games With 5+ Assists)

Player Record Pct
Devin Harris, Dal 35-2 .946
Larry Hughes, Cle 30-5 .857
Manu Ginobili, SA 34-7 .829
Jason Terry, Dal 56-13 .812
Tim Duncan, SA 30-8 .789

Granted he is mainly on the court when the “big guns” are for Dallas, but according to, the Mavs average 14.6 more points per game when he is on the court versus sitting on the bench. He is also fourth in the league on’s Lenvo +/- stats.

Finally, if there was any category that most will point out as his “flaw”, it is his shooting. After shooting 46.9% from the field and 23.8% from three-point range last season, he has improved his shooting touch to 48.2% from the field and 30.2% from three-point range this year.

Proving that our government isn’t the only government to be uptight on television, Canada bans this commercial

The Toronto Blue Jays have been forced to revise a television commercial featuring Frank Thomas after the ad drew objections from the Television Bureau of Canada, a regulatory body for private broadcasters.

A 30-second spot that shows the 6-foot-5, 275-pound designated hitter taking part in a pillow fight with two young boys was edited to remove a scene where Thomas knocks one of the boys off a bed and onto the floor. Thomas leaves the room with a smile on his face as the youngster gets to his feet and says, "Wow."

Thomas is a former college football player and father of three whose nickname is the "Big Hurt."

Laurel Lindsay, vice president of marketing for the Blue Jays, said Thomas and the child still exchange pillow blows in the edited version, but the child is not knocked to the floor. Instead, he pops into the air when struck. Lindsay called the controversy over the commercial "ridiculous."

"Clearly we have taken ourselves entirely too seriously if we have given a pillow fight this much attention," Lindsay said. "The reaction we're getting from the fans is that people can't even believe this is an issue. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, and the bureau's role is they feel that somehow a child is being put in harm's way and they need to step in and make sure it's clarified. That's their prerogative."

The new commercial also features a disclaimer reading "Dramatization. Do not try this at home."

The original commercial still will air on CBC television, a public broadcaster that can set its own standards for content and advertising.

Private broadcasters who have been running the commercial will have to switch to the edited version.

The Television Bureau of Canada also demanded the word "Dramatization" be added to another Blue Jays commercial featuring pitcher A.J. Burnett. In that spot, Burnett is late putting his garbage on the curb, arriving as the truck pulls away. Burnett tosses his trash into the departing truck, skimming the head of one of the workers in the process.

Thanks to a good P1, Here is the Angles-Rangers brawl from Last August …better late than never….

Matt Mosley on Roy Williams

Because the Cowboys still had All-Pro safety Darren Woodson in 2002, they didn't dwell on the fact that Williams had never been asked to do much in pass coverage.
"That's not why we took him," said Larry Lacewell, the director of scouting at the time. "He was always going to be a down safety or basically a fancy linebacker."
The Cowboys had made the decision to copy Tampa Bay's defense, and Williams was supposed to be their John Lynch.

Williams had a strong rookie campaign, but when a back injury forced Woodson to retire three years ago, Williams lost his security blanket. Since 2004, Williams has played opposite the likes of Tony Dixon, Lynn Scott, Keith Davis and Pat Watkins. And in time, head coach Bill Parcells began changing a 4-3 scheme that featured small, speedy linebackers.

Williams was still one of the most feared players in the game because of his vicious hits, but he became an easy mark for big plays in the passing game.

"We rushed his learning curve too much," Lacewell said. "We lost Woodson and Roy wasn't getting any help back there."

That's why Williams has become new head coach Wade Phillips' first major renovation project. Even before he hired Phillips, owner-general manager Jerry Jones talked about how the club had to find a better way to utilize Williams, who was exposed on almost a weekly basis in 2006.

The Cowboys signed former Seahawks safety Ken Hamlin in free agency because they were tired of being held hostage by the position. Hamlin isn't a pure cover safety, but his knowledge of the game and experience should give Williams more freedom to make plays.

One of the best safeties to ever play for the Cowboys, Charlie Waters, thinks the arrival of Hamlin might be exactly what Williams needs. Waters and free safety Cliff Harris were a big reason for the Cowboys' success in the 1970s.

"Safeties are as good as the guy next to them," Waters said. "If you have complete trust in the other guy, you feel the freedom to make plays."

First Man U, then Aston Villa, then Liverpool, now… Arsenal to be owned by Ameicans?

Arsenal's link to America has been strengthened by US billionaire Stan Kroenke acquiring a 9.9% stake in the club.

His company, Kroenke Sports Enterprise (KSE), have bought the shareholding interest from ITV and could also purchase 50% of Arsenal Broadband Limited, with the combined total costing £65million if completed.

Kroenke owns Major League Soccer team Colorado Rapids, who recently announced a partnership with the Gunners that will see the Premiership club send coaches across the Atlantic and promising American players sent to train in London.

The partnership was not seen as the first step towards another American takeover of a English club, although the move to buy ITV's stake has come less than a month after KSE stated they had 'no interest or intention' of buying into Arsenal.

A statement to the stock exchange read: 'ITV plc today announced that it had unconditionally sold its 9.99% shareholding interest in Arsenal Holdings plc to KSE UK INC, a vehicle controlled by Stan Kroenke, and has also entered into conditional arrangements with KSE UK INC in relation to the sale of its 50% shareholding in Arsenal Broadband Limited.'

Premiership clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Aston Villa have been targeted by American investors as business prospects which will eventually generate huge profits.

Despite their huge debts, Arsenal are still seen as a club with huge potential because of the long-term benefits of the new 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium.

A potential takeover, though, would appear unlikely as major stakeholders - which include vice-chairman David Dein and director Danny Fiszman - have stated they have no intention of selling up.

Kroenke, who earned his fortune through real estate development, owns ice hockey side Colorado Avalanche and basketball team Denver Nuggets. He is the co-owner of St Louis Rams in gridiron.

The entrepreneur is used to winning too, the Rams won the Super Bowl in 2000 and Avalanche claimed the NHL's Stanley Cup in the 2000-01 season.

In other news, Tiger is lurking and the Spurs beat the Suns...I gotta go.

UFC 69 on Saturday Night in Houston

New Ticket Promo


CFB123 said...

This proves it's true when they say that what goes around comes around. Now A&M knows exactly how Alabama was feeling 4 years ago. I guess if it's any consolation, you can always hope that Gillispie will be as unsuccessful at UK as Fran has been at A&M.

Evan said...

Poor Matt Serra. GSP in 2 and give me Diego in 2.

Uwe said...

Check out for a good item on Steve Nash and his defense, or lack thereof. Goes hand in hand with the Devin Harris item. Maybe we should have Jason Terry at point just to exploit Nash's lack of defensive prowess.